Project Fear

The dead Yes Campaign and the limits of self-criticism: a response to Loki.


Criticism is good, right? It helps us see other points of view, to empathise with alternative viewpoints, even perhaps to bring about a change of heart in the most entrenched true-believers. So if that’s true surely criticism from ones own team can be particularly telling? After all if criticism is good, self criticism might deliver even more insight?

In his article for Bella Caledonia, Loki recently presented his critique of his fellow independence supporters, and it isn’t comfortable reading. The picture it paints of where “we” are now as a political movement, is at once deeply depressing and in my view fundamentally misjudged. It is in fact a grotesque caricature that I simply don’t recognise either from the independence referendum campaign or the period since.

Loki’s tour de horizon doesn’t see a vibrant, engaged, diverse and determined electorate, nor does it take any comfort from the SNPs electoral success and commanding position in the polls; rather he opines that an obtrusive minority (scarily described as “the morally certain, reactionary branch of the dead Yes campaign”!) are neither entitled to claim the moral high ground, nor to claim that our proposal for independence is in fact radical. We are forsooth fighting not for the “Utopia That Never Was” but are in full pursuit of “The Slightly Less British Franchise”.

It will no doubt come as something of a shock to many of us that one of our own thinks that what we want is “really quite shallow, short-sighted and self-serving”. There is (whisper it!) even a passing “you think Braveheart is a documentary” dig in there. I do think there is a place for trenchant self criticism in any political party or movement; but with friends like Loki what need do we have of the serried ranks of britnat commentariat like Alex Massie, Chris Deerin et al?

I don’t actually care whether Loki has been voting SNP for longer than “Nicola” (for that is of course what ALL morally certain reactionary acolytes of the Dead Yes campaign are obliged to call the First Minister in Loki’s dystopian nightmare) has been fighting elections, or that he has impeccable socialist credentials from the People’s Republic of Pollok. What I do care about is somebody purporting to be a friend wrapping up their rather pained call for considered introversion in the discredited and regressive language we’d expect from Project Fear at full pelt.

Loki assiduously constructs a straw-man of epic proportions which, whether intentionally or not, waves a white flag over the parapet. Not only shouldn’t we be trying to reanimate the corpse of the failed Yes campaign, but it isn’t worth trying because we’re not radical enough, we’re functionally indistinguishable from the rest of the British Franchise and we’re intolerant of anything but blind slavish obedience to “the Cause”.

The question for Loki and those who share his views is where do we go from here? Few of us have any appetite for pursuing a pale imitation of the British Franchise; we don’t recognise or accept your description of the multifarious independence movement as “the dead Yes campaign”, or your faintly insulting de haut en bas  “I’m a better socialist than you” game of Top Trumps.

You end your piece saying:

“Now surely someone like me, who can make a point people on both sides may actually agree on, is of some use in this harsh and hostile environment”.

We all have our uses Loki: we just have no use for erstwhile supporters handing our opponents the stick to beat us with in an environment that is already harsh and hostile enough.