‘What are those Scottish voters like, eh? They just will not vote the way they’re supposed to, damn them. Don’t they know they are either 1. A sheepish cult. 2. Been treated with contempt by their political overlords or 3. Being oppressed in a one party political dictatorship? Silly, silly, Scottish voters’.
Of all the ridiculous things in Scottish politics castigating the Scottish people for making a legitimate political choice must be just about the most absurd. Yet this is an agenda promoted not just by unionist zoom-bots on social media but by serious political commentators who make a living out of giving their ‘considered’ views on Scotland’s political scene. For them the fact that the Scottish people are now increasingly putting their trust in the SNP is unacceptable so they lash out at those voters incomprehensibly believing that by insulting their choice they might actually persuade them to vote for someone else.
Without a hint of irony or self awareness they rail against a Scottish ‘dictatorship’ and ‘one party state’. Yes, to them, Scotland is an equivalent of North Korea, The Soviet Union or Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. The people who say this must know absolutely nothing about real one party states and the real state oppression that these dictatorships direct at their citizenry. To call Scotland a one party state not only insults Scots but demeans the intolerable condition that so many people experience at the hands of real brutal dictators. In Scotland not only do we have a democracy open to any political party but in our own national Parliament we actually have a proportional form of representative democracy. Scotland is no more a ‘dictatorship’ than Kim Jong-un is a supporter of the single transferable vote. No, the truth is that we simply have woeful opposition who few people want to vote for. Where the Scottish National Party have responsibility for a whole range of devolved areas we are not responsible for the unelectability of Scottish Labour.
‘But you’re just a mindless cult’, they then retort. And this is indeed where it all gets a bit nuts. The 50% of voters who recently voted for the SNP have apparently all been brainwashed and are merely voting SNP out of blind faith and flawed emotion. That’s right, 50% of Scots have lost the faculty of original thought and are little more than a political version of the moonies. The thing is Scotland is perhaps the most politically educated and motivated nation in Europe just now with almost unprecedented political engagement. The debate that we conducted about our constitutional future brought swathes of new voters into our political process and challenged long held assumptions and political orthodoxies. It isn’t so much that the Scots have been ‘brainwashed’ it is that they have become politically stimulated and have simply determined that there is a better future for our nation beyond letting others determine what that future should be for us.
When that fails we are left with the sheer ‘stupidity’ of all these Scots voters. There is incomprehension that SNP voters just won’t agree that the SNP is just downright ‘baad’. There is genuine bewilderment that Scots voters don’t share their view that all these SNP services are badly run despite the Scottish public’s own positive experiences. So what do these commentators do? They simply shout ‘SNP baad’ even louder desperately hoping that the Scots will ‘come to their senses’.
Here’s a little tip for my unionist friends which I know they will never adopt in a million years. And it is this. If it hasn’t worked thus far there is very little prospect of success in the future. Merely doing the same thing again and again only louder and angrier won’t work. What tends to work is the careful crafting of a vision. Of the presentation of a new and positive future. Of not treating your electorate as idiots. Where we can laugh at their talk of cults, dictatorships and associated nonsense we do need a real opposition and a commentariat that can actually sensibly suggest credible alternatives.