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.
Haggerty’s answer to this, rather than simply facing up to the criticism, has been two-pronged; going full Brezhnev she has at once closed down the comments and invited readers to sign up to CommonSocial – yet another McRobin franchise; a fenced-in alternative to Facebook where all dissent can be (ahem) dealt with – or go proper old school and write a letter to the editor. Either way it amounts to the same thing, CommonSpace will control all discussion on its content.
Soft criminalisation is a very effective political weapon in the hands of any state establishment, and has been used countless times against people and organisations which have become too great a threat to the status quo.
It hasn’t been an easy week for independentista bloggers in Scotland, and it most certainly hasn’t been easy for our readers. I have been as much a part of that difficulty as anyone else and for that I am deeply sorry.
If Common Space wants to go gunning for Wings – especially on the back of such a flimsy and obviously politically motivated accusation – then its producers have to know they are instigating a serious and probably catastrophic split in the entire movement.