There are moments in the independence campaign where you do wonder when the rest of the UK will catch up with the debate happening in Scotland or whether they’ll ever get it. Then there are moments like last week where things are reported in the national media and you think “oh right,we’ve known this for about 5 years now…”. So thank you so very much the London media for last week discovering the joy’s of the Cybernats.
There were two incidents that caused controversy, the coming off the fence of JK Rowling which garnered all of the London-centic headlines and the abuse suffered by pro-Union supporter Claire Lally which gathered half of the Scottish headlines. Whereas Rowling’s abuse was more about her expressing an opinion and pro indy tweeters not exactly liking her decision, Lally’s abuse is not the story.
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Pro-Union supporters would like the story to be about the dastardly Cybernats and that they were clearly orchestrated by the First Minister’s media advisor Campbell Gunn. Clearly… except that the pro union parties have failed to come forward with any evidence of Gunn’s machiavellian deeds. They are happy to repeat the allegation, but are shifty when talk of evidence comes about. Gunn’s problem is that the allegation that he spread – that Lally was a relative of the former Provest of Glasgow, Pat Lally – came from somewhere.
That allegation originally surfaced in the house blog du jour for one eyed pro Indy supporters with a natty line in appropriating Laibach imagery, Wings Over Scotland. In the current tradition of journalism, Gunn in likeleyhood read this on Wings and thought that it must be true, without checking whether it was true or not. If Gunn does leave his post, it’ll be an expensive mistake to have not checked any sources. It also obscures the story that pro-Indy supporters wanted to tell – that Clare Lally was not an ordinary mum but someone close enough to “Scottish” Labour to be an advisor to the Shadow Cabinet – hardly credentials for that “just come off the street” ordinary mother material.
The truth is that something doesn’t quite sit with Lally’s involvement, that pro-Indy supporters wanted to expose this and made a monumental balls up in attempting to do this, while intentionally/unintentionally (delete what you believe) flying the red rag to the "Cybernat" bulls. That Guido Fawkes much much less talented 14th cousin 20 times removed (in the Claire Lally sense of course) Stuart Campbell is involved has hindered the Pro-Independence cause. I’m not going to go into Wing’s contribution to this mess – especially as Stuart Winton does an excellent job of doing that on Think Scotland – suffice to say it’s a good job Newsnight Scotland finished a couple of weeks ago & that Scotland 2014 don't advertise blogs with warchests...
Whereas Lally was something of an innocent bystander, Rowling’s entrance into the debate garnered acres of media coverage while she got her not so subtle, and entirely accurate, barbs in about the pisspoor SNP lead Yes Scotland campaign – “there is a fringe of nationalists who like to demonise anyonewho is not blindly and unquestionably pro-Independence” was Rowling’s version of the reducer before describing nationalists obsessed with lineage as “getting a little Death Eaterish for my taste”.
The meat and potatoes of her arguments surrounded the economy, flagging up that it was the Union that saved RBS (bearing in mind that Salmond was supposedly pro-Light Touch regulation as well, but was certainly competing with Jack McConnell for cheerleading duties when RBS was attempting to buy ABN Amro). Her conclusion should have been “The more I listen to the Yes campaign, the more I worry about it’s minimalisation and even denial of risks”. Instead, while complaining about the lack of impartial and non partisan information – strange given that economists are notorious for their varying opinions on the same thing – Rowling quotes two pro-Labour and pro-Union stooges.
I’d never heard of Jim Gallagher until I came across him on Iain Dale’s show on LBC a week or so ago trying to convince the London public that the elected First Minister should debate with the appointed chairman of the pro-Union campaign group Better Together. If readers of Wings are described as one eyed nationalists, the Gallagher easily fits the bill as a one eyed unionist. Not the ideal candidate for impartial analysis of the situation.
Funnily enough, in his response to Rowling’s piece, Pat Kane in Friday’s Independent underlined Rowling’s argument about Yes’s reticence to talk about the economy by concentrating on her line about lineage and certain Indy supporters being “death eaterish”. Kane flags up Gallagher’s less than impartial credentials, but sweeps past the arguments about “Sterlingzone” and talks of Scotland’s membership of the EU as being “inevitiable” – as if Spain, Germany or r-UK wouldn’t have motives to turn down I-Scotland’s application to join the EU (of course, if they did it would be no bad thing).
Neither person deserved the abuse they received, both people were simply putting forward their own beliefs – this is still a free country after all. It’s the abuse that has become the story, and that is damaging the image of this campaign being vigorous but not descending into rancour.