At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss the Daily Mail‘s reported findings from a recent poll, but upon further thought, it all makes sense.
Women, students and old age pensioners share one thing. They’re vulnerable groups with high profiles. Countless column inches are dedicated to their issues. Domestic violence, rape, equal pay. Tuition fees, the struggle to gain work experience, a decent paying job and to move out of the family home. Abuse in care homes, dementia, the decision to heat the home and starve or buy food and risk death by hypothermia, because their pensions are too small to cover expenses and energy firms too greedy.
Who cares about middle-aged working class men? The once most powerful demographic, and the largest, is now the most disenfranchised. Their political, social and economic positions have been undermined.
They’re disillusioned and no one is taking notice.
Male dominated industries requiring physical strength, ‘a source of masculine pride and identity‘, have been lost. The recession has meant a rise in unemployment and the subsequent loss of ‘breadwinner’ status, an increase in relationship breakdown and a general decline in mental health, which isn’t helped by an unwillingness to talk about their emotions. Many suffer in silence, isolating themselves and turning to alcohol. Unsure of their position in society and unable cope, a shocking number believe suicide is the only answer – one of the leading causes of death in this group.
To them, Alex Salmond is offering hope. Hope that by taking control of their country they’ll be able to take pride in themselves once again. That they’ll be ushering in a new age of prosperity, of self-determination and a chance to rectify all that’s wrong with Scottish society. Salmond is also giving these men someone to blame for their predicaments. A place to aim their disappointment, their frustrations and resentment. That place: the London-centric British government.
For some, this is perhaps blind hatred. It may be preventing certain Yes voters from even considering possible negative outcomes in the short and long term, should the majority vote for independence. Many a negative piece of evidence has been dismissed in the belief that it’s the media and/or the British government scaremongering again.
Scaremongering, scaremongering, scaremongering. It’s all you hear. Even when it comes from the mouths of the higher ups in Scotland’s biggest banks and UK retailers. It’s disquieting to watch such brush-offs when the negatives are coming thick and fast from not only authoritative sources but from big business – the people that wield the most power in a capitalist economy.
You can’t deny the passion Yes voters have for their cause. But just because the passionate often make the loudest noise, it doesn’t mean they represent the majority. In such precarious situations where the outcome of change is largely unknown, most will opt for the least risky option – in this case, voting No or undecided. However, voting No isn’t voting for the status quo anymore. British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised further devolution of powers to Scotland. Whether he keeps that promise is another matter.
Should Scotland vote No, there will be many crushed hopes and yet more bitter disappointment for Yes voters. Scotland will be a nation divided, if the polls are to be believed on the close to 50/50 split, while the rest of the UK is left feeling a little rejected at the divorce that almost happened.