Ian Dunn: The triumph of the ill

Commonspace columnist Ian Dunn is worried we're all Project Fear's bairns now...

THERE is a type of Scottish Unionist who is crawling with hate.

They are so appalled by the idea of Scottish independence that they are convinced that anyone who suggests it is not only malevolent, but a malignancy in Scottish life.

They happily abuse and threaten their opponents and try to get people fired from their jobs. A small, but very noisy cluster on social media, they are so furious and detached from reality that the most generous conclusion you can arrive at is that they are collectively suffering from a collective mental dysfunction.

These snarling few were the real victors of last year's referendum on Scottish independence.

These snarling few were the real victors of last year's referendum on Scottish independence. In part, because they got the result they wanted, but also largely because their brand of leaky rage has seeped deeply and infectiously into Scottish politics.

They always had their Nationalist counterparts, but in the past year they've grown in exponentially in ferocity. It is now the case that if you are a journalist or public figure and you say anything negative about the Scottish Government, or Scottish independence, you will get abused.

Regardless of your background or the context or your intent you will be abused. Your professionalism will be rubbished. Your integrity will be questioned. Any physical flaws you may have will be held up as evidence of your moral failings. And if you're a woman all of this will be 10 times worse.

What are we to call this other than an attempt to silence? An attempt to make the cost of criticism the Scottish Government more bother than it's worth.

It is now the case that if you are a journalist or public figure and you say anything negative about the Scottish Government, or Scottish independence, you will get abused.

It must be stressed that these efforts do not come from the SNP members themselves, rather the angry hangers on - the digital equivalent of the boozy, bigoted debris who trail behind an Orange Walk.

But all of us tolerate failings in our friends that appal us in our in our enemies. There's a focus - a relentless focus - on the worst of the other side, a hunger for something to be appalled by, to prove those you disagree with are worse than wrong.

Spending all day shifting through manure has inevitable, unpleasant side effects. I've always been happy to be a 90-minute Nationalist, but I looked around last autumn and felt hope. Amid the clamorous stramash of the long campaign, I saw enough passion and hope to think independence was worth taking a punt on.

That for all the numerous troubles and troubling numbers there was a chance and a will to make things better. Now that thrilling blaring chaos has been replaced by an endless shrieking drone.

The dominant motif of Scottish politics now is a furious man shouting at a screen.

The dominant motif of Scottish politics now is a furious man shouting at a screen. I've had the misfortune to know a few chronically angry people. They don't stop being angry just because they get what they want. They just get angry with someone else.

There are plenty who'll tell you anger is an energy, it's something to be harnessed. They're wrong. Rage is a blight. If you want to live in an angry country, be it Scotland or Britain, I want no part of that.

Picture: CommonSpace