I’ve kept mostly quiet about my views on next year’s Scottish independence referendum. But this tendentious picture cropped up in my Twitter stream today and I couldn’t restrain myself.

The image seems to have been tweeted originally  in mid-August by someone posing (not very successfully) as Nicola Sturgeon. SNP politician and deputy first minister of Scotland.

Why is it tendentious?

First, it transforms the forthcoming referendum question of ‘Yes/No to independence’ into ‘Yes for Scotland’ and ‘No to Scotland.’

So if you’re thinking of voting No to independence you’re actually thinking of voting No to Scotland.

Hmm, I don’t think so. They’re entirely different things.  In any recent poll, far more Scots are inclined to vote No in the referendum than Yes. If most of them were told they’d be saying No to Scotland they’d be outraged, and quite right too.

The second and more important reason the image is tendentious is the way those political organisations for and against independence are listed, not by size but alphabetically.

Surprise, surprise. This means the list of those For is headed by something called Labour for Independence. So there you are, ‘real’ (my word) Labour members are for independence. Except, hang on. Is this the same group that the media have said may be ‘an SNP front’ (see the Herald of 4 August, for example)? Sadly, it is.

Worse than this, the alphabetical arrangement places the British National Party at the top of the No list. If there’s a political party that has no significance in Scotland it’s this extreme right-wing group. And of course, whoever has drawn this up has ensured that their logo is prominent in the grouping of party logos’ underneath the No list.

A more honest statement of the political groups for and against independence (or separation – yes, some call it that) might be

  • FOR – the SNP and some political minnows
  • AGAINST – the other three main political parties in Scotland and some others.

I don’t expect any of this will alter the views of people whose minds are already made up. But it sure ain’t going to get me more sympathetic to the Yes campaign.

Watch out for more of this tedious stuff over the next twelve months.

Footnote – for a few hours this post said the offending image was tweeted by Nicola Sturgeon. In fact it seems to have been tweeted by one of those anonymous (in this case not very funny) Twitter account holders who pose as someone else. But it’s still a taste of some of the unsavoury stuff about the subject floating around the web. Come back Larry the Cat, all is forgiven.