I’m feeling a whole lot happier today than I was last week. Friday was an especially bad day, and not just because Alex Salmond had just sat down to give his evidence to the Holyrood committee investigating the botched investigation into the allegations made against him. The media was full of confident predictions that his evidence was going to destroy Nicola Sturgeon and that she’d be forced out of office in disgrace just weeks away from what is possibly the most important Scottish election since the establishment of devolution.
You could almost taste the evident glee of the likes of The BBC’s Sarah Smith as she anticipated the wheels coming off the SNP, destroying any prospect of Scottish independence for the foreseeable future. All the painful progress we have made as a movement since 2014 appeared to be on the verge of vanishing in a red mist of angry recriminations and accusations, and just as we stood on the threshold of a better and more hopeful Scotland. The gloom was compounded by the publication of an opinion poll which had support for independence and opposition to it neck and neck on 50%. We seemed to have lost the consistent majority support for independence that we had enjoyed over the previous year.
But I was also feeling a similar sense of fear and deflation on a personal level too on that Friday. I’ve been making a much better recovery from the stroke than I had dared to imagine when I was still in hospital. My walking is coming along great although progress in regaining functional use of my hand and arm is much more slow. We have just moved into our new house and are looking forward to getting it set up and kitted out in the way we want it. We’re on the threshold of a new better and more hopeful life here in beautiful South Ayrshire.
However last week Peter came down with a nasty bout of what turned out to be viral gastroenteritis. Because he was ill we had to cancel a hospital physiotherapy appointment I had last week at the Southern General in Glasgow – that has now been rescheduled for Tuesday of next week. On the Thursday he was advised to go for a Covid test because he had a fever and we ere told to self-isolate until he got the all-clear. Thankfully he got a negative test result first thing on Friday morning. However on Friday as I sat down to write an article I started to feel unwell too. All of a sudden I was wiped out, I became very weak and had no energy at all. then I started to feel nauseous and began shivering and felt extremely cold. That’s when I started to panic. I experienced very similar symptoms when I suffered the stroke back in October. I was terrified that it was happening again and had visions of being taken back into hospital, back to square one with all the recovery and progress of the past four months wiped out. I managed to crawl back to bed, and once Peter confirmed that I hadn’t lost all the muscle tone down one side of my face I pretty much passed out and slept for eight hours solid. Thankfully it wasn’t another stroke , I had just come down with the same bug that had afflicted Peter.
This week things are looking a whole lot more more positive. We are not entirely out of the woods with either the stomach bug or the Salmond -Sturgeon affair, but it does seem that the worst of the crisis has passed. Even her critics have grudgingly had to admit that the First Minister gave a good account of herself when it was her turn to give evidence to the Holyrood committee yesterday. The Greens have announced that they will not be giving their support to the Conservatives’ calls for votes of no-confidence against Nicola Sturgeon and her deputy John Swinney, meaning that The Conservatives cannot find sufficient votes to succeed in their cynical an opportunistic attempt to use the Salmond-Sturgeon affair as a means of derailing the independence movement just weeks away from a crucial election. The immediate threat to Nicola Sturgeon’s position has receded.
Meanwhile there are encouraging signs that despite all the noise and shouting on social media, the SNP and the wider independence movement are getting back on track. There are numerous reports on social media that Nicola Sturgeon’s marathon performance in front of the Holyrood inquiry has been followed by a surge in applications for membership of the SNP. Because as Ruth Davidson crawls off to the House of Lords it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Conservatives want no future for the Scottish Parliament. The only hope for Scotland is to return a strong SNP majority government and to hold and win an independence referendum.
And in another encouraging and hopeful sign that all is far from lost, a new opinion poll carried out by Savanta ComRes for ITV places support for independence in Scotland at 53%, a seven point lead once rounding is taken into account. The same poll also shows record support for Welsh independence with 39% of voters in Wales lending their support to Welsh self-determination.
There are still clouds on the horizon but it does seem that we have successfully weathered the worst of the storm. Now it is time to concentrate on what is important, working to ensure that a Scotland returns a strong and unarguable majority for independence in the Scottish Parliamentary elections which are now just nine weeks away. Nothing else matters.
James Kelly of Scot Goes Pop has launched a new crowdfunder to raise funds in order to commission another opinion poll before that vital election in May. As always it’s well worth contributing to this important cause. Scottish opinion polling is not well served by our traditional media. You can contribute to James’s crowdfunder here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/james-kelly-scot-goes-pop-general-fundraiser-2021
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