WHAT a nasty place Scotland has become. Political discourse, or what passes for it in sections of the nationalist community, has become worryingly vicious.
Last week Sarah Smith, one-time Scotland Editor for the BBC, revealed that she felt much safer working in the gun-toting USA than in Scotland, her home country. The daughter of the late Labour leader John Smith was brought up in an atmosphere of political debate, her professional life has been spent reporting on politics, she is no stranger to the cut and thrust of political dispute. Yet political discourse in Scotland has grown so rancorous in recent years that she is glad to leave behind the ‘bile, hatred and misogyny of Scottish politics’.
Smith revealed that people would ‘roll their car windows down to ask me, “What f***ing lies you’re going to be telling on TV tonight, you f***ing lying bitch?”’
One would hope that politicians would express concern that any journalist should experience such abuse. But this is the SNP’s Scotland, where things are done differently. As if to prove her point, James Dornan MSP, who represents Glasgow Cathcart for the SNP, immediately dismissed her claims of abuse as being made up.
He wrote on social media: ‘America would be the go-to place to escape all her imaginary woes then.’ He accompanied his dismissal of Smith’s suggestion that the SNP’s bright new Scotland could be anything but utopian with a ‘rolling eyes’ emoji.
Dornan has form when it comes to abuse. Last year Lothian Transport was forced to cancel late-night buses in Edinburgh because of a spate of attacks on drivers. Coincidentally this was revealed on St Patrick’s Day. Dornan immediately jumped to the conclusion this was clear evidence of bigotry. He ‘could only assume’ the bus company believed ‘Irish Catholics were to blame’ for a rise in anti-social behaviour, and he wasn’t slow in letting the world know just what a bunch of intolerant bigots they were. Even his SNP colleagues were ‘dismayed’ by his comments. He was forced to back down.
This is the same Dornan who tweeted about Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comments on illegal immigration: ‘You and your cronies are already responsible for the deaths of thousands and you’re now happy to see the most desperate people in the world suffer and drown. If your god exists you will undoubtedly rot in hell.’
Recently Nicola Sturgeon rightly called on men to challenge misogynistic behaviour wherever they saw it. But the First Minister fails to condemn unacceptable behaviour and sexism when it emerges from within her own ranks. A rebuke of Dornan, as well as outright condemnation of the abuse Sarah Smith has received from her nationalist followers, would put to bed any accusations of hypocrisy. Don’t hold your breath.
If their nationalist leaders act in this way and get away with it, we can hardly be surprised when the nationalist footsoldiers indulge in the most appalling behaviour. The abuse around the independence referendum in 2014 was off the scale. When Lord Ashcroft published a poll immediately before the independence referendum which showed clear support in Scotland for the union, he was told: ‘Why don’t you just f*** off out of our affairs? Commission a nasty wee poll on that, you w*****.’
People are disgusted by the vilification J K Rowling has received because of her views on transgenderism, and also impressed by the calm, dignified way in which she has faced that abuse. She had practice. In 2014 she was termed a ‘bitch’, a ‘traitor’, a ‘whore’ and a ‘union cow bag’, all because she, like the majority of the Scottish population, supported the retention of the political union.
Some leading figures in the SNP have condemned the actions of the cybernats and the other nationalist rabble. However, this surge in decency came only after the cybernats had turned on the SNP leadership for not promoting independence hard enough. The most Sturgeon would say was that independence supporters ‘must always’ make their case with ‘decency, respect and dignity’. Such a mild rebuke at the party conference had no impact whatsoever on the militant amongst her rank and file.
It has long been known that the cybernats are beyond reason. Recently some called out the ‘disgraceful’ fact that a hotel near Fort William had the temerity to stock bottles of water bearing the Union Flag. This was on a Facebook page for pensioners who support independence.
Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the apolitical Scottish Hospitality Group, has been attacked by cybernats for standing up for his industry. Montgomery said he has suffered ‘horrendous’ abuse since the group was formed in 2020 to represent pub and hotel businesses employing 6,000 workers during the pandemic.
Montgomery, who is from Northern Ireland, said: ‘Scotland is starting to feel as though it is the same as Northern Ireland without the killings. It feels like I’m back in Northern Ireland when you are not allowed to have a voice in society or express an opinion without people making you feel demoralised.’
Perhaps the saddest comment on the state of Scotland today comes from the departing Sarah Smith. She tweeted ‘About to take off for Miami. Leaving any *woes* behind.’ This was, of course, followed by the usual stream of abuse from nationalists.
When reasonable people sigh in relief on departure, Scots who stay behind should seriously worry about the future of their country.