Yougov joined three other pollsters this week in showing majority support for Scottish independence. The run of polls putting Yes in the lead have confounded unionists who made the mistake of thinking preventing a referendum was the same thing as winning one.
The Supreme Court’s decision underpinned the fundamental problem with the UK – namely that there is a gross imbalance in power between its constituent parts. The largest outvotes, over rules and ignores the rest. If we needed any clearer evidence of that then the Supreme Court couldn’t have done a better job in providing it.
Yet, some pro indy supporters remain frustrated that Yes isn’t even further ahead. We are in the midst of an unprecedentedly severe economic crisis. Inflation is soaring, businesses are struggling and millions are forced to make the choice between eating or heating. All of this is compounded by the many disastrous effects of the English nationalist obsession with cutting the UK off from the EU.
I don’t share these frustrations. There is a lot to be encouraged by. Indy is backed by huge majorities in the younger age cohorts; and there is support across the country for Yes, with Ipsos finding Yes majorities in all regions including the South.
There is one group which remains stubbornly pro-UK. Over 65s overwhelmingly back the union just as they did in 2014. In fact at no point since the election in 2011 have older voters backed independence. We may be reaching a point now where it’s beginning to not matter whether this group are on our side or not. Some polls have shown an absolute majority for independence even with don’t knows included in the figures. We could cross the finishing line without the older electorate.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be thinking carefully about what motivates older voters and trying to work out how to address their concerns. It’s entirely natural that as folk age they become more risk averse. As physical capacities decline and the potential to earn reduces it is only to be expected that folk become concerned about how they’ll look after themselves and their loved ones. These concerns need to be respected. Believe in Scotland, the pro indy campaign group, has sought to reassure the pensioners with a hard hitting campaign highlighting the UK’s position at the bottom of the international pensions league table.
Is there more we can do? Yes, definitely! Independence is for all of us. Older voters are our mums and dads, aunts and uncles, neighbours and colleagues. And since I’ll be bus pass age in January it’s me too! Let’s not leave anyone behind as we embark on the journey to build a new country.