YouGov stood to have its reputation shattered if it continued to put out polls showing ten point leads for No, when Yes is very obviously headed for a majority.
Those massive YouGov leads for No were all part of the Unionist tactic of making independence appear both uniquely impossible to Scotland, as opposed to any other small nation state you can name, and an unattainable dream. Too poor, too wee, too stupid and politically isolated. YouGov are known in the trade as “You Can Have Any Result You Pay For Gov”. For months, James Kelly on the Scot Goes Pop blog has brilliantly analysed the methodologies they employed to give those large No leads – asking prior leading questions, a large preponderance of Labour voters in their panel, and the “Kellner Correction” – an assumption that lies or faulty memory about how people last voted, would penalise Labour unless corrected for statistically. The result was YouGov polls that were great reading for the No camp, but made no sense whatsever to anybody who had talked to voters.
My own view is that there has not been an extraordinary 12 point swing in a fortnight, as illustrated by YouGov’s last two polls. What there has been is a continuing stead swing and a realisation in YouGov that, having helped the No campaign for over a year by trying to make a Yes vote seem hopeless, to be over 12% out on this vital vote might damage YouGov’s share price fatally. So they have had to start publishing something close to the truth.
As I have been reporting, the truth has been very obvious to people on the ground for weeks. And the truth is not only that independence is coming, but that the entire political class, BBC and mainstream media has been rejected, and a new form of popular power, based on community democracy and social media, has taken over.
I received an invite from the National Library of Scotland to a post-referendum debrief at 9am on 19 September. Anybody sober at 9am on 19 September (unless having medical excuse) is not part of the New Scotland. But more crucially, the panel includes Henry McLeish and Michael Moore – and they want people to pay 35 pounds to listen to their words of wisdom.
They really haven’t got it yet. Nobody will ever care what Moore and McLeish and their like have to say again, and the kind of democracy we will have will not involve paying substantial sums to hear pearls of wisdom drop from troughers on a pedestal. Nor will members of the old political establishment have a future in that career. It was a good tactic for Alex Salmond to say that Darling and Carmichael will be on the negotiating team: the people will not allow it to happen.
There is at last some understanding that Yes will win: the penny has not yet dropped that this is a revolutionary moment, not a polite constitutional shuffle.