Our political and media establishments seem absolutely astounded that the people of Scotland are hugely engaged with the Referendum debate. In practically every TV and Radio news report in this last week of the hustings reporters have expressed complete surprise that over 97% of the Scots have registered to vote and that ‘ordinary people’ are even talking about the issues in the pub!
All this actually demonstrates is how out of touch our politicians and journalists are with the people of Scotland, England, Wales & N. Ireland.
The simple reason why people don’t vote much or seriously discuss politics any more is because with all the three mainstream parties in the UK signed up to basically the same ideological territory, IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE!
Which is exactly what every apathetic voter you ever talk to says,”What’s the point in talking about it?” they say, “It won’t make any difference, they’ll just do what they want anyway.”
And they are of course right. Thatcher and then Blair after her, perfected the strategy of completely disregarding public opinion between elections. And even at election time all the parties are crammed into such a narrow ideological band that there is really nothing of substance to argue about.
For example this week the Labour Party is arguing about whether or not Ed Balls should commit to keeping to the Tory NHS budget if Labour are elected! I mean ffs a Labour Party in opposition after these years of austerity should be shouting to the roof tops that they will roll back the Tory commercialisation of the NHS, not worrying if they should stick to the Tory budget!
Russel Brand got absolutely hammered by the press for saying something similar but he was absolutely right. What’s the point in putting intellectual, physical and emotional energy into ‘politics’ if your efforts make no difference?
What the Scottish Referendum proves is that if there is a real choice, if something substantial is genuinely at stake, then ordinary people are perfectly capable of and enthusiastically willing to engage in the democratic discourse.
It’s not rocket since ffs Scottish people are engaged with the referendum because it offers them a genuine choice that will lead to very different outcomes – in other words, it matters.