Year of Hope

I am not now, nor have I ever been
a member of the Scottish National Party

Yet another opinion poll shows a majority of the Scottish people supporting independence and again the London based media asks ‘why?’. The same media seems rather uncomfortable at not being able to provide a reason for this strange Scottish behaviour. When trying to report on Scotland the London based media suffers from one massive disadvantage: the media is London based. As seen from London the only driving force for Scottish independence is the Scottish National Party and the SNP is only Nicola Sturgeon. The media can then decide that the only reason for supporting independence is that Nicola Sturgeon is better at press briefings than Boris Johnson.. I am reluctant to correct their mistake but since no London journalist is even aware of the existence of the Yes movement they are unlikely to read a YesPollok blog.

The increase in support for independence is easy to understand. Imagine for a moment that you are a voter in England. You are one of the 50% or so who have no interest in politics. You have no strong allegiance to Labour or Conservative; sometimes you vote for one, sometimes the other. However, you can see that your current government is totally incompetent and you are stuck with them for another four years. You look instead at Keir Starmer’s Labour party and find the same policies and the same personalities and the same lack of ability on the front bench. At the next election in three and a half years this is your choice, vote for a conservative or vote for a different conservative. You begin to see that nothing will change, there is no alternative and you are helpless.

Imagine now you are the same voter in Scotland. Suddenly there is an alternative. The government is lead by a woman who stands up and explains. She explains what her government is going to do and explains what she expects you to do as well. She does not endlessly repeat meaningless slogans or hide behind waffle about her policies being world-beating. She doesn’t make jokes (Janey Godley does that for her) and seems to genuinely care about the effects of government policy on people. She is surrounded by ministers and staff who appear to be competent but who can expect no mercy if they screw up. Personal loyalty to the First Minister will not save them.

As a Scottish voter you start to see that there is a better way for government to behave. There is hope of a better future. You realise there is no hope under a Westminster government. This idea of independence starts to look attractive after all. This hope starts to be reflected in the opinion polls. Support for independence rises and for the SNP because they are the only party for independence, according to the media. The worse the Westminster government behaves the higher support for independence rises.

Hope is a powerful emotion but hope is fragile. When hope is dashed it easily turns to anger. This anger is most often directed at those who inspired the hope in the first place. This is a serious danger for the SNP. If as expected they scoosh the elections in May their voters will expect serious and definite moves towards independence. There will be only one chance. Any perceived lack of commitment to independence will see support dwindle. Circumstances have created this chance. If it is not vigorously pursued there will be no independence in my lifetime or anyone else’s for that matter.

Tommy – Yes Pollok Convener

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