WHEN you have no confidence in the strengths of your argument, you try to close down and delegitimise debate and discussion. That is where we are now with British nationalist opposition to Scottish independence.

Labour and the Conservatives, the twin cheeks of the "we're not nationalists we're British" delusion, have both recently been taking steps to try and prevent a fair contest in the independence debate.

Labour grandee George Foulkes, a disgrace to social democracy if ever there was one, has consistently asked the Conservative Government to prevent the Scottish Government from campaigning on Scottish independence, and from developing the case for independence, even though that is what the people of Scotland elected it to do.

READ MORE: 'The UK is not a Union of equals and never was', Labour grandee insists

Naturally, the Tories have been happy to run with the authoritarian and anti-democratic ball so helpfully passed to them by Foulkes.

There is already no level playing field in the independence debate. The media landscape is very heavily skewed in favour of those who oppose independence. However, it is increasingly obvious that opponents of independence are not content with this. What they want is for their Anglo-British nationalism to enjoy the full backing of state resources, while ensuring that it's unlawful for the Scottish Government to provide a counter balance.

It’s all ok for the British Government's Union Unit, or a Scotland Office which in recent years has seen its budget and resources balloon as it has morphed into a full blown anti-independence propaganda outfit.

It is no longer the case that opponents of independence are content with media and governmental resources which massively outspend and outnumber their pro-independence equivalents. What they want is to remove any and all manifestations of pro-independence support from the equation entirely.

The National: 10 Downing Street

Any talk of Scottish independence is decried as "divisive" – as though the mere existence of difference of opinion is a threat to democracy and social order. In fact, democracy itself depends upon different viewpoints being allowed to flourish.

Now, the BBC presenter Jeremy Vine has waded into the debate, suggesting that people who dare to raise the topic of Scottish independence with their colleagues at work should at the very least be sanctioned by their employer or even sacked, on the grounds that he considers it a "divisive" topic.

It is telling that no BBC presenter would ever dare suggest that someone should be sanctioned by their employer for expressing support for the British state. As it is currently constituted by Jeremy Vine's own logic, this must be every bit as divisive in Scotland as voicing support for independence.

READ MORE: 'There should be a line': Jeremy Vine panned for Scottish independence comments

Some of us think it's controversial to tell low income families they're only allowed two kids or they will lose state support.

Some of us think it's controversial to demonise desperate people fleeing war and persecution.

Some of us think it's divisive and controversial to inflict state-sponsored royalgasms on everyone whether we want it or not.

But apparently what crosses the line is for people in Scotland to talk about escaping the damaging and dangerous Anglo-British nationalist exceptionalist nonsense.

Following yesterday's peaceful demonstration by environmental activists at Rishi Sunak's mansion in Yorkshire in protest against his decision to grant hundreds of new North Sea oil and gas licences to fossil fuel companies, Conservative MPs are once again talking about the need to introduce new and even more authoritarian measures to clamp down even further on the already fragile right to protest in the United Kingdom.

The National: Greenpeace activists on the roof of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's house in Richmond, North

One Conservative back bench MP told the Express newspaper that the protesters should have been shot. Another insisted that the protests by climate change activists are a "threat to national security”.

They added: "It is only because they are linked to climate change and mostly come from wealthy middle-class families that we are not taking more extreme measures with them. If a few were locked up for 20 years for their activities then you would suddenly see a major drop off in these protests."

The Conservatives recently introduced draconian and restrictive legislation which severely restricts the ability to protest in England and Wales. The Public Order Act was rushed through Parliament shortly before the coronation and includes the potential for a 12-month prison sentence for protesters who block roads, and a six-month jail term or unlimited fine for anyone who locks on to others, a building, or an object. Police are also permitted to stop protesters whom they suspect are out to cause “disruption”.

READ MORE: UK Labour 'hand Scottish group £1m to target 25 Westminster seats'

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, described the Public Order Act as "deeply troubling legislation that is incompatible with the UK's international human rights obligations regarding people's rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association”.

Labour has confirmed that it will not repeal this authoritarian and anti-democratic legislation if it is returned to power at Westminster following the next General Election. This merely confirms that under Keir Starmer the Labour party is every bit as intolerant and authoritarian as the Tories are.

In further confirmation that the Labour party is now a right wing party, Wes Streeting, Labour's shadow health secretary has called for greater private sector involvement in the NHS saying that the next Labour government will use spare capacity in the private sector to get patients seen faster.

You might think that what the NHS, whether in Scotland or England, really needs is greater investment in staff, services and infrastructure, but according to the Labour party the solution is to give more public cash to the private sector.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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