Saturday, February 04, 2017

Stephen Daisley on the ugly side of Scottish nationalism

There are good people and bullies in every political party. Nothing I am about to write is meant to imply either that the Conservative party or any other has a monopoly of virtue or that there are not people in the SNP who are nice people or genuine democrats.

The propensity, and apparent increase in that propensity, of a large number of people throughout the political spectrum to regard anyone who has a different political perspective with total contempt is probably the most worrying development of our generation.

Incidentally, that is the reason why, although I still think that leaving the European Union will do more harm than good, I also believe that failing to respect the decision to leave taken by the people in the referendum on 23rd June would be an outright catastrophe. A breach of faith of such magnitude would enormously increase the degree of distrust and anger towards people of different views, and inject such a dose of poison and suspicion into British politics that the functioning of democracy in this country would be crippled.

But although the extent of contempt for anyone with different views is more widespread than I like in all the British political parties, it is within a significant chunk of Scottish Nationalist supporters that it most worries me.

Stephen Daisley, who was digital politics and comment editor at STV until he left the company last month following a campaign against him by SNP politicians, has written an article today which you can find here about the way the authoritarian tendency within the SNP are using bullying and threats to try to silence anyone who disagrees with them.

Here are a few of extracts:

"There is now in Scotland a Nationalist nomenklatura of true believers and latter-day converts, sincere and cynical alike. They are united in their support for independence and the 24-Hour Grievance Hotline that passes for a government at Holyrood. In return, they benefit from a revolving door between nationalist politicking and prominent positions in business, the public sector, media and NGOs. Across Civic Society those politically out-of-step are pressured, cajoled and harassed, not only by government but by its boosters in these sectors.
Last month, a senior NHS bureaucrat launched an astonishing public attack on a journalist, calling him “disgusting” and accusing him of “trying to deflect from the NHS humanitarian disaster over the border”. His crime? He reported on the 1,700 Scots whose operations were cancelled in 2016.
Other journalists have hardly fared better. When Alex Salmond stood down as First Minister after his referendum drubbing, the Mail, Express and Telegraph were banned from his final press conference. The Guardian refused to send a correspondent after Salmond’s office insisted on choosing which one. The sensitive wee soul even admits to calling the editor of this newspaper" (e.g. the Daily Mail, in which the article first appeared) "over a reporter’s tweet, though nothing will surpass the open letter he penned denouncing his own biographer."
"It’s bad enough that the Nationalists champion obscure cranks peddling conspiracy theories about the BBC. That they also busy themselves bullying dissenting voices in the professoriate is more alarming. When the principal of St Andrews University voiced fears about research funding after independence, Alex Salmond’s spin doctors drafted a retraction praising the SNP government and demanded she sign it. The then First Minister even telephoned the academic and treated her to a “loud and heated” call.
SNP minister Shona Robison complained to Dundee University when a respected history professor spoke at a Better Together event while our friend Mr Nicolson asked bosses at Birbeck College to give a psychology lecturer “a little extra markingafter she criticised him on Twitter."
"Nationalism is an all-consuming worldview. A conservative can accept the need for change and still be a conservative, a socialist that class alone doesn’t explain all injustices and still be a socialist. A nationalist must subordinate all things to “the restoration of Scottish sovereignty” or forfeit their place in the tribe. Under this most barren of ideologies there is only national pride and nothing else. Independence is always the answer because nationalists spend so little time thinking about any other question."
"Having co-opted so much of the third sector, academia, and some of the best and worst of Scottish journalism, they want it all and they want it waving flags. And when you can’t do that, when you have to point out their mistakes or remind them that nationalism is not sanctified by some cant about social justice, you must be destroyed, anathematised, made an example of." 

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