by Wee Hamish

My neighbours are English. You can tell that as soon as they speak to you. As far as I’m concerned, though, they’re just my neighbours. They’ve lived and worked in Scotland for nearly thirty years. Their children grew up here and they’ve now got grandchildren who were born here.

I was chatting to them the other day and asked whether they’d ever experienced any anti-English hatred, especially since the last IndyRef. Both of them looked at me as if I was daft.

“Not once," they both said.

Which makes a lot of the online claims being made even more mysterious. Some of these are so absurd, it’s becoming clear that the Unionists are waging an online war by spreading lies. Some of them can be hard to spot, but others are so plainly ridiculous it’s a wonder they think they can get away with it.

One example last week was particularly hilarious. A woman claimed her child was attending State School in Scotland and could not spell in English because she was being taught in Scots.

Seriously? Who in Scotland talks about State schools? And who is ever taught in scots?

This claim met with much ridicule, but it’s a warning sign that there may well be other, less obviously idiotic claims out there. The sole purpose of these claims is to paint a picture of Scotland as a racist, anti-English place.

The thing is, what is the point of this tactic? It’s clearly intended to demonise supporters of Indy, but anyone who actually lives in Scotland and believes this nonsense isn’t going to be a supporter of Indy anyway. Most Scots will know that, while we’ve got our fair share of bampots, being English – or being any other nationality – doesn’t create the same sort of racist response which is becoming more common in England.

But what is the point of this? It’s hardly likely to create the sort of united country the unionists keep calling for, is it? The aim seems to be to demonise supporters of Indy so that the media can latch onto this idea of Scotland being a place full of anti-English resentment. By goading people with lies, the trolls are trying to provoke a reaction which they can then use to prove their point. But it’s a strange way to try to persuade people to change their minds on Indy. Insulting people isn’t usually a good way to convince them they are wrong. Many Unionists don’t seem to understand this because they’ve become used to divisive politics.

So, if you see or hear anyone making this sort of claim, call them out on it, but do it politely or with humour. Don’t fall for the trap they are setting.

And if you do see or hear any Scot making anti-English or anti-Muslim or anti-anyone remarks, call them out too. We want to make Scotland a welcoming country. That’s what Nicola Sturgeon said in her speech at the SNP Conference, and that’s what all of us ought to be doing. Let’s make Scotland a hate-free zone!