Friday 29 March 2013

Referendum debate: A mystery to the media?

Scotland's independence referendum
Reading the editorial in today's Guardian I was struck by two things. The shallowness of the analysis. And the bitterness of the comments that followed.

The first of these is evident in the rather quaint notion that Ruth Davidson's speech the other day marked some sort of major shift in Tory thinking on devolution. The reality, of course, is that the Tories are no more offering firm proposals on "more powers" than their British Labour allies. Their interest in enhancing democracy in Scotland is a function of the perceived threat of a Yes vote in next year's referendum. With that threat removed, all the British parties will suddenly lose interest in devolution.

And what of the threat of a Yes vote? Is it, as the analysis offered here suggests, such a remote possibility as to be hardly worth reflecting on? Only if one looks no farther than the headline figures in polls. While these would indicate support for independence at no more than 35% what they do not make clear is just how weak the assumed No vote is.

Polling also shows that, when people are asked about what powers they would like the Scottish Parliament to have, a clear and in some cases substantial majority indicate that they want powers that they cannot have while Scotland remains bound to the anachronistic union..

Most people in Scotland want independence. They just haven't yet realised that the thing they want is called independence.

What they do know is that the Better Together mob offer nothing. A No vote is a vote for the status quo, at best. And, as already noted, with the leverage of a possible Yes vote removed, it is almost certain to result in a rolling back of existing devolution; the "repatriation" of powers to the cesspit of Westminster; slashing of Scotland's budget; punitive welfare "reforms" beyond anything we've seen so far; rigging of the electoral system to ensure British parties will always hold power at Holyrood; and much else besides.

The polling is deceptive. Most of those counted as No voters have actually already rejected the status quo. They are more like Yes voters in waiting. As increasing numbers of them realise the dire implications of a No vote, they will move - first to the undecided category, and then to committed supporters of independence.

What Ruth Davidson's speech indicates is some sort of low-level awareness in the British parties that they are losing. That they chose the wrong strategy when they rejected devo-whatever. That the disinformation, distortions and downright lies are not being effective. That the ever more inane scare stories aren't working. They are now desperately trying to deceive voters into thinking that a No vote means enhanced devolution. They are setting up "commissions" to provide them with a pretext to <b>talk about</b> "more powers" because they have belatedly realised that they have nothing to say to the people of Scotland. Nothing to offer them.

While the mainstream media continues to peddle a cosy consensus informed by the perspective of the British state, politics in Scotland has changed. The referendum debate in particular has moved on apparently unnoticed by the majority of commentators. The question people in Scotland are asking is less and less why they should vote for independence and increasingly why they would want to stay with a UK that has irretrievably succumbed to the ideology which is driving the Tories' economic and social vandalism.

Independence has long since ceased to be the big scary abyss that the British parties still try to portray with a desperation that borders on the ludicrous. Independence is normal. It is the default condition of all nations. It is the constitutional status to which the people of all nations aspire. In Scotland, more and more people are wondering why they should continue to be the exception.

Why that should provoke such a bilious response from so many people outside Scotland continues to be perplexing.

1 comment:

  1. "Why that should provoke such a bilious response from so many people outside Scotland continues to be perplexing."

    We are not supposed to be the assertive one and the big-shot cant handle it. It can be seen in microcosm in the infamous reunion of Peter Cook Dudley Moore.