Why turning up matters

  • 1 September 2014
  • From the section Scotland
Chris Erskine scores for Dundee United against St Mirren Image copyright SNS

Turning up matters. (Just ask the St Mirren defence who found, on Saturday, that the mighty Dundee United attack had decided to step up their game at precisely the right moment. Or, indeed, moments. A magnificent trio of them.)

In the referendum campaign, both sides are, of course, seeking every vote.

Including from those who have been disinclined to turn up for other contests - or indeed to register to vote at all.

It is absolutely not my place to advise people that they should vote. As in the past, I will stress that it is for the individual to decide.

However, also as in the past, it is reasonable to note that consequences potentially flow from that decision.

It is somewhat futile, for example, to mump about the outcome of an electoral contest if you have declined to participate.

Electoral process

That is true in a parliamentary or local authority election.

It is, if anything, even more valid in this referendum where every vote, literally, counts: where there are no constituencies with a predictable majority because each vote across Scotland adds to competing global totals.

And so both sides are urging potential voters to ensure that they are registered before the deadline, midnight on Tuesday.

There is a further factor.

If those who are customarily absent from the electoral process can be encouraged to vote, might there be a differential impact? Might they, in short, be more inclined to vote for one side than the other?

Image copyright PA
Image caption Polling cards are being prepared ahead of the big vote

Difficult to be sure. Psephologists reckon - on the limited available evidence - that, if there is any variation in voting behaviour among previous non-voters, it may not prove decisive - or, more precisely, that the variation would have to be substantial to outweigh the voting trend among those who habitually vote.

Entirely reasonably, that has not deterred either side from seeking support wherever they can find it.

Nor, equally understandably, has it deterred each side from averring that they are more likely than their rivals to attract the so-called "missing million".

Still with psephology, there's talk of a new poll on Tuesday which may well suggest a further narrowing of the lead for "No".

Cue intrigued examination on all fronts - with the customary caveat that the only poll which counts is on September 18.

When everyone has the chance to participate - or at least all those who register by midnight Tuesday.