We like to jest at some of the more hysterical and ridiculous scare stories put out by Unionists about independence, but sometimes the joke just isn’t funny any more.
This week we listened to the “For A’That” podcast, which featured a range of bloggers including the pro-indy Andrew “Lallands Peat Worrier” Tickell and the rare beast that is a right-wing Green, in the form of new member and Liberal Democrat defector Douglas McLellan, once seen many moons ago around these here parts.
The last guest was ultra-loyal Lib Dem activist Caron Lindsay (above), tireless defender of Willie Rennie and front-bench policy in general. She provided much of the heat in the otherwise good-natured discussion, with a succession of furious tirades against the SNP, including several (eg on the “unanswered questions” about pensions in an independent Scotland) which could in fact have been easily cleared up with a few minutes’ use of the Wings Over Scotland search box.
One in particular, though, stood out as perhaps an all-time low for the No camp.
Around 35 minutes into the chat, Lindsay was debating with host Michael Greenwell about whether the UK’s supposed greater influence on the world stage was in fact a good or bad thing, with Greenwell suggesting that perhaps the UK’s ability to “punch above its weight” in international affairs merely tended to result in, well, a lot of people getting punched. (We paraphrase.)
Lindsay’s response was remarkable.
“But Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat international development minister, is the government’s champion for stopping violence against women and girls. She’s putting massive amounts of money in overseas aid into tackling that on an international level…
I don’t think Scots would be able to have that impact on trying to change the culture, because one of the most important things that you can do is free women and girls from the tyranny of rape, of violence, to give them their freedom so that they can contribute as equal members of society. We wouldn’t have the influence to do that in an independent Scotland.“
Let’s just take a moment to digest that. Never mind what might happen in Scotland itself – if you vote Yes to independence, more women all over the world will be raped.
Erk. That’s quite a responsibility. Although in fact, the UK’s great mighty fist of influence doesn’t seem to have done a particularly good job of protecting women in Iraq. The UK-enabled invasion of that country seems, rather, to have brought rather a lot of rape and violence with it, even a decade after Saddam was toppled.
(And at least it’s good news that rape in the UK has been eradicated, as surely it must have been if we feel able to march around the world massacring the natives by the thousand, smashing the infrastructure to pieces and then telling anyone still left alive how to conduct their business like civilised people.)
Very rarely in human history has war been noted for having a stabilising effect on countries, nor being a great improver of women’s rights. German women “liberated” from the Nazis in 1945 must have been quite surprised not to find themselves living in an egalitarian paradise of gender respect.
But we digress. Even if the core point had merit (which it doesn’t), to use the abused women of the world as human shields against Scottish independence is a startlingly despicable piece of politicking. It’s probably just as well for all concerned that we weren’t on the panel, because “Voting Yes will get foreign women raped!” isn’t the kind of thing we tend to let quietly pass unchallenged.
Just 17 more months of the positive case for the Union to go, readers.