A regrettably rare intervention by Stu Campbell on Wings Over Scotland reminds us of two things. Firstly – and most obviously as this was the purpose of the article – it reminds us of the sickening spate of scaremongering pish that issued from the anti-independence campaign ten years ago and which continues to pour from the mouthpieces of British Nationalism. Specifically, Stu Campbell recalls the desperate drivel peddled by British Nationalists on the subject of post-independence pensions arrangement. He republishes a piece which first appeared on Wings Over Scotland in November 2016 prompted by the fact that the nonsense song described and dissected in that article is still being sung by the likes of “tuba-honking dunderhead Blair McDougall” – best forgotten for being the architect of ‘Project Fear’. Or, at least, the dunderheaded dupe who would have shouldered all the blame had that propaganda exercise failed even more spectacularly than it did. Fortunately for his ample self-regard and unfortunately for Scotland, ‘Project Fear’ (more properly ‘Project Doubt’) succeeded just enough to preserve the abomination that is the Union for the time being. (That time being somewhat in excess of what is tolerable thanks to Nicola Sturgeon. But that’s a topic well enough rehearsed elsewhere.)
The tuba honks!
The second thing we are reminded of is the quality of Su Campbell’s forensic journalism. His skill in dismantling and destroying British Nationalist propaganda was unarguably among the Yes campaign’s greatest assets. An asset now all but entirely lost to Scotland’s cause due to the vicious, vitriolic witch-hunting efforts of that inexplicably favoured clique close to Nicola Sturgeon. The clique which has by word and deed driven almost all of the division now plaguing the entity formerly known as the Yes movement.
No movement can long survive the significant influence of such self-righteous, self-serving ideologues. That clique was always destined to strive towards making the Yes movement an exclusive club for the like-minded. And so it has transpired. It is as likely now that an individual will find themselves excluded from and vilified by the self-proclaimed voice of Scotland’s cause as that they will be embraced by a once famously inclusive collective.
The British Nationalist propaganda about pensions is, quite literally, unbelievable. It cannot be true. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s purpose during the first referendum campaign was not principally to persuade people of the need to preserve the Union in order to protect pensions. It’s more insidious purpose was to instil doubt or aggravate and inflate such doubts as may have been harboured. Doubt, not fear, was Better Together’s most potent weapon. Although I don’t suppose Blair McDougall actually realised this.
A secondary but far from insignificant purpose of the British Nationalist propaganda on pensions etc. – really, all the ‘economic arguments’ – was to provide a ready-made rationalisation for those who had already decided to vote No – for reasons which had little or nothing to do with rationality. When somebody tells you they voted No because the Yes campaign ‘failed to present a sound economic case’ then you are perfectly entitled to doubt the veracity of this claim. Which is not to say that the individual in question is lying. Technically, they’re not. If they actually believe what they say is the case then it cannot be a lie. Nor is it to say that they are stupid. Although that possibility should certainly not be discounted.
Saul Bellow made an observation which is relevant here.
A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.Saul Bellow, To Jerusalem and Back
People will work very hard at believing that which is expedient or which accords with their prejudices and preconceptions. Bear that quote in mind.
The propaganda of the ‘righteous radicals’ who have captured the SNP is of a different type. The propaganda deployed by the clique of crazies who form Sturgeon’s ‘palace guard’ is crude even by comparison with the product of the anti-independence campaign. It is hate-mongering. It is bullying, berating and browbeating intended to drive out anyone who presumes to question the ‘official’ line. The likes of Graham Campbell (see above) and Pete Wishart offer no counter-arguments to those who are critical or even mildly questioning of the direction in which Nicola Sturgeon has taken Scotland’s cause. They do no more than supply the tar and feathers that their ‘Angry Villager’ army then heaps upon the unhappy heretic before running them out if the Yes movement on a rail.
Never forget the lies! Never forgive the liars! When first I wrote that it was aimed at the likes of Blair McDougall and Gordon Brown. Now, it could just as readily be intended for such as Graham Campbell and Pete Wishart. The former peddled hate and fear and doubt and lies in the name of preserving the structures of power, privilege and patronage which constitute the British state. The latter do much the same in the name of pathological control-freakery and rigid dogma.
In the face of this new propaganda onslaught, the activist base of the Yes movement has taken refuge in illusion. Fantasy politics reigns! The need for illusion is deep among Sturgeon/SNP loyalists who put their faith in ‘Nicola’s Great Secret Plan’ and Salmond/Alba devotees who put their faith in the equally illusory notions of a ‘supermajority’ and a Hollywood-style finale to Scotland’s cause. A great deal of intelligence is invested in promoting the ignorance which is necessary for the illusion to persist.
Ten years ago, when British Nationalists were pushing the fantasy of a beneficent British state down our throats, Stu Campbell was there methodically puncturing the bubble of illusion and providing a clear and impeccably researched view of reality. His voice was viciously suppressed because he insisted on that reality in preference to other illusions being peddled by those who claim the exclusive authority to speak for Scotland’s cause. I for one mourn the loss of that voice.
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