During the first independence referendum one of the main planks of attack adopted by Unionists was the myth of the Cybernat.
The online activists were accused of all kinds of offences from threatening to kill high-profile pro-Union celebrities to abusing honest journalists who were only doing their job.
In my book ‘London Calling: How the BBC stole the Referendum’ I wrote the following:
Both sides of the referendum had people who posted offensive and obnoxious content on the web. For every poster who called Unionists traitors, there was one who called Nationalists Nazis. For every disgusting reference made about Nicola Sturgeon there was one made about Johann Lamont. Both Yes supporters and No supporters could be equally abusive – and were. No side had a monopoly on bad language, threats and god-awful vitriol.
But only one side was singled out by the media. A derogatory term was coined for Yes supporters. Anyone expressing online support for independence, or who challenged the orthodox view being promoted by Unionists, was branded a ‘Cybernat’.
Throughout the referendum campaign some of the most inflammatory rhetoric actually came from, not unknown Unionist trolls, but elected politicians. Former Labour MP Ian Davidson was particularly obnoxious. Davidson once compared the SNP to fascists and on another occasion he claimed people who commemorated Bannockburn did so only because Englishmen had been murdered.
Davidson also once compared the independence debate to war and suggesting “wounded” independence supporters should be bayoneted. It was of course a metaphor, but a rather inappropriate one given the ‘division’ Unionists claimed the referendum was creating.
Better Together leader Alistair [now Lord] Darling once claimed that Scottish Nationalism was “at heart” about “blood and soil nationalism”. ‘Blood and Soil’ is classic Nazi rhetoric.
The No campaign of course won the 2014 independence referendum. They believed it would endure for a generation. Their language, at least for a while, became conciliatory.
But, as most people are now aware, it was the SNP who emerged with the spoils by all-but wiping Labour from Scotland in the 2015 general election.
Nicola Sturgeon, having cleverly included the insurance policy of a Brexit [against the wishes of the Scottish people] in the 2016 Holyrood manifesto, now has a second bite at the indy cherry. And Unionists of the uber variety are worried.
This has manifested itself in a return of inflammatory language of the most dangerous kind. Last week Ruth Davidson compared another independence referendum with a fratricidal conflict. Her words were part of a speech and so had been carefully considered.
Some independence supporters opined that Davidson wasn’t just spelling out a rather exaggerated concern about a second independence referendum, but was actually issuing a coded threat to the First Minister.
Days later on the BBC, MP David Mundell made similar remarks, telling Gordon Brewer that another independence referendum would be “seriously unpleasant” and would pit “Scot against Scot”.
This rhetoric is dangerously inflammatory. That the two most senior members of the Scottish Conservative party should make such comments within days of one another is neither coincidence nor accidental. This is deliberate.
Given Davidson has re-packaged her Scottish Conservative party as the fundamental defenders of the Union, a repackaging that has proved attractive to the Union’s most loyal adherents, then we must be concerned that these comments are being interpreted as coded messages by these same adherents, some of whom rampaged through George Square the evening after the 2014 vote.
Indeed we must consider the possibility that this is the intention on the part of the Scottish Conservative’s most senior MSP and MP.
Whatever the reality behind the comments from Davidson and Mundell, the fact is that Scotland’s de-facto main opposition party has decided to up the constitutional ante in the most cavalier of ways. They seem unconcerned at the repercussions of their rhetoric.
Should we be surprised? No, not at all. This is the way of British [brutish?] imperialism. If they cannot maintain control then they leave behind chaos. Davidson and Mundell are British Nationalists, Ruth tries to hide her unreconstructed uber-Unionism in cute photo-ops, but be under no illusion … it’s the Union or nothing for both of them.
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