A guest post by Samuel Miller

So basically First Minister Nicola Sturgeon whilst attending an Edinburgh Festival event said that the word “national” could be “problematic” and that with a bit of twenty twenty hindsight, naming her party differently ninety years ago might have been a good idea. Anyone associated with the SNP, indeed anyone with any connection to the independence movement, can understand the sentiment and logic behind this response. It’s a question I’m sure I’ve heard asked of the First Minister before and her response was, I’m pretty sure, little different to the one proferred. I’d guess word association, false equivalence and conflation are pretty much part of the furniture for the Scottish National Party.

You know, it’s almost a year ago exactly since I posted a piece on the nature and influence of the written word and the responsibility the media has to use that influence with care. Mind you, it’s never just been the media though. The political class have also shown an epic disregard for responsibility over the years when pursuing their agenda du jour. Say anything, do anything and just win. Worry about the consequences of ill thought statements, pledges, accusations and smears later. Whatever does the job, apparently the S.O.P.

Quick reminder and link to the piece: “The written word is powerful. People can be moved to acts of great kindness and humanitarian aid, or they can be moved to acts of intolerance and great inhumanity. They can be motivated to feel true empathy, humour, regret, hope, aspiration even. Or they can be made to feel doubt, uncertainty, anger, fear and hatred. In the hands of a true wordsmith it is a tool or a weapon that can influence the emotions and opinions of individuals and populations alike for good or ill”

Well, I hate to say I told you so… etc.

A year on and both our politicians and our media still appear hell bent on playing word games. They still want you to play a game of ‘join the dots’ to their narratives and of course, come to find the image they want you to see. They apparently still want to drive those narratives, and write and rewrite history, make reality and democracy over to what they want it to be and not how the former is and how the latter should be.

You’d think the never ending stream of ‘Brexit shambles‘ style headlines may have been a bit of a heads up as to what happens when a narrative runs away from its creators. You may also have thought that emotive right wing media rhetoric possibly having some effect in stoking the fires of intolerance to the point where hate crime has risen across the board wasn’t such a cunning plan either.  When people, who have been contributors to the UKs economy and culture for years, are actively looking to leave for more tolerant and peaceful shores that would reasonably constitute a heads up moment?

But no! No, none of these things have prevented the march of politics as it is practised. The political class still try to undermine trust in their opposition with cheap point scoring exercises. They still want to attain the positions and the power of course, but without the awkward details of policy or the responsibility attached. The media today still try to drive narratives and sales with emotionally charged copy. Both use their soapboxes to manipulate the emotions, opinion and votes of their followers and readerships to their own gain and if some ‘eggs’ get broken? Well, it’s just politics or it’s a bottom line and a few more quid in the coffers… right?

So far as our own societal and political situation in Scotland is concerned, you might also have thought that a never ending stream of labeling, demonisation, fear and uncertainty would not be a clever way to win back votes or trust either. Maybe just me, but the whole insulting and antagonising at least half of your population, whilst denigrating the whole as being somehow, sub standard, second best and singularly incapable doesn’t strike me as a particularly unifying or positive strategy.  Constant conflation, (subtle or overt), of your political opposition and their support with historic forces of intolerance, hatred and bigotry can do that. You can see where it could get a bit tiresome after a while to be sure.

Apparently you put the word ‘national’ into just about anything and the less scrupulous, honest or ethical of individuals will have a field day drawing false equivalence for their own advantage. Though how they get round the likes of National Health Service, National Museums, National anthem, National Trust and so very many more titles without having fits of foaming outrage is beyond me, because y’know, National bad – Patriot good. Perhaps renaming most of these islands institutions is in order?

Or more likely, it seems the criteria for triggering conflation and false equivalence is mainly to be in opposition to them, but then that would make their actions shabby and massively irresponsible, yes?

Deeply insulting as it is to those who support self determination in Scotland, the true insult is to those who have suffered at the hands of the real thing all through that dark chapter in human history. In fact to those who suffer even today at the hands of the racist, the bigot, the politically and societally intolerant.

‘Course, not satisfied with the possible societal fallout from all of the above, less mindful elements of the political class and the media can heedlessly and needlessly undermine trust in our national (there’s that word again) institutions, our services and our achievements. Their words potentially put jobs at risk and people in harms way, but apparently all’s fair in love and war …etc. How must that seem to the outside world I wonder? Happily some can know the truth of a thing when they see it.

The true cost of politics as it is practised? All it takes is for one person not to call an emergency service through an instilled lack of trust. All it will take is for one person to raise their hand to another, because their ‘go to’ title’s dog whistle rhetoric has informed them to mistrust or alienate. The true cost is borne by people. Your actual human beings.

To put not too fine a point on it, we’re not collateral damage. We’re not electoral coinage either. Our lives matter. So for the less well informed, let’s keep it simple.

What You See Is What You Get.

So far as I am aware, the Scottish National Party/Scottish Government and those like minded folk who make up the larger, wider YES/Independence movement, have not invaded anyone. They haven’t oppressed any populations. They haven’t crashed economies or enacted legislation which has drawn international condemnation. They haven’t unleashed a hostile media assault on their own citizens. Oh, and unless public record has changed of recent times, they haven’t forced their nation partners into any acts against their will and they haven’t dropped an economic and constitutional galactostooshie into said partner’s lap either.

Can the same be said for Westminster government? Could the same be said for successive Westminster governments? Maybe worth thinking about the next time you reach for a title from your local news stand or listen to a couch load of metrosplaining political punditry. It’s maybe time to give the news stand a miss for a while and look around yourself. Don’t allow yourself to be led to a conclusion. Don’t join the dots others lay down for you.

It’s not about what you’re told, it’s about what you see and what you experience for yourself.


0 thoughts on “W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G

  1. Well said!

    There is no reason why acrimony should be brought into constitutional and economic debate. It doesn’t help and shows weakness in the anti-independence side of the argument. In fact, the word “bluster” comes to mind.

  2. Brilliant post Sam! You have managed to articulate the feelings I have had for many years. I was a long term Labour voter until like many of my age group were left behind by “New Labour” which seemed no different from the Tories. There have always been campaigns by MSM against the opposition. You just have to think about Neil Kinnock, Michael Foot and John Major and later, Tony Blair at the beginning and end of his tenure to know the power of the press on the public. And that is one of the reasons I was so surprised that the SNP appeared to have no response to the concerted campaign against Nicola Sturgeon. That campaign has done a lot of damage. Ms Sturgeon was viewed very positively by most of the UK population until that campaign began in earnest ably stoked by Ruth and Kezia, at which point she became a real target. I don’t know quite how that can be reversed, but it must be, as she is one of the very few positive forces in politics.

    • A positive force indeed is our Nicola. She’s not feeding their venom and vitriol, just bidin her time… as are we Independistas…

  3. The Tories need to deflect attention from them being in bed with the “Democratic” unionist party across the water.
    Unionism is now driven by some very unsavoury people and ideas so they have to attack those who expose that.
    Being associated with unionism is no longer the respectable,conservative middle class preserve but a space occupied by extreme bigots of various persuasions whose sole aim is to cling to power for personal gain.

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  5. Excellent piece. Particularly chiming with me personally today was the statement “The media today still try to drive narratives and sales with emotionally charged copy.” I have just cancelled my online subscription to a certain Scottish newspaper because their latest set of chosen opinion piece writers is so biaised as to be ot of sight. I have no difficulty with these British Nationalists peddling their nonsense – we are all entitled to out opinions, but I have a real problem with the unbalanced nature of this drivel without (and let’s be honest as it can be on certain occasions) counter-drivel. So why pay not to be informed but to be talked at/down without any attempt at balance or fairness? I’ve had enough.

  6. The tories also share their bed with the red and yellow branches in Scotland,and they will all use any lie or unsavoury people they can to hold on to power. We can only hope the majority of the Scottish electorate will eventually see how low they will stoop.As far as the english labour party is concerned there is no chance of Jeremy ever returning it back to a socialist party, Tony seen to that.

  7. Nicola did not say that she wished to change the name of The SNP.

    What she did say was that because of the way over the years the enemies of Independence have used the word ‘National’ to imply that The SNP shared values and policies with The Nazis it might have been better in the 1930s when the party was formed to consider the implication of including the word’National in the party’s name.

    • Hi Gus

      The quotes bit is the FM, the rest is purely my summation of the statement:

      “If I could turn the clock back, what 90 years, to the establishment of my party, and choose its name all over again, I wouldn’t choose the name it has got just now, I would call it something other than the Scottish National Party.”

  8. People in Scotland, and even those foreigners to the south of Scotland, would do well to completely stop buying the lying, biased propaganda contained in the so-called MSM. Why should we continue to finance and support these liars? We can obtain all the information and news we require from all the sources available elsewhere.

    The circulation of the Hootsmon, for example, is continuing on its downward spiral, so if we stop buying it and its Unionist stablemates, we can spiral them all into a bottomless pit. This is where all these foreign owned and foreign controlled news sources deserve to be.

    The people of Scotland need to wake up to themselves, for their own and their children’s benefit, and to realize that there is no future in remaining on their knees and tugging their forelocks and continuing to be treated as too wee, too poor and too stupid to govern themselves.

    Just consider one fact. Norway has an oil fund of, at the latest count, £750 billion. Scotland has an oil fund of bugger all. The longer we allow ourselves to be exploited by the English, and to have all our money and resources stolen by them to pay for their grandiose projects (like their English high speed rail, their Trident missile programme etc. etc.) and to allow them to treat us as a colony, the more downtrodden our children will be.

    • Norway did one simple thing thatchers government didn’t and rode out the troubled period of slumps thatcher sold off BP and other uk oil companies which means less regulations where Norway kept theres hence the profits for Norway as the uk makes losses in the oil

      • Actually I believe it was the Labour government of James Callaghan that preceded Thatcher that consciously chose not to have an oil fund? IIRC Tony Benn was in favour of it, but was overruled in cabinet.

        Granted, the government of Thatcher showed no interest in reversing this decision.

  9. i dont think the bbc and the scottish media have ever come to terms and realy dont know how to approach independence , it appears to be a totally alien concept to them , while the rest of the planet embraces as normal self determination , somehow here it dosent fit , thats why they idea of a openly hostile approach to half their prospective readership is baffling and confusing them , they cant give anything remotely close to a fair hearing or a fair response that might be construed as support for fear of assisting independence , so they attack it its the only thing they can think of .

  10. Thank you, Sam, for an excellent article. Nicola’s popularity not only in Scotland but also in Europe is utterly impossible for any British National to accept. Hence the concerted attack. But they cannot destroy her reputation as a highly respected politician – a position Kezia, Ruth, Theresa and her friend from NI can never achieve. However, Nicola won’t remain a thorn in their flesh for very much longer as once we’re independent their silly jealousy will be ignored.

  11. Brilliant piece, Sam! It was hard enough explaining to the politically ignorant the difference between ‘National’ and ‘Nationalist’. Now that the word ‘National’ has been converted into a pejorative we are fighting a very uphill battle. An excellent analogy, too, regarding the word ‘National’ in some of Britain’s most treasured institutions – well said.

  12. You are on form, Sam.
    Language is everything of course.

    When history is written of this troubled time, what will historians make the British Nationalist propaganda of our Fourth Estate?
    Are we to believe that every journalist on the Record, the Herald, the Scotsman, the Press and Journal, the Courier, the ‘Scottish’ versions of the Express, the Guardian, the Independent, the Times, and not forgetting the Findo Gask Advertiser, is by happenstance a rabid British Nationalist?
    The Yes Movement demands Self Determination, and the Scottish National Party is not a ‘nationalist’ party.
    45% voted Yes, 62% voted Remain, 35 SNP MPs were returned to WM, 80% of the Scots population demand some form of Home Rule, yet the grubby wee Brit Nat hacks find no room in their columns or broadcasts to reflect and this or defend a significant body of the Scots citizenry’s position on the EU, or Self Determination.
    The three pronged attack by the British Nationalists, that Blue Red and Yellow bellicose, neo liberal, xenophobic homophobic racist bigoted sectarian rag bag of liars bullies and grubby snake oil salesmen and women are left untouched by the whore hack in the Dead Tree Scrolls, and the broadcasters, especially BBC Colonyland.
    Is there not ONE member of the BBC team who is for any form of devolution, be it Home Rule, FFA, or 100% self government?
    Obviously not.

    I refuse to believe that our MSM has not been systematically taken over by the Ultra Right Wing Scottish Branch of the London Iron Heel Oligarchy.
    Lone voices like MacWhirter and McKenna, and the fledgling pamphlet the ‘National’ are tolerated, but even Kevin and Iain have to churn out SNP BAD stuff every now and again, otherwise they would be sent to that dark place where the Graham Speirs and Isobel Frasers of this world are consigned.
    To argue that the Fourth Estate in Scotland is not a Fifth Column is tantamount to Holocaust Denial.
    They are mostly from the same background, education (ahem) and cultural upbringing.
    England and the Empire: How they face their children at night beats me.

    Say anything, promise anything, threaten anything as long as it gets the vote in.
    You can gather the Black shirts, the neo Nazis, the knuckle draggers to rally round your Union Jack, and our hacks will not comment.
    The end justifies the means.
    Smash the citizens of Scotland into submission.
    And David Clegg will announce that the Vow has been met in full, and not one of the other ‘papers would challenge his downright lie.
    Let’s hope somebody reports me to the police for harassing them, the poor delicate we souls.
    Language is everything, Sam.
    Our Dead Tree Scribes are just not very good at the writin’ stuff.
    Otherwise they would be down in their capital London, earning the big bucks, instead of clacking away Up Here, cutting and pasting ‘will say’ press handouts from the Britnats.

    • Wow! Just … Wow! That is a superlative comment, Jack. The way you put things should leave no-one in any doubt about the rights and wrongs of Scotland’s situation today. Permission to reproduce elsewhere, Sir?

      • Feel free, Wendy. As you can see. I’ve had enough of this Alternative Universe which the Brit Nat Thought Police attempt to foist upon us.
        WE are not going away. Our voices shall be heard.
        If the Red Blue and Yellow British Nationalists think that we will eventually succumb and forget Self Determination and membership of a market of five hundred million souls, if they think that we shall stand idly by while Britnat Homeland Security deport 180.000 Hard Working Europeans who have done us the great honour to come, live, work here, and bring up their families, because there are more English MPs than Scots Down There in London, then they have another massive insurmountable think coming.
        We shall not be moved, nor suppressed by British National propaganda and threats.
        It has come to this.

      • Trouble is, Jason, if you sit on the fence in today’s climate, you’ll end up getting the sharp end of a picket up you jacksie.
        Come to think of it, this may explain the pained look on Wullie Rennie’s face.

  13. Excellent Sam.

    Your message here is exactly correct. I agree, I stopped buying WM media in 2013 when I saw the light of freedom.

  14. Indépendantiste is the term the French use for “nationalists” in the SNP mould. They seem able to discern the difference between us and the nasty wee Britnats.

    This is clearly something quite beyond our beloved MSM.

    Great article, Mr Macart.

  15. Excellent post Samuel Miller. It is, however important that people such as you – wordsmiths – do not give up on MSM. We need to persuade the doubters, and they do not, initially at least, come here. They read, some of them at least, the btl comments, and you can make a difference there.

    Just my opinion.

  16. This day should be named they great “Ian Lang deception day” , the cutest con job ever , the gift that keeps the union in business , it has never yet failed to deliver its annual ” yer a subsidised nation ” boot in the goolies for all north the border , arent we blessed that they are thinking of us .

    The truth is gradually being extracted from their cold boney grasp , it’s like pulling teeth but without the Fun .or as unionists like to repeat Greece without the Sun , aye the old ones are the best ones .

    “GERS” is well past its sell by date , expect another load of guff to replace it shortly .What fun .

    • Dugdale got a soundbite on GERS. We apparently dodged a bullet by voting to remain subjugated in 2014. BBC Radio and TV giving it big licks.
      WE are being urged to believe that in the intervening 3 years since September 2014, we are all prospering in Kezia’s British Nationalist Nirvana.
      The Blue and Yellow Tories cut public services, sacked half a million civil servants ,slashed benefits, pensions, allowances and Tax Credits by £23 billion, and Hammond is about to cut Scottish Public Expenditure by £2 billion over the length of this Parliament.We have the Rape Clause, the Dementia Clause, two-child ceiling on WFTC and CTC, the Universal Credit Con, £200 billion to be wasted on Trident, while hidden in their GERS farcical ‘guesstimates’ of lies and omissions are the figures NOT detailing how much we Scots are paying for HS2, London Crossrail, London Sewage, the Army Navy and RAF HQs, the vast network of Whitehall Government Department HQs, and so on.
      There are 260,000 of our Scots children living below the poverty line, half a million adults in poverty and penury,yet Kezia delights in telling us that we were Better To Stay Together with her British Nationalist Bosses, in subjugation to the Oligarchy of another country.

      Nothing from Kezia on Brexit, and the 62% will of the people of Scotland to remain in the EU..
      She really is just a mindless walking talking pamphlet.
      To argue that we have been better off sticking with her corrupt little Union for the last three years beggars belief.
      England and Wales are heading for oblivion, and the Three Stooges Davidson, Dugdale and Rennie stand by watching.
      GERS is a Blue Tory CON, compiled from stats in London, and isquite frankly an insult to our intelligence.
      Wee Wullie will be banging on about the £13 billion black hole for the next year now.
      We are on the brink of getting our country and our wealth back.
      Boy do they know it.

  17. BTW, that’s my last word on the sinister farce that is GERS.
    I see Davidson is unavailable for the next two weeks.
    It is left to seven times failure Murdo The Queen’s Eleven Fraser to welcome racist bigoted members back into the cesspit in which the Blue Yellow and RD British Nationalists languish and splutter.
    Not a Dickie bird from any of them on Brexit. I wonder why?
    May has just issued her latest ‘position paper’ declaring that all laws will be power grabbed by Westminster come Brexit, and that the 3 million EU citizens working here will lose the protection of EU Laws.
    Well, we know where this is leading.
    The closure of Holyrood, the welsh Assembly and Stormont, as Johnson Gove and Davis ‘take back control’.
    GERS was a Blue Tory lie to con Scotland.
    It will keep the Dead Tree Scrolls hacks busy for the rest of the week right enough.
    We are TOO POOR.
    Steak pie for dinner tonight. Mmmmm…

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