When Does Pro Become Anti?

Owen Jones’ article in the Guardian about George Robertson’s somewhat unusual reading of the Indyref situation (if you’re reading George, “somewhat unusual” is called an understatement, you don’t always need to go for  hyperbole) had something a little odd in it.

Choice of wordsI have no problem with most of what Jones wrote in this particular piece.

The strange thing was rather what was printed under the image they used, which you can see with my clumsy underlining.

There are many ways to describe the campaign for Scottish Independence.

The Scottish Independence Campaign seems to me to be the most obvious, fairest and most accurate, which is why I chose that name for the podcasts, but I’ve seen many others, all of which I like less than the one I’ve just mentioned.

I suppose the other two commonly used terms would be these…

  • Scottish Nationalist Campaign – not so good as many people involved in it are not nationalists. It’s also worth noting there that it is in fact the Scottish NATIONAL Party, not the Scottish NATIONALIST Party (also at this point for the umpteenth time, I’m not a member).
  • Scottish Separatist Campaign – Clearly designed to give Independence a negative connotation.

I suppose you could make a case for calling it the Anti-Union Campaign. I actually think in many ways that is a lot fairer description than Separatist, if you allow for some loss of clarity in that some people may take it to mean trade union.

However, the one today in the Guardian is extraordinary. The Anti-Unionist campaign? This would suggest that the campaign is against individual people, rather than for or against any particular method or system of political organisation. The image itself does have anti-independence before it has anti-unionist, but the point is the same, one of those focuses on a point, the other on people.

I’m quite prepared to allow the possibility that it was a slip of the keyboard, but if it wasn’t, it’s a scurrilous thing to do.

I’d also be interested to see where else this description comes up in the Scottish Independence debate.





  1. I’m sure any description of the ‘Anti Unionist’ will come fron the NO supporters can’t imagine anyone on the YES side using that term. As regards the trem ‘Nationalists’ the uninformed have been using that term for ages I think(my theory) it’s because they pronounce’water’ as ‘wataaH’ it’s a language thing wiv them dwahn sarf. ‘National’ is ‘Nationalist’ to them er..hold on..maybe not let me get back to you

  2. It’s intentional I suspect, since the first thing that springs to mind as an opposite to anti-independence is pro-independence, and I don’t think the Guardian going to print that so easily. Reminds me of Christain creationists, intentionally renaming evolutionary scientists as evolutionists in an attempt to control language to suit their framing of issues.

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