Anger is an energy

Given all that is happening, the relevant question must surely be why support for independence isn’t soaring. Or, to put it another way, why support for the Union remains so strong. We are quibbling over single-digit shifts that barely get out of margin-of-error territory when, by all accounts, we should be seeing changes dramatic enough to reflect the unprecedented political circumstances into which Scotland has been dragged because of the Union.

Day in and day out we have Nicola Sturgeon taking to Twitter to ‘slam’ some fresh iniquity perpetrated against Scotland by the British political elite. Ian Blackford endlessly reminds us of how awful everything is. Even the Unionist media can’t entirely conceal the preposterous fumble-fest that is British politics. So, why is this reality not reflected in polling?

Why is the claimed disintegration of the UK not translating into a massive surge in support for independence?

Why are people not angry about what is being done to Scotland?

In part, I suspect, the apparent unresponsiveness of public opinion may be explained by farce fatigue. People have grown weary of the whole Brexit bungle-circus. The have become inured to catastrophe as a constant. Even the most rambunctious parliamentary slapstick can’t long hold the attention of minds accustomed to the fresh gratifications at forty-second intervals offered by mass media entertainment. Rolling news on a twenty-minute loop of carefully orchestrated sensation, salacity and silliness has anaesthetised us to all but the most outrageous incidents.

Ian Blackford’s belligerent bombast has blended into the background noise of a political sideshow which many (most?) people are barely aware of. The condemnatory tirades which litter Nicola Sturgeon’s Twitter timeline have become as monotonous as the sponsored announcements – and as likely to capture attention. The interminable third-rate sitcom of Brexit is into its seventh season, and sharks are being jumped in every episode. People are switching off in droves.

Much of this tedium is strategically contrived, of course. Politicians know that, if you want the public to stop paying attention to something, the best was is to shove it in their faces 24/7. Even if the seeming decades-long dragging out of Brexit isn’t deliberately engineered, it nonetheless suits the purposes of a British political elite for whom apathy, alienation and anomie are favoured instruments of social control. Where diversion and distraction are not options, inundation may serve to let many a mistake and misdeed go unnoticed.

So it will be until someone throws a metaphorical grenade into the room. Something rude enough to bestir Scotland’s populace from the slumber of indifference. Something dramatic enough to seize both flitting attention and dulled imagination. Something extraordinary even in a time of unexampled political upheaval.

Scotland’s independence movement needs to be energised. Scotland’s cause requires an injection of anger. It’s no use simply informing people that something bad is happening. It has to be made personal and intolerable. It’s no use just telling people about this or that injustice. We need political leaders ready to inveigh against the source of that injustice. We need them to rail against the Union. We need them to fulminate. We need, not the quiet voice of reason and diplomacy, but the ear-splitting roar of outrage and indignation.

Mahatma Ghandi said,

I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world.

We don’t seek to move the world. We seek only to end the undemocratic and unjust anomaly of the Union and restore constitutional normality to Scotland. Whatever some may claim, this is not happening. The independence campaign is not where it should be at this time and in prevailing circumstances. It isn’t where it should be because nobody in a position of power is acting so as to take it there.

The mindset of the independence campaign must change – and with it, the mood.

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10 thoughts on “Anger is an energy

  1. I read the Progress Scotland report on its recent poll and, funnily, I didn’t interpret the findings as “support for independence is falling” which is what the media are rabbiting on about. I’d say support is growing – quite a lot!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You may be correct, Rosemary. Unfortunately, we have no way of demonstrating that growing support other than the polls. And the polls simply aren’t showing this.


  2. An excellent observation of where the mood of the campaign lies currently. The “metaphorical bomb” might just come in the form of an early general election in which the SNP experience a dramatic leeching of their vote share to the forces of inertia and disillusionment brought about by an abject failure to genuinely construct a campaign to deliver on the doorstep the length and breadth of the country!

    It occurs to me that no obvious appetite exists within the SNP group at Holyrood to resolutely prosecute the campaign for Independence at this time, outwith mealy mouthed utterances, delivered
    for the ongoing consumption of the groupie element within the movement.

    The big hitters within the Westminster group need to get their arses back up the road and start openly campaigning on the streets and on the doorsteps throughout the country and then, perhaps, we may see the measure of their intent!


  3. I never thought that BREXIT was the silver bullet that would explode into the hearts and minds of the Scottish populace. Scots are generally in favour of the EU and strong links with Europe but we are not passionate about it. Witness the 38% of Scottish voters who ticked the ‘Leave’ box on 23rd June 2016.

    In Ireland there was no real popular upsurge in demands for independence from the UK despite hundreds of years of deprivation at the hands of those from the southern end of this (larger) island that sought to dominate and defenestrate its people. Regardless of Wolfe Tone’s United Irishmen of the late 18th century, Daniel O’Connell with his Monster Meetings in the early 19th century and Charles Stuart Parnell and 80 odd Irish Party MPs in the late 19th century the people did not en masse rise up. Most ordinary people thought that even the Easter Rising and taking of the Dublin GPO was simply carried out by a bunch of ‘trouble makers’. They were more concerned with muddling through day by day. The game-changer was the actions of the British state in dealing with leaders of the uprising i.e. the executions of Pearce, Connolly, Sharpe et al. Then the people saw what they were dealing with.

    What will cause the light bulb moment for Scottish folk? Not ‘being taken out of the EU against our will”, that’s for sure. It’s not inspiring enough to vote for (never mind die for, as the upset Irish were ultimately prepared to do and did). I am not advocating violence (from or against the British state) or martyrdom but our leaders need to make the case for independence much more cogently and across a wide range of issues rather than just one (anti-BREXIT). It’s not as though they are short of (metaphorical) ammunition – Bedroom Tax, Rape Clause, Food Banks, illegal foreign wars (Iraq) and military adventures (Falklands), Nuclear Weapons (on Scottish soil) and (yes) Brexit.

    So let’s go!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It seems that independence needs to be taken out of the hands of the SNP. It has become a British Party more interested in saving Great Britain ( i’e England = Greater England) from Brexit than in gaining Scotland’s independence. In whose hands can independence be placed?


  5. The question you ask is the one that baffles me and I’m sure many others too. Why are we not seeing support at 60 – 70% when Scotland’s democratic will is so obviously being trampled by WM.
    You suggest that our leaders should get angry (which I’m sure they are). But your Gandhi quote seems to reflect exactly what the FM and leadership are doing.

    “our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world”

    Isn’t that an exact description of what the FM is doing? She remains controlled (‘the only grown up in the room’) while everyone else in UK politics is throwing their toys out of the pram.

    She’s playing the long game, but I have no doubt she’s playing to win.

    We have to remember that if we hold another referendum and lose, it’s over.


  6. It’s easy to forget that most people have little interest in politics. Twitter, Facebook, Newspapers, TV, blogs and marches are full of politics what percentage of the population know or even care about it? Our discussions can still take place in a bubble, which gives the impression that support is far greater than it is. Support for the union suffers in the same way.

    It’s no different to religion. Go to a church and it’s full of believers but the man on the street doesn’t give a stuff. Evangelical activism on the streets can put off as many people as it converts. It’s only when people are directly affected that they take an active interest but even the Irish potato famine didn’t bring about Irish independence.

    Engaging with people subtly without being a bore is key. As soon as you get on a soap box the game is over.


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