You might have seen by now that some of the Usual Suspects (David Torrance, Chris Deerin, etc) are drooling over a blogpost by the Yes voter Dan Vevers, in which pro-independence users of social media are castigated in a depressingly familiar way (the only thing missing is the word Cybernat). First of all, if someone wants to make a complaint about inappropriate comments on the internet, I'm not sure it's terribly helpful or logically consistent to refer to the people responsible for those comments as "idiots" - especially when the examples given are far from clear-cut...
"Surely if you’re implicitly against the idea of Scotland being a nation, then you are by definition anti-Scottish?"
That's a point of view I don't particularly agree with, but I don't think the person who said it is an idiot. I would imagine that if the policy of the European Commission was to totally end the sovereignty of Westminster and assimilate Britain into a nation called Europe, they might well find themselves being called "anti-British" by the right-wing press, and I doubt if that would even raise too many eyebrows. Scotland isn't Buckinghamshire - for most people it's a nation or it's nothing, and it can seem a little disingenuous for an individual to claim that their commitment to Scotland is entirely separate from their views on the way it should be governed. Most nations are independent, and most nations that aren't independent either have very high levels of autonomy (like Quebec or Catalonia) or have seen their identity eroded severely (like Tibet, or some of the English-speaking parts of Wales). In our case, we were insulated from what should have been the inevitable effects of an incorporating union by the preservation of Scots Law, a separate education system, a different established church (not so important now, but it was until a few decades ago), and administrative devolution from 1885 onwards. All of these are concrete constitutional factors - a nation can't survive forever as a state of mind, no matter how much some people used to pretend it could in the pre-devolution days.
Apparently this particular tweet was referring to the controversy ignited by JK Rowling's provocative comments after the Scotland v Australia quarter-final in the Rugby World Cup. For my part, I don't doubt Rowling's sincerity as a Scotland supporter, but I do think there's a bit of cognitive dissonance there. Many No campaigners (ironically including Scott Hastings) pointed to the British and Irish Lions, and to Team GB in the Olympics, as shining examples of how Britain is better when it comes together. And, indeed, the logic of their position is that Scotland should not normally have its own representation in international sport. The governing bodies of most sports do not allow non-sovereign nations to represent themselves, as I discovered at the World Gymnastics Championships last night, and indeed at the Davis Cup last month. Rugby is one of a relatively small number of exceptions to the general rule, due to the historical accident of the British Isles being the cradle of the sport. So it just seems a little odd to my eyes that Rowling and Hastings should be so passionate about the anomaly of a Scottish rugby team, which goes against the general principle that they fought so strongly for last year.
Dan Vevers also goes seriously wrong with his musings on EVEL, which he seems to think the SNP and online Yes supporters are hypocrites for opposing. Yes, the SNP have a long-standing policy of abstaining on English-only matters, and yes, they have only made a very few exceptions to that rule. But the point is that they, as British MPs with the same rights as any other British MPs, chose both the policy and the exceptions for themselves. As representatives of their constituents, they decided when there was a significant indirect impact on Scotland, which is always a danger in a system of asymmetrical devolution where Westminster retains total sovereignty and the level of Scottish public spending is a "by-product" of domestic English decisions. Until that system is reformed, Scottish MPs must have the right to make the judgement call, rather than having it made on their behalf by John Bercow, or by two "senior" English MPs advising John Bercow. The moment that English MPs can vote to change Scottish public spending without any possibility of Scottish democratic input is the moment that a genuine "union" has been replaced by a quasi-colonial relationship.
Dan also says this -
"the Tories promised EVEL in their manifesto and won a majority, meaning they have as clear a mandate to put it into law as the SNP did to call the independence referendum in 2011"
No, no, no. That totally misunderstands the nature of liberal democracy, which doesn't allow the rights of minorities and individuals to be trumped by majority rule (if you can even call a 37% vote "majority rule"). The extreme example I always give is that you can't say it's perfectly OK to strip Jews of their voting rights, just because you've held a referendum and the majority voted for that. If the English electorate wants independence for England, that's fine - that's a decision for England alone, just as Scottish independence was a decision for Scotland alone. But what they can't reasonably do is vote to both maintain the United Kingdom, and partly disenfranchise Scotland within the United Kingdom parliament.
There's also some stuff about Tommy Sheridan and Hope Over Fear, which I'm always reluctant to pass comment on, because my instinct is to defend Tommy, but in all honesty I've long since lost track of exactly what it is certain people think is so irredeemably awful about him, and they don't even bother explaining anymore. Ostracising Tommy Sheridan is now a test of ideological purity, and you either pass it or you don't. It certainly sets alarm bells ringing in my mind that Dan prays in aid comments made by A Thousand Flowers, a hideously intolerant website that has its very own purity test about Stuart Campbell, who it crowned the "Weekly W***er" after his comments about transsexuality. Now, let me point out that I don't agree with RevStu on that subject - I think a person who identifies as a woman should be recognised as a woman. But I'm also someone who innocently forgets to call people by their married name for several years after they get married, so I don't have a lot of time for the view that people who casually uttered the name "Bradley Manning" or referred to her as "him" just days after the announcement was made should be regarded as sub-human. I also don't have much time for the view that people should be regarded as sub-human if they fail to instantly disassociate themselves from anyone who uses the wrong pronouns. In fact I'm not much into purity tests, on the whole.
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Great news that Scottish Labour have proved less cowardly than their UK counterparts, and will debate Trident at their conference. As a result, it's perfectly possible that in a couple of days from now, Scottish Labour will be an anti-Trident party with a pro-Trident leader, while UK Labour will remain a pro-Trident party with an anti-Trident leader. That should make everything as clear as mud. It's a bit like the old joke about Roy Jenkins and David Steel (that they should have swapped parties, because Jenkins was a liberal leading the Social Democrats, and Steel was a social democrat leading the Liberals).