It’s coming, you can feel it in the air and hear it in the conversations around you. Today at the hospital as I walked onto the ward four nurses were having an animated conversation about independence, three of them voting Yes, trying to persuade the fourth. In bus depots, factories, offices and schools, staff are talking, discussing, debating. And it’s overwhelmingly amicable and good natured. We political amateurs know how to disagree without being disagreeable, unlike the Jim Murphys who say they speak for us.
As the conversations continue, more decide to vote Yes. Positivity and hope are novel experiences in Scottish politics, and they’re infectious. It’s the virus of hope, not the virus of nationalism. It’s propagating itself in the rising tide of positivity, and sprouting from the pages of a wee blue book. It’s growing in the laughter of derision that greets each new No campaign poster or broadcast.
The latest in the multimillion pound campaign, the professional campaign designed and implemented by the clever-clever clones in ill fitting suits who determine our lives, is a series of posters with messages more vacuuous that any that has come before. “I love my family so I’m saying No Thanks.” “I love my kids so I’m saying No Thanks.” People were paid a lot of money to come up with these posters. Politicians previewed them, focus groups discussed them, advertising agencies designed them. And the product of our professionalised political class is inconsequential nothingness, airheaded fluff that even Simon Cowell would reject as too low-brow for his programmes. This is, allegedly, the positive case for the Union, a crass attempt to make us identify our love for our children and families with Jim Murphy and Alistair Darling’s careers.
Do you love the party leaders in Westminster? Do you love the House of Lords like you love your own children? David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage are not our family. They’re not our kids. They’re sure as hell not our country. The No campaign hopes you can’t tell the difference, it’s the only hope they have to offer you.
I don’t know the difference between my kids and the Westminster Parliament, so I won’t listen to the man off the telly. Heard it all before. Whateeeevahhh. Vote No and revel in ignorance, it’s the no knowledge economy with the zero hours contract. Celebrate your passivity, show how proud you are of your dependency. Love being stupid. Do what you’re told. Thinking for yourself is so hard. Eat your cereal. Save up the coupons from the packet and enter the Westminster devolution draw. Win a lifetime’s supply of sugar-coated fluff puffs, devoid of nutrients but they’ll still rot your teeth and your brain.
The Scottish electorate is wise enough to know the difference. That’s not granting the Scottish electorate a great amount of political literacy either, a pet poodle knows the difference. The only people those posters will appeal to are those with less insight than a poodle. That’s what the No campaign thinks of us. We’re intellectually challenged poodles. Sit up and beg for your cereal from the Westminster sugarpuffs daddy. There’s a good girl, there’s a good boy.
For Westminster, Scotland – just like the rest of the UK – is a province to be raided for resources, labour and capital. The people are just an inconvenience to be humoured, pat on the head, and given a bowl of cereal. They think nothing of us, and think we are capable of nothing without them. We’re just the batteries for the vibrator, they’re the ones who get the thrill as we are drained.
You don’t even have to scratch below the surface of the glossy publicity pics to find the condescension lurking beneath. It’s waved in your face like a trophy. Wee Dougie Alexander waved his Holy Wullie in the STV debate on Tuesday night. Two audience members asked what currency he’d advocate for an independent Scotland. Dougie didn’t answer, instead he ruled out every option except Scotland remaining a part of the UK. Everything Scotland could possibly do for herself would be a disaster. Scotland can’t manage any sort of currency at all. So vote No, vote for the Holy Wullie without a prayer, in a land with no hope and no chance.
The scare stories continue ramping up, the constant background to the referendum campaign. But they fade from the consciousness just as after a while you no longer notice the ticking of a clock in a quiet room. The clock is ticking on Westminster’s rule in Scotland. The scare stories no longer work, the positive case for the Union never existed. They have nothing left but more of the same. They’re pulling the same old strings, but we’re no longer their puppets.
People are talking, debating, changing minds. There’s an enthusiasm and interest which has never occurred before. The queues stretched out into the streets as people registered to vote before the deadline, queueing to make history, queueing to be part of a country where we can choose between our hopes not choose between our fears. The dusty and distant world of the politicians has been dragged kicking and screaming into the streets and the bars, the living rooms and bedrooms. That’s the carnage the No campaign fears, the carnage that occurs to their reputations as Scotland examines them clinically. We’re out of their control, and we scare them. Project Fear has eaten itself.
The clock is ticking. Take a deep breath. Tense your muscles. A cautious country is about to take a leap of faith in itself. And when we land our feet will be planted firmly on a path we choose for ourselves.