This is the introduction to our series of articles "Debunking Separatist Myths", which examine the SNP and Scottish Nationalist Talking Points and Themes.
We answer their tricky questions and dubious claims – which can be found repeated daily in the comments and articles of its elected representatives and supporters. We show you how they deliberately use their rhetoric to try to dominate the debate; and most importantly we show you how to fight back.
Let's get to it!
A Talking Point is something that politicians, and/or the media, will promote and amplify (make louder) in order to lead the debate, with the intention of dominating the discussion and directing it along a preferred course.
It is a fact that the SNP's Talking Points lead the Scottish media, and national debate, by the nose.
Of course, such journalists will object to that, but we're about to demonstrate that they clearly are being led - because if they were not being led, then we would be hearing our Talking Points instead.
The Role of the Media
Politics is experienced by people largely through the consumption of mainstream media, and increasingly social media. It is the media which introduces ideas into popular consciousness, keeps them in our minds (if we let it) and amplifies certain messages over others.
However, traditional media – TV especially – has an authority that social media doesn't have. Scottish nationalist domination of that medium is hugely powerful.
For example, there is no TV media host based in Scotland who would dare give Sturgeon (or any SNP personalities) the pasting that Andrew Neil (based in London) gave her. It would be more than their job was worth! The best us unionists can hope for 'on the Telly' is the occasional audience member on Question Time speaking up for us.
That's a sad state of affairs!
HOW TALKING POINTS WORK and HOW TO TURN THEM AROUND
Example 1. They say: "Boris is imprisoning Scotland"
That's the SNP's Talking Point, intended to lead the debate with the intention of dominating the discussion. Switch on the radio and the first thing we'll hear will be about Sturgeon accusing Boris of "imprisoning" Scotland.
The media is now promoting and amplifying this particular message. By doing so, it is essentially acting as a mouthpiece for the SNP.
So, all day people are asking "Is Boris Johnson keeping the Scots in their place? Do you agree or not? Has he locked us up and thrown away the key? How do you feel about being a prisoner to the Tories?"
You know, we just made up those quotes as fast as it took to write them down, but you get the idea. The particular SNP view, leads the debate and thereby dominates everywhere, especially in our heads.
But as Graham Grant pointed out: "...for as long as he honours his promise not to countenance a replay of the poisonous independence vote in 2014, he is a liberator of ordinary Scots who long ago wearied of the SNP's constitutional games." (Graham Grant, Scottish Daily Mail, 17-12-19)
Therefore, we can just as easily argue that Boris is not "imprisoning" Scotland. It is Sturgeon who is holding the UK hostage!
We could just as easily say that Nicola Sturgeon – with 45% of the vote of those who voted in Scotland and 3.9% of the share throughout the UK – is holding the majority of people in Scotland, and the rest of the United Kingdom hostage.
Are we really to imagine the whole of the UK should be held hostage by less than 4% of the electorate?
Of course not, but we don't switch on the radio and hear: "Sturgeon is holding the UK hostage and pointing a gun at its head. How do you feel about being held hostage by Sturgeon? When will the SNP admit that they have no right to hold the United Kingdom hostage? When will they admit that they have no right to hold the people of Scotland hostage? Does she have a right to hold a gun at the head of the majority in Scotland? If Nicola Sturgeon was a kidnap gang, would she be Baader-Meinhof, or the Medellín Cartel?"
The SNP's perspective, its slant on things, which is tilted deliberately to give it the momentum, gets all the amplification.
Example 2. They say: "We are facing a constitutional crisis"
No we are not. The SNP crisis is not our crisis!
We've just had a very well-behaved Election with a good turnout. Indeed the turnout in Scotland was 68.1% which is way above the usual Holyrood turnout (demonstrating as we always point out that people in Scotland have more engagement with Westminster than Holyrood).
We have just elected a new Parliament. All the MPs (except Sinn Fein) are talking their seats. The constitution has worked very well, thank you. There is no crisis.
The crisis is all on the SNP's side.
This is because, despite getting 48 MPs, the SNP failed in its two major aims. It failed to "Stop Boris". He is the Prime Minister. It failed to "Stop Brexit". We will be leaving the EU on 31st January (at which point the SNP's goose could be cooked).
So the SNP needs a new "narrative". It needs a new story. It needs new Talking Points in order to lead and dominate the debate, and for its supporters to parrot.
So they, and their supporters in academia, such as Prof Tom Devine, announce that there is an "unprecedented constitutional crisis" (see his letter in The Times, 14-12-19); which then leads to an absurd editorial on the same day which parrots his phrase, and starts fretting about "civil unrest" in Scotland.
All that demonstrated was a Times leader writer who looks on Scotland as some sort of rebellious colony which may as well be on the other side of the world; which he hears about every few months via messages delivered via sailing ship, then homing pigeon; and which he fears needs to be treated with kid gloves lest it mutinies.
In other words, that's someone speaking who has no clue about Scotland, or indeed, the United Kingdom, at all. That's someone in the London Metropolitan Elite Bubble speaking.
Unfortunately, it is then these sorts of influential people who will go on to panic about the "crisis" and then make the claim – because they don't understand the nature of Scottish nationalism – that the answer is to give even more powers to this rebellious colony, and to the local Panjandrums who lead it, in a doomed attempt to appease them.
(As we know, Scottish nationalism will never be "appeased", not even with "independence". It will never be satisfied. That is not the nature of the beast. All you are doing is giving more powers to the Panjandrums to destroy the place prior to blaming it on you and making their ultimate goal easier.)
Anyway...back to the pretendy "crisis".
We say: The only "crisis" is the crisis among Scottish nationalists, who can see their cause disappearing over the horizon. So they have to make their crisis our "crisis".
They do this by running about screaming that there is a "crisis", when there is no crisis. Suddenly, everyone is trying to think of "solutions" to this non-existent "crisis".
HOW TO PROTECT OURSELVES IN THIS WAR OF ATTRITION
The SNP has declared a "War of Attrition" upon Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
That is, they aim to grind us down over time. Wearing us down is a deliberate strategy, and to the extent that people begin to feel helpless, and to the extent that they do not see their own people "fighting back", then it can work. Make no mistake – it can work!
We need to protect ourselves. Here's how.
1. Understand and Avoid those with an Agenda
As above, many in the media – both in Scotland and London – and many of the people who appear "objective observers" on TV actually have a deliberate agenda to exploit the constitution for their own ends, particularly Scottish nationalists, English federalists, and the anti-Brexit brigade.
The former, as above, will talk up our (non-existent) "unprecedented constitutional crisis", while federalist organisations (including even Conservative newspaper columnists) will continue to propose various thoughtless ways to bugger-up Britain even worse. All these people, and more, have a deliberate agenda to promote.
Academics or authors may appear to be "objective". They may frame their apparent concern about a supposed "constitutional crisis" in objective ways, but they are promoting their separatist agenda.
Learn to spot them because virtually none of the above are objective observers. We should not be fooled.
The media leads the debate in favour of the SNP by using its Talking Points. Come to understand that subtle but hugely important point. See and hear it in action. When you do, you will know what they are up to, and you can protect yourself psychologically.
2. Take the Moral High Ground
The SNP's message is a belligerent and angry one. It is all about "no mandate", and Scots being "imprisoned". It is highly negative. We put them on the back foot by being highly positive about the UK and its unlimited potential. When they go low, we go high.
You know, most of us did not vote for Sturgeon and the SNP, but we are prepared to accept that they run Holyrood. Yet these SNP people did not vote for Boris and the Conservatives yet they are not prepared to accept that they run the UK.
That's a very bad attitude.
It's encouraged by the SNP. Yet it is not how democracies are meant to operate. In a democracy, we are meant to accept that we have sufficient in common to accept government by people we didn't vote for. When that attitude breaks down, then society starts to break down. Politicians should not encourage that process.
3. We Pull Together. They try to Pull us Apart
The British View is the positive one. It is about the 4 corners of the UK working together to get the job done. About all of us pulling together to get through Brexit; whereas the SNP message is about negativity, and pulling us all apart.
4. Beware the London Metropolitan Elite
Far too many commentators in the London media clearly have no idea about anything north of the M25. And that's the ones who don't have a deliberate agenda to destroy the UK!
These people could still ruin everything.
There are signs that the know-nothing-about-Scotland London brigade will continue to advocate further appeasement of the ScotNats with ivory-tower notions of "federalism".
Their view hasn't evolved beyond "Just give the Nabobs in the colonies some more powers and they'll be happy" – and that's the well-intentioned ones! At the end of the day, of course, we here in Scotland know that the Nats will just spit on anything they are given, bank it, then pretend like they never received it.
5. Complacency could be our Doom
There is a huge element of complacency in the pro-UK field. This is largely because being "unionist" or pro-UK isn't really a thing.
Prior to 2014, it was just called "being a normal person going about one's day to day existence." We include ourselves in that description!
It was only the Scottish nationalists, with their obsession about separation, which forced the issue upon us and forced us to choose sides.
Consequently, many "unionists" would rather this all went away, and at best, that leads to an unwillingness to get involved, and at worst, an opting out.
Many Nats are possessed with a revolutionary fervour to up-end the system. Most unionists are just trying to keep the ship on an even keel.
Many people who are for the Union just imagine it will be alright on the night. Well, there is no reason why it should be. There are problems ahead. So let's stand up for Britain!
Thankfully, everyone connected with AFFG is energised.
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Debunking Separatist Myths Series: An Introduction
Myth 1: "Scotland gets what England wants"
Myth 2: The SNP's "Scots are Inferior" Themes
Myth 3: The "Why can't Scotland..." Themes
Myth 4: "Westminster has No Mandate"