There’s been an outbreak of insanity, and it’s not the British media in Scotland’s reporting of the Alex Salmond trial. It’s the outbreak of a strange disease which takes over its victims completely. That disease is panic buying. People have learned about the outbreak of coronavirus, and decided that it’s absolutely imperative that they have a year’s supply of toilet paper. The advice if you think you’ve been infected is to self-isolate for two weeks. Just how much toilet paper do you think you’re going to go through during that time? It needs to be said, if you’re worried about getting coronavirus because you think it’s likely that you’ll come into close contact with someone else’s shit, ensuring that you have an attic stuffed full of toilet paper is probably not the most important lifestyle change that you need to be making. The reality is that there’s no need to stock up on toilet paper, because the only shortages of toilet paper are those which are caused by the panic buying of toilet paper. Some people really need to look up the definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Social media is a fear magnifier. It takes worries and concerns and blows them up into huge problems, the biggest disaster that’s ever befallen humanity. All sense of perspective gets lost. That’s the case whether we’re talking about the coronavirus, the Eurovision Song Contest, or talking about the prospects for getting another referendum on Scottish independence. But then, as the late great Douglas Adams pointed out, we are the product of millions of years of chance and evolution, living in the thin layer of gas between the hard crust of a ball of molten rock and a freezing radioactive vacuum, hurtling around a massive ball of nuclear reactions 90 million miles away, lost and lonely in the immense depths of space, and we think all this is normal. So humanity’s sense of perspective is bound to be a bit skewed.
A wise man once said that the difference between hope and despair lies in weaving a different story from the same set of facts. There’s definitely been an outbreak of skewed perspectives and despair weaving in the Scottish independence movement of late. It all boils down to a question of impatience. Some of us are less willing to be patient than others when it comes to the admittedly hard to bear shitshow that passes for the UK under the rule of Boris Johnson. We want results, and we want them now. So we end up focussing on the annoying little stone in our shoe, and not on the route across the mountains that we need to climb, or indeed how far up the mountain we’ve already got.
Ian Blackford was interviewed in The National today, and said that the whole of the SNP leadership is focussed on getting an independence referendum this year, although he didn’t specify exactly how this was going to happen. This has only reinforced the fears of those people who are determined to believe that the SNP doesn’t really want independence, that it’s quite content to manage Scotland’s decline as the administrators of a devolved government constrained by Westminster’s rules. Ian Blackford’s comments sparked off an outbreak of woebaggery from those who look at the half full glass and only see that it’s half empty. The point about this particular half full glass however is that there’s a steady drip of indy water into it making it ever more full.
So let’s look at some facts. It is a fact that we now regularly get opinion polls which show a majority for independence. It is a fact that the subject of Scottish independence is a mainstream idea in Scottish politics. It is a fact that a decade or more of SNPbaddery has not succeeded in denting Scotland’s willingness to vote for the largest pro-independence party. And, perhaps most importantly of all, it is a fact that Scotland’s demographic profile points only to a future in which support for independence increases over time. It is a fact that we have a discredited British political system which even opponents of independence – at least those who aren’t members or supporters of the Conservative party – admit is not capable of responding to Scotland’s needs and concerns.
It is also a fact that Scotland doesn’t require Boris Johnson’s permission for a vote on its future within the UK. This is not a fact which the overwhelmingly anti-independence media in this country like to admit to, but it remains a fact nevertheless. There are, as this blog and other commentators have pointed out on numerous occasions, several strategies which could result in a legal and recognised vote on Scotland’s future without the necessity for Boris Johnson to agree to a Section 30 order. However it is also a fact that these alternative routes will have an increased chance of success the higher the support for independence is and that every day that passes, support for independence solidifies a little more.
It is also a fact that at some point, Boris Johnson will have to be confronted head on. The question is then, when is the best time to do so and what is the best strategy. I don’t believe that time is right now, not when everything points to us being in a stronger position if we stay calm and don’t rush into the panic buying of an independence vote. There is no point in revealing that strategy until such time as it needs to be deployed. Doing so will only result in a British nationalist media demanding plans C, D, E, F …
Those who live in fear, we must never forget, are our opponents. This is not the time for spelling out a way of talking Boris Johnson’s bullheadedness by the horns. There is a trial to get through, there is the fallout from the verdict when it inevitably comes. But make no mistake, once all that has passed and the dust has settled, the factors driving Scotland’s desire for independence will reassert themselves, and they will reassert themselves in a pro-independence party which is no longer waiting anxiously to see what happens after a certain trial.
More and more, the people of Scotland are seeing things from the perspective of independence. Our time will most assuredly come. And it’s coming soon.
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