Martin Hannan: Sooner or later we’ll go it alone

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Independence for Scotland is inevitable. It is no longer a question of if, but when. For some time now, perhaps as much as five or six years, the opinion polls asking the Scottish people about independence have shown a consistent trend.

It is not really in the overall statistic of how many would vote for independence now, though the latest TNS-BMRB poll for The Herald showed “yes” voters at 39 per cent, those voting “no” at 38 per cent and “don’t knows” at 23 per cent. No, it is the remarkable disparity between the age groups which makes me say that it is only a matter of time before a majority of Scots are in favour of independence.

In that latest poll, the decisive trend was confirmed again – that young people between the ages of 18 and 44 are much more in favour of independence than those over the age of 45. The figures for the 25-34 age group were staggering – 46 per cent yes, 23 per cent no. If even one-sixth of the “don’t knows” in that age group were to go for independence, there would be an outright majority for that age.

A few years ago, younger people were not recording their support for independence in such numbers, but a friend of mine who studies such things – and took the bookies for plenty in May – said recent figures confirm a long-term consistent move that more and more young people want independence.

What’s more, the polls clearly show that pro-independence youngsters are maintaining those views into later life. Putting it simply, the Unionists are dying.

Each year, roughly between one per cent and 1.5 per cent of the Scottish population goes to the Great Glen in the sky, while roughly the same number arrive at the age of 18 and become eligible to vote. It is a matter of simple arithmetic that if new voters choose independence and continue to do so – as the polls have strongly indicated – then there will come a day when the majority, and possibly even the vast majority, of Scots will be in favour of independence.

The tipping point is coming and those like me who are in the SNP just wonder if it will arrive in time for the referendum in 2015. It may do so, it may not, but without a doubt independence is inevitable.

I may not live to see independence in my lifetime, but it is coming, and hopefully the “don’t knows” will join up for independence and give us it sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, I do not want the independence debate contaminated by the contagion of hatred perpetrated by people with very little brain.

Kelvin McKenzie, for example, is the rent-a-mouth for a small minority of Little Englander types who say England for the English, but who are not representative of the English people as a whole.

In his latest outpouring of ignorant piffle masquerading as a newspaper column, this pathetic has-been resorted to a personal attack on Alex Salmond and denigrated an entire nation.

McKenzie said: “The fact that anybody is in work in Scotland is due almost entirely to the wealth created by clever and resourceful people in England.” If he had said “anybody in work in (insert name of foreign country here)” he would have immediately been accused of racism and investigated by the police, but it’s all right for him to slag off the Scots, isn’t it, because we are the second-class citizens in the Union.

He didn’t stop there: “I do not want to keep paying. So I suggest we bring those clever folk from Israel who put the wall around their country and get them to do the same for Scotland. Then we can give the Scots independence and perhaps suggest they merge their currency with Greece. We could call it the Skinto.”

Nice man, eh? I won’t stoop to his level by getting personal with McKenzie but the fact is that he is an anti-Scottish racist and an English bigot – don’t sue the Evening News, Kelvin, sue me personally so I can wipe the floor with you.

For the first thing I have to tell you is that all your anti-Salmond, anti-Scottish diatribes are having the opposite effect from what you intend. I had the privilege of being in the winner’s enclosure – how appropriate – with the First Minister at Ayr races on Saturday, where he just laughed off McKenzie’s nonsense. “Let him carry on,” said Salmond, “it only makes me stronger.” Gotcha, Kelvin!

Salmond grows stronger in his resolve to win independence, stronger in his determination to stand up for Scotland against ignorance and stronger in the eyes of the Scottish people who will bitterly resent McKenzie’s attack, which perhaps will make a few more people question why we should still be linked to his country.

I am only too well aware that there are anti-English bigots in Scotland and I deplore them as much as I deplore Kelvin McKenzie. The internet trolls in Scottish caves must be challenged as much as a ranter who uses a column to wilfully mislead the English people.

As I have shown, independence is inevitable. The only questions that remain are when will it happen, and how will the majority of peaceable folk on both sides of the border ensure that the small minds and the bigots like McKenzie do not get to spoil the transition to independence.