The one thing Nicola Sturgeon, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage have in common – Jim Duffy

Single-issue politics like Brexit and independence is divisive and making people angry, writes Jim Duffy.

Friday, 17th May 2019, 7:00 am
Boris Johnson may not agree with Nicola Sturgeon on much, but Jim Duffy reckons they share at least one thing (Picture: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty)

What do Nigel Farage, Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson all have in common? Let’s see if we can narrow it down a bit. Well, they are not all male. They are not members of the same running club. They definitely do not support the same football team. They don’t drive the same car and they didn’t attend the same primary school. They do not all collect stamps. So just what do these three people have in common? The answer is – they all want to make us angry.

These three politicians are probably some of the best the UK has produced in decades. They are very capable operators who are able to bring large swathes of the population with them.

Not to mention their own supporters and political parties, who applaud them regularly. They can sell a vision and a dream. They are just as comfortable chatting with multi-millionaires as they are with the common folks.

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Of course, we will see less of the common folks now as the Jeremy Kyle Show has been canned. But, still as politicians they are hell bent on making us angry or angrier.

I do have to caveat this by saying that, for instance, our own Nicola Sturgeon does not get up in the morning, sit round a cauldron and aim to whip up anger. Far from it, I would suggest.

Sturgeon wants the best for Scotland and her people. She wants positivity. She applauds aspiration. She’s a storming female role model. The other two chaps, in their own way, want the UK to be a positive, prosperous force to be reckoned with.

But, the problem with all three – taking personality, fiscal prowess, political skill and leadership out the equation – is this: They all want some form of independence from something.

And that binary – in or out, leave or stay, deal or no deal, simply creates one argument. An argument that is not healthy, I would suggest, and in fact gets us angry. My question is this - why should we all be angry just because politicians want to get their way?

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The Brexit debate has become a farce. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, is living like a deep sea diver checking the legs of an oil rig in the North Sea. Her oxygen tank is emptying, the waves above are still pounding the rig and it’s a dark place to be.

Whether the Tories will pressure her into resigning before their party conference is anybody’s guess. She has tried her hardest or damnest to get some form of compromise deal over the line to keep everybody, well, sort of happy.

But, it has failed. Why? Because people inside and outside Parliament are angry. The final outcome has to be black or white. After all, they voted for it, right?

The new Brexit Party led by Mr Brexit himself, Nigel Farage, at present is ostensibly a one-policy party. And by the sounds of it, Farage is going to have a few wins under his belt in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

Listening to him on the radio and TV is fascinating. Even he was angry on the Andrew Marr Show last weekend as Marr and his team decided to discuss anything but Brexit.

Probably the wrong thing to do when you are interviewing the leader of the newly formed Brexit Party, don’t you think? And as the anger started with Farage, so it spread on social media and phone-ins across the country.

The sad thing in all of this, whatever the outcome, is that the UK will be angry for a decade as a result of Brexit. It has polarised and cut deep into people.

So, how then do Nicola Sturgeon, her colleagues and advisors learn from what is taking place in the UK and feed this into her new Indyref2 race?

The answer to this one matters not a jot. No big consultancy, think-tank or agency can offer her any comfort here at all.

Because like Brexit, Indyref2 is a single-issue fight. Yes, we can call it a political campaign, but in essence this will be a fight like Scotland has not seen for centuries. It will make the Old Firm fixture on a cup day look like a kids’ party. In short, it is going to make us all even angrier.

The Brexit fight and the Indyref2 fight do not have defined outcomes. There is no checklist with ten points on it that are provable and scientific. Even Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde Uni would find it tough, I would argue, to list the defined outcomes that we 100 per cent know will be good for the UK or Scotland.

A number of “if’s, but’s and maybe’s” spill off politicians’ tongues along with spurious economic untruths. Don’t forget the big red bus that promised hundreds of millions for the NHS or the massive revenues from North Sea oil. But, these will be used again, in other forms, to support the in-or-out dichotomies.

I feel sorry for young people who are growing up in this political age. No, in fact I feel sorry for all of us, who are having to endure this form of politics.

It is divisive and sets one against the other. Throw in fake news, social media manipulation and poor interviews like the one Andrew Marr did and the anger is fuelled even more.

No, I do not think for one minute that Nicola, Nigel or Boris want to make us angry per se. But, the single policy, in-or-out debates are killing goodwill, aspiration, positivity and friendships.

Just how did we get here?