by Colin Campbell
AS an example of SNP online abuse it could scarcely have been bettered.“These English nationalists and their slavering lickspittle Scottish backers are a disgrace to democracy. Get the hell out now. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by Scotland and its people dragging out this utterly humiliating charade.”
This offering in a comment from one Lorna Compbell was not however confined to the deeper recesses of the Internet, but was considered suitable for prominent publication in The National, “Scotland’s independence supporting newspaper”, part of the Herald group.
And the “slavering, lickpspittle backers” who should “get the hell out now” are of course those of us who disagree with the SNP and the nationalists’ desire for independence.
It’s a not untypical example of the kind of rhetoric which appears in The National, which I buy far too often, and which is suffused on a daily basis from first page to last with fury, grievance, outrage and, frequently, open hatred of the “British state”, and quite often, from some contributors a clear undercurrent of dislike for people who happen to have been born in England.
And this appeared the morning after Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP conference speech in which she declared their independence mission should be pursued: “Not by undermining democracy, demonising those who disagree….we will win by inspiring and persuading. So let us resolve today that how we campaign for independence will always reflect the open, tolerant, inclusive and democratic nation we are determined to build.”
Of course not all nationalists are of that ilk. Many are very nice people. But too many – it seems a growing number – are now getting so worked up over their zeal for independence that they run the risk of having a coronary.
And things are only going to get worse for them.
When Sturgeon demands Section 30 powers from Westminster for the right to hold a legal referendum before the end of the year it will be refused.
The wrath of some nationalists when that happens will be a wonder to behold.
And it could happen again, and again.
What state will they end up in then?
Sturgeon has already sensibly quashed proposals for a “Plan B” – a move to hold an illegal referendum which would be boycotted by those who support the Union. But all she can offer, yet again, is the opinion that soon Westminster will have to cave on and grant referendum powers because the current situation is “unsustainable”.
But the reality is it’s perfectly sustainable. All Boris has to do – if he wins an election with an outright majority, as seems quite likely, is to keep saying: “No!”
And although many north of the border have their doubts about the man, they’ll be cheering him on every time he does.
The nationalist frenzy is fuelled by recent opinion polls which show their support is on the rise, and the time to strike is Now!
But these polls are based on a backlash against the confusion over Brexit.
Because all the focus is on that, Sturgeon and co have been able to avoid scrutiny of their own policies. Once the spotlight falls directly on that, how well will they fare in public opinion?
They haven’t a clue what currency an independent Scotland would use. That’s about as basic as it gets. There’s no point in asking MP Drew Hendry or MSP Fergus Ewing, because they don’t know.
The SNP have tried and failed to find a solution to their “currency problem” and are split in all directions over whether to cling on to the pound, to try and adopt the Euro, or to create a “new Scottish currency” which would need billions in reserves the country doesn’t have.
They have no answers to how an independent Scotland would bridge the gap in which public spending per head here is £2,000 higher than it is in England.
And when people start thinking seriously about the impact of independence on house prices and pensions we’ll see how well support for a breakaway holds up then.
And if that wasn’t bad enough for the nationalists, they now face the proposition – or inevitability as a result of their independence ambitions – of a “hard border” with England, in which passports and checks would be needed in both directions.
In the SNP’s new dreamland, people from Poland, Romania and all across Europe would be able to travel here freely without any controls under “free movement”. Everyone except the English, Welsh and people from Northern Ireland.
When that reality sinks in, how will the “rising enthusiasm” for independence fare then?
And these are just some of the questions Sturgeon and the nationalists will have to face up to.
To listen to them now, permission for a referendum is all they need to see we “slavering, lickspittle” weaklings crushed. The result, they seem to think, is a foregone conclusion.
But Boris-bashing and Brexit won’t be enough to convince a majority of people to take the leap towards independence.
And that’s without even taking into account the feeling that, after Brexit, many, many Scots will be in no rush to plunge into a world swirling with the uncertainty and divisiveness of independence.
There may be no saving the most ardent zealots. But hopefully the majority of nationalists will be able to retain a cool and balanced perspective.
Otherwise, faced with another referendum defeat – if they ever get another referendum – we “slavering, lickspittle” folk really do have to worry about their ongoing mental wellbeing.