Inappropriate language

I don’t need an opinion poll to tell me “it would be unacceptable for any government in Westminster to block Scotland’s democratic right to choose“. This is not a matter of opinion. It is an incontrovertible fact that nobody has the legitimate authority to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination; least of all the entity from which Scotland is ‘seceding’.

I know I quibble about the language used by SNP politicians such as Ian Blackford and John Swinney. But language is important. Issues are perceived as being defined by the language politicians use. Particularly when operating in a hostile media environment, politicians have to be constantly aware of which narrative they are following. They must be on their guard against slipping into the pervasive narrative of that hostile media. They need to be ever mindful of the language they use.

Of course it would be “unacceptable” for the British government to “block Scotland’s democratic right to choose”! But it would be more than that. It would be wrong! In every sense of the word, it would be wrong! Even to attempt to deny the fundamental democratic right of self-determination is wrong. It cannot be right. It cannot rightfully be done.

Every word spoken by Scotland’s elected representatives should be informed by an unshakeable belief in Scotland’s cause. Every utterance must be couched in the language of an independent nation. There can never be the slightest suggestion of concessions which could be seen as compromising the sovereignty of Scotland’s people.

If Scotland’s right of self-determination is not subject to the approval of the British political elite, how much less might it be affected by the vagaries of opinion polls. Only the Parliament elected by the people of Scotland has the legitimate authority to determine whether there is sufficient demand to warrant a constitutional referendum in Scotland. Our Parliament has already made that determination. Opinion polls are irrelevant. The notion that the opinions of people furth of Scotland might have some bearing on the matter of a new independence referendum is beyond ridiculous. It is a matter for the Scottish people alone.

So why the hell is Ian Blackford hailing this poll as “significant”? Why is he not challenging the narrative which imbues it with significance? Why is he using such inappropriate language?

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23 thoughts on “Inappropriate language

  1. To be fair to Teressa May (not a phrase you’ll hear often), even she didn’t frame it in these terms. She tried (admittedly in a sleekit way) to transform it into a technical question of timing. Nicola Sturgeon sort of went along with that with the ‘waiting until Brexit is clearer’ line. We now know Brexit is a clusterburach, hanging about to find the details will (as previously discussed) be too late.

    You are quite right about the language.

    It is dangerous because it shapes thought and expectations.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. You’re right from a strictly legal/constitutional POV, but OTOH who said “politics is the art of the possible”? In practice we need to take people with us, in Scotland and ideally to some degree at least in the remainder of the UK. So opinion polls are in that respect at least relevant.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As usual, Peter, you are bang on the head of that particular nail. “Once in a generation” has become a totem of the Unionist cause, an ill-judged utterance.

    We are not asking for a privilege, we are telling how we will act. The semantic wriggling by our opponents needs to be challenged with the most forthright language.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Nobody needs an opinion poll to tell them “it would be unacceptable for any government in Westminster to block Scotland’s democratic right to choose“. Opinion polls don’t even purport to deliver an answer to anything with a moral dimension. So the opinion poll neither validates not invalidates the proposition.

    The significant thing is that this opinion poll shows that a majority of people both in Scotland and in the UK accept the proposition. That has no impact on the validity of the proposition one way or the other. The result is of course good news, because it means that we are more likely to get our referendum without a fight. Unless you would prefer to get the referendum with a fight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems to have escaped your notice that we are already in a fight for that referendum. As a political realist, I was never naive enough to suppose this was a fight that could be avoided.


      1. I don’t call where we are now a ‘fight’. And if we get our referendum of the back of what you are now calling a fight, I’ll say we got it after asking politely a couple of times and shouting up a bit for the hard of hearing. A fight is Catalonia. To call where we are now a fight is to trivialise what is going on on Catalonia if you call that a fight.


      2. I take you point. If nobody compared where we are with where Catalonia is, then you might get away with calling our present position a fight.


      3. We are disagreeing. You have one concept of ‘fight’. I have another. It is an ordinary word and people do not usually need to cite their authority for their use of language. If you want to claim any particular authority for your definition, go ahead.

        I get it that you are generally depressed about the way things are going for Indy, but really, they are going fine, so no need to start an unnecessary fight by flinging abuse.


  5. Neither is it the SNP’s and wider Yes movement’s right to block Brexit for England. If we want out of the Union, or if we want to negotiate a deal with England post independence, we are not going to get it by trying to stop Brexit. A NO Deal, yes, because of the catastrophic effects that is bound to have for all of us, including the EU, but not Brexit per se. Saying that they are not doing that is mendacious at best and choice use of language.

    Another point that requires to be illuminated is the one concerning trade deals. Globalization, for ordinary people not into the intricacies of how to make an extra bawbee by moving to Outer Mongolia to manufacture medicines, for example, means that indigenous industries have been culled and the skills that supported them, with them.

    Ergo, we might yet find ourselves desperately in need of all kinds of imports just to stay alive, never mind luxury creme brûlée. That, in turn, means that we need trade deals. That, in turn, begs the question: why are we exiting the EU where we have said trade deals? The only possibility that comes to mind as an explanation is that we are nearing the Thatcherite English Nationalist end game (albeit I doubt that Thatcher was far-sighted enough to comprehend what she had started – few politicians ever are).

    The Thatcher end game means cleaving to the former colony, now imperialist state extraordinaire, and forging closer links with the neoliberal bawbee accumulators across the pond in new trade deals, very likely to be far more onerous and predatory than anything the EU could dream up. So, why are we leaving the EU? Because the right-wing Tories, in thrall to ‘bawbee-ism in their pockets’, to deluded world domination and to endless conflict where they and theirs do not die, but live to reap the rewards of others’ deaths by stealing their resources, basically, deem that to be more conducive to our, actually, their, future well-being. Oh, and they have the added advantage that they speak Ameringlish rather than French, German, Italian or Polish or any other European language which we cannot be bothered to learn.

    In other words, ideology, a word whose time has come, surely? We are exiting one trade bloc to enter another, with all the upheaval and misery that will cause to the person in the street because the posh boys and girls and those who ape them (do forgive the language, higher primates) have decided that their penchant for ever more bawbees in the pocket, for the deluded state of being important in a changing world and for being top dog at others’ expense is worth it all. The poor, bloody fodder at the bottom of the social and economic food chain are always worth utilizing in the higher cause of enrichment and continuing delusion, after all. Language is so very important when you are squeezing political ordure through your economic bum hole.


  6. “Language is important”, right enough and you use it to work your way through discrediting SNP politicians at every turn and then have the gall to say that you want people to support them! There are dozens of Unionist politicians that you could focus on dissing right now. Why not give them a piece of your mind? Expose them to your readers?


    1. Are you addressing me, Petra, or Mr Bell? If it’s me, I do ‘diss’ British/English Nationalist politicians at every opportunity, but my expectations of them are so low all the time that, sometimes, I can’t be bothered. I joined the SNP at the grand old age of 13/14, have had a few off times, but, generally, I have supported their efforts for around 40+ years. Lately, though, since the 2014 referendum, I have become more and more disillusioned with politics, in general, and SNP policy, in particular. Don’t misunderstand, I will fight their corner when I agree with what they are doing, but I reserve the right, as any person who is not completely without a functioning critical facfaculty ought to do, to try and raise issues that I believe are detrimental to independence or even to standing up to England.

      Mr Bell, I am sure, is more than capable of answering you himself.


      1. Third line from bottom: ‘faculty’, of course. Also, when we stop being able to criticize those we actually follow and support, we are in big trouble. So long as it is constructive and not destructive for its own sake, it is essential to be able to get stroppy now and then. Fascism and then, totalitarianism, can be the result of letting one’s faculty for self-criticism and self-awareness in the pursuit of power, wither, Petra.


    2. I don’t do anything to discredit SNP politicians. I merely point out the things they do to discredit themselves. And why would I not? These are the people charged with advancing Scotland’s cause. These are the people the Yes movement relies on to provide that effective political power that is absolutely crucial to our cause. Of course we should support them. But not unquestioningly. My criticisms are intended to help them do their job better. Because the better they do their job, the more likely we are to succeed.

      Why would I offer constructive criticism to Unionist politicians? Why would I want then to be more effective? Your comment makes absolutely no sense. Not if you actually take the trouble to think about it.

      I criticise SNP politicians because they are the ones who speak for the independence movement. They are the ones who need to act in order to make the restoration of Scotland’s independence a reality. What would be the point in me talking to Unionist politicians? They aren’t going to do anything for Scotland’s cause.


  7. ”My criticisms are intended to help them do their job better. Because the better they do their job, the more likely we are to succeed.”

    Eh! Let’s just hope that you know ”better” than them right enough, that you’re acquainted with what’s going on behind the scenes and have access to the extensive range of experts / National and International connections that have been / are in discussion with Nicola Sturgeon. More than anything, at a ”duh” level, have you ever thought that your CONSTANT criticisms could be putting people off of supporting them altogether leading to us ”failing”?

    ”Why would I offer constructive criticism to Unionist politicians? Why would I want then to be more effective? Your comment makes absolutely no sense. Not if you actually take the trouble to think about it.”

    You’re not the only person who thinks, listens, talks, reads and writes, Peter. Don’t get carried away with yourself. And I didn’t mention the term ”constructive criticism” at all. Where did you get that from? Reading my post? Listening? I said ”dissing” which basically means decrying. In other words, if you want people to support the SNP and vote for Independence what about doing more to disparage those who DON’T actually want us to get our Independence rather than those who do? Highlight their shortcomings and, well, there’s a real plethora of their said ”frailties” out there for you to get your teeth into.

    ”They (SNP) are the ones who need to act in order to make the restoration of Scotland’s independence a reality.”

    No Peter WE (and that includes you) need to act, initially, to make Independence a reality and that reality, the name of the game, is that without a majority of the sovereign people of Scotland supporting the SNP we won’t ever see our country become Independent at all. You’ve got the means, this site, to make a positive difference why not use it more efficaciously?


    1. Well said Petra. The level of Indy on Indy attack here is becoming quite dispiriting and counter productive. There is enough exciting going on with the British State crumbling before our eyes and I think our own government is doing the smart thing by not being implicated in that. The initiative is really with us on the ground to explain and interpret to friends neighbours colleagues and acquaintances, without the Scottish government providing raw material for narratives which will frustrate our conversations.


      1. What the fuck planet are you on? It must be a strange and distant one for you to suppose that the Scottish Government is “not being implicated” in the shambles of Brexit when they’ve spent that last three years frantically trying to put themselves at the centre of that shambles.

        We can very readily do without this kind of thoughtless fantasy politics. Scotland’s cause urgently needs a massive injection of political realism. It’s clear that won’t becoming from the likes of yourself.


      2. Well Peter, it is very thoughtful on my part and we can well do without your on going negativity.

        The only thing to do with brexit that the SG is implicated in is trying to bring about an outcome which is not to Scotland’s disadvantage. It is the only responsible thing to do


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