The meltdown of the No campaign – The game that changed

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  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
It’s quite remarkable how fast it has happened.  Barely a week ago we were being told that the second TV debate was Alex Salmond’s last chance to save Yes.
 
The First Minister had put in a below par performance in the previous TV debate on STV and pundits were queuing up to tell anyone who would listen that Yes needed a game changer.  No were hammering away on the currency and demanding a Plan B.

  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
It’s quite remarkable how fast it has happened.  Barely a week ago we were being told that the second TV debate was Alex Salmond’s last chance to save Yes.
 
The First Minister had put in a below par performance in the previous TV debate on STV and pundits were queuing up to tell anyone who would listen that Yes needed a game changer.  No were hammering away on the currency and demanding a Plan B.

Less than one week later and we have apparent meltdown in the No campaign with Douglas Alexander being blamed for the campaign veering off the rails.  Running in parallel is the result of the latest poll showing Yes support up, and No down – the referendum race is now virtually neck-and-neck.

The BBC is always a good barometer when judging how the referendum race is going.  When it gave an unprecedented platform for Jim Murphy to make over-the-top and clearly false claims relating to his self-styled ‘tour of Scotland’, it was a sure sign that Yes is in the ascendency.

The Labour MP has made some outlandish claims before, but accusations of an officially sanctioned mob of Yes supporters pursuing him throughout Scotland were so ridiculous that they ought to have brought ridicule. 

But so lacking in judgement is the BBC these days that Mr Murphy became the corporation’s most important news story yesterday evening.

The truth though is stark – the No campaign has effectively run out of steam and has nothing more to say.  Contrast its descent into farce with the energy and drive of Yes and it’s clear that the move for independence is accelerating as we near the 18th of September finish line.

There was always a going to be difficulties for the No campaign in maintaining its momentum given it had effectively reduced its armoury to two key issues – currency and the EU.  The second evaporated when David Cameron failed in his bid to prevent Jean-Claude Juncker from becoming the new EC President.

The No campaign had feasted for months on ill-considered comments from Juncker’s predecessor Jose Manuel Barroso on the apparent ‘impossibility’ of an independent Scotland remaining a member of the European Union.  That nonsense was ‘swept away’ – as Archie MacPherson might say – when Juncker effectively backed the Scottish Government’s position on the issue saying the EC would “respect” the result of the referendum.

It left Better Together with the currency argument and an esoteric threat to block any agreement over the use of the pound.

Too technical a subject to fit into an easily digestible sound-bite, the No campaign came up with the wheeze of telling Scottish voters a Yes vote meant they would be barred from using the pound.

The media allowed the lie to run unchallenged for months.  However in one of the major blunders of the whole campaign, it fell apart when an under pressure Alistair Darling blurted out the truth when challenged in the live TV debate – “of course Scotland could use the pound”.

It has left the Better Together cupboard bare and so bereft of ideas that Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron felt compelled to elbow Darling to the side with a trip to Glasgow.

It’s the Better Together nightmare; An unpopular Tory leader in Scotland wading into the referendum debate with only weeks to go until the actual vote.  If Cameron appears on an Irn-Bru crate alongside Jim Murphy then we really will have witnessed the end.

The Yes campaign needs to continue to do what it is doing – motivate the smiling energised activists and engage the general public who are now fully tuned in to this historic event.

Finally, the portents are not good for the No campaign.  The last time Archie MacPherson intervened at the eleventh hour was in the 2007 Holyrood election when newspapers and the BBC reported that the retired football commentator had just signed a message of support for the Labour Party.

The SNP subsequently won the election by one seat.