Saturday, 6 October 2012

SNP and the development of newspeak

If you ask the question will an independent Scotland be separate from England, the answer is obviously "yes."  The alternative answer of "no" would mean that Scotland had not achieved independence. Alternatively if you ask will the the 300 year old union of the UK break up when Scotland becomes independent, the answer is likewise obviously "yes."  The alternative would again mean that independence had not been achieved. Finally if you ask the question would this process involve a divorce, the answer once more is self-evidently "yes", otherwise the marriage of the UK would continue to obtain. The SNP may not like the language, but the language accurately reflects what they propose to happen.

It's always better to call a thing what it is. If a person is in favour of independence he will not object to words like "separation", "break-up" and "divorce." On the contrary he will be happy that all three will occur. The SNP know however, that the majority of Scots don't want independence, for which reason they are trying to imply that independence will not really change anything. Thus they think it is vital that certain words, which accurately reflect what they propose, should be banned. Fundamentally they are trying to prevent the Scottish public from gaining a full understanding of the implications of independence. 

When the Republic of Ireland became independent did it separate from the rest of the UK? Yes. Was there a break up of the former relationship? Yes. Was there a divorce? Yes. Is there anything negative about describing the situation as such? Do Irish people find such descriptions insulting? Not all, because they are in favour of being a separate country, they are glad that they broke up with Britain, they are pleased that there was a divorce.  Does anything in this imply anything negative about Ireland and its relationship with the rest of the world including Britain. Not at all. Ireland is one of our closest allies and best friends. Scotland could, of course, be like the Republic of Ireland, but let's not forget what this means. Eire is a foreign country like France. If I lived there, I'd be a foreigner and would be described as such. Moreover although we get on well now, it was not always so. Divorces can be bitter and Ireland's divorce from the UK was particularly so, giving rise to civil war, partition and the troubles and in the end an Irish merger with the EU. Independence does not always give rise to improved relationships between countries, as the example of the former Yugoslavia and USSR ably show. Where's the social union there? The rest of the UK is really beginning to grumble about Scotland and the discord the SNP has been sowing is liable to make any divorce bitter and contentious. Without cooperation and good will from the rest of the UK, an independent Scotland would really struggle, but when did divorcing couples ever behave with good will and cooperation towards each other?

The average SNP supporter, in reality, is not at all offended by supposedly negative words. Rather he is is looking forward to separation, break up and divorce. But he and his party leadership know that two-thirds of the Scottish public still favour the union, so an attempt is being made to somehow confuse the Scots public by implying that independence does not mean separation, break-up and divorce.

The futility of this is shown by the BBC's use of the word "militant." Does using this word change our attitude to the thing? If you call people who blow up others "militants", rapidly the word "militant" take on all the connotations of the word "terrorist" and then you have to come up with a new euphemism. Does the SNP really want to be associated with such media practices, with an escalating scale of euphemisms for the very thing they're supposed to most want?

The SNP should have the confidence in their cause to call it what it is and put it to the Scottish people as such. An independent country can only be a success if the vast majority of the public give their consent and want it. If the SNP con the Scottish public into an independence that they don't really want, there will be bitterness and division for decades. Only if Scots are able to fully comprehend the implications can a rational choice be made. Luckily whatever words are used, there are unionists who will fully explain the implications and the Scots people are canny enough not to be taken in by the SNP's Orwellian Newspeak and attempts to create thoughtcrimes.


  1. Effie, the term "Scottish independence" is not new to UK politics by any means. Nationalists and unionists alike have referred to it as such for many years. This has always seemed proper given that we talk about "Irish independence" and indeed "American independence". You won't find many books or encyclopedias or historical texts which use the terms "seperation" or "divorce" in this context. Insisting on the correct terminology is hardly "newspeak". It's the opposite in fact. Haven't you noticed certain unionist politicians (in only the last couple of years) who have adopted a policy of refusing to say the word "independence" in public? I'd hazard a guess that they prefer "divorce" and "seperation" because these words have negative connotations and suggest an acrimonious split. Which is strange, because hasn't the Edinburgh Agreement just been signed, a document which by all accounts was agreed upon amicably, with both sets of signees pleased with the outcome? A document which guarantees no legal challenge to the referendum? David Cameron has said many times that he is only pursuing a "no" vote because he wants what's best for Scotland. This doesn't at all fit the image of bitter seperation or acrimonious divorce that some would portray. It's true Alistair Darling has been forthright in stating he would consider Scots "foreigners" (foreigners being a pejoritive, apparently), detached from the rUK, but I don't believe for a second that view speaks for the majority of people or politicians. The actual negotiations so far between UK and Scottish governments have been nothing short of good natured. Far more good natured than the sniping and smearing done by party activists (of both sides) on Twitter would lead us to believe. Don't let the bile some write on Twitter drag you down, Effie.

  2. Some good points Mark. I've been reposting some of the things that I wrote in the last year or so, so that they can get a second airing. I'm pleased that things are reasonably amicale in the UK and hope that it would continue so no matter what happens. Each side has its favoured language, but its important that this favoured language from either side does not get in the way of the truth.
    I try to argue vigourously for the unionist point of view, but without attacking opponents personally. I really welcome reasoned comments like yours. I would like you much prefer that there was less bile on twitter etc. No doubt sometimes I contribute to it, but politics always goes that way sometimes. I try to keep things respectful and friendly.