SOME of us who are active in the independence movement online are often accused – by supposedly respectable journalists no less – of being agents of the Kremlin, or of MI5. In the interests of full disclosure I should admit that I did indeed once have a meeting with a Russian handler, but that was a date some years ago with a guy from St Petersburg I met on Grindr. I don’t think that counts even though quite a bit of handling went on.

Anyway, I’m not sure any more whether I’m an agent for MI5 trying to undermine independence, or an agent of the Kremlin trying to undermine the British state, since the same person has accused me of both. However, it’s not a crazy conspiracy theory when a supporter of the British state accuses an independence supporter of being a secret double agent, or a triple agent simultaneously working for Putin and the British state. Being a supporter of the British state gives you an automatic free pass from tinfoil hattery, just as waving a Union fleg while wearing a T-shirt saying God Save the Queen means you’re not a nationalist at all.

Likewise it’s only independence supporters who can be accused of being abusive online, just like it’s only independence supporters who can be accused of being paranoid conspiracy theorists.

This even happened to the editor of this esteemed newspaper. When Callum Baird published a statement about the paper recently, which mentioned that opponents of independence have been hiding copies of The National behind other papers, he was scoffed at by anti-independence journalists.

This was despite the fact that readers of The National, whom Callum had met during National Roadshow events, have been telling him that they’ve actually caught people in the act of hiding The National. I myself have a regular troll who contacts my blog to boast about how many copies of The National they’ve hidden.

In terms of journalistic rigour, Callum’s statement was considerably better founded than most of the contents of certain right-wing so-called newspapers. That didn’t stop British nationalists claiming that a free tinfoil hat would be given away with the next issue of The National.

Over the Christmas holidays a new conspiracy came to light, this time organised by members of Scotland in Union. Well, I say conspiracy, it’s not exactly up there with Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s nefarious plans concocted in a glamourous underground base filled with monorails and piranha tanks. The closest Scotland in Union get to an underground base is when one of them gets on the subway to Ibrox.

Anyway, when they’re not falling out with each other over Brexit, or organising fundraising “Robbie Burns” suppers – where presumably someone reads his famous poem Tom of Shanter – the stalwart defenders of all that is red, white and blue because they’re not nationalists at all have formed a secret letter-writing group.

The not-nationalists-we’re-British formed a secret hush-hush invitation-only group to organise a campaign of letter writing to Scottish newspapers. This is why the exact same letter from the same person has been appearing in a local paper in Fife and a local paper in Argyll. It does raise some interesting questions about why people who defend the British state believe the best way to do so is with an act of deception, attempting to pass themselves off as concerned locals when they are no such thing.

When this came to light, the independence supporters who had revealed it were once again accused by certain Scottish journalists of being conspiracy theorists. However, plotting a particular course of action in secret in order to deceive people into thinking that you’re something you’re not is very much the definition of a conspiracy.

It’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s a conspiracy fact. Admittedly, it’s not a very good conspiracy, but then these are British nationalists we’re talking about here. They’re not exactly noted for their competence.

What this latest episode tells us is that deception, misrepresentation, and duplicity are all key elements in the British nationalist playbook. The Better Together campaign in 2014 was an act of deception, so it’s not really surprising. It based its entire campaign on the claim that Scotland is an equal and valued partner in a family of nations. How’s that working out then? The British nationalist parties vied with one another to lie, deceive and short-change the people of Scotland. It’s not called Perfidious Albion for nothing.

The British nationalist campaign in 2014 was notable for supposedly grassroots organisations such as Vote No Borders, which bore as much of a relationship to real grassroots as a tinsel Christmas tree does to a conifer forest. Scotland in Union’s Enid Blyton-inspired super secret letter writing campaign is its bargain basement brother.

If the only way you can make progress is through lies and deception, you’ve already admitted you’ve lost the argument. No wonder they’re so desperate to avoid another independence referendum.