There has been a lot of disquiet in recent days about how the mainstream media is effectively allying itself with the Tory party in either falsely claiming that the SNP want Scotland to remain in the Common Fisheries Policy, or that the SNP's opposition to the CFP is some sort of farcical sham. For the avoidance of doubt, SNP policy is that the CFP should be scrapped, or comprehensively reformed (which amounts to the same thing). But because the SNP aren't Brexiteers, this would have to be achieved by agreement with our European partners. It couldn't be done unilaterally.
"Unilaterally" is an interesting word, because it calls to mind the issue of nuclear disarmament. Thirty years ago, the Labour party abandoned the cause of unilateral nuclear disarmament, but insisted (as it still does today) that this didn't mean it wasn't still committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons. It just wanted to achieve that objective by multilateral means. In other words, the implementation of the policy depended on the agreement of other medium-sized nuclear powers such as France and China, in much the same way that the SNP's hopes of abolishing the CFP depend on the consent of our European partners. But, as you've probably noticed, the media have never seemed to find the concept of multilateral disarmament inherently ridiculous. So it seems more than a touch odd that journalists and TV presenters are inviting us to to accept that no political party can be regarded as truly
opposing the CFP unless they want to scrap it unilaterally.
The irony is, of course, that Labour's support for nuclear disarmament is a sham in a way that the SNP's opposition to the CFP isn't. Labour are hiding behind multilateralism because it's too awkward to admit that they want to retain Trident, come what may, as a national status symbol. By contrast, nobody can seriously doubt that the SNP genuinely loathe the CFP and would make the case for reform as an independent Scottish government, however likely that might be to fall on deaf ears in other European capitals. And if journalists honestly believe, as they are forever telling us, that Nicola Sturgeon privately wants to kick Indyref 2 into the long grass and is therefore reconciled to Brexit occurring in some form, what would be so hard to understand about the SNP saying: "Withdrawal from the CFP is the one and only part of Brexit that would actually be in the Scottish national interest, so you'd damn well better at least deliver that if we're going to have to suffer the rest"?
A final point: someone quite reasonably asked in this blog's comments section the other day why journalists don't challenge the hypocrisy of Ruth Davidson, Theresa May and David Mundell, who all voted Remain in 2016, and therefore by their own standards (and by the media's standards) were all voting and campaigning for Scotland to remain within the "hated" CFP. Why did they support the CFP back then? Why have they changed their minds now? They can scarcely argue that the Tory government would have agitated for reform of the CFP in the event of a Remain vote. David Cameron had a golden chance to prioritise fishing in his pre-referendum renegotiation, but failed to do so.
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Andrew Gilligan (he of Hutton Inquiry fame) claimed a couple of days ago that the Scottish Government had left its plans for gender self-identification open to legal challenge by changing its Twitter cover photo to the words "Dear transphobes, we have a phobia of your hatred. Yours, Scotland"
. This was clearly intended to coincide with the publication of the outcome of a consultation on self-ID, in which 60% of respondents were in favour of the proposal. I would be amazed if there is any prospect of a legal challenge succeeding, but I do think the timing of that change of cover photo was deeply ill-advised. Imagine how it must have made opponents of self-ID feel, especially if they participated in that consultation in good faith. One perfectly plausible interpretation was that the 40% who didn't support self-ID were being implicitly branded as transphobes. If so, the consultation was not a genuine listening exercise, but was instead a presentational stunt that always intended to make an example of ideological undesirables.
Where does this identity politics zealotry end? We've had the newly-elected SNP Equalities Convener openly use the dehumanising slur "TERF" against her ideological opponents on the self-ID issue, and express her generic distaste for the male gender. In years to come, will people who persist in opposing self-ID find themselves expelled from the SNP on the grounds of "transphobic hate-speech", in the same way that Grouse Beater has just been expelled on a highly questionable charge of anti-Semitism, having had his guilt prejudged weeks in advance by the aforementioned Equalities Convener? And if the SNP are ever foolish enough to go through with their relatively new policy of implementing the Nordic model on prostitution law in Scotland, thus defining certain types of consensual sex as "violence against women", will those who oppose the law be shunned by all right-thinking people as "enablers of violence"?
If you've ever wondered what Robespierre would have been like if he'd been an avid fan of A Thousand Flowers
, we could be about to find out. Let's reinject a bit of common sense before we meet that ghastly fate. Let's debate those we disagree with, and not attempt to destroy them. Politics, not pulverisation.
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