I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but you know, [trumpet blast]. Last week in my article for The National I said that no amount of SNPbaddery from the Scottish media was going to dent support for independence, because the reasons for independence are not predicated on the alleged personal behaviour of any SNP politician, no matter how prominent or influential. The desire for independence is not determined by the alleged misbehaviour and failures of Thatessempee. It’s determined by the very real misbehaviour and failures of the British state, which – unlike the alleged personal misdeeds of an individual independence supporting politician – affect everyone.
And so it has come to pass. The opinion poll commissioned by, cue irony, Better for Britain this weekend demonstrates that in the event of Brexit, a majority of voters in Scotland would opt for independence. Should Brexit go ahead, as seems likely, 52% of voters in Scotland would support independence. More worryingly for proponents of SNPbaddery, the poll found that if there was a vote tomorrow, before Brexit has happened, only 50.6% would oppose independence, with 49.4% in favour. Since there is a 3% margin of error in opinion polling, that’s a statistical tie.
It was only this weekend that Ruth Davidson took some time out of her busy and hectic schedule of avoiding questions on Tory dark money to pop up and demand that Nicola Sturgeon rule out any prospect of a second independence referendum. There’s timing eh.
Ruth is demanding that Scotland gets no say on its future as the UK government makes catastrophic decisions that will damage Scotland’s opportunities, jobs, and place in the world. She might be happy to see Scotland have no say, happy because her career depends on it, but the rest of us are not so content to sit in silence amidst the flames of Brexit and the arrogant disdain of British nationalism just so that Ruth Davidson can promote her cheeky cheery facade that hides the nasty sectarian dogwhistling driving the Scottish Conservatives. Despite Ruth, despite her deification as the saviour of a union that is no union at all, just a pathetic excuse for a unitary state in which Scotland is marginalised and ignored, the people of Scotland want a say. She doesn’t speak for us. She only speaks for herself. We will not be marginalised. We will not be ignored.
Even before any official campaign has been launched, even before the Scottish Government has made an announcement about a future indepenence referendum, we have a starting point of half the population supporting independence. That’s where we are without any formal campaign, when those who don’t live and breath politics have yet to engage with the issues. And it’s the independence movement which has the grassroots organisation, the enthusiasm, and the positive case to make. No wonder social media is today filled with the denialist wailing of British nationalists who had fondly imagined that Brexit would kill off independence for good.
It’s especially heartening for the independence movement that the fieldwork for this poll was carried out after the story about Alex Salmond had broken, and while the British nationalist media in Scotland were in full on SNPbaddest mode. With the Alex Salmond story, all their SNPbad Christmasses had come at once, and yet it still hasn’t affected the independence movement or the popular desire for a self-determined Scotland.
Maybe this episode will make our media realise that by continually banging on about SNPbad they’re not damaging the credibility of Scottish independence at all, they’re only damaging their own credibility. But I wouldn’t go holding my breath. It’s all they’ve got left. The last rotted remnants of the fairy stories that passed for a positive case for the union were buried with Brexit. All that remains to British nationalists are threats, smears, scare stories, and the self deluding self serving lie that by being British nationalists they are immune from nationalism entirely. They’re panicking. They are afraid. They lose themselves in wishful thinking and magical beliefs. Maybe, they tell themselves, if they repeat a lie often enough it will become true. Civil war in the SNP! Peak Nat is passed! Brexit will kill off independence for ever! Ruth Davidson is a talented and beloved politician! The Scottish Conservatives won the General Election in Scotland!
They can see that their once impregnable fortress of Britishness is a castle of sand on a beach where the tide is rising ever higher. They can’t fight the sea. And we are a force of nature. How’s that SNP civil war working out for you, British nationalists? The only thing that’s crumbling is the foundations of British rule in Scotland.
If nothing else this poll proves that Scotland’s media bubble dwellers are incredibly good at one thing. It’s just a shame for them that the one thing they are good at is missing the point and consuming themselves in a wee bubble while claiming that the universe out there is bubble shaped too. That will be the wee bubble in which the Herald fancies itself as being “neutral” on the topic of independence. It’s neutral in the same way that werewolves are neutral about silver bullets. That will be the wee bubble in which the BBC claims that Gordie Broons interventions are “rare”. They’re rare in the exact same way that BBC programmes with Great British in the title are rare.
This poll is good news, but what it means is that the independence movement must keep up its efforts. We must continue to organise on a grassroots level. We must continue to march and rally to show a country whose media sidelines and marginalises us that we exist, that we are numerous, that we are vital and energetic, that we know the way to the lifeboats. We need to continue to show that Scotland can’t rely on the British state to save it, but Scotland can save itself.
This poll proves that despite concerted attempts by an overwhelmingly anti-independence media to sideline the independence movement and its supporters, we are winning, we are getting through. And we’re doing it ourselves. The only way for the independence movement is up. We’re 52% and rising.
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