The past week has been a bit confusing. Isn’t it independence supporters who are supposed to be the nasty ones? That’s what the British press and political class keeps on telling us so surely it must be true. I’m a case in point. I’m certainly no saint. I can be exceedingly rude, especially about Wullie Rennie, and let’s be fair, in the cosmic scheme of things he’s relatively harmless. He’s not wreaked a fraction of the damage on this country that Boris Johnson has.
There are however limits to the nastiness. I specialise in rudeness, in cutting remarks, and invective, but I never ever drag the families and life partners of the targets of my ire into the proceedings. I can be extremely sweary, but never use words that are demeaning to women like the c-word. My stock in trade is hyperbole, but I’d never dream of accusing an opponent who was well within the mainstream of politics of fascism, ethnic cleansing and a propensity to genocide. And I certainly don’t let a woman do all the work and then pop up with my big butch Y chromosome a few days later and not only take all the credit, but actually blame the woman for being responsible for the problem in the first place. Over the past few days British journalists and politicians have done all of these things. So who’s the real nasty one?
First a wee bit of background. Workers at the engineering company Burntisland Fabrications in Methil were concerned about the future of their plant and jobs after management announced that administrators were going to be called in. The workers called on Scottish government ministers to intervene and to save their jobs. And that’s exactly what the Scottish government did. Following two days of intensive negotiations involving company management, the administrators, the GMB union and the Scottish government, a deal was struck to save the jobs. The GMB union tweeted its thanks to the Scottish goverment for stepping in and helping to achieve a deal.
That’s not how former GMB organiser Richard Leonard Who? saw it. Within hours of being elected as the new interim leader of the Labour branch office in Scotland, the list MSP who’s been in office for just over a year Richard Leonard Who? had first of all threatened to purge his female predecessor, and then he went off for a photie opportunity with workers in Methil and tweeted – “I’m currently in Methil standing alongside the BiFab workers. Their courage and determination this week led by their trade unions GMB and Unite, has secured an important victory. This is the Labour movement at its best.” Richard Who? was starting off with threats of a purge of the other faction in his fractured branch office – so way to go to heal Labour in Scotland’s internal divisions there Richard Who? – and then very clearly trying to claim the credit for the work that the Scottish government had done in saving the workers’ jobs. Meet the new Labour boss, same as the old one. And the one before that, and the one before that.
Richard Who?’s tweet prompted all sorts of Labour supporters, mostly south of the Border who knew bugger all about the situation, to claim that this victory in Methil was precisely why Scotland needs to vote Labour again. Which was of course the exact response that Richard Who? had been looking for. Can’t be letting that SNP take any credit for anything now can we. It’s only responsible for things going wrong, never for things going well.
Richard Who? has since tweeted a photo op with himself and the leaders of the Allies at Versailles, a pic of himself alongside Martin Luther King when the US Supreme Court ruled that segregation was illegal, and a photie of himself alongside Marsha P. Johnson storming the police lines during the Stonewall riots.
It was entirely expected, justified even, that Labour figures were going to claim that Kezia Dugdale was petty minded and vindictive for announcing her decision to go on I’m a Celebrity just hours before the results of a leadership contest which was only necessary because she chose to resign due nasty and bile filled infighting. However the nastiness and bile that prompted her resignation in the first place was on full display in some of the responses. Paul Sinclair, former special advisor for Labour in Scotland, wrote a piece about Kezia for the Labour party in Scotland’s favourite organ, that bastion of socialism that is the Daily Mail’s Sunday edition the Mail on Sunday. It was the journalistic equivalent of chewing on a wasp that had been hybridised with a soor lemon dipped in vinegar. What put it beyond the pale was that he dragged Kezia’s relationships with her previous partner and with her current partner, SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth, into his invective. That was totally uncalled for and extremely nasty. The only thing that was proven here was that Paul Sinclair’s article was even more petty minded and vindictive than anything Kezia has done. But he’s done us a favour. It helps us to understand why she did it.
It wasn’t just Labour supporters who reacted to the news that Richard Who? had been elected. Tory MP Adam Tomkins tweeted, “So … someone born in England can be elected leader of a Scottish party. Interesting.” Clearly English born Adam is wondering about his own chances of becoming the leader of the Tories in Scotland after Ruth has buggered off to seek a safe Westminster seat somewhere in Toryshire. And if he ever does you can bet that the Scottish Unionist media won’t be pressing him too closely on how a former Republican supporter of the pro-independence Scottish Socialists ended up as a red white and blue bedecked Conservative defender of the status quo who loves Iain Duncan Smith’s ideas on social security.
Actually, Labour in Scotland isn’t a Scottish party. It’s the accounting unit in Scotland of a UK party, but that’s a minor point. Adam should have known that deputy leader and former leader of the SNP group in the Commons Angus Robertson was born in that hotbed of Scottish separatism that is Wimbledon. Robert Cunninghame Graham, founder of both the Scottish Labour Party when it really was a Scottish Labour party, and founder of the SNP, was also born in London, his first language was his mother’s native Spanish, and he was educated at an expensive English public school. Scottish politics, Scottish people, and particularly the Scottish independence movement, have never bothered themselves with trivialities about where a person came from.
Sadly that didn’t stop former Guardian journalist Michael White, he of the silly moustache, tweeting in reply, “Not all Scots are committed to ethnic cleansing, the majority still favour the Union and tolerate the English – we like them too.” I’m sure this was just banter. Just a wee joke. But I am also sure you can imagine the shitstorm of protest and outrage that would have befallen us all if a prominent independence supporter had tweeted a jokey remark about English people ethnically cleansing the Scots. It’s fine for Michael to portray us as racists though.
We don’t merely tolerate the English. A lot of us in the indy movement are English, or have English partners or English family. My own daughters are English. However what we are increasingly less likely to tolerate are slurs like those of Michael which trade on the old English stereotype that there is no content to a Scottish identity except an atavistic hatred of the English. British journalism is full of people who are only able to understand the movement for Scottish independence in the laziest of terms. It’s not good enough from those who claim that they’re the media professionals and who then complain when the public loses trust in them.
There are plenty of nutjob apologists for British nationalism in Scotland as it is. There are people who will scream that claiming that Scots and Gaelic are equally national languages of this country along with English is tantamount to incitement to genocide. There are actual and real fascists who support the Union and who have already proven that they will resort to violence – we remember who was responsible for the attacks in George Square after the referendum even if Michael doesn’t. Michael’s asinine tweet empowers and gives justification to those loons.
And last and definitely least, there’s the supposedly reasonable Unionist commentator Alex Massie. He’s very unhappy about Alex Salmond presenting a chat show on Russia Today, so unhappy that he called him a c–t. The c-word is to women as the n-word is to black people Alex M, that’s why grown ups don’t use it with reference to political opponents. And just like Michael’s slur about ethnic cleansing, can you imagine the crap in the media if a prominent independence supporter had called a Unionist politician by that word? British nationalist double standards strike again.
Alex Salmond was defeated in the general election by a Tory no-mark, how very dare he not go away and crawl under a rock. Well get this – we’re not going away. We’re not crawling under any rocks. We’re not going to be deterred by the increasingly unhinged hysteria from apologists for the British state and British nationalism. They’re only destroying their own credibility with their petty minded nastiness, and their increasing nastiness is a sign that they know the days of the British state are ending. The UK won’t die with a bang, or with a whimper, it will die with swear words, insults, and petty mindedness. It’s not just the Tories who are the nasty party.
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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