WHY IS THERE so much hatred in Scotland? I don’t remember this as a factor in public discourse in most of the decades of my life. It is only since nationalism became a major force in Scotland, from around 2011, that virulent and public hatred has become so noticeable.
Scottish nationalists spew venom about the UK, London, Westminster, England and, above all, ‘Toarries’. Of course there were always animosities, and some Scots have long harboured – and nurtured – perceived grievances about ‘the English’. There has been the kind of smaller country resentment about its larger neighbour that one can see in Portugal vis-à-vis Spain, or Austria vis-à-vis Germany, or perhaps New Zealand vis-à-vis Australia. The Canadians are far too good-natured – and confident in their own skin – to need to feel that way about Americans.
Such Scots express their resentment as a form of inferiority complex, claiming – without the slightest justification – some kind of moral superiority. Certainly, the volume of hatred, abuse and insults levelled at UK, London, Westminster, England and, above all, ‘Toarries’ is an indication of moral turpitude rather than moral rectitude.
I recall my father, the mildest of men, grizzling many decades ago about poor TV reception during a Scottish football match, complaining that the BBC ‘sends Scotland an old camera operated by a wee laddie’. I myself was part of a demonstration against the use of ‘EIIR’ on postboxes, long, long ago. Later, I joined the Nat Club at university, because they had premises where we could make coffee instead of buying it from a university outlet. But this was light years away from the visceral hatred that now obtains – with vile jibes about the ‘butcher’s apron’ (Union Jack) and orders to those of us opposed to Scottish secession to ‘go back to England’, as if we had originated there. This is merely a demonstration of the bigotry that assumes there is only one kind of ‘real Scot’, and that is the kind who embraces separatist hatred. I noticed recently a separatist who has on his twitter profile a yearning for ‘A Land without Unionists’.
Talking of those who originated in England, there is an outfit called ‘English Scots for Yes’. They claim to be people of English origin living in Scotland who now support Scottish separatism. So keen are they on breaking up countries that a contingent of them went to Catalonia with other SNP members (including MPs and MSPs) in autumn 2017 to participate in an illegal referendum to try to break up the Spanish state. But now – since they are delicate flowers – their feelings have been hurt by fellow nationalists.
Alex Salmond’s Alba party (alibi, I say – for doing anything constructive) has put out a little video about Robert the Bruce and Bannockburn. It seems to be the bit about “this demonstration of people power by the sma’ folk of Scotland was the straw, which broke the spine of English superiority” that has upset them. It is quite touching that English Scots for Yes have not been aware of the hateful nature of Scottish nationalism, with nationalist hate directed single-mindedly against England and the English.
English Scots for Yes are not averse to a bit of bullying themselves. At least one of them complained to my employer about my hostility to Scottish secession, presumably in the hope of having me sacked. This is a standard nationalist MO, and is a strong reason for most people who oppose the SNP being anonymous on social media. The wrath of the separatists now comes in violent terms. I have been told by nationalists that I, as a “traitor”, should be “deprived of oxygen”. The hope has been expressed that I shall “die a lonely death covered in cat piss”. We are told that there should be no attempt at a “truth and reconciliation” process after secession and that traitors who oppose separatism should just be shot – although some nationalists think shooting is too good for us.
Did English Scots for Yes get me sacked? I imagine it was a matter of extreme frustration to them when they discovered I was retired.
It is not merely opponents who are in the firing line. The messenger is also to be, metaphorically, shot. A rare thing happened recently. We observers of the scene wait, usually in vain, for a courageous journalist to question the SNP’s aspirations. After all, we are now accustomed to the SNP being given a free ride by STV, essentially a wholly-owned SNP subsidiary, and by BBC Scotland, which has been cowed into submission by SNP bullying since 2014 and, in the Brian Taylor era, accustomed to lobbing friendly enquiries, rather than searching questions, to SNP politicians.
Sarah Smith on the BBC is a prime example. She gives anodyne and uncritical reports from which no-one would guess there were flaws in or opposition to Ms Sturgeon and her party’s power grabs, fake news and unrealistic schemes. I appreciate that Ms Smith was scorched last year for daring to say that Ms Sturgeon was ‘enjoying’ an access of power because of the Covid crisis. It took one ‘hurt’ tweet from Ms Sturgeon to unleash the cybernats on twitter, who made clear their displeasure with Ms Smith. No wonder she has retired hurt. Yet the job of the journalist is to investigate, and merely reporting what one might just as well read on an SNP press release is really not good enough.
There are rare examples of journalists who actually do investigate. The sainted Michael Glackin in the Sunday Times is one. Our own Brian Monteith is another, along with Brian Wilson, and there is the fearless Stephen Daisley. Even Alex Massie now investigates, as do his and Daisley’s colleagues at the Spectator, the publication that has done more to draw attention to SNP failures and specious claims than any other single publication – apart from Think Scotland, of course. Articles by John Ferry in the Spectator, especially on finance and economics, should be required reading for politicians and other journalists. (They also appear on the These Islands website.) They demonstrate what an economic and financial disaster leaving the UK would be for Scots.
Broadcast journalists – apart from the Blessed Andrew Neil – are wary of offending Ms Sturgeon. But then, in recent days, when we have waited ages for one broadcaster to challenge her, two come along together. I refer to Peter Adam Smith of ITN and Ciaran Jenkins of Channel 4. Both took a strong line with Ms Sturgeon recently, to her obvious displeasure, and were abused by SNP activists on social media for their pains. In both cases, Ms Sturgeon’s face and tone hardened, making it clear that she does not appreciate being asked difficult questions. Smith and Jenkins were not thrown by this. Their example is an excellent one for more timorous journos to follow.
And now something very odd is happening in the SNP leadership. Any attempt to present a reasoned case for separation has been abandoned, and Ms Sturgeon herself has been reduced to making absurd claims. Telling us that, had it not been for Covid, she would have held a referendum in 2020 is completely at odds with both reality and her own past pronouncements.
First, for a legal referendum she requires a Section 30 order from the Prime Minister, something he has said in words of one syllable that he will not grant. Second, the whole point of her farce of putting through a devolved parliament in 2020 legislation on a reserved issue to prepare for a referendum was to have that legislation in place for the prospect of her achieving a majority in the election of May 2021, not 2020.
Further, Ms Sturgeon has claimed that, had Scotland been ‘independent’, her regime would have been able to obtain for Scots the same volume of vaccinations as the UK has done. This is wild stuff.
At the very time when Her Majesty’s government was hatching the plan for vaccines and ordering them in huge quantities, SNP ministers such as Mike Russell were hollering about how disastrous it would be for Scots that HMG was not following the EU’s vaccination… well, it wasn’t exactly a plan. It seems that Scots give credit for the amazing acquisition and rollout (with the help of the *British* army) of the vaccine programme to Ms Sturgeon, who has, of course, fronted the Covid briefings relentlessly. Sorry, guys. If it had been left to her, only a small proportion of those of us who have been vaccinated would by now have received our shots.
This is the sad conundrum of Scotland. Too many people simply assume that any good that comes to them comes from Ms Sturgeon, while anything bad is the fault of the ‘Toarries’. Perhaps, however, Ms Sturgeon and her team are now completely losing touch with reality in a way that more will recognise. She really does pick them. Keith Brown, her deputy party leader, was angrily complaining, on BBC Question Time, that Anas Sarwar (I think it was he) had said Ms Sturgeon had admitted ‘taking her eye off the ball’ regarding drugs deaths. She had said no such thing, huffed and puffed the bold Brown. It was an easy task for a tech wizard to produce the section of video in which she says very clearly: “I think we took our eye off the ball, on drug deaths”. And now, Emma Harper, a past SNP MSP and SNP candidate in May (heaven help us), has told us, in an interview that she wants “the softest possible border”. Well, Emma dear, you currently have that in the UK. Why would you want to change that? Ms Harper also thinks that “jobs can be created if a border is created”. Aye, lots of opportunities for border guards and in the manufacture of sentry posts and razor wire. This is verging on the delusional.
And perhaps worst of all, in the prelude to an election, the SNP leadership, including Ms Sturgeon and Mr Brown, tell us that we *need* ‘independence’ to enable us to recover from the Covid crisis. I would like an answer to this question: in what conceivable way would leaving the UK enable Scots to recover better from Covid than remaining in the UK? What is it about this magical thing called ‘independence’ that will provide the armoury required for recovery? How much money would ‘independence’ raise? How many jobs would it create? How would it ensure that young people were better prepared for adult life? How would it provide more money and staff for our health service? How much investment would it attract? And that is before we ask the awkward questions about currency and monetary control that SNP representatives don’t want to be asked and can’t answer.
The SNP’s Scotland has a feel of the last days of the Roman Empire. The rot set in some time ago, but now the wild delusions being expressed by separatists, and especially their formerly sure-footed leader, suggest that its days are numbered. I am not suggesting that that is imminent, but the glory days are past, and the impression is of ‘never glad confident morning again’.