Don’t forget we’re all on the same side … here’s how my Yes XI lines up
The National, by Kevin McKenna
THE gestation period of a Unionist myth about the campaign for Scottish independence isn’t long; nor is it a complicated process. All that is normally required is for the leader of one of the main parties of the Union to first make a claim.
If the claim has any basis is fact that is a bonus but it’s not a prerequisite. It is then given a little food and water by the political reporters of the main UK-supporting newspapers who rarely apply anything that might resemble a fact-checking process.
Yet further credence is attached when some right-thinking commentators take the claim out for a spin and the myth soon becomes lodged in the public consciousness as fact. By the time Laura Kuenssberg or Nick Robinson has applied the BBC London gloss it becomes cast in stone.
The most perfect example of this was the claim that the first referendum on Scottish independence was a nasty and divisive experience. This flew in the face of what actual evidence there was. The myth flew despite the fact that those propounding it built political careers on the back of the referendum. And there was not a trace of trauma or distress among the Unionist-supporting commentators I encountered in television and radio stations up and down the country: quite the opposite; they all looked like they were having a ball.
We are currently near the end of the gestation cycle of a new Unionist myth. The emergence of a new myth, it is quite something to behold, especially if you are sufficiently well-informed to spot the signals. We’ll call this one The Self-destruction of the Yes Movement. You must have seen some of the signs. A handful of prominent nationalists have expressed differences of opinion about, er … politics. One or two have deployed less than civil language in these exchanges. And, get this: a few of them don’t personally like each other.
As ever, it’s all the fault of that dreadful and sinister character, the Reverend Stuart Campbell at the pro-independence website, Wings Over Scotland.
The crimes attributed to this opprobrious churl are of the foulest type imaginable. Indeed I have endured the rough end of his keyboard on several occasions. Thankfully, I am blessed with a robust constitution and Campbell knows that if he shows his face in Glasgow once more he may find himself securing a worm’s eye view of the foundations of one of the city’s prominent construction sites.
I am only thankful that our friends on the Unionist side are still alive to tell the tale, although I would advise some of the more excitable to perhaps seek some counselling. Troublingly for those who would like to see Campbell swing from a gibbet (judging by social media there are many) he has an infernal habit of picking up hefty sums of money over the more egregious of the calumnies that are hurled in his direction.
Amongst it all there was also a couple of contributions by the inexperienced Green Party list MSP Ross Greer who expressed dissatisfaction with this very newspaper. Greer has never had a job in his life nor come close to winning a vote of any kind whatsoever.
Yet he has somehow succeeded in amassing a significant degree of knowledge about the newspaper industry. To have achieved this while studying for a university degree is a commendable feat and a lesson to us all.
And so, being the loyal squad player that I am (though merely a humble water-carrier) I feel that I ought to remind the various individuals within the Yes movement that they are all striving for a higher goal as part of a team. And if it were a football team this is the formation in which I’d deploy them.
I’d favour playing three up front in an attacking 4-3-3 system similar to that which was spearheaded by the legendary Marx, Engels and Trotsky troika. Here’s how the team would line up.
Robin McAlpine: The director of Common Weal is a safe pair of hands who never knows when he’s beaten… or when the natural end of a speech occurs.
Lesley Riddoch: The formidable journalist and campaigner never shirks a tackle and is never knowingly out-talked. Has drawn admiring glances from the Norwegians who would like to claim her as their own.
Iain MacWhirter: The esteemed columnist and former Rector of Edinburgh University brings a great deal of experience to the independence movement and has become expert at debunking some of the Federalist nonsense espoused by the other side.
Gerry Hassan: Gerry is part of the beating heart of the Yes movement, although he can also be an irascible character. His motto is: Librariam Emptor Constructem, which roughly means: why build a library when you can write one instead.
Carolyn Leckie: Excelled as an MSP with the short-lived Scottish Socialist Party and is now a compelling voice in the Yes movement. She also mentioned me in her column the other day so she’s definitely in the band.
Pat Kane: Mercurial ball player who sometimes doesn’t know when to stop when he goes on a mazy run. Opponents often don’t know which way he’ll turn next. Not a bad bone in his body, as my old gran used to say.
Cat Boyd: A product of the Yes movement’s youth conveyor belt who has become a cornerstone of the movement. Curiously, some of the most vile Unionist invective has been directed at her (though it’s all merely “high-spirited”).
Michael Fry: The burly right-winger strikes terror into the Unionist camp because he knows all their secrets. A late convert to the Yes cause and once stood as a Tory in Maryhill, which makes him alright in my book.
Angela Haggerty: perhaps one of the Yes movement’s most compelling voices and a woman who attracts a special level of malevolence from her opponents. Editor of the increasingly influential Common Space.
Rev Stuart Campbell: A gentle and inoffensive sort and protector of butterflies and other wildlife species. When he’s not gently correcting Unionist statistics he knits and paints.
Ross Greer: A decent prospect for the Yes movement but probably needs to be sent out on loan to gain some much-needed work experience.