PEOPLE who hold positions of power always react badly to mass popular demonstrations. Their nervousness is always rooted in the same age-old fear – that this is how revolutions start. It’s as though the sight and sound of many people united in a common cause triggers a folk memory embedded deep within them. It’s the fear of losing control, of wondering how this will all end.

Politics, especially in the view of the Tories, is a game best left to an anointed few, and the fewer, the better. They and their families didn’t pay all that money for an expensive private education just so their elevation to the top positions in society – many years in the planning – could be hindered by swathes of common people untutored in the ways of power.

From an early age, these people have been told that they were born for power, that it’s part of their DNA, formed by generations and layer upon layer of privilege and status. Nor can you really condemn them for believing that they – and only they – have the experience and know-how to operate the levers of power. This is because their experience tells them it’s true.

Out of 57 UK prime ministers, 44 were educated at Oxford or Cambridge. The vast majority of the ministers they appointed to the most powerful political positions in the land attended these two universities. Many of them were either friends or friends of friends.

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Each of them, during their ministerial tenure, had the final say in making appointments to public bodies and the most influential posts in the civil service; the army; the police; the Church of England; and myriad other senior positions that maintain the ancient patterns of privilege in British society. These are all routinely awarded to those who are considered “one of us”.

And if they aren’t actually “one of us”, then so long as they can behave as such and can be relied upon not to ask for too much or not to keep questionable company, then they can be admitted into the halls of influence (a few references from the great and the good helps here too).

Lying just beyond these boundaries are perhaps 1000 or so low-born others who are so transfixed and mesmerised by the British establishment and the power it wields that their lives are spent in a pathetic quest to touch its hems by acting as glove puppets. Some of these can be found in the BBC and the right-wing press.

Rather than hold power and privilege to account, they bow before it and do its bidding.

Others can be found in the Conservative Party itself. They may have been born into working-class families or marginalised communities but, affected by a sort of political Stockholm syndrome, they seek the approval of those who are mainly responsible for the inequality and discrimination suffered by their own.

Mass demonstrations are an anathema to these people. They are unpredictable and proceed outwith the control of the power brokers. There’s a reason why this UK Tory administration is presently constructing a suite of laws making it much more difficult for groups of people to come together for a common goal in sensitive public places … basically anywhere within sight of the main institutions of power such as Parliament.

If their writ ran in Scotland, they would have sought to ban the marches planned for today – or at least limited them. It was as predictable as it was tiresome, then, to observe some Scottish Tories attempt to disparage the Yes demonstrations as the Supreme Court issues its referendum judgment. Some of them sought to portray the demonstrations in eight different locations as something sinister and undemocratic. This echoed the falsehoods that they and their Scottish Labour footstools conveyed during the first referendum on Scottish independence – that they were intimidating, divisive, and a threat to the public good.

THESE claims became more shrill and hysterical as support for Yes increased. They were reliably backed up by their supplicants in the Unionist press.

No matter what verdict their Supreme Court Lordships hand down today, this is a watershed moment for the entire Yes movement and, as such, this day and the momentum that will flow from it must be seized.

We will hear a lot in the weeks and months ahead about the need for pro-independence supporters to come together and present a united front as we build towards a second referendum. Accompanying this will be the cry that we should just get “independence over the line” and cease any criticism of the SNP government. We should ignore this, though.

There are many in the Yes movement for whom independence isn’t the alpha and the omega. Rebuilding communities levelled by decades of Conservative fiscal doctrine is primary. For them, independence is indivisible from the class struggle. It’s a means of creating a society where all men and women are given an equal opportunity to improve their lives and thus improve society.

How patronage works within the Westminster establishment can also be seen at Holyrood and civic Scotland. After 15 years (and counting) of largely unchallenged SNP rule, it’s only natural and human that those who have been at the centre of Scottish government for most of that time become accustomed to the advantages and privileges this brings.

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Lately, some of them have displayed a Westminster-style hauteur when faced with criticism from within the wider Yes movement. It might win you some brownie points from the SNP leadership and keep you near the top of the party lists when you abuse Alba. Nor does it help when some in the career wing of the party set up firing squads to come after anyone they suspect of exhibiting traitorous thoughts.

It remains to be seen, though, if the damage of such infantile behaviour will become evident during an elongated referendum campaign. All help will be needed to counter the forces that will be unleashed against the independence side.

I suspect there are many Yes supporters who are hanging on in there for the sake of independence, but their loyalty is being sorely tested by a handful of professional SNP politicians who have spent the last few years disparaging them.

The Yes movement in 2014 was at its best and most persuasive when it proceeded without the management of the professional SNP. It was at its most vibrant at the street level and among those who had never previously felt part of mainstream politics. When their fervour was not contingent on an attractive pay package and pension from Westminster or Holyrood.