It has been 1,266 days since the first independence referendum and every single day since then the independence movement in Scotland has been on its toes, standing in a campaign footing waiting for the second. The second referendum is coming. We have secured a mandate in our own parliament, we have secured a mandate at Westminster, and Holyrood has given its consent to put the question of independence back before the Scottish people.
The internet however, as Sky News has been reminded, is a bit of a swine. Readers in Scotland clocked what was going on and sounded the alarm on social media. Over the weekend Twitter and Facebook did what they do best, and folk all over Scotland rallied behind their favourite people. From their place of obscurity they quickly shot to the summit, with Scots voting in their tens of thousands and sharing the news to the furthest reaches of the internet. By Sunday afternoon supporters in Wales, across parts of England, and all over the island of Ireland were joining in.
Now is the time to wake up and give ourselves a shake. There’s work to be done, and the bottom line is that none of that will get done unless we do it. If we want a referendum in 2018 – a year beginning in a matter of weeks – then we have to work for it. We have to create the conditions, as a movement, in which the SNP and our government are following us to where we want to go.
However much the BBC protests that it strives “to provide fair and impartial news coverage,” the "British Broadcasting Corporation" speaks for the British head of state and her government; in short, it is the de facto state broadcaster of the United Kingdom. As such it represents the unionist agenda in a political context wherein various national independence movements are being silenced by its overwhelming dominance of the media. Of course we have the right to complain, but ultimately our complaints must be falling on deaf ears.
Internet trolls – especially in the political sphere – have a number of functions. They are a distraction. Trolls will engage activists in petty arguments, and, of course, the activist, taking this as a teaching opportunity, will happily go down the rabbit hole. It’s pointless. No argument will convince them of the merits of independence. They don’t even have a vote. Most likely the person on the other side is in an office in Wolverhampton following the instructions pinned to their blue cubical wall.
Soft criminalisation is a very effective political weapon in the hands of any state establishment, and has been used countless times against people and organisations which have become too great a threat to the status quo.
Our 2015 stroke of luck was reversed and the political map has normalised. That is all. Yet the effect of the apparent electoral shift – which is just an illusion – has caused us to wobble, and it looks, if the navel-gazing on social media is anything to go by, as though our wee independence locomotive has stalled.
Voter apathy and the atrophy of our movement will, if left unchecked, eventually kill the idea of independence. Don’t for a second imagine that it won’t – it happens to movements and revolutions all the time. There is nothing special about us.