The reaction to my articles on why as a Yes voter I will be voting No if the Scottish government is foolish enough to call another Independence Referendum, has provided the proof of what I was saying. It has been both profoundly disturbing and also profoundly encouraging. The former because they show that there is something deeply rotten within the state of Scotland, and the latter because there have been numerous people from all political perspectives who have written in to express their thanks.
We will look at these reactions but firstly I want to begin with an apology. During the 2014 referendum I was made aware of a number of complaints from English people who lived in Scotland who felt unwelcome, threatened and even abused. Whilst I recognised that there were some overzealous fellow Yes supporters, I was largely dismissive of these claims, putting them down to over sensitivity and media hyperbole. I was wrong. And for being so dismissive I apologise.
My excuse is that the majority of Scottish nationalism is not about being anti-English but rather about being pro-Scottish and seeking to follow the basic principle that a country should be governed by its own people. There is a positive and healthy side to that kind of nationalism. However I underplayed the nasty side. Just because people go on about how progressive, wonderful and different Scottish nationalism is, does not always make it so. Just as those of us who voted Leave in the EU debate have to recognise that there are a small minority of racists, xenophobes and ultra right wing people who voted with us, so those of us who voted Leave in the Scottish referendum need to recognise that there are a a minority of anti-English racists amongst us. They should be disowned not encouraged.
Here are just a couple of examples of posts I received over this past weekend in response to the articles.
I have enjoyed reading your blog. I am an English woman, living in the Highlands for over 12 years, married to a Highlander and my son was educated Scotland. My son’s grandfather was also Scottish. So it is hard for me to consider myself on ‘foreign’ soil. However, this is what the SNP would like me to think. I have also tried to enter into debate with SNP supporters, but have suffered abuse and told to ‘get out and go back to my own country’. I am also told that I should not be allowed to vote as I am not Scottish. This has, like the last person to leave a response, made me question staying in Scotland. My husband and I are happy where we live, but this is putting a strain on our life’s. I think there must be many people who feel this way
I was directed to this blog by my partner, an Englishman, who like some of your responders has been told to “go back to England”. He has always disliked the “nationalism ” of the SNP, despite my insistence that it was a socialist party. I too voted for independence but do not wish to stay in the EU, and if there were to be another Indyref I would be a no voter.
Anyway lets move on to some of the other responses and what they teach us about Scotland today. To be honest they many have been deeply depressing and quite scary. There is a dark and intimidatory side which is clearly designed to bully into silence. Well… I’m Scots, and thrawn, and having had to deal with Dawkins Disciples and the NFA’s (New Fundamentalist Atheists), the Cybernats just made me determined to expose them. By Cybernats I don’t mean every SNP member or supporter (many of whom wrote to thank me ) and many of whom are fine people, nor do I mean just those who disagreed with me, I mean those for whom Indy seems to be their only reason for living and their only hope in life and who take particular delight in trashing and attacking anyone who threatens to pop their particular bubble.
Lets begin with the official SNP response, which is very revealing. The following appeared in The Sunday Times
Note the response from the SNP. It is dismissive, hypocritical and misleading.
Firstly they dismiss me by saying that I am a long-standing ‘critic of the party on a range of issues’. It would be interesting to see what those are! I have often been accused of being a long standing supporter as well! But it is the case, as I pointed out in the article, that no-one within the SNP or any supporters of it, are allowed to be critics of any policy. That does result in such a dismissive attitude.
Secondly it is hypocritical. ‘What does it matter what one individual says’, proclaims the party that had just tweeted about AA Grayling (amongst others) saying he would now be in favour of Independence. It seems as though an English professor who doesn’t have a vote is more worthy than a Scot who does! Besides which, as they well know the issue is not what my opinion is, but whether the third of SNP supporters who voted Leave, share that opinion. My post box suggests that many of them do. It is foolish for the SNP to ignore many of their own supporters for this mythical unitary ‘people of Scotland’ who in their hubris, they claim to be speaking for.
Thirdly it is misleading. I know that politicians are told by their spin doctors they have to do it, but I do wish they would stop spinning figures and getting them to mean something else. In one sense it is true that the people of Scotland did vote by a margin of 24% for the UK to remain in the EU. As I explained in the articles 1.6 million out of 4 million is hardly overwhelming, especially when all the political parties, and almost all the Scottish political/academic/media class were telling us that doomsday would be upon us if we voted Leave. What should be far more important to the SNP, than these silly political brinkmanship games, is the people of Scotland. We don’t want to be threatened with destruction if we remain in the UK, or promised Nirvana if we could only join the EU. We want our government to govern. To get on with sorting out our NHS, education system and economy and stop living in political fantasy land.
Speaking of which Pete Wishart wrote an extraordinary blog which perhaps more than anything shows the dangerous level of delusion that nationalism can sometimes take you. Mr Wisharts dream (nightmare for some) is scary because it is not based on reality and when it doesn’t happen, the anger, disillusion and disappointment could unleash very destructive forces. What makes it even more worrying is that Pete Wishart is one of our elected MPs and the SNP deputy leader in the House of Commons. He is playing with fire. I hope he and us don’t get our fingers burned. And the SNP leadership should be very careful about hyping up their warriors because they can get really nasty.
Incidentally I have just seen a tweet by Mr Wishart saying that the next Indy Ref will be the Greens, the SNP and Civic Scotland v the rest. It is part of the hubris of the SNP that they think they are are, or control ‘civic Scotland’.
They are certainly in control of their own propaganda sheet, The National. It perhaps more than anything illustrates the delusional aspect of the hysteria that is building amongst some SNP supporters. Take todays cover. The notion that support for the EU can be compared to romantic love is both pitiful and laughable. But that is the level at which the ‘debate’ is now being carried on in Scotland. One of the things that astounded me about the responses to my articles is the lack of rational, intelligent and reasoned response from those who disagreed. I may well have been wrong but am hardly going to be persuaded by hate mail, abuse and people sending I heart EU messages. And its not just the more extreme fringe who do that. Its main stream politicians. So the order from on high for all SNP spokespeople just now is ‘make sure you get the phrase ‘Tory Hard-Right Brexit’ is as much as you can’. Apparently they operate on the basis that if you say things often enough people will believe them to be true. It also leads to the kind of language which encourages the extremists by undermining truth, history and logic. So for example we have politicians tweeting about Unionists being like North Korea and the UK government being quasi-fascist. I wince completely when I hear that kind of language because it demeans those who suffered under actual fascism.
The following are just some of the messages I have received from the true believers who are upset at anyone daring to challenge their faith. (for fairness I should point out that I also received a few from those who thought I was mad because I didn’t see Nicola as the Anti-Christ or Independence as the road to Hell).
Ye sound like a raving madman…
You are an agent provocateur ….yoons can never hide…
You just want to push religious hate.
Go and join Labour – obviously SNP is not for you.
ye say yer a minister/chaplain tae. Well God hell mend ye. I’m done wae yer lunacy.
At times some of my fellow travellers in favour of Indy do display cult like qualities. They have an absolutist belief that cannot be challenged; a delusional dream that sometimes puts them beyond the realms of reason. Anyone who doesn’t hold to the pure doctrine is not ‘one of us’ – more than one person called me a ‘Yoon’ or worse still a ‘Tory’ because I dared to suggest that St Alex and St Nicola had possibly got the strategy wrong here. Incidentally I do wish people would stop trivialising the Holocaust by calling anyone to the right of them, a Fascist.
I was intrigued that despite my stating several times that this article was my political view, several correspondents chose to attack my faith. Why? One man even wanted to make it a doctrine of Christianity that you had to support the SNP!
I will only say this, as a Christian, you say you would vote no against independence in the next referendum. That is a complete disgrace, if you truly are a man of your God, then you should be supporting the SNP in their quest for Scotland to run it’s own affairs.
And then of course there are the ‘progressives’ who seem to have taken over the party. It is after all a party that suits them – because it is a party that does not allow dissent – and they certainly don’t. I had mentioned as a minor point in one paragraph that if you wanted to boost Scotland’s population maybe it wasn’t a good idea to have had 400,000 abortions. There were some furious responses to this – apparently some people were so triggered by it, they could not read on. Here are a couple of examples.
For anyone to come up with that comment they must have certain views which are completely against any thought of equality for women.
Every other comment you have made is now tinged with your obvious contempt for the idea of equality for women, and is therefore being treated with the same feeling of horror I had when I read the comment.
It makes me wonder if your problem with SNP stance is more to do with misogyny than anything else.
Who would have thunk it? – I am opposed to the SNP policy on ‘independence in Europe’ because I am a misogynist! Apparently being opposed to abortion is not to be allowed in the Brave New World of Progressive Scotland as a State of the EU. Ironically Kevin McKenna had an article in The Guardian in which he observed the following:
A particularly insidious tactic has been used. Rather than campaign for an outright ban on Christian iconography or Christian gatherings, some long-held and benign beliefs have been targeted, distorted, misrepresented and held to have no place in modern Scotland. Thus, if you believe that an unborn child is fully human and deserving of protection under the Declaration of Human Rights you are liable to be called a woman-hating extremist.
McKenna’s article received the usual abuse – including the claim that as it was from The Dark Ages the Guardian should never have published it. The ‘Progressives’ are well and truly entrenched in the SNP. It appears that Catholics who actually believe their faith and evangelical Christians are no longer welcome in this Brave New Party that my correspondents envisage.
Now I realise that it is grossly unfair to tar the whole SNP with this kind of nonsense, in the same way as its wrong to attack the Christian church when we have our bampots as well. But nonetheless there is a deafening silence from the SNP about the mobs that sometimes act on their behalf and they really need to learn to rein in the troops and dissociate themselves from it.
But instead they make a rod for their own backs by sometimes adopting candidates who offer the most bizarre views – remember Lloyd Quinan the candidate who argued that No voters made bad parents! Say that you think SSM is not a good idea, or that abortion should be discouraged and you will be classed along with the Tory/Trump ‘Fascists’. Say that you think parents who vote NO are bad parents and that’s ok. What kind of message does that send out to the Cybernat mobs?
The SNP are unlikely to win this referendum because there is a growing number of people, who whatever their views on Independence, don’t want it. That includes many Yes voters like me who will vote No. Like the examples below:
“I used to be an SNP member and a Yes voter. But not any more”.
“Fed up with SNP EU. I was Yes but now am No”
One politician contacted me –
“I spent the afternoon canvassing in….I can confirm that there are a sizeable number of 2014 Yes voters who would now vote NO, mainly on the EU issue”.