We should expect it by now, the Unionist media in Scotland is a kind of British nationalist lottery machine. It feeds on the hopes and aspirations of the voters of Scotland, and it spews out a load of balls. I said before the election that if the SNP loses its overall majority, the only narrative in the Unionist press would be a crowing triumphalism that the wheels have come off the independence bandwagon and the Union is resurgent, and that’s precisely what they’ve done.
It has been said that you should never underestimate a person’s powers of self-delusion. The powers of self-delusion of the Scottish Unionist media would put a plastic surgery addict to shame. It looks in the mirror and sees itself handsomely balanced and well proportioned. The rest of us look at it and see something freakishly artificial that bears little resemblance to reality. It’s just a load of Union balls.
The sad thing is that so many in the Yes movement have accepted the balls and are juggling them with enthusiasm. They’re occupying their time and energies bickering about other independence supporters. It’s toxic, it’s damaging, and the only beneficiaries are the Unionists and their botoxed silicon implanted assessment of the Ruth Davidson We’re Not Really Tories Vote Ruth Davidson Look at Me Sitting on a Tank Party. The more we attack one another, the more that the focus is removed from the fact that it was the Yes movement which won the election. Gaunie jist gie the attacks on other yes supporters a rest. This is the kind of pish that’s makes me glad I’ve given up on Twitter. Twitter is Facebook on crack, when you have to distill your comments into 140 characters, the nuance is the first to evaporate and all you’re left with is the snark. No wonder it’s so bad tempered and seems to be full of people who are looking for something to be offended about.
The dust is settling now, and despite all the triumphalist hype from predictable Unionist sources, let’s remember that the Ruth Davidson Buffaloes for the Union I Wasn’t Even Born When Thatcher Was in Power party did not actually win the election. The SNP did, the wider Yes movement did. Let’s not lose sight of that. The Yes movement is fighting over different paths to a positive outcome. It’s not helping that we’re acting like we lost, by doing so we’re only playing into the hands of the Unionist balls machine. We won an election and we’re acting like the Labour party which is only capable of opposing itself.
Let’s remember the numbers. The Tories clawing their way back to where they were after the voters had decimated them after the Thatcher era is not a ringing endorsement of the Union. The SNP all by themselves have 63 MSPs and outnumber the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems who between them can only summon up 60. If there’s going to be a bid to have another independence referendum within the next five years, the maximum vote against that the Unionists can hope for is 60. It might not even be as many as that as it is widely rumoured that certain Labour figures are not as opposed to independence as their party hierarchy is. As James Kelly (not the Labour one who is to charisma as Joey Essex is to quantum mechanics, the opinion polling one) pointed out in his Scot Goes Pop blog, the six Greens are not going to vote down a bill for a second referendum. Scotland’s parliament is still just as capable of delivering a bill on a new referendum as it was before the election.
The problem with a second referendum isn’t that the parliament might not be able to deliver it, the problem is that as things stand it’s by no means guaranteed that we’d win it. And if we’re spending all our energies attacking one another then we will certainly not win it. All we’re doing is damaging one another.
Over the coming months and years we need to work on weak No voters to persuade them of the case for independence, we need to work on solutions to the weaknesses in the yes argument that contributed to us losing the last referendum. We need an answer to the currency question, we need to demonstrate that our economy is more than just oil. We need to focus on the reality that independence means nothing more and nothing less than putting the levers of choice and change into the hands of the Scottish people. We need to build on our vibrant and diverse new media and increase its penetration into the sections of Scottish society that don’t access the internet. That’s the real job ahead, not attacking other yes supporters for a supposed lack of ideological purity, posing as the sole authentic voice of the working classes, or settling personal scores because someone was a dickhead on Twitter.
Let’s kick the Unionist balls off the field. The reality is that the independence movement is a broad church. We agree on the goal of independence, but we don’t agree on what we want independence for. The independence movement contains people from across the entire spectrum of politics, it contains people that some of us might not like and whose views on some subjects we find disagreeable. It contains a strand of student politicians who preach ideological purity above all else. It contains people who will never admit to being wrong about anything. It contains people who are living proof that ego is a renewable energy source. All we agree on is that the Union serves Scotland badly and our country needs to take charge of its own destiny. We don’t agree on what we want to do when we get there.
Instead of attacking one another, we need to turn our fire on the Tories who are now the main faces of Unionism, and we need to start building a consensus in Scotland that independence is the only way ahead if we want to protect our public services, not the vacuous photo-ops of a Conservative party that stands for austerity, privatisation, and the destruction of Scottish civic society. Let’s kick the Union balls off the park and get on with the real job, winning independence.
BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE Barking Up the Right Tree has now been published and is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper. You can submit an advance order for the book on the Vagabond Voices website at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993
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