A response to David Pratt

David Pratt marches at the head of an army of straw men to do battle with windmills. For want of a “clamour of voices and rumbling of dissent” he invents it. The yells of “Unionist apologist” and “England-supporting quisling” exist nowhere but in his self-righteously hectoring prose.

Far more prevalent than the “negativism” David Pratt rails against is the form of negativism in which he indulges. The nagging, niggling negativism of those who place themselves above and apart from the Yes movement the better to cast a condescending eye over all its doings and tell us it’s doing it all wrong. The negativism which holds that diversity is great, so long as it is limited to attitudes and perspectives approved by some self-appointed elite. The negativism which celebrates inclusiveness, so long as it doesn’t include those who express their passion for independence or their detestation of the Union in terms as robust as they are honest.

I have the utmost respect for David Pratt as a journalist. I greatly admire his work as a foreign correspondent. But I wonder what in his wide experience has brought him to the belief that Scotland’s voters are such delicate blooms that even to raise ones voice in their vicinity is to cause them to shrink and wither. I wonder, too, what it is in his observations of various political cultures that leads him to conclude that politics is improved by making it the exclusive province of an educated elite possessed of a certain erudition and eloquence.

My experience may not be as broad and wide-ranging as David Pratt’s, but I can, think, claim intimate acquaintance with the extraordinary – some might say unprecedented – grass roots democratic movement which emerged in Scotland in the early days of the 2014 independence referendum campaign. I know that the strength and power of the Yes movement is attributed to a diversity that recognises no limits and an inclusiveness that allows no exceptions. There is no “Yes, but…”.

There is a view, to which David Pratt would appear to subscribe, that the independence campaign must be conducted in a manner calculated to avoid offending anybody who might possibly claim to be offended; instantly disowning any voice which is reported as having ruffled the dubiously fragile sensibilities of those who stand to gain from being allowed to dictate the terms of debate. The inevitable result is a campaign which is weak, insipid, vacuous and endlessly apologetic.

Then there is the view that the independence campaign needs to be assured, assertive, uncompromising and most definitely unapologetic. I subscribe to this view and will promote and defend it in every way I can using whatever language I deem appropriate.

Many voices! One message! This is the Yes movement that I know. And if some of those voices are coarse enough to make even me wince, I welcome them nonetheless; because even the coarsest of voices is better than the silence of disengagement, alienation and apathy. Even the most vulgar voice raised in righteous anger is preferable to the silence that allows injustice to persist.



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5 thoughts on “A response to David Pratt

  1. “…I wonder what in his wide experience has brought him to the belief that Scotland’s voters are such delicate blooms that even to raise ones voice in their vicinity is to cause them to shrink and wither. I wonder, too, what it is in his observations of various political cultures that leads him to conclude that politics is improved by making it the exclusive province of an educated elite possessed of a certain erudition and eloquence…”

    Indeed, Mr Bell. This latest penchant for silencing people who object to naked, unreasoning demands for rights is extremely worrying. I have never voted without thinking long and hard about what I’m voting for, and I’m almost a life-long independence supporter. If I could, I would turn the clock back to 1706 and avoid the Union entirely, or, at worst, I would ensure that the Union we were served up as the main dish in the Union feast was the actual Union we signed up to, not the one the English MPs decided we should have – you know, the totally asymmetrical one, where they take all the decisions and we are expected to sign on the dotted line as per, regardless of the cost to ourselves.

    Even the chap who has been doing the interviews at the Festival for LBC couldn’t help himself from stating that he so wanted us all to co-operate, completely blind to the fact that the words are CO-operation (more than one) and UNION (more than one). Even he, reasonable and decent as he appears cannot help but be Anglo-centric. We need to be able to challenge the way in which people who felt they had no stake in Scotland apart from as a social and political B&B or were so entrenched in Unionism and British Nationalism that they felt they could not function at all without them, used their NO vote in 2014.

    They did not give thought to the effect it might have on those Scots who wanted independence and were denied it. That’s democracy, they shout. But is it? Is it democracy to deny a people a right that is enshrined in international law because you might feel a bit put out? Rights, like democracy, are rarely absolute: they have corresponding obligations, and one of those must be to think about why you are voting the way you are and if it is utterly selfish and self-centred on your part (Tories take note) – and I apply that to all three groups who voted NO in large numbers, the Scottish Unionists/British Nationalists, rUK voters who voted NO at almost 75% (almost three-quarters of their total number in Scotland, and as close to an ethnic vote as makes little difference) and the EU NO voters who did not want to be “taken out of the EU and UK” (according to the British Nationalists that would happen if they voted YES, subsequently demolished). I think we are due a bit of anger and plain speaking and I would suggest that those who feel they cannot vote for independence, in the event of a second indyref, that they should consider abstaining, a perfectly reasonable response. We must also not forget that Brexit was merely one of a series of catalysts, the most recent one, not ever the one deciding factor, for independence.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that all we need to do is stick with a verbose exhibition of the facts and avoid being drawn into any slanging matches with opposition trolls – the latter only drains us of energy in any case.

    Like

  3. I am fighting for my country’s right to be independent and have been since I was 16 – I’m fed up saying please & thank you to the people who lie to me & tell me we can’t have what belongs to us

    There should be no “Yes, but” only “Yes, and”

    Yes, and we can do this
    Yes, and we can improve that
    Yes, and ours will be better
    Yes, and no-one will need food banks
    Yes, and taxes will be fairer
    Yes, and………..

    No more “Yes, but”……only “Yes,and Scotland will be independent”

    We aren’t asking anymore – we’re just letting you know

    Like

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