A paper tiger with real bite

I’m informed that Tom Gallagher, Über-Unionist supporter of British nationalism because British nationalism isn’t nationalist at all, has taken some time out of his busy schedule of frothing at the mouth about Gaelic imperialism in order to accuse me on social media of being a paper tiger who appeals solely to a dwindling audience of extreme nationalists – and that only so that I can flog stuff and ask for crowdfunding. Not because any of us might genuinely believe that independence is the only route to a better and fairer Scotland. Heaven forfend that supporting independence might be founded in a recognition of the moral bankruptcy of the British state.

The occasion for the foam this time has been an article in the Scotsman written by Darren McGarvey, aka Loki, which Tom thinks is the bee’s knees. Darren made his usual criticisms of everyone else in the independence movement with whom he disagrees, which is just about all of us. I’ll gloss over the fact that if you’re a pro-independence campaigner and you find yourself being retweeted approvingly by Tom Gallagher, you’re probably not doing it properly. But that’s by the by.

However Darren’s article did make some very reasonable points, none of which haven’t been raised previously by others in the Yes movement. We do as a movement need to reflect more upon the reasons we lost in 2014. We should recognise that the great majority of yes voters and no voters have far more in common than that which divides us. We do need to reach out beyond the core of the movement. We need to move on from the phase of protecting the core of Yes support from the storms that hit us in the aftermath of the defeat of 2014. All of this is true. All of this is being aired and discussed already by those of us who campaign for independence.  None of it is new.

Naturally the point in Darren’s piece that attracted Tom’s approval was the predictable criticism of others in the Yes movement. Tom thinks that the only way in which the Yes movement can progress would be for it to ditch those whom Tom particularly dislikes. I’m proud to say that one of those odious individuals is yours truly, and probably just about everyone else who has ever blogged, written, or stood on a public platform. Mind you, looking to Tom Gallagher for advice on how to advance the goals of the Yes movement is a bit like asking John Wayne Gacy for tips on how to make clowning more popular.

However the truly tragic thing is that Tom clearly believes that he’s one of the majority of No voters who occupy the central ground in Scottish politics along with the majority of Yes voters. Tom’s argument might have a tiny measure of traction if we could believe that there were circumstances and arguments which could lead Tom to be persuaded by the merits of the independence movement, if only independence supporters distanced themselves from those nasty people who upset him by wilfully producing Gaelic maps of Edinburgh just to annoy him. Despite the fact that absolutely nothing would ever persuade Tom of the merits of an independent Scotland, he still seems to believe that he’s somehow amongst those that the Yes movement seeks to reach out to and that we need to listen to his counsel. It’s kind of touching in its self-delusion.

Simply put, the Yes movement doesn’t need to persuade every single person in Scotland to vote for independence in the next referendum. We only need to persuade a majority, and we’re almost there already. So we only need to persuade a relatively small number of people. That’s what really scares Tom and the other hard liners. Their precious Union is a very fragile thing indeed. No one in the independence movement is remotely interested in trying to make a pitch for independence that’s going to appeal to Tom Gallagher and the other representatives of Scotland In Union. That would be like trying to sell the merits of individuality, freedom of choice, and self-determination to the pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. So thanks for your advice Tom, but in the words of the Better Together campaign – No thanks.

Most people who voted no in 2014 aren’t Unionists or British nationalists. Many of them are open to the idea of Scottish independence, they just weren’t persuaded by the arguments on offer at the time or felt that the time wasn’t right. They’re the people that the independence movement is making a pitch to, not the Tom Gallaghers of this world. Work is already well advanced to discover the best ways to reach out to those “soft no’s” – but none of us in the Yes movement harbours the slightest idea that people like Tom Gallagher might be amongst them.

Real Unionists, real British nationalists, they are only a small minority of the people of Scotland. They are the ones who will never vote Yes. They are unreachable. Basing a campaign on strategies to reach out to people who are unreachable is a campaign that’s going to lose, which is precisely why Tom wants a Yes campaign that’s trying to achieve the impossible. The one thing he doesn’t want is a Yes movement that’s effective in reaching out to people who are actually persuadable. So like other Yes supporters, I won’t be wasting my time on trying to sell independence to Tom Gallagher or people who wave Union flegs on their social media avatars but claim that they’re not nationalist at all.

The Yes movement is a chorus, but a chorus contains many different voices. We each have different roles to play in an effective movement according to our own individual strengths and talents. I can be most effective in helping to animate and enthuse the core support of the Yes movement and helping local groups to organise themselves into the foundation of a mass national movement. That’s what I am devoting my energies to. It’s local groups and their members who will be reaching out to soft no’s and undecideds all across this country and persuading them of the merits of an independent Scotland.

Without an engaged and energetic core the independence movement won’t have anyone to do the persuading, no matter what strategies or arguments we possess for reaching out to people who haven’t made the journey to yes yet. Effective and winning campaigns need to look outwards to attract new support, but they also need to look inwards to encourage, enthuse and energise those who are already part of the movement. You need both in order to win. And we’re going to win.

Tom Gallagher is upset because this paper tiger has real bite, while he’s merely just a bit catty.



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0 thoughts on “A paper tiger with real bite

  1. I’ve not seen either ‘piece’ – but if any of this is supposed to suggest that you should moderate your flair for 18th century abuse, please ignore it. You have a special talent and while it may not persuade that many (as I doubt my own verse squibs do), vitriol is a great tonic for your own side – and in a Scotland so often tragically lacking in self-confidence, tonics are very good and necessary things. Let them reinvigorate the thousands who’ll find a spring in their steps as they go about finding the energy and self-belief to go chapping doors and patiently building the conversations to YES.

    Your points about the unreachable are well made and we’d do well to realise that some, at least, of the recent focus group work has, methodologically quite properly, included people whose adverse comments need to be weighed accoring to the inflexibiulity of their opinions. There are plenty more, probably around 25% of Scotland’s voters who are open to reconsideration and we can give them plenty to mull over before they find their own ways to come over.

    Meanwhile, you will keep our heids up – and don’t spare the invective

  2. Excellent keep up the good work Paul. They are clearly rattled that you are such a good orator, who is internationalist, and someone who stands up for Scotland as objectively and intelligently as you do. With some wit added in, which is what makes this site so popular as well. They hate that, and part of their agenda in attempting to demonise you as as ‘nationalist’ is to keep frightening the soft no’s and scare anyone else they can, especially in light of what has been happening in Catalonia.

    All of that is having an effect, and many people are simply ditching the bbc and stv, and the daily rags because they know they are lying most of the time.

    Also a distraction from the most disgusting corruption that is partly being exposed at top level and down in their so called United Kingdom.

    Keep doing what you are doing, don’t allow these jobsworths to distract, detract or discourage at all.


  3. Well, I’m Tom Gallagher’s worst nightmare. If we define “extreme nationalist” as someone convinced that Scotland would be best-governed as an independent state, then I’m one.

    I’ll also happily admit to buying several of your books, because they’re awfy good, and contributing to your fundraisers too. I did so because I value your political insight.

    And that insight was working at full pelt when you wrote “I won’t be wasting my time on trying to sell independence to Tom Gallagher.”

    The obsessive, aggressive, ethnic unionism represented by Prof. Gallagher and his ilk is a decaying anachronism. It belongs to the age of empires, not the twenty-first century.

    I think Gallagher knows this. It explains why he’s such a crabbit old buffer…

    • Totally agree. I would also be proud to be described as an extreme nationalist if it puts me in the same grouping as Paul. Keep up the good work Paul, I love listening to and reading any of your talks/blogs/National articles I can get my hands on.

  4. That needed saying.

    Deeply hurtful as it may be to the Mr Gallagher’s of this union, we’re not interested in trying to convince you of anything. Wouldn’t dream of darkening your door intentionally either. Oh, and clearly wouldn’t waste either his time or ours (which we consider a bit more precious) on explaining just why living even a day on your feet, beats living lifetime on your knees.

    There are people out there who need support and aid. There are people out there who feel their trust and vote in support of the union last time out has been betrayed. I don’t believe they’re wrong either, but then I’m biased about that. They need to feel they’re not alone and they need to feel that they are welcomed without recrimination.

    Worth bearing in mind.

  5. My take on the persuadable from the various presentations at the SIC conference in Edinburgh last Saturday was that 45% can be counted upon come Indyref2 (but this won’t be exactly the same 45% as 2014), 15% won’t vote, 20% are unpersuadable, which leaves just 20% who might be open to persuasion. So it seems we need to get a minimum of 1/4 of those but more realistically a half. It won’t be easy as many are likely to be disengaged from the daily noise of politics. However, with persuaders being inspired by The Dug and Wings etc it is surely doable, probably sometime in 2020.

  6. He’s no different than bigots like Jeremy Clarkson boris Johnson Murdo Fraser Nigel farage and others like them just just glad the rest of Manchester isn’t like him the anti scottish southern prick he is

  7. Tom Gallagher? Never heard of the man. But Paul of WGD fame? Now that’s a different matter. Everyone knows that he’s a very important member of the Scottish Independence Movement.

    Gallagher and his ilk should forget their silly nonsense and accept the inevitable.

    • Jan,
      like you I know nothing much about ‘Professor’ Tom Gallagher. He writes in rabid Yoon rags, and hates Scotland with a pathological passion.

      Or rather he hates the notion that Scotland is an Independent nation, about to disentangle itself from a politically constructed union with England Wales and Norn Irn .

      He is presumably ok that Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, Damien Green, Michael Fallon and co ‘rule over’ us because the Blue Tories ‘won’ the UK GE, with the help and billion pound bribe of the Ultra Right Wing sectarian DUP.

      It is he, and his obliging little Yoon Brit Nat fascists who are made of paper.

      They have made their careers out of being subservient little Uriah Heap colonial lackeys.
      Subjugated supine servants of the English/Brit Establishment.

      Hundreds of thousands of our children live in poverty, half a million in state engineered hardship and slavery, premature deaths, wage slavery, there is no retirement age now, the rape clause, the dementia tax, £2 billion taken out of the Scottish economy meant to pay for public services and allowances to the infirm, disabled, and elderly.

      Gallagher has nothing to say about this or the evil that lurks within the halls of WM as the Blue Red and Yellow Tories cover up sex perverts, and Priti Patel makes wee cosy secret deals with the Israelites, and Johnson condemns a British women to another 5 years in an Iran jail.

      The UK is a poison now. It is an irredeemable failed state.

      It is a corrupt state ran by thugs, crooks and perverts, whose only function is to line the pockets of the filthy rich and subjugate the Hoi Polloi to grinding perpetual poverty, and which wll maintain Scotland as their last but immensely lucrative colony, by force if necessary.

      Gallagher is just one of a hard core of Yoon servants. Massie, Torrance, Cochrane, and the rest.
      Bloated comfortable Fifth Columnists.
      They lie for England, their spiritual home.

      Despite them we shall be free, and soon.

      Scotland will decide, not some grubby wee pseudo intellectual box of disposable paper tissues.

      That’s it.

      If we Cybernats are extremist paper tigers, then Gallagher and Co are mere flimsy disposable snotter rags.

      Of course they don’t want to discuss the Armageddon that is Brexit,or Tory MPs being pissed on for sexual gratification.
      Paul, tiger, tiger, burning bright, as per.

  8. Tom and his fellow nutter in ‘Das Reich’..sorry, ‘Scotland in Union’, Batshit Crazy Jill are getting more mad by the day. I like to think that the Dug and Wings keep the sad Britnat bigots awake at night in a state of increased panic at the threat to their beloved union. I just hope Tom and Jill are around to see an independent Scotland. It would be awful if they missed it.

  9. Resurrecting some old basic stats primer stuff to illustrate a key point in Paul’s article.

    If we divide the entire distribution of support for independence into 8 equal sections from totally against to totally for, with red indicating the extremes and grey indicating the ‘grey area’ in the middle, barring quibbles over the description of each sector, we get something like:


    Note Mr Undecided right in the middle. It is not difficult to imagine him being moved into either grey area, whether for or against indy or even into the more definite green area of either side.

    Those who are most unlikely to be converted, died in the wool activists, politicians etc. will be at the extremes (marked red).

    In the natural world the normal distribution which a statistical population usually* takes up forms a particular shape. Imagine for instance, the shape a pile of sand takes on when it is poured out of a bucket. This shape is often therefore called, somewhat unimaginatively, ‘the normal curve’ or ‘the natural curve’ or sometimes ‘the Bell curve’ after its bell-like shape.

    Applying that to the 8 divisions we decided upon for the range of indy support above, it would look something like this:


    In this graphic, the coloured area under the curve in each section, represents the total number of people which fits the designated description. The main thing to note here, is that there are FAR MORE people in that middle grey, easily shiftable area. If a true normal curve, then about 68% of the electorate in that grey area.

    The next thing to notice is that there are relatively very few people in the red extreme areas whether totally for or totally against indy.

    It is also an unfortunate fact that those of us sufficiently motivated to be pro indy activists are likely to be in the pro indy red zone. This is unfortunate because that distance between the extreme position and the central grey area makes it harder for us to get inside the logic bubble of those in the grey area, what their levels of understanding are, what their concerns are.

    Paul is completely correct, we should not waste any time hammering away at the red zoners on the other side, however pleasurable that might be, we should instead concentrate on trying to see how that far more significant swath of the electorate in that middle grey area can be persuaded. What their concerns are, how they can be countered and how they can be robustised against the inevitable last minute barrage of scaremongering and enticement which the scurrilous Yoon brigade will throw at them

    *Distributions can be skewed or polarised. Early returns on the 1 to 10 scale used by researchers during Indyref1 showed good agreement with a normal distribution, later returns showed that, not surprisingly, as more people came to a decision, some polarisation began to show. However, nowhere near enough to change the basic message above.

  10. Great piece again Paul. Great to see us working on a way to get enough people to help us win. Ripping the union and Westminster will only get so far we need to look further to get into the minds of those we need to convince. Try for a moment and imagine yourself a no voter who has a decent income, no real political interest and a bit nervous of the thought of change that independence will bring. What would convince you to vote Yes?

    • Probably the only thing that will really shift these folk is a hit to their comfortable life.. Interest rates hike?. Total collapse of WM government? Jumping into another war anytime soon? None of them desirable, but all on the table at present..
      -Keep biting Dug!

    • Perhaps pointing out to them that change is coming with BRexit and it’s looking unlikely that even he/she will escape the fall out. Find out what exactly worries them- pension, job etc. It’s how I persuaded my partner and now he is fully cognisant of all aspects of a future Indy Scotland.

      Worth trying anyway!

  11. A bit confused about Mr Gallagher getting his knickers in a twist over your hobby , a hobby that in the end will educate and possibly inform a lot of people , your time and money Paul so whats his problem ? .
    As for the pet clown Lokie , the first time i came across him was the Livestream programme of a night to show appreciation for the many people who saved the Govanhill Pool from closure , everthing was going fine as the history of the Demo was recounted for the audience , Until up steps this clown and you could almost feel the atmosphere being sucked out of the room .

    This fool along with Sean Clerkin of the scottish resistance might say they support independence but have the habit of attaching themselves to others in the independence movement and disruption follows them every time ,these fringe elements dont help and i wonder if they are being used by a third party , the same way RISE was used by the unionist media to bugger up they last Holyrood election , remember lend us your vote SNP supporters you are going to win anyway, Aye right .

  12. Totally agree w.r.t. targeting the waverers next time round for indyref2, on the ground and on the battlefronts of social media.

    Perhaps a strategic offensive is called for, driving home the consequences of voting No, before the other side can launch their own series of mortar fire again: the smears fired from the british-state-sponsored propaganda machine.

    One thing is clear, it will have to be gloves off and into the fight.

    As a loose indication, looking at the numbers* from indyref1, the shortfall target was 191,969 votes. Swinging the YES Vote areas (North Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire, Dundee, Glasgow) to match the AVG margin of NO vote areas (15.8%) would give a gain of 34,466 votes, leaving 157,503 remaining for a victory. Not insurmountable by any means!

    * my own workings and calcs from 2014 (basic arithmetic, nothing scientific), available on request.

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