Sunday, 14 September 2014

The final stretch

My nerves are in tatters. I'm having difficulty sleeping, and even more difficulty concentrating on anything other than constantly refreshing my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I'm lurching between extreme feelings of optimism and pessimism several times a day.

Why? Because we're entering into the final stretch of the campaign for Scottish independence. Four days and it'll all be over. By any stretch of the imagination, it's been a long campaign, and yet I still can't believe we're nearly there.

And I still have no idea how it's going to go. The polls are all converging in the middle, with one or two outliers on either side, but all agree that there's more or less a 50/50 split between Yes and no. A poll released yesterday by Survation put Yes on 47% and No on 53%. Mere hours later, however, the situation was reversed by an ICM poll putting Yes on 54% and No on 46%. The feeling on the ground for me is that Yes is ahead, but to a large extent I suspect that's down to the fact that most of my friends are in their late twenties to early thirties -- by some margin the most Yes-friendly demographic. Every day I'm seeing amazing, awe-inspiring sights, either in person or online -- Buchanan Street brought to a standstill yesterday by Yes supporters, or an estimated 4,000 (as per Sky News) marching past my workplace during my lunch break today, on their way to Pacific Quay to protest against the BBC's shameful anti-independence propaganda. The past week has seen the most shocking concerted blitzkreig against the Yes campaign, orchestrated by Downing Street with the complicity of the banks, big business and the mainstream media, and yet the smiling, happy faces wearing their Yes badges and waving their saltires seem undaunted. And the polls have continued to narrow. Scotland doesn't feel to me like a nation that's about to vote against its own self-determination.

And yet there are still so many people who remain steadfastly opposed to a Yes vote, even if many of them do genuinely like the idea of independence. Where I and others like me see opportunity, they see only risk. Where we see an end to nuclear weapons, illegal wars, food banks and privatisation of the NHS, they fret about currency, capital flight and their pensions (which ironically are at far greater risk if we vote No). I understand their fear, and I don't hold it against them. By and large, these people have, in my estimation, been brow-beaten by a two-and-a-half-year barrage of negativity and scaremongering into believing that it's all too risky and that Scotland, uniquely out of all the countries in the world, is too feckless to look after its own affairs. I find that unbelievably sad and, though I know I'm going to sound like one of these "true believers", I'm going to say it: I wish I had some way of showing these people what I've seen. And I hope, if we vote Yes on Thursday, that they'll eventually see it too.

An unprecedented 97% of the adult population is registered to vote. Some are predicting a turnout approaching 90%. Whatever happens on Thursday, we have brought democracy out of retirement. The general population is engaged in the democratic process like never before. People of all backgrounds, ages, genders and ethnicities are earnestly talking politics in a way that would have been unthinkable a couple of years ago and is, I suspect, still unthinkable throughout the rest of the UK. And the other side hate it. You can see it in the contorted faces of Alastair Darling, Gordon Brown, Johann Lamont, George Galloway and all the various LibLabCon clingers-on. They absolutely LOATHE this process. On Thursday 18th September, the people hold the power, and it scares the shit out of them.

This will most likely be my last significant post on the subject before Thursday, so I'll say nothing more for the time being other than "See you on the other side", and, come Friday, if I disappear off the face of the earth for a couple of days, you'll know it's because I'm either celebrating or drowning my sorrows in Pepsi Max.

To quote Irvine Welsh, good luck, Scotland, "you gorgeous handsome sexy democratic bastard, you."

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