(My MP Ronnie Cowan can be seen walking down the centre at about 35 seconds, while our neighbouring MP Patricia Gibson takes on conducting duties!)
Man, did this rile some people up.
These posts are not just from random, anonymous accounts with Egg avatars and single-digit followers: they are from Twitter users with thousands – even tens of thousands – of followers, some of which include MPs, MSPs, and councillors. They are from political commentators. They are from official branch & constituency accounts – from elected politicians.
I’ve written before about the subject of treason in regards to Scottish Independence, and why I utterly repudiate and condemn anyone who calls a pro-UK campaigner, supporter, or politician a traitor. They are not traitors – they are, in my estimation, the opposite of traitors. They seek to preserve the established sovereignty of the power which rules Scotland – which, right now, is not the Sovereign Scottish People, but the Sovereign UK Parliament. You may argue it is semantics – after all, pro-independence Scots believe in the sovereignty of the Scottish people, so surely those who act against those sovereigns are indeed traitors? – but I think it’s an important distinction to make.
A while back, the Washington Post published an intriguing article. I had many disagreements with it, but the last line in particular bothered me. I pondered it, as I saw all these people wishing for the deaths of our hard-won, elected representatives for singing a song:
Nationalism can emancipate or enslave; it can break the back of an empire or move the masses to great evil; it can liberate or oppress. Yet today’s Scottish nationalism can do neither. It’s not murderous like the IRA or racist like fascism; not remotely. But neither does it desire political and cultural autonomy for its own sake, as for instance the Czechs did under the Habsburg empire or as Ukrainian nationalists do now. Scotland’s is a post-national nationalism — one that cares far less about who governs than about what that governance looks like in practice. It is peaceable and beautiful in its way, but no one would die for it.
It initially sounded, to me, like the author Barton Swaim was suggesting Scottish Nationalism was somehow laissez-faire, bland, reluctant. “No one would die for it” suggested to me that Swaim felt Scottish Independence supporters were just not determined, frustrated, or provoked enough to set out for their goals. But I wondered: could it be that I’m misinterpreting the intent, and that it actually shows the strength of the movement? Not a condemnation of indy supporters’ lack of passion or effort, but a prediction – a vision that Scottish Independence, when it comes, would be won without bloodshed.
Maybe it meant, rather, “no one would have to die for it?” That’s a sentiment I share proudly.
“700 years ago, Scots fought and died for their country’s independence – on the 18th of September, all they have to do is vote.” Nobody has to die. There is no need for a Battle of the Barrowlands, a Siege of Coulport, a Harrying of Holyrood. The best memorial to those who have died for Scotland’s self-determination, from Andrew de Moray to the martyrs of the Radical War, is to ensure that there don’t need to be any more martyrs.
I’m voting Yes so that nobody will ever have to die for Scotland again.
I don’t want a civil war. I don’t want anyone, be they elected representatives or folk on the street, to die for the cause – on either side. Neither, I dare say, do the people who posted the above messages – they are the sort of craven invertebrates who froth incendiary and dangerous language, only to flee under the banner of free speech when it turns out such actions can have horrible consequences. But we cannot blame them entirely – we share part of the blame for letting this happen. For as long as we continue to let these people perpetuate such frenzied hatred without so much as a challenge, and for as long as we falsely equivocate two extremely different groups, and for as long as we stupidly let people believe that these hyper-elites somehow represent the common working folk, we will continue to be at their mercy.
We do not need the language of violence, and we will not use it.
Chris, Chichester: It is a gross act of treachery for you to now try and break up the UK. I think – I consider that you are metaphorically spitting on those graves of the brave Scottish soldiers that gave their lives for the UK.
Alex Salmond: Can I answer you in two ways: one is for my father, Chris, who unlike me or you, fought in the Second World War, and is still alive and going strong in Erskine Home for Ex-Servicemen. My father’s been a Scottish Nationalist longer than I’ve been alive, and I think, on his behalf, he would find it offensive at you questioning either his wish to fight against Nazism in the Second World War in the navy, and also the idea that SNP supporters are somehow illegitimate in progressing our aims.
The second thing I say to you is this, and this is really important, Chris, just remember it – the SNP and its forebears, for the last hundred years, have pursued a policy of self-government or independence for Scotland. In that entire century, not a single person has lost their life arguing for or against Scottish independence: it’s been pursued in a peaceful, civil, democratic fashion. Now that’s not unprecedented in the world, but it’s a very, very, rare thing indeed. So, instead of bandying about stupid terms like treachery and all the rest of it, start to respect the democratic ballot box techniques of the Scottish National Party, which are so admired incidentally around the planet, if not by you in Chichester.
One person dying for their beliefs in the European Referendum was a death too many. Far too many people & newspapers are being incredibly careless with their violent language. We do not need it. We will not use it.
No more martyrs.