Leaders: Swing towards separation still waiting to happen | Scandinavian series sets bar high
When will opinion polls show a discernible swing towards Yes to independence and the option of Scotland breaking away from the UK?
The question is now moot because more than 18 months since the SNP’s stunning triumph in the Holyrood election when it won an overall majority, the polls show no evident shift in voter opinion across Scotland. And it is not as if the weeks since then have been a quiet interlude. The independence campaign has been waged with great ferocity. Yet according to the first opinion poll taken since the referendum question – “Should Scotland be an independent country?” – was agreed last week, only one in three Scots will say Yes.
Now, there is a long way still to go. The SNP’s detailed vision of how an independent Scotland would look has still to be drafted and published. And many voters are likely to remain undecided right up till the final weeks. But there has been barely a week without a fierce political rammy over one aspect of the independence referendum or another. First Minister Alex Salmond has spoken at major conferences here and overseas on the merits of independence. The SNP has constantly harassed the No campaign and its supporters, berating them for their ineptitude and incompetence. Yet no matter all the revving up and the rhetoric, the needle has barely shifted on the dial.
What the independence campaign needs to be seeing before too long if it is to bridge the daunting gap between 32 per cent support now and the 50 per cent needed for victory, is a sign of momentum on which it can build. But no such swing is yet evident. And that must be of concern to a campaign that seeks to present itself as an ever-rising and unstoppable national tide.
A major difficulty in building what American politicians call the “big Mo” is that many voters feel they do not know enough at present to make up their minds. They seek answers to major questions on defence, energy policy, public spending, welfare and taxes. There is, of course, a sizeable proportion who will vote for independence on principle. But Mr Salmond needs to make serious inroads into the two-thirds who are opposed or who are not yet committed. And so far – 20 months after that impressive Holyrood election victory – there is little sign he has made many inroads at all.
For voting intention to move significantly either way, there needs to be more information available to voters and greater clarity as to the implications of independence. It may be some months yet before there is greater clarity around the SNP’s plans – and even then key issues will be subject to negotiation with the UK government.
But there would be merit in the administration publishing its plans earlier this year than it had planned for, or making greater use of the Scottish budget, if not to kick-start a formal campaign, at least to make a firmer impression on voter minds.
Scandinavian series sets bar high
What on earth do we do on Saturday nights now that series two of the Danish political drama Borgen has finished? Simple: start knitting a Sarah Lund sweater till the third series starts.
Meanwhile, we can only sigh in admiration at how well Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg played her hand in the final episode on Saturday – and how deftly the programme writers and producers caught the devilish dilemmas of domestic and political life.
Not only did the series well capture the pain of life in the
political goldfish bowl, but it also aired compelling issues: press freedom versus personal privacy; the reality of coalition compromises; and the growing presence of women in political life and the gruelling dilemmas women face reconciling the demands of office and home.
Danish drama has been mocked for its dark, atmospheric and earnest tone. But it has proved a huge hit with more serious-minded UK viewers who have long been poorly treated by domestic TV channels and programme makers. In comparison with Borgen, much of British television drama has been shown up as trite, typecast and over-stylised. The clear popularity of the Danish series, subtitles and all, has issued a huge challenge to television writers and producers here to come up with dramas that can absorb us for two hours every Saturday and have us talking about it for the rest of the week.
Perhaps it was simply being different that accounted for its pulling power. What certainly marked it out from much of British TV was portraying political life as it is without resort to hype or melodrama – and treating viewers seriously. How very
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