There’s misleading headlines, there’s biased headlines, and then there’s outright trolling headlines. However an article in Tuesday’s Herald newspaper managed to have a headline which wasn’t just trolling, it was the newspaper attention seeking equivalent of baring your arse at a wedding, wiping your backside with the wedding cake, and all the while screaming that you’d not just shagged both the bride and groom, you’d shagged their cat as well. The headline in question was “Opponents to Scottish independence outstrip Yes voters four-fold, petition shows”. Funnily enough, or rather not so funnily enough, comments on the article were closed, just in case people below the line pointed out the ludicrously misleading nature of the headline.
The reporters who write the articles are rarely if ever responsible for the headline that ends up on the piece when it goes to press. This headline is most certainly not the responsibility of the reporter who wrote the article, it was most likely some sub-editor. But most readers don’t get much further than the headline, so all that the majority will have seen is a headline making the claim that independence supporters are outnumbered four to one by opponents of independence. The message was clear – give up now those of you who dream of a better Scotland. Go home and stick your head under that tartan duvet and cry yourself to sleep.
The article itself cited two online parliamentary petitions, one calling for a second independence referendum which received just shy of 34,000 signatures in Scotland, and one calling for there to be no second independence referendum which received just short of 159,000 signatures in Scotland. Despite the fact that the signatories are by definition a self-selecting sample, it could be argued that this would indeed have provided some evidence of respective support for pro and anti independence sentiment in Scotland – but only if the two petitions had received the same publicity and were promoted in exactly the same way and those who signed the petitions felt that there was some point to signing. But that’s not what happened. There was absolutely no effort in the article to explain any of that either, although to be fair the article itself was largely concerned with the Parliamentary debate provoked by the anti-independence petition.
The pro-independence petition was started by a private individual on Twitter, received no support or backing from any pro-independence party, and was never publicised anywhere. Even if it had been, what precisely is the point of signing a petition asking a Tory and Labour dominated Westminster to facilitate another independence referendum when all they’ve done for the past three years is to scream that they don’t want one? I saw the petition being tweeted online, and despite the fact that you might just possibly think I was in favour of another independence referendum, I didn’t sign it. There was no point. Even if the petition did reach the required number of signatures required to provoke a debate in the Commons it wasn’t going to bring a referendum about. All it would do would be to provide British nationalists with the opportunity to stand up in the Commons and tell us all how much of a disaster independence would be, and how everything that was wrong with Scotland was all the fault of the SNP anyway.
The anti-independence petition claimed that Scotland was being “persecuted” by the SNP. There’s constant one trope about British nationalism, apart from it not being nationalist at all because it’s British, and that’s that it is a poor victim of persecution at the hands of evil nationalists. It’s an odd claim, on the one hand British nationalism proclaims from the rooftops the strength and stability and reputation of the British state, but on the other it can be victimised by a granny from Cowdenbeath who wilfully waves a saltire. These two things are, on even a second’s reflection, contradictory. Just how exactly are the powerful capable of being victimised by those who have no power? It’s the tactic of the privileged the world over, to claim that a loss of their privilege is oppression. But then self-reflection isn’t the strong suit of the British nationalist establishment. It’s an even stranger sort of persecution when you claim you’re being victimised into having a say on your own future. Those bastards! They’re empowering me! They’re demanding that I have a voice and have influence! How vile. Victimhood is when you’re silenced, like you know, what the Tories are trying to do to Scotland.
The “we don’t want a say on our future” petition was backed by the Tories, and received wide support online from Conservative supporters and the usual British nationalist suspects. The pattern of signatories showed considerable support for the petition in areas with active local Conservative party associations, which were clearly encouraging their local members to sign up and to encourage their friends and families to sign too. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, however the point is that there was no equivalent activity on the pro-independence side to encourage people to sign the pro-independence referendum.
The subsequent we don’t want another independence referendum debate in the Commons wasn’t a debate at all. It was an entirely predictable rehash from the British nationalist parties of all the reasons why Scotland is too poor, too wee, and too stupid, and naturally all this is the fault of the SNP and not those Westminster governments which have had sole control over the levers of macroeconomic management for the past 300 years.
David Mundell, Scotland’s entirely useless governor general, used the debate as an excuse to Tweet “SNP MP Martin Day let’s cat out of bag. SNP position is to stop the UK leaving the EU.” My God! And to think no one knew. A party which is determined to oppose Brexit is opposing Brexit. Imagine that. Mind you we did suspect that David wasn’t bright enough to spell properly, and now he’s confirmed it. There’s no apostrophe in lets, unless it’s a contraction of let us, and the Tories never mean to let us in reference to Scotland. And it’s Martyn, not Martin, but points for trying.
Despite the trolling newspaper headline and the equally trolling non-debate in the Commons, there is no evidence that support for independence has declined. The most recent opinion poll, which is not composed of a self-selecting sample of Conservative activists and their friends and families, showed that 46% back Scottish independence. That’s a long way from being outnumbered four to one.
The real reason why the British nationalist parties are so determined to avoid another independence referendum is not because “no one” wants one. It’s because so many people do. But even more than that it’s because so many people in Scotland don’t just want another referendum, they want independence. Support for independence will begin a second independence referendum campaign at a far far higher level than it began the first. The British nationalists are desperate to avoid another independence referendum because they are keeching themselves with fear at the prospect of losing it. They’ve shot their bolt. They’ve used up all their arguments. None of the promises they can make the second time around will be believed because we can test their Vows from 2014 against reality and they turned out to be lies. Independence is just something that we haven’t won yet, and all the trolling newspaper headlines in the world won’t stop it happening.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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