There have been a number of interesting developments in the independence debate over the past few days. Gordie Broon drove his clunking fist through the middle of the tissue of lies, wishful thinking, and self-delusion that passes for a case for the Union by calling for Davie Cameron to debate Alicsammin and delivering a rebuke by proxy to Alistair Darling’s strategy. Meanwhile, Alistair was caught in clear agreement with the proposition that the yes campaign is “blood and soil nationalism”, seemingly in the belief he’s actually participating in the D-Day Landings up against nazis; Danny Alexander and the UK Treasury’s legomen have gone back into their wee box after being caught out trying to illustrate fantasy figures with fantasy figures; the Tories have out-devoed Labour – the self proclaimed party of devolution has been outdevoflanked by the heirs of Michael Forsyth just ponder that one for a few minutes; Obama came, he scared and no one really cared – and then we discovered that Obama had only said anything at all because Number 10 had specifically asked him to and had specifically briefed a BBC reporter to ask him about it; Better Together has tacitly acknowledged its strategy was failing and has been forced to rebrand itself with an uninspiring nonslogan which was immediately subverted by Yes voters; the BBC continues to lurch from one PR disaster to another. It goes on and on in a litany of failure, of incompetence, and collapse. And it’s hardly being reported in the Scottish media.
The big stories this week? A very rich person who has been an open supporter of the No campaign since there ever was a No campaign gave them a lot of money, and is upset because of childish insults on the Internet. And an ordinary carer is upset because of abuse on Twitter and Facebook. Alicsammin is being personally blamed.
But there’s worse. Far worse. Someone said one of the most abusive things to come out of the indy campaign – and even me, with my penchant for swerrie wurds, hesitates to say it. It’s just pure venomous evil. So for purely illustrative purposes mind, and please don’t anyone get upset, because honestly no one is being accused of anything, but [gulp] here goes : “See you. You’re related to a former Lord Provost of Glasgow by marriage.”
That one cut to the quick with me, because I am actually related to a former Lord Provost of Glasgow, and not even by marriage – we share DNA, at least a couple of toes’ worth. The shame eh. Thankfully we’re only distant relatives and we’ve never met, otherwise I’d be curled up in a wailing ball of tears with a snottery nose, too traumatised to type. But as it is I’m mortified and actually glad for once that I can’t get out the house to face the boos and jeers that come with being related to a former Lord Provost.
Now this is not to say that it is not news that someone received abuse on the internet. Internet abuse and bullying is unpleasant. Unpleasant in the childish way of weans slagging one another off in the school yard and with pretty similar consequences. Although it is peculiar that yet again no substantive evidence of this horrendous abuse has been presented and forwarded to the polis.
I’ve had far worse and got over it. In fact I’ve had far worse and ignored it, and I’m an ordinary fulltime carer too. One who doesn’t receive any care relief so I can go off and attend Labour Shadow Cabinet meetings. I’d love to have someone come in and take over my caring responsibilities for a few hours – even if it meant I’d have to go and talk to Johann Lamont. I really do get that desperate for a break sometimes, and if that doesn’t make you feel sympathy for the plight of full time carers nothing on this planet will.
Some of us ordinary full time carers are stuck indoors day in day out because we’re caring for people who cannot be left unattended and our Labour local authority will only pay 80% of the cost of 2 weeks of respite care annually, and won’t pay for care relief for a few hours a week so you can go out and do ordinary things like going to the bank to sort out problems with an account, or go and buy a new bed because you can’t share a bed with your partner any more and have been sleeping on the sofa for the past six months. I can only get out if I can find someone to sit with my partner, whose care needs are such that he needs a properly trained carer. You can’t just ask a random friend or relative to deal with some of the things that need to be dealt with. So I spend my days cleaning up shit and piss, only to sit down for a cup of tea and a rest and see nothing but shit and piss on the news. That’s the glamorous life of the full time ordinary carer.
Care relief isn’t easy to afford when it can cost up to £15 per hour and you only get £60 a week Carer’s Allowance to live on. I’ve had to turn down a number of invitations to attend Yes events because I can’t afford care relief. A social life is a dim and distant memory. Then I see Labour’s ordinary carer spokesperson appearing on telly and at high profile events. It’s nice for her that she can get out and develop a public persona, a career and a life that’s not filled solely with changing incontinence pads and cleaning up piss. I’m glad she’s escaped the crushing social isolation that so many ordinary carers are trapped in. I’m happy for her, and pleased that carers get any sort of attention at all.
Meanwhile Labour has rubbished the Scottish Government’s proposals to increase Carer’s Allowance by a measly tenner a week if we get independence. “Who’s going to pay?” screams Labour. The carers will always pay. Always. We pay in worry, in stress, in the loss of our careers, in our isolation and loneliness, in our flesh and our creaking bones and aching backs. We’re the ones who shoulder the burden for the party of British redistribution, along with the disabled, the poor, the disadvantaged, and the marginalised, so the People’s Party can continue to sook up to millionaires and City bankers.
Just saying like, as an ordinary carer who hasn’t been a member of the Labour shadow cabinet for the past two years.
It is news of a sort that a carer has received abuse on the internet. It’s just not especially surprising news, and neither is it especially informative news unless you find it surprising and informative that some people say childish and stupid things on the internet. Magrit Curran says childish things every time she opens her gob, but the BBC still takes her seriously.
However we are being told that this is a phenomenon specific to the independence campaign, when this is very far from being the case. Some of the worst instances of online abuse, name calling, threats, and bullying I’ve seen online were in a forum devoted to model trains. Some people take the detailing on the latest Hornby model steam engine very seriously. The abuse doesn’t come solely from model train enthusiasts who support Scottish independence. Model train enthusiasts are clearly malevolent.
It’s all a part of a very clear strategy, to demonise supporters of independence in an effort to dissuade undecided voters from engaging with arguments for independence. That was always the strategy all along, only now it’s reached a fever pitch because the polls are narrowing and canvass returns on the ground show a much stronger position for Yes. The No campaign is losing, and they know it. There is a concerted and organised campaign of abuse and vilification, and it’s coming from Unionist politicians and the mainstream media.
All this is unpleasant and upsetting, but it doesn’t get me down. I’ve dealt with worse. When you spend your days dealing with real shit, invented and non-consequential shit is of no great concern. The reason it doesn’t upset me much is because it’s not going to work. Campaigns of demonisation and vilification can only have any chance of success when the targets are a tiny minority. If you don’t know any members of that tiny minority then you’ll believe the demonisation and vilification, it will affect your perceptions.
But that’s not the case in Scotland’s independence debate. Just about everyone in the country knows independence supporters, in their families or amongst their friends. We are not a tiny minority. We are everywhere. Personal contacts vastly outweigh media reports in terms of their influence. The number of independence supporters is greater by at least an order of magnitude than the number who are likely to be persuaded to vote no because of media slurs and smears. And that number is smaller than the number of people who will be disgusted by media misrepresentation of a campaign whose members are known to them personally. All that it will achieve is yet another nail in the coffin of mainstream media credibility. It’s simple arithmetic.
And the reason I’m so confident? Because I’ve been here before, as I’ve pointed out in a previous blog post. Unlike independence supporters lesbian and gay people are a relatively small minority, we were subjected to a similar campaign of media hatred and vilification during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. And look what happened there – we won.
The hatred and distraction techniques are a sign we are winning. Don’t be afraid, don’t be discouraged. Don’t care. And always always remember – when someone demonises you, it means they are afraid of you. And that means you are the one with the power, the power of the Scottish nation in movement towards a self-determined future. Face to face, conversation to conversation, we’re changing minds, we’re changing history.
And there’s nothing they can do to stop us. That’s why they’re so scared.