By Dale Street
Tunnock’s teacakes are the latest victims of the super-patriotic wing of Scottish nationalism: Along with all other Tunnock’s products (caramel wafers, caramel logs and snowballs), they should now be boycotted by all true Scots.
The trigger for the call for a boycott is an advertising campaign on London Underground which Tunnock’s launched in the New Year. According to the Facebook page “Boycott the Companies That Scared Scotland” (21,360 likes):
“Tunnock’s are ditching the lion rampant from their branding, stating that they are not a Scottish biscuit, they are a Great British biscuit. This is the second time this company has pissed on Scotland, after funding a ‘No’ vote in 2014. What’s really petty is a millionaire interfering with a country’s democratic decision so he can sell more biscuits.”
The company was duly added to the list of companies to be boycotted for having “scared Scotland” in the 2014 referendum. The list already included the Daily Record, the BBC, BP, Marks and Spencer, B&Q, Sainsbury’s John Lewis and USDAW.
(Yes, USDAW is a trade union, not a company. But the difference between a trade union and an employer seems to be lost on many nationalists: If they’re British, everything else shades into insignificance.)
An SNP-cybernat definition of “Tunnock” quickly did the rounds on social media:
“Tunnock: A person who is embarrassed by their Scottish heritage; one who prefers their country to be ruled by another; an individual who betrays someone or something, such as a friend, cause or principle; a dick. See also Dobber and Bawbag.”
Nationalist enthusiasts took to social media to express their support for a boycott:
“Tunnocks can get to fuck. Turncoat traitor wanks.” “I hope not one person in Scotland buys your products after abandoning the lion to appeal to England.” “Will not be buying any more fk tunnock.” “Established 1890. Sold out 2016.” “Rebranding is one thing. What Tunnocks did was a brazen rejection of Scotland.” “Let’s hope it cost him millions. We can only hope it puts him out of business.”
In fact, it turned out that some “Yes” supporters had been boycotting Tunnock’s ever since the referendum, some fifteen months before the launch of its ‘unpatriotic’ advertising campaign:
“Why is people only just (now) doing this? I’ve not bought anything from them since they came out as ‘No’.” “Never bought another Tunnocks product since Indy and never will again.” “I’ve never eaten anything made by Tunnock’s since the referendum.” “They supported a #No vote. That’s all you need to know.”
But other Scottish nationalists felt that calling for a boycott of Tunnock’s products did not really make sense. According to an editorial in The National (which pretends to be a newspaper but is in fact something you wave while your Saltires are away at the dry cleaners):
“What the whole episode really shows is how pro-Unionist campaigners moved quickly to condemn those who called for a boycott and made it not about those fringes but the whole pro-independence movement.
The truth is you never hear Yes campaigners calling for a boycott. Not really. You hear the crazed loons on the fringes of social media.”
Unfortunately for The National, comments posted beneath the editorial revealed that a fair number of its own readers were Tunnock’s-boycotting “crazed loons on the fringes of social media”. And they did not like being called “crazed loons”:
“Those ‘crazy loons’ you are referring to will soon see that ‘The National’ is just another unionist newspaper dressed in a kilt. I have till now bought Tunnocks, I won’t from now on.” “How about that? I’m a ‘crazed loon’! And proud of it!”
“I have been told I was being extremist for boycotting all papers except ‘The National’. Now ‘The National’ is saying I am on the lunatic fringe for boycotting a confectionery product. Hmmm.”
“If ‘The National’ thinks I am a loon because I choose to no longer buy a product, their product is now also one I no longer wish to buy.” “Be very careful who you call ‘crazed loons’. We are AT THE MOMENT supporting this paper.”
“Wow. This is bizarre from ‘The National’. I will boycott Tunnocks as is my choice. I can justify this in a completely rational way(!!!) and I would encourage others to do likewise. I am not a crazed loon on the fringes of social media because of this. However your opinion piece is more deserving of such a description.”
It is doubtless true that only a minority of Scottish nationalists support an actual boycott of Tunnock’s. But the call for a boycott is certainly a microcosm of the overall nationalist mindset and method of political ‘argument’:
– Ignore basic facts: The lion rampant has not been “ditched” by Tunnock’s. It is very visible on the Tunnock’s packaging in the advert. And the expression “Great British teacake” is a humorous take on “Great British Bake Off”, not an assertion of national identity (insofar as teacakes have a national identity).
– Ignore inconsistencies: Such as denouncing millionaires who donated to the ‘No’ campaign for interfering with a country’s democratic decision, but not making the same denunciation of millionaires who donated to the ‘Yes’ campaign.
– Ignore reality: 55% of the electorate voted against independence in 2014. 45% voted in favour. “55” is a bigger number than “45”. (And the current price of a barrel of oil is $35. “35” is considerably less than the SNP-promised figure of “117”.)
– Invent an insult to the Scottish nation (in a particularly aggressive and self-righteous tone – because, although you lost in 2014, you are the ‘real’ spokesperson of the nation): A self-confessed Tory millionaire who voted ‘No’ has dared to remove the symbol of the medieval Scottish monarchy from his teacakes branding!
– Invent a conspiracy theory: Too tedious quote verbatim, but it runs as follows: Tunnock’s has not Britified its teacakes as an advertising gimmick but in order to make pro-Unionist propaganda. (“The reality is that Boyd Tunnock was quite explicit about the packaging changes being intended for the purpose of promoting a unionist message.”)
– Sacrifice workers’ interests on your nationalist altar: A boycott of Tunnock’s, if it ever took off, would cost workers’ jobs (“We can only hope it puts him out of business.”) And unlike many SNP employers, Tunnocks actually recognises a trade union (Unite).
Sure, only a minority of Scottish nationalists are the kind of “crazed loons” who back a boycott of Tunnock’s (although, as The National discovered to its cost, there are a quite a lot of them out there).
But the ‘logic’ of the argument for boycotting a teacake contains all the ingredients of mainstream Scottish nationalism.