A nationalism like no other…


Image © Kieran Lynam

Andrew McKay – former Labour Party Member

As the independence referendum draws nearer, I am enjoying following the campaign from an independent perspective. I left the Labour Party a few months ago – not long after I embraced Scottish independence.

Having met other supporters of Scottish independence I have found that my erstwhile coldness towards nationalism was misguided.

I still don’t accept the label of a nationalist – as it is a matter of chance that I was born in Scotland, which leaves me with little reason to be proud of the fact.

I always associated nationalism with right wing drivel – the British National Party, the National Front, or National Socialism. but have found that fellow supporters of Scottish independence are open minded, intelligent and generally very accepting.

By now, we are used to the unionist scare stories that arise most weeks. Such stories usually focus on the economics of independence – that we can’t manage on our own or that we would have much weaker armed forces.

However, one scare story struck me as particularly dangerous and untrue. One blog by a Liberal Democrat suggests that the attitudes of Scottish nationalists are bitter towards others on the basis of nationality or race.

The Scottish National Party has a block vote with ethnic minorities and the first Muslim MSP was a Scottish nationalist.

Pretending there is no division within the United Kingdom is delusional. The gap between Scottish and English opinion alone is enough reason for separation, but I urge those opposed to separation to meet with Scottish nationalists – there is no bitterness against the English, but there is a hint of anger towards the long list of London politicians who have betrayed them – many of whom are Scottish.

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6 Responses to A nationalism like no other…

  1. Stevie says:

    The label that probably defines most Scottish nationalists best is the word of French origin, ‘independetist’.

    It hasn’t really caught on — perhaps because it ends with dentist. But I often refer to myself in that way

  2. Stevie says:

    At the moment in Scotland there are Scot nats and Brit nats (yes, there are people who are neither — but do they even vote? I don’t know)

    The British nationalists :

    1) Choose to call themselves British first rather than Scottish, or ‘Scottish too’..
    2) The UK parliament is the parliament they believe should take all the important decisions and the Scottish parliament is really just localised organisation (or at least that’s what they hoped and that’s all Labour managed to do with it)
    3) Are proud of Britain ‘punching above its weight’ on the international stage, having a seat on the UN security council — the fact that they need nukes and generally follow the lead of the US in ‘foreign policy’ into bloody warfare costing literally hundreds of thousands of lives is the price one pays for trying to keep up the illusion of having once been a great empire and nothing really has changed.
    4) flag waving for an already existing country is that unhealthy bullish nationlism that manifests itself in its ugly hero-worshipping of figureheads and parading big ceremonial events.

    I am a Scot nat, not especially the patriotic kind who blindly follows a waving flag — the patriot has been used for centuries as cannon fodder and can be harmless or gormless or used.

    I want Scotland to be the kind of society that reflects the character of the Scots: caring, sharing, willing — enterprising of nature, open to the world, inclusive.

    If it’s a NO vote then that kind of society will be crushed as the block grant is devasted because it will follow the public sector cuts in England and that process will begin the day after a NO vote.

    I hope the Scots vote YES, I really do… I am afraid for those less fortunate in society if it’s not a YES.

  3. Iain Mac says:

    What has the nation of your birth got to do with it? And, why shouldn’t you be proud of Scotland? Should we be ashamed of it? I wasnt born here but am Scots. My partner isnt Scots but will vote yes. Our children are growing up with 3 languages, including Gaelic. Scotland has a fascinating culture and history of which I am proud. Equally, I can go to the Basque Country, to Mexico, to Germany and other places and be equally fascinated.

    Internationalism only means something if you have something to take to the international table. And what kind of message is that giving others, “we love the various cultures of the world… but hate our own”. Surely, the kind of Scottish cringe that holds us back?

  4. Iain Baker says:

    I enjoyed the read Andrew. It was short and to the point as well.it was generally positive contribution to the debate on Independence and thus refreshing.

    My father was an Englishman and a shop steward. Indeed very left of centre in his politics but he embraced Scottish Independence and when I asked him about that his reply was

    “Scotland is my home now! I find my values are more in tune with those of the majority of Scots and not with the British Parties or what Labour has become! The propaganda churned out by Labour is a far cry from the reality of my experience of life in Scotland and my own dealings with Scottish Nationalists!

    He was of the view that as long as the Brit Tory Party had Scotland to rape then Parties in England with left of centre policy core and a progressive agenda would have nochance of winning without Scotland supplying basketload of Labour MPs. Balir only won because he pursued a right wing policy whilst labour in Scotland was kept in line by representatives who had ambitions for high office in London and didnt give a damn for those that voted for them!

    Scottish Independene would be liberating for both Scotland and England as the UK Tory establishment would no longer have the resources to offer tax cuts and other goodies to the Tory Shires! and suburbs!”

  5. john ferguson says:

    I consider nationalism as being free to think and do what you like (within the law), to say “I can do this or that without being told to know your place or who do you think you are. A nation to be proud of is a nation that cares for it’s people and where it’s people care for it, where everyones opinion counts. Such a land can only exist if the people want it enough I know I do.

  6. Peter A Bell says:

    I find the idea of being proud of my nationality faintly ridiculous. It is not any kind of achievement. Pride is simply not appropriate But I have absolutely no problem calling myself a nationalist. Probably because my concept of nationalism is more to do with people than place. It is a matter of pragmatism, not patriotism.

    It is about good government. And I hold that good government is that which is no more distant from the governed than is consistent with adequate performance of its function. Good government must be close enough to the governed to be informed by their priorities, standards, attitudes and aspirations.

    Which is not to say that nations are unimportant. We cannot sensibly dismiss or deny something that is such a ubiquitous and potent component of individual identity. At base, nations are no more than convenient socio-political units. They may be contrivances, but they are the largest socio-political entities with which people identify at a subconscious level. If nothing else does, that alone makes them important.

    It is not nations that are potentially problematic, but the manner in which people identify with them. The problems arise when the nation is conceived in terms of shared characteristics rather than a shared commitment. There are no problems if we embrace Ernest Renan’s definition of the nation as the choice, affirmed in a “daily plebiscite”, of a group of people to share a place and a common sense of past and purpose.


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