SOMETHING more than autumn is in the air.

A slow-motion revolution is in progress. It has been building, steadily but surely, since the start of the year, fuelled by a desire for change and a backlash against those still ordering Scotland about like a bellhop.

George Osborne's refusal to entertain a formal currency union with an independent Scotland?

It produced an upsurge in the polls for Yes.

Treasury warnings of economic collapse in spite of mind-boggling oil reserves offshore? More advances in the polls for Yes.

David Cameron, whose job and place in history depends on a No vote, prophesying mortgage spikes, pension doom and EU gridlock? The Yes vote grew regardless.

Through all those scare stories and thou-shalt-nots the people of Scotland listened, learned, reflected and came to their own decisions.

They have not been hurried or pushed around or felt obliged to vote in a party-political herd.

Almost one-third of those who supported Labour in the 2011 Scottish election say they will vote Yes, for all the growls of Gordon Brown, while one-fifth of those who supported the SNP will reject Alex Salmond's pleas and vote No.

It is democracy in action and a stirring, inspiring sight.

Now we have seen the first poll to show the Yes campaign ahead of Better Together.

The pro-union campaign no longer talks dismissively of "wavy lines" in the data, as if the electorate were essentially fixed in favour of the Union.

Last week, after YouGov recorded a jump in Yes support, the Unionists finally woke up to what the Yes camp had been trying in vain to tell them for months: that Scotland is on the move.

As we also report today, a new Panelbase poll shows buoyant support for Yes, rising most sharply among female voters hitherto resistant to it.

The fostering of a grass-roots operation and the appeal to voters' better nature rather than the stoking of their fears is paying dividends.

Momentum is wholly with the Yes campaign.

That can not only inspire campaigners on the ground, it can snowball into further momentum.

And this is before Nigel Farage holds a Ukip rally in Glasgow next Friday and the Orange Order holds a march in Edinburgh the day after.

However, if Scotland is to become independent, as this paper firmly believes it should, this is no time for mis-steps of our own.

The failure of four SNP MPs to attend a key Commons vote on the bedroom tax on Friday was one mistake the Yes campaign could have done without.

It was a mistake which must not be repeated.

The late Roy Jenkins famously said Tony Blair approached the 1997 election "as if carrying a Ming vase across a polished floor".

The hopes carried by the Yes campaign are far more precious. But it should remember Jenkins's image.

Independence is tantalisingly close, but it is certainly not yet secure.

Alistair Darling is right in one thing: this is a campaign that will be fought down to the wire.

It may be hard to see how the Westminster establishment can stem the tide now lapping its chin, but it should not be underestimated.

Now the Unionists have been shaken from their complacency, an ugly fightback is inevitable.

The Labour bruisers touring Scotland this week did not earn that nickname by chance.

John Prescott, Ed Balls and Gordon Brown will be doing their utmost to cow Labour voters.

There will be scare stories galore.

The end will be nigh, no doubt.

There may, if they howl enough, be jitters in the financial markets, which they may enjoy.

Liberal Democrat politicians and the odd Conservative will join them at the klaxons.

And the country, on current form, will listen, reflect, and come to its own decision.

It is independent-minded already.

The next step is obvious.