The build-up to this afternoon’s big reveal has been pretty intense. It will be difficult for the actuality to live up to the hype. But I suppose that depends on how high your expectations are. And how ‘generously’ you interpret the content of the announcement. Personally, I will be sticking to my usual practice of reading and digesting the transcript before commenting. I leave the knee-jerk reactions to others. My preference is for dispassionate analysis and this often requires a few hours to let subside whatever passions may be aroused.
As ever, too, I will be attending closely to what is not said as well as what is. What is not said can be more significant than the actual words spoken. Words can be used to conceal gaping holes in the content.
Nicola Sturgeon should know that her speech today is not an occasion for empty rhetoric – however rousing. It is not a time for vagueness or ambiguity. It is not a time for glittering generalities. We have been promised a plan. What she announces better be a plan. It must qualify as a credible process with the restoration of Scotland’s independence as the end-point. Anything less will be a disastrous anti-climax.
Of course, the British media will misrepresent what she says whatever she says. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Tom Gordon!) But we’re accustomed to that. what is potentially more of a problem for rational analysis of the First Minister’s announcement is the misrepresentation that will surely come from the other side of the constitutional divide. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Sturgeon/SNP loyalists!)
Perhaps more than at any time before, Scotland’s cause now demands a hefty dose of hard-headed realism. We simply cannot afford to mistake where we are and where we are being taken by our political leaders. Just as there are those who will always maintain that Nicola Sturgeon is wrong, so there are those who will hail her every utterance as perfect and precious pearls of wisdom. Just as the muck flung by British Nationalists mustn’t be allowed to obscure the truth, so the polish applied by party loyalists shouldn’t blind us to reality. Those who would understand must peer through the murk and behind the gleam.
I think it is safe to say that everyone in the Yes movement hopes that Nicola Sturgeon will use her speech today to answer at least the most important of the questions being asked by those who want to be assured of a viable process by which Scotland’s independence might be restored and persuaded of an effective campaign strategy to see that process through to a successful conclusion.
Today, let Nicola Sturgeon’s watchword be ‘substance’!
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