The Art of the Possible

image courtesy of National Collective

We’re delighted to announce that the multi-talented Kate Higgins – who may be known to you via her usual scribblings over at Burdzeyeview .Kate is joining the Bella editorial team and lays out her own personal thinking about the challenges ahead below. We’re delighted to welcome her on board as part of the development of Bella over the coming weeks. Her presence will bring a different slant, or at least a different set of obsessions than the current editors.

What is it with politicians and words and how they treat them as weapons in the constitutional debate?

I find myself increasingly divorced from this most important debate on our future because of what I hear regularly from both sides. The camps are lined up with no man’s – and woman’s – land in between, and having attempted with a few like minds to open up this no woman’s land, I find myself snarled in the barbed wire which keeps those camps apart.

I most certainly do not belong in the no camp. I’ve never been a can’t do person and I ain’t becoming one now. But increasingly, I find myself at odds with the yes protagonists too, or at least, the official SNP element of it.

Why? Well let’s start with the term nationalist. Having reclaimed it in an astute piece of political manoeuvring for electoral purposes, I find myself, like it or not, a nationalist. And actually, I don’t like it. At the risk of inviting opprobrium, I am not or at least, don’t think of myself or project myself, as a nationalist. Even though I know I have blogged that I thought I was, rather in the Jimmy Reid way of thinking. Call it a moment of weakness.

So if not a nationalist, then what?

Two things have helped crystallise this for me recently. First, a conversation with a colleague who regaled me with tales of his family and community history, and how his antecedents really believed that what they did politically was about getting up every morning to change the world, or at least their part of it. And how having been inspired by that in his youth, he has found himself adrift from modern politics – or at least, conventional party politics in his part of the world – because of its narrowing of focus and purpose. Which is that – and I appreciate I am possibly interpreting his view for my own purpose here – the pursuit of power became an end in itself and the idea of changing the world – of blowing away the institutional inertia and vested interests which created and reinforced social injustice and inequality – became too hard or simply no longer attractive

And the second? Irvine Welsh’s essay for this here blog – and also Stephen Noon’s piece a few weeks ago in Scotland on Sunday. At last, two thoughtful, personal pieces articulating why we need independence. Not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end. About creating the opportunity for change, because we have no chance of trying to do it from within existing institutional and political structures.

The reaction, particularly to Stephen’s piece, from official quarters, or at least its foot soldiers, would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. The idea that Stephen Noon can’t be trusted and doesn’t speak for the SNP – or at least a big strand of it – is laughable. Here is a man who has served his party and his cause and served it well.

Folk have short memories. The reason he is the chief strategist at Yes Scotland is because he gets it. He was one of the key architects of the big shift in campaigning approach in the SNP in recent years which has brought such success. So, for some to think that the SNP can take us all to the promised land without what he brings to the journey gars me greet.

And the fact that what he had to say, that independence offers the possibility of a huge political re-alignment in Scotland, was responded to – by some- as a threat to be denounced rather than an opportunity to be embraced fills me with dismay.

Because both Stephen and Irvine articulated far better than I ever could, the point of independence. Which is to change the Scotland we are currently; to shift the nature of our relationship with other countries, particularly those on these islands; to demolish the established ways and mores and initiate new and better ones; and to improve the quality of life of all who live here, creating a political architecture which works for the many not the few.

And even though I grew up in the SNP and have been on Bannockburn rallies (and even Glentrool ones, which not every Nat can say) and had my children’s faces painted in the Saltire and speak at Burns Suppers and love my culture and heritage and have cried singing Flower of Scotland and roared on my national teams…. identity does not matter all that much to me. I will not be voting yes with the heart, nor just with my head but with a mixture of both.

Because much as I love my country, I love my people more. And that’s all the people who live in Scotland and who will live here. But also all the people who live in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I want to change what happens here in Scotland because I think I can, post independence – in my usual flights of modest fancy – contribute to making that happen. And by using that direct influence, through the ballot and other means, I can contribute indirectly to change elsewhere. We need to clean our own doorstep first before embarking on the stair, if you like.

But none of it is possible if no one is advocating change. And at the moment, we have a no camp advocating the status quo as the best way to proceed, conveniently ignoring the fact that we’ve had 300 years of union and over 100 years of a labour movement which has signally failed to reform anything other than the margins. And increasingly, we have a yes camp that is split between its main party protagonist which seems to think the way to get people to vote for change is by advocating little change and is also bent on controlling and slapping down the wider yes movement every time it dares to articulate the case – any case – for change.

I have a much better understanding of why the naysayers are doing and saying what they think needs to be done to win the day than my ain kind. Why anyone would vote yes without having been persuaded of the need for change, never mind what change might result if we vote yes is beyond me.

And having neutered the change debate, we are left on the yes side, largely with the identity one. With the soubriquet “nationalist” so adeptly reclaimed for a short term purpose coming to symbolise the nub of the argument to which only fully paid up members of the patriotic, Braveheart tendency are invited. Anyone else is deemed to be anti-Scots.

All it does is continue to polarise the argument into them and us. It will do little to create the gap needed in the barbed wire, not to reach either camp but rather to give them the chance to reach the middle ground upon which so much of non party political Scotland currently lives. And the more terms like nationalist are used – by both camps – the less engaged those of us who cannot and do not identify with the term become.

Thus, the likes of me, who dares occasionally to disagree and utter my own opinion is ritually accused by some in the yes camp of not being a proper – or not even being – a nationalist: the ultimate betrayal in their eyes.

And there are those in the no camp who think it big and clever to apply the term to all pro-indy supporters, as an insult, designed to belittle us all and shut down any attempt at a substantive discourse on the pros and cons of independence.

So, please stop already. You might be a nationalist, and that’s fine. You might all want to conduct the debate in such emotionally charged but ultimately vacuous, polarising terms. But leave me out of it.

So if not that, then what? That’s easy.

I’m a political, utilitarian evolutionary revolutionary; an anti-establishment dis-establishmentarian; who will forever be a sceptical idealist; who believes in independence for Scotland and the art of the possible; who looks around Scotland and thinks that this is absolutely not the best we can be, here or elsewhere in these islands; and who is willing to put their shoulder to the wheel to turn dream into reality.

And the first party post-independence to articulate policies which appeal to who I am (rather than whom they would like to label me as) and which leaves the old cloaks of identity and ideology at the wayside when we cross into virgin political territory as a country and a nation, wins my vote.

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158 replies

  1. Looking fwd to reading burdzeye on here, I enjoy her blog tremendously.

  2. What a horribly confused mess of an article!

    Dissecting the whole thing would be a lengthy process. So, for the time being, let’s just deal with the silly fuss about the term “nationalist”. The sudden distaste for and rejection of this term seems to have been occasioned by acceptance of the fallacy that nationalism is a discrete ideology complete in itself rather than simply a single component of a broader political philosophy variously emphasised according to the world-view which informs that philosophy. It involves denial of the fact that nationalism takes many different forms – perhaps most fundamentally the contrasting forms of ethnic and civic nationalism.

    Having settled upon this ludicrously simplistic view of nationalism, Kate Higgins appears to compound the error by embracing the entirely negative definition of that term that opponents of Scotland’s independence movement would foist upon those they see as their enemies. Volunteering to wear facile labels is foolish enough. Allowing that these labels be written by those unsympathetic to ones cause or position would seem to go beyond mere folly.

    • Dearie me!
      Peter, are you in a bad mood, or what?
      Thanks for sparing us your dissection of ‘the whole thing’, and I’m not sure you adequately dealt with the ‘silly fuss’ – I can’t be sure if the blether you provide is meant to be a definition of ‘nationalism’, or some post-post-post-modern deconstructivist ‘ironic’ piece of hokery-pokery designed to disarm those who can’t find their way to the end of big sentences.
      And this? –
      ‘…Kate Higgins appears to compound the error by embracing the entirely negative definition of that term that opponents of Scotland’s independence movement would foist upon those they see as their enemies.’
      What a clumsy construction – you don’t win many fans by playing so fast and loose with determiners.
      Come on Peter – the tone was rank. You could, at least, have acceded that ‘the writer’s heart seems to be in the right place’, or struck some similarly patronising, superficially welcoming arrangement of words.
      It’s nice to be nice.
      No?
      I look forward to being corrected, alongside my syntax.

      • Why would I have “acceded” that the author’s heart is in the right place if I don’t believe that to be the case. It may be nice to be nice, but it’s not nice to be dishonest. I gave my honest appraisal of what I consider to be entirely erroneous thinking on the matter of nationalism. Why you would assume this to indicate that I was in a “bad mood” is for you to explain. The fact remains that I am perfectly capable of analysing these things in a rational and dispassionate manner.

        Kate Higgins has a problem. She is too ready to buy into the cosy consensus of the mainstream media and to echo the fallacies and falsehoods in her own writing. This is most perhaps evident in stuff about the Stephen Noon article. By which we must assume that she means the piece in The Scotsman on 29 December 2012 under the title, “Beyond the SNP”. We have to assume this because the article is not identified nor is there a link provided. Allow me to rectify that omission – http://bit.ly/W9yzTy.

        The claim is that Noon was attacked by nationalists because of what he wrote. But that is simply not true. What some were attacking was not Noon’s musings on the post-independence political landscape in Scotland, but the gross misrepresentations of what he wrote under headlines such “SNP ‘could disband’ after independence” in the next day’s Scotland on Sunday.

        There was actually very little comment on Noon’s article. But there was a small torrent of articles discussing Tom Peterkin’s distorted representation of that article AS IF it was the original piece. For example, this from Lesley Riddoch – http://bit.ly/W9zSC6.

        And this is where I might be justified in getting a bit bad tempered. Why the hell would anybody accept the word of somebody like Peterkin when with a couple of mouse clicks they could get the genuine article, so to speak?

        It is this unquestioning acceptance of anything the mainstream media pumps out that I find irksome. Any commentator who hopes to offer a meaningful analysis of developments has to start by challenging what I refer to as the “cosy consensus”. Dear Kate seems to have some difficulty with this.

      • In more general terms though this is an issue for sites like Bella. We’re committed to a wider debate than a binary Yes v No, or a narrow nationalist v unionist. Of course in the end the choice will be simple and there’s no complexity about what we are campaigning for: a Yes vote.

        But we do want to do more than change the flags, we want to transform our society.

        In practical terms a site like this has been ‘manned’ by two people for years and has almost ‘broke’ on several occasions because there’s only so far you can manage things in a voluntary capacity. So these are two reasons why I find Peters response pretty negative. First, I think we should welcome and be open to critical voices, second, we need a hand here…

      • If we are to welcome and be open to critical voices then surely we must be just as open to the basis of such criticism being challenged. A voice does not somehow take of some special class of validity simply because it is criticises from within. I do not question the right of anyone to criticise the SNP or the Yes Scotland campaign or any of the people within these organisations or any position, policy or strategy that they might adopt. But I reserve the right to question the reasoning that informs such criticism. And where I find that this reasoning is no more than a naive acceptance of the situation and circumstances as promulgated by those who are vehemently opposed to independence then I may not be gentle in my critique.

        Too many people in the pro-independence camp are too ready to accept what they are told by the mainstream media. We saw this vividly demonstrated in the case of the Stephen Noon article that has been referred to. But we see it in a multitude of other ways. For example, when the MSM say that the SNP has been “damaged” by the issue of EU membership it is perfectly understandable that unionist commentators will pick up on this cue and run with it. What is less easy to comprehend is why nationalists would do so. But they do. And when a fallacy is being perpetuated then it deserves to be challenged regardless of who is doing it.

      • Sorry Ian but I must agree with Peter here. (I would have replied directly after Peter’s post bellow but their was no reply button). Well said Peter A Bell! I do like a straight shooter. (smilything)

  3. Yes and aren’t Unionists British nationalists? So Scottish nationalists do not have a monopoly of that descriptor!

  4. Welcome to Bella Kate ,unlike the grumpy and pedantic Mr Bell I enjoyed your article and share many of your views.I lived away from Scotland for many years and although visiting frequently and always being a John Maclean man ie in favour of a Scottish Socialist Republic it took coming back to Scotland to make me an active nationalist.
    Last Friday a young woman in the audience of Brian Taylor’s Big Debate asked ” I was born outside Scotland but if I call Scotland home does that make me a Scot?” Everyone in the Radio Scotland said yes of course! On the other hand Hugo Rifkind (son of Malcolm) and Times columnist who had lived in London for 20 years said of course I am a Scot but I am uneasy about nationalism.Now you might not be surprised about this but speaking to him afterwards I told him that I hadnt really grasped the politics of Scottish identity till I returned to live in Scotland.
    Like Kate I am also a socialist a republican and an internationalist and if we do win our independence then the political landscape will change forever,lets try and make it happen.

  5. “no one is advocating change” “slapping down the wider yes movement ” “neutered the change debate” “Braveheart”!!!!! “ritually accused by some in the yes camp” I honestly have no idea what you’re on about.

  6. People in Scotland come from different pasts, places and times and will therefore have a personal take on the notion of nationalism and identity. That is entirely acceptable to me. Independence, autonomy, self-determination is what the referendum offers for everyone in Scotland. Enjoyed reading your post, Kate, great stuff as usual.

  7. Oh dear.
    What a swirling morass of “i’m-considerably-better-than-you”, strawman baiting, contradictory, drivel.

    Oh Bella, how sad – slippery slope

    st as well the Y

  8. “I’m a political, utilitarian evolutionary revolutionary; an anti-establishment dis-establishmentarian; who will forever be a sceptical idealist; who believes in independence for Scotland and the art of the possible; who looks around Scotland and thinks that this is absolutely not the best we can be, here or elsewhere in these islands; and who is willing to put their shoulder to the wheel to turn dream into reality.”

    Gaun yersel, hen! And thank YOU for articulating exactly how I feel :-)

  9. I enjoyed the article, perhaps because Ms Higgins summarises my own posiiton. I’m a leftie who got involved with the SNP many years ago because I wanted change and it suddenly struck me that independendence was the only way to get it. I’m not alone. If it’s any help, Kate, I always describe myself as a separatist – I think it is more precise and explanatory than ‘nationalist’, a rather vague word.

    There is a tension between the entirely sensible desire of folk like Peter Bell to keep the question before the Scottish people as clear as possible, against the tendency of this strategy to render the question entirely empty. As is often pointed out, the Yes Campaign is not the SNP and should make use of the freedoms this gives them. Without a vision the people will perish, so for God’s sake let’s have a bit of vision.

  10. It’s interesting to read the position from someone who has been immersed in the SNP narrative, I’ve never been involved in that world so don’t think of myself as a nationalist. As for organised politics, not my thing, I’ve only ever had a short dalliance with the Greens and that was in the 1980’s. As a woman of a certain age, who has seen the workings of the political and media elite in the UK, and elsewhere, at close quarters, I’m very clear why I’ll be voting YES, and the change I hope will come. What do I call myself? ‘A supporter of independence for Scotland’.

    I suppose, though, what bothers me about the article is the sense of them and us; the good, considered YES voters and the Braveheart, ill informed YES voters …….. Let’s say, as I believe, there is a YES vote then we’ll all be here together, and will have to get on with the change we seek together, including the don’t knows and no’s.

    To get bogged down in some sort of hierarchy of thinking is at best bizarre.

    • Albalha, I think you have put your finger on the problem with this article and from what I have read, of Kate’s writings in general. There is definitely the whiff of ‘superior judgment’ around them with a sense (to me at least) of shutting down debate rather than provoking it. I hope I am wrong because Bella’s personality at the moment seems to me to be just about the perfect mix and I fear a dash of The Birdseyeview might be a dash too much. Hopefully I am completely wrong. Time will tell.

      • I agree, what I like about BC is the variety; newsy, arty, polemic and so on. A sort of old fashioned anarchic approach, with a welcome to all, clear backers of YES but at the same time not overtly party political in tone. For me this article is, essentially different …… you see I’ve never heard of Stephen Noon, does it really matter in the grand scheme of things, not really imo. My focus is to engage honestly with everyone I come across, share my analysis for what it’s worth. And appreciate I have but one vote like everyone else in 2014.
        Alison Balharry

  11. I would say this but I think more critical thinking is exactly what Bella and the wider movement needs. Otherwise you turn into an ‘echo chamber’ where everyone agrees with everything and you just reinforce your own opinions. This is lazy and dangerous and gets you precisely nowhere. As for a ‘superior judgement’ I think you’ll find Kate is very open to ideas and her own being challenged.

    • I’m more than open to all types of thinking, surely there’s a place for all opinion …….. the Irvine Welsh article cited was personal, reasoned and dare I say warm. At perhaps, you think a banal level I’m currently debating the merits of the Buchanan Irish report on other blogs, taking a different perspective form the majority, though I’m not alone.

      As someone who doesn’t care to twitter, from what I see that’s where the echo chamber is at full volume. But if BC is saying there’s only a place here for ‘critical thinking’ on what a future Scotland will look like, then fine, but let’s be honest the real time for that will come after we’ve secured a YES vote.

    • With less than two years to go before the judgment day, I just don’t think that we can afford the luxury of turning any of our energies to dividing up the already confirmed YES vote into worthies and redneck Braveheart nationalists. Which then kicks off a ‘debate’ amongst the YES (and only the YES) fraternity that ends in annoyance at best and deflation and schism at worst. Having read Kate’s Blog off and on in the past, It has been my experience that this has been her forte. I see nothing wrong with this as a genera philosophy for life, (in fact I am myself known to be an argumentative so and so) but to indulge in this kind of ‘critical’ analysis of your own side minutes before the whistle blows, is in my view harmful to our cause. Yours, mine, hers and theirs. I see no inclusive, bonding and uniting between different YES voters going on in this article but quite the opposite. Kate seems happier using the article to declare how she is definitely not ‘one of them’ and then bemoans barbed wire dividing up camps . What irks me more (and is why I am sitting here wasting my time on this) is that she somehow contrives to speak for me, being a non Party, anti establishment, idealistic da de da de da… type person myself. But then maybe that’s just my echo reverberating around my echo chamber. Only time will tell.

      • Guessing, like me you’re not up on the players in the blogosphere, but it seems we’ve stumbled unwittingly into the politics of it all, hey ho, so it goes.

      • Peter this has got to be the first time that Bella’s been accused of ‘unquestioning acceptance of anything the mainstream media pumps out’.

        Ever.

      • You should note that my criticism was levelled at the author of the article, not Bella Caledonia.

      • Yes Albalha, normally I would be the first to enjoy the argy bargy but unfortunately we can’t afford such self indulgent luxury, there just isn’t the time now. Nice to meet you. Vote Yes!

  12. Great to see that Kate Higgins is now part of Bella. I agree with you Kate about Stephen Noon’s article. In fact I kept the paper copy and gave it to loads of folk to read as a great example of how much the referendum is about everybody in Scotland – regardless of political affiliation. It suits the NO camp to keep the Referendum firmly in the SNP camp but this is not good for the YES campaign. The SNP have delivered the referendum and that is fantastic; who’d have thought it.
    But now it’s as big as Scotland and belongs to everybody -folk of all political colours will vote YES, and folk of all political colours will vote NO – that’s the great thing!
    I had no idea that Stephen Noon had attracted negative criticism for his article and I am sad that happened.

    • He hadn’t. Tom Peterkin’s blatant distortion of his article had.

      • Yes and now another person has unwittingly repeated that particular media falsehood. Well done there Kate.

    • The point is that there was no criticism of Stephen Noon’s article. Or very little. What caused a bit of a stooshie was the false representation of the article by Tom Peterkin and others who claimed that Noon had suggested the SNP would “disband” after independence. Critics then responded, not to the article itself, but to the dishonest misrepresentations of it. Startlingly, this included people of a pro-independence leaning who really should know better than accept the voice of British nationalism as an authoritative expression of the views of someone like Stephen Noon.

      Having read Stephen Noon’s article yourself you will know that nowhere in it does he suggest that the SNP will cease to have a role in Scotland’s politics after independence. On the contrary, he discusses at some length what that role might be.

  13. If there’s one thing us Scots are good at it is baulking at anybody’s attempt to put us in a box of their choosing and for some, including all the ‘don’t knows’, the prescriptive ‘nationalist tag’ is just a tad too much in that direction.
    What I see here is a debate, which is more about the moniker ‘nationalist’ than what our objectives are. It’s just possible ‘vronsky the separatist’ has hit the nail on the head, it is surely separation that will bring the independence we will sink or swim by.
    Ironically, maybe we have yet again to thank the better together-ists for clearly identifying what we really want; independence created by separation.
    The day will soon dawn when we will indeed be facing the reality that what we are demanding is separation and that it doesn’t make us pariahs. Call us what you will, but at the end of the day we want to be Scots, living in Scotland, for Scotland and the international community.

  14. I don’t think anybody in the Yes campaign is not advocating change. That is a line from the Scottish media, who along with the No campaign, are panicking because they rejected a second question in the referendum. It is now obvious from the polls that a substantial number of Scottish voters want to see all the decisions made by Holyrood, although recognising that this is independence is still a hurdle to overcome.

    Kate mentioned the polarisation of the debate between the two sides in the referendum campaign. That was inevitable due to the No parties’ failure to support a more powers option. They are only interested in defeating Salmond, nothing else matters to them.

    Another point I disagreed with was the alleged abuse of Stephen Noon. Where is the evidence for this? He wrote a very good article, and I cannot recall any real abuse of it from the SNP? In addition, I found it very ironic that Kate complains about the SNP not advocating change, and then praising Noon’s contribution to the SNP! Stephen Noon is a influential strategist within the SNP, and now the Yes campaign, and it is probably due in no small measure to his thinking, that the SNP are being cautious at this stage. Too many people in the Yes side dismiss the idea that for many people in Scotland, as elsewhere, change is very difficult. There has to be a recognition that change has to be managed properly for any kind of success in the referendum to be possible. It is not an accident that we are going to have a long referendum campaign.

  15. Peter A Bell –
    Sorry if I was a bit snidey – that’ll have been the Lambrini kicking in – but I can’t see what your beef is with Kate Higgins. As a introductory statement from someone who will be helping frame the discussions here, it seems straightforward enough.
    I followed the links you provided (for which, thanks) and read the Noon/Peterkin/Riddoch pieces.
    You wrote, above:
    ‘She is too ready to buy into the cosy consensus of the mainstream media and to echo the fallacies and falsehoods in her own writing.’
    That’s a pretty serious statement. Is it based on Kate’s reference to the Noon/Peterkin stuff, or something written elsewhere?

    • My criticism of Kate’s readiness to accept the cosy consensus of the mainstream media is based on having read just about everything she has written that touches on the matter of Scotland’s independence and the referendum. It is something I have had occasion to comment on a number of times in the past.

      I hasten to add that this is not intended as a personal attack on Kate but a challenge to the “cosy consensus” itself. It may well be that she genuinely is as much in tune with the perspectives peddled by mainstream media as she appears. My sense is that she is not, but that she is strangely reluctant to question these perspectives. No doubt she has her reasons.

  16. @Braco
    Yes Albalha, normally I would be the first to enjoy the argy bargy but unfortunately we can’t afford such self indulgent luxury, there just isn’t the time now. Nice to meet you. Vote Yes!

    Can’t seem to reply below this, probably not clicking in the correct place, yes I’ll certainly be voting yes and will continue to engage across various blog sites ….. and perhaps more importantly, do what I can to, persuade current Don’t Knows to do likewise.

  17. ‘In practical terms a site like this has been ‘manned’ by two people for years and has almost ‘broke’ on several occasions because there’s only so far you can manage things in a voluntary capacity. So these are two reasons why I find Peters response pretty negative. First, I think we should welcome and be open to critical voices, second, we need a hand here…’
    Have you offered Gordon Brown an editorship I hear he has time on his hands. (winky)

    • Sorry that was flippant. I do appreciate the dedication and professionalism that goes into Bella and so, I am sure, do all the others commenting adversely here. That is why I felt driven to voicing my fears about the editorial direction this appointment may point Bella towards, in the first place. I hope to be wrong, we will see.

  18. I’ll throw in another thought here which may be relevant to the ongoing discussion.

    There are a significant number of people, I think it’s fair to say predominantly among supporters of independence, who seem to imagine that reasonableness and fairness consists solely of levelling precisely the same criticisms at both sides regardless of the relative culpability of either. At best, this is facile and tiresome. At worst it speaks of a timid, indolent, ineffectual morality that shrinks from making essential judgements.

    • I agree that the idea of ‘balance’ is, at times, ridiculous. However there is a danger that the ‘alternative media’ of the independence movement becomes a charicature of itself, and rather than challenge the unionist mainstream media it simply mirrors it. Some blogs and sites are guilty of just repeating unquestioning and one dimensional nationalist analysis. Do you recognise this problem / issue at all Peter?

      • But this is what Kate has just done and she is one of your editors. Peter, have I said that I do like a straight shooter!

      • Do you recognise the issue I have outlined?

      • I think I may be fairly well qualified to comment on the relative merits of the blogs and sites to which you refer as I read a perhaps a greater number of them than most in the course of trawling the web seeking content for my own site, Referendum 2014 (http://bit.ly/HhpBeC). While I would not dream of suggesting that pro-independence sites are less variable in quality than is the norm, I would confidently state that the best of them are infinitely better than anything the anti-independence campaign has to offer.

        By better I mean more open to a variety of views (You will scarcely find a unionist website that allows comments in the way that, for example, Bella Caledonia does.) Also, and this for me is crucial, they tend to temper the polemical with the analytical. I might mention in addition that pro-independence websites and blogs tend to take a much broader, more eclectic approach to the constitutional question – coming at it from diverse perspectives.

        Doubtless some parts of the “alternative media” do mirror the unionist dominated mainstream media. But implicit in this very idea is the suggestion that the unionist mainstream media is largely a homogeneous entity that is amenable to being mirrored. That would, of course, be something of an over-simplification. But it is far more true of the MSM than of the pro-independence camp’s online presence. Which is, I believe, one of the principal reasons that the pro-independence side dominates the online environment to the extent that it does.

        Some blogs and sites no doubt are guilty of just repeating unquestioning and one dimensional nationalist analysis. But they are very much overshadowed by others, e.g Wings Over Scotland and National Collective, which do a far better job of illuminating the constitutional debate than the mainstream media does.

        So, to answer your question, I acknowledge the issue, but dismiss it as a serious problem on the grounds that it is not sufficiently prevalent to qualify as such.

      • Teacher!
        Peter A Bell has stolen my homework!

  19. I think it is important to have a critical attitude towards both sides, including the Yes side. If Stephen Noon has been abused by the SNP, or its supporters, because of his very good article, then we need to see evidence of this? It is a serious accusation to make.

    • It may be a serious accusation but it is certainly an unfounded one. As I and several others have pointed out it was not Noon’s article that came in for criticism but Tom Peterkin’s dishonest representation of that article.

      My criticism of Kate Higgins and others stems from their evident readiness – even occasionally eagerness – to run with the version of events fed to them by the mainstream media.

  20. I really enjoyed this piece; and it is actually pretty astute and nicely articulated, in my opinion. The point of independence, surely, is that we want to effect change in our country. Why? Because the current set up either does not work, or does not work very well. And, undeniably, that is the truth of the matter.

    The UK, whilst an enduring political union, is a polarised mess, serving only the needs of London, the City, and whichever ‘middle England’ swing voters the three main UK parties are squabbling over to gain a majority. That’s not how I think a country should be run, and I think we can find a better way of doing things, which suits our country and its needs.

  21. “The reaction, particularly to Stephen’s piece, from official quarters, or at least its foot soldiers, would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. The idea that Stephen Noon can’t be trusted and doesn’t speak for the SNP – or at least a big strand of it – is laughable. Here is a man who has served his party and his cause and served it well.”

    Who is this referring to? People high up in the SNP itself, or SNP supporters? Surely the claim is not based on the reaction to Peterkin’s misinterpretation of Noon’s article? Who says Stephen Noon can’t be trusted? Who is saying Noon does not speak for the SNP, or can’t be trusted? These are all just claims, no evidence is given.

    • Muttley, very telling quotation and I think it goes straight to the point. Where is the evidence of these ‘funny if it wasn’t so serious’ accusations from ‘official quarters’ or ‘just foot soldiers’. Surely it’s not to much to ask for some corroboration?

      • This is after all Bella Caledonia, not The Scotsman/Herald. A quote from an editor of this website actually means something to the independence debate.

      • Exactly. That’s the most disappointing aspect of this whole fiasco. “No comment” simply isn’t good enough.

      • Excuse me?

      • Can I just say that Bella should not be getting upset about the critical way that this thread is turning. Bella should take it as the enormous compliment that it is, as it shows just how highly esteemed and important to the formation of the current reasoned thought and debate within the Independence movement that It is and has been from the beginning. This is why Kate is being put under such scrutiny, as she is now acting in an official role as Editor of one of, if not the most intellectually important pro independence internet publications. I fear this scrutiny may be new to her.

      • Bella is getting extremely upset about this thread. This site is run by people in a voluntary basis, and for people to be treated like this is extremely disappointing. This is not a’fiasco’. The comment “No comment” simply isn’t good enough’ is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable.

  22. I apologise if I overstepped the mark and used somewhat intemperate language, but serious allegations were made about “official quarters” attacking Stephen Noon, which seem to me to be totally unfounded. Several people have asked for evidence to back up these allegations, but none has been forthcoming. Nor do I see any evidence that the SNP is “advocating little change and is also bent on controlling and slapping down the wider yes movement every time it dares to articulate the case – any case – for change”. I don’t think these sort of divisive comments help our cause!

    • Andrew that is another amazing quote. I have read this article three times now and each time it gets more mixed up and confused.
      Dear Bella, you are extremely disappointed at your own long term readership engaging in a reasoned and rational debate about an article published by one of your own Editors? I am finding this a very uncomforting experience. I thought the greatest strength of Bella and it’s readership was just that. We all understand that this publication is run by (and for) volunteers and this also strengthens Bella’s integrity not weakens it, so I am ‘disappointed’ that now, when it suits, this is being laid forth as some sort of reason for avoiding the serious points and important strategic issues being raised. You are both Bella, but Bella has become more than the both of you and your readership and commentship are simply trying to remind you of this. Please answer this question to yourself. How would you feel if Muttley’s and Andrews quotes from this article appeared in tomorrow’s Herald, Scotsman, Telegragh, Gaurdian or BBC under the headline of ‘Bella Caledonia editor Admits…’. No, me neither.

      • Not avoiding serious points and not disappointed at reasoned debate, but I think people could be civil. Saying – ‘ “No comment” simply isn’t good enough ‘ – for me is just rude. You MIGHT THINK that people had jobs and other commitments so that they might not able to respond instantly to readers demands. No?

  23. This is off-topic, but intended as a positive contribution. On another thread I asked if anyone was up for meeting at the Feb 23rd ‘Illuminate the Debate’ rally in Glasgow (details still haven’t been confirmed, apart from a 4pm kick-off at two separate gathering points). One remarkable response advised against any involvement with the rally on the basis that anything less than a 10,000 turnout would be spun by unionists and potentially damage the Yes campaign.
    That attitude gets us nowhere, so I have a modest proposal – those of us who want to get away from these effing keyboards and actually DO something should not be derided as hopeless idealists, easily-gulled puppets of the Bletherthegithers. We constitute the GOYA faction (Get Off Your Arse) and we reserve the right to march, rally, make daft posters, shout outside buildings, be roundly ignored by the MSM and catch pneumonia for the same reason that dogs lick their own balls – because we can.
    Yes Scotland is playing the politics, and good luck to them. But they should remember that many of us have a long-standing and rational distrust of politicos and their methods – playing them at their own game may seem the safest route to securing a Yes vote, but no platform, regardless of how slick or effective it is, can claim a monopoly on how people feel and think and act – our votes are as valuable as anyone else’s.
    Plenty of folk will be at that Feb 23rd rally whether the armchair strategists like it or not. I’ll be there, and I hope to meet at least some of the people who contribute to these discussions.
    Anyone else up for it?
    (BTW – anyone got any catchy slogans appropriate for the rally? – my ‘Down With This Sort Of Thing’ placard has seen better days.)

  24. Enjoyed reading through all the comments, even the grumpier ones! I’ll add my tuppence worth (as one of the 3 editors…)

    The editorial direction of Bella Caledonia WILL change with Kate on board. At least I hope it will, since thats why we asked her to join us. Myself and Mike will continue to write for and solicit material as before – that wont change. Kate will add to this with her own take on things – in her own inimitable style – and by commissioning articles from whomsoever she chooses. This is expansive rather than a switch of direction.

    We may think we have a certain reach with Bella Caledonia but to not strive for something more encompassing and more challenging would be a huge mistake. Kate is part of a network of thinkers and activists who don’t often comment or participate on Bella. Hopefully this will change too.

    I hope our readers who may disagree with Kate on occasion – or with myself or Mike – make every effort to engage in positive dialogue with her, with us, and with each other.

    I also hope every article by Kate provokes as much discussion as this one. I’m sure Kate will be a huge asset to Bella Caledonia. Welcome on board!

    Kevin W.

  25. Is that not the Scotsman’s economic model Bella. Write things that annoy the readership in order to get the article comments page boiling. Good luck with that. I don’t think it has worked too well in the long term for them though. But as I said at the beginning, time will tell.

  26. Dear Editors,

    Perhaps we can really broaden Bella by included more morris dancing and sepia tinged stories of 1966.
    I think I can speak for a hitherto unengaged segment of the electorate that quite reasonably thinks a picture of Jimmy Hill should adorn the Masthead/Header.

    Where do I send my CV ?

  27. I wanted to clarify that my comments were not meant as criticism of Bella Caledonia, or the volunteers who run it, as Kevin and Mike have both done an excellent work with this website. It was a concern with the article. I don’t see what is wrong in asking for clarification on the point about Stephen Noon receiving abuse from either senior SNP figures, or SNP supporters. When some of us requested evidence of this none was forthcoming. If a claim such as this is made surely it is right that it is backed up with evidence?

  28. There’s nothing wrong with asking for clarification. You could have some patience. Not everyone can be online all day responding to readers demands.

    • I was asking after YOUR feelings about Muttley and Andrew’s chosen quotes from Kate’s first article as Editor appearing in the MSM carrying Bella’s full status as an authoritative voice of non cybernattery before it? Peter A Bell also seemed to me to answer your query of his point quite fully and civilly. What do you think? I for one do not recognise the description of the vast proportion of the comments on this thread as grumpy, impatient or uncivil. I think it has been well argued and reasoned but serious. Should it not be serious when an Editor of Bella accuses the SNP of slapping down the YES campaign as and when it sees fit or seems to foment trouble between Mr Noon (Yes Campaign) and The SNP (who he left to work for the YES campaign). What was an obvious strength, having a real political thinker comfortably move from one organisation to the other without conflict or rancour and so bring the two streams of independence together, working for the big date, is now miraculously being sited as evidence of a dangerous split in the independence camps. And all this from someone who professes life long dedication to the cause and is published on that same causes most influential website. These sound like they could have been accusations sketched out on Alistair Darlings kitchen table. All we are asking for is some evidence or maybe a little corroboration. Is Bella not an Editorial team? Could you not answer the general points if another Editor is not available today?

  29. It is always good to see various opinions on Bellacaledonia but the point of these articles is always to invite debate and comment and if you have an opinion then it should always stand up to criticism.

    Kate finds herself at odds with the official SNP element of the Yes campaign but apart from disliking the label nationalist she doesn’t actually tell us why. What’s wrong with being a nationalist who wants an independent Scotland because that’s what a Scottish nationalist is, someone who wants an independent Scotland. The rejection of the term nationalist for those who want an independent Scottish nation seems to be based on the idea that the term nationalist is somehow demeaning. In the Labour world-view nationalists are eccentric, anti-english and proto-facists and Kate’s dislike of the term would appear to be rooted in either a leakage of this labour world-view into her own views or a desire to seek approval from those who hold it.

    It would be good if she could give some examples of the SNP controlling and slapping down the wider Yes movement when it articulates the case for change because I can’t think of any examples.

    I’m not sure what “neutering of the change debate” Kate’s talking about because there’s a failure to understand the point of the referendum here. This referendum is about independence. If the SNP gain power in a future Scottish Government they will remove the nukes from Faslane, keep the NHS public, student fees free, promote the increasing use of renewable energy and have the full resources of the oil revenues to rebuild Scotland but this is not an election with manifestos and policies because the referendum is about whether we want to be Scots or British and whether we want to have control over our own affairs or leave it to Westminster. The policies of a future Scottish Government are not the issue here because they will be decided by whoever wins the subsequent Scottish general election and it may not be the SNP.

    I have a standard policy of dismissing the opinions of anyone who uses Braveheart in an article about Scottish independence. Even so, I always finish the article in question and I’m never wrong with my initial assessment. Bravheart is the unionist bogeyman and they hate it because it challenges the cosy outlook of the colonised mindset in Scotland.

    No-one makes any fuss over films about Good Queen Bess, or Henry the VIII or any other English Monarch or historical hero, accurate or inaccurate, because we have become so habituated to regarding English history on our screens as standard fare. However Braveheart, despite starring Mel “Mad Max” Gibson was the first time a Scottish hero had been given the big screen treatment and it stepped outside the acceptable convention that Scots are always bit players in British movies and that English history is our history. It was a direct challenge to those in Scotland who have become culturally colonised.

    Because they hate it so much, “Braveheart” is used as a term of insult by unionists against nationalists so it is disappointing to see it used in the same way by someone who declares they want independence for Scotland. Despite decrying the debate as polarised, Kate is using the very language which has polarised the debate.

  30. Is there not a difficulty here? The people who comment on articles are – probably – pretty au fait with all the arguements one way or another. But, it appears to be a truism that far more people read the articles, than read the comments, than comment and so on.

    I understand from somewhere or another that Bella has a rising readership trend. It is important that the undecided voter can see articles that allow them to say to themselves. “hey! I’m no cybernat, but that’s a very good point.”

    (For the absence of doubt, I think we ought to reclaim the word cybernat from the unionists, but that’s a very different issue)

    I assume Ms Higgins is addressing that wider, new, readership and also introducing herself to them with this article.

    Talking amongst ourselves is – probably – a waste of time. The aim, in my opinion, of all independence orientated sites has to be persuading undecideds and ‘no’ voters that we have the better case.

  31. Oh I’m either off my trollley or posts have disapeppered.I was asking if ich bin ein burdiehouser had yet responded to my query in a previous post.

    And @doug the dug isn’t Braveheart the most crap film you’ve ever seen? Okay, maybe not so superlative but up there, surely?

    • @Albalha Whether it was the most historically accurate film ever made or Hollywood history done as cowboys in kilts is immaterial.

      It portrayed history from a Scottish point of view. That’s why the unionists hate it.

    • Totally crap, but that doesn’t in any way negate DougtheDugs points.

  32. @alba – yep gave you a reply.

  33. @dougthe dug …. no care for the Unionist position on it, or its historical merit, it’s just a crap film, and @ ich bin, thanks, will digest in the morrow ….. on films I’m a Rainer Werner Fassbinder type of woman as it goes, partial though to Pasolini, JL Godard etc, etc.

  34. Dear commenters, many thanks for all your comments on my post. Forgive me for not responding sooner, but I’ve been at work all day and evening, and just this minute finished my tea. Though I’m bemused that some of you seem to think you have some kind of right to a response when you want it. As for the Stephen noon stushie, I was not referring to the sensationalist headlining of the piece but to the criticism I heard and read from SNP folk. Funnily enough, I am capable of discerning when the MSM is at it but unlike some of you, I don’t think the way to make them change their ways is by hammering them into submission. No one was ever persuaded that away. This article was a personal cri de coeur. I dislike being insulted by no advocates as a Nat and I dislike how the SNP has claimed me and indeed, labelled me as a Nat. The piece was an attempt to outline why. And how such labels narrow the terms of the debate and make it hard for people who don’t see themselves as Nats to warm to a yes vote. Stephen Noon and Irvine Welsh, in my opinion, give a much broader sense of why people should vote yes. I’m delighted to have been invited on board the good ship Bella, and humbled to have been asked to join Kevin and Mike’s team. I look forward to upsetting you all again soon. Fortunately, I have a very thick skin. And if you don’t like what I write, don’t read it. Simples.

    • Where is this criticism of Stephen Noon’s article you heard and read from SNP folk? You’ve done nothing to explain your objection to the term “nationalist”. And the implication that being a nationalist is incompatible with seeking progressive change for Scotland is, quite frankly, offensive.

  35. By the way, braveheart? Love it. Just don’t take it as seriously as some. And certainly don’t see it as relevant to the debate on our self-determination.

    • You can write all the articles you like Kate and I will certainly not read them, simples, but are you now not an Editor and responsible for commissioning articles? I still haven’t seen or heard any evidence for the main thrust of your ‘SNP slapping down the Yes campaign’ or was that Stephen Noon. Tittle tattle or journalism? It must be one or the other (being generous). Also, is it now official policy to upset us redneck nationalists now that were sure to vote YES, I think we should be told as that’s the reason I stopped reading The Herald and Scotsman. No one was ever persuades thataway either.

    • Why bring it up then? That’s what unionists do to try and belittle the independence movement, which I suspect is probably the main reason there’s been such a negative reaction to this article. You’re using the language of those who try to denigrate anyone who supports independence.

  36. Here’s something that is often overlooked about the film Braveheart. It was a brilliant movie. No, really. Braveheart rates 8.4 on iMDB from almost half a million votes cast. Apocalypse Now rates 8.6, Taxi Driver 8.5 and Trainspotting 8.2. Its considered to be on a par with these great films. That says something. On Rotten Tomatoes 83% of users gave it the thumbs up, as did 80% of critics. Braveheart won 5 Oscars, a Golden Globe and BAFTAs.

    Its perfectly okay to be in the small minority of those who dislike the movie – tastes differ – but Braveheart is generally perceived as a classic of world cinema. These are the facts, folks, live with them!

    KW

    • You are sounding like a politician. Instead of film criticism could you answer the substantive points please. Does Bella believe and have evidence of this slapping down of the YES campaign whenever a change agenda is raised. Any evidence of this split between Stephen Noon and official quarters of the SNP. Is this an Editorial line or just the tittle tattle and personal feelings of one of the Editors? ‘Braveheart’ and ‘oh look puppies!’ is not going to work with this audience. Come on this is serious guys. Some evidence? Any corroboration at all?

      • Hi Braco, Bella doesn’t have an ‘editorial line’ on anything. We have people who write and commission stuff around some common goals and interests. If you’re looking for some kind of ideological purity, I think you’re going to be disappointed. Try elsewhere. I’m not entirely convinced this thread is going anywhere other than a handful of people getting very angry and venting their negativity on others. For that reason comments are going to be closed on this post unless anyone has anything positive to contribute?

        Sorry to disappoint the enragé amongst you.

      • Dear Bella, I have been civil, reasoned and conciliatory throughout this important debate and yet this is now the second time that I have been encouraged by two out of the three Bella editors to ‘try elsewhere’. How is this ‘inclusive’. How will this bring the width and depth of all the possible Yes vote out there together? Critical analysis by Bella’s readership and commentship is not a byproduct of Bella’s influence and importance but integral to it. So, without anger, without grumpiness and definitely without enrage (but in the french of course) I restate, what is after all a simple question. Does anyone from Bella Caledonia have any evidence or even corroboration to support the toxic allegations made within their new editor’s debut (but in the french again) article about the conduct and relationships within the current YES camps?
        These are some of the quotes.
        “The reaction, particularly to Stephen’s piece, from official quarters [of the SNP], or at least its foot soldiers, would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. The idea that Stephen Noon can’t be trusted and doesn’t speak for the SNP – or at least a big strand of it – is laughable. Here is a man who has served his party and his cause and served it well.”
        And..
        The SNP is “advocating little change and is also bent on controlling and slapping down the wider yes movement every time it dares to articulate the case – any case – for change”.
        Headline grabbing stuff don’t you think? For the NO campaign. So proof please.

      • The French thing seems to have got you riled again. Pardonnez moi. I’m not sure that any of the statements in your opening sentence are actually true. Can I suggest a dark room for a lie down?

  37. I thought Braveheart was a good movie, though it may be difficult for a politically aware Scot to admit it. Channel 4 (or STV? Can’t remember ) did a forensically detailed deconstruction of the history, arguing that Wallace was a thief and a drunk who didn’t really win at Stirling Bridge, just got lucky, then ran away when the law was after him. I can’t remember any other historical movie being dissected in this way – a major documentary on prime-time television. It was unpleasantly aggressive, also with a feel of panicky fire-fighting. I guess the film’s producers must have got something right.

  38. I was halfway through this piece before I read that the writer is actually an Independence supporter. Well you could have fooled me. This article is from what I would call the ‘twee’ wing of the Independence supporters, ie, those who would like Scotland to be Independent but want to gain it in a way where all arguments are well reasoned, and mean, bad tempered language is taboo and we all remain friends during the debate and after. And last but not least we must never use the ‘E’ word in a critical or unfriendly manner in case we are dubbed racists. Well, Independence is not going to be won by that means. Not when the opposition is fighting dirty with every trick in the book. And the YES people need to get their fingers out and sharpen up the YES campaign. At the moment it is not being assertive enough. Independence campaigns by their nature are always acrimonious and this one is already in that category as shown by the Bitter Together mob.
    And I cannot understand why anyone who is a supporter of Independence should be insulted to be called a nationalist. Independence and nationalism are two sides of the same coin whether you are right, left or middle of the road politically. You don’t have to be an SNP member to be a nationalist.
    The raison d’etre of nationalism in Scotland is to free it politically and culturally from English domination. And to try and claim it is something different, something more pure, is just meaningless blabber. I am proud to be a nationalist and cybernat and so should any Independence supporter.
    And a Braveheart too. The whole point of Doug the Dug’s comment is that regardless of the film’s artistic merits it is a slogan in celebration of Scotland’s Independence, and for once a film that showed some history of these Isles which wasn’t England centric and dominant, which is the usual pap we are fed. The NoMen do not like Braveheart one little bit, because it is a powerful slogan. That is why they jeer at it. And it is sad to see even here some of the ‘twee’ Independence supporters trying to demean it too. Never forget, we need good strong slogans.

    • Fair enough, I can see how, I for one on this article, fit into your twee category. On Braveheart I am being a film snob, and was being flippant, I know that. And on the word nationalist I absolutely take your point, I’ve read widely on the subject from Gellner and Anderson to Billig.

      However in this debate, currently, I think it seen as the property of the SNP to many voters who don’t follow all the twists and turns, and who are undecided.

      But as I said above I am wary of the promotion of a hierachy of thinking when it comes to all of us who will be voting YES.

      First time I’ve been labelled twee about anything, always a first time for everything I suppose.

      Alison Balharry

      • “First time I’ve been labelled twee about anything, always a first time for everything I suppose.”
        Well I hope I have shifted you out of that mindset!

      • Albalha, it’s your kind of ‘Twee’ that is going to end up winning this referendum. And my kind of ‘Twee’ that’s going to end up getting me barred from my favorite website! (weewinkything) Are comments closed yet?

  39. I’ve come late to this argument after reading about it elsewhere, and I’m amazed how egotistical the writer – whose work I wasn’t previously familiar with – seems to be. The main tone seems to be “You’re not PROPER independence supporters like what I am, so shut up, peasants.”

    “the first party post-independence to articulate policies which appeal to who I am (rather than whom they would like to label me as) and which leaves the old cloaks of identity and ideology at the wayside when we cross into virgin political territory as a country and a nation, wins my vote.”

    Whoopydoo. Who gives a toss who you’re going to vote for after independence? Not me, sweetie. Since when was this all about you?

    “I was not referring to the sensationalist headlining of the piece but to the criticism I heard and read from SNP folk”

    Ah, so the entire basis of the piece is stuff that only YOU heard, which us poor peons weren’t and will never be privy to? Why write about it, then? If it wasn’t said in the public domain, how can it affect the debate? Unless of course YOU decide to wash this apparently-dirty linen out in the open.

    Citing “Braveheart” and affecting ignorance of the implications is beyond disingenuous, too.

    I’m an occasional lurker and by no means read the site every day, but this self-centred, condescending rubbish is the worst thing I’ve seen here. As a way of a new editor saying hello it’s staggering. And it’s sorta worrying that rather than answer the legitimate questions people have posed about it you’re going to close comments instead.

    I won’t be rushing to read any contributions by this new member of Bella staff, sorry.

  40. I wasn’t going to reply to this, as it seemed pointless contributing to an already-overblown stushie. But Kate’s main response seems to have completely failed to engage with the overriding criticism of the article, instead focussing on the Stephen Noon issue (which I’m completely oblivious to, but that may simply be because I had a holiday from politics around the time his article came out).

    What I found most bizarre about this article was not the casual dismissal of those who apparently want independence for the “wrong” reasons, but the implication that anyone who self-identifies as a “nationalist” is guilty of wanting independence because of an obsession with historical injustices (which may or may not have even happened), rather than for righting present-day wrongs. That may not have been the intention, but the way you set out your arguments for why you’re “not a nationalist” are deeply offensive to the rest of us who see no problem with using the term (if only because it rolls off the tongue much better than “independence supporter” or “SNP member”).

    “Because much as I love my country, I love my people more” – implication: us regular “nationalists” don’t give a fig about people, we’re just obsessed with nationhood. I’m sorry, but a country is nothing without its people, so the two are intertwined. As a result, this just sounds like the sort of argument certain unionist commentators use for NOT supporting independence.

    “Thus, the likes of me, who dares occasionally to disagree and utter my own opinion is ritually accused by some in the yes camp of not being a proper – or not even being – a nationalist: the ultimate betrayal in their eyes” – to be honest, this just sounds like the paranoia of someone who has let their blogging go to their head a bit. I find it incredibly dull when people try to make a big thing of how much they disagree with their own side, as such people tend to start going out of their way to over-analyse minor quibbles for the sake of it, all in the name of highlighting how fantastically non-partisan they are (often as a result of being egged-on by folk of the opposite persuasion going “oooh, great article, you’re so much better than most of the folk on your side!”). I slagged off my local SNP group something rotten for promoting the destruction of Union Terrace Gardens (to the point of receiving an angry email from an SNP councillor), but I don’t go on about it all the time.

    “And there are those in the no camp who think it big and clever to apply the term to all pro-indy supporters, as an insult, designed to belittle us all and shut down any attempt at a substantive discourse on the pros and cons of independence” – so rather than rail against that, we just hold up our hands and say “hey, don’t tar ME with the nationalist brush”? This is exactly the same mistake as those who have surrendered to the idea that there is a “Cybernat” faction that engages in a kind of low discourse that is somehow peculiar to the independence debate, despite the fact that it is simply what happens to all internet debates due to its impersonal nature (and that it exists just as much on the pro-union side, if not more so).

    “I’m a political, utilitarian evolutionary revolutionary; an anti-establishment dis-establishmentarian; who will forever be a sceptical idealist; who believes in independence for Scotland and the art of the possible; who looks around Scotland and thinks that this is absolutely not the best we can be, here or elsewhere in these islands; and who is willing to put their shoulder to the wheel to turn dream into reality” – again, if this is what singles you out as “not a nationalist”, then the implication is that those of us who do identify as nationalists are none of these things. Charming!

    It’s ironic you criticise the debate so far for being “them and us”, as you appear to be fostering just such a divide amongst people who are on the same side. Bit of an odd way to try to further the cause (for which you occasionally like to remind us you’ve been chapping doors longer than some of us have been members of the SNP…)

    “I’m not a nationalist…” seems to be a bit of a meme amongst the pro-independence camp just now, thanks to folk like Patrick Harvie and Dennis Canavan using it to differentiate themselves from those who traditionally support independence, and to retain their own identity as non-SNP folk. I understand their reasons for doing this, and both just about manage to stay on the right side of the thin line between “highlighting differences” and slagging off folk on your own side”, and it also helps highlight that there are different types of people wanting this. But when a long-term SNP member starts doing it, it’s hard not to feel like it’s just becoming a trendy thing to say, in order to gain entrance to some little club called “Folk Who Support Independence For PROPER Reasons (Not like Those Braveheart-Watching Nutters)”.

    Again, maybe Kate isn’t trying to say any of this stuff at all. But it’s how it comes across.

  41. I agree with James Coleman about the nature of independence campaigns. The idea that Scotland will gain its independence by the Yes campaign being nice all the time is dangerously naive. The Yes campaign needs to both give positive reasons for independence, and the consequences of a No vote. There has to be more robust debating from the Yes campaign, and it has to be more assertive.

    Using unionist language, such as Braveheart, to disparage other elements of the independence movement, only causes internal division and needless animosity. Also, the writer of this article does not give the impression that she understands the nature of the opposition we are up against here. Also, Kate has still not provided evidence regarding the alleged abuse of Stephen Noon.

    • Causing ‘internal division and needless animosity’. Hmmm. Interesting thought.

      • I take it that that comment was directed at me and others who have criticized the article?

      • “Hmmm. Interesting thought.”

        You’re coming perilously close to blaming the victims for the crime, there, Bella. Dangerous ground. You must surely the see that the article, with it’s “I’m not like the rest of you” narrative, is by any definition divisive?

        “You might be a nationalist, and that’s fine. You might all want to conduct the debate in such emotionally charged but ultimately vacuous, polarising terms. But leave me out of it.”

      • Its not a crime nor is is it a ‘fiasco’, it’s a viewpoint. I think the argument is clear and fair. It’s polemical and it’s personal.

        All I’ve seen in response is invective. People should go and be angry somewhere else.

      • Wait a minute. Now you’re saying the article was “polemic”, but being huffy that people have reacted to it with annoyance? Isn’t that exactly what polemic is supposed to achieve? The definition is basically “something controversial”, so why are you seemingly so sore that there’s been a controversy?

        I’m with muttley79 – I haven’t seen any personal abuse or swearing, maybe you’ve had some and censored it. All there’s been is people disagreeing and giving perfectly good reasons for doing so, which neither you nor the author have chosen to address. You’re not obliged to, but it does make your case a bit weak.

  42. Jim Sillars in an article in the Scotsman today sets out in detail what in my view is wrong with the YES campaign. I know he is a bete noire to many nationalists and he may even be setting out his stall trying to become more influential in the campaign, but what he says is worth reading. And members of the YES campaign should take note of his points.
    And Bella I think your threat to close the thread just because you don’t like its tone against one of your new appointments is an appalling thing to say. This is a very good thread and there is plenty more to be discussed. It is just unfortunate that the article has drawn so much criticism. But that is because the arguments and statements within the article are so poor.

    • Perfectly happy to keep the thread going if people think it’s productive. We reserve the right to close any post if the discussion degenerates.

  43. Why do you say the criticism is invective? I have saw no crude language being used, no personal attacks, just robust, probing questions, opinions about some of the arguments and points in the article.

  44. I don’t see why you have such a problem with the word ‘fiasco’ – it just means failure. Also surely unsupported strawman type arguments are essentially unfair.

  45. The comment from Doug Daniel makes this whole thread worthwhile.

  46. Peter, yes it was a very good one. I think it sums up what a few of us are thinking.

  47. “And the fact that what he [Stephen Noon] had to say, that independence offers the possibility of a huge political re-alignment in Scotland, was responded to – by some- as a threat to be denounced rather than an opportunity to be embraced fills me with dismay.”

    Who said it was a threat? Who “denounced” it?

  48. Did someone here once mention Spew’s Law? I’ll need to look it up on wiki.

  49. “…we have a yes camp that is split between its main party protagonist which seems to think the way to get people to vote for change is by advocating little change and is also bent on controlling and slapping down the wider yes movement every time it dares to articulate the case – any case – for change.”

    This is just wrong in every way and demonstrates a fundamental failure to understand the purpose of the Yes Scotland campaign and the SNP’s role in it. Yet again we find Kate Higgins uncritically embracing the cosy consensus of the unionist media which seeks to promulgate the entirely false impression of Yes Scotland as nothing more than a rigidly controlled front for the SNP. It might be a good idea if she were to get out from behind her keyboard and actually go and look at Yes Scotland in action. Perhaps she could attend a meeting of one of the 120+ local groups around Scotland. Let her try and tell them that they are nothing more than Alex Salmond’s puppets. I recommend she takes a seat near the door.

    Let her try and tell the good people of Women for Independence or Labour for Independence or any of the ever-increasing number of “niche” groups that they are just the SNP’s stooges. If she thinks the reaction here has been “irate”, she ain’t seen nothing yet!

    Given the sheer number of different parties, organisations and individuals now under the Yes Scotland umbrella it is patently absurd to suppose that the whole thing could possibly be controlled by the SNP. Does Dennis Canavan strike anybody other than Kate Higgins as the kind of man likely to allow himself to be used? And what about Elaine C Smith? No shrinking violet she, to be readily manipulated by anyone.

    And why would the SNP want to control Yes Scotland anyway? Why would the party want to “slap down” those who advocate change? Yes Scotland was initiated by the SNP for the express purpose of giving a voice to these people! It exists so that all those with progressive ideas for Scotland’s future can come together and speak as one in favour of independence. It’s fundamental purpose is to enhance the independence campaign by adding voices to that of the SNP. It is in the SNP’s interest that these voices should be heard. It is totally contrary to the SNP’s interests that these voices be silenced.

    Yes Scotland represents the broadest possible cross-section of Scottish society and the widest spectrum of political views. It has to appeal to everybody. This must, by definition, include the middle ground as well as more radical elements from either end of that political spectrum. Party strategists recognised long ago that, as the largest pro-independence body and as the party of government, the task of speaking for and appealing to that middle ground must inevitably fall to the SNP. They had no choice. Their role was defined by the very nature of the beast. To expect that the SNP might be a more radical voice is to totally misunderstand the situation.

  50. Like most people I know, who will ‘hopefully’ be voting YES, I’m not a ‘nationalist’ either – more a bairn of Jock Tamson :-) I enjoyed Kate’s ‘personal’ introduction because it was like a breath of fresh air, written with passion, enthusiasm and spirit – kindae like the personification of AG’s Bella herself!

    Obviously, because of the above, I feel no need to analyse and dissect it into oblivion; it is what it is. And, after all, ‘Bella’ is aligned to no one…

    http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/about/

    • Thank you Annie! Please comment here as much as your time will allow.

      KW

      • Yes Annie, seems like there is no real need for ‘analysis’ or ‘dissection’ on this site anymore as ‘Bella after all is aligned to no one…’

    • Yeah! Let’s not bother analysing anything. Let’s not risk a headache by actually thinking about stuff. In fact, why bother even reading it? Let’s all just clap on cue like performing seals!

  51. Apologies for dipping in and out of this discussion. It seems to boil down to a debate on use/meaning of the word “nationalist” and reaction to Stephen Noon’s article from some SNP members.

    On the first instance there shouldn’t be a problem. For ideological reasons folk from Green and leftist backgrounds rarely refer to themselves as nationalists. Recently Dennis Canavan, Patrick Harvie have made this point as well as writers such as James Kelman and Irvine Welsh.

    I would include myself among those who don’t describe themselves as a Scottish nationalist. Not once in 50 years have I called myself a Scottish nationalist. I’ll take it as a compliment rather than an insult if labelled thus. Civic nationalist is pretty damned close anyway so its no big deal.

    Kate may have nationalist detractors here for not wanting to label herself as a nationalist. Okay, fair enough. But surveys have suggested that the majority of Scots women are not attracted to the concept of nationalism. So what do we do about that? Try and win them over to a political label? Or try and win them over to Yes on the potential for fairness, democracy and social justice?

    My guess is the latter strategy is the one worth pursuing. And Kate will play a part in that through Women For Independence and hopefully through her writing here too.

    Its too easy to fall out over labels. The left have done it for as long as I can remember. I hope the Indy movement can avoid this pitfall as it’ll be hard enough winning the social and economic case for Independence in face of a Unionist media with their predictable campaign of scare-mongering and disinformation.

    As far as the Stephen Noon article goes I saw grumbles (on Twitter mainly) from long time SNP supporters about the idea that SNP might disband or split after a Yes vote. Whether the grumbles were actually against Stephen Noon’s article or the way it was interpreted in the Scotsman is perhaps what the argument here is about. Either way its just speculation and not that important right now.

    I think we can read between the lines of what Stephen Noon and other Yes strategists say in public and its pretty damned clear they are actively encouraging the impression that the Yes campaign is not just for Scottish nationalists. They want to actively encourage participation from those who dislike the label “nationalist.” Thats an integral part of a winning strategy.

    A final point. Bella has published over 1000 articles in six years. A few of them I’ve disagreed with myself but more than happy to have them read and discussed here. Thats the way it should be. We’ve still got a long way to go so we may as well try and keep it friendly and respectful, while reserving the right to stay true to what we believe as individuals.

    Kevin W.

    • Kevin, it’s never been about articles has it? I am only continuing with this because Kate is now an Editor and as such surely has added responsibilities to Bella’s reputation for evidence based opinion, openness to critical analysis and peer evaluation of quoted sources. The flavour of responses to rational but critical posts throughout this thread does legitimately lead to the questioning of whether this policy or culture is now under ‘change’.

      • Braco, it is about the articles! To explain, Bella is unusual in the way it operates. Myself and Mike write what we want and post it up here, rarely consulting with each other. We’ve grown to trust each other’s judgement and appreciate each other’s differing takes (I hope!) and I quite like being surprised in the morning by what Mike has put up. We don’t meet as an editorial committee as such as we’re both busy with other stuff and young families. Kate has been invited on board on the same basis. We wont be looking over her shoulder. She has a free rein. Give her a few months to settle in before passing judgement. Her track record on a whole number of issues on Burdseyeview are in the public domain.

        We’re all still learning. Sometimes tiredness, anger, or rushing from one thing to the next can lead to something going into public domain which you’d prefer to have thought longer about. The SEND button has helped scuttle political careers, friendships and even taken a wrecking ball to organisations. At the start of December the tabloids had a field day attacking myself over a couple of poorly phrased tweets on Twitter. They wont be getting any more gifts like that from me. We’re all learning as we go along.

        I should stress this too but from Day One Bella has never had an editorial line on any issue. That we converged on Scottish Independence wasn’t planned either its just the way it happened. I was emerging from wreckage of SSP and Mike was doing other stuff such as Product magazine. I didn’t really know Mike that well before Bella and I was probably more fundamentalist about Independence but we just got on with it and it evolved. Thats why I have to insist Bella IS about the articles rather than Editorial Positions or Editorial Stances. (We tend not to write Editorials unless they are practical matters about the site.) Early on Mike described what we were doing as having a fuzzy logic. I liked that and it still stands.

        It really is up to the writer of any article to defend their ideas when challenged rather than the editors. Thats the way it will continue. Sorry for being so long-winded here but you, Peter B, Doug, and others here deserve to be kept in the picture. Your own critical analysis is extremely valuable to us, so keep the Comments coming. Bella has never been about Mike or me but about the ideas in the articles and how they are met and disseminated by all who read and contribute.

        Bests, KW

        we’ll always be open to critical analysis of any of the articles here. Thats what Bella is for.

    • “Kate may have nationalist detractors here for not wanting to label herself as a nationalist.”

      I think this is missing the point folk are making a wee bit (or certainly my main gripe – maybe it is this simple for some folk). I have no problem with folk saying “I’m not a nationalist” and I can certainly see why it’s a necessity for some folk like Patrick Harvie and Dennis Canavan (although it sounds less convincing when coming from someone who’s been in the SNP for some time – just as Pete Wishart’s arguments about Britishness aren’t 100% convincing).

      What troubles me is when folk try to outline what it is that makes them “not a nationalist”, but in doing so seem to paint the picture of a “nationalist” being some sort of caricature, similar to that created by unionists and the media. I don’t see my reasons for wanting independence being too different from Kate’s, yet apparently it’s these things that make her “not a nationalist”. So either I should be rejecting the label as well, or I am indeed guilty of having watched Braveheart too many times (twice is too much? “Jeezo!” as they say in the West).

      As I say, it’s a fine line, and in cases like Dennis and Patrick I would feel able to excuse them if they cross it a bit, since they’ve not spent years hanging around with fellow-minded pro-indy folk and maybe don’t realise that their reasons for wanting independence are pretty much the same as the rest of us. But surely someone who has been in the SNP for so long doesn’t seriously think the caricature “nationalist” is anything other than a minority, if true at all?

      In regards to Stephen Noon’s article, I dunno what the fuss is about. Post-indy, I’ll be most disappointed if my vote for the party of Nicola Sturgeon, Humza Yousaf and Jamie Hepburn is also a vote for the party of folk like Fergus Ewing.

  52. Kevin, I don’t have a problem at all with people being involved, and supporting the Yes campaign, who are not nationalists. It is a strength that this is happening, as it means that the independence movement is a broad-based one and capable of reaching out to many more people. That is the only way we are going to get a Yes vote. There are Labour members, Liberal Democrats, trade unionists, radical left members, figures from the cultural side of Scotland, environmentalists, and non aligned people involved in the campaign. To expect all these groups to define themselves as Scottish Nationalists would be ridiculous in the extreme.

    However, I think the problem with the article was that it appeared to give the impression that being a Scottish Nationalist was somehow something to almost be ashamed of it. The problem with that is that there is an argument that Jimmy Reid used about how a nationalist and internationalist were linked. I honestly do not think that many SNP members are Bravehearts. This kind of a language used in the article mirrors much of what the No campaign and the media say. Unfortunately the very same media and No campaign is fixated on conflating the Yes campaign with the SNP. This is despite of the all different groups that Peter Bell referred to.

    • Muttley, I dont disagree with any of that. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet with people at heart of Yes campaign HQ and find them a talented inclusive group who are doing everything they can to include everyone. But they’re still finding their feet as I’m sure they’ll happily admit. If folk outside the SNP still have reservations about Yes then we cant dismiss that blithely. Their concerns are legitimate, probably born out of years of watching how political parties operate in Us versus The World mode. My guess, born out of my own discussions and observations, is that official Yes campaign will win the trust of non-SNP pro-Indy doubters. That will take time and patience. And we do still have plenty of time to build trust and good working relationships. The real battle for hearts and minds will be in 2014.

      Bests, KW

      • Kevin, I agree that the Yes campaign has to be able to win over those unsure, and some who are against at the moment. I realise the difficulties involved in this. Change can be a very difficult process for everyone. I think that persuading people will take a considerable period of time. It is also very difficult to find ways of reaching a lot of people in today’s fragmented society. That is why I can understand the SNP being cautious about the difficulties involved in change, and the way to approach it.

  53. Well, Braco, if ye dinnae like it here, I’m sure yer more than capable of slithering yer way oot the door… although ye might need tae dissect yer big heid tae get through it!

    • Well how silly can you get? That is your answer to criticisms you don’t like? I reckon you should be the one slithering through the door.

  54. Bella.
    Apart from many other things in the piece the thing I objected to most strongly was the ridiculous statement that the writer felt insulted to be called a nationalist. That statement is an insult to me and I’m sure to the many others here who are not SNP members but still think of themselves as nationalists. It is a perfectly respectable description of someone who feels an affinity for their country and it goes hand in hand with the desire for Independence. And instead of feeling insulted perhaps she and others who think like her should argue more strongly against people who do try to make it an insult. Politicians like Dennis Canavan and Patrick Harvie don’t/can’t describe themselves as nationalists because that would only confuse their constituency simply because there is a Scottish National Party in existence.

    • James, it would be a mistake to make assumption that everyone who supports Yes is comfortable with everyone else who is in the campaign. This is a young campaign setting out in completely uncharted waters. Trust and good working relationships take time.

      KW

    • People who find the term nationalist insulting do so because they are too timid to take ownership of the word and instead allow others to define it on their behalf. Either that, or they are people who are too stupid to realise that nationalism takes many forms. It is not an ideology in itself, but a component of different ideologies.

      To imagine that nationalism can be neither more nor other than the facile stereotype resorted to by anti-independence campaigners is to abandon the resources of ones own intellect and join the window-lickers of political philosophy.

      • Yes… but we also have to recognise that history hasnt been kind to the concept of nationalism. 19thC nationalism was overwhelmingly aggressive, ethnic and exclusive in nature. An older generation grew up between the wars associating nationalism with the far right and xenophobia. Its only in more recent times that inclusive progressive civic nationalism has successfully challenged the many reactionary ethnic chest-beating variations. Expressions of outright rejection of the very idea of nationalism will surface over next 18 months among many who intend to vote Yes. This shouldn’t be a problem. We’re broad-shouldered enough to live with that surely?

        KW

      • It goes without saying that those who wish to denigrate Scotland’s independence movement will be very selective in their reading of history. You seem to be suggesting that we should meekly accept their efforts to commandeer the term. “nationalist” for their own nefarious purposes – burdening it with all the negative connotations their partial interpretation of the past can contrive. Needless to say, I disagree.

        No independence movement can be other than nationalist. They differ only in the way in which the nation is defined. If we permit our opponents to define nationalism then we necessarily allow them to taint the whole movement with whatever pejorative associations the see fit to apply.

        We must not defer to our enemies. We must seize ownership of the word, nationalism, and define for ourselves what it means in the context of our civic nationalist cause. And having done so, we should use the term, not proudly, but casually as if it was, as it should be, part of the commonplace currency of political discourse.

  55. This has become unedifying and damaging – don’t forget that these words aren’t disposable – they’re on the record for keeps. There are some who could get great mileage from this spat and must be relishing it. For God’s sake, get over yourselves, put your dictionaries away and move on.

    • This thread has been positively benign compared to some of “discussions” I’ve heard on left over years arguing over what is meant by “socialism”.

      KW

      • Aye. Deja-fucking-vu. (pardon my french…)
        This is what wrecked the Left and will wreck us if we’re not very careful: malcontents with underlying beefs & personal gripes; language-fetishists and hair-splitters, aye at the ready with their nit-combs and thesauruses (anyone want to change that to ‘thesauri?); mixers, warmers, stirrers; halfwits who read one big picture-book book about (not ‘by) Che/Marx/Lenin/Stalin before getting flung out of their Social Sciences foundation course; destiny-fixated egoists who feel they’re entitled to bully and belittle anyone who doesn’t agree with their every word.
        It’s like getting sucked into a wormhole and emerging in the early 80’s, with Thatcher and her cronies systematically raping this country while decent, intelligent men and women – who, together, could have mounted and maintained a serious challenge to that putrid government – wasted their energies on this kind of self-indulgent, morale-sapping semantics and cheap point-scoring.
        Personally, I don’t give a fuck what ‘nationalist’ means. It doesn’t matter and/or it can mean anything you want it to.
        What matters, as Orwell stated more than once, is ‘common decency’ – we all know what it is and recognise when it’s missing. All else follows.
        People who possess it will, naturally, inevitably, vote Yes.

    • Exactly – it’s become like “why use 30 words when you can use 300″.

    • “This has become unedifying and damaging”
      No it hasn’t! I have found this discussion to be a breath of fresh air. It is time that people from what I call the ‘twee’ side of the Independence campaign (and I include the writer of the article in there) were told what is the reality of this campaign. It is not a ‘niceness’ contest nor a debating society to discover if it’s better to be a nationalist or not. It is a matter of the greatest import for the future of Scotland and the people therein. And minds need to be concentrated on the only objective which is to win Independence. All the rest is so much chaff in the wind. If we lose this referendum we won’t get another chance for a long time.

    • Ian, what a fabulous oratory! Thank you. I will apologise to you right now if you feel that I and what I have written in this thread has added to the likely hood of the catastrophe you have so painfully already experienced on the left befalling our self determination struggle. I can only stand by what I thought was sincere and heartfelt advice. I have not been involved in the politics you speak of, or any real party politics to be truthful and so I take your experience and words of warning very seriously. I am however me, and my life experience has taught me to hold my ground until I feel that my point has been taken seriously and therefor taken into account, even if that results in it being discounted after much thought. In that way the route is ‘officially’ still there should it be needed as a plan B. It’s only a marker. I am a democrat and will always do my best to try and make what is dealt us work. I promised myself not to post again on this, after my last marathon comment, but your post was just too moving. Please read it and all my previous posts before condemning me fully. My apology is there should it be required.

  56. So, I take it that Bella Caledonia will not be closing this thread down? Because that would be to cut off your nose, etc, etc….

    I am a member of the SNP. I do not see myself as a nationalist in any traditional sense of the word. But neither do I decry those that do.

    It is that aspect of the article that appears to have caused the greatest stushie.

    If our opponents know about anything whatsoever, it is about how to take a broad consensus, socialism say, and fragment it into an unelectable, fragmented, also ran. The problem has always been that for everyone that liked Arthur Scargill’s brand of socialism, say, there were lots of others that didn’t.

    Are we going to fall apart because of a frigging word?

    Our ideals are not pure. No-one has the right to make claims that they have the flame and others do not.

    We need a broad coalition.

    This thread gives out opponents the possibility to peek through the dressing room wall and see us throwing words back and forth. It is unedifying, to say the least……

  57. Well how silly can you get? That is your answer to criticisms you don’t like? I reckon you should be the one slithering through the door.

    Well, James Coleman, imo, he fired a really cheap shot and I replied with an even cheaper one… see us proletariat, whit are we like, pure bams, man!

    • Stoap that sniggerin in the back, Annie and pay attenshun – this is an extremely serious matter and must be dealt with as such- nae laffin aloud.

  58. I mentioned in passing on WoS that I met someone the other day who is a genuine Braveheart Scot. Am I supposed to tell him not to vote ‘Yes’ until he has been inculcated with the civic nationalism which I happen to believe is the crux of the matter?

    Don’t be daft.

    • Dear Kevin/Bella, thanks for the considered reply. I find myself to be in complete agreement with everything you say about Bella’s conception and evolution. I have been reading Bella for years. I felt very similar to this when the abortive merger with the early incarnation of Newsnet was announced. It has been, and still is, those very idealistic principles of an open, honest intellectual search for social, political and artistic answers to the problems facing our society that keeps me coming back. This is in stark contrast to the usual MSM outlets and dare I say a few of the alternative media sites who seem to be there only to search for more and better reasons to support the failed answers already given. So now we know where we are and you should, as I have said before, be confident in the respect that I hold for both of you as professionals and Bella as a publication. It is at this point that I have to say that I don’t really care too much about the GoodNationalist/BadNationalist debate, as these to me are simply labels and anyone who follows the line of thought and enquiry exemplified by Bella (and those that write and comment in her) will come, relentlessly, to the only logical conclusion. To solve the deep and ingrained social, political, medical,artistic etc.etc. problems our society suffers from, first we need Independence. It’s that simple and Socialists, Capitalists, Industrialists, Anarchists and yes Nationalists are all starting to coalesce around that same simple logic without the need to disavow their life philosophies. Why would they?
      My point about this thread’s argument is that given all that I have said about Bella as an essential organ for the encouragement in this kind of thinking, the tone and content of Kate’s first introductory article as a new Editor is polar opposite to the norm. With less than two years to go, Kate has managed to attack a large section of the YES vote. She has declared knowledge of a schism between the SNP and Yes Scotland (surely a scoop if true?). Implied bullying and shouting down of anyone not a ‘Nationalist’ as well as stating that the Party that secured the referendum in the first place is opposed to any form of change. All without any form of proof or corroboration. I am asking in all sincerity, after the experience you mention on twitter, how would you feel if these allegations were to be run with and ‘expanded’ on by one of our ‘quality journals’ in the MSM under the byline of ‘Editor of respected Nationalist website Bella Caledonia admits…’ A gift for a quiet news day don’t you think? I have read Kate’s stuff before and the tone and content was much the same as this article, as was her response to criticism. Bella’s responses for a while too. Damage Bella and in my opinion you damage the YES campaign. The best possible place for NO to get their massage across to YES voters is on Bella and I think, by whatever means, they managed that yesterday. I now worry for the future flavour and content of Bella but, as I said before, I do hope I am wrong. Time will tell. Sorry for the length.

      • “I felt very similar to this when the abortive merger with the early incarnation of Newsnet was announced.”

        Tell me about it!

        clique claque
        yakety-yack
        outta my face
        get off my back
        welcome welcome
        one and all
        from the worldwide web
        to the parish small

  59. Wan Vote, like Kate, you make me smile :-)

  60. Ian Brotherhood.
    Your last rant of 29/01, and it can only be described as such, is utter poppycock which I will go a long time before seeing its like again. Quote “… destiny-fixated egoists who feel they’re entitled to bully and belittle anyone who doesn’t agree with their every word …” That my friend seems to describe you rather better than the other people commenting on this site. It appears that you believe that your view carries more weight than any one else. I would suggest you come down off your high horse and sit with the rest of us.

    • James Coleman,

      I thought that Ian Brotherhood made a very good point about not letting anyones ego interfere with our campaign. And it read to me as if he was making that point from a neutral position.

      He makes a very good point about the clear analogy between the factionalism of the ‘the left’ and what might happen to our objective of independence if we go down a similar route.

      Did you miss that bit?

      So, I took quite the opposite intent from what you from his comment.

      Perhaps you know otherwise…….

      ___________________________________________________________

      On second thoughts, don’t bother. Internet squabbles about who has the right of the arguement are counter-productive when we all have a simple objective.

      I am not alone in finding this whole thing a bit sad. If you read back through this thread there are people who are shocked as I am at this spat.

      Do you think carrying on with this is in any way productive?

      I don’t.

      I suggest, sir, that you drop it, and hope no-one ever finds it again!

      Because this shows us all in a light that highlights our all to human blemishes. It is not flattering and it is not good.

      Thanks for your attention.

      douglas clark

  61. Douglas Clark
    I thought that Ian Brotherhood made a very good point about not letting anyones ego interfere with our campaign. And it read to me as if he was making that point from a neutral position.

    He makes a very good point about the clear analogy between the factionalism of the ‘the left’ and what might happen to our objective of independence if we go down a similar route.

    Did you miss that bit?
    I didn’t miss any part of Ian Brotherhood’s rant. And if anyone’s ego might interfere with the campaign it would be his. His few earlier contributions were less than constructive. And you and he are talking nonsense about any analogy about the discussions which are taking place on this site and the factionalism of the ‘left’. Where do you think we are? In a debating chamber at Westminster, or even Holyrood. The discussions on this site were in my view constructive and brought to the fore many things which are wrong with the current YES campaign and with the views of some of those who claim to support it. And I certainly do not have any misgivings about my views “being found again” later. Maybe you should worry about yours.

    • James Coleman,

      You say:

      “I didn’t miss any part of Ian Brotherhood’s rant.”

      With due repect, I think you did.

      You say:

      “Did you miss that bit?

      I didn’t miss any part of Ian Brotherhood’s rant. And if anyone’s ego might interfere with the campaign it would be his.”

      James, no evidence, no point to your shit, for that is how you play yourself.

      It is, frankly disgraceful for you to pretend to be an arbiter here.

      You aren’t.

      And any reasonable person would assume you were wrong. You go on to say:

      “Maybe you should worry about yours.”

      I am fairly confident that my shit beats your shit.

      Try it Mr Coleman.

      • Douglas Clar
        Typical. Nothing worthwhile to contribute so just throw out insults and nasty remarks. And why am I even arguing with you? I didn’t make any comment about your views until you intervened against me supporting Ian Brotherhood. And it might have escaped your (and some others’) notice that the disputatious comments on this particular topic were set off by the author of the article who thought it was perfectly acceptable to attack the strongly held views of her fellow Independence supporters. All along in my comments I have constantly suggested that we should be attacking the Bitter No-Men and not each other. Anyway I won’t be responding to you again as it is pointless.

  62. Look, there is an intelligent, cogent and worthwhile discussion here, as there usually is on Bella. I think it would be worth while asking ourselves what it was that suddenly created the ‘spike’. I have thought long and hard about this and it all seems to come back to the flavour, content and language of the original article. So lets not start blaming a dispirit and wide ranging readership for defending and following to the letter the ‘culture’ of Bella. This kind of stuff is what makes Bella the Real McCoy. I am not the same person I was before this thread and hopefully others have been moved to consider the instincts and opinions of those that stand beside them at the barricade. x

  63. Braco,

    Perhaps you are right.

    However James Coleman deserves the doing he is about to get….

  64. I’ve already apologised to Rev Stu @ WoS for a post I submitted to his site after this thread appeared to have shut down.
    Obviously, it hasn’t.
    People who are much more familiar than me with the complexities of ‘online’ discussion have indicated – in different ways – that I should shut-the-fuck-up. After doing a crash-course on the scribblings of various contributors, I can see why my comments may have caused upset, or even offended.
    I have never – ever – posted a comment to any fora with the intention of upsetting or offending anyone. Period.
    If the ‘tone’ I used earlier in this thread is upsetting? I apologise.
    But I don’t take back a single word of what I’ve written here.
    Please consider this – how much thought do you put into a comment before posting it?
    Do you just dash it off, hit the ‘send’ button, then forget about it?
    Imagine, then, being given the opportunity to introduce yourself to a new audience for your work. Wouldn’t you consider your words carefully? review the text until you were sure that it expressed precisely what you wanted to communicate?
    Without revisiting the posts that seem to have upset folk here (and at WoS) I know that I made a point about everyone involved in this thread having ‘a think’ about what it’s achieved.
    So, what has it achieved?
    That’s not for me to say. but I got my arse well and truly kicked by Rev Stu for even daring to raise the topic over at WoS. (I apologised to him off-thread and he was cool about it.)

    So, I want to make this clear – this is not about ‘bullying’.
    It’s about a perception of bullying – a perception which is easily warped:

    ‘Aw thae nasty cybernats, ganging up on that lassie…’
    ‘Aye, they’re aw jist nasty bastrirts.’

    Consider what the author of the article intended to get across – only Kate Higgins knows the truth.

    What was the intention of the author?
    Did s/he achieve what he wanted to do?
    Was it worth doing?

    If I’ve appeared, to some, to be ‘on a high horse’, I’m sorry about that too. My ‘rant’ was intended as a damage-limitation exercise, the aim being to stop the assault (however legitimate it was) on someone who wasn’t able or ‘available’ to defend herself. In that sense, there was no real ‘bullying’, but it could easily be spun as such.

    I don’t mind taking a public thrashing from Rev Stu – he has very very good reasons to keep this shite as far away from WoS as possible – but I hate to think that James Coleman regards me as some jumped-up bawbagger who thinks himself better. I don’t. I really don’t. I want to be part of this debate, and sometimes, yes, that means using a voice or tone that isn’t ‘natural’, but required in the circumstances.

    The ‘discussion’ had to be stopped – at what point did it become obvious that the author of the article was not going to be drawn into any discussion? And at what point did the big beasts – great bloggers for the most part – suddenly back-off?

    Who was happiest at the end of it all?

    Eh?

    And did it achieve anything so far as securing a YES vote is concerned?

    All my rants mean no more or less than anyone else’s. Bottom-line? None of our ‘opinions’ matter a jot. We’re not even dignified with a signature on the paper, we just make an approximation of ‘X'; in a wee toty box. That’s what we’re worth.

    This thread has been ‘interesting’, but won’t merit a footnote in any history of what’s happening. Hopefully, two years hence, none of us will remember any of it – we’ll be too busy celebrating.

  65. Trod chàirdean is sìth nàimhdean, dà rud nach còir feart a thoirt orra.

    Friends quarrelling and enemies agreeing –
    these are things of which one should take no notice.

  66. James Coleman,

    You say:

    “Typical. Nothing worthwhile to contribute so just throw out insults and nasty remarks. And why am I even arguing with you? I didn’t make any comment about your views until you intervened against me supporting Ian Brotherhood. And it might have escaped your (and some others’) notice that the disputatious comments on this particular topic were set off by the author of the article who thought it was perfectly acceptable to attack the strongly held views of her fellow Independence supporters. All along in my comments I have constantly suggested that we should be attacking the Bitter No-Men and not each other. Anyway I won’t be responding to you again as it is pointless.”

    I am agreed on some of that. Frankly you have had nothing worthwhile to contribute either.

    T’was you that attacked a fellow nationalist – not I. I seem to recall this diatribe by your good self:

    “Your last rant of 29/01, and it can only be described as such, is utter poppycock which I will go a long time before seeing its like again. Quote “… destiny-fixated egoists who feel they’re entitled to bully and belittle anyone who doesn’t agree with their every word …” That my friend seems to describe you rather better than the other people commenting on this site. It appears that you believe that your view carries more weight than any one else. I would suggest you come down off your high horse and sit with the rest of us.”

    Everything you have had to say lately, and you have had a lot to say, is a pointless attempt to divide and defeat.

    I squirm at your stupidity. Not for myself, nor your readers, but for you.

    For clarification, because you continued an arguement that would have been better off dead. Who chose to resurrect it? It was you Mr Coleman, not I.

    You just couldn’t keep your big trap shut, could you? It was more important to be James Coleman, a big knob than it was to remain silent.

    So.

    Frankly, you are not worth the ink. Please stop abusing me and this site with your arrogant patter.

    douglas clark

  67. I’m just coming to this discussion a bit late and skimming over the comments

    it seems a big bone of contention is over the term “nationalist”

    I support independence for this part of the world that is demarcated by a man-made border

    from the Tweed to the Solway. Many people living immediately either side of that border have

    much more in common with each other than those living much further away.

    I support independence as a means of dismantling the imperial British state and having a chance of making positive changes. There are many perceptions of Scotland.

    A couple of examples about labels….. If somebody has a fair/biege skin tone they get referred to as of the “white race” ; dark skin ( brownish ) “black race” . Strong identities that some people are willing to kill or die over.

    Yet , there is no agreed definition of a “race” – if anybody wants to offer one , please do.

    Perceptions of “races” are a consequence of political/imperial/ethnic prejudices and conquests.

    If we agree that our skin tones/physical features should be inconsequential – then “black/white” identities only have meaning because of those prejudices – what is known as racism.

    Similarly there is no agreed definition of “nation” – that suddenly end at a man-made border. Regional cultural identities rarely , if ever , correspond to “nations”.

    Another example – If somebody is attracted to somebody of the same sex , they get labeled “gay”.

    Why are people labelled according to the sex of who they are attracted to ?

    Again , I would say because of prejudice against same-sex relationships. ie. if there was not that prejudice then people would be free to be attracted to other people regardless of their gender – without any labels being attached.

    In other words homophobia determines homosexual identity. Jeffrey Weekes uses the term “necessary fiction” in describing “gay” identity – being temporarily necessary only in order to combat prejudice against same-sex relationships , with the hope of eventually doing away with labels based on sexual attraction all together.

    Similarly I would say that what is known as Scotland and England only exist because of the border that has been created between them – ie. north of that border is “not-england” therefore Scotland : south of the border “not-scotland” therefore England.

    I repeat , I support independence – but hopefully for a world eventually without any borders.

  68. Bloody Hell Davy!

    Are you for real?

    As far as I am concerned, if you live here you are Scottish. If you don’t then you aren’t. It seems to me that the Asian community have a far better idea about what independence actually means than native Scots. Because their experience is real. With all the warts and problems it may have led to, you are extremely unlikely to expect either Pakistan or India to welcome back the British Raj. It appears to be a given that they are better off without Westminster.

    You appear to care about same sex marriage. What you have completely failed to demonstrate is that Holyrood was your enemy on that issue. It seems to me that the Scottish government was your ally.

    • Two wee points Douglas – I don’t live in Scotland , but consider myself Scottish , growing up in the Central Belt , so I have a knowledge , familiarity and affinity with that particular region , but little real experience of much of the rest of Scotland.
      No , I don’t care much at all about the conservative conformity of same sex marriage.

  69. I just realised that Douglas asked quite a significant question above when he asked ,,,,,
    ” Are you for real ? ”

    The point I was trying to make was that national/racial/sexual identities can seem very “real”
    – so much so that some people ( mostly men ) can be willing to kill or die for them.

    As I tried to say…….. what part of the world we happen to come from , what colour of skin we happen to have or what gender of people we happen to feel attracted to …… SHOULD , relatively speaking , be of little or no consequence.

    I would distinguish between a regional cultural identity and a “national” identity.
    Somebody said ( Derek Walcott ? ) – ” the only nation is in the imagi-nation ”

    Nations have been forged historically , in both senses of the word , by circumstances.

    Identities based on nation , race or sexuality only exist in a social/political context.
    It is those contexts I feel that should be addressed – NOT the identities that arise from them.

    That is to say – it is not a question of being Scottish or English , White or Black , Straight or Gay that is essentially significant in themselves .
    It is a question of social/economic/cultural advantages/disadvantages that they have attached.

    In practice ( in the “real” world ? ) the historical development of the social/cultural/economic advantages and disadvantages these identities are associated with do have real consequences.

    In all the comments to post written by a woman , I only noticed one woman has responded.

    These identities can be very significant , but why does it seem some men feel so deeply about defending them in particular ?

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