BEFORE going any further can we agree on the crucial point as to how many people took part in the latest nationalist march through Inverness. And that’s that the organisers should be allowed to dictate the number without contradiction. The argument after their last parade about the turnout went on for weeks. One rather nerdy individual said he’d videod it from an upper floor window along the route and had actually counted the numbers, one by one.Talk about sitting in a darkened room with nothing better to do.
One thousand, 3,000, 5,000, 10,000 – does it matter?
We’d be happy to see the organisers claim 100,000 if it made them feel good.
Because these days they rather desperately need something to feel good about.
Saturday’s event was, ostensibly, partly about Brexit. In reality, it was all about independence.
As we already know from the performance of the SNP – Nicola Sturgeon, Drew Hendry, Ian Blackford et al are praying for the worst possible outcome to Brexit with the most dire consequences, with no limits.
In their dreams that would drive a majority of Scots disgusted by the “Westminster chaos” and the prospect of “being dragged out of the EU against our will” to convert to independence as an alternative to this UK shame, humiliation and meltdown, etc etc.
That’s, in their dreams, of course.
In reality there’s as much chance of millions of Scots fed-up to the back teeth with one political conflict being prepared to plunge directly into another as there is of Queen Nicola bowing down to Mother Theresa and paying tribute to her powers of endurance.
And there’s about the same chance of her, in her imminent, long-awaited outbreak of Brexiting “clarity” due in the next week or so, announcing that she will now demand the right to hold indyref2.
Because, regardless of the certainty of Westminster rejecting such a demand, she knows she’d lose it.
But many nationalists – like those who marched here on Saturday – can’t wait to harness their fervour into a new campaign.
Anyone who reads the stridently pro-independence National newspaper, as I do all too often – for amusement now more than insight – will find its pages awash with correspondents simply unable to comprehend why the majority of Scots could now fail to opt for independence rather than endure another day of the “Brexit chaos”.
And they are equally baffled and perplexed as to why Sturgeon should not now “seize the moment”.
And this isn’t just confined to “the base” of frothing zealots.
Their leader recently had to slap down an assertion from her deputy, Keith Brown, that the nationalists should fire ahead and hold their own referendum if Westminster rejected their demands. That they should hold an illegal referendum.
This was presumably based on the presumption that the majority of Scots who – according to poll after poll – want to remain in the UK would tamely stand aside and accept the outcome as binding, even if they refused to take part.
The presumption of this leading to bloodshed on the streets – as it most certainly would – was not part of Mr Brown’s equation.
Fortunately, there are saner voices within the nationalist movement. On his unmissable Twitter account our own Drew Hendry has plenty to say on Brexit – and he’s certainly not wrong there on everything he says – but there’s not been a direct mention in recent weeks of independence. And we’d pay cautious tribute to him for that. At least – whatever he hopes and prays for – there are calmer, cooler heads within the SNP and the nationalist movement.
So Saturday’s marchers could let off steam by bawling all they wanted about “independence now!”. We’re all entitled to release pent-up frustration when it threatens to boil over.
But it’s not going to happen. That’s a certainty.
So why bother arguing with any of them about their noisy, hollering numbers?