We seem to have been subjected to an awful lot of talk about being strong of late. Most of this has come from our gallant Prime Minister of course. As far as Mother Theresa is concerned, being strong is a matter of practising her very best Cruella Deville face in front of the mirror and then going out in front of a few hand picked party types and duly telling us all how strong she is.
It seems this rather pathetic performance is more than enough for the fawning press to tell us she has to be the strongest thing mankind has seen since Thor worked out how to do thunder. You can almost feel the ISIS leadership out in Raqaa quaking in their Jihadi boots.
It seems there are different kinds of strong. There is saying your strong and actually BEING strong. Then there is saying your strong but when push comes to shove you get a proper kicking because it turns out you aren't so very strong after all. And then there is saying you're strong when you are not strong at all but somehow getting away with it by being bloody convincing.
I guess the best place to measure these various kinds of strong is in the context of war. The place where the metal meets the meat is the ultimate proving ground: it is the place where there is suddenly nowhere to hide.
The American military make no bones about telling us all about how strong they are. Is this a bunch of hot air? Actually, no. They rule the roost on land, in the air, on the sea, under the sea and in space. They are the undisputed top dog. Any country on planet earth daft enough to have a go at the Land of the Free will get absolutely marmalised. Fair enough over the recent years they have had their problems keeping a lid on things once they have done the conquest thing, but they are still overwhelmingly powerful.
They can back up their words with deeds whenever they choose.
Saddam Hussein found out the hard way what a lousy idea it is to pick any kind of a fight with the American war machine. He is a fine example of someone who spent many years banging on about how strong he was but when push came to serious shove, his regime collapsed like a house of soggy cards. Mussolini was much the same. He strutted about like a peacock for years with all manner of talk about iron this and steel that. But when he sent his supposedly mighty Fascist army into Abyssinia, a bloody nose was the least of his problems.
Then we come to the most interesting category - those who make out they are strong when they are actually seriously weak and yet they still manage to get away with it.
Ladies and gentlemen, in this regard I give you none other than Herr Adolf Hitler. In the 1930's Hitler's Germany was the ultimate paper tiger. The Treaty of Versailles made sure Germany's wings were clipped on a permanent basis. This made it hard to the glorious Fuhrer to pull off his tough guy superman act. It was all very well throwing a big rally in Nuremburg, but how do you convince the world you have a mighty war machine when in reality all you have is bunch of skin heads who get their rocks off by kicking Jewish pensioners.
So Hitler started out on his great con trick. It went something like this. You take a VW Beetle and fit a cardboard shell around it and lo and behold once you paint it up it looks like a Panzer Three. Repeat the process a thousand times and you can present a mightily impressive Panzer Army to an utterly gullible watching world. Neville Chamberlain certainly bought the big con in 1938 when he served up Czechoslovakia on a plate.
But in 1940 push came to shove and the glorious Fuhrer faced the prospect of shitting or getting off the pot. Fair enough Poland was in the bag, but France and Britain were starting to flex their muscles. On paper Hitler was completely screwed. We had him well and truly outnumbered in every area. We had three times as many planes and four times as many tanks.
Unfortunately he had the drop on us in one very key area. Our generals were over promoted aristocrats whereas the Wehrmacht was led by the genius of Guderian and Rommel.
Our solution was to hide behind the Maginot Line and wait for the Germans to come to their senses. Had we invaded Germany in the spring of 1940 the Wehrmacht would have fared little better than Saddam Hussein fared in 2003. But we didn't invade. Instead we waited in the certain knowledge we had more tanks and more planes and the Maginot line was impregnable.
And it probably was impregnable. We never got to find out because Rommel and Guderian went round it and did what was supposed to be impossible as they blitzkrieged their way through the Ardennes forest.
Panic set in and the British and French armies basically legged it. So much for all that numerical and mechanical superiority.
However it was in Holland that Hitler's big con really played out. The German battle plan relied on three big gambles all coming good at the same time. First they had to do what was supposed to be impossible by successfully driving their Panzer armies through the Ardennes forest. Second they had to secure their southern flank with a pretend army made up of old fellas and Hitler Youth pretending to be a genuine fighting force. Thirdly, they needed to invade Holland with virtually no equipment.
This was the biggest gamble of all. They crossed their fingers and sent their army of cardboard tanks forward. They filled the skies with screaming Stukas and hoped the Dutch army would fall for the big con and leg it.
They did and the rest was history. The German invasion of Holland and the Low Countries was the final act of the greatest 'Long Con' in history.
By the time summer arrived Hitler's equipment problem was a thing of the past. We left most of what he needed on the beach at Dunkirk.
So what has all this got to do with our long march to an Independent Scotland? Quite a lot actually. Right now the forces of the Union are a lot like Hitler's army in the spring of 1940. From a distance it looks like they have a hell of a lot of tanks. But a closer look very quickly reveals the fact that most of them are made out of cardboard. The problem is that we keep making like the Dutch army and falling for the big con.
Check out this picture. It's familiar, right? The great Unionist demo at the launch of the SNP's election manifesto last week. We all got to see plenty of this picture. It was plastered through every Unionist paper and presented as clear evidence of an unstoppable Tory surge. The SNP have passed their peak! Nobody wants another Referendum!
The Unionist media were the dive bombing, howling Stukas and the motley crew with the banners were the cardboard tanks.
We needed to make the most simple observation in the world. There are only about ten of them! This isn't a protest. It is a lousy ten people with a few banners they haven't even made themselves. Without the wall to wall media coverage, they would have been nothing more than they actually were. Ten people. Nothing.
If the Dutch army stood and fired their guns in 1940 it wouldn't have taken ten minutes for them to realise the advancing Panzers were in fact nothing more than VW Beetles wrapped in cardboard.
Exhibit two. 25,000 people march through Glasgow waving banners they actually have made themselves. It is the biggest rally Scotland has seen in years and years and years. It is absolute proof positive there is an ever strengthening mood for Independence. It is 2500 times bigger than the pathetic crew the Unionists put onto the streets of Perth a few days earlier. All the Unionists could do was to make sure their media pretended the rally had never happened. Instead they filled their pages with fawning gough about how strong and stable Mother Theresa is.
Just imagine if 25,000 Unionists had marched through Glasgow demanding to stay in the United Kingdom. Bloody hell! There would have been twenty page pull outs and special editions. They would have produced commemorative mugs by the thousand. The BBC would have dispatched Sophie Rowarth to do a piece to camera in Sauchiehall street whilst shaking from head to toe with a quivering orgasm.
So let's take a moment here and check out the relative strengths of the opposing sides. As the last picture shows, YES is young and energetic. We can put thousands out onto the street.
The Unionists? Well last week they proved they can just about manage to fill a minibus and pay some printing bills. Things have changed since Indyref One. Back then it was YES versus the Tory Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrat Party. Now the battle lines are rather different.
Now it is YES versus the Tories.
So what are their strengths? Well it sure ain't numbers. Just how many people in the UK are actual Tory party members is a well kept secret. What we do know is that it isn't many and the average age is seventy plus. They aren't really a party at all in the traditional sense. They are a pretend party - a funnel through which the money of big business can work it's magic and make sure the interests of the super rich are well looked after. Mother Theresa's state visit to Scotland was a classic case in point. The best they could manage was a shed in a wood somewhere in the back of the Aberdonian beyond. The biggest crowd they could lay on was about thirty. Is this really a party? Of course it isn't. It is a VW Beetle cleverly wrapped in cardboard and painted up to resemble a Panzer Three.
Basically they have three big strengths. Number one, old people tend to like them. Number two, they own 90% of the media and Josef Goebbels would no doubt purr with pleasure at the way they get the editors to dance to their tune. Number three, they have all the money in the world. The only non Tory politician in living memory to have persuaded the big corporations to cough up their cash was Tony Blair. Enough said.
The YES side not surprisingly spends plenty of time railing against the endless bias of the Unionist media. Fair enough. It sucks. But maybe we should look a little deeper. Every time some hack from the Scotsman or the Mail or the Telegraph is wheeled out to say Scotland is succumbing to a vast Tory surge, we kind of assume lots of people are paying attention. These are famous papers, right? Sure they are. But just how much of an audience to they really command?
Last week I was fascinated to see where Stuart's brilliant 'Wings over Scotland' now sits in the league table of online places where Scots go to read stuff. Here you go.
Not bloody bad, don't you think? On the one hand you have a bunch of mega newspapers owned by some of the richest people in the world. On the other hand you have Reverend Stuart in his flat in Bath. It looks to me like Goliath is getting another kicking!
So I did a bit more Googling and worked my way to that esteemed Unionist rag, The Scotsman. They have been a venerable fixture since the early nineteenth century. Today they still have a hundred plus on the payroll. Surely they must have a mighty voice which can be heard the length and breadth of the land....
Or have they?
As compared to Stuart's 480,000. And then I got to thinking about my own efforts and how they might compare to this age old fixture of the Scottish media scene.
Well, here's a screen shot of my stats page.
136,000 readers in the last month. As in six times more than the Scotsman. And when all is said and done, who am I? Just a two bit blog artist from sleepy Dumfries. There must be plenty more out there like me.
To fair I don't get 136,000 readers every month, but I seem to get more and more all the time. Maybe in reality our voice is already louder than theirs. We just don't know it yet. Just like we can't seem to admit to ourselves just how weak they really are. We assume they are strong because they keep on telling us how strong they are. Our problem is we are daft enough to listen. And unless we learn to accept just how completely weak they are, we will always be in danger of making like the Dutch army seventy seven years ago and running away from a bunch of cardboard tanks.
History will show we are now living through the last rasping breaths of the British Empire. We are London's last significant colony and they are hanging on with an ever weakening liver spotted hand.
They're old, they're weak, they're all but done. They are yesterday's news. They are an empty shell. We just need to learn how to look at ten people holding ten banners and see them for what they really are - ten people holding ten banners.
And then they will collapse into a sorry heap.