Joyce McMillan’s article (Perspective, 25 January) is thought provoking as always, but her premise is mistaken: Alex Salmond did not, and does not, “know” that the independence referendum will be lost. Nobody but God knows what will happen on a date nearly two years in the future.
And though Mr Salmond has not confided in me, I would risk a heavy bet that he does not even believe that the referendum will be lost.This prediction is based on a number of assumptions, all absurd: first, that the figures obtained in opinion polls are ever exactly replicated when it comes to the actual vote.
Second, that opinions given now, when the debate is still largely academic, will be unchanged when it comes to the real issue of deciding on our nation’s future course.
Third, that nothing will happen in the next two years to make people reconsider their present positions. The last, patently, is the most ridiculous of all, since apart, altogether, from wholly unforeseeable events in local, Scottish, UK, European and world affairs, there is most certainly going to be a steady increase in the pace and intensity of the debate and in the efforts of the two campaigns.
And in this, everything is on the side of the independence movement, which has the stronger arguments and the more capable personnel.Alex Salmond is certainly not acting like a man who knows that his cause is going to receive a death-blow in two years – nor should he be.
If we are to have opinion polls in regard to the independence referendum campaign they should be as fit for purpose as possible.
They should be conducted by reputable polling organisations, using industry standard methodologies, asking the question proposed by the Scottish Government to be on the ballot paper and only that question, and offering only those responses that will be on that ballot paper: Yes and No.
Perhaps I have missed them, but I cannot recall yet seeing such an opinion poll being conducted and reported in the media.
Tranent, East Lothian