Let’s all be nice. Let’s all be beacons of tolerance, understanding, and empathy. Let’s bend over backwards to appreciate the points of view of others. Let’s receive anger but send out love. Let’s preach peace and civic responsibility. Let’s never utter a harsh word. Let’s not slag off James Kelly MSP for being the most grey and boring individual on the face of the planet since former Prime Minister John Major pulled his Y-fronts over his head. Let’s gaze upon the xenophobic and plain nasty deeds and actions of Theresa May, Liam Fox, Boorish Johnson, and David Davis and resist the urge to hurl abuse, however well justified it might be.
We could do all that, the Scottish independence movement could behave like paragons of virtue and good behaviour that would make a Buddhist monastery look like a drunken brawl at an Orange parade, and there would still be headlines in the Daily Express and the Daily Mail about vile cybernats and how repugnant supporters of Scottish independence are.
I’m certainly not saying that we should give the Unionist media, particularly its more lunatic fringe, any ammunition. But the fact of the matter is that the Scottish independence movement is and always has been overwhelmingly peaceful, inclusive, and democratic, and yet it’s always been stigmatised in the Unionist press. That’s not going to change any.
Scotland had an independence referendum which was characterised by mass participation, by ordinary people getting involved in political debate and discussion for the first time in their lives, and overwhelmingly they did so animated by hope and in a spirit of constructive and productive engagement. That’s the real character of the Scottish independence movement, but according to the UK Unionist media, all those people who were discussing how to create a better future for Scotland and for everyone who chooses to live in this country were in fact motivated by an atavistic hatred of England and the English.
We see rampant anti-Scottish racism dismissed as banter, and in the absence of an equivalent outpouring of hate language from Scotland, Unionists are reduced to claiming that the word Westminster is code for England. It’s not. It’s code for Westminster. That would be the Westminster which is the sovereign parliament of Scotland yet it routinely dismisses the views of the Scottish people. Or they say the word Tories is code for England. It’s not. It’s code for the Tories who govern Scotland despite the fact they have little support here. When you’re reduced to redefining your opponents’ clear words as code for something else, you’re admitting that your argument is based in fantasy.
The claim that Scottish independence is motivated by anti-English sentiment is a lie. It was a lie during the first independence referendum. It is still a lie. It will be a lie during the second independence referendum. It is a lie without foundation. It is a lie without substantive evidence to support it. But it’s a lie that keeps getting repeated.
The reason it keeps getting repeated is because the Unionist establishment wants to prevent the people of Scotland from engaging with the debate about independence, because once they do they start to question things. They start to wonder why it is that although Scotland is blessed with an embarrassment of resources and potential, we’re supposedly poor and dependent. They start to wonder why we submit to Conservative governments that enjoy the support of a small fraction of the Scottish population. They begin to realise that expecting a country to be governed by people who actually live in it and who are elected by people who live in it and who are responsible to people who live in it, isn’t such a ridiculous idea after all. It’s just normal.
In order to prevent people from making that realisation, the Unionist establishment throws its weight behind attempts to demonise and delegitimise the Scottish independence movement. It’s one of their most important tactics, and no matter how well behaved independence supporters are, they’re not going to stop demonising us. From their perspective the possibility that a part of the UK could break away and become a different state is a repugnant idea, and therefore anyone who espouses that repugnant idea is also repugnant, no matter how well behaved, polite or civil they might be. They want undecided voters to think we’re repugnant too.
So we see hysterical and counter-factual articles like those which litter the pages of the Daily Express. In the view of the Express, the peaceful group of pro-independence supporters in George Square in the aftermath of the referendum result who were viciously attacked by pro-Union fascist thugs became participants in violence who bear the moral responsibility for the wounds, the hurt, and the pain inflicted upon them by supporters of the Union.
When die-hard Unionists engage with you on social media, they’re not open to persuasion, and they’re not looking for honest debate. They’re only trying to provoke you. So block them and move on. Save your efforts for where it can make a difference. Don’t get into pointless fights, don’t lose the rag. Don’t give the Unionist media any ammunition.
We’re about to embark on a second independence referendum campaign, and no matter what we do we will still be demonised by the Unionist parties and their media. But that’s all the more reason why that as a movement we must be self-disciplined and united. Self-disciplined and united doesn’t mean we all sing from the same song sheet. It certainly doesn’t mean we all subscribe to the SNP’s view of an independent Scotland, or the Greens’, or Rise’s, or anyone else’s. Our diversity is one of our strengths.
What it means is that we refrain from attacking one another, we concentrate on making the case for an independent Scotland. We don’t allow our opponents to portray us as divided. What it means is that we put into action the aspirations that we have for an independent Scotland, that we demonstrate the tolerance and acceptance and good grace that characterises our vision of this country. What it means is that we don’t provide the Unionist media with ammunition to use against us, because then when they do attempt to demonise and delegitimise the independence movement and its supporters it will be easier to unmask them as the kind of divisive, manipulative fantastists who populate the likes of the Daily Mail and the Express. It means we can occupy the moral high ground. And that it turn makes it easier for us to discredit them. And then we will win.
Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-16th-oct-2016
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