DURING the first referendum on Scottish independence the Better Together campaign was chiefly characterised by its distortion of truth quickly followed by its distortion of language. The Unionist side had begun the campaign with a 40-point lead in the polls but the incompetence of their leadership and the unpleasantness that defined their outlook and strategy saw the percentage gap begin rapidly to diminish. As the Yes campaign began to encroach to within a few points of the magic 50 the falsehoods and distortions came tumbling forth.

The Yes side was fighting a nasty and bitter campaign that was tearing apart the very fabric of Scotland, it was claimed. Families were being ripped asunder and all manner of beastly and unmentionable incidents were disfiguring Scotland’s cultural and civic landscape. That Police Scotland had praised the campaign for being essentially good-natured, though robust, was conveniently ignored. So was the fact that the few instances of threatening behaviour that occupied the police’s attention were all linked to the No campaign.

A year later it was reported that Julian Assange, the embattled WikiLeaks founder, had claimed to possess evidence that the British security forces were active in Scotland during the referendum campaign. It didn’t require the story-telling abilities of the Australian self-publicist to alert us to the probability of British intelligence activity before, during and after the referendum. As it transpired, the efforts of the British intelligence community were hardly required. Who needs MI5 when every pillar of the UK establishment is already pitted against you: almost every media outlet, the civil service, corporate Britain, the three main parties of the Union, Her Britannic Majesty and assorted defence chiefs? The lie that the Yes movement was essentially divisive and aggressive was always going to be assured of an easy passage into the public consciousness.

The lie is still being advanced though, every time a Unionist commentator or Ruth Davidson discusses the possibility of another independence referendum. Almost every Unionist commentator and politician I met in the course of the two-year campaign had an absolute whale of a time during the independence referendum. There they all were availing themselves of the largesse of BBC Scotland and STV and planning weekend trips abroad as the television and radio appearance fees poured in. Now they would have us all believe that they were having a ghastly time with all this revolting nationalism going on around them.

The Unionists’ distortion of ideas is also still being advanced at every opportunity. The seismic political and geopolitical upheavals of the last year have accorded ample opportunity to misrepresent the essential nature of Scottish nationalism. The rise of Ukip, the unlikely victory of the Brexiteers and – most sinister of all – the triumph of Donald Trump: each is the product of greed, selfishness and the nihilistic credo of the free market. They all rest on theories of racial superiority and an all-encompassing sense of national grievance that will always seek to blame a nation’s economic or social ills on a non-existent enemy within. It is in this febrile and ugly atmosphere that an attitude of “might is always right” is allowed to prevail.

In the last seven days, we have been told that the rise of Donald Trump represented a long-overdue backlash against a haughty and out-of-touch, liberal elite. It’s all nonsense, of course. The real elite in America, as they are in all countries, are those whose money can surreptitiously kidnap control of economies and legislation. They can impel the masses to look the other way by adroit use of military adventures, the fecundity of royal families, the proliferation of sporting spectaculars and the control of national newspapers. All of them grew thick together in the course of a thousand late-night, dormitory pillow games in Eton, Harrow and Westminster or in the secret skull and crossbone societies of Yale University and Harvard Business School.

Underpinning their personal manifestos – their mottos if you like, is a fierce patriotism. Yet it would be a mistake to call them patriots because that would suggest that they at least believe in something other than themselves and that they act in the national interest. The interests of those countries whose levers of influence they have annexed will always be subjugated to their own interests and those of their class.

Their genius – and we observed this most starkly during the US presidential election – is that, having destroyed the economies and the incomes of those in the so-called Rust Belt through the greed and corruption that led to the credit crisis they were able successfully to blame others. Thus the Mexicans, a rapacious Chinese government, the reviled socialism of Obamacare were all to blame. The rush to pin the blame on another people and another culture fuelled Trump’s campaign just as it had driven Brexit and will doubtless drive the extreme right next month in the Italian and Austrian elections and in the French elections next April.

It is the right’s ultimate confidence trick and its most evil one. Being able to impoverish your own people by austerity programmes, low wages, lack of investment even as your own super-rich help themselves to bonuses and tax havens requires a special kind of wickedness. Being able to impel them to blame someone else for their ills requires decades of planning and the nodding acquiescence of so-called left-wing political parties. This is why when someone authentic like Jeremy Corbyn comes along the need to destroy him by any and all means possible becomes paramount.

It is also why the need to destroy Scottish nationalism becomes important. An independent Scotland would seek to restore this country’s ancient links with mainland Europe – links which pre-date by centuries the artificial and undemocratic Acts of Union. America, England and some of the oldest democracies of Europe are closing in on themselves once more, retreating to a darker place ruled by fear and suspicion of others.

Scotland, meanwhile, is reaching out to migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. It is seeking to restore the dignity of its poorest people even as it is being assaulted by Britain’s Department of Work and Pensions. To equate Scottish nationalism and the values of an independent Scotland with the pitiless extremism of Trump’s America; Nigel Farage and Marie le Pen is the biggest falsehood spun by the Unionists. It must be challenged at every turn.

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