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JENNY HJUL: Threats to Clootie McToot owner show the ugly face of modern-day Scottish nationalism

Clootie McToot dumpling maker Michelle Maddox was abused after meeting the PM, while the oil and gas industry had to take it from Green MSP Patrick Harvie.
Clootie McToot dumpling maker Michelle Maddox was abused after meeting the PM, while the oil and gas industry had to take it from Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

Michelle Maddox sounds like just the kind of young businesswoman Scotland needs to help it promote its heritage and produce.

The kind who could help the country to create future wealth, not more debt, and punch above its weight internationally.

The Perthshire entrepreneur has set up the world’s only clootie dumpling shop, Clootie McToot in Abernethy, from where she not only champions traditional Scottish fare but provides jobs for nine staff.

To further her export orders, she accepted an invitation to a festive food and drink market in Downing Street last week, along with other small British enterprises.

She probably thought she was doing her country proud.

But Maddox, who describes herself as not political, has instead been labelled a traitor.

She has also been warned to avoid dark alleys and told she would get a brick through her van. Several customers have now cancelled their orders.

Her crime? First, she gave one of her dumplings, wrapped in Harris tweed no less, to Boris Johnson when he dropped by her stall.

And, second, she wrote about the event on Facebook.

The abuse followed thick and fast.

Maddox said she had been left shaken by the experience.

She could not bear to check her messages on her phone or Facebook and had called in the police.

‘It’s been horrific,’ she said. ‘Who would have thought a clootie dumpling could have caused this?’

Who indeed?

Ugly face of Scottish nationalism

Regular observers of this country’s political scene might have foreseen it, since such episodes are depressingly predictable.

For us cynics it’s good to be reminded that there are people in Scotland going about their daily lives without paying much attention to the country’s divisive separatist politics.

Only when they accidentally cross some partisan line, as Maddox did, are they confronted with the ugly face of modern-day Scottish nationalism.

Michelle Maddox, owner of Clootie McToot, at 10 Downing Street.
Michelle Maddox, owner of dumpling company Clootie McToot, at 10 Downing Street.

This case bears hallmarks of the ‘cybernats’, who emerged as a malevolent force in the 2014 campaign for independence.

Maddox said the threats she received were direct messages posted by men.

Most likely, they won’t have revealed their identities because, that way, they can say what they like with no fear of the consequences.

Maddox may, however, know the customers who cancelled their orders – one apparently a large bespoke order – and it would serve them right if they were named and shamed on Facebook.

But she appears to be too astute a business owner to stoop to that.

Yesterday, she was reporting a sales surge and she will hopefully benefit commercially from the backlash against those who set out to destroy her.

Attacks from within government are harder to stomach

This whole incident will be dismissed by SNP leaders as unrepresentative of their movement, which they like to portray as caring, civic nationalism.

But the hatred on display here doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

Since fighting and losing the referendum seven years ago, secessionists can barely conceal their distaste for anyone who disagrees with them.

Even more disturbing than the anonymous keyboard warriors spewing their bile online are those in power who would sooner ruin Scotland than see it succeed as part of the United Kingdom.

Relatively new to their ranks, but clearly a quick learner, is Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Greens and a minister in Nicola Sturgeon’s pro-independence coalition.

Harvie’s mission, along with constitutional upheaval, is to demolish the North Sea industry that supports around 100,000 jobs in the north east of Scotland.

The other day he denigrated all those workers, many of whom would have voted for the SNP, saying only the ‘hard right’ now support oil and gas extraction.

Nicola Sturgeon and Patrick Harvie, whose comments about the oil and gas industry have sparked anger.

He was also accused of cheering on job losses after Shell pulled out of the planned Cambo field off Shetland when Sturgeon withdrew her backing for the development.

In the most bitter moments of the miners’ strike of the 1980s, there was never a pit boss or a Thatcherite minister who spoke with as much contempt as Harvie for the working man.

Comments show a lack of respect for voters

This is what Scotland has become under Nationalist rule, a nation that even those who have long dreamed of independence now find unrecognisable.

Former SNP health minister Alex Neil called Harvie’s comments ‘absurd’ and ‘sanctimonious’, while one-time SNP government chief of staff Geoff Aberdein branded him ‘silly and offensive’.

“Seeking to protect jobs whilst reducing reliance on carbon heavy imports as part of a just transition is apparently a priority of the ‘hard right’,” Aberdein tweeted.

“My friends and family, who work in the industry, will be delighted to know this is how they are viewed.”

All those who work hard to make Scotland a better place, whether they run businesses, put food on our plates or supply our energy needs, deserve to be treated with respect by ministers.

The cybernats we can ignore, but a government happy to sacrifice jobs overnight and intent on tearing the country apart has surely had its day.


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