If the prevailing thought was that Independence, however much desired, was merely a romantic notion unable to withstand the rigours of debate and pragmatism, then the last few months have offered a fresh perspective on matters. Still some weeks shy of the official campaign start date of 30th May, the mood amongst both camps is fast changing and the pronouncements from either side proving that the stakes could not be higher.
Tested by a barrage of endless negativity and sheer cynicism, the Yes movement have seen off most of what the Better Together machine has mustered in its crude campaign to date. If the Yes camp are buoyed by recent coverage and their standing in the polls, the No camp must be reeling as they step through the looking glass of what they originally assumed would be a straightforward campaign. Startled by the swelling support for Independence, one would ordinarily expect Better Together to play their strongest hand in the crossfire of debate. Yet, despite the luxury of time and resource, not to mention a favourable media, what the No camp have offered is not so much a composed and poker faced response as a snappy and shallow retort that continually fails to address the political, economic and social fault lines that challenge this country. Without a meaningful vision and direction for Scotland, it is little wonder they find their campaign reduced to threats, intimidation and outright bullying.
When Chancellor George Osborne rolled up in Edinburgh early this year, he must have felt he had pulled the ace from the pack by formally rejecting a currency union between an Independent Scotland and the rest of the UK. As it transpired, the admission from his own Cabinet to the contrary, including Defence Secretary, Phillip Hammond, not only called Osborne’s bluff but set the tone for the tactics to follow.
Thereafter, it was no surprise to see Lord Robertson play the joker in the pack with his now infamous assertion that Independence would “aid the forces of darkness and embolden dictators around the world”. Leaving aside his embarrassing attempt to attribute the fall of western civilisation squarely on the shoulders of Scots, it is worth recounting the contribution of successive Westminster governments towards global instability through underhand actions, rogue foreign policy, both modern and historic, as well billions in arms sales to the very same regimes they seek to vilify.
It is precisely this duplicity that is so damaging the No campaign and why record numbers of Scots of all political persuasions are starting to join the race for Independence. When individually, Labour and the Conservatives rubbish one another across almost every policy area, it follows no logic whatsoever for the two to share a platform in this referendum and defend the other. At her party’s most recent conference, Labour leader Johann Lamont laid bare her contempt for the current Conservative government and bellowed the case for equality and social justice. What deception to then argue in the very same speech that Scotland stood better off as part of a Union that continually subjects it to rule by a Conservative government it has never once in its history voted for. Against this hypocrisy, Better Together followers are perfectly entitled to ask just what their campaign stands for if not the advice from Alice in Wonderland, that “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”.
That is why the reality of Westminster’s increasingly ailing attempts at preserving the Union are not for the benefit of you and me, as much is it aims to preserve its own grip on power and its outdated mode of politics. When the very same two-party establishment has brought Scotland to the point it has reached today, it is insanity to think that that same system can be the force of change in Scotland and deliver anything different to what it has done to date. The only way to end this cycle of despair and politics of hopelessness is to vote Yes on 18 September 2014 for it is not so much a choice but an obligation to reclaim our national politics.