OVER the New Year holidays, someone closely involved with Scotland’s supposedly grassroots Unionist organisation Scotland in Union got so frustrated and fed up with the group that they revealed its most sensitive information to Vile Cybernat Prime, Stu Campbell of Wings Over Scotland. That information revealed that there’s precious little grassroots in how Scotland in Union is funded. The group concentrates on seeking large donations from lords, ladies, and lairds. It’s not funded by ordinary people putting coins in a bucket at a public meeting. It’s funded by cheques and bank transfers promised in elite London clubs and hunting shoots by the rich, the powerful, and the well connected. Scotland in Union is far too posh for astroturfing. It’s astrotoffing.

Some apologists for the British state have tried to pretend that there is nothing significant here. “Well of course the only people who can make large personal donations are people who have a lot of personal money. Mind. Blown," say some. And you can hear the sound of the points they’re missing whooshing far above their heads. Others have tried to claim that this is yet more evidence of vile cybernats bullying those defenceless rich people with their small islands of lawyers. Apparently it’s bullying to make it public that rich people try to influence politics by throwing large amounts of cash at the causes they support.

The obvious point is why rich people back certain causes. Typically they support those causes that protect their wealth and their privilege. That’s why the kind of people who own vast acres of the Highlands tend to give their cash to conservative causes and not to parties like the Scottish Socialists. Scotland in Union’s funding strategy lays bare the myth that opposing independence is about making a better Scotland for all of Scotland’s citizens. Opposing independence is about defending the wealth and privilege of the rich and the powerful. They oppose independence because they fear that in an independent Scotland their power and influence might be diminished.

READ MORE: Scotland in Union in crisis after donor details are leaked

Another important point is that Scotland’s supposedly leading anti-independence organisation is in such a state of dysfunction that someone closely involved with them was so angry and disillusioned with the group that they figured it was more productive to leak embarrassing information to Scotland’s leading pro-independence blog than to try to address their issues internally with other Scotland in Union members. The leak comes not long after Scotland in Union had suffered not one but two fissures, as first the organisers of These Islands and then the people behind the pro-Brexit UK Unity group split off. The split leading to the formation of UK Unity appears to have been particularly rancorous and ill-tempered.

This leads directly to another issue. Whenever there’s a Twitter dispute between independence supporters, Scotland’s traditional media is all over it like a particularly irksome rash. We get days of commentary in the papers. Newspapers which usually avoid pro-independence commentators fall over themselves to offer an opinion column to any random independence supporter who is willing to criticise other independence supporters. Yet with the Scotland in Union debacle there is clear evidence of serious infighting and disputes at the very highest levels of an organisation which the Scottish media touted as the leading grassroots Unionist organisation, and for the most part Scotland’s media is remarkably lacking in interest.

The lack of interest in this important story in Scotland’s overwhelmingly anti-independence press goes to the very heart of the problem with the media in Scotland. In Scotland we have almost 40 newspapers, yet only two support independence. The independence issue is the most important issue in Scottish politics, it cuts across and informs all political debate in this country. It is a matter of existential importance to Scotland, to Scottish politics, and to Scottish culture. It is a debate about what sort of country we want to be. Opinion poll after opinion poll demonstrates that almost half the population support independence, yet pro-independence voices struggle to make themselves heard in a traditional media which is overwhelmingly anti-independence.

That same overwhelmingly Unionist media consistently downplays and marginalises stories which aid or support independence, while promoting anything which portrays independence in a negative light. The broadcast media tends to take its lead from the print media, leaving the pro-independence half of the population in Scotland’s constitutional debate feeling systematically excluded and marginalised. No wonder trust in the media in Scotland is so low. The functioning of democracy is seriously impaired when one side’s views and opinions are consistently hampered from getting an airing. Independence supporters feel beleaguered and besieged, constantly under attack from the media.

The media of any nation ought to hold up a mirror to the country. Our media ought to reflect the range of opinions and views found in the country. That’s not what happens in Scotland. When Scotland looks in the media mirror we see Ruth Davidson saying “Scotland doesn’t want another referendum”. We see Richard Leonard claiming that young people support Jeremy Corbyn, even though opinion polls in Scotland consistently show that young people in Scotland support independence by a very large margin. The media mirror doesn’t reflect the real Scotland. That’s one reason why we must cherish and defend those few pro-independence outlets that we do have, like The National.

For the broader independence movement, the lesson is clear. Our primary task over the coming year must be to build and develop our own alternative grassroots networks for spreading pro-independence information and news. With a few honourable exceptions, the traditional media isn’t going to do it for us. We are the only real grassroots movement in the Scottish constitutional debate. We can take the message of independence into every home, every street, and every community. The British nationalists have the toffs, but we have the turf. That’s why we’re going to win.