To SAY that the No campaign has gone through a bruising spell recently is something of an understatement.
Tightening polls reflect a debate that has seen a bullish Yes Scotland capitalise on a series of wounds inflicted on Better Together.
Some have been self-inflicted, such as the failure of an un-named minister to hold the line on the pro-Union parties’ insistence that an independent Scotland would not be allowed a formal currency union with the rest of the UK.
The ham-fisted intervention that saw an anonymous coalition minister tell a London-based newspaper that “of course” such an arrangement could be sorted out was manna from heaven for independence supporters.
More ammunition was handed to Yes Scotland by the events that conspired against Better Together when the CBI registered with the Electoral Commission as an official No supporter.
The fallout from that decision backfired spectacularly against the CBI and, by association, Better Together.
A stream of unhelpful headlines followed as CBI members withdrew from the business group in order to preserve their neutrality.
The idea that Yes Scotland is outperforming Better Together is apparent in a survey published today. Of 759 businesses in the Scottish Chambers of Commerce network, it was discovered only 19 per cent had found the contribution made to the debate by the Better Together campaign “useful”.
That contrasted with the 40 per cent, who found that the Yes Scotland contribution was “useful”. However, it is worth remembering that the poll on 18 September is not about a choice based on the merits of two campaigns: it is about Scotland’s future. In that regard, there was some encouragement for the No side within the Scottish Chambers of Commerce survey.
Only 23 per cent of firms believed independence offered no risks to their business. Of those who felt there were risks, the biggest was uncertainty created by the transition to independence, which was cited by 38 per cent.
Arguments over the risk to business have more of a basis in reality than outrage over process and the CBI’s misguided decision.
One can expect Better Together to concentrate on making reality bite as it makes a concerted effort to beef up its campaign. Over the next few months, expect more contributions from John Reid, while veteran Labour campaigner Frank Roy has been drafted in to combat Yes Scotland’s formidable grassroots operation.
With today’s survey suggesting that 56 per cent of businesses believe the quality of the debate has been either “poor” or “dismal”, there is room for improvement – on both sides.