Dif­fer­ences be­tween Yes and Brexit cam­paigns are not as great as some be­lieve

The Scotsman - - Perspective / Letters To The Editor -

I note that Dar­ren Mc­gar­vey is hav­ing some prob­lems with his fel­low Yes ac­tivists (“Make a point a bouts al­mond and the SNP at your peril”, 14 Novem­ber) and is un­sure of the rea­sons why. Dar­ren has made a point of try­ing to un­der­stand union­ists in the last year or so, so here are three points for his con­sid­er­a­tion.

Firstly, so­cial me­dia has world­wide reach, and there­fore you can­not es­cape the worst of na­tion­al­ist trolls by go­ing to Lon­don. With this tech­nol­ogy, they can fol­low you any­where you go.

Se­condly, the dif­fer­ences be­tween the Yes move­ment and the Brexit cam­paign are not as great as those in the Yes move­ment would like to imag­ine. Both rely on peo­ple’s dis­con­tent with a larger po­lit­i­cal struc­ture in which they feel pow­er­less, both de­pend on an “us and them” nar­ra­tive, both rely on try­ing to en­gage peo­ple who feel marginalised and let down by the sys­tem, what­ever they imag­ine that to be. The Yes move­ment fo­cused on try­ing to reawaken Scottish na­tion­al­ism. The Brexit cam­paign fo­cused on reawak­en­ing English na­tion­al­ism. Ukip com­plained about im­mi­gra­tion, but many SNP ac­tivists com­plain about im­mi­gra­tion as well. It is just that that part is swept un­der the car­pet here, be­cause we sup­pos­edly have a nicer sort of na­tion­al­ism. Ukip’s main tar­get was the EU, not im­mi­grants per se, and it is no­table that with their ob­jec­tive achieved, or ap­par­ently so, their sup­port has dis­ap­peared to any sig­nif­i­cant ex­tent. The Yes move­ment, Brex­i­teers and in­deed Trump sup­port­ers, are not so very dif­fer­ent. There are un­savoury el­e­ments but also fun­da­men­tally wellinten­tioned peo­ple in all th­ese move­ments. The dy­nam­ics associated with each are very sim­i­lar. The Yes cam­paign can­not ad­mit this be­cause they have spent so much time smear­ing the oth­ers.

Fi­nally, as some­one who cam­paigned for Bet­ter To­gether, I be­lieve there were two main rea­sons peo­ple voted No. One was a whole spec­trum of is­sues associated with the econ­omy. The sec­ond was that a large num­ber of peo­ple sim­ply did not like or trust Alex Sal­mond. The Yes move­ment will con­tinue to strug­gle with their eco­nomic ar­gu­ments and the cur­rency like they did in 2014, but could gain more sup­port rel­a­tively eas­ily if the men in grey kilts would only find a way of mak­ing Sal­mond dis­ap­pear. From a Union­ist per­spec­tive, the more he talks the bet­ter, but we could all have a bet­ter de­bate if he stopped hog­ging the lime­light and we had an hon­est dis­cus­sion about the is­sues in­volved. Politi­cians have never lifted peo­ple out of poverty by wav­ing flags. We need to end this fas­ci­na­tion with Sal­mond and look to the real is­sues which af­fect peo­ple. He does not have any of the an­swers. VIC­TOR CLE­MENTS

Tay­bridge Ter­race Aber­feldy, Perthshire

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