The Ugly Face of Nationalism in Scotland

I grew up in a single parent family in one of the most deprived areas in Scotland during the Thatcher years. Education and support of a loving family was what enabled me to now lead a relatively comfortable life. As was the case for many Scots, the independence referendum forced me to think carefully about my values and what kind of country will ensure young working class Scots had the same opportunities I had.

Last year when I looked at the SNP’s record in government, particularly on education, and the economic basis of their argument for independence, I could not conclude that what they offered would improve the lives of ordinary working class Scots. For that reason, I volunteered to support the Better Together campaign.

The very first event I took part in involved distributing leaflets at Waverley station with 10-15 other people ranging from students to senior citizens. We quite quickly discovered the pro-independence website Wings Over Scotland had asked its nationalist readership to photograph us. Although this was not illegal, many of the volunteers did find it intimidating.

My next brush with the ugly side of nationalism came when I was in the audience of a TV debate. During the show I was given the opportunity to ask John Swinney about the poor record of the SNP in funding and managing the NHS. Within 24 hours Wings Over Scotland had dedicated a page to me – including details of where I work, my email address and telephone number. Almost immediately, I was being emailed abuse by “cybernats”, with some even asking my employer to sack me.

The article on Wings Over Scotland was fantasy. It ranged from saying I had been planted in the audience to claiming I had tried to pass myself off to the BBC as an undecided voter. As these arguments fell apart the content was removed, but I received no apology. Eventually all that remained is text suggesting that I had sinister motives for openly having 3 Twitter accounts (work, personal & referendum). I can’t set the record straight on this as Wings Over Scotland offers no right of reply.

My story is not unusual. The final six months of the referendum campaign saw many people like me being attacked simply for daring to express an opinion. Just as with me, the attacks are hate filled and often simply designed to humiliate and intimidate, with those perpetrating the attacks often hiding behind anonymous internet accounts. Sad.

The intimidation of those who dare to question the SNP did not end with the referendum. I saw this first hand when I attended a Labour rally in Glasgow last month where Jim Murphy was due to speak alongside Ed Miliband, Margaret Curran and Kezia Dugdale. Outside the leisure centre where the event was taking place a sizeable mob of nationalist protesters, at least some of whom were SNP party members, had formed to welcome those attending the event.

Intimidation was their tactic. They angrily waved saltires, screamed “Red Tories Out” and swore in the faces of those attending the event and families intending to use the swimming pool. One protester took a close-up picture of every single person who entered the venue – men, women and children. Worst of all, I saw one nationalist make a sexual gesture towards a young female Labour Party supporter.

The irony of chanting “Red Tories Out” when Labour is not actually in power in Westminster or Holyrood was clearly lost on this humourless bunch. Likewise, the fact that the SNP apparently wants to work with Labour.

Inside the venue most people were bemused by the protest and grateful for the sizeable police presence. However, some people were clearly shaken and fearful. Children were crying. Personally, I felt a little disappointed that a group driven by hatred and bitterness, not a love for Scotland, were intimidating people whilst waving my country’s flag.

My most recent encounter with cybernats came on Sunday. During the BBC debate in Edinburgh I had a chance to make a legitimate point to Nicola Sturgeon about her party voting against the living wage five times. Almost instantly I was being attacked online as a “Labour Nazi” and “henchman” who had been “planted in the audience”. Not one of the dozens of comments mentioned the living wage.

I fundamentally believe in freedom of speech. I also have no problem with politicians being heckled where they are avoiding questions or misleading people – it is part of our political culture. However, there is a stark contrast between heckling and shouting people down. Furthermore, the type of personal abuse we are increasingly seeing directed at ordinary Scots by nationalists is sickening. I absolutely accept that the SNP do not organise these attacks on our streets or online, but I also believe that Nicola Sturgeon could do more to stop them. The SNP’s involvement in the attacks against Charlie Kennedy should have been a trigger for action by Nicola Sturgeon.  The same could also be said about the comments made by and Michelle Mone.

Even in my own constituency of Edinburgh South the choice in the General Election was between Labour’s Ian Murray, who was attacked by Wings Over Scotland after he mentioned his office was vandalised by nationalists, and an SNP candidate personally endorsed by Nicola Sturgeon who was exposed as using an anonymous internet account to insult people. You can guess who I voted for.

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24 thoughts on “The Ugly Face of Nationalism in Scotland

  1. RevStu says:

    “I can’t set the record straight on this as Wings Over Scotland offers no right of reply.”

    Um, you’re as free to post comments on the relevant stories as anyone else. As for Ian Murray, we interviewed him about “Stickergate” and published his responses unedited. You really are the most frightful crybaby, as well as an astonishing hypocrite. We’ve all seen the videos of you bawling and shouting at Neil Hay until the moderator at the hustings told you to put a sock in it. Still, I’d be obliged if you could avoid flat-out lying about being in some way prevented from replying on Wings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alan Parker says:

      Except regardless of how polite and factual your post on the site is it is subject to censorship and most are removed , especially those that provide facts .

      One thing the nationalists don’t like are facts !

      Like

      • Alan Parker says:

        drsscott: So much for democracy then if they get there way , Scotland will be a Stalinist state ! Maybe that’s the SNP goal though.

        The acolytes already use Cheka secret police type tactics to hunt down and quieten the voices of the majority and sometimes with the party leaderships blessing or guidance.

        It’s time we all stood up to the thug tactics and fight back against the culture of victimhood and blame game they fester in Scotland, a country that once prided itself in our ability to be leaders in the world in fields ranging from science to economics to inventions and now all we have is a culture of handouts and passing the buck and it is shameful.

        Mr Salmond and now Ms Sturgeon have lowered the standard of our country and they fester this culture that in the short term may suit the politics of the day, but in the long term it will only hurt the country and turn us into a nation of haters and the division it causes, so if we are not careful we could end up so deep in that dark place that it will be to hard to repair , Ms Sturgeon her party and a hard core of her thug followers are pitting brother against brother and using hate and blame rather than facts, maybe it’s the only way they will have a chance to win because as we all know the facts don’t back her up.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Alec says:

      Perhaps you can clear something up for me, Mr. – who calls himself Reverend despite never once having confirmed which Church is ordered holy takings from – Campbell, does your blog impose IP blocking? I ask because of the unanimity of opinion and apparent absence of England-based commenters.

      Also, I’d be careful about what you say of others behaviour given that I hear your attempts – well, you did go on Twitter “demanding” credit for it – to have chokkablog declared unsafe on Twitter have attracted attention of free speech lawyers.

      Finally, have you done everything scientifically possible to locate those lost accounts for the Electoral Commission?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. drscottthinks says:

    Wings,
    I did try to post comments on your site at the time… but for some reason they never appeared…. but the rubbish you posted was edited to reflect my points. Still no apology from you though. Ho hum.

    As for my heckling – that is explained in my post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Geo says:

    Stu, can you tell us how much money you have ‘earned’ from the WOS website over the last year from donations and subscriptions to the various different levels of membership? It would be interesting to see how much people are willing to give in these times of austerity.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. AScotsmaninEngland says:

    Absolutely sickening what’s happening in the country I grew up in. What a pathetic and vile response from Wings over Scotland. Serious accusations of intimidation are made against him and yet he can only respond with more of the abuse characterises him and so many other SNP supporters. Nationalism has poisoned Scotland, make no mistake.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Alan Parker says:

    During nest years elections all pro union parties need to employ security at all rallies and make the reason known , they need to advertise and push the fact the SNP core support on the ground are thugs simple as that, they also need to get more billboard space because unlike the referendum were the doorstep won the day in elections advertising space on billboards is key , as is TV and Radio etc win the day , I could not go out during UK elections without seeing the FMs face and the stronger voice for Scotland billboard and that cost pro Union parties, now when the £12 billion cuts happen we need to make sure that the folks it affect go to there SNP MP and ask about that promise ! We all new it was a lie but unfortunately the lack of hard advertising and poor shows by Milliband etc killed pro union votes stone dead. Why did Ed not ask her about the SNP record from SVR on , to voting four times against the living wage , to ask her if its fair that millionaires get free prescriptions or that we had a £444 million underspend in the referendum year whilst she and Mr salmond are getting chauffeured around or flying about in a helicopter complaining about food banks.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. better meddle with the deil says:

    Have to pick you up on your view that the SNP don’t control the cybernats. I know from direct experience that they do. One charity had to seek help from nationalist officials to call the hounds off. Which they did when told to stand down.

    I suppose if we think about it how does the target thing happen? Complete coincidence that a huge numbers of trolls identify someone to go for without some “steering”?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. leopold1904 says:

    Fine piece drscott though would query the suggestion that Sturgeon endorsed the SNP candidate in Edinburgh South all the way – my recollection is that she rhetorically shrugged and said let the voters decide.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. bob says:

    Been looking at some of the comments left what is apparent is that even though you all have a chip on your shoulder and may have valid points you are not understanding that if you are born here work here etc then you are scottish…
    So why turn your back on your own country and think your British….the world wants to understand why you dont have it in you to be loyal to your place of birth and not a traitor to it….
    You can be british all you want but in your heart and birth cert your scottish….
    If any of you non scots went abroad and a local asked where to you come from england..?
    I bet your right in there with nope im scottish….if your putting yourself about as that abroad why not at home…the slagging off of our fm nicola like she is some sort of dictator is laughable she wants the best for scotland not the uk but scotland..how many of you on here still live with your parents…?
    Its a natural thing to grow up and stand on your own two feet….
    Our history is full of battles won and lost a language that is slowly being rediscovered should be taught in schools not hidden in history books…instead we get 1066 rammed down our throats…every world cup i groan at the tv pundits…oh here we go 1966 all over again…we do it dont deny that we dont….
    I am scottish through and through…so why should i have traitors living in my counrty….

    Like

    • pixngolfmisc says:

      Bob, we understand the situation all too well. To suggest those who have a different view from you about the future of our country are a bunch of traitors and somehow care less than you about our nation says more about your confused state of mind than anything else.

      Your comments are ill informed and lack any basis in fact. I’d be interested in hearing what long lost language you are referring to.

      Perhaps you should look into the history of the Snp. It has an ignominious and shameful past and leaves bigots like you looking extremely foolish.

      I wonder what Nicola would make of your ignorant and aggressive comments.

      Like

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