It’s become customary for Better Together supporters to prefix their attempts at talking down Scotland with the words “I’m a patriotic Scot, but …” or similar. (It’s always followed by an example of how they believe Scotland is either too wee, too poor or too stupid so survive in the real world.)
This use of patriotic (a word that independence supporters rarely use) is straightforward enough — they want to ensure that people don’t think they’re doing this because they don’t feel Scottish.
However, today the Scottish Office (which at least on Twitter ought to change its name to the Better Together Propaganda Office) tweeted this:
— TheScotlandOffice (@ScotlandOffice) May 20, 2014
This seems to imply that voting No is a patriotic duty, that voting Yes is a temptation that must be resisted. It smacks of “Close your eyes and think of England” and “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori“.
It’s an interesting change of semantics. Whereas the way patriotic is normally used by No campaigners clearly refers to Scotland, this seems to say that people have a duty to the United Kingdom, and that it would be an unforgivable folly to vote Yes to independence.
This tweet seems to be condensed version of this quote by Alistair Carmichael: “Being passionate about independence does not make you more Scottish. It does not mean you are the only ones that care about Scotland’s future. People who care are asking questions about our pensions and the Pound and if they do not get convincing answers then the patriotic decision will be to reject the idea of Scotland leaving the UK.”
In the longer version, patriotic seems to have its usual meaning (although the logic is somewhat flawed).
So what happened? Is the Scottish Office on a mission here, or are they just bad at condensing statements down to 140 characters? It will be interesting to study the use of patriotic by Better Together for the remainder of the campaign.