Alyn Smith MP would have to talk a huge amount of sense about the constitutional issue to get his credibility account back in the black after his oft-repeated inanity about Scotland never having been closer to independence. His column in The National today doesn’t even make a dent in his overdraft. Admittedly, he is not helped by the headline ─ which I recognise was probably not of his choosing. Nonetheless, the words “Every day Liz Truss spends in Downing Street is a boost for Yes” will have a familiar ring to them for most independence activists. It echoes the message the SNP has been pumping out for what seems like an eternity. The message that tells us we should happily put up with the increasing amounts of ordure being heaped upon Scotland by the British state because with each shovelful of the nasty stuff a few more voters are won over to the Yes side. To borrow a phrase from Mr Smith, that is Boris-like “blustery vapid venality”.
Alyn Smith may not use the actual words contained in the headline. But whoever wrote it had unquestionably got the gist of the content. It’s just more of the same thing that we’ve been getting form the SNP for the last eight years as they’ve urged us to put up with the pain and think of the gain. You will have noticed, however, that this gain is never quantified. They never put a number on it. They never tell us what the gain is in terms of support for Yes that is supposed to make the all too easily quantified pain worth enduring. There’s a reason for that. Like Alyn Smith’s credibility, the gain is non-existent. The pain is real. The compensating benefit for Scotland’s cause is a myth. Or a lie.
Lest we be so inured to that pain as to have stopped noticing it, Alyn Smith reminds us. One area in which he is quite proficient is picking out the bigger lumps from the ordure and rubbing our noses in it. Most of his column is taken up with cataloguing the offences and offensiveness of the new boss ─ who, it transpires as if as a cue for the song, is just like the old boss. The conclusion drawn from Alyn’s penetrating analysis is that following the protracted farce of the Tory leadership contest, the best we might expect is a continuing stream of ordure and more of the same pain. That would be one of those ‘no shit Sherlock’ moments.
For those who imagined the elevation of Liz Truss to the high office recently and gracelessly vacated by Boris Johnson might herald a transformation in the British political elite’s behaviour, Alyn Smith provides only disappointment. That disappointment will afflict a vanishingly small number of people in Scotland. We’ve had ample time to be convinced that better is not to be expected. A rather larger number will seize on the hope he offers that while further British imposition and iniquity is to be anticipated, there is comfort in knowing that every day Liz Truss spends in Downing Street is a boost for Yes. Just like every day Boris spent as British Prime Minister was a boost for Yes. Just like EVEL, and Brexit and all the rest was supposed to be a boost for Yes. It hardly mattered that the SNP/Scottish Government was doing nothing towards restoring Scotland’s independence. The Brits were doing the job for them. The next straw will be the one that breaks the Union. Always the next straw. Never the last straw.
People believe the fatuous claptrap peddled by Alyn Smith and others. That is one of the greater tragedies of the current chapter in Scotland’s long and not entirely wonderful history. People actually believe that the many kinds of pain they are enduring on account of Scotland being trapped in the Union is compensated by increasing support for Yes. They believe it as a matter of faith. They ask for no evidence. They take the likes of Alyn Smith at his word. They ask no questions. For which I’m sure Alyn is duly grateful. Because it’s a certainty that he would have no answers.
As with any faith position, it is defended by adherents with ferocity. Faith positions are by definition vulnerable to truth. So, truth must be repelled and rejected. Those who come bearing facts must be vilified as heretics and traitors. The facts must be denied even if never refuted. The sources must be impugned even if no better information is provided. Such is faith. And the faithful.
I’m not one of the faithful. I don’t do faith. I question everything ─ commencing with my own prejudices and preconceptions. I question assertions such as the ‘never closer to independence’ drivel that oozes out of Alyn Smith and numerous of his SNP colleagues only to be dutifully lapped up by the larger (for the moment!) part of the Yes movement. Which naturally means that along with others who prefer facts to faith, I am persona non grata among the faithful. I don’t care! I care only that the truth be told in the perpetual hope that the more it is told the more people will come to realise that they are being deceived. There is no gain for the endured pain.
This truth is not concealed. In order to discover it one need only start by asking the awkward question: where is the evidence? Liars rely on people not actively seeking the truth. Faith puts a near-impenetrable barrier between people and truth. Faith forbids the asking of the questions that lead to truth. If the questions are never asked, the truth is never discovered. Not even if the truth is right there on the surface rather than buried deep. It is a surpassingly simple matter to test the claim that the awfulness of the British government causes an increase in support for independence. We hardly need evidence of the former. We can very easily access information on the latter. Throw that information into a basic arithmetic calculation and there is the evidence ─ one way or the other.
There is a Wikipedia page which lists all the polls based on the (unfortunately) standard ballot question ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ going back to the result of the 2014 referendum (Yes = 44.7%). All that is required is to reckon where the polls stand now and compare this with the 44.7% figure to see by how much support for Yes has ‘soared’ under some of the worst British governments ever known inflicting some of the most appalling policies on Scotland while treating the Scottish people with cold contempt.
In order to iron out fluctuations and take account of outliers, it is best to take an average of recent polls. This should give a reliable indication of where support for Yes stands at this time. It’s a certainty that there is no more reliable source for this information. The faithful will spout the customary ill-informed crap about polls being rigged and Wikipedia being untrustworthy. But we can discount that on the grounds that the polling data assembled by Wikipedia is fully verifiable and the methodologies of the pollsters can be examined along with the raw data. Notwithstanding the screeching of those who despise truth that challenges their faith, we can have high degree of confidence that our comparison will (ironically) be a faithful representation of the actual situation.
For this exercise, I took the average of the most recent 17 polls. If that seems an odd number in more than the arithmetical sense, it’s because I extended the range of polls taken into account so as to include two that produced exceptionally high scores for Yes of 50% and 52%. I did this because I knew that if I didn’t, I’d be accused by the faithful of ‘cheating’ by excluding these numbers. As we’ll see, including them doesn’t make a difference.
The average of those 17 most recent polls is 44.5%. To remind you, this is compared to 44.7% in the 2014 referendum. If Boris Johnson was a ‘recruiting sergeant’ for Yes then he was evidently as incompetent in that role as he was as British Prime Minister.
If every day Liz Truss spends in Downing Street is a boost for Yes to the same degree as was the case during Boris Johnson’s incumbency, support for Yes will not be boosted at all. To claim that it has been boosted is a lie. To believe that it will be boosted is to subscribe to a fallacy. It is delusion. It is a faith position. It is stupidity of the worst kind.
Scotland’s cause suffers as a consequence of this deceit being perpetrated by Alyn Smith and others of his ilk. Our cause also suffers due to the eagerness to be deceived exhibited by those who put party and personality before nation. The fight to break the Union and restore Scotland’s independence is hampered by a widespread belief that the fight is being won when it palpably is not. Not until the failures and failings of the SNP are recognised can they possibly be rectified. Those failures and failings are bordering on criminal. And they persist.
The restoration of Scotland’s independence requires that the Scottish Government act through the Scottish Parliament in such a way as to make it happen. Contrary to another myth being vigorously peddled by various figures in the SNP and the wider Yes movement, the UK is not disintegrating. By her own declaration, Liz Truss stands ready to ensure that the Union can never be broken. Either the Scottish Government acts now or restoring Scotland’s independence becomes increasingly more difficult. The proposed referendum and/or plebiscitary election are not the action that is required. They represent a pretence of action only.
The SNP+SGP/Scottish Government will not take the necessary action to rescue Scotland from the British Nationalists unless it is forced to do so by the massed strength of the Yes movement. This cannot happen while a huge part of the Yes movement believes that the fight is already being won. The truth must be told. It must be told by someone with a voice much louder than mine. Who will stand up for truth, democracy and Scotland’s cause?
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