Can you smell the panic? The Better To Get Her campaign MkII, where Her is of course Theresa May, are already plotting how to undermine a democratic victory for independence. Why, they say, independence is such an important vote, that it’s vital, nay a moral necessity, to ensure that there’s not just any old majority for it in a democratic and properly run referendum, oh no. Independence supporters need to achieve a super-majority. One with super powers, like the super powers that Holyrood was promised by the last BetterTogether campaign, only we ended up with roadsigns and Jackson Carlaw complaining that some of them were in Gaelic. Tell you what, we can have a super-majority in the exact same way that following the last independence referendum, Westminster delivered its promise of super-devomax. Which would mean Scotland becoming independent if only 45% voted for it.
Why is it necessary to have 55% for independence? Why not 60%. Or 70%? Why not just insist that if the Tories vote against independence then there’s no agreement so Scotland needs to stay a part of the UK. Then Scotland’s future can rest entirely in the hands of the Tories. Which is pretty much where we are at the moment.
This latest proposal, which is the formal sign that the campaign to keep Scotland locked in subservience to Westminster is now officially in full on Corporal Jones mode, was proposed by Nigel Smith who is the chair of a pro-devolution organisation called Scotland Forward. His bright idea is that at least 55% of those who vote need to vote for Yes independence, otherwise the No vote carries the day. Some electoral minorities in Scotland are way more important than others, which is why we constantly hear about how we need to respect and listen to the 38% of Scots voters who wanted to leave the EU, but the 45% who voted for independence can be routinely ignored and told to get over it.
Of course, it’s only Scottish voters who require this extraordinary degree of electoral reassurance, what with us being semi-civilised savages in a one party SNP state who are motivated by nothing more than an atavistic hatred of Stephen Daisley, cricket, tea on the lawn, and thae wee triangular cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Voters in the rest of the UK can wrest us all out of the EU on the basis of a 51.9% vote for Brexit. Because of course they’re civilised and decent respecters of democracy and readers of the Daily Mail, the Express, and the Spectator, those fact based journals of august wisdom and decency.
There was me the other day, making a wee plea for unity amongst the various strands of the independence movement as we face a second referendum, and then along comes Nick Cohen writing an article for the Spectator that we can all agree is a pile of unmitigated pish. Nick’s article was an impassioned plea in defence of STV’s digital editor Stephen Daisley, who used his own Twitter account to troll independence supporters and promote the even more trollish Spanner. This has given rise to the collective term for Twitterati Scottish Unionists, a bag of spanners.
According to Nick, notorious Twitter troll Brian Spanner, who specialises in calling women by the c-word, is actually a hilariously funny satirist who can’t possibly be misogynistic because sometimes he speaks to women at the check out in Tesco. And sometimes women speak back to him.
After Spanner was called out for his misogyny in the wake of the JK Rowling Natalie McGarry Twitter spat, when there was the possibility that the anonymous person or persons behind the account might be cited as a witness in a defamation case, Spanner very bravely and courageously made apologies all the while hiding behind his usual anonymity, for which Daisley praised him. So that makes it all OK then, despite the fact that an anonymous apology is no apology at all. Because if you don’t know the identity of the person who verbally abuses you, you don’t know whether the anonymous apology comes from the same person, or whether it’s sincere. Of course it wasn’t sincere, it was simply arse-covering.
Spanner is one of those who insists that when independence supporters refer to Westminster this is in fact code for the English. He also insists that the word Tory is likewise code for the English. And then he calls a female SNP politician a fat c***, which apparently is code for hilariously satirical. Nick thinks all this is cutting edge Scottish satire. If I had only known that all you need to do to write satire was to call women c***s and make disparaging references to their physical appearance, I could have saved myself a whole lot of time and effort.
For clarification, I should point out that when independence supporters refer to Westminster, this is in fact code for Westminster, which is the parliament which has most power and control over Scotland. When independence supporters refer to the Tories, this is in fact code for the Tories, who make important and life changing decisions about Scotland despite the fact they have only a single MP here. And when independence supporters refer to a misogynistic troll, this is in fact code for Brian Spanner.
If a prominent indy supporter used language like he does, it would be all over the pages of the Express, the Mail, the Telegraph and the rest, and people like Nick would be writing anguished articles about how he was proof of the vile intolerance lurking at the heart of the Scottish independence movement. But a Unionist man can refer to women as c***s and this is satire, an independence supporting lesbian can refer to another lesbian by the d-word, and that is disgusting homophobia. That’s the Unionist double standards that the independence movement faces constantly, of which Nick- to be kind – is blithely unaware. But that doesn’t stop him lecturing us about it.
Despite the fact that Nick thinks Stephen Daisley has been silenced by the SNP, he’s still employed by STV and is still writing for them. It’s a very peculiar form of silencing, but we mustn’t let that get in the way of a metropolitan slur on the Scottish independence movement. Oh sorry. I used the word metropolitan, which is clearly code for “English”. For the benefit of any doubt, I should clarify that it is not in fact code for “English”, it’s code for “out of touch arrogant and clueless roaster with his heid rammed firmly up his own bahoochy who views Scotland through the prism of his own self-regarding and misplaced sense of superiority”.
According to Nick, Scotland is a dangerous one party state where SNP politicians are unused to criticism. When you write an article insisting that the SNP is immune to criticism, and with the apparent belief that the BBC is in their pocket, your awareness of the realities of the Scottish media landscape is on a par with the belief that the New Horizons probe which flew past Pluto revealed it to be a Disney cartoon. You’d never know from reading his ludicrous article that with a handful of exceptions the Scottish media is almost uniformly opposed to Scottish independence, despite the fact that independence is supported by about half the population.
Scotland does have some of the characteristics of a one party state. One of those characteristics is a media which is not reflective of the true range of opinion in the country. But that’s not something you’ll hear much complaint about in the pages of London-based right wing magazines. Oh sorry, I said London-based. That’s not code for English, that’s code for “based in London and viewing Scotland through the wrong end of a red white and blue telescope”.
It’s the kind of ignorance displayed by Nick of the realities of Scotland which allow dangerous ideas which subvert democracy to gain traction, like the notion that a super majority should be required for a second indyref. It’s the kind of ignorance that fosters the notion that the people of Scotland, whose democratic credentials are impeccable, require people like Nick to explain things to us and Tories to govern us even if a majority of us were to say otherwise. Our democracy is at threat. But it’s threatened by Unionist privilege, double standards, and a wilful refusal to hold themselves to the same standards that they insist the independence movement adheres to.
Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of Sarah Mackie, @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-19th-oct-2016
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