If, as Ruth Wishart persuasively opines, Scotland’s cause depends on “a massive communal effort on behalf of the Yes family” then I fear Scotland’s cause is lost. Ruth refers to “real politik” [sic] and her analysis is steeped in that – until it comes to the conclusion. I see a lot of this. An argument flying straight and true towards one end-point that inexplicably veers off course just before it strikes. It’s as if the conclusion was predetermined and the argument must end up there regardless of where logic and a good grasp of the facts would take it.
That “there is only one party in Scotland, and one leader, who is in a position to deliver independence” is a truth which is not merely self-evident it is glaringly, face-slappingly, bum-bitingly obvious. It is a truth so solid that it cannot be denied without calling into question the mental health of the one doing the denying. So nobody denies it. Until they do. The Yes movement is beset by people who will unhesitatingly acknowledge the truth that ‘it’s all about the SNP’ all day long – yet finish by insisting that we must look elsewhere. They will gladly rehearse all the realpolitik that points to there being no alternative – but end by declaring their commitment to an alternative. Facts give way to fantasy. Logic’s arrow is drawn off-target as if by a powerful magnet.
With the greatest of respect, Ruth, you have fallen into the same kind of doublethink. The article’s direction of travel doesn’t take it to a place where “a massive communal effort on behalf of the Yes family” is a realistic prospect. To make matters worse, the only thing that might make it a realistic prospect is the kind of leadership that is discounted. Pretty much everything in your account points to the infeasibility of a campaign such as we had ten years ago. But your conclusion is that this is what is required.
Margo MacDonald was correct when she said that if each Yes activist convinced one other person Scotland’s cause would be won. But note the past tense. It was true when Margot said it. It’s not necessarily true now. A helluva lot has changed since Margo MacDonald was motivating and guiding Yes activists with here oratory. I would suggest that were she still with us she’d be talking a very different game now. I reckon she was pragmatic enough to recognise where time and events have brought us. Taking due account of the realpolitik she would recognise that the one-on-one, face-to-face persuasive approach simply won’t do the job for us now, even to the very limited extent that it is a practical proposition.
Assuming the magical new Yes message was an actual thing, the chances of getting and keeping everybody in the Yes movement on-message are vanishingly slim. Observing the various ‘debates’ among the plethora of cliques and factions supposedly united by a common objective the sensible conclusion is that Scotland’s cause would be best served by keeping that lot as far away from the voters as might be contrived.
The whole convincing one other person thing has been done. The happy-clappy ‘give me positivity or give me death’ approach has been done to death. The polls are not moving because people are not being moved. To progress Scotland’s cause in timely fashion we need a campaign that moves people not in a piecemeal manner, but en masse. People will NOT be moved en masse by myriad variations on a ‘vision’ of the future or by dry-as-dust and inevitably inconclusive debate about currency and pensions. Not now. The people who could be moved in this way have already been moved. They are the 50% at which the polls have remained stuck since 2014.
Popular enthusiasm has done it’s job. It would have been excellent had it been sufficient. It self-evidently is not. It’s the people’s anger we need now. Not rage. Cold, calculating anger directed at the appropriate target. Not Boris Johnson or the Tories but the Union which inflicts them on us. Ironically, a rabble-rousing orator is exactly what we need. A leader who can circumvent a Yes movement crippled by internal division and strife, going over the heads of Yes activists to appeal directly to the people with the simple message that the Union is wrong. Fundamentally wrong. Incorrigibly wrong. Destructively wrong. Perhaps even managing to unite the Yes movement behind that message.
We must rid the campaign to restore constitutional normality to Scotland of the mindset which regards independence as something that might be nice to have if only the British state would give it to us and if only enough people could be convinced of what a nice thing it would be. We must cultivate a mindset which perceives the restoration of independence as something that is essential to Scotland’s survival as a nation. And the Union as the thing which threatens Scotland’s very existence.
If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence movement.