“How did this happen?”
I keep reading this in articles, hearing this from talking heads, constantly this repetition of disbelief. All these journalists and commentators and analysts and “experts” who are utterly blind-sided by just how recent events have come to pass. I wrote a post about the false, illogical, and deeply insulting comparison of the Scottish Independence campaign to the worst elements of the Leave and Trump campaigns. Indeed, I found myself rather vindicated by the latest Question Time from Stirling, where Billy Mitchell (who, the BBC neglected to point out, was the UKIP candidate in the 2013 Coatbridge West by-election) actually seemed to agree with my central point:
Donald Trump was elected by the American people, and the people of Britain just can’t understand that the American people believe in democracy. And democracy has been lowered to mob rule; when you don’t like the decision of a referendum, you disagree with it, you go to court, & you get rid of it. The SNP should know this, because we had a referendum: we voted No, they didn’t like it. They had a referendum on Brexit, they didn’t like that, let’s go to court, we don’t like Brexit, and now they don’t like Trump!
Democracy has been overruled by mob rule, and those people have been on the losing side of every single election, and thank God I’ve been on the winning side of every one. Mob rule wins – no democracy, mob rule. The SNP were on the losing side on five different occasions: I’m the winner, they’re the losers, let’s get them out.
Everything he says is true. Well, apart from Trump being elected by the American people, democracy being lowered to “mob rule,” the SNP bringing the indyref result to court, the EU referendum being “overruled” at all, the SNP losing “every single election” (!?!) and most spectacularly, him being the “winner.”
But he is, indeed, on the “winning side” of the indyref, the EU referendum, and Trump, along with the white nationalists and supremacists celebrating this glorious change in the world’s political climate.
However, in retrospect, I finally realise that there is one genuine point of comparison with all these groups: it is that the mainstream media simply do not understand any of them. If you don’t understand what drives Scottish Independence, and you don’t understand what drives Leave or Trump, then how can you expect to distinguish between the three ultimately very different movements? The SNP has been in government in Scotland for almost a decade, yet the press still rely on the old untruths about anglophobic grievance and Scottish exceptionalism. Little do they realise the damage this does not just to the SNP or the independence movement, but to the very nature of political discourse.
SNP shrugs off attack on ‘dark side of nationalism’
On the eve of the SNP’s annual gathering in Perth, George Robertson, the shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, said nationalist leaders were revolutionaries “fuelling the dangerous, crazy nationalist fringe“. In a leaked memo, published in the Scotsman newspaper, Mr Robertson argued that by describing Labour MPs as “tartan traitors and unionist “Uncle Toms”, the SNP “top brass” was fomenting “the darker side of nationalism“.
In the past year, Mr Robertson said, he and other prominent unionist politicians across Scotland had received death threats from so-called tartan terrorists, fighting for independence. “The SNP publicly stands back from these extremists but the fact is that the fringe exists and feeds on the rhetoric and prejudices of some prominent nationalists in public life … We need to to make people aware of the darker side of nationalism,” he said.
– The Independent, 20th September 1995
Mr Scotland, chauvinism and the SNP’s big-tent nationalism
Throughout my time in Scotland I was asked, again and again, the same question, rhetorically or otherwise: can anyone stop Alex Salmond? … A cult of personality exists around him… Many of his old adversaries – Donald Dewar, Robin Cook, Jim Wallace, Jack McConnell, Gordon Brown – are dead or in retreat…
… For Salmond, the enemy is England and the British state… He knows where his journey ends and where he wishes to plant his flag of victory – through the heart of the last British prime minister…
“What is my problem with David Cameron? He is a Tory. What is Alex Salmond’s problem with him? He’s English. I don’t mind people being nationalists. I worry when it trips over into chauvinism and I’m frustrated when it becomes a substitute for arguing about real politics.”
– New Statesman, 26th January 2012
Fascists in Scotland are no fabrication
MY BOOK Fascist Scotland began as a project on Radio Caledonia, the station broadcast from Berlin during the Second World War, calling on the Scottish people to rise up against an ‘English’ conflict. However, I rapidly realised that there was more to Scotland’s entanglement with the ultra-nationalist, racist, authoritarian and militaristic ideology that is Fascism. If Scots understandably pay homage to our anti-fascist tradition, notably during the Spanish Civil War, we have not come to terms with our ‘inner Fascist’.
… Fears of immigration, globalisation and islamification exist here as elsewhere. Scottish nationalism still has the tendency to take on an ‘ethnic’ rather than ‘civic’ hue, venting its hatred of the English ‘other’. At moment in its history, the SNP has had to be vigilant about such detestable drift. Long may that vigilance continue.
– Think Scotland, 12th April 2013
SNP MSPs vote to bring back fascism to Scotland as they back bid to kill off criminal trial corroboration by three votes, if you aren’t a good story teller and innocent you could find yourself in prison under the National Socialist Party of Scotland, like many innocents under the National Socialist Party of Germany in the 1930’s
– The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow Uni, 28th February, 2014
The SNP’S fascist tendency
… My central thrust, however, was about the fascist tendency at the top of the SNP.
… The SNP Government’s legislation to introduce state guardians or named persons for every child in Scotland without exception is an outrageous invasion of private family life.
Top human rights QC Aidan O’Neill questions the legality of this scheme which hinges on the belief that the state, rather than parents, is primarily responsible for the well-being and development of children…
… The SNP’s policy to blight the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, and the Highlands and Islands with wind machines will ultimately lead to power cuts because baseline generation is being cut below the point which will support the grid on cold winter windless days when an anti-cyclone settles over the country.
It is green fascism. Saving the planet? State propaganda more like. Soutra wind farm saves as much C02 in a year as is produced by one Boeing 777 flying between Edinburgh and New York in one day. And at what cost? A state secret, of course…
– The Southern Reporter, 25th July 2014
DOMINIC LAWSON: The Scottish Nasty Party and how its growing intimidation and intolerance of dissent reeks of fascism
The windows of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party offices in Aberdeen have been spray-painted with the word ‘scum’ and the unmistakable sign of the swastika.
The front door has been similarly defaced with a giant letter Q, for Quisling: that is, traitor. Labour Party offices half a mile away were also daubed with similar abuse.
A local Conservative councillor, Ross Thomson, described this as ‘the ugly face of nationalism‘. This showed restraint on his part.
In his place, I might have pointed out that the political party that t actually used the swastika as its emblem was the Nazi party: short for National Socialist.
And I would have added that supporters of the Scottish National Party — which claims to be to the left of Labour and which is undeniably Nationalist — is increasingly engaged in the kind of street-by-street intimidation of opponents that we would more normally associate with fascists.
– D**** M***, 20th April 2015
Labour man Ian Smart: New SNP MPs Trots and fascists
SCOTLAND’S new SNP MPs are a mixture of “some good people, some numpties, some trots, some fascist scum”, according to prominent Labour activist Ian Smart.
Tweeting on Monday night, the lawyer and blogger said that the “SNP never changes”.
And seemingly neither does Smart. This isn’t the first time the Labour Twitter favourite has compared the SNP to fascists and the Nazis.
The former president of the Law Society in Scotland, who has tried repeatedly to become an MSP for the Labour Party, called Paisley MP Mhairi Black a “Nazi”.
Last June, Smart tweeted: “Are we really going to go through the entire D-day weekend without anybody pointing out the SNP were on the Nazi side?”
– The National, 12th May 2015
German Journo: Scottish Nationalists are Nazi Lite
A prominent German journalist living in the Scottish Highlands has provoked the wrath of his adopted homeland by describing Scottish National Party (SNP) ideology as “modern national socialism light.”
Reiner Luyken, who has lived in the Highland village of Achiltibuie for 36 years and writes for Die Zeit, a respected German newspaper, has penned a number of articles in which he accuses the Scottish of racism. One pieces about life in Achiltibuie was entitled “No Tea for the English”; another: “You Are Not Welcome, Foreigner”.
In his most recent, published a day after the general election and titled “Scottish Liberalism is Dead,” he wrote: “A majority of [Scottish voters] flung themselves into the arms of a party the ideology of which is modern national socialism light.
“Populist, egalitarian, anti-elitist and glorifying the moral superiority of one’s own nation.
“Using their propaganda the party split the country into patriots and unreliable non-believers.
“On one side the Yessers, faithful Scots who voted Yes in September, and on the other side unionists and quislings.”
… Local SNP MSP Rob Gibson dismissed Mr Luyken’s observation, saying: “The idea that Scotland is compared to the Nazis is just ludicrous.”
But Mr Luyken has pointed out that he was very careful not to call the SNP “Nazis”.
“I never said Nazi, because Nazi is connected with something that turned into a completely different kind of historic phenomenon,” he said. “I say national socialism, and in the lower case, national socialism light, a modern form of national socialism light.”
He added “If I tell my 93-year-old father some of the stuff the SNP come out with, he finds aspect of it very familiar. He remembers the time very well. It’s the moral superiority, and the whole ideology of it. To have left-leaning ideology within a national context.”
– Breitbart, 20th May 2015
David Starkey insists that comparing the SNP to Nazis was correct
The historian’s remark caused offense
David Starkey has stood by remarks he made likening the Scottish National Party to Nazis.
Historian Starkey told Sky News that he maintained that the two political parties were “strikingly similar“.
He made the initial remarks in an interview with The Sunday Times, saying the Scottish flag was like the swastika, and likened the SNP’s view of the English to Adolf Hitler’s hatred of Jewish people.
Starkey also argued that SNP supporters were “incapable of recognising that this is national socialism“. He also said that Scots who “bare their knees” in kilts recalled the traditional dress of Germany.
Speaking on Sky News on Monday, Starkey said: “I’m not saying they’re about to set up concentration camps, I’m not going to say we’re going to see a Kristallnacht of English businesses in Edinburgh, of course we’re not.
“But the resemblances are striking and are worrying.
“We’ve spent years fussing in Britain about completely minor fringe things like the BNP and whatever.
“They are nothing compared with the Scottish Nationalist Party, which has seized control of a whole country and is pushing this kind of radical agenda.”
– The Independent, 15th June 2015
Centralising, illiberal, catastrophic: the SNP’s one-party state
For years, the Scottish government has used the independence argument to avoid proper scrutiny. That has to stop
Imagine a country where the government so mistrusted parents that every child was assigned a state guardian — not a member of their family — to act as a direct link between the child and officials. Imagine that such a scheme was compulsory, no matter how strongly parents objected. Imagine that the ruling party controlled 95 per cent of MPs, and policed the political culture through a voluntary army of internet fanatics who seek out and shout down dissent…
… Their stream of illiberal reforms and their mistrust of the Scottish people has led to power being centralised to an unprecedented degree. …
… For years, I have watched this with increasing alarm from my position as a professor of constitutional law at Glasgow University. I have decided to fight the SNP, and their pernicious ideology, by standing for the Scottish parliament as a Conservative candidate. What follows are my reasons for joining not just a fight for the survival of the union, but to preserve the basic notion of liberty that Scots have done much to define and defend…
… From policing to higher education, the SNP are archetypes of the top-down, authoritarian, one-size-fits-all school of government…
… The SNP’s illiberality should not, perhaps, surprise us — nationalism in Europe all too often having sacrificed individual freedoms on the altar of national self-determination…
– The Spectator, 17th October 2015
Oops – Are the SNP’s Roots Showing?
… The SNP MSP apologised for re-tweeting a grossly offensive anti-semitic cartoon posted by a Neo-Nazi she follows online and whose tweets she has reposted before. She said she posted it “in error” and no disciplinary action was taken. The implication for my friend was that a degree of anti-semitism is tolerable within the Scottish National Party.
… The progressive, photogenic SNP of today claims that it is very different from Europe’s other nationalist movements. But perhaps it has more in common with them than it likes to admit.
– Huffington Post, 4th April 2016
There was once a young Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the foot of a mountain near a dark forest. It was rather lonely for him all day, so he thought upon a plan by which he could get a little company and some excitement. He rushed down towards the village calling out “Wolf, Wolf,” and the villagers came out to meet him, and some of them stopped with him for a considerable time. This pleased the boy so much that a few days afterwards he tried the same trick, and again the villagers came to his help. But shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out from the forest, and began to worry the sheep, and the boy of course cried out “Wolf, Wolf,” still louder than before. But this time the villagers, who had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again deceiving them, and nobody stirred to come to his help. So the Wolf made a good meal off the boy’s flock, and when the boy complained, the wise man of the village said:
“A liar will not be believed, even when he speaks the truth.”
Ever since the foundation of the SNP and the blossoming of the wider Scottish Independence movement into its modern form, the media has desperately tried to undermine both with comparisons to fascism, authoritarianism, and some of the greatest evils in human history, as it tends to do with anything which threatens to upend the established order. It’s a classic tradition: treat a modestly centre-left individual as if they were Communist sympathisers; portray what are essentially reasonable environmental proposals like the deluded ravings of hippies; and, of course, present members of peaceful, democratic movements as violent, intolerant chauvinists.
The thing is, it doesn’t seem to be working any more. The SNP are on their third term in the Scottish Parliament with a greater vote share and number than in 2011, still have the third largest party in the UK Parliament, and support for independence continues to be higher than the 2014 referendum itself. Evidently, the people of Scotland just stopped listening to the papers, the UK parties, the historians, and all the other experts who somehow completely fail to understand the zeitgeist. The commenteriat pointed at the SNP and cried “fascists!” once too often, and now, people just aren’t listening.* In America, something like this must be happening too, at least in those states where more people voted Republican than Democrat. There, too, they were faced with warnings of fascism and terror and loss of liberties – just like they’ve been warned in every election.
But what happens when it gets real?
What happens when the next leader of the United States of America is on record as wanting to form a register for members of a particular religion, ban their entry into his nation, and begin the expulsion of millions already there; the next Vice President actually called for marital, employment, and basic human rights of millions of citizens to be rescinded on the basis of their sexuality; and an actual white supremacist is appointed to the White House staff? What happens when a party founded by a neo-fascist holocaust denier could become the next government of France? What happens when the UK leaving the EU and the US election is hailed by the far-right movements in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands?
The media do what they’ve been doing all this time: point, and cry “fascists!” But when you’ve done it for so long, against people that don’t deserve it, and candidates who were proven not to be fascists at all, what did you think would happen? And it’s no-one’s fault but their own: in their desperation for lurid, outrageous characters to populate the sensationalist soap opera that is their perception of “news,” they keep feeding them. They invite them to interviews, to panel shows, to editorials – but they never challenge them, or allow them to be challenged to any real degree, in the interests of “impartiality.” And, most shockingly of all, they ignore the acts of the UK government as we’re invited to tut and shake our heads at another’s. Evidently the real destruction of our liberties by the banal, grey drones of Westminster just isn’t flashy enough for us to care about.
There comes a point where it’s not hyperbole any more. When Nicola Sturgeon reiterated her condemnation of the President Elect’s comments, many criticised her for it. Some said she should try to be more “diplomatic,” more “respectful” of the American peoples’ “will.” I’ll tell you this: I have never been more proud of her, to see her stand by her words – even if it puts her on the wrong side of the most powerful man in the world – while her supposed betters cravenly recant their apparently ill-chosen remarks.
It doesn’t matter whether the evil we face is internal or external, open or hidden, weak or powerful. What matters is what we do in the darkness. Do we stand by and watch, hoping we’re wrong? Or do we act, and make sure – one way or another – that it does not happen again?
*An element of this must have been at place in the EU Referendum, too: while the Leave Campaign had far, far greater support than the Yes Campaign did (they had a plurality of newspapers, hundreds of MPs, and considerable international support, not to mention the MSM’s fixation with its then-leader), it was still considered the “underdog” compared to Remain. And crucially, unlike the SNP, UKIP are not in government: the electorate cannot directly compare a UKIP government to the warnings of fascism & xenophobia in the way they can with the SNP.