It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what the independence movement or the SNP says or does, Gerry Hassan will insist that it’s wrong. It’s what he does.
He’s not the only one, of course. During the first independence referendum campaign I identified something I called the Riddoch-Hassan Syndrome. Everybody who was involved in the Yes movement will doubtless recall the endless pontificating of self-appointed moderators lecturing us about how we were doing it all wrong. We were talking to the wrong people, about the wrong things, at the wrong times, in the wrong places and in the wrong way. Whatever we were doing, it was wrong.
It never seems to occur to these droning moaners that doubling support for independence in the course of the campaign against a background of one of the biggest and most unprincipled propaganda efforts ever mounted by the British state in peace-time suggests something considerably less than the total failure their hyper-criticism implies.
And it didn’t matter anyway. Because we were all doing it wrong all the time regardless of what we were doing. Apparently, there was no right way to campaign. Because no matter what was said or done, or how it was said, or by whom it was done, there was always some Gerry Hassan or Lesley Riddoch ready to shoot it down with a salvo of haughty tut-tutting.
Were these people not quite so obsessed with their supposed intellectual superiority, they might have considered the possibility that they were part of the problem. Had they not been so busy wagging a disapproving finger at the rest of us, they might have reflected on the effect of parroting the anti-independence line from within the independence movement.
Had they not been quite so taken with the rhetorical resonance of their remonstrating, it might have occurred to them that this constant carping was what was actually undermining the Yes campaign rather than the honest efforts they were at such pains to denounce and denigrate.
If we are looking for a simplified explanation of why we failed to secure a Yes vote in 2014, we could do a lot worse than light upon the fact that, at any given time, up to a third of the Yes campaign was picking up cues from the unionist media and running with the Better Together/Project Fear narrative.
There was nothing wrong with the Yes message. To the extent that the Yes campaign failed, it was a failure of communication, not content. Our positive, aspirational message was overwhelmed by the cacophony of negativity issuing from the British establishment. A situation significantly aggravated by the tendency of parts of the Yes movement to add its voice to that cacophony of grinding negativity.
Let’s be clear! We’re not talking here about constructive criticism. We’re talking about uncritical acceptance of whatever line was being peddled by the anti-independence campaign. The currency issue is an illustrative example. Rather than challenging and scrutinising the British establishment’s threat to unilaterally abolish the currency union in retaliation for a Yes vote, a large part of the independence campaign turned on Alex Salmond, attacking him and the Scottish Government’s position using language and arguments lifted straight out of the British media.
And they’re still at it! No lessons have been learned. The very best that can be said of the nit-picking complaints about the SNP is that they represent a misguided effort to appear even-handed and non-partisan. But misguided they certainly are. There is a total failure to recognise that the SNP must first and foremost be concerned with the process of becoming independent. The Hassans and the Riddochs and the rest, meanwhile, have the great luxury of skipping that part altogether as they talk about being independent.
It would be perfectly possible to go through this article picking apart the complaints. But what would be the point? Just as Gerry Hassan borrows the unionist caricature of the SNP in order to give himself an easy target, so he would surely latch on to the standard British nationalist ‘blind allegiance’ straw-man in order to avoid addressing the actual argument.Views: 1966
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