When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things.I Cor. xiii. 11
When I was a child I believed as a child. When I was a child I could be deceived as a child is deceived. When I was a child I was wishful as a child is wishful. Now I’m a cynical old bastard I’ve put away childish notions. Now, I can’t be fooled as I once was fooled. Now, I don’t succumb to the facile hyperbole of the mainstream media as once I might. Now, I prefer to be realistic. Now, I don’t believe in Santa Claus, any kind of deity or soaring support for Yes as ‘reported’ in The National. Now, when I see headlines such as Scottish independence poll: Support soars to 55 per cent I don’t immediately break out the Cava and the party-poppers. I don’t head straight to change.org to start a petition for the beatification of Nicola Sturgeon. I don’t assume the headline to be accurate. I don’t assume the numbers quoted to be anything other than something between rather misleading and downright dishonest.
I’m not miserable. I’m often angry or frustrated or despairing or all three at once. But I generally manage to maintain a sense of humour even while being tenaciously realistic. I have dreams. But I’m not a dreamer. I have a vivid imagination. But I don’t dwell in any of the worlds my imagination creates. I live in the real world. The colours here may not be as vivid and there are no lemonade springs or whiskey lakes. But I don’t suffer the crushing disappointment of discovering the truth having eagerly embraced the fantasy. There are no hard landings when your feet are permanently planted on terra firma.
I have a theory that the reason people tend to get more cynical and ‘grumpy’ as they grow older is that they are making the most of the faculties which they are at some level aware may soon depart them. When dementia lurks close by the capacity for being realistic is better appreciated while it lasts. And as appreciation of realism increases so does impatience with the foolish, childish fantasising of others.
It’s odd, is it not, that the people who complain most bitterly about the way the mainstream media ‘spin’ stories are so often the first to seize on the spin that accords with their own prejudices. And the most virulent in condemning the ‘negativity’ of those who decline to be similarly duped. Yesterday, I noticed that some of my comments below the line on a National piece about what a wonderful job Nicola Sturgeon is doing had been censored. The censored comments were all responses to a particular SNP/Sturgeon loyalist with blinkers the size of barn doors and a vicious intolerance for anything that appears to cast doubt on the claims made about what a wonderful job Nicola Sturgeon is doing. You know the type. This one responded to my criticism of their Sturgeonist zealotry with the usual guff about how I must be a closet Tory because I can’t remember the last time I kissed N-cola’s expensively shod feet. And, disgracefully, accusing me of misogyny just because the individual I was criticising happened to be (or claimed to be) female. Like I say, this sort of stuff will be wearyingly familiar to most of my readers.
One of the censored comments observed that taken in the direction of it’s logical conclusion, the position of the #WheeshtForIndy mob is that even if Sturgeon is doing something which would be disastrous for Scotland’s cause one must not write about this but instead write about something positive – regardless of whether this positive thing is real or the product of media manipulation married to childish credulousness. This, I am branded the spawn of Satan when I point out the unreality of the success claimed by and on behalf of Sturgeon in pushing up support for independence. If simply sticking to the facts and reasoned arguments makes you a bad person then I am a very bad person indeed and content to be so.
As others work themselves dervish-like into a state of ecstasy over reports of soaring support for Yes I’m the one standing by with the wet blanket ready to douse the flames when the fervent and faithful spontaneously combust. I make no apology. If the aim is to make progress towards a particular destination then it is essential to know your present location. It is vital that we are realistic about where we stand. What if we’re in the wrong place and facing the wrong direction?
Here’s an example of the kind of hard, rooted facts to which I cling while others are swept away on a tide of grandiose rhetoric and self-delusion.
The average for Yes in the first 10 polls after Nicola Sturgeon became SNP leader and First Minister was 45.6%.
The average for Yes in the most recent 10 polls is 44.9%.
Everything in between is irrelevant if all you want to know is where Scotland’s cause was at the commencement of Sturgeon’s incumbency and compare this with where that cause is now. It wouldn’t matter if the polls had genuinely soared to 99% some time in 2018. We would be fools to pretend we were still at that level when the current evidence is telling a very different story. That story is that while Nicola Sturgeon has been in charge support for Yes has gone from a rounded figure of 46% to a rounded figure of 45%. Taking margin of error into account the very best that can be honestly claimed is that the fight to restore Scotland’s independence has gained not one millimetre of ground in the seven years that Nicola Sturgeon has been SNP leader and First Minister. Because there has been no fight.
The paragraph above is enough to make me a favourite hate-figure of the SNP loyalists and apologists. I really don’t care. Or, to be more precise, I don’t care about the puerile name calling and such. I do care about denial of the reality of Scotland’s situation. I care that Scotland’s cause is put at serious risk by the blank refusal of some to acknowledge that something is wrong. We need to be pragmatic. We need to keep it real. But first we have to get it real. And what a forlorn and thankless task that is proving to be!
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