Here we go again. Earlier this week the accusation surfaced for the umpteenth time that the campaign for Scottish independence is characterised by anti-English racism. The accusation was made by a notorious Twitter attention seeker and spanneroid, who occasionally poses as a journalist, in an attempt to deflect some criticisms made about an English-born fantasy author that he spends much of his online time sooking up to. Clearly, the only reason a Scottish person can have for criticising someone born in England is that they are English, even when the person doing the criticising is a well known figure on the Scottish radical left who has a proven track record in challenging discrimination, inequality and social injustice.
The author concerned already has a free pass from criticism as far as the Scottish media is concerned. She’s surrounded by a coterie of fanboys, and they are all boys, who hang on to her every word and treat her weak jokes like great witticisms, then plaster them all over their failing newspapers as news.
The Scottish Unionist media’s estimation of wit is directly proportional to the amount of money and media contacts a person has. Star struck fanboydom is essentially harmless, what’s harmful is the way in which the fanboys attempt to determine and deform the public agenda. What’s especially harmful is the way in which they’re attempting to stoke the fires of racism in order to deny that the Unionist cause in Scotland is in any way responsible for the growing demand for independence.
Few would deny the existence of anti-English sentiment in Scotland. It does exist, just as its counterpart of anti-Scottish sentiment exists in England. What is very noticeable however is the difference in attention and import given to the respective racisms. Anti-English racism in Scotland is, according to the Unionist mediaspanners, a vicious canker that deforms the very heart of the Scottish psyche and is the driving motor of the Scottish independence campaign. Anti-Scottish racism in England, according to the same media fanboys, either doesn’t exist or is just a bit of banter that only a jock with a chip firmly nailed to their shoulder could possibly object to. Get you, ya thin skinned cybernat, can you not take a joke?
The people who make such a great play of anti-English racism in Scotland don’t just deny the existence of anti-Scottish racism in England. They are also the very same individuals who go to inordinate lengths to deny the existence of anything distinctive about Scottish culture. They’re the people who deny that Gaelic has anything at all to do with the Lowlands, even though they have Gaelic surnames and live in Lowland towns where Gaelic place names litter the landscape. They’re the people who refuse to acknowledge that it was the use of the Gaelic language which created Scotland as a nation, that without Gaelic there would be no Scotland. But then they don’t really want Scotland to exist as a nation, so of course they deny Gaelic’s true role.
They’re the people who deny that Scots is a language, and assert that it’s just a deformation of English which is an embarrassment to write. They claim that using Scots like a normal language is politicising it and that’s bad and evil. The real politicisation of Scots is the refusal to allow it to be employed for the full range of uses of any normal language. The real politicisation of Scots is the refusal to accept that it’s a language even though its status as such is an accepted and uncontroversial part of the academic linguistic consensus. Yet the flat earthers of linguistics still dominate the debate. It’s like giving creationists a hearing in a discussion about evolution. We’re still waiting for the Scots version of the puggy trial.
They’re the people who don’t want Scotland to have a national broadcaster because they think Scotland is parochial and inward looking. That means that the Scottish Unionist media is possibly the only one on Earth which denies that it’s capable of reporting to its own audience. How can Scotland’s own media possibly mediate directly with the rest of the world? We need a London perspective to make sense of this confusing planet, otherwise we’d just get lost and confused in our wee tartan Brigadoon. A Scottish perspective is delegitimised. It’s fine with them that Scots know more about the English education system or health service than they do about the Scottish ones, because it suits the Unionist parties to conflate devolved and reserved matters during Scottish elections. They deny that Westminster control of broadcasting had any role to play in the referendum campaign, but want to deny Scottish control because they claim that would play a role in a future campaign.
They’re the people who deny that Scotland has a distinctive political culture. They’re perfectly happy if the EU referendum comes immediately on top of the Scottish Parliamentary elections. Then UKIP will get far more publicity in the UK media than its Scottish presence warrants, and that in turn will feed into an increased vote for the right wing extremists of Unionism in the Scottish elections. Then the apologists for Westminster rule will crow that Scots voters aren’t left wing after all.
Having spent so much time and energy denying that there is anything distinctive about Scotland, the only explanation left to them for the existence of the Scottish nation is that it’s founded in a hatred of the English. This makes Scotland the only country in the world which exists purely due to a wilful refusal to be a part of another country. The denial of a Scottish identity is intimately related to the espousal of anti-English racism as the explanation for Scottish nationalism. If there is no content to a Scottish identity, all that can be left is a hatred for England that is never explained. What is the cause and reason for this anti-English racism that is the sole defining characteristic of Scotland? The Westminions never say. They have no answer to the questions that their own arguments raise.
The reality is that it’s the shortcomings of the Unionist settlement which are feeding the demand for Scottish self-determination. Alleging anti-English racism as a reason for Scottish self-determination isn’t an attempt to inform or elucidate. It’s the reverse. It’s an attempt close down discussion and delegitimise one side in an argument. It panders to the anti-Scottish racism of the English right, giving them spurious reasons to justify the hatred that is spewed all over the pages of the Mail and the Telegraph. It stokes up racism in an attempt to score a cheap point, it cheapens and tarnishes those who use it as an argument. But then the proponents of Scottish Unionism are cheap and tarnished already, writers of fantasy dressed up as news.
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