PATRONISING pablum! That was my first reaction on reading Angus Robertson’s National Extra column on Sunday (The dogs in the street know Boris Johnson is bluffing when it comes to indyref2, thenational.scot, October 4). Then I had a wee think about it and realised maybe it was actually condescending crap. It reads like the pathologically unenthusiastic and badly hungover coach of an under-12 football team giving a half-time pep-talk to a squad that’s already 13 goals down.
I swear Angus Robertson has an app on his phone that composes this stuff for him. He really needs to upgrade to the paid version. Maybe it’ll have an algorithm that doesn’t pepper the text with platitudinous pap and drop fusty cliches onto the page.
READ MORE: The dogs in the street know Boris Johnson is bluffing when it comes to indyref2
But, hey! It’s not about the words! It’s about the message! Right? So what is the message? I don’t know about you, but I came away from that mercifully short article feeling like I’d just been told not to speak or think but just accept what I was being told and follow these simple instructions. I swear I could feel Robertson’s hand patting me on the head and his voice telling me not to worry my little noggin about anything, just leave it to the grown-ups and it’ll all be fine.
To be scrupulously fair, it isn’t easy trying to find new ways of saying the same thing over and over, week after week. I could almost sympathise. I have to try and find new ways of responding to this vacuous drivel. I know what a grinding, joyless, soul-sucking chore it can be. But any fellow-feeling I might have quickly evaporates in the heat of my anger at being taken for a fool. Anger, too, on behalf of all the others who are being treated so shabbily by the SNP’s chief enthuser.
The message doesn’t change: Prime Minister Johnson and the dogs on the streets of Whitehall know that standing in the way of democracy for Scotland is not a sustainable strategy. The longer they keep it up, the more they risk convincing even more people in Scotland that independence is necessary and justified.
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Well! If Prime Minister Johnson knows, and it’s obvious enough to have occurred to the curs scavenging on the streets of Whitehall, who am I to question this wisdom? When a renowned political sage such as Angus Robertson tells me that Prime Minister Johnson cannot possibly keep on refusing to allow the people of Scotland to exercise our right of self-determination, I should simply accept that assurance. I should just put all those questions out of my silly wee napper. I should be happy that Boris Johnson is doing such a bang-up job of “convincing even more people in Scotland that independence is necessary and justified”. No need for us to do anything. Angus and Boris between them have got it all in hand. Go play with your toys and independence will be along any time now. Don’t fret about those noises you hear. It is absolutely not Scotland’s democracy being dismantled under our feet! Hush! Hush!
But I can’t help myself. I have questions. I can’t help wondering about stuff. Like, if it’s true that Boris Johnson is now the main force driving Scotland’s cause – a counter-intuitive proposition in itself – what happens when he stops? As Angus Robertson assures us he will. Does Scotland’s cause stall? Again! And what about the claim Johnson’s “Just say no!” strategy cannot be sustained? I realise I’m letting the side down by thinking for myself, and betraying the cause by questioning such empty assertions, but it’s in my nature to want explanations. I need to know why.
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If somebody claims that Johnson cannot persist in this strategy, I am going to have difficulty accepting this unless there is appended an explanation of why he cannot persist. I need to know what will prevent him from persisting. I need to know that there is something that will prevent him for persisting, and the only way I can know this is if the thing that is to prevent him persisting is identified.
I realise it is wrong of me, but I have reflected on this quite a lot and I cannot for the life of me think what it might be that would stop the British Prime Minister continuing to block a new referendum. British law says he can do so indefinitely. The Union gives the British political elite licence to do what they will with Scotland. There is no cost to Boric Johnson in endlessly repeating the bluster about “now is not the time” and the lies about a “once in a generation” undertaking. It cost him nothing to persevere with this and relenting would most certainly have a cost. So why would he stop?
I look to the experts for answers to such questions. I look to those making claims for some reason to accept them. I’m aware that I’m supposed to just take Angus Robertson’s word for it but I can’t help wonder why, if he’s found something that convinces him that Prime Minister Johnson’s “Just say no!” strategy is unsustainable, he doesn’t share that information with we lesser beings? But he never does. Nobody ever does. The claim is repeated endlessly. But it is never backed up with any kind of explanation. And I can’t help wondering why. I genuinely can’t help it.
It may be that Angus Robertson knows the mind of the dogs in the street well enough to be sure that they have figured out what it is that will force a change of heart by a British political elite not exactly renowned for its heart. But with all due respect, Mr Robertson, precocious and impertinent as I am, I recognise a fallacy when one is shoved in my face as energetically as you are urging this argumentum ad populum on me.
I am just not convinced by Angus Robertson’s limp and lacklustre and threadbare assurances. Are you?
Peter A Bellvia email