Saturday, 17 November 2012

Knowing the Enemy. A very Personal Blog.

Folks have been asking what I'm up to at the moment, why haven’t I posted anything recently. Well, in all honesty, I've had a hard time blogging of late. I've been angry, despondent, elated, annoyed ... you name it; I've been there and back again. The question troubling me has been “Why”?

Frankly, it has taken me weeks to work through this. It began with a journey back home for family reasons, throughout September and October. During the time there I took the chance to catch up with old friends that I hadn't seen in almost seven years. This visit also gave me the opportunity meet and mix with supporters of independence. Many of whom I had become friends with through the medium of the internet or my music, during the intervening years I've been travelling overseas. 

For me, my favourite experience and excitement came at the very beginning of the trip.

I attended the March and Rally for Independence on September the 22nd. It is one day of my life I won’t forget. My young brother was my companion (and chauffeur), and we were on a high from the outset. As we approached The Meadows (Niall chose to park as far away as possible while technically remaining in the same universe), I was overcome with a feeling of anxiety. What if my brother and me and ten other worthies were the only people to show up? What if all that stuff on Facebook and Twitter had been all so much bluster – "a’ talk and nae action"?

However, as we know, those fears were wholly unfounded, and the march was a complete success – although references to it in the media were sparse and underwhelming.

Meeting many contacts I’d only known as faces and names on the internet was for me, one of the highlights of the day.

Additionally, the fact that thousands turned out in peaceful family groups, walking their dogs and carrying picnics was the cherry on the icing of a wonderful cake. I listened to the speeches and cheered and waved my very large, extremely noticeable Scottish Naval Ensign. I was reeling with adrenalin, while at the same time mentally noting the numbers of younger parents with children who were attending.

Scotland’s future was rosy and in the bag.

The following week was filled mainly with family issues and making sure everything that required attention was being dealt with, and I had very little to do with independence matters.

The middle week of my expedition was spent in my old beloved stomping ground of East Lothian. This was a week full of gigs and music and radio interviews; one with my friend Madelaine Cave on East Coast FM – where I even managed to mention my partisanship in politics, as well as doing a live session. The other interview was with Stewart Lochhead at the North Berwick Sea-Life Centre for Three Men In A Blog . All in all, it was a fulfilling and fantastic time.

However, I think it highly likely I may have peaked too early.

By the end of the week I was beginning to get a weird feeling about the cause of independence. I had been speaking to many friends, and none of them are slouches when it comes to intellect, but there was a pattern emerging, and it wasn't pretty.

There were overtones varying from “if it ain't broke, don’t fix it” to “eh, independence, ach I haven’t thought about it!” to a few doses of “too poor” to outright and total antipathy. My cosy, rosy feelings from barely ten days previously were steadily evaporating in a cloud of doubt and confusion. My illusions were beginning to crumble down around my ears.

I eventually left Scotland in mid-October, filled with mixed emotions. The problem which had beset the family had been worked out satisfactorily and I was missing my husband and my pets. Yet I still carried this peculiar feeling within that all was not right in the independence garden.

Sure enough, since getting back, there seems to be nothing but increased amounts of negative feedback in the ever-unreliable mainstream media concerning the SNP and its goals. I can’t remember them all, but it began with the NATO vote at the conference. Then there was the “lying about legal advice” in respect to the European Union, to the apology just the other day by Salmond in Holyrood over inaccuracies in figures concerning education budgets.

Throughout this time I’d been throwing my hands in the air, despairing at what was going on, sinking further and further into an angry depression with regards to Scotland’s future. It was even causing a little “domestic dis-harmony” ... as my moods swung up and down with the “good-news/ bad-news” see-saw. And sure enough, it reached a bit of a crescendo this afternoon when my long-suffering husband eventually blew a small gasket.

When the harrumphing and grumbling had died down, and I’d returned from wandering the dog through his usual admiring crowds, a few thoughts had settled out and fallen into place.

There are two main problems as I see it.

One is the lack of support among women for independence. I'll come to that in a paragraph or two.
Meanwhile, although Unionists are still unable to come up with one single, solitary, sensible, non-patronising reason why we should remain part of this union of unequals, they are winning the Battle of Obfuscation and Confusion.

All they can continue to do is use the MSM to smear and malign and nit-pick at every little thing the Scottish Government does. Unionists are attempting the tactic called “death by a thousand cuts”. They repeatedly and frequently screach and scream foul; even when there isn't one; or take events and either invent negative stories around them, e.g. the Euro Legal Advice debacle, where it was shown Westminster would equally have not revealed any such information either; or they exaggerate erroneous or mistaken information to appear they are full-blown lies, spoken with the deliberate intent to deceive.

Moreover, their aim is to equate a post referendum independent Scotland with Alex Salmond and the SNP in power, in perpetuity; thus resulting in a sort of Shortbread Dictatorship, with no room for any democracy.

The problem here is, if you throw enough mud, it will eventually stick. Currently in the polls, Alex Salmond is considered trustworthy. However, there are two long years for the Unionist to lock and load barrow-loads of mire for firing in the general direction of Mr Salmond and the members of the government.

If a week is a long time in politics, two years must be verging on an eternity. I'm pretty sure the SNP are fully aware of this situation; what concerns me right now is they seem to have their guard lowered, and the jibes from the opposition are beginning to add up in column inches in the dreadful MSM. And whereas before, any taunt was easily shrugged off and explained as the bitter trumpeting of the opposition, seeds of doubt must now be being planted in heads across the country.

Lamont, Davidson, Rennie, Darling et al, may not be able to string a coherent argument together, but they don't have to when the MSM is constantly playing their nasty little sound-bites on a loop at the Scottish public.

My next question is about the lack of female support for independence.

I can only assume that these women are comfortable with the direction of their lives today and the thought of the Union maintaining this “status quo” after the referendum. The Unionist propaganda of negativity appears to have succeeded with these mothers, wives, sisters and aunts in regards to how uncertain life will become in an independent Scotland in November 2014. They are relaxed and confident in their Union rut, but afraid and unsure of the new independence road.

How on earth do we get the information across that post 2014 Jam isn't going to arrive; that if Whitehall really did intend giving extra and meaningful powers to Holyrood, they could and should do it now as a mark of respect and trust; that the perceived “status quo” will be nowhere near similar to what will be the reality; that the cuts that are ravaging the social services, health services, disabled benefits and child benefits etc., will also become a reality in Scotland, as will privatisation-by-stealth. You can’t expect to run and maintain the current level of living standards on an ever-decreasing house-keeping budget – see Barnett Consequential. In addition, all of the Unionist parties will indeed squander billions of pounds on renewing nuclear weapons just 30 miles from the Dear Green Place, instead of spending it on care for our elderly or educating our children or ensuring our disabled and vulnerable are maintained safe and well. And what of our Service personnel being dragged into future illegal conflicts?

How can we get our message over crystal clear and without the Unionists obsessive insinuations and, at times, out-right lies? Those lies that I now know were even getting me down; I was beginning to think “what’s the point?” I realise now they had been the root cause of my gloominess ever since I came back. They were starting to wear me down with the drip, drip, drip of negative propaganda.

So, what can we do?

As the independence camp has no real access to fair reporting anywhere in the UK, surely to goodness some cash has been set aside for buying advertising space in newspapers and billboards. If not, why not? How would we go about arranging this?

However, I expect it we will mostly have to do things the old-fashioned way. Each and every one of us will need to take some responsibility in delivering these important messages door to door, person to person, blog by blog.

Sometimes I wish I were there, walking with my pup, delivering leaflets, talking to people and knocking down barriers one myth at a time.


  1. Hazel, I fully understand where you are coming from.
    A while back I barely blogged for a few months,as I was feeling rather down and disheartened by all the constant flow of negativity. Unfortunately there is no way of avoiding it. The fact is, that all print and media is in Unionist hands. So we will be fed a constant barrage of negativity and tripe all the way to 2014.
    And if you are in the presence of all that negativity unrenlentingly, you will eventually feel very down.For most folks who feel down for all that length of time, they come to a point where they feel apathetic. Negativity as a weapon does that to people, and many will even come to believe that they are helpless as they are made out to be. If everybody is saying it...It must be right..right??
    The only answer to negativity is positivity...and this is where all those who still have their grey cells
    functioning must play their part. They must keep speaking out, they must keep pointing out the crap,and explaining why it is crap. They must present a counter argument that makes people feel more positive about themselves.
    As for family members? They can be the hardest to convince. I know this only too well.
    A couple of years back, both my sons were in the unionist camp. They wouldn't listen to my arguments, and they didn't want to know.They had bought into the Britishness argument.
    But recently I discovered that they had been reading my blog, and apart from enjoying reading it, they had changed their views as a result.They are both now firmly in the Independence camp. Now that is what I call a positive result! 2 less votes for the Britnats have become 2 more votes for YES.
    So you, I, and many more speaking out,can make a difference. We cannot win this fight my allowing ourselves to be dragged down by negativity or weariness. We can win it, by keeping positive, pacing ourselves,and making our points decisively at the right times. And all it takes, is to convince one or two other people, family, friends, who are still on the other side of the fence or in no mans land..Not so much reliant on organisations and campaigns, but on ourselves. We do it ourselves,and convince others to do so too, and we win!
    It doesn't matter what media and press and political parties they line up against us.
    If we as Individuals all do our bit,and keep doing it, we outnumber them!
    Our voices Individually and collectively, online,off line, in family homes, pubs, clubs,work, the streets..If we speak and keep speaking,keep convincing. It is no contest.
    keep the chin up Hazel, you are doing a grand job!!

    1. Well said CeweJimmy, just the other day at work, a lass I'd previously known to have been in the unionist camp revealed she is now voting yes! It's annoying and depressing reading the press and people can be hard to convince but negativity is wearing. People will turn toward the positive message especially when it's backed up with facts!

  2. Yes it is difficult, but when you live with this ALL the time you eventually reach a threshold when you either just give up or shrug it off and carry on with re-doubled determination to win the fight. I have crossed that threshold now. Cewejimmy is right - positivity SHALL win the day. I delivered 100 leaflets the other day, a small contribution maybe, but if only ONE person reads something and thinks "hmm, maybe independence WOULD work" then it hasn't been in vain. We will NEVER give up and every new scare story makes me MORE not less determined. There will be a lot going on in the next two years which will be below the radar of the corrupt MSM; the YES campaign has a grassroots momentum which all the lies and negativity will not derail. Bring it on!

  3. I know exacty how you feel. Knowing that the MSM will run with any story, no matter how trivial or 'factually lite' as long as it is negative about the SNP, Alex Salmond, Scottish Government or independence. Don't get me wrong the ATOS stuff did make me consider cancelling my membership, i would have still voted for independence but with the constant drip from the MSM it made me begin to question the SNP and wonder if they are doing it on purpose. I have since come to my senses and realised that the real enemy here is the MSM. Social media is the only thing that gives me hope on that front.

    As a woman and a mother my take on women and independence is that all women want is security, that is why i am voting for independence for my children so they can have a future. this union things will only get worse. Next year might see more women turning to independence in the hope that things will be better than the savage cuts/caps and universal credit being introduced.

    I have to say that my feelings of helplessness and frustrations are not limited to just Independence. When the Jimmy Saville scandal emerged it showed just what a corrupt, self seving organisation it is. Quickly after that came the child abuse from wales and again it seemed (allegedly) to show corrupt organisation from high up. I knew I, and everyone else wants to see justice done in these cases. but immediately i knew that this was going to be covered up, the media and government etc would work in collusion to stifle debate, distract the public and have it all covered up with only a few dead people and those strange already known abusers offered up. This is exactly what has happened with the whole newsnight affair and the hatchet job done on Mr Messham by the mail. Seeing this showed me exactly what the UK is capable of and it left me with a sense of helplessness.

    Now with the situation in Gaza i am filled with even more helplessness and frustration. Seeing such injustice and knowing that there is nothing you can do, seeing the media (Channel 4 excepted) lie to us and paint this watered down picture so we wont be horrified with what is going on, our UK government close their eyes, ears and mouths to the suffering being experienced by an oppressed people telling us they brought it on themselves i have begun to think maybe it is best that the world does end next month as humanity is not worth saving.

  4. Megz, even if it is as bad as you say, better to go down fighting all the way - better to end with a bang than a whimper....

  5. i'm just feeling frustrated with it all, been sitting here retweeting what is going on, but that is not enough, that isnt saving innocent children from being murdered, something needs to be done. I just dont know what =( i only had £5 i could donate to the islamic relief fund, but that again is not enough.

  6. On the 27th of last month I went to the inaugural meeting of Yes Highland in the Spectrum Centre in Inverness. I didn't know what to expect, but in the back of my mind imagined lots of rabble rousing rhetoric from a variety of well known, local indy supporters.

    In fact, in a theatre setting I found around 150 people sitting quietly whilst one man and one woman fiddled with a laptop on the stage, a small screen behind them. It was very underwhelming.

    After playing the short Yes Scotland video, which brought out a small cheer the man, Ian Dommett (@iandommett), started his presentation. He did so quietly, and at first I felt it was pretty dull. But as he explained things, it quickly became clear - this wasn't a rally, nor an attempt to rouse support. It was plainly and simply an outline of the way we will win the independence referendum.

    Amongst the points he gave were some I had already thought of for myself, and others I hadn't.

    We don't have to win this argument this week, this month or this year. The referendum will be won in the last weeks or days of the campaign. For now we need to concentrate on becoming organised and raising funds.

    The newspapers are fighting for their lives. We give them far more respect than they are worth. Only a tiny proportion of undecided voters read them or pay them any attention. We won't see any of them come out in favour of independence until close to the referendum, if ever. That's because making sure the argument is up in the air is part of their business plan, a way of selling papers.

    Far more important will be speaking to people - one-to-one chats with voters in housing estates, in pubs, supermarket queues or football matches. There are still people who base their voting intentions on arguments from the 1970s, that we're too poor, the oil is about to run out etc - that's who we need to educate and convince.

    Better Together is struggling - in particular they are hugely uncomfortable with dealing with a non-party campaign. Alastair Darling is not prepared to appear with Blair Jenkins for instance - politicians hate being asked to debate non-policians, but so far the No campaign has no non-political figureheads.

    The SNP will become less and less important in terms of the referendum. They've done a fantastic job in getting us the chance to vote, but we have to emphasise that the referendum is a vote for the people of Scotland to chose their own direction, it's not a vote for the SNP. We have to make this clear - for instance my mother-in-law (who is on the right of the spectrum) says she won't vote Yes because she can't stand Alex Salmond - I point out that the polls say he'd be elected again following a No vote, but if we vote Yes there's a genuine chance for a right-of-centre party to be part of government here.

    At the end of the presentation there were questions from the floor - mostly very sober, as often in English, German or Dutch accents as in Scottish ones. A show of hands was called for - 'who is not a member of the SNP'? (John Finnie, sitting along from me thought about it and belatedly raised his hand, this being a week after the NATO debate!) Around half of those present raised their hands, Greens, Socialists, Lib Dems and many not members of any party.

    Fergus Ewing gave a good impromptu speech at the end, which did raise the temperature but from my point of view it didn't need to. I came away really believing that careful preparation of our arguments and an organised campaign will win the day for us - the minor SNP glitches and media spin since then hasn't changed my mind at all.

    Keep the faith!

  7. Hazel, the polls and the negativity give one picture, but I'm now constantly bumping into people to whom Independence is no longer "the great unthinkable." A few years back, probably most of them would have laughed at the idea of an Independent Scotland, but now many are giving it active consideration. They may not have come off the fence yet, but they're at least looking over it.

    I talked to a couple last night who were "Devo Max" supporters. Since that was no longer on the agenda, they were considering voting YES because they had no trust in the Westminster parties. I'm convinced we'll see more like them.

    I'm starting to include my Independence "anthems" onstage now. A few years ago, I would have been wary of antagonising the Labour hardliners - remember, I live in Glasgow, Labour's heartland and a place with a strong Labour folk music tradition. I'm hearing audiences joining in the choruses. I think only the real Labour hardliners are left - their other former sympathisers have either gone or are in the process of drifting away.

    I agree with you that we need more advertising - Stonewall's "Some people are gay, get over it!" campaign has had, I think a significant effect and the YES camp should be thinking of something similar. I can only guess they're saving their powder - and money - till nearer the Referendum date. I hope they don't leave it too late!

    All in all, I think there is plenty of room for hope, don't turn to the vermouth just yet!

    1. The vermouth is bowfin and only suitable for cooking! It's awfy sweet, hence the accidental "sweet n sour" of the other evening.
      I think being on the peripheries, for me, is frustrating. Hubby has suggested I make an "indy CD" with monies going to some area of the independence cause. My issue is my recording equipment and abilities... that, and I'm maybe not brass-necked enough.
      Your the man with that sort of know how... hints? Any?

    2. *you're*.... before the grammar police strike ...

  8. Thanks to all of you for your very positive feedback.
    @CeweJimmy: you're obviously in cahoots with my husband with your "only answer to negativity is positivity" statement. He's been telling me that for several weeks now.
    @smerral: Yes, we will fight this awful union all the way. We will be an independent nation, and we will shout it from the roof tops.
    @Megz: I really do understand and empathise with how you're feeling. I'm finding all those issues in the news disturbing and enraging. The feeling of futility and beating your head off a brick wall is well understood here!
    @Garve: Thanks for relaying the meeting's events. It really does make me feel more confident about our future. I agree, the referendum will ultimately be won in those last few weeks. Now is the time for reaching and teaching.

    Thanks again everyone.

  9. Hi Hazel, Sorry..I just realised that I had posted to here under my Gmail account and that user name...You would know me better from my Auld Acquaintance blog...which was what I was referring to in my initial response.



    1. :0) No problem Rod... always nice to see you, whatever cunning disguise you're under! x

  10. Some good posts. :) @Garve I agree all the way, I was at the same meeting. ;)

  11. Good post Hazel. Have been suffering similarly myself!
    I have two specific issues at the moment.
    First, whilst I know timing is everything, I cannot get enthused when I am asked to hand out leaflets about voting Yes when I am not being given the ammunition to counter the' undecideds' concerns. Much as some people wish to emphasise the point that BritNats equally have unanswered questions we are the side that needs to identify the main reasons for doubting that independence can work and we need to given the answers. And you are correct that as the MSM are always going to be negative we need to use every way of getting the story across ?
    The second thing is we need to avoid giving ammunition to the enemy. We need to be straight and if that means telling the naysayers that we can't get answers from the EU or NATO because they will not discuss Scotland whilst the UK is a member for God's sake say it! That has to be better than the position we got into by obfuscating. And if the Education secretary is reforming the FE sector whilst keeping education free then bloody well say it and challenge the opposition to tell us what they would do? A lot of people seemed to think that Lamont had blown it when she said Scotland was the only something for nothing country left but have we capitalised on it? I don't think so.
    We need to come out fighting because two years of attrition like this and we'll be fu**ed! And I'll be looking for a boat!

  12. Hazel, I posted this over at CyberNat Writes and feel sufficiently sure of it as an explanation of why this blizzard of negativity is being plagued on us.

    I find the constant drip feeding of negative comment and recycling of longsince discredited negative comment dispiriting. I know it for what it is, a co-ordinated, programmed campaign of outright lying designed to put the “don’t knows” into a fearful position.

    The negative onslaught will dissolve away a couple of months before vote and the agenda will be “jam tomorrow,” if you vote No.

    I am sure that is the strategy for the Unionist camp.

    When you think of it, they have no positive position to offer; all they can do is repackage what they have been doing to Scotland for 3 centuries. Why change a winning hand?

    To bring this about the MSM has been suborned. The BBC, we know about but the suicidal position of the inky fingered press tells me that somebody or something is paying them to do so. No capitalist business on earth goes out of its way to dis-serve its customers and expects not to pay a severe financial cost. It is high stakes time and the cornered ones will throw everything and pull every dirty trick unimaginable to maintain their fiefdom of Scotland

    I tell you this, if Scotland votes No, the repercussions will be dire. Holyrood will be neutered, Faslane will continue to host WMD, Hitachi will build 6 new nuclear generating plants, and all hope will be drained from the Scottish people. That is just for starters.

  13. "I know it for what it is, a co-ordinated, programmed campaign of outright lying". Could you give us some examples please?

  14. No examples? Thought not - must just be rambling paranoia then.

    1. The oil will run out in 10 years.
      The Shetland & Orkney's will break away.
      Despite international law being well established, Union proponents still put about the fallacy that Scotland's resources might be divided on a per capita basis, instead of being territorial only.
      Jam tomorrow - shown to be a lie in 1979, why should they be any more honest about it now?
      The unfounded rumour and supposition about Scotland's status in regards to Europe, without mentioning what happens to Scotland will also happen to England - we are in a union of supposed equals, after all.

      And the list goes on... and on ... and on. ...

      Perhaps you could supply to this community your very positive reasons as to why we should remain in this vampiric union.