Identity, personal or national, isn’t merely something you have like a passport. It is also something you rediscover daily, like a strange country. Its core isn’t something like a mountain. It is something molten, like lava.
– Hugh McIlvanney
News that support for independence was resurgent breaks today with a new poll by TNS-BMRB poll, published today by The Herald, showing those who would vote Yes for independence ahead by 39% to 38%. Hardly earth-shattering you might say, but perhaps a sign that using the ‘Quad’ – a group comprising Mr Cameron, Nick Clegg, Chancellor George Osborne, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Mr Moore as the team to ‘put the case for the Union’ – may have been a spectacular failure. This is hardly surprising given that the group are embarked in implementing austerity measures dismantling much of the fabric of the state and the society they speak of whilst lining the pockets of the rich and powerful.
Last week a group of doctors wrote an open letter describing the NHS reforms as: “As current and future healthcare professionals we are concerned that the health service as we know it is soon to be dismantled…the end result is likely to be fragmentation, increased and uncontrolled competition, and a marketised healthcare model.”
While Hamish Meldrum, Chair of the BMA has argued that hospitals will be forced to treat wealthy foreigners to raise cash rather than treat poor patients as they are hit by cuts to the NHS budget and the government’s radical pro-market reforms.
With is backdrop, and the shallow infantile and repetitive utterances of Moore and Alexander – it’s no surprise that support is shifting away from the Unionist proposition.
At least one of Moore’s 6 is answered in the form the poll is given: in each of the 10 polls, TNS-BMRB has asked the same straight agree or disagree question on the premise “that the Scottish Government should negotiate a settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state”.
The latest sample of 1007 adults in 69 constituencies took place between August 24-31.
Chris Eynon of TNS-BMRB said: “For now, the ball is rolling in favour of the SNP and independence.”
Mr Eynon said: “It does provide a stark measure of how attitudes towards independence per se have moved since the SNP first came to power in 2007.” He added: “The decline in opposition is reflected more in a shift to ‘undecided’ than to ‘support’, which is perhaps not surprising. It would be a major change to move from opposing to supporting independence over a short period.
“What this does suggest is that resistance is being challenged and more people are being encouraged to reconsider their opposition to independence.”
Ipsos Mori, polling last week, had Labour adrift of the SNP at Holyrood by 21 points (49% to 28%) while even for Westminster the SNP led Labour by 42% to 33%.
As civil war continues in the Labour Party (the post-Blair feuds continue to spew forth daily) and is about to break out in the Tory Party (“Any policy which appeases nationalists is damaging to the union by definition.” – Michael Forsyth, who as Sophia Pangloss points out ‘returned hame’ the Stone of Scone.) it’s time for new political ideas and forces to emerge either within or outwith the SNP to galvanise challenge and stimulate change.
Nor is this the obsession of ‘cybernats’ the perennial smear rolled out by anyone too lazy to be paying attention. Writing in the much improved Sunday Herald this weekend, Iain Macwhirter writes in a piece responding to the efforts of ‘the Quad’:
“Westminster sources said this was all part of a “big optimistic case for the UK”, but it didn’t sound very optimistic. It sounded like Gordon Brown’s desperately depressing case against separatism, which we heard loud and clear before the four Scottish parliamentary elections and which has been rejected in the last two. Arguably, this “big optimistic case” prepared the ground for the SNP landslide last May. If you keep telling people they can’t stand on their own two feet, eventually they’ll try to prove you wrong.
If the Unionist parties are to save the UK, they’ll have to do better than this. First, EU membership is not a serious issue. If the European Union can welcome countries like the Czech Republic and Slovakia as well as eastern European states that used to be part of the USSR, there is zero prospect of them blocking an independent Scotland.
The right to national self-determination is the foundation of the European project. If a democratically independent Scotland wished to remain in the community, ways would be found to keep it there. The real question might be whether what’s left of the UK would still deserve to wield its current clout in the European Council.”
The title of his piece? “What’s the Union for…anyone?”