I am so thankful I split this essay into three parts – because after the publication of When Yes means No – A Tale of Three Referendums – Part 1 – The Fantasy I received a large amount of correspondence which proves what I had written in part two below!
1) The SNP has chosen to ignore, mock and abuse, or allow to be abused, Scottish people who do not agree with their stance on the EU. Not only the hated ‘Tories’ (many of whom agree with them on the issue of the EU), but also the 36% of SNP voters who voted Leave. Why is the word ‘Tory’ such a term of abuse? It’s as though we are in 1984 (of which more later) and have to have an enemy to hate. I sometimes think that the way language is used very often borders on outright hate speech. Incidentally when the SNP keep claiming that Scotland voted to Remain, they seem to forget that if it were not for the one million Scots who voted Leave, the UK would still be in the EU! We have been classed as racist, bigoted, ignorant, Daily Mail readers. Is it not possible for people to disagree (and even be Scottish Tories) without having to be regarded as traitors or idiots?
The SNP claim to speak on behalf of the people of Scotland – which always leaves me wondering who the rest of us are? I mean those of us who don’t agree with them. Are we enemies of the people? Sometimes we are treated as such (especially by the Cybernats) which leads me on to the next step.
The SNP have been very savvy in their use of social media and especially I would say in the use of Twitter mobs and other forms of online intimidation. These are just a few of the tweets I received after part 1 was published.
I was trolled and abused by other SNP members because I agree with this article.
As an SNP member I was gobsmacked. It scared me and put me off Twitter.
You are a Tory. Your church supports Tory values. You are not really SNP.
David get yer heid oot yer arse son
In the past 12 hours I have been called an idiot, hypocrite, homophobe, Islamaphobe, Tory apologist – and so on. What is totally fascinating and sad is that not one person has attempted to argue any of the substantive points within the article. They just want to scream ‘it’s not true’ and then call you names….and anyone else who disagrees with you.
However I am grateful for many tweets, which even though they didn’t intend to, confirmed what had I had written.
“I am a Christian. I just don’t agree with the Bible, God and Jesus”….
This was written by a man who thought he was making the brilliant point that because I did not support the EU I could not really be SNP. Which was my point exactly! The SNP has become so much the party of the EU that even if you are for independence you are not considered one of the flock! Being pro-EU is now the heart and meaning of the SNP! The propagandists have done their job well. The 36% of SNP voters who voted Leave are to be excommunicated!
Others went mad because they said I was speaking on my own and real SNP people did not speak like me (although one Cybernat was desperate to argue that I SHOULD be speaking on my own because no one can speak for anyone else – I guess he has a real problem with his party speaking on behalf of ‘the Scottish people’! But I received several tweets along the following lines, which confirmed that I am not just speaking on my own behalf.
“My views on Indy won’t change, but I will vote NO if she drags us back into the EU”
The new SNP sidelines those who disagree with their policy, and then mocks. And it can get really vicious. Take for example the following posted yesterday: Hard to beat for its callousness, arrogance and ignorance – and yet several people defended it.
Every time a no voter dies,
A YES voter turns 16
A bit mercenary, I know, but true.
It’s the young people’s future that is being
Robbed by the unionists.
Those who voted No are enemies of the people. Destroying the future. Harming the young. The contempt for those who don’t share their views is quite scary. Do I really want to be in a country where this kind of talk is considered acceptable?
And there is another kind of contempt. They keep speaking of Tory contempt for the Scottish people (forgetting the hundreds of thousands of Scots who vote Tory and who are not enemies of the people/traitors/quislings) and yet sometimes their actions show contempt. Does anyone understand why Nicola Sturgeon told the press that the Scottish Parliament vote on Brexit (which was largely symbolic and meaningless) was one of the most important votes ever in the parliament, and yet she stayed away for most of it? That to me seems at least a little inconsistent, if not contemptuous. Sometimes I fear that there is too much grandstanding on the world/European stage and not enough practical action on the council estates of Scotland. It’s all very well retweeting a congratulatory tweet from Bianca Jagger on a meaningless vote in the Scottish parliament, but for me it is the type of gesture politics that we could do without.
Which brings us on to another sad twist in this tale. The SNP go round hunting for celebrity endorsement. So yesterday Pat Kane and thus numerous SNP politicians were re-tweeting AC Graylings comment about now supporting Scottish Independence. Grayling is an atheist liberal, who doesn’t have a vote in Scotland and who was opposed to Scottish Indy but is more fanatically committed to the EU. He can never be in the wrong and so because he has written that Brexit will lead to economic disaster, the end of parliamentary sovereignty (something which as a fanatical pro-EU person he had no interest in before) and the break up of the UK, he now supports Scottish Independence – so that he can be proved right! Is this what we have come to, gloating in the support of an English academic who has opposed our national self-determination before, but now, because it suits his narrow political agenda, is prepared to endorse it?
I am more concerned about the kind of contempt and hubris that takes the votes of the Scottish people for granted and shows scant regard for democratic votes that go against you. It does not look good if you refuse to accept the democratic results of two referendums. Apart from anything else it is unwise tactically because when we eventually win, why should the losers not adopt exactly the same tactics?
2) The SNP has being an increasingly authoritarian and anti-democratic party – As I stated in part 1 the SNP used to be a fairly broad party with a wide range of views permitted. That had the result of sometimes giving the appearance of a rag-tag bunch who couldn’t organise the proverbial party in a brewery. Some discipline had to be imposed. But the pendulum has completely swung the other way. Now the SNP is the most authoritarian party in the UK (making even Tony Blairs New Labour control freakery seem mild). As The Herald reported SNP politicans are forbidden from speaking against any party policy.
Any MP must accept that no member shall within or outwith the parliament publicly criticise a group decision, policy or another member of the group”.
It’s a policy Stalin would be proud of!
This led to the following observation:
“Since you can’t criticise the leadership at all, how is joining the SNP any different from joining a cult?”
It reminded me of when I was in Edinburgh Uni and involved in student politics. The Socialist Workers Society, all seven of them, used to have their own meeting before any student union general meeting, so they could determine how they would vote as a block. It was very authoritarian. At one time four of them expelled the other three for doctrinal impurity (as one of them told me!). My fear is that the SNP have moved in this direction.
Note this is not just amongst the elected politicians. It has become a characteristic of the membership and the social media mob. Even after writing part 1 of this essay I was told by SNP members that I should not vote SNP. I find that ‘inconvenient truths’ are often removed. I have had SNP activists who come flying in with their mantras and soundbites, who when you challenge them and they can’t answer, either become abusive or they end up blocking you. Social media and the internet could and should mean that we have a much wider world from which to glean information and facts. But sadly it all too often means that we set up our own wee echo chambers, only talk to those like us and only listen to those who post articles which act like confirmation bias. For example recently I received a rebuke from an SNP supporter because he saw that I followed on ‘Twitter’ several people who were not kosher. When I tried to explain that I ‘followed’ lots of people I disagreed with, that concept seemed to be completely alien to him. Why would you listen to those you disagreed with?! The SNP are not the only ones who do this, but I have noticed an increasing tendency for this cult like behaviour to take hold. And when it does, any free thinkers, questioners or genuine liberals in the old sense of the word – are finished. The Party is Always Right. 1984 is relevant in todays Scotland – not just Trumps USA.
“But the party’s strict discipline has had another, less positive effect. The SNP, as far as I can see, has given up any kind of self-examination. The modern SNP has no time for questions. It is concerned only with presenting carefully spun answers. As a result of this unwillingness to reflect upon what it may be doing wrong, the SNP maintains positions long after it has become clear that they are incoherent.” Euan McColm – http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/euan-mccolm-snp-needs-a-long-hard-look-in-the-mirror-1-4334130
The result of this is that we now have the SNP Stepford politicians. As I type this I am watching the EU debate in Westminster. It’s almost comical to see how an SNP MP will be interrupted by another SNP MP and they spend the time congratulating ‘the honourable member/lady’s’ brilliant points. In a good Scots phrase ‘it gies me the boke’! There will be no disagreement here. And there will be no disagreement in the Scottish parliament, or indeed anywhere. I was asked to speak for SNP Leave at a press conference and said no, that would be wrong, because although I supported the SNP,
I was not a member and it would be better to have a politician. The answer came back – ‘None of them are allowed to speak’. When I stated this, I got the usual mockery and abuse from the cybernats who seemed to believe that all SNP politicians agree with the policy because they are not idiots and it is obviously the only right one. Only after the EU referendum did we learn that Alex Neill and several others actually voted Leave.
One of the most unnecessary jobs in the world must be that of SNP party whip! They don’t actually need party whips. When was the last time an SNP MP voted against party policy? Angus Robertson, Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon carry absolute authority. Disobey them at your peril.
Likewise SNP party conferences have more in common with national party rallies than they do with democratic party politics. I watched in sorrow last year as the carefully stage-managed EU ‘debate’ resulted in an elderly gentleman being ushered of the stage, looking totally confused as he tried to present a negative view of the EU. His face told me so much.
And with authoritarianism comes alternative facts and post-truth history. Of course they have always been around but in an authoritarian system Pravda ensures that there is only one truth. And in a post-truth world which has rejected the concept of truth, and yet realises it needs that truth, the door is open for a new absolute to be imposed. So the SNP now relies on a too often compliant media, including its own propaganda newspaper; ignoring, ridiculing, mocking and even intimidating other sources; and the social media mob to spread and enforce its new doctrines.
I have a particular concern about the creation of social media mobs and the phenomena of the cybernats. Recently word has gone out from people like Neil Mackay, editor of the Sunday Herald, that people have to behave themselves if we are going to win the No voters over. He is right to be concerned. But I wonder if that degree of self-discipline is possible. Not when you have MPs like Joanna Cherry tweeting about Tom Holland this week:
“Being trolled by a male academic who makes the mistake that my ego is as big as his. Lol”.
Apart from the fact that Tom Holland is not an academic (he is an author) this tweet is very interesting for what it reveals about the MP. Mr Holland had dared to express an opinion that was different to Ms Cherry and this, in the Brave New World of the SNP is now ‘trolling’. Plus lets throw in a bit of sexism as well – what does his being male have to do with anything? But this is how the politicians use the mob. They are always the truth tellers, the victims and the righteous.
Another example. The oft-repeated mantra that Nicola, Alex, Mike, Angus, Tasmina are the brave spokespeople ‘for the people of Scotland’. Mike Russell stated in Brussels that “five million citizens…quite clearly said they do not want to give up their European citizenship” and that the only MSPs to back a leave vote were four Conservative members.The Courier
It’s astonishing that they think they can get away with this. The truth is that despite all the Scottish political parties, most of the media and all the cultural/academic and metro elites pushing for a Remain vote – only 1.6 million Scots voted for the EU. That is hardly five million citizens! I don’t think Mike was lying or being dishonest. I think that the SNP genuinely do believe they speak for us all, because they don’t hear anyone else. But being genuine does not make them right. It’s the hubris of the self-righteous and the undoubting.
3) The Scottish Government has also become authoritarian – Given that the SNP are the party in power they will obviously want to use and increase that power. In most mature democratic systems there are checks and balances, the sad thing is that, unlike both the UK and more especially the USA, we don’t have adequate checks and balances yet installed within our new Scottish political system. This is because the whole system was designed to be its own check and balance by ensuring that one party (especially the SNP) did not get into sole power. But thanks to the genius of Alex Salmond, the SNP beat the odds and has become entrenched as the party of government in Scotland. With the collapse of the Labour and Liberal parties, this only leaves the Tories as any real kind of opposition. Although again, as Iain McWhirter pointed out in one of his columns, you could probably interchange most SNP, Labour, Green, Liberal and even many Tory politicians in the Scottish parliament and there would not be a great deal of difference. They mostly belong to the same political class, share the same social and cultural views and differ on little substantial. The metro-elites are the ‘us’, the ‘them’ are any one else who dares to challenge their pre-suppositions. Please note this is not to say that there are no good MSPs – there are many – but its just trying to point out the narrowness of the political pool from which they are drawn.
This government authoritarianism is seen in different ways. Firstly there is an increasing tendency towards centralisation. The police being the classic example. The removal of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise Board being another. Centralised control is essential to any command economy – it maybe explains why they are so keen on the EU! It is also very dangerous because so many jobs and positions depend on government patronage. In a small country, where almost everyone in power knows everyone else, it is very dangerous to have so much power and money concentrated in so few hands. It means that academic institutions, charity boards, the media, arts, businesses and even churches have to watch their P’s and Q’s because they are so beholden to the State. I sometimes wonder if this curbs the prophetic voice of the Church, because we are too scared to offend those we seek to influence (and whose money often funds our charities)? Is there any room for prophets who speak truth to power and challenge the status quo and the power blocks here? Or are we just going to talk about situations and people we can do nothing about, and who have very little to do with us?
Then there is the interference with academic freedom. It has been long-established principle of Scottish education that the government does not tell teachers what to teach, but this is about to be broken with the TIE imposition coming from the government. The use of schools for deliberate social engineering, rather than education is worrying. That is why so many people are opposed to the Named Person Scheme – its not that they don’t see the value of it, it’s rather that they don’t trust a government with Big Brother tendencies to implement it without using it for social control. It is also worrying that the pressure that the government can put on state funded universities to ensure that the right kind of academic research is done. Kath Murray gives a fascinating insight into how this happens.
“At the risk of stating the obvious, research that is side-lined, neutralized or otherwise impeded is unlikely to bring about societal or economic benefit.” Kath Murray (Sage Journals) http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1748895816685766
A free society needs a free press. Of course the Scottish government believes that, but in just the same way as David Cameron tried to get the editor of the Daily Mail replaced, so the SNP are not averse to putting pressure on journalists and media.
Can you imagine what would have happened if Donald Trump banned certain newspapers from the White House Press Conference? Why, the Herald, the National and the BBC would have it as their headline news (because apparently he is our President/Bogeyman too!!). Except it wasn’t Trump who did that – it was our own retiring President – Alex Salmond. Telegraph, Mail and Express journalists were banned from Alex Salmond’s resignation press conference and The Guardian withdrew when the SNP tried to tell them which journalist they should send. You can read the story Here
And there is the sad but true story of Stephen Daisley. He wrote about his ‘silencing’ Here It is well worth reading and brilliantly written. Ironically I would not have come across it were it not for SNP MPs like Pete Wishart furiously tweeting against him. That roused my curiosity and rather proved his point!
My concern here is not to agree with the rather silly SNP equals bad mantra, any more than I accept the SNP equals good mantra. My concern is that what the SNP have done that is good is in enormous danger of being undone, because they are in danger of running the government in the same way they runs the party. It’s not that everything is bad – far from it – but this is the direction of travel I see us going and it worries me. We are by no means there yet, but there is a real and present danger that an elitist, one philosophy, one party state could easily exist in a small country like Scotland. That’s my nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be that way – and tomorrow we will look at an alternative direction of travel….
Again I need to add the caveat that these are my personal views, not the views of my church or Solas (both of which are politically neutral).