The latest opinion poll on support for independence has reported its findings on Wednesday and they make grim reading for the dwindling band of British state apologists.
Since the beginning of 2020 eleven separate opinion polls in succession have recorded majority support for independence at anywhere between 51% to 55%. Now the twelfth has rocked the shaky Westminster foundations and set off alarm bells throughout unionist ranks. Conducted by the reputable Ipsos/Mori for Scottish Television support for an independent Scotland now stands at an unprecedented 58%.
While this story has quite rightly dominated news bulletins in Scotland and been greeted with glee by the ever growing army of enthusiastic independence supporters I urge the movement to pay heed to another story published on Wednesday alongside a shocking report published last Tuesday. Neither of those stories will get anywhere near the same publicity or attention accorded to the landmark opinion poll but both deserve massive attention as they underline the case for Scottish independence more than any opinion poll ever could.
Research published by the End Child Poverty Coalition is a wake-up call for those of us who link Scottish independence to the cause of social justice and greater equality. Despite the slick soundbites and plentiful promises from well-funded unionists across the UK who promised Scotland a more secure future and that we would be ‘Better Together’ if we rejected independence in 2014 the research issued today paints a stark reality which exposes the dreadful deceit at the heart of unionism:
“Child poverty has risen in nearly every Scottish local authority and Westminster constituency since 2014/15, according to research published today by the End Child Poverty coalition.
The research by Loughborough University shows that, even before the pandemic, levels of child poverty in Scotland ranged from one in seven children in the Shetland Islands to nearly one in three in Glasgow, once housing costs are taken into account. The varying impact of housing costs on levels of child poverty in different parts of the country is highlighted”.
Poverty and Destitution is Shocking and Unacceptable in Rich Scotland
The STV commissioned opinion poll illustrates the unprecedented levels of support for Scottish independence but the End Child Poverty Coalition Report emphasises the urgency which must inform and inspire the campaign for freedom.
The current Covid19 global pandemic has not in itself caused these alarming levels of child poverty but merely served to highlight them more than ever. The research is irrefutable and exposes the cruel truth and hollow redundancy of the arguments for the British union. Over three hundred years after the 1707 Act of Union that extinguished Scotland’s distinctive identity and ability to follow an independent economic path one in four children across Scotland were living in poverty prior to the 2014 referendum. Six years later the levels of child poverty in every local authority area have worsened and in parts of Glasgow one in three children now live in homes cursed by poverty.
Meanwhile Research presented last Tuesday by respected children’s charities NSPCC Scotland and Barnardo’s reveal the stark reality of ‘destitution’ for hundreds of thousands in Scotland on the back of a decade of austerity currently compounded by the Covid19 crisis.
Destitution in 21st Century Britain
The report described people struggling to obtain food, secure housing, and basic necessities before the Covid-19 pandemic began. Those struggles are now tougher than ever. It defines destitution and how it severely affects the life chances of children growing up in such circumstances while adversely impacting on the mental health of adults desperately trying to cope and provide for their children in the face of reduced job security, low wages and welfare reforms which accentuate the problems rather than combat them:
“Destitution is when a person has lacked two or more of six essentials over the past month because they cannot afford them, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
This includes shelter, food, heating, lighting, clothing and footwear and basic toiletries”.
In a country rich with electricity generating capacity from wind, wave and solar sources and host to abundant oil and gas reserves within it’s shores, hundreds of thousands in low income households are unable to adequately heat their homes, light their homes, afford their homes and feed and clothe their children. That is the shameful reality of 21st century Scotland and if that reality does not inspire you to want a new, independent and fairer Scotland then nothing ever will.
This latest thunder bolt of an opinion poll showing 58% support for independence is not rogue or out of the blue. As noted above it is the twelfth in succession showing majority support for independence but comes at a time when normal political discourse has been largely suspended. The SNP is recording amazing levels of support, as high as 58% intend voting for them next May guaranteeing a governing majority, yet the driver for that support and the main issuing fuelling increased support for independence is the woeful performance of Boris Johnson in Westminster. His government was roundly rejected by the Scottish people at the ballot box in December last year and since then their political rejection has been shown clearly as wise and sage.
Boris Johnson is a Joke Figure in Scotland
Johnson and his right-wing reactionary cabinet were willing to clap for carers but not provide them with life saving PPE equipment until hundreds had already lost their lives. They were willing to sing the praises of hard-pressed nurses and care staff but refuse to pay them a decent wage. They locked down too late because they didn’t want to upset their big business backers and tens of thousands lost their lives as a result of the dithering in the face of sound scientific advice.
Disgracefully the implementation of a necessary and essential test, track and trace system was also delayed before the narrow, self-serving colours of lunatic privateers was revealed when contracts that should have been kept in the public sector were instead awarded to suspect private Tory donors with dodgy backgrounds and no experience in health care and testing like Serco and Randox amongst others. These companies have been responsible for one cock-up after another while pocketing £12 billion of public money. Johnson promised a world beating system and talked about ‘Operation Moonshot’ testing up to a million a day. Instead he has delivered a test, track and trace system which is world mocked, not a world leader and most now believe he was consuming ‘Moonshine’ when he hatched his ‘Moonshot’ plan.
Johnson is England’s Prime Minister. He is seen as a joke figure in Scotland and commands no democratic mandate there. Compared to Nicola Sturgeon throughout the pandemic period he has performed like a clown. That fact more than any other explains the consistent and growing support for Scottish independence. What the shocking child poverty and destitution reports must do is inject a sense of urgency into the veins of those of us committed to the independence cause and particularly the leadership of the SNP. Time is not on the side of the growing army of children condemned to life in poverty under British rule. A gradual approach to independence is a betrayal of the thousands living forgotten and hidden lives of destitution.
The SNP and every independence supporting party must raise the stakes and shift up the gears. Manifesto commitments to an October 2021 IndyRef2 are now essential next May and that referendum must proceed with or without Westminster consent. Anything less represents an abandonment of those who need independence most – the children whose lives are blighted by poverty and destitution in 21st century Britain.