The language used when discussing politics in Scotland is something I have touched upon briefly on this blog before, during the independence referendum; but due to recent events I think it’s something that deserves to be revisited.
The referendum ignited something in Scots that I don’t think we’ve experienced for a very long time, it’s something that I certainly had never previously experienced in my lifetime – and that is a newly awakened political engagement. We now have people from across the spectrum of Scottish society who are discussing, debating, and most importantly of all aware of the politics of our nation as well as across the United Kingdom as a whole.
We asked for that. We asked for people to become aware and to get involved. Both sides of the referendum campaign reached out to those previously disengaged from politics and we asked them to join us, and they have. Now it would seem that the complaint has moved on from “people are disengaged, this isn’t right!” to “people are now engaged but we don’t like the way in which they’re engaging!”.
Margaret Curran has spoken out recently about the behaviour of commenters on her social media accounts, primarily Facebook and Twitter, by saying this:
“Politics in Scotland has become polluted by those who think it’s more appropriate to shout people down with vile and abusive language than engage in proper political debate…”
I couldn’t agree more Margaret, and that is why I highlighted some of the tasteless language used by your party’s own representatives in my previous blog. Why is it Margaret Curran will happily highlight and condemn the language from her opposition, but chooses to remain tight-lipped when it’s happening in her own backyard?
If we want to condemn abuse, then surely we should be condemning all abuse and not cherry-picking which abuse we deem worthy of condemnation. It’s a choice between standing up and saying all abuse is wrong no matter who it’s coming from or directed at, or we stand back and do nothing – there is no hypocritical middle ground to be taken here.
There is also the issue of what is being classed as abuse – Does the odd profanity littered around an otherwise legitimate statement equate to abuse?
Language is a powerful weapon and we all have to take responsibility for our words and actions; but I find it absolutely laughable that we have Scottish Labour trying to shame ordinary members of the public for saying the word fuck in a sentence when we all read the reports of their new leader Jim Murphy shouting fuck off across the lobby of the Commons at the SNP’s Pete Wishart.
Perhaps I just missed Margaret sitting on the couch of Scotland Tonight telling us how awful that was…
Do I think that calling someone a slappit’ faced cow and making idle threats is a constructive part of political discussion? No, I don’t, it adds nothing to the debate and is just meaningless abuse which I don’t think it has a place in a movement that is trying to create a progressive and welcoming society – but you can’t decry that as abuse when it’s aimed at you, and then turn a blind eye to one of your own party’s councillors calling the SNP and their supporters Nazis. What kind of double standard is that?
Do I think that people have a right to vigorously question and proclaim their disagreement and disgust with their elected representatives? You bet I do, and those representatives have a duty to answer their constituents. Crying foul when someone disagrees with you, or highlights your lies, is nothing more than a cheap ploy to shut down the debate and put those newly awakened political enthusiasts back in their boxes.
A few weeks ago we were all Je Suis Charlie – staunch advocates of free speech, now it seems like some are only fans of free speech if it suits their own agenda. Unfortunately for the likes of Margaret, you can’t expect to be taken seriously on an issue when your rank hypocrisy shines brighter than a belisha beacon.