This question is important because it expresses rather succinctly the sense of uncertainty and worry which is right now spreading like wildfire over the independence movement. While support for independence and the Scottish National Party remain high, a growing number of independentistas are arriving at the conclusion that something stinks in the SNP. Most, as yet, can’t quite put their finger on exactly what it is, but something is wrong. Something is rotten, and the rot is spreading.
Please don’t tell me you hadn’t realised this? Gentle persuasion and a ten-year plan will not work for us. The time for that was ten years ago. Now, without a referendum to do the persuading, it seems as though we have run aground. It’s true – only a referendum campaign will shift the balance, and we are not getting one of those anytime soon. I know what you’re thinking; here’s another dose of negativity from Jeggit. But you’re wrong. I am never negative. I will tell you what I think, sure. And telling you the SNP has it wrong would only be negativity if I wasn’t able to offer an alternative.
All of a sudden, the campaign of malicious reporting of pro-independence accounts looks less innocent. Britain’s internet and social media experts in the clandestine services – which clearly have something to gain from the disruption of the online independence movement – have friends in the Herald, and the Herald is up to its neck in the business of calling attention to pro-independence activists – and Twitter is not beyond being influenced by the suits in Whitehall. Whether Twitter has an understanding with London or not, accounts are being locked and deleted.
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.
It really shouldn’t have to be explained to people that there is more going on in Scotland than independence. There are other economic, social, and political issues which require our attention. All of these live issues and questions are being addressed by a centrist party in government. The leadership and party apparatchiks of the SNP are setting the agenda on these issues and moving the country in a particular direction, and this is happening because – for the sake of independence – the overwhelming majority of the independence movement has put politics on ice.
Stuart Campbell came remarkably close to saying this in his recent interview with Alex Salmond when he said “we will all grow old and die before we have a second referendum” if we continue on with this policy of asking and asking ad nauseam permission from a British government which we have effectively handed the power to always say: “Now is not the time.” Ultimately, what this means is that the independence movement in Scotland and its political leadership are pinned down in their constant reference to England – to the will of Westminster and the English state.
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.
Who exactly gives Mark Zuckerberg the right to say what we can and cannot express online? Sure, clear cases of hate speech and incitement to violence should – by law – be removed and offenders brought to book, but we already have laws for that. It’s upsetting that Facebook can remove content it arbitrarily finds unpleasant or distasteful. But it is a private company; it’s Facebook’s platform and Facebook’s rules. But what’s really concerning – even worrying – is that governments appear to have a say in what and what can’t be shared on the site.