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By Jason Michael
According to the official narrative Scottish nationalism is a sort of latter day Nazism – that’s what the newspapers tell us and the “Cyber Nats” prove this every day. But the thing about narratives – like all stories – is that they are often works of fiction.
Over the whole of the United Kingdom and wherever there are people inclined to follow Scotland’s constitutional debate the term “Cyber Nat” has become synonymous with abusive internet trolling of the worst kind. Activists like Irvine’s Donna Babington have done the right thing and appropriated this and other derogatory slurs, but they continue to have a certain power as a weapon in the arsenal of the unionist mainstream media. It would be naïve to assume there are no trolls in the ranks of the independence movement, social media users whose mouths get the better of them. Of course there are. But, if my five years of experience in this campaign are anything to go by, there are no more foulmouthed Yesser trolls than there are unionist trolls.
Nicola Sturgeon announced on 13 March that she would be seeking the consent of the Edinburgh parliament for the authority to negotiate with the Prime Minister the terms of a Section 30 order for another independence referendum. No sooner did this happen than the Butterfly Rebellion team began to notice a sharp increase in new followers on our Twitter account. This wasn’t limited to us. Others across the Scottish Twittersphere were commenting on this as well. Our analytics informed us that in the 31 days of March we gained 379 new followers – the vast majority of which were from newly created accounts with, in many cases, no followers.
We have – at the time of writing – 2,677 Twitter followers on the Butterfly Rebellion, meaning that this wave of newbies accounts for 14 per cent of our follower base. We have been on Twitter since 2014. That’s suspicious. One perfectly good explanation for this is that the news of a fresh independence campaign has brought more people to social media. Why not, we all have to start sometime? No doubt many of these new arrivals are just that – new arrivals. Yet some are not.
What happens when one of these new accounts tweets, “Unionists… should be gassed like Jews?” Alarm bells ring – that’s what happens. Not a month goes past on social media without someone calling me a Nazi. You see we are separatists, and that means we are Nationalists qua National Socialists by default in the unionist imagination. Apparently we are all narrow, divisive racists and xenophobes. That is of course what Scotland on Sunday explained to the country the saltire means to us in the last independence campaign. None of this is true. In all of my own experience I have not witnessed one single instance of pro-independence racism. It is unheard of, but that doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what the mainstream media reports.https://twitter.com/jetpack/status/849015796386979840
So we must ask – Why would a supposedly pro-independence Twitter account tweet a message that so succinctly relates support for Scottish independence with such blatant anti-Semitic racism? There are a number of possibilities; all of which must be assumed to be true. It is possible that there are independence supporters who are racists, and – for whatever reason – vent their frustrations on Jews. This cannot be discounted, but if this is a case of that then it is the first of millions of pro-independence tweets I have seen of this kind. More likely it is a fake account set up by a unionist troll, intended to discredit the independence movement. This troll may or may not be an anti-Semite. It matters not, as the purpose is to create a pretext for accusing us of this racism.
More worryingly, it is not improbable that this is one of thousands of ghost accounts created by more official, yet clandestine, actors in the debate. Yes, I am suggesting that agencies such as MI6 and other branches of the United Kingdom’s secret service many have a hand in this. Conspiracy theories are not false ipso facto. They are – whether reasonably or not – merely the assumption that there is a conspiratorial element behind a given event.
Can it be the case that a government would engage in such dirty tricks for the purposes of discrediting opponents or gaining a political advantage? Yes – they do it all the time. The hypothetical collusion here between the dark state and the fourth estate is the state government equivalent of a hacker dumping illegal pornography into a target’s hard drive and tipping off the police – and is straight from Israel’s well-documented Hasbara playbook. Britain’s police and secret services have a long and equally well-documented history of infiltration and instigation by Agents provocateurs.
Has the British government done this? I don’t know – maybe. Who knows?! As has been said, all three scenarios are possible and likely – and this is something of which we must all be aware. Some people are racist, and some of those racists support independence. One of these chumps may well have decided to open up a Twitter account. All the racists of Scotland may have been won over to Yes! Unionists – taking much of their direction from the British alt-right – are well known for their casual racism. What’s to stop one or a few of them opening a fraudulent Yesser account?
All of this may be true. Yet considering that we are a separatist – ergo anti-state – movement, it is altogether probable that the British state – which has a vested interest in preserving the status quo – is engaged in dirty tricks. However fantastical it might sound at first, we cannot deny at least the possibility of there being an office or network of offices at locations all over the UK dedicated to undermining the Scottish independence movement by any means necessary. Sure, if I can find an “ethical assassin” on my Tor browser we can be pretty well certain the British government can find a handful of cash-strapped keyboard jockeys to become Cyber Nats.
Andrew Neil spells out Unionism’s “Cyber Nat” Narrative
4 thoughts on “Britain’s Cyber War in Scotland”
Fervent “Homeland” fan. Current storyline centres around element of CIA developing centre for cyber trolls to attack the reputation of incoming administration through falsifying information about the President Elect”s family history and character. Most recent episode convinces the President Elect of the reality of the situation through quoting examples where CIA have used these tactics previously to destabilise foreign governments. I’m sceptical about conspiracy theories but if I was MI5, tasked with ensuring national security, I would view an Independant Scotland as a potential weak link, as I could no longer control polices, procedures, or movement of people. Therefore, I would need to ensure they were controlled by MI5 via Westminster, and use covert means to control the outcome of any referenda. Reality mimicing art?
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We would be headlong down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories if we were asserting this was in fact the truth. What you are saying is correct, we cannot dismiss it as a possibility. Thanks for the comment.
Don’t doubt it for one second, been involved in some good debates completely ruined by ridiculous comments. Others where reasonable debate never gets off the ground because of personal attacks . Anyone who thinks MI6 are not capable are very naive . It’s seen as an attack on the empire , why wouldn’t they use there powers to win at any cost ?
When you see “Scotland in Union” replying swiftly to this, then the jigsaw pieces fall into place.