The wrong end of the telescope

Can you smell the panic? The Better To Get Her campaign MkII, where Her is of course Theresa May, are already plotting how to undermine a democratic victory for independence. Why, they say, independence is such an important vote, that it’s vital, nay a moral necessity, to ensure that there’s not just any old majority for it in a democratic and properly run referendum, oh no. Independence supporters need to achieve a super-majority. One with super powers, like the super powers that Holyrood was promised by the last BetterTogether campaign, only we ended up with roadsigns and Jackson Carlaw complaining that some of them were in Gaelic. Tell you what, we can have a super-majority in the exact same way that following the last independence referendum, Westminster delivered its promise of super-devomax. Which would mean Scotland becoming independent if only 45% voted for it.

Why is it necessary to have 55% for independence? Why not 60%. Or 70%? Why not just insist that if the Tories vote against independence then there’s no agreement so Scotland needs to stay a part of the UK. Then Scotland’s future can rest entirely in the hands of the Tories. Which is pretty much where we are at the moment.

This latest proposal, which is the formal sign that the campaign to keep Scotland locked in subservience to Westminster is now officially in full on Corporal Jones mode, was proposed by Nigel Smith who is the chair of a pro-devolution organisation called Scotland Forward. His bright idea is that at least 55% of those who vote need to vote for Yes independence, otherwise the No vote carries the day. Some electoral minorities in Scotland are way more important than others, which is why we constantly hear about how we need to respect and listen to the 38% of Scots voters who wanted to leave the EU, but the 45% who voted for independence can be routinely ignored and told to get over it.

Of course, it’s only Scottish voters who require this extraordinary degree of electoral reassurance, what with us being semi-civilised savages in a one party SNP state who are motivated by nothing more than an atavistic hatred of Stephen Daisley, cricket, tea on the lawn, and thae wee triangular cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Voters in the rest of the UK can wrest us all out of the EU on the basis of a 51.9% vote for Brexit. Because of course they’re civilised and decent respecters of democracy and readers of the Daily Mail, the Express, and the Spectator, those fact based journals of august wisdom and decency.

There was me the other day, making a wee plea for unity amongst the various strands of the independence movement as we face a second referendum, and then along comes Nick Cohen writing an article for the Spectator that we can all agree is a pile of unmitigated pish. Nick’s article was an impassioned plea in defence of STV’s digital editor Stephen Daisley, who used his own Twitter account to troll independence supporters and promote the even more trollish Spanner. This has given rise to the collective term for Twitterati Scottish Unionists, a bag of spanners.

According to Nick, notorious Twitter troll Brian Spanner, who specialises in calling women by the c-word, is actually a hilariously funny satirist who can’t possibly be misogynistic because sometimes he speaks to women at the check out in Tesco.  And sometimes women speak back to him.

After Spanner was called out for his misogyny in the wake of the JK Rowling Natalie McGarry Twitter spat, when there was the possibility that the anonymous person or persons behind the account might be cited as a witness in a defamation case, Spanner very bravely and courageously made apologies all the while hiding behind his usual anonymity, for which Daisley praised him. So that makes it all OK then, despite the fact that an anonymous apology is no apology at all. Because if you don’t know the identity of the person who verbally abuses you, you don’t know whether the anonymous apology comes from the same person, or whether it’s sincere. Of course it wasn’t sincere, it was simply arse-covering.

Spanner is one of those who insists that when independence supporters refer to Westminster this is in fact code for the English. He also insists that the word Tory is likewise code for the English. And then he calls a female SNP politician a fat c***, which apparently is code for hilariously satirical. Nick thinks all this is cutting edge Scottish satire. If I had only known that all you need to do to write satire was to call women c***s and make disparaging references to their physical appearance, I could have saved myself a whole lot of time and effort.

For clarification, I should point out that when independence supporters refer to Westminster, this is in fact code for Westminster, which is the parliament which has most power and control over Scotland. When independence supporters refer to the Tories, this is in fact code for the Tories, who make important and life changing decisions about Scotland despite the fact they have only a single MP here. And when independence supporters refer to a misogynistic troll, this is in fact code for Brian Spanner.

If a prominent indy supporter used language like he does, it would be all over the pages of the Express, the Mail, the Telegraph and the rest, and people like Nick would be writing anguished articles about how he was proof of the vile intolerance lurking at the heart of the Scottish independence movement. But a Unionist man can refer to women as c***s and this is satire, an independence supporting lesbian can refer to another lesbian by the d-word, and that is disgusting homophobia. That’s the Unionist double standards that the independence movement faces constantly, of which Nick- to be kind – is blithely unaware. But that doesn’t stop him lecturing us about it.

Despite the fact that Nick thinks Stephen Daisley has been silenced by the SNP, he’s still employed by STV and is still writing for them. It’s a very peculiar form of silencing, but we mustn’t let that get in the way of a metropolitan slur on the Scottish independence movement. Oh sorry. I used the word metropolitan, which is clearly code for “English”. For the benefit of any doubt, I should clarify that it is not in fact code for “English”, it’s code for “out of touch arrogant and clueless roaster with his heid rammed firmly up his own bahoochy who views Scotland through the prism of his own self-regarding and misplaced sense of superiority”.

According to Nick, Scotland is a dangerous one party state where SNP politicians are unused to criticism. When you write an article insisting that the SNP is immune to criticism, and with the apparent belief that the BBC is in their pocket, your awareness of the realities of the Scottish media landscape is on a par with the belief that the New Horizons probe which flew past Pluto revealed it to be a Disney cartoon. You’d never know from reading his ludicrous article that with a handful of exceptions the Scottish media is almost uniformly opposed to Scottish independence, despite the fact that independence is supported by about half the population.

Scotland does have some of the characteristics of a one party state. One of those characteristics is a media which is not reflective of the true range of opinion in the country. But that’s not something you’ll hear much complaint about in the pages of London-based right wing magazines. Oh sorry, I said London-based. That’s not code for English, that’s code for “based in London and viewing Scotland through the wrong end of a red white and blue telescope”.

It’s the kind of ignorance displayed by Nick of the realities of Scotland which allow dangerous ideas which subvert democracy to gain traction, like the notion that a super majority should be required for a second indyref. It’s the kind of ignorance that fosters the notion that the people of Scotland, whose democratic credentials are impeccable, require people like Nick to explain things to us and Tories to govern us even if a majority of us were to say otherwise. Our democracy is at threat. But it’s threatened by Unionist privilege, double standards, and a wilful refusal to hold themselves to the same standards that they insist the independence movement adheres to.

Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of Sarah Mackie, @lumi_1984

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0 thoughts on “The wrong end of the telescope

  1. Scotland and England continue to drift apart. Britnat journalists can’t or won’t accept their influence is waning in Scotland, thus they become more and more desperate.

    Thank god for the internet.

    • This from WOS. A quote from Ruth Davidson:

      “You don’t get a referendum for free, you have to earn it. So if the Greens and the SNP – and the SSP or any of the other parties who’ve declared an interest in independence – get over the line and can make a coalition, make a majority, get the votes in the Parliament, then they’ll vote through a referendum, and that’s what democracy’s all about… it’s perfectly simple”

  2. Not too concerned about the super-majority proposal. I think we can trust the Scottish government not to agree to it and there are already a couple of precedents to support them. If anything, it simply shows how scared the No side are now.

    Wings does an excellent dissection of the lies and cobblers in the Cohen article too.

  3. Excellent article as usual Paul, as for the super majority thing would that not mean that we have a new kind of democracy where the minority rule?
    I read Nick Cohen’s insane rant courtesy of the Rev. Stu today and he is clearly living in a parallel universe imagining that the Scottish media are in thrall to the SNP .
    At the risk of being labelled a swivel eyed separatist I have to say cucumber sarnies with or without crusts are definitely not to my tenement dwelling taste, vile things.

  4. Pingback: The wrong end of the telescope | speymouth

  5. One wonders if Cohen will devote anytime whatsoever to the Case of Look North’s Danny Carpenter or is he only interested in cases involving rabid right wing fellow trolls like himself?

  6. You’ve fairly sorted that one out, Paul! You have the ability to have us rocking with laughter one minute and furious over the treatment of Scotland the next…….a rare gift.

    They wouldn’t dare follow Nigel Smith’s suggestion though no doubt they’re working hard to come up with some method whereby Scotland continues to contribute to WM coffers. Life would be hard without our input. But they’re going to have to find a way forward without us for we are determined to wave them goodbye. Can’t come soon enough for me.

  7. I know that I am being paranoid, but I am getting increasingly worried seeing what is being published in what used to be reputable newspapers.

    The lies and the diatribe in Mr Cohen’s article is outrageous and provocative, but it is not a one off. I am beginning to think that the MSM (or rather who controls the MSM) has now realised that dirty politics is not going to win the battle in Scotland this time round, so they are weaponising people. Having a look at some comment sections or even some twitters sent shivers down my back.

    I believe that those articles are not directed to Scottish readers but to the rUK, particularly England and they are putting us one against each other: divide and conquer so they say. Not knowing what they intend to do with a highly sensitised Scotland- and Scottish politics-hating crowd is what scares me. But one thing is true: before any nasty development there has always been a ramp up of brainwashing PR in the MSM.

    This was the tactic that Cameron (well his spin doctor and the MSM really) used successfully to win the GE: the SNP was presented as the evil that was going to use Labour to lead the UK to oblivion. Sadly, many gullible voters down south believed that crap in the way they are believing now the pack of lies and embarrassment to journalism written by Mr Cohen in that article.

    • Absolutely Maria, this kind of thing is deliberate and aimed at rUK. Even during and after the last indy ref, I had friends and family in NE england who were less than kind about Scotland and especially towards the SNP and their members. It was actually quite scary what they said and their attitude was quite shocking.

      If you can convince people that their neighbour is somehow dangerous, and remember, shit sticks, then that justifies any action that the state may take against said neighbour in the future. It is a very dangerous game that WM are playing, but they know it and do not care.

      Since the SNP conference it sure looks like the unionists are getting even more desperate to scare the neighbours into thinking Scotland is a threat. What with brexit and all, this will add to the fact they need someone to blame.

      Not paranoid, just trying to remain aware that the rUK certainly do not want a Scotland that they cannot pretty much totally control, as is the case now.

      England really needs to stand on its own two feet and stop stifling Scotland and siphoning away their neighbours ( Scotlands) resources. They will get by, if they make a few plans, and adjustments, they can do that, can’t they? Live and let live and all that, english establishment? Great, glad we got that sorted.

  8. Couldn’t agree more Paul and very well said.

    Setting aside the sheer web footed, metrocentric, congenital fuckwittery of Mr Cohen’s pile of ordure, which he passed off as angry man commentary. I don’t think I’ve read such a purely dishonest and deliberately misleading article in a title for quite some time. Now when you consider what the independence movement has to put up with from the UK media at large, that is saying something.

    I have only the vaguest idea of this Cohen creature and as of that article, that is a state of affairs for which I am eternally grateful. I can almost guarantee it’ll probably be the last I pay any further attention whenever his name pops up in the future. One deeply dishonest and misleading piece of tat passing itself off as commentary is pretty much all it takes these days.

    However, perhaps we should thank Mr Cohen? A great big thank you for a timely reminder of just what the UK mainstream media is all about.

    As for the boneheaded proposal of a superdooper majority? We’ve been there, done that once before and people still carry the scars of that betrayal. I think the answer from Scotland’s electorate to Mr Smith should be we’ll take it under advisement. (I take it folks know exactly what I’m thinking by this point?)

    • ” I think the answer from Scotland’s electorate to Mr Smith should be we’ll take it under advisement. (I take it folks know exactly what I’m thinking by this point?)”

      I wouldn’t worry too much, I was only born in 1987 and I know exactly what you’re referring too

  9. 55% super majority to win effectively devalues a Yes vote so it is worth about 90% of a No vote.
    It’s demented that someone would even make that suggestion.
    Why not apply it all elections? That way the encumbent party could always be sure they get the result they want.

  10. ‘Don’t Panic. Don’t panic’ Of course these utterances always have the opposite effect and that is what we are seeing – blind panic. Personally I blame the fitba. No, not that fitba, the other one – fantasy grand auto angry fitba manger theft where Laura Croft comes swinging across Hampden snatching the European Cup out of the hands of Gordon Strachan because, now no longer in Europe, this couldn’t happen. Reboot. Update. Laura Croft swings across Hampden and hands the cup back because, after the referendum, Scotland voted to remain in the EU and leave the UK.

    Which, may be, is why there seems to be an upsurge in strident, shrieking yoonist nonsense. When a fantasy simulation shows the implications of Brexit, it must be real.

    Pointing out that, despite assurances, Scotland actually isn’t the bestest fully devolved government in the world ever, may not help either. (Thanks to WGD for all the hard work copying and pasting for that blog) And being nice in the face of adversity just rubs salt in the wound. As Oscar Wilde is reported to have said, “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.”

    Elsewhere on the Internet I bumped, briefly, into what Angry Salmond thinks might be a parody blog, the quine Effy, who, amongst loads of other tosh, states (without the use of much punctuation): “Nicola Sturgeon just like every other Scottish nationalist cannot bear to live in the same country as people from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.” Then asks, apparently irony free, “If this isn’t xenophobia what is?” You couldn’t make it up.

  11. Feel your anger Paul, and it’s totally justified…how did nz manage to escape waste monsters clutches without this daily grind of insult, slander and down right bile that we are currently enduring…what other nation has gone through this to make its own decisions…im afraid of whats. Coming down the line from the propaganda machine..

    • “how did nz manage to escape waste monsters clutches without this daily grind of insult, slander and down right bile that we are currently enduring”

      Probably because NZ wasn’t propping up Englands failing economy. Plus I can only imagine that it’s a bit more expensive to bus(sail/fly) English Labour activists to NZ than it is to bus them up to Scotland, although with the state the Labour party is in now and considering how much money they wasted trying to stop their own membership voting in their leadership contest, I can only imagine that they might financially struggle to do that come Indyref2. Maybe their friends the Conservatives will help them out with a wee loan.

  12. 51.9% voted Leave in the EU Referendum. What was the proportion of voters out of those on the voting roll (including those who had died since it was complied of course)? Answer bound to well under 50% yet Brexit means Brekshit doesn’t it?

    • Ann, for a short time this year I worked in a residential care home. There were many residents who had not been given their brown ‘are you registered to vote’ envelopes, stuffed in a cupboard they were until I came across them. For some reason, these elderly folks had been removed from the electoral register by the DWP. The families with the authority, or shall we say ‘POA’, couldn’t be bothered to sit with their folks and fill in the forms…Yes, it’s traumatic dealing with dementia, Parkinson’s , ageing and other happenings, but to take away a person’s right to vote is criminal…

  13. Nick cohen is a former trotskyist, who with the zealotry of converts, wrote withering critique of socialism, called “whats left” sorry did I say withering? I meant withered. It should come as no surprise to folk who have read his stuff, that he writes a pile of unmitigated pish. I actually disagree. It is not unmitigated. It is mitigated by the fact that cohen is an arsehole. Although I have to say he was right about the wrp. Lefties will get that one. Yep Cohen’s a bawbag that’s for sure, but honestly I don’t know why folk are bothering with him.

  14. The anger of Nick Cohen is that of a man who understands next to nothing about Scotland, except what he’s read off twitter or opinion pieces by the likes of Massie or Torrance, which in turn is passed off as news. It’s a sympathetic anger at what he perceives to be an injustice, and without bothering to find out what the facts are, like a real journalist would, he lets off an epic brainfart. The poor sod has had his head filled with bullshit from the usual suspects.

    His anger is the anger of Massie, McColm, Torrance and so many others. The anger of men who are realising that fighting so hard to keep Scotland in the union, cost them their relevance and credibility. Just as it did for labour. They have blown smoke up the backsides of the UK sub branch parties in Scotland, then realised they are stuck in a box with some crazed yoon sitting in a puddle of its own filth, flinging shit everywhere. But they can’t escape the box called union.

    They know Scotland isn’t Greece without the sunshine. They know that Scotland has contributed so much to the union that the UK owes it a great debt. They know Scots are not subsidy junkies. They know that Scotland could easily be independent and succeed. They know it is badly treated by the UK political system. They know that Scots have been lied to and maligned. They know that the GERS reports are a monstrous slur against the Scottish people.

    But when it came down to it. When it came to the crunch. They gladly lied for Britain and allowed the NO victory to be defined by the lies. Their anger has roots in the knowledge that lying for union ensured Scotland can no longer stand tall in the UK. They also realised that far more Scots want independence than they anticipated. They also realise that their lies has ensured that no UK sub branch party in Scotland, will never hold sway here as they once did. They know they almost lost were it not for the vow. They have stood by and watched as labour abstained and ensured the vow would fail. They know that the UKgov will do far more damage to their precious union that they claim to love so much. Yet they will continue to lie for union. Smear for union. Sneer for union. But curiously – they never stand up for it in the UK. or actually love it and the people in it.
    Even then, they are lying for union. They’re the best recruiting sergeants for Independence we have ever had. And there will come a day my friends, when those pictures of them wearing “Scottish Resistance” T shirts will come back to bite them hard on the backside.

    Imagine being that person. Now you know why they are so angry.

    • David, thanks for leading us out of yet another Unionist scribblers’ irrelevant garden path.
      Paul, in his customary bitter/sweet fashion slaps this self important London hack down. He has thrown more out of the road to get to a fight.
      We shall no longer be sidetracked by nonsense like this piece of pap.
      No more spanners in the Independence movement’s works.
      Eye on the prize from now on in.

      Back to reality, and the Road to Self Determination.
      They’re checking refugees’ teeth now, Mr Cohen.
      Are you really that far gone that you can’t see what’s happening Down There? ‘Down There’ is of course SNP code for ‘down there’, which is the opposite of ‘Up Here.’
      Up Here we are democratically presenting the case for Self Determination. No bombs, no bullets, no racist fervour’; just the facts, Cohen.
      The Dead Tree Scrollers are becoming increasingly frantic; when’s the next poll, Professor Curtice?
      We know that they’re getting really worried when the Prof’s Brillo pad head peeps over the parapet.
      Naughty and Smith have been called up early too.

      Thanks, Paul, yet again.

  15. Anecdotally, I am actually finding it hard to spot and soft-No’s in my travels anymore. I have actually met more than a dozen now who are firmly Yes – 80% predicated on EU.

    The MSM know this, and throw Spain and lies as the “EU says no” card on the table. We know better, indeed – one of those softies is now so angry they weren’t Yes before, that they are actively converting – not passively as I am.

    I cannot see any circumstances better than now for #indy vote to work. I am patient, and of course, impatient.

    Mostly I am confident of Scotland being independent forthwith.

  16. “You don’t get a referendum for free, you have to earn it. So if the Greens and the SNP – and the SSP or any of the other parties who’ve declared an interest in independence – get over the line and can make a coalition, make a majority, get the votes in the Parliament, then they’ll vote through a referendum, and that’s what democracy’s all about… it’s perfectly simple”

    Ruth Davidson

  17. I beg to differ on the cucumber sandwiches. On all other points I agree with wot Paul wrote.

    I understand the fears of what Westminster might be prepared to do to ensure Scotland’s continued annexation. That is perhaps one of the key reasons why the Scottish Government and the SNP leadership have worked hard to increase international recognition, awareness, understanding and respect for our democratic struggle.

    Our apparent weakness but greatest strength is that we will never allow our cause to be the justification for harming a hair on the head of a single child. We are so much better than that. We are civilised.

  18. Arthur Thomson you said for me …we will never allow our cause to be the justification for harming a hair on the head of a single child…we are civilised.

    So well expressed.

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