If Kirsty Strickland’s aim was to snuff the flame of anger now burning in Scotland then she’s going the wrong way about it. I don’t know about anyone else, but few things are better contrived to arouse my ire than being told to “keep the heid” in the face of what is being done to Scotland right now and what will be done if the scourge of British Nationalism isn’t stopped.
The only people who aren’t angry right now are those who don’t understand the situation and those whose pompous self-righteousness leaves no room for less refined emotions. Those who adopt an air of detached world-weariness imagining that it signals metropolitan sophistication. Those who mistake patronising platitudes for pearls of wisdom. Those who have a conceit of themselves that places them in the vanguard of the campaign to restore Scotland’s independence but who prefer not to come into contact with anything so plebeian as unmuzzled outrage.
Keep the heid? Fuck that! It is one of my proudest boasts that I have reached the age of 69 without losing the capacity to be angered by injustice. I value my anger. I would no sooner lose my capacity to be roused to wrath by diverse iniquities than I would my ability to see or speak. Anger is cousin to passion. Without passion we’re just meat automata.
Ms Strickland makes the fundamental error of using the terms ‘anger’ and ‘rage’ interchangeably. They are not synonymous! Rage goes beyond anger to something unfocused and uncontrolled. Anger can energise a campaign. And if the anger is compartmentalised rather than being suppressed, it need not render the campaign disunited or disorganised.
Things change because people get angry about the way things are. No social reform was ever achieved by calm reason alone. Reasoned and democratic argument is the servant of anger. Anger may be ineffective absent the capacity to formulate and express a rational case. But without an infusion of anger that calm rationality is likely to be all but totally ineffectual.
The impression that Kirsty Strickland is out to provoke irritation if not anger is strengthened by some of her other comments. “Indyref2 will come. It’s not a question of if, but when…”, she opines. A statement which really should be the introduction to at least a couple of paragraphs explaining why this must be so – but never is.
Then there’s the suggestion that what we’re engaged in is a campaign to expose Boris Johnson for “the uniquely unappealing figure he is”. Forgive me, Kirsty, but I had this daft notion that what we were engaged in was the considerably less trivial effort to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status and end the injustice of the Union. What was I thinking!?
Always annoying is the assertion that anybody who is doing something that the writer disapproves of must be aiding the enemy. They must be doing “exactly what opponents of independence are counting on”. It may be a most genteel way of labelling people traitors to the cause, but it is bloody offensive all the same.
Perhaps not in the same league as the thinly veiled accusation of treachery, but vexatious for all that, is the claim that the Yes movement is “stronger and more agile than it was in 2014”. Which would be an innocuous statement but for the fact that Ms Strickland is the one trying to weaken the Yes movement and reduce its agility by denying it the anger which is an essential resource for any reformist political campaign.
Scotland’s cause needs more anger, not less. And denying such anger as there inevitably is an outlet through the Yes campaign is a sure way of having it fester and swell into the rage which really would do serious harm to our cause.
Don’t tell me to keep the heid! I have a perfect right to my anger. And every right to use that anger to motivate myself and others.
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