That 66% of people in Scotland expect independence is heartening, but hardly surprising. (Poll: 66% of Scots think independence will happen eventually) This merely reflects the political mood in the country. What is perhaps more surprising is the continued denial of British nationalists who simply refuse to accept the new reality.
What is more interesting is the contrast between the political awareness of respondents in Scotland and the ill-informed analysis offered by pollsters observing from within the London bubble. This is exemplified in the comment about, “the way in which the Scottish National Party have turned the disappointment of the referendum result into a nationalist surge”. As any of those 66% could have told Sunder Katwala, the “surge” to which he refers was totally spontaneous. It was neither engineered nor anticipated.
The SNP has, without question, very effectively ridden the wave of that post-referendum surge in support for Scottish – as opposed to British – political parties. But the idea that the SNP somehow created and managed that surge is a fallacy derived entirely from the British nationalist propaganda line that the referendum was all about the SNP and/or Alex Salmond. A little gobbet of idiocy best represented by the inane depiction of the entire independence movement as one man’s “vanity project” by some of the less intellectually acute commentators.
The near-total failure to comprehend the true nature of Scotland’s independence movement is telling. It is as if a genuine grass-roots political movement is so alien to those immersed in the British political system that they neither know how to deal with it or even recognise it.
But we must must give credit where it is due. At least the report from British Future recognises that voting patterns in Scotland have changed. And that the difference between voting in Holyrood and Westminster elections is diminishing rapidly. Whether there is any awareness of the underlying reason for this isn’t clear. Given the excessive focus on the SNP previously noted, it seems likely that this change will also be attributed largely to the one party, thereby missing the crucial point that there has been a fundamental shift in which Holyrood is now regarded as the locus of all Scotland’s politics.
Hard as it will undoubtedly be for British nationalists to accept, even in a UK general election Westminster is increasingly regarded in Scotland as peripheral. In the eyes of a growing number of people in Scotland, Westminster is viewed as a largely superfluous entity that is associated with incompetence, corruption, venality and an arrogant disregard for democracy. There is a rising tide of feeling that Westminster does not serve the interests of the people of Scotland. At the very least, it is held to be an obstacle to progress and the realisation of of Scotland’s aspirations.
And nobody imagines that will change. Which is why two-thirds expect Scotland to rid itself of the burden of Westminster in the medium to long term. It also explains why, in the short term, voters in Scotland are abandoning the British parties in droves. The British parties in Scotland are no longer trusted to represent the interests of the people of Scotland. At best they are regarded as having failed Scotland. At worst, of having betrayed Scotland.
The people of Scotland have decided that they’ve had enough. And the Yes campaign has given them the confidence to act.