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.
The internet however, as Sky News has been reminded, is a bit of a swine. Readers in Scotland clocked what was going on and sounded the alarm on social media. Over the weekend Twitter and Facebook did what they do best, and folk all over Scotland rallied behind their favourite people. From their place of obscurity they quickly shot to the summit, with Scots voting in their tens of thousands and sharing the news to the furthest reaches of the internet. By Sunday afternoon supporters in Wales, across parts of England, and all over the island of Ireland were joining in.
So why did we not have even the same power yesterday as the Welsh Assembly? Mark Hirst at Radio Sputnik pointed at Paul Grice, saying that his “fingerprints [were] all over it.” Sir Paul Grice KBE – recently knighted in the 2016 New Year Honours for “services to the Scottish parliament” – is the senior civil servant who babysits the Presiding Officer. As Clerk and Chief Executive of the Scottish Parliament he is responsible for delivering all services to the Parliament and its Members. He is the Parliament’s “principal adviser on procedural and constitutional matters.”
Yesterday morning the Scottish Tory list MSP for mid-Scotland and Fife, Murdo Fraser, shared on Twitter an image of an email he had received the previous evening purporting to be from me. “A measured addition to my inbox this morning,” he wrote,” from Jason Michael McCann aka Jeggit…” He went on to ask: “did he write it, or Uncle Rab?” There is no doubt this nasty and abusive email cased Murdo some distress. It certainly caused me some distress. I neither wrote it nor sent it.
Accounts of this type are not interested in discussion. They routinely insinuate themselves into ongoing conversations pretending to be ordinary people – giving no indication of their political position – and work, if given the chance, to derail the discussion and waste people’s time. When this tactic fails, or when they are discovered and called out, they resort to personal abuse and threats in an effort to drive people away from the conversation.
Right at the heart of Britain’s strategy to maintain its hold on Scotland is the effort by the state and its shills to convince the Scottish people that they are less intelligent – “too stupid” – than the decision makers in Westminster and Whitehall. Looking back over the past couple of hundred years we see that this psychological warfare has been an integral component in London’s domination of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. This so-called Gaelic fringe has been lavished with false praise.
Internet trolls – especially in the political sphere – have a number of functions. They are a distraction. Trolls will engage activists in petty arguments, and, of course, the activist, taking this as a teaching opportunity, will happily go down the rabbit hole. It’s pointless. No argument will convince them of the merits of independence. They don’t even have a vote. Most likely the person on the other side is in an office in Wolverhampton following the instructions pinned to their blue cubical wall.
How much of this must we take? How much of this did my friend DefiAye have to take before she ended up where she is today? How widespread is this, and how many people has this been happening to? Perhaps it is time we started working on a national database to help us get a better idea of what is going on. Whoever these people are, they must be brought to justice. We have to make sure they are unmasked and shown to the world for who and what they are.