I generally don’t bother with The Telegraph, or most newspapers in general. I might make an exception in future regarding the Greenock Telegraph due to it being Inverclyde’s local paper, but in general, I’ve forsaken the printed media as surely as I’ve decided to turn my back on visual media.
That said, this piece in The Telegraph inspired me to comment on a phenomenon I’ve noticed: this weird idea that because the referendum resulted in a No vote, pro-independence supporters should just stop campaigning for independence.
Ever since the Scottish Nationalists lost the independence referendum they have had trouble coming to terms with the fact that they lost the independence referendum (you need to keep saying it and eventually it might get through). From the moment the result was announced, humourless SNP politicians and some Yes voters north of the border have been searching for ways in which they can claim that really they won (when they lost). And anyway, they say, there is a storm coming, just like they said there was a storm coming when they swore blind in September that they were going to win the independence referendum (which they lost).
Isn’t it precious just how insecure this paragraph seems? Ostensibly it seems Iain Martin is repeating “they lost” for the independence supporters’ benefit, but the more you read it, the more it seems like it’s Martin who needs to keep reminding himself that “they lost.” The practically undisguised glee in repeating the mantra belies a strange fear that, maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t the resounding, crushing defeat we thought it was.
How, pray tell, is one supposed to “come to terms” with this fact? Are we to just give up on independence entirely, even though we saw a pro-independence minority of around 30% at the start of the campaign rise to 45% – and, if recent polls are to be believed, may well have gone over 50% since the referendum? Because 400,000 more Scots voted No than Yes, that means the 1.6 million who voted Yes are to basically be ignored? Chance would be a fine thing for the Unionists. But I’m not sorry to say, that isn’t going to happen.
You don’t just “give up” on independence. That’s not how it works. When people fully understand the possibilities independence brings, when they make that great paradigm shift, it’s practically impossible to convince them otherwise. Why else did we see so many prominent members of the New Labour Party – including councillors, former MSPs, former MPs, and even Better Together campaign organisers – defect to Yes? Why else did support for independence grow despite having not one solitary national daily newspaper or news channel on their side? Why else is SNP, SGP, and SSP membership flourishing while the pro-Union parties are eating themselves alive?
This is because independence transcends politics. It is constitutional; it is social; it is cultural. It is bigger than left or right wing, authoritarian or libertarian, socialist or capitalist. Once someone becomes pro-independence, it’s very hard to turn them back through honest means.
Back to the article.
In addition, Yes voters are constantly alert for ways to create division and grievance so that England might in time say: oh look, for goodness sake, take what little is left of the oil (down to below $80 a barrel I note) and just leave quietly.
I love how it’s Yes voters “constantly alert for ways to create division and grievance,” then immediately says England. Not “the rest of the UK,” not “Westminster,” England. As usual. But the sentence is very illuminating to me, for it reveals the general sense of irritation certain unionists feel in regards to Scottish independence. “What part of NO don’t you understand?” “NO means NO.” “You had your referendum, now shut up, back in your box.”
But then, it seems you’d actually be happier with Scotland being independent if it means we wouldn’t interfere with your beloved Strictly:
Which brings me to the subject of Strictly Come Dancing. Although I am not a regular viewer, the programme is on in our house (in London) regularly. Last night, there was collective astonishment that Judy, mother of Andy Murray, the pro-independence tennis player managed to survive the public vote.
I had happened to be passing the television when she was dancing the other night. I say dancing, but good grief. I can’t dance, but then I am not on a national television programme with the word “Dancing” in the title.
I am told by people who know about these things that the problem is that Judy does not move her head when she dances. Watch a good dancer and when they spin or what have you there is movement in the head to create the illusion of graceful movement. By contrast, poor Judy is as stiff as a board. There are other problems which have been identified by the judges on Strictly. But I’ll leave the dancing to the experts. Politics is what I’m supposed to know about.
And here I sense the hand of the Nationalists and irate Yes voters keen to exact revenge on the English. Judy keeps doing well in the public vote, to the general bafflement of people living in England. There can only be one explanation. Scots are voting for Judy Murray. Once again the English find their democratic will overruled by Scots.
Yes, you are actually reading this: Iain Martin believes (either that, or I’m having a serious tongue-in-cheek failure) that the reason Judy Murray is still on Strictly is because spiteful Scottish Nationalists are deliberately sabotaging this absolutely serious, competitive, and very rigorous light entertainment programme by voting for her despite her clear lack of dancing skills. The spinebusting, backbreaking irony of the final sentence is of course complete lost on him: damn those Scots for affecting the outcomes of 2 out of the 18 elections since the Second World War, amirite? When will something be done about those pesky Scots, altering the government of the country for 2 out of 67 years?
In all seriousness – well, as much seriousness as I can possibly muster between gasping fits of incredulous laughter – this theory makes no sense for… so many reasons. For one, there appears to be a general consensus among Scottish independence supporters to cancel their TV licenses – as I did eight years ago – out of disgust for the BBC’s behaviour during the referendum, not to mention a practical desire to withhold their money from funding an organisation which was explicitly contributing to the No campaign. How, exactly, are pro-independence supporters supposed to be voting for Judy Murray in their droves, when they are boycotting the BBC entirely?
For another, I was under the distinct impression – don’t know how – that the Scottish nationalists lost the campaign. Yet apparently, the dedicated pro-independence voters are not only sufficient to overcome the votes of the rest of their countryfolk, but of England, Wales and Northern Ireland too. Apparently every single Yes voter, all 1.6 million of them, combined was enough to swing the vote of not just the 2 million No voters, but the rest of the country’s multiple millions who have voted on Strictly Come Dancing (predictably, the BBC don’t release the exact number of voters, but given around 10 million watched the final last year, it must be fairly substantial). And these are the people we are led to believe lost the referendum? They are that coordinated they could fix a UK-wide phone-in competition, but weren’t coordinated enough to win the referendum? Is that what you’re saying, Mr Martin?
And why are you automatically assuming Scots would have no other reason for voting for Judy? It couldn’t be because she appeals to them in some other way – perhaps her personality, her humour, her nature? I’d bet plenty of English, Welsh and Northern Irish people would vote for somebody’s lovely mummy, too. Or are we to assume even the No voters are complicit in perpetuating this Nationalist agenda?
Then you have to consider: what is new about the idea of a less-competent dancer going through? This is a light entertainment show: people vote for who entertains them the most, not who is the most talented dancer. You’d think that’d be obvious after John Sergeant: what cunning political agenda was behind his perpetuity in the program?
Finally, I must laugh at the idea Mr Martin thinks we Yes supporters have literally nothing better to do than to spend our time and money phoning an organisation we oppose, for a programme which we pay for disproportionately already through license fees, simply to spoil “England’s” little game show. Really, Iain? Really? You think we’ve set our sights that low? For a guy who’s supposed to know about politics, you… well, let’s be fair, you know as much as most of your London-centric colleagues.
But you know what? Let the Iain Martins of the world think that. I’m long past caring what the likes of him think of our movement: if they don’t know by now what Scottish independence is truly about, then they don’t have the excuse of ignorance. On the 18th of September, we had an unprecedented chance of winning independence without the support of the media, in a practically bloodless revolution. That didn’t happen, thanks in large part to that media. The next fight will be harder, and the media have no-one but themselves to blame for what happens.
Bella Caledonia recently published a fascinating article about disgruntled BBC Scotland journalists and workers who objected to orders from On High in regards to the referendum, to the point where they actually contemplated a blackout on the 18th and 19th:
Such is the disaffection with editorial, staff and budgetary decisions being made in London that there was very nearly a strike by journalists on Referendum Night. Paul Holleran, Scottish Organiser of the National Union of Journalists confirmed to me a blackout of coverage nearly took place. ‘The BBC has a malfunctioning management in London. As the Referendum campaign was in full swing, at a negotiation meeting about cuts, James Harding, Director, News and Current Affairs, announced that rather than following due process he was going to hand-pick journalists to be shown the door. We were all shocked. There was also a great deal of unhappiness about London-based staff being shipped up to Glasgow en masse. All Regions voted to strike and although we were non-specific, the 18th and 19th of September, the day of the Referendum vote and the day after, were target dates.’
Yet when it came down to it, there was no strike. There was no blackout. All that unhappiness, disaffection and anger, and everyone at BBC Scotland just gritted their teeth and sold Scotland’s independence down the river. We now know that, following the referendum, every one of the major terrestrial channels opposes devolution of broadcasting. There’s a saying: “if you fly with the crows, you get shot with the crows.” The staff at BBC Scotland ultimately took flight, when sticking to their perch could well have changed the future of their nation.
This is why Scottish broadcasting must be in the hands of the Scottish people – and the likely reason that broadcasting will never be devolved to the Scottish parliament. We cannot rely on the Smith Commission to do anything, and we certainly cannot trust even sympathetic BBC Scotland journalists to fight our corner. We must take it into our own hands.