When the first reports of the poll conducted on how the English perceive independence – Scotland’s and their own – I expected the haggis to hit the fan, with instant attempts by unionists to spin the result. The first BBC News report I saw confirmed my fears. Here is the clip, brief, but very much to the point – the unionist point, that is …
Since we can safely assume that neither Laura Bicker nor Catriona Shearer – the epitome of a sonsy Scottish lassie – wrote their own scripts, someone behind the scenes in the Beeb had put a quick, superficial spin on a result that, by any criteria, should have given unionists concern, not comfort. But unionists have not been able to face reality for some time now, and are in the deep denial that grips all of the unionist political parties and the British Establishment.
Catriona launches in briskly and selectively on the poll results. “ … suggest that fewer than 1 in 5 English people think England would be better off without Scotland, and just about a third of them want to see an independent England.”
Q1 Should Scotland be independent?
YES 36%, NO 48%, DON’T KNOW 15%
The comment options now facing Laura Bicker, or more probably the news editor were
a) Let the figures speak for themselves
b) Offer the pro and anti independence possible interpretations
c) Select a single perspective and present it as fact
The BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation, in its Scottish incarnation, chose the last one. Bias? Probably not, except subliminally …
Here are the two perspectives as I see them -
A minority of English people, about a third, want Scottish independence.
Almost half are against it.
About one in seven don’t know.
Over one third of English people want Scotland to be independent.
A little under half don’t want Scotland to be independent.
More than one in seven are undecided.
These figures are about the same as Scots polled on the same question.
Reporting on this, Laura Bicker is impeccably neutral, and her comments would fit either perspective. Then comes the next question -
Q2 Should England be independent?
YES 36% NO 57% DON’T KNOW 7%
Laura sees this as “ … a more resounding result.” Well, yes – half of the don’t knows have moved to NO.
So far, so good. But then Laura decides to tell us “What this poll teaches us …” and here the BBC moves straight into unionist high gear.
“What this poll teaches us is that the myth, that the English simply want rid of us – that they the want to cut a line at Hadrian’s Wall and let us float off into our own future, simply isn’t true.”
The poll teaches us nothing of the kind, Laura - there is no such myth, except the one created by the unionist establishment mindset, formed partly out of paranoia about just that eventuality, but mainly to set up a straw man of an imagined nationalist position just so it could be knocked down.
What I believe, and what I think most nationalist believe, is that the English people, unlike the UK Establishment and the UK unionist parties, are wakening from a long, complacent sleep, in the face of the disintegrating UK democracy, the corruption of UK Government, and what has been done to them by thirteen years of carpetbagging Scottish Labour politicians of the Blair, Brown, Darling, Douglas Alexander mould, the Jim Murphy, Danny Alexander and Michael Moore new breed, and the suicidal, doctrinaire and destructive policies of the rich men of the ConLib Coalition – Cameron, Moore, Haig, Lansley, Osborne, etc.
They are not yet all awake, but 36% are, and 15% are rubbing the sleep from their eyes and considering the new world they find themselves in. That 36% has grown from only 16% not too long ago, and that is the significance of this poll: that the English people are progressively moving in the same direction as the Scots – towards independence.
It’s called a trend, stupid! I call it an inevitable historical process, the Zeitgeist – the spirit of the age, the age of power to the people.
THE NEWSNIGHT SPECIAL
However, BBC Scotland may have got it wrong in a brief, one-minute news item, but an extended edition of Newsnight gave a reasonably full and objective coverage of the poll, the issues it raises, and the real dimensions and implications of Scottish and English nationalism.
It was reasonably well-structured, and Paxman more or less behaved himself, but found it hard to conceal his real sympathies, not to mention his hostility – thinly - disguised, to Joan McAlpine’s calm, reasoned, highly relevant and courteous contributions, especially when she tried to place events in a historical context. In contrast he allowed complete licence to the ramblings of Rory Stewart and Michael Portillo about ‘British’ tolerance and ‘British’ opposition to fanaticism, which in their minds equates to people power and nationalism.
The analytical sections of this Newsnight special were excellent, mainly because they were a Paxman-free zone. However, it is odd that Newsnight Scotland had to be sacrificed to permit this extended edition of Newsnight to be scheduled – they could easily have dumped the Michael Caine documentary that followed, a re-hash of stuff that has been covered endlessly and tediously before.
The facts are that a growing percentage of the Scottish and English populations now want independence, and the 36% or so, when looked at in the context of the undecided – the don’t knows – is highly significant for the survival of the UK, for Scotland and England. Why?
Because this is a committed, vocal and politically active and very substantial minority, in tune with the great global movements towards people power, and the overthrow of old hegemonies and the dictatorship of money, militarism and privileged elites. In contrast, the majority are representative of a complacent status quo, not as politically and intellectually active.
The Force is with the nationalists – the wind of change blows and is unstoppable.