We’re into the final 100 days of the referendum (an insignificant milestone given prominence by the nice round number), and things are starting to get hot. National Collective are about to give Caledonian MacBrayne bumper summer profits as they convoy across the nation on their Yestival tour, Labour are out on the doorsteps with the LABOUR NO bus like a mystery tour of Scottish stately homes and seaside promenades – there were rumours of Anas Sarwar buying a Scottish Mining Museum souvenir mug in the gift shop – and Robin McAlpine and his Common People are trying to build a people powered revolution.

In communication, everything is about context, and how people respond to whichever busload of happy campaigners they run into depends not just on what is said but on who is saying it, and to whom. Resistant readings are an integral part of communication theory, and you can draw graphs to show how the receptiveness of one audience decreases as that of another increases dependent on what is being said. This is more or less why political parties can garner extremist votes and show apparent growth but simultaneously alienate other more moderate groups – the gamble made by people in charge of campaigning is that a certain message will bring on board fewer people than they can alienate. Perversely (and somewhat more dangerously), it also means that if mainstream politicians start adopting more fringe policies it lead to their legitimisation.

Then there is the person speaking – there is a good reason why people might be prepared to trust Gordon Brown more than David Cameron when what they say is much the same. Similarly, there are people who will take certain things from the mouth of Alex Salmond in a different way than they would from the less brash and avowedly non-nationalist Patrick Harvie. There really is no justice in it, but this is how it works. John Reid can call himself a patriot, but John Swinney cannot. If, as Robin McAlpine did, you say that the English are ‘not part of our lives’ you can be accused of excluding all the English people who live and work in Scotland, but equally it can mean that the Engllish experience is lived differently in governmental and economic terms. How people respond to such a sentence is guided by their preconceptions, likes and prejudices. Pro and anti independence activists alike are prone to it and we are all little balls of opinion and preprogrammed assumption. Most alarmingly given that we are going to vote in a very important referendum, none of us are half as rational as we think.

If you feel what I’ve just written is pure nonsense then just remember  thinking that if you read someone saying the same thing in the comment pages of a newspaper you agree with.