THE GROUND TROOPS
Today is the last day of campaigning, and exhausted volunteers from all parties will be making the last big push, some dispirited by the polls but still determined to make whatever difference they can and confound the pollsters if possible, some borne up by the good news in the polls for their party, but not complacent, cultivating a mood of finely-judged pessimism so that the prize does not elude them.
In this media age, with old and new media competing for the eyes and ears of the electorate, what still matters fundamentally is the effort of the ground troops - the canvassers, the door-knockers, the envelope stuffers, the leaflet posters. This is still the heart of campaigning, and one day on the stump matters more than one hundred days at a keyboard.
But the media, the commentator, the pundits, the leader articles, the blogs, the tweets, the Facebook exchanges have their place for three reasons -
One, many voters will never be approached by a canvasser, never read a political leaflet, and never attend a political meeting, but still have a vote and do watch television, read newspapers and do utilise alternative media.
Two, the media old and new create the climate within which the debate takes place, and they influence voters both directly and subliminally, albeit not always in the way the media people intended. They promote engagement with ideas and personalities, and awareness of the issues. They contribute to the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age, even though they often misread it.
Three, the volunteers need the moral uplift that supportive media offers them in their often lonely and dispiriting task, and they need the anger and resolve that hostile media comment produces to sustain their flagging energies.
The news anchors, the chat show hosts, the political pundits, the political reporters and the press commentators have all made their contributions now, and are moving into an inquest mode even before the result is known, because of the polls. Since the vast bulk of the commentators are of a unionist persuasion, their words over the last couple of days lie along a spectrum ranging from millenarian prophecies of imminent doom to rueful, “How did we get it so wrong?” self-analysis, coming predictably to the wrong answers.
And of course there are the metropolitan, Westminster Village obsessed pundits who are suddenly jolted into an awareness that, while their focus has been either events in Tunisia, Libya, Syria and other middle-eastern countries attempting to throw off oppressive regimes, or the squabbling of the ConLib Coalition over the AV referendum, there is an ancient country just a little north of them that is yet again showing disturbing signs of not sharing their blinkered view of UK, European and world events, with an irritating tendency to upset their unionist apple carts, spilling the carefully-arranged, polished fruit on the ground.
Ay, weel, don’t say we didnae warn ye!
Both Votes SNP -
vote for your ain folk