by Colin Campbell
TORY politicians have expressed outrage over remarks made by former SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson, accusing him of celebrating the death of older people by claiming this is helping tilt the odds in favour of independence.
They should leave the outrage to the nationalists. Outrage, feigned or otherwise, is what they do best.
And when I read Robertson’s column in the vile National on Saturday (after yet another 95p contribution to that loathsome publication) I felt no outrage about the basic facts he presented relating to the number of deaths.
Around 50,000 have died since the 2014 referendum and in accordance with established voting patterns, the vast majority of them would have voted against independence.
So Robertson was merely stating a reality.
What did induce a sickly feeling was the other point he made and the way in which he made it in his own creepy style.
It was his gleeful calculation that “roughly 55,000 predominantly yes supporting 16-year-olds” will have joined the electorate since 2014.
Robertson didn’t even have the gumption to point out that someone who became 16 in late 2014 will soon be 22 by now.
That’s because 16 is the magic number for people like him. The younger the better. They would prefer if the ageing process stopped altogether at 16. They are less enthusiastic about those who have reached the grand old age of 20 or 21. Because they might actually have gained some experience of life.
They might have bought a car and faced debt for the first time. They might have left home and had to balance their finances in rented accommodation. They may have got married and had to negotiate a bank loan. They may even have a child in a young family and face having to seriously weigh up plans for the future.
In other words, they may have taken on responsibilities and for the first time had to think seriously about the daily grind of life that will become more burdensome with each passing year.
That may not make it any less likely that they would support independence.
But Robertson couldn’t get the magic age of 16 out of his head. Just young kids who know nothing about bills or mortgages or rent or responsibilities or anything much about life at all. Perfect voting fodder for the nationalists. They view them as young, impressionable and easily manipulated. Give them the prospect of a singalong and some face paint and they’ll dance along to the cause. Or that seems to be how Robertson and his nationalist cronies see it.
It’s nothing to do with a balanced and informed decision about what’s best for the future of Scotland. It’s a simple calculation. Older folk with long experience of life expire – good. Kids who know nothing about life reach 16 and become eligible to vote – even better. They can work on them, in the certain knowledge that there won’t be a single awkward question about currency or hard border or EU membership or GERS figures from a single tousle-headed one of them.
In an ideal world maybe they’d be indoctrinated into a Nationalist Youth Movement and knocked into shape in woodland training camps. Ask Angus Robertson. I can’t fathom what other calculations might be in his bottomlessly cynical mind.