ONE of the joys of writing about Scottish politics is that you get your very own stalkers with a lovely line in hate mail. It’s difficult to understand what they imagine they’re achieving, although truth be told I don’t really mind as it’s possible it’s some sort of therapy for them and they clearly lack more productive outlets.

Amongst the more regular of my spittle-flecked correspondents there’s the guy who frequently posts creepily over-familiar comments on my blog, and there’s the cranky old man who keeps sending hate-filled emails with the obsessiveness of a stamp collector on crack.

There are a few reasons I don’t mind too much about the slurs and insults. After all, if you dish it out you can’t complain about being dished in return.

It would be nice though if some of them could display just a modicum of wit, or anything approaching a sense of humour, or indeed anything approaching the ability to spell. Sometimes it would be nice to be attacked for what I’ve actually said, instead of what the person thinks I said. Another reason for not minding too much is that, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, it’s remarkably easy to set up filters to catch all the hateful missives from my regular frenemies. Their communications go directly into the trash folder without me ever seeing them – unless I deliberately look in the trash, as I did for the purposes of this article.

I wrote a blog article earlier this week which was about the topic of swearing and how it’s permissable to say all sorts of cruel and hateful things, but if you use a sweary word that’s beyond the pale.

It was quite a sweary blog article – as you might expect in an article about swearing – but amongst other things it included a translation into Ancient Greek of a pastiche of a well-known phrase.

Then, amazingly enough, along comes some muppet to complain about how I was guilty lowering of educational standards because the article also contained the f-word. Well, several f-words. You can translate things into your actual Ancient Greek, but if the piece also contains a sweary word, then you’re automatically an example of a shameful lack of educational standards and it’s all the fault of the SNP. Cranky stamp collecting guy got quite exercised about it too, and he’s got problems spelling in English never mind in Ancient Greek.

However, what really gets the crankier members of the British nationalist brigade wound up, even more than when you write about Scottish politics from a pro-independence perspective, is when you write about Scottish culture.

The National also experiences this. This paper is a frequent target of outraged British nationalists on social media who are appalled that there is one solitary Scottish daily newspaper that supports independence. Apparently this is terrible bias, and proper balance and neutrality can only be restored once there are no independence-supporting newspapers at all and Scotland returns to those days when all of its print media chorused support for the Union.

But what really gets the Better Togetherist goat is when The National publishes one of its regular pieces in Scots. How dare we have a culture. That’s ethnic nationalism that is. And that’s wrong. Writing things in Scots makes you a fascist, etc, etc, ad nauseam. Hate mail, insults, abuse and slurs directed at prominent supporters of the UK are held up by the Unionist media as examples of ‘‘the cancer at the very heart of the independence movement’’ and is cited as proof that independence supporters are all swivel-eyed loons.

Abuse directed at supporters of independence passes unremarked, of course – unless the insults are coming from other independence supporters, in which case you can expect supportive noises from the usual Unionist suspects.

There’s a very definite double standard at play. Independence supporters are to be judged by the actions of the tiny minority who are insulting and abusive, but opponents of independence who are insulting and abusive are a tiny fringe who are in no way to be considered representative of anyone but themselves.

This is deliberate. It’s a tactic used by opponents of independence to depict the cause of independence as being supported only by cranks, nasty people, and abusive zoomers. It’s a way of trying to prevent people from engaging with the debate on Scotland’s future, because once people do start to engage with the debate and to examine the arguments more often than not they realise that the current constitutional settlement is not sustainable, and they become open to the idea of independence.

The very last thing that the British establishment wants is a Scottish population which is politically aware, active, and engaged.

The most important reason I don’t mind too much about being the target of insults and abuse is that it means that we’re getting through.

Someone who obsessively spends their time writing to you to inform you in abusive terms that you’re having no influence or affect is disproving their own argument by the mere fact of their obsessive interest in you.

It’s pretty clear that I’m having a strong affect on that person. And that makes me all the more determined to continue.