I read yesterday that the SNP have sent people over to the USA to study the social media strategies of the Trump campaign. You can’t fault their logic, which is that if you can use social media to persuade simple-minded people to vote for a nutter like Trump, you can use the same techniques to get them to vote for anything! Even the breakup of the United Kingdom. Despite a resounding No vote last time, the Scottish Nationalists have plans to conduct a second Scottish Referendum, which is why they are interested in social media techniques. Some political commentators say the chance of a second Referendum is about 50/50 which is far too high for my liking. In the meantime, there is more uncertainty, which is bad for investment and bad for many other things as well.
Next time, if there is a next time, will be worse. People have recently, through experience, become more focussed about referendum processes. If you thought that all of the lies, hatred and bad feeling that emerged last time was horrible, then you ain’t seen nothing yet.
During the last Scottish Referendum process I had friends who fell out with each other. I have to say that it was the nationalists who in each case pulled the plug on previous friendships. I remember one SNP supporting friend ranting and railing, and positively spitting out the words “But I absolutely HATE Cameron!” Unfortunately, nationalism seems to encourage such…well…it can only be called venom. Another of my otherwise relatively normal friends becomes greatly overheated at the mention of Scottish Referendums. We have agreed never to discuss the topic.
Here is what George Orwell said about nationalism: By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.
So, the nationalists want to learn how to get people to vote for something as ludicrous as Trump. Possibly they will also be studying how to control the worst elements of the Trump social media campaign so that they can do the same with the cybernat trolls. Now, there are trolls on both sides, there is no doubt about that and they are all venomous, but it seems to me that there are many more cybernat trolls than there are trolls on the other side. And you don’t have to look far to find them, and what they spout is usually hatred of the worst kind. Apparently the SNP policy is now to control, discourage and haul back the cybernat trolls because they have worked out that they actually have a negative effect on the potential ‘Yes’ vote. It is horrible to think that, firstly, there are such nasty troll people out there, and secondly that they can often be reined in at will by those who can control them. But, unfortunately, with nationalism, all of this is part of the package.