Euan McColm is a writer whose most endearing attribute is the ease with which he can be ignored. It is an attribute that I have long exploited assiduously. But, well… you know how when you’re strolling in pretty much any public space you inevitably encounter those little piles of shit left by selfish ‘dog-lovers’ who think the entire country is one big toilet for their precious pooch? Similarly, when idly wandering the byways of the web one is liable to find stuff that is just as offensive.
So it was that I happened to step in McColm’s latest ‘deposit’. To be fair, he did dump it on the pages of Scotland on Sunday, which many would maintain is a perfectly appropriate place for him to do his business. (See image above.) Be that as it may, I got it on my virtual shoe and I must apologise for treading it all over the virtual carpet of your screens.
At first, I thought it was just another one of those tiresome pieces in which some pompous windbag appoints themselves Lord High Moderator of All The Internet in order to pontificate about the evils of intemperate language and lecture us all on how we should and shouldn’t express ourselves online.
The introduction certainly gave that impression, announcing that Euan McColm would be urging that “both sides of the constitutional debate exercise self-restraint” lest Scotland’s next independence referendum should become “more divisive than the last”. And those familiar with his style could be forgiven for expecting some self-important finger-wagging from a man so firmly convinced of his moral and intellectual superiority.
But the introduction was, like so much of this newspaper’s content, misleading. It was also, incidentally, where the pretence at even-handedness began and ended. It quickly became clear that McColm’s actual purpose was to desperately latch onto the threadbare unionist trope of ‘cybernat abuse’. Perhaps he had a deadline looming.
He starts by presenting what, in an unforgivable abuse of the term, he refers to as two “different histories” of the first independence referendum campaign. The first of these ‘histories’ presents a ludicrous caricature of Yes voters as some sort of happy-clappy band of patchouli-scented hippies inhabiting a hallucinatory world reminiscent of that delightfully described in The Beatles’ song, Lucy in the sky with diamonds.
The second ‘history’ is nothing more than a regurgitation of equally fantastical British nationalist propaganda in which the first referendum campaign is presented as a lurid blend of cold war conflict and Balkan blood-letting diluted with a large measure of day-time soap opera melodrama.
Those acquainted with this genre of unionist diatribe will be aware that the custom is to spew a few hundred words suffused with righteous indignation and overblown outrage without ever actually providing examples of the thing being complained about. Euan McColm proceeds to demonstrate just how sensible it is to stick to empty assertion rather than essaying the more testing art of evidence-based journalism.
There is, of course, the customary token ticking-off for No voters who descend to “venomous language” when discussing the First Minister. But this is pushed down to the infrequently read lower depths of his column by what McColm evidently considers to be the infinitely worse horrors perpetrated by those on the positive side of the constitutional debate. Everything which follows that transparently insincere nod in the direction of fairness presents the matter of abuse as if it was exclusively the province of independence supporters.
Please take a moment to prepare yourselves before I recount these horrors. Children and persons of a nervous disposition should leave the room.
Apparently, by posting on Twitter a commonly used ‘meme’ from a TV comedy programme, Pete Wishart MP indirectly referred to some unionist figures as “wankers”. I know! How he avoided prosecution is beyond me. Perhaps because, notwithstanding his resort to such unparliamentary language, Mr Wishart may not be such a bad judge of character. I confess that I didn’t see the Tweet which has so scandalised Euan McColm’s delicate sensibilities. So I don’t know who the atrocious epithet was directed at. But, for some reason, my thoughts immediately turned to Murdo Fraser. Go figure!
But it is another example of vile cybernattery that has poor Euan reaching for the smelling salts. As he tells the tale, a certain SNP Councillor in Edinburgh by the name of Frank Ross plumbed fresh depths of dastardly conduct by suggesting that the British parties in Scotland only call themselves Scottish “as part of a branding exercise to win votes”.
Now, I’m sure we’re all appalled by such efforts to gull the electorate by misrepresenting the true nature of one’s party or politics. How dreadful would it be, for example, if Tory and/or Labour candidates were to re-brand themselves as ‘independents’ for the purposes of the local elections? And what about if a politician pretended to be pro-EU so long as it was expedient to do so, only to shed that guise as soon as it became inconvenient?
Or how about if politicians claimed to be committed to delivering ‘home rule’ for Scotland only to renege on that commitment as soon as they’d secured the result they wanted in a referendum?
It’s easy to understand why anybody would be shocked and angered by such behaviour. But where do Frank Ross’s comments rank in this catalogue of heinous crimes?
What Ross said was that the ‘Scottish Labour Party’, for example, doesn’t exist. That there is no such thing as the ‘Scottish Labour Party’. The problem for Euan McColm is that this is perfectly true. It is a totally accurate statement. There is no such entity as the ‘Scottish Labour Party’. It genuinely doesn’t exist.
And the other British parties are no different. They are quite explicit about being British rather than Scottish. They are perfectly open about being part of the British political establishment. They leave no doubt that they put the interests of the British state before the needs, priorities and aspirations of Scotland’s people. So what is the problem?
Euan McColm is outraged, not by unionist lies such as those listed earlier, but by a completely honest statement of incontrovertible fact which happens to be highly inconvenient to the British nationalist cause.
With all the slithering sleekitness of his ilk, McColm tries to twist this factual statement about the British political parties into an offensive slur against those who fell for the unionist lies and voted No. He perversely insists that this honest observation about the Tory/Labour/LibDem operations in Scotland amounts to a claim that No voters are not “real Scots”, despite there being no reference to No voters at all.
And who was it that used the rhetoric of “real Scots” anyway? It was the abomination birthed by Blair McDougall – Better Together/Project fear – that styled itself a “patriotic” campaign and reserved the exclusive category of “real Scots” for its own supporters.
What I’m smelling may not be dog-shit after all. It may be the hypocrisy and dishonesty being squeezed out by Euan McColm.Views: 4037
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