I WAS in total agreement with Rev Stuart Campbell of Wings Over Scotland (Comment, The National, March 17), until he stated that independence supporters who protest outside the BBC headquarters could “be made to look like a handful of loonies”.
It’s a shame that his otherwise interesting and persuasive piece was marred, for me at least, by his use of the word “loonies”, which I found really jarring. Terms such as “loony” and “nutter” reflect stigmatising attitudes and prejudice in relation to mental health. They are terms of abuse and harassment towards, as well as about, people experiencing mental health difficulties.
As someone who has both personal experience of these issues and also worked with people with mental health problems, I don’t think such terms should have any place in progressive discourse, let alone in the fairer Scotland many of us hope to achieve through independence.
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It’s not the first time The National has published articles and letters containing the casual use of these terms, and given how widespread their use is in society generally, it’s not surprising.
However, if those of us in the Yes movement really want to “get on with the job of making things better”, we could start right now by looking at our language and attitudes around mental health.
I HAVE just had cause to complain yet again to the BBC for partiality in the BBC Politics Show, which featured a report by Thomas Morgan that might as well have been written by Theresa May herself. He gave an entirely pro-Government report regarding the debates surrounding the proposed independence referendum rather than putting both sides’ arguments across.
I was shocked that he should use without qualification an emotively negative word such as “divisive” in terms of the Scottish Government’s proposal. Every single comment he made was against the idea of a second referendum, ignoring the fact that during the first referendum the UK Government vowed that Scotland’s chances of remaining in the EU rested with staying in the UK.
He used the word “aggressive” in terms of Alex Salmond, ignoring the fact that for a government with only one Tory representative in Scotland to dictate to the Scottish Government which has a majority (Greens and SNP) for independence is regarded as arrogant and colonialist here in Scotland.
Naturally, there was no mention of the SNP manifesto’s commitment to a new referendum in the event of significant constitutional change.
SCOTLAND does not meet the EU accession criteria for new member states. The most recent GERS accounts (which are produced by the Scottish Government) show that public expenditure outstrips tax revenues by £12 billion per year (£15bn if you include capital expenditure). That is more than three times over the limit set by the EU. Scotland would have to make huge cuts to public spending and/or huge increases in taxation in order to meet EU limits on budget deficits.
Furthermore, membership of the EU is not for free. Scotland will be expected to pay £5bn per year for the privilege. That £5bn has to be added to the £15bn of budget deficit and so indep-Scotland will have to find £20bn per year in cuts and/or taxes to gain EU membership. It is likely that any government which imposed such savage cuts or crippling tax hikes would be massively unpopular and soon out of office.
All of which explains why the SNP are pushing desperately for a second indep-referendum before the UK has completed its Brexit negotiations. They want to have the vote first because they know that Scotland will not qualify for admission to the EU if it has to apply like any other prospective member. They will pretend Scotland will not have to apply for admission and therefore not have to meet the criteria.
The EU criteria are there for a purpose – to keep out countries with flabby economies that might turn out to be a costly burden. The EU has enough problems already with struggling economies – Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain – it does not want another one. There is no way Scotland will be simply waved through if it cannot meet the criteria.