It was the spring of 2017 and some nationalists were getting antsy. Another Scottish independence referendum felt imminent. Victory was far from assured. So they turned on their old enemy: the media.

At a rally in Glasgow, one patriot, channelling the language of President Donald Trump and the American alt-right, denounced “fake news” while others booed the BBC in particular and the press in general.

The event? A launch for Scotland in Union, the pro-UK group, and its Project Listen campaign. It could just as easily been a demonstration by some of the country’s more counter-productive pro-independence campaigners.

READ MORE: Unionist campaign splits over Brexit and second referendum

That is the thing about those on the fringes of Scotland’s competing nationalisms: their rhetoric and often dysfunctional behaviours are so similar you have to check their flags to know which side they are on.

Indeed, they can have more in common with each other than with the mainstreams of their respective movements.

Scotland in Union launch "Project Listen" earlier this year

HeraldScotland: Scotland in Union chief executive Graeme Pearson launches Project Listen

Scotland’s 2014 referendum, especially in comparison with bitter and divisive processes under way elsewhere, looked like a triumph for democracy.

But it had its problems, not least online, where pro-independence “cybernats” and their unionist equivalents seemed intent on being counter-productively aggressive.

READ MORE: Unionist campaign splits over Brexit and second referendum

Some commentators have called the pro-independence fringes “alt-nats”, perhaps because they so closely echo Trumpist rhetoric on the media, perhaps because they are so often radicalised online, in an alternative political reality. They may not share the extremist white nationalist outlook of America's alt-right but they are increasingly detached from the real SNP and Greens.

A similar fracturing has been taking place on the No side. Along with alt-nats, we now, to coin a phrase, have “alt-yoons” too. This isn’t good news for unionism.

At their Glasgow rally, in March 2017, Scotland in the Union’s then chief executive, the respected former police officer and Labour MSP Graeme Pearson, had no time for those who boo reporters.

Graeme Pearson

HeraldScotland: Graeme Pearson

Mr Pearson has now stepped aside. Another ex-Labour politician, Pamela Nash, has taken his place. Both seek to build a broad cross-party base, a kind of reserve Better Together campaign.

Yet there was also clearly a yearning for a more abrasive stance.

A new group, UK Unity, has set its sights on becoming the voice of unionism or perhaps, to use an SNP term, “ultra-unionism”. It wants, it says, to be more “aggressive” and ‘populist’. But will it be more popular? It has started out by embracing Brexit, something which, at last count, was opposed by more than two-thirds of Scots. Yessers, despite their own splits, will be delighted.

UK Unity founder David Clews