Wings Over Scotland has 53,000 followers on Twitter. That is a phenomenal social media reach, made all the more important in the context of a bitter ideological and constitutional struggle in which we still do not have a pro-independence media a fraction of the size of the BBC and with a fraction of its reach and influence. Taking down the largest and most popular pro-independence website from Twitter is a monumental tactical blunder, and it will cost the next independence referendum campaign dearly online.
Yet, we have such an éminence grise. Dumfries and Galloway MSP Joan McAlpine exploded on social media last night when one “Jordon, Duke of Edinburgh” – the partner of Alyn Smith, allegedly – revealed to his Twitter followers the full details of a Scottish government announcement to Holyrood scheduled for tomorrow. Like my hypothetical example above, he had all the details; the position of the government, details of the consultation process and the working group, and the timeline of the bill going before parliament.
Gareth Wardell can be an anti-Semite so long as the definition of antisemitism is suitably adapted to fit the accusation against him. Stu Campbell can be a homophobe so long as the definition of homophobia is tailored to fit a description of his attitudes and opinions. Anyone can be a woman so long as people who menstruate are reduced to a physical function of their bodies. Her behaviour betrays her. Nothing of this is about antisemitism, homophobia, or transphobia. Her linguistic gymnastics have utterly devalued real antisemitism, homophobia, and transphobia.
In hiding behind this myth that we, “middle aged men,” are “a-l-w-a-y-s” chasing women with pitchforks – like angry and uncouth villagers, the gender politicians are wilfully ignoring the truth. Men argue with men in politics all the time. This has nothing to do with the sex of the belligerents, but this fact is deliberately overlooked when the picture is drawn of a club of men – obviously all members of the same secret society, “the patriarchy” – rounding on a woman who is portrayed in the most sexist way; as weak, fragile, and defenceless, against their bullish behaviour.
As with so many modern justice struggles, feminism – in many of its more recent iterations – has become hypersensitive to the merest slight, seeing in every criticism and angry word the ancient Titans of sexual inequality, misogyny, and structural sexism. Every man becomes the enemy and every utterance from the lips of men a proof of misogyny and violence against women. But this disease isn’t limited to modern feminism. It is eating away at the soul of all the great social movements’ progeny. Socialism, racial justice, gender rights – the works...
Gillian Martin MSP published an article on her personal blog eleven years ago that has returned, as these things often do, to bite her on the bum. She described transgender students – people over whom she was in a position of power – in the most disgusting way imaginable. She reduced some of the most personal and treasured truths of their beings to worthlessness and shame. Since then she has deleted this horrible post and two years ago she made a full and unreserved apology for what she had written.
Coming from the position that claims women are uniquely delicate and female politicians incapable of engaging with male members of the general public, we can accept this criticism. Yeah, we may think it a complete load of tosh, but this is where Woman for Independence – at least on Twitter – is coming from, and they are fairly consistent. Fair enough. What had me banging my head on the wall like a demented polar bear at the zoo in a heatwave were the hashtags that followed.
Our movement is not a leftist movement. It is a national movement embracing people and ideas from the entirety of the political and social spectra of Scotland. Our failure to realise this – and become truly inclusive – will be the death of the movement and indeed our dream of independence. Whatever shape the politics of Scotland takes after independence is a matter for then. Right now we must be authentically revolutionary and mobilise the nation – the whole nation – to the ends of the revolution.