Constructive criticism and proper scrutiny are absolutely necessary for politics… but encouraging revolt against Government schemes as a result of underlying aggression getting the better of us is a step too far.
I’m speaking here about calls for businesses to boycott the Government’s Deposit Return Scheme, solely to make a mockery of independence-supporting parties.
And it’s also a depressing indicator of where we’re at in Scottish politics… a glorified mudslinging contest, boiled down to unaddressed emotions surrounding one single issue: the constitution.
When you’re upset or angry about something, when you’re wrestling with feelings that are eating away at you because of the refusal to talk about them openly… mental health advice tells us to come out and speak about our emotions. Talk them through. A problem heard is a problem halved.
Otherwise, we start acting irrationally. It plays with our minds, the emotions amplify, and we begin to act, uncharacteristically, out of line.
I think this is a huge problem amongst politicians in Scotland just now.
Several MSPs are venting their frustrations about issues unrelated to national sovereignty and, yet, it is the national sovereignty that’s at the forefront of their minds.
And there are culprits from all corners.
Nicola Sturgeon, for example, let it slip last year that she ‘detests’ the Tories.
She backtracked somewhat, saying it was about the ‘principles’ of the party and merely something she ‘feels strongly’ about.
Make no mistake, she meant what was said.
She detests the lies told, the corrupt dealings with PPE contracts, the jetting about on private planes footed by the taxpayer’s bill, the parties thrown in Downing Street whilst simultaneous legal requirements were imposed on commoners to stay at home… even if their friends and family are dying.
Or the hundreds of thousands of excess deaths directly linked to austerity cuts and, all the while, a blatant lack of contrition shown towards the suffering class.
All by those failing to have walked a yard, never mind a mile, in their shoes.
You can see it in Nicola Sturgeon’s face that she detests those that have used their position of power to behave in such a manner.
I’m sure she didn’t mean all Conservatives. I’m sure she didn’t mean to antagonise small-to-medium business owners who vote with the protection of their family purse in mind and yet are generally good people. I’m sure she never meant to create a sense of hostility towards those whose political leanings lie solely based on economic preservation, however rightly or wrongly this leads to a Conservative vote.
In fact, I’m almost certain this uncontainable, ousted opinion was directed towards the cohort of ethically questionable leaders in Westminster that fuel Sturgeon’s burning desire to protect Scotland from these people entirely.
Let’s also be clear, this isn’t a ‘nationalist problem.’ The SNP and independence-supporting political parties like the Greens and Alba have every right to persuade Scottish people of more localised, political autonomy and how it may be beneficial for people in this country. They’ve got every right to point out the shortcomings of the current system and offer an alternative. Their electoral success alone makes that justification.
To acknowledge that the Scottish people are split on constitutional matters, and, by doing so, assume the status quo or suggest these issues aren’t important enough… doesn’t seem fair either.
Nor is it fair to think that the Scottish independence project fits in with a historical pattern of racial purity projects; thinking of it in this way is a blatant attempt to demonise people that feel patriotic about their country whilst also thinking political independence is a worthwhile cause. The conversation on Scottish independence is grounded in genuine democratic process, economic discussion and an attempt to successfully, or unsuccessfully, advance social equality. Conflating figures like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin with Nicola Sturgeon is an insult to Scotland.
In fact… the main culprit for hostility in Scottish politics is now, these days, undoubtedly found in the blue corner. The bile spouting is mainstream, the unfounded accusations are common, the language used is abhorrent and the criticism is no longer born out of genuine concern, scrutiny and opposition… it is out of sheer hatred towards independence-leaning thinkers.
There is a brass neck amongst those arguing that ‘separatists’ are the culprits of hostile reasoning, whilst also branding figures like Nicola Sturgeon as a sympathiser to RAPISTS.
I type in capitals to reflect the bold, pop-art-like font that was used in Tweets made by the Scottish Conservatives to try conflate views of Nicola Sturgeon or SNP supporters with some kind of sympathy towards people that rape women.
This is one of many examples showing the normalisation of repugnant language. The civilisation of political order is eroding.
If we’re in a designated ring to address the independence question specifically, that’s fine by me. Not the repulsive language… I mean the throwing of everything at a debate that people feel passionately about. If it is your British or Scottish identity that fuels a burning desire to fight for a cause and one that is expressed so by giving everything towards it… I not only think it is fair game, but I also respect it to the core.
But when it’s done outside this ring… when it’s getting in the way of climate action, or the quality of discussion held by handsomely paid politicians, or the trust and hope amongst our population that elected representatives can do their job properly… that’s when it becomes a serious issue needing voiced.
And we’re now seeing a similar politicisation of the Deposit Return Scheme as we’ve seen in the NHS or even things like getting the national census done… things that we need to universally get behind our Government to sort out, regardless of political leanings.
Dinny get me wrong, flaws should be pointed out. I’ve not been shy about doing this either.
Listen to our DRS Case Study, in which a small business owner outlines some serious issues that need to be addressed. Listen to the podcast where I specifically call out only £1 in every five sheet spent on mental health, drugs and alcohol misuse after thoroughly inspecting the health budget. Read my comments on how the National Care Bill, at a time of desperation, is a colossal waste of money.
That kind of scrutiny is healthy.
But the discouragement of businesses to get behind Government policy on helping the environment, a blatant attempt to disgrace the Government for a scheme that’s not only well-intended but built upon the moral imperative to save our planet… that’s where I draw the line.
The DRS scheme needs significant work. It needs to give small businesses more time and clarity without the threat of punishment. The Scottish Government need to put aside political differences and work with the UK Government on aligning the scheme with businesses sharing the island we live on. It needs to toil through all suggestions that point out avoidable speedbumps.
But just as our guest on the Untribal Podcast put it specifically… business owners aren’t against a scheme of this sort. This type of scheme is happening right across Europe. It’ll be happening in England and Wales soon. It is something worth getting behind in one shape or form.
So, I urge politicians in our country… stop forcing your palpable anger fuelled by patriotism onto workable policy that can make a difference in this country.
Just as anyone would if it was affecting their work, vent your frustrations elsewhere.