There’s been another Murdo. Whenever Murdo Fraser ventures onto social media you know that the result is going to be what you’d get if a car crash was expressed in 240 characters or less. Edinburgh MP Joanna Cherry tweeted a link to her recent article in The National, in which she argues that the SNP ought to keep planning for independence during the current crisis, something about which the Tories – and Murdo Fraser in particular – have expressed vehement disagreement. This is despite the fact that the Conservatives haven’t ceased to press ahead with Brexit.
Joanna is of course perfectly correct. We cannot cease to make the case for independence during the current crisis. The Conservatives are using it as a cover to pursue no-deal with the EU, and the hypocrites in the Scottish Conservatives who opposed Brexit and Boris Johnson back in 2016 and who are now cheerleading the hardest Brexit possible. Meanwhile they never cease to sing the praises of the UK and continually cite the UK Government’s dismal mishandling of the crisis as an example of great British exceptionalism that proves that Scotland needs Westminster.
The Scottish Conservatives expect the SNP to stop pressing for independence during the Coronavirus epidemic, however they don’t appear to expect Boris Johnson to stop pressing for his wet-dream suicidal no-deal Brexit. There has been nary a peep from any of them about the risks that the British Government is taking unnecessarily, at a time when the economy is already weakened. Joanna wondered if Murdo, who is the Scottish Conservatives’ constitutional spokesapologist, might care to explain why what’s sauce for the British nationalist goose isn’t also sauce for the Scottish independence gander.
In response Murdo tweeted: “There’s a big difference @joannaccherry: We voted AGAINST independence. We voted FOR Brexit.”
See what he did there? Because Murdo doesn’t. Or if he did he’s hoping that you didn’t. It’s your actual false equivalence. The “we” in the first part of his British nationalist formula isn’t the same “we” as in the second part. The first we is the Scottish population. The second we is the UK population. The Scottish population is a non-representative subset of the UK population. It’s precisely the fact that we’re not represented at UK level which is what’s driving support for independence. You can’t argue that just because the larger set wants something, that a subset which you know to be unrepresentative of the larger set wants it too. It’s a logical fallacy. Yet it’s precisely this kind of nonsense which is what passes for logical argumentation from British nationalists.
Let’s put it another way. The we in the second part comprises the population of Scotland plus the population of the rest of the UK which is 11 times the size of the Scottish population, whereas the first we is just the population of Scotland. We know that the Scottish population is a number greater than zero. Murdo’s equation is, to put it in mathematical terms, like asserting that because X = Y and X + 11(X) = Z, then X = Z and Y simultaneously even though you know from other sources that X is a whole number greater than zero and that Y and Z are different. If you had tried that on in your maths exam at school, you’d have failed dismally and your maths teacher would have cried, resigned their position, and gone off to pursue a career flogging New Age holistic woo because there’s more logic in healing crystals than you’ve demonstrated in your maths exam. Or quite possibly they’d have gone off and become a Scottish Conservative politician. But only if they were an evil bastert. This only goes to prove that British nationalism is founded upon illogicality. That’s why they’re always banging on about how exceptional they are. The normal rules of addition and multiplication or indeed the laws of physics don’t apply to them.
However we should rejoice. Murdo has, quite unwittingly, proven one of the strongest arguments of the independence campaign. This is because the only way that Murdo’s formula would work is where X = 0. Because if X = 0 then X + 11(X) = 0 as well, and this is indeed precisely what Scotland’s votes count for in British Governments. We now have a new mathematical formulation for the case for Scottish independence, Murdo’s Law. Because within the UK, Scotland equals zero. Thank you for proving it mathematically, Murdo. British nationalists always try to tell Scotland that we’d be nothing without them, but the truth is that we’re nothing with them.
Of course we can’t have a full on campaign for independence as long as the current crisis lasts. We’d be fighting with both hands tied behind our backs as the campaigning strengths of the independence movement are precisely those which have suffered the greatest impact of the lockdown. We can’t hold mass rallies or townhall style meetings, we can’t do the face to face campaigning and persuasion which the yes movement excels at.
Meanwhile our British nationalist opponents can still rely upon the British media, which is using the current crisis as yet another reason to have a go at the Scottish Government whenever it dares to do anything other than meekly obey Boris Johnson. This is however not proving to be a successful strategy for them, as the opinion poll from Opinium this week has demostrated that after the NHS, the public have the greatest trust in information they receive from the Scottish Government. Trust in the UK Government lags a long way behind. This tells us that after the crisis is over, we will be in a strong position to make the case that Scotland could have performed even better if we were not tied to the millstone of a Conservative Government.
What we can do, indeed what we must do, during this crisis is to marshall the online resources of the independence movement and to continue to make the argument for independence, to highlight the shortcomings of the British Government, and to prepare the arguments that we will need once campaigning can restart properly. We must use this time to create that vision of a better Scotland that awaits us with independence. And let’s be honest here, the British state is setting the bar extremely low. It would not be difficult to do better than being the worst affected state in Europe, a state which compounds the economic damage of the epidemic by wilfully marching over the cliff of a no-deal Brexit.
The likes of Murdo Fraser are making it easy for us, because they are incapable of standing up for Scotland even on their own terms. They are so desperate to attack the independence movement that they cannot countenance defending Scotland’s interests within the UK. If even the champions of this so-called union can’t do that, then there’s no real argument against independence.
And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…
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