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By Jason Michael
The Scottish independence movement is bursting to get up and back on the move, but it can’t budge until the signal is given. So we are all snowed in and suffering from an acute bout of cabin fever. Let’s control that energy.
It has been 1,266 days since the first independence referendum and every single day since then the independence movement in Scotland has been on its toes, standing in a campaign footing waiting for the second. The second referendum is coming. We have secured a mandate in our own parliament, we have secured a mandate at Westminster, and Holyrood has given its consent to put the question of independence back before the Scottish people. Each day since the last referendum has proven that defeat is forgivable. Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP will be forgiven for losing another referendum, but they will not be forgiven for blowing a triple-lock mandate.
We don’t know what is going on inside the Scottish National Party, we don’t know what the Scottish government is discussing behind closed doors, and we don’t know what’s going on inside the First Minister’s head – no one will tell us. That’s alright. We don’t have a right to know and it’s a good thing plans are being kept close to the plotters’ chests. All the same, we are in the dark here and all the waiting is really beginning to take its toll.
Good morning, Twitter. Are we ready to face another day? #Referendum2018—
Peter A Bell #Referendum2018 (@BerthanPete) March 05, 2018
Just the same as any other large social and political movement, ours is not short of its busybodies, lunatics, pot stirrers, and what have you, daily chipping away at the resolve of the movement. In-fighting, back biting, betrayals, and troublemakers are eating into the fabric of the Yes movement, breaking down the bonds of trust we will need when the next campaign begins. It is now time that we start the serious work of repairing this machine of ours, and it needs fixing because it is the only machine we have and the only organism that will carry us to an independent Scotland.
Saying who is or is not a “troublemaker” is entirely subjective. We’re all troublemakers in the eyes of someone else. The bottom line is that there may be people active in the movement who disrupt things and irritate us. Social media is an incredible tool. This is a special window of time we have and it won’t last forever. The internet and social media allow us to communicate and share information faster and more freely than at any other time over the whole of human history. It won’t last because this freedom and the power it affords us is too dangerous to those in power. Sooner or later our governments and their corporate backers will shut it down.
Yet with all this power and freedom quite literally at our fingertips there will always be the sort of person who takes their knitting to see the spectacle of the execution. Paul Kavanagh left social media over the head of poisonous behaviour, and he was right when he commented that Facebook was horrible and that Twitter was like Facebook on crack. Social media platforms come with an inbuilt solution to much of this rubbish – the block button. Use it.
Cut out the idiots – whoever you consider them to be, for good or for ill the social media accounts we are using have become our instruments – our weapons – in the campaign for Scotland’s independence. Those who are against us, and many of them can be deeply unpleasant people – if they are people at all, will use what happens on our individual accounts to attack us and the whole movement. One stupid or thoughtless comment will be headlined as an example of typical “Nat” or “Natsi” behaviour and will be further weaponised by British nationalist politicians and the unionist press. Fighting with other independentistas only upsets other independence supporters and puts blood in the water, and there is no shortage of unionists lurking around us.
If you are here just “for the banter,” think about another account. If your thing is casual hook-ups and cheeky sexting, think about a Tinder or Grindr account. If you’re here to sow mistrust, wreak havoc, or cause fights, then go and join a fight club – we don’t want you. “The cause” is a real thing. We are all here because we want to do our bit for independence, and so much of that is undone by the antics of a small number of people. I’m not pointing fingers here – I too have been in the thick of a few “Twitter storms.” Not one of them has made anything any better, but every single one weakens the movement and the resolve of those in it that wee bit more.
That we are all left here waiting in the dark isn’t helping. The truth is that we need to get on with what we came here to do. All the energy that kept us going through the summer of 2014 hasn’t gone anywhere. It has just been stuffed into the cupboard, and it’s screaming to be let out. Our long wait for the next referendum has been like a nightmarishly long snow day. We all have cabin fever and we’re bursting with energy. Many of the fights we are witnessing are signs of that impatient power sparking here and there. But let’s try to calm down. Our day is coming. In the meantime shut out the people you consider a problem and do your own thing. Have nothing to do with them. What we have in terms of a well-connected and eager political movement is brilliant and we want to keep it that way. Soon we’re going to need all the power we can call up, and it will be an unbelievably rough ride.
Are Social Media Fights Useless?