BritNats say the daftest things!

My readers are doubtless familiar with the catalogue of inanities spouted by British Nationalists as they attempt to defend the indefensible. The dictates of reason and logic are no obstacle to those determined to maintain the Union at any cost. Truth and accuracy count for nothing compared to the British Nationalist’s devotion to the British ruling elites. There is no conduct, however reprehensible, that cannot be justified when it’s purpose is to preserve the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state.

Reprehensible, or merely ridiculous. British Nationalists are ever willing to appear the fool in the service of their ideology. One need only witness an episode of First Minister’s Questions and the antics of the British politicians squatting in the Scottish Parliament to be struck by the eagerness with which they make themselves appear pathologically stupid in their efforts to undermine public confidence in Scotland’s Parliament, Government, institutions and public services. Who can forget British Labour in Scotland’s (BLiS) Iain Gray demanding to know where the money would come from for an oil fund. Or, more recently (and perhaps less amusingly), Maurice Corry for the British Conservative & Unionist Party in Scotland (BCUPS) insisting that the lower alcohol limit introduced by the SNP administration had caused an increase in road traffic accidents.

This kind of idiocy pervades British Nationalist rhetoric. During the 2014 independence referendum campaign there were countless instances when the Project Fear propaganda descended into farce. You may recall an official paper published by the UK Government which claimed that the cost of setting up an independent Scottish state would be over £2bn. This was almost immediately revised down to £1.5bn before the whole claim was hastily buried amid a storm of criticism from people who can do arithmetic and the academics whose research had been grossly misrepresented.

Then there was the claim that independent Scotland would have to renegotiate around 8,500 existing treaties. This figure, too, was revised down from Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie‘s original claim that “They would have to negotiate over 14,000 international treaties…”.

What both these examples of BritNat bawheidery have in common is that they both seem long as you don’t think about them too much. Or at all. Question the claim about post-independence set-up costs and we find that, according to the very researchers cited by the UK Government, this would be more realistically estimated at £200m, spread over a decade or so. Examine the claim about thousands of treaties and we find that, in order to get the scariest figure possible the British Nationalists have been obliged to include the likes of a ‘Treaty with the King of Dahomey [regarding] Peace, Commerce, Slave Trade, Human Sacrifices’.

The point here is that it simply didn’t matter to British Nationalists that their claims were dishonest or daft. Knowing that those claims would never be scrutinised by the mainstream media, they just ran with the wildest story they could concoct. The lies and nonsense were trumpeted by the British media while the rebuttals and debunking remained relatively invisible. Truth is determined by the loudest voice. Reality is less important than perception. And the British establishment owns the machinery by which perceptions are manipulated. Even today, some five years since Project Fear was at its most feverish, there are many people in Scotland who remain unaware of the extent to which they were misled, deceived and lied to by the British government, the British political parties and Better Together.

If that sounds a bit Orwellian then there’s a good reason. The similarities to George Orwell’s dystopian vision are difficult to ignore. His ‘1984’ is, of course, fiction. In noting the similarities we must make due allowance for such licence as may taken by a writer the better to tell their tale. In real life, there is no Winston Smith sitting at a machine laboriously altering old newspapers in order to have them with the currently decreed truth. In 2019 the process of rewriting history is more sophisticated. More subtle. More insidious. Today, manufactured truth need not totally replace redundant truth. Instead, we have media which is a constantly, instantly renewing palimpsest. The old truth is not eradicated in order to replace it with the new truth. The old truth is, rather, gradually but rapidly obscured by a constant stream of new truths that are superimposed on it.

Think for example of Ruth Davidson’s enthusiastic championing of the Remain campaign in the 2016 EU referendum; now all but completely obliterated by the media-generated new truth of her at least equally enthusiastic support for the diametrically opposite position. The record of her previous stance is still there. Nobody has methodically tracked down and erased Davidson’s every written and spoken word on the absolute necessity of staying in the EU. Nobody needs to. What Orwell didn’t – couldn’t – foresee was the massive manipulative power of media in the age of the internet. If Orwell was writing today, Winston Smith would be probably be presenting rolling TV news for the BBC rather than altering old newspaper articles for the Ministry of Truth.

As I said at the start, most people reading this will be painfully familiar with the British Nationalists’ routine. It hasn’t altered much over the years. But, from time to time, they do come up with some fresh material. Or, at least, some material that isn’t as stale and mouldy as the usual stuff. For an example, I turn to everybody’s favourite British Nationalist cringe-monkey, Duncan Hothersall. For those who don’t recognise the name, Duncan is a sometime BLiS mouthpiece and one of the British establishment’s most prolific Twitter propagandists. An individual whose unthinking devotion to the British state and the ‘One Nation’ project is rivalled only by his mindless hatred of the SNP and his profound contempt for pretty much anything that is Scottish. He’s not called a cringe-monkey for no reason.

Duncan emphatically dismisses the notion that the people of Scotland are capable of running our country absent the beneficent intervention of the British political elite. He dogmatically rejects the idea that we deserve governments we actually elect. Generally speaking, he subscribes to the Tom Gordon ‘Scotland Is A Hell-hole’ school of thought. Everything in Scotland is awful and it’s all the SNP’s fault because everything was wonderful when British Labour was in charge and the Tories aren’t all that bad because at least they are Unionists and isn’t that the most important thing?

Bad as Scotland is, the one thing that would definitely make it worse, according to Duncan, is independence. Supposing Scotland was laid waste by pestilence and famine and rendered an uninhabitable desert by some devastating nuclear holocaust, Duncan’s dying breath would be expended on insisting that this is nothing compared to the fate that would have befallen us if we had chosen to be a normal independent nation.

There is, I strongly suspect, no news of Scotland so heartening; no achievement of Scotland’s people so impressive; no policy of the Scottish Government so successful, that Duncan couldn’t turn it into a gobbet of #SNPBAD propaganda or a Jeremiad on the ‘dangers’ of independence – abbreviated for Twitter, of course. Take a look at this.

You can almost taste the idiocy emanating from Hothersall’s response in a noxious miasma of bitterness and bigotry. As he would have it, no matter how horrific Brexit is, independence would surpass it. Try to get your head around the ‘logic’ which insists that, however much of a catastrophic mistake Brexit turns out to be, being the country that chooses not to make that mistake and has the power to ensure that choice is honoured, has to be a bigger mistake.

And that’s before we get to the comparison between the EU and the UK as political unions. A comparison which, even making allowances for the limitations of the medium, is stunningly simplistic, shallow and vacuous. In his assessment of the EU, Duncan echoes the inanity of the Mad Brexiteers who are totally, wilfully oblivious to the fact that over a period of almost seven decades the EU has evolved as the solution to a raft of issues – as well as bringing peace and prosperity to a continent historically blighted by bloody conflict.

Whatever it’s defects and failings, none but the most embittered Europhobe would deny that the EU was established for the most worthy of reasons and with the best of intentions. The EU’s fundamental purpose is honourable and its existence is broadly beneficial to member states even if, in practice, it often falls short of what we might hope of it in certain areas.

Compare this with the Union under which Scotland toils. A union that was contrived in a different age for purposes that were never relevant to us.

A union that we, the people, had no part in creating or sanctioning. An anachronistic, dysfunctional, corrupt union which serves none of the people off these islands well.

A union which was always intended to serve the purposes of the ruling elites. A union which, in that regard if no other, has not changed one iota in the last three centuries.

A union that sucks the human and material resources out of our nation and in return gives us government by parties that we have emphatically rejected at the polls.

A union that imposes policies which are anathema to our people. Policies which have been rejected by our democratically elected representatives.

A union which serves primarily as a constitutional device by means of which the people of Scotland are denied the full and effective exercise of the sovereignty that is theirs by absolute right.

A union which, were we being given that option now, not one of us would vote to join – but which we are nonetheless being asked to vote to remain in.

A union which we would reject just as we rejected Brexit.

Duncan Hothersall is a fool, blinded by British Nationalist fervour and partisan prejudice. Of the two political unions to which he refers, only one is actively doing harm to Scotland, and promising to do very much worse. Only one poses a real and imminent threat to Scotland’s democracy. Only one is so anti-democratic as to try and deny Scotland’s right of self-determination. Only one requires that the people of Scotland, our democratic institutions and our elected representatives be treated with callous contempt.

If you doubt how dreadful and dangerous the Union is, just listen to some of the crazies who imagine it to be the divinely ordained natural order.

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Proper respect for No voters

project_fearHaving been surprised, and not a little irked, to discover that a total lack of gender-balance on a panel had suddenly become something to brag about, I was tempted to give up on Carolyn Leckie’s article as just another condescending lecture from the happy-clappy faction of the Yes movement urging tip-toe eggshell-treading in the vicinity of No voters when I encountered the claim that “people have valid reasons and feelings for voting No”. Supposing we were about to be presented with some of these “valid reasons”, I thought it might be worth wading through the cloying self-righteousness of Ms Leckie’s sermonising in the hope of finally getting some clues as to that most mysterious of beasts, the ‘positive case for the Union’.

It was a forlorn hope. Having hinted at a revelation, Ms Leckie left us hanging. The ‘positive case for the Union’ remains as elusive as Ruth Davidson when the subject of ‘dark money’ is raised and as impenetrably baffling as a Richard Leonard speech.

Instead of the rational justifications for voting to give the British political elite licence to dispose of Scotland as it pleases that we’d been teased with, what we got was the facile argument that the constitution is subordinate to “bread-and-butter concerns” and an inane admission that “not everything in the garden will miraculously turn rosy after independence”. As if anybody had ever claimed that it would. And as if the ability to address those “bread-and-butter concerns” wasn’t absolutely dependent on the core constitutional issue of sovereignty.

All of which is unfortunate. Because I would have been delighted to discover how No voters continue to justify that choice. From where I stand, what distinguishes No voters from Yes voters is that the former unthinkingly accepted the lies, smears, insults and threats of Project Fear while the latter saw right through them. Some of them believed the Better Together propaganda for no better reason than that it was British. For those whose first and abiding loyalty is to the British state and its ruling elites, no reflection was required. Voting No was as innate as the gag reflex.

Others, we are assured, voted No having given the matter some thought. I had hoped that Ms Leckie was going to throw some light on how these people came to the conclusion that keeping Scotland bound to the British state was the best option. I genuinely want to understand the reasoning process involved. I would really like to be assured that there was one.

I really want to know what it was about the anti-independence case that No voters found intellectually persuasive. I would be fascinated to hear their reasons for continuing to be convinced by that case even after it has been conclusively shown to have been utterly dishonest. I need to understand the mentality that can insist a No vote was ‘right’ when they know that it was sold to them on a totally false prospectus.

It is a truism that the first step on the road to recovery is to acknowledge the problem. If people are to change, they must take responsibility for past choices and actions. But the essence of Carolyn Leckie’s remonstrance is that we in the Yes movement must never ask No voters to take responsibility for their choice. We are supposed to persuade them to make a different choice whilst assuring them that we don’t consider their previous choice to have been in any sense wrong.

Following a comment that is offensively dismissive of the work put in by those who pound the streets delivering leaflets and the Herculean effort of those who organise marches, Ms Leckie ends by telling us that “to achieve success, we have to confront the hard stuff too” – as if leafleting and organising marches wasn’t “hard stuff”. But she herself is not prepared to take on the hard task of confronting No voters with the hard truth that their reasons for voting No were not valid. She insists that we must never ask No voters to confront the consequences of their choice.

The real “hard stuff” of the coming campaign involves forcefully impressing on people the harsh reality of what the Union means for Scotland, and what it will mean in the very immediate future if we do not act as a matter of urgency. We cannot possibly do this without categorically rejecting any suggestion that there can possibly be “valid reasons” for favouring a political union which precludes adequate representation of Scotland’s interests and prohibits the proper exercise of popular sovereignty.

No voters are not misguided children who need to be shielded from the implications of their actions. They must be afforded the respect due to mature individuals capable of acknowledging past mistakes and accepting that they were maliciously misled. That is the starting point for the journey from No to Yes.

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