AS the forces of Conservatism and their allies in the state-approved Labour Party go once more unto the breach to defend the Union, a few tired old themes are already being dusted down. There are though, some new ones, including an emerging motif which has recently been given an airing. Thus the term “Nationalist Grievance” is one we will all have to get used to when the campaign for the second independence referendum officially gets under way.
Two of my most esteemed press colleagues on the Unionist side of the constitutional debate made it the subject of their columns on the same day last weekend. Indeed, Kenny Farquharson of HM The Times of London, in a rather entertaining commentary, imagined that there was a grievance machine sweating away at the headquarters of the SNP. That led to some hearty braying and snorting among the lieges.
“Nationalist Grievance” now sits alongside “Bitter and Divisive Referendum” at the top of the Unionist playlist for the forthcoming indyref2 campaign. No matter that the Electoral Reform Commission proclaimed the conduct of the first referendum to have been the gold standard of global democratic experiences. A lot of the mud stuck. Thus, English commentators who woke up late in the proceedings to the appalling prospect of a shattered Albion took up the theme with gusto.
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None of them had actually ventured north of the Border to check out the veracity of the claims but they piled in nonetheless.
At one stage in the weeks running up to September 18, 2014, some of my English chums were calling me to check that I was safe and secure in the midst of this Caledonian war zone of the Unionists’ vivid imagination. They began to keep a close eye on the Six O’Clock News, eager for reports of UN peacemakers being sent in to quell an upsurge of egg-throwing or to intervene in some unedifying sticker war.
A similar distortion is occurring with the “Nationalist Grievance” theme. And so it doesn’t really matter if there are legitimate concerns with the way the Westminster Government is going about its business in relation to Scotland. These are now to be reduced to something petty; a whinge; the complaint of a four-year-old being dragged to the shops against his or her will.
Of course, the UK alt-right’s disaffections with the European Union were deemed to have arisen from an entirely reasonable suspicion that the Frogs and the Krauts were having too big a say in the affairs of Albion.
How dare anyone suggest these were mere grievances? They cut to the very heart of what it was to be truly British. Those damned Eurocrats were extorting £350 million a week from us just to be in their infernal club. Meanwhile, they were forcing us to take millions of those migrant blighters, thus guaranteeing the eventual destruction of the NHS.
And as for those European equality and labour laws; how can a chap run a business when he’s forced to agree to workers’ unreasonable demands which have been ring-fenced by Brussels, such as annual leave, equal pay, maternity rights and health and safety?
In Dickensian times when Britain was the world’s factory and regarded as the greatest industrial force on the planet, the nation wasn’t hidebound by all these rules and regulations about human dignity at work.
I do hope that the Yes movement issues a little guide to its adherents listing all the ways that the forces of Unionism will seek to de-legitimise your activism on behalf of independence. In the meantime, here are a few to watch out for in the weeks and months ahead: Truth: You innocently trundled along to a local Bring and Buy sale to get to know other fellow Yes voters. You don’t get out much and you appreciate the company.
At one point you saw some drunken football supporters shouting among themselves on the other side of the street.
Unionist distortion: You wilfully participated in a toxic meeting that quickly got out of hand as placard-waving brigands yelled abuse at passers-by.
Truth: Madge from across the road suggested you get on to social media as a means of linking up with like-minded friends on the internet. At one point you take mild umbrage at a Unionist’s suggestion that we’ll all be living in caves after independence.
Unionist distortion: You have unwittingly become a Cybernat, condemned to walk with the undead across the face of the earth forever. You epitomise the poison that has seeped into this debate and which is to be found exclusively on the nationalist side.
Truth: You take your family along to watch Nicola Sturgeon address a rally of the faithful. It is a happy occasion and you are amazed at how many people have turned out to hear the First Minister. You willingly speak to a nice chap from The Times and tell him that you’ve never been into politics that much, but this is different.
Unionist distortion: You are as thick as mince. You don’t have a clue about politics and have been easily led by the populist appeal of a charismatic young politician who is leading you by the nose into political perdition. You should stop wasting your time and let the professionals do their job; they know what they are doing.
Truth: Having always kept up your Labour Party membership – even after the kids came along – you attend a local branch meeting and ask why you are being threatened with expulsion for wearing a Yes badge. You might also have mentioned something about the £205bn bill for Trident.
Unionist distortion: A spokesman for the Labour Party in Scotland said: “This woman, who is known to our officers, came with the sole intention of causing trouble.
She was unreasonable throughout and exhibited Communist tendencies by giving succour to our enemies. She represents a tiny minority of Labour Yes voters.
As Nicola Sturgeon prepares to fire the starting on the second referendum I can make one prediction. Every single one of us will encounter at least one of these scenarios before the end of next year. If you complain about this treatment you will be deemed to be part of the grievance culture of the vile Nationalists.