This post started with my seeing a tweet by one Peter Bell, who has featured before in the No Thanks! blog, most recently (see entry for 16 May) when he asked – his words – ‘Why are British nationalists such bitter wee shites?’ Should you think, however, that this is a jab at the man himself, I go on to one or two wider issues.
I included in that previous post a photo Mr Bell uses on his Twitter page:
So, you may conclude, no random cybernat. Indeed, as his Twitter profile modestly claims, he is a ‘thinker, listener, talker, reader and writer,’ a claim reinforced by the praise of an SNP branch that recently invited him to lead an evening of ‘topical debate’:
I don’t know what constitutes topical debate in the Edinburgh Western SNP branch but six days after this event Bell tweeted:
Put aside his not unjustified reference to older women on TV and you’ll note the word, novel to me when I first read it, ‘Britshit.’
So here we have a prominent SNP thinker, close enough to the first minister to have a rather fawning selfie taken with her, who seems to think it appropriate in public to call people who want to remain in the UK ‘shites’ and corrupt the adjective ‘British’ to ‘Britshit.’
I’ve said before that you don’t have to do much more than scratch the surface of Scottish nationalism to find something deeply unpleasant.
I’ve also said before that I find it helpful to reverse a situation to test whether it might be offensive to people with an opposing viewpoint. So, how acceptable would it be to Mr Bell if I referred to Scotland as Shitland or, say, to Scotnats (an abbreviation I don’t use by the way) as Shitnats?
Which leads me to the other issue raised in my mind by seeing the word ‘Britshit.’
Mr Bell can indeed write more extensively when he chooses, perhaps too extensively: his style is both prolix and pompous. He currently writes for a website called indyref2. One of his recent efforts is called ‘Where is the anger?’ I cite it not to open up a debate on the content, which can be easily prècised as ‘“No” voters were deceived. Why don’t they realise? What can we do about it?’ My answer, by the way, would be that you could start by not calling them shites.
What attracted my attention was this at the end of his article:
Paypal and crowdfunding. The nationalists’ best online friends, whether it’s the umpteenth fundraiser by the Wings over Scotland website, a replacement hot water boiler for Edinburgh’s Yes café, or a once-upon-a-time plea for funds by SNP MP Chris Law for his clapped-out ‘Spirit of Independence’ fire engine. There are many more.
The indyref2 website’s fundraising shares a number of characteristics with at least some of these other efforts, not least the fact that you don’t know who your money’s going to. indyref2, for example, has ‘About us’ and ‘Contact’ pages but they contain no name of any representative, no postal address, no charity or company name, no bank account name or number, no statement of funds raised or how disbursed. There’s just the assurance that ‘monies received are used in furtherance of the campaign.’ I draw no inference of impropriety but note only that this lack of detail is typical of many of these websites and fundraisers. If you know and trust the sometimes anonymous people or groups running these sites, fine. If not, you might perhaps be due both the courtesy and reassurance that more information would provide.
I leave you with the text of two more tweets by the SNP’s master of insightful observation.
On 24 September, ‘I want to live in a nation that seeks mutually respectful engagement with other cultures and peoples.’
But before that, on 18 September, in response to someone who said they were spat at, physically abused, threatened and called a traitor a thousand times during the 2014 referendum campaign, ‘Naeb’dy likes a greetin’ faced wee nyaff.’
As I said, scratch the surface.