THERE’S always been an unhealthy culture of silence within the Yes movement. Prominent SNP members who now position themselves as guardians of moral probity in politics and denounce the Alba Party’s Trumpian antics were only a few years ago amplifying hate speech online because it served their own political purposes.

Today, the "Wheesht For Indy" crowd are telling Yes-supporting critics of Alex Salmond’s new party to be quiet. “We’re all supposed to be on the same side, guys,” they say. “Think about the bigger picture.”

What irresponsible garbage. The drip, drip, drip of information about the views of individuals either joining, supporting or running for Alba of late has been nauseating. One candidate made shameful comments about “beggars”, Romanians, HIV, and vaccines. Another called Nicola Sturgeon “a cow”. It’s clear why many in Alba get slightly antsy at the idea of a clampdown on hate.

READ MORE: Salmond’s Trumpian circus distracts Scotland from the issues which matter

We already know Alba has the support of convicted perjurer Tommy Sheridan, and includes some of the most reactionary voices from the SNP now within its ranks, including defecting MP Neal Hanvey, once suspended for using anti-semitic language. Nor can it be overlooked that when it comes to Alex Salmond, as Sturgeon has said, there are “significant questions about the appropriateness of his return to public office given the concerns that have been raised about his behaviour previously”.

Sturgeon also says she’ll refuse to have any dealings with Salmond as he’s not shown any “sign of acknowledging how people feel about how he behaved while he was First Minister”. Alba has already been dubbed, somewhat grotesquely, “the Sleepy Cuddle Party”. Creepiness abounds.

The catalogue of unpleasant stories about Alba is too long for the purposes of this column, but put simply, this isn’t a basket of deplorables, it’s a whole supermarket trolley full. Yet perhaps the most galling of all Alba’s antics is the fact that some of its supporters not only have a history of peddling the most disgusting, intimidating hate in Scotland, they continue to do so despite Salmond vowing at the launch of the party that its campaigning would be “entirely positive”.

He’s clearly wrong. To pile duplicity on top of hypocrisy and offence, there are many voices across the Yes movement – mostly the older, more socially conservative wing – who persist in their “Wheesht for indy” nonsense despite the truth about Alba staring them in the face.

The sheer audacity is breath-taking. I don’t speak for the SNP – far from it – but Alba supporters have monstered the SNP, and in particular Sturgeon, endlessly for month upon month. They, and others, now want the SNP to play nice? Grow up.

It’s said that attacking Alba undermines the cause of independence. What have today’s Alba supporters been doing for years now? Attacking everyone in sight. If they’d learned to persuade instead of hate after 2014, support for independence would be well beyond 50%, one imagines.

It’s downright gaslighting, which is no surprise really given the party in question and some of its supporters’ attitudes to women. These are the same people who claim Sturgeon is entirely to blame for the rise of Alba and should cosy up to Salmond. Get your head around that one if you can without tripping over the word ‘misogyny’.

But forget the SNP. There are much bigger questions around this Wheesht for Indy gang and their negative effect on the Yes movement.

What’s the purpose of politics? Clearly to win people to your side. How on Earth are any soft, moderate, undecided voters going to be won over by a movement too sleekit to call out what’s wrong within its own ranks?

Among the conspiratorial, paranoid wing of the Yes movement there’s a fondness for the slightly menacing phrase “we see you” when they think there’s some “traitor”, “plant” or “quisling” around. Well, be sure, the Scottish people see what this Wheesht for Indy crowd is up to: they’re trying to hide dirt under the carpet. It looks crafty, manipulative, and amoral. They’re passively accepting the unacceptable because it suits their political ends. There can be nothing more damaging to independence. Be honest and you’ll win respect and votes.

Unionists, understandably, look on this spectacle with glee. The Yes movement is tearing itself apart, in what’s essentially a culture war between progressive social democrats in the SNP and Greens, and the agglomeration of Alba’s alt-nat and alt-right voices, riddled with conspiracy theories, disinformation and paranoia. The Holyrood election is now mired in the madness that Alba brought in its wake. The vote in May, which should be about policy, has become a circus. On the issue of independence, sane voices are crowded out by extremists. And yet the Wheesht for Indy mob seem to be okay with this. They’re either politically immature or on the road to radicalisation themselves. This can only benefit the No supporting parties.

If the behaviour of Alba figures isn’t strongly called out, it’ll send Scotland on a dangerous path. We cannot simply stumble into a place where we normalise the attitudes and behaviour this party represents. It masquerades as left-wing, for instance, while acting as a vehicle for some deeply reactionary characters.

The defence of boxer Alex Arthur – who’s standing for the party and made some appalling comments online – is a case in point. We’re told he’s just a working class lad and that’s how working class people act. As someone from the working class, unlike many phonies who claim to speak for ordinary folk, let me be clear: this isn’t how working class people typically behave, and saying so is about as left as Enoch Powell.

The American right normalised the antics of Trump and the lunatics who jumped on board his iteration of Republicanism. They did so because it was politically expedient. Look where that led and what that did. It ended up eating them alive. That’s what will happen here unless people have the gumption and decency to simply say what they see in front of them.

READ MORE: The Yes movement has been corrupted by hate and conspiracy

Independence is meaningless unless it builds a better Scotland. The idea of winning independence on the coattails of extremism and hate is shaming. The Wheesht for Indy crowd are no friends of Scotland, and no friends of independence.

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