Independence is a Virtue

Monday, May 5th, 2008 @ 11:24PM

I am independent of mind. I am financially independent of my parents (to their great relief…) I am an independent woman. Independence is a good thing. It is something to strive for and comforting when you achieve it.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to make the u-turn of all u-turns and join the SNP – I simply want to make a point about semantics.

Believing in ‘Independence’ for Scotland is to strive for a particularly efficacious, good, or beneficial thing. It is a word with positive connotations.

Believing in ‘Separatism,’ or a Scotland separate from England carries very negative connotations. It is to believe in the disjunction of a group from a larger group or political unit. To separate something is to divide or dissociate it.

It’s no wonder therefore that the SNP talk about “Independence” and Labour talk about “Separatism.” This is politics after all.

However, in light of today’s news - and news it was – I think everyone involved in politics, the media and Scottish civic life at large has a duty now to start getting a little more serious about what Independence, in the political context, actually means.

- Because the stakes are extremely high. Ask people if they want an independent Scotland and you can get a response as high as 41% in favour. Ask people if they want Scotland to be established as a completely separate state, support falls to just 19%.

The future of our country simply cannot be decided by a clever bit of syntax and a ‘he who spends, wins mentality.’

The SNP are going to damn well going to try though. Their masterful spin doctors are already trying to muddy definitions by talking about an independent Scotland within a United Kingdom. Even today, there’s a story on the BBC website about SNP donor Sir Tom Farmer rejecting “Separatism” and calling for a “higher degree of independence.”

The first line of the story is very telling: “First Minister Alex Salmond has said he agrees with one of the SNP’s biggest donors…” I wonder if he agrees so much, it all went out in the same Press Release?!

But here’s another thing… Alex Salmond is quoted as saying: “I agree it [independence] is not the be-all and end-all.”

Really?!

That appears to entirely contradict the first principle of the SNP according to their website:

“The primary aim of the SNP is to take Scotland forward to independence.”

If your primary aim is not the be-all and end-all - what are you actually doing!?

Scottish political journalists hold a huge amount of power in their hands right now. They’re a crafty bunch who are very good at what they do. Their motivation however is to sell papers, not facilitate a discourse about Scotland’s future.

The real prospect of Independence is attractive to journalists because ultimately, it’s a cracking ‘story.’

To say that the Scottish Media have been seduced by the SNP is to underestimate their intelligence. It’s more of a mutual love affair – each ritually satisfying the needs of the other.

In many ways, Labour’s big challenge is to somehow fight for the medias affection and that’s no easy task.

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Categories: Labour, Scottish Identity, SNP, The Press

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