With a few minutes to wile away I decided to look at Facebook and a “friend” of a “friend”. It was quite an eye opener.
Let me go back a few decades and paint a brief background to my story.
I went to school in “small town” Scotland. It was an industrial town and, during the 1970/80s, it saw a huge influx of families from all over Scotland.
The town and my school became a melting pot for kids from all sorts of backgrounds and they brought their “home” culture with them.
There were kids from Dumbarton, Motherwell, from Glasgow, kids from Dundee, from the Western Isles, from the Highlands.
The class room was like some sort of Tower of Babel for Scottish accents.
The vast majority of kids were working class and lived on the various housing estates flung up to accommodate the influx of new people.
As a kid, you get to know other kids and in later life assume that those other kids, now adults, will in some way, just be a larger version of the boy or girl that you used to knock around with after school.
So I was shocked to see the Facebook page of the guy I used to know all those years ago and it leaves me asking some profound questions for which I can’t easily arrive at the answers.
Let me sketch the Facebook page content.
The man is what I would describe as a very strong supporter of Better Together. Imagine Union flags peppering his Facebook posts.
There are Better Together links shared every other day. There are links to scare stories published by the usual suspects from the Right Wing media, e.g. the Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Record.
The content also includes lots of anti Independence pieces from what I would describe as freelance No supporters; lots of attacks on Alex Salmond together with jokes at his expense.
There are Pro Britain rallying cries and various jingoistic appeals to stay in the Union.
Perhaps some more detail gleaned from his Facebook page will shed some light on his world view.
He joined the army, specifically a Scottish regiment. There is therefore a considerable amount of British Forces content. The guy is a veteran.
He is a committed Rangers supporter. Expanding on from the Rangers connection, there are links to Flute Bands and similar material.
Somewhat disturbingly, there are links to UKIP and content from the English Defence League.
UKIP, Rangers, the EDL, Better Together, Union flags, British Jingoism, the Telegraph, Daily Record, the British Army.
What does all this tell me about the person that I went to school with?
Well, he’s obviously an extreme British Nationalist and not of the cuddly variety.
What I want to know and one of the questions that I am asking myself is – How did he get there?
I have additional questions;
Harking back to his school years in small town Scotland, did he bring his extreme British Nationalism with him from elsewhere in Scotland? It certainly wasn’t obvious to me that there was a British Nationalist agenda prevalent within the school, so it wasn’t nurtured there. I don’t recall him being in any way similar to the profile on Facebook. I think it is something that manifested itself in later life.
Did he start his journey to British Nationalism when he joined the British Army? Perhaps, although I know others who have spent a career in the services and support Independence.
Does one start as a soft supporter of the Union and then gravitate to the EDL and Better Together simultaneously? Is there clear blue water between these two expressions of British Nationalism in the mind of the person or are they one and the same? Are Better Together, the EDL and UKIP manifestations of the same sentiment?
Did the approach, as championed by Better Together, of promoting scare stories as fact, of portraying Independence in a negative way, push a Scot towards UKIP and the EDL? Is soft Unionism and the concept of a United Kingdom so fragile that when a threat to it is sketched in a certain way, it results in extremes of reaction from sentimental British Nationalists. In short, is Better Together responsible, by their manipulation of facts, for pushing parts of society towards an unsavoury brand of British Nationalism? In short, are Better Together unwitting recruiting sergeants for the Far Right?
Let me, for the sake of argument; propose that the politics of Better Together and that those as represented by UKIP and the EDL are not completely different in this persons mind. That he is comfortable with his support for all three organisations because the core belief that these organisations share is to preserve the Union.
Fast forward to 18th September and he casts his vote for No, and that No goes on to win the referendum. The United Kingdom is saved and the bad guys, those nasty Nats, along with Alex Salmond are put firmly back in their box. Rule Britannia!
With his EDL/UKIP hat now on, does this person and others like him, now have a sense of entitlement or reward for the support they have offered to the No campaign. In his eyes he has been loyal to the United Kingdom. Does that loyalty come at a price and will he now call in his debt?
Will he call upon the United Kingdom Government, Better Together, the Labour Party in Scotland, Alistair Darling and the other various faces of the British State to deliver up the changes that he so passionately believes in?
What happens if there is no repayment of the debt?
We are now in potentially stormy seas and that is the big danger in this referendum campaign.
Better Together have unleashed some very dark forces with their narrow approach to saving the Union. Victory at any cost could very well become a victory tarnished by a very unsettling future.
The proper course of action at this point in the debate would be for Better Together to publicly distance itself from the other beliefs that are very publicly held by my old school acquaintance. They are dangerous beliefs. However I cannot see Better Together doing this. Their case is so weak that they are required to call upon the darker side of Unionism in order to keep up the No vote and by doing that they have to ally themselves with the dark forces gathering over the horizon.
This prompts a further question. Is Better Together fully cognisant of the political demographics of their support? Of course it is and I suspect that they are encouraging it, but in their arrogance they assume that all will return to normal if there is a No vote. The status quo will prevail and no further action will be required answering the thirst for change among segments of their support. What fools!
Better Together, those British Nationalists without a soul, nor possessed of a social conscience, have let a very big Genie indeed out of the lamp.