Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What nationalism has done to Scotland continued

A few days ago I blogged here about how the politics of Scotland, a wonderful country, has become more aggressive and intolerant in response to the more sectarians forms of nationalism, quoting from Stephen Daisley's article "Bile, anger and the growing divisiveness of a nation's politics."

Daisley is by no means the only person to have expressed this concern.

The Scotsman published an editorial yesterday,

"Questioning 'Scottishness' has no place in our debate,"

which effectively called on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to repudiate an article by the leader of the SNP group on Edinburgh City Council, Councillor Ross, which was widely interpreted as suggesting that “no party other than the SNP is properly Scottish."

Councillor Ross certainly did say in his article here that the Scottish Conservative and Unionists, Scottish Labour and Scottish Liberal democrats do not actually exist - a preposterous claim given that these organisations elect officers, employ staff, make returns to the Electoral Commission and publish accounts - and he accused the candidates who stand for election under these labels of not being open and honest about what they were standing for and these rival parties of disguising their true identities.

When I read Cllr Ross's article I was seriously tempted to refer it to the Electoral Commission and ask if it was a breach of electoral law - specifically, the law which forbids lying about a rival candidate during an election.

The Scotsman referred to Nicola Sturgeon's expressed wish that the political parties should debate3 with each other in a respectful tone, and concluded that

"If the First Minister wants to make her message as effective as possible, she should take this opportunity to make clear that the remarks made by Councillor Ross over Scottish identity – whether offence was intended or not – are not acceptable."

Quite.

The New Statesman published a set of two very worrying articles yesterday: one about unionist extremists and one about nationalist extremists in Scotland.

Of course, being lefties, the New Statesman sometimes appears to be unable to distinguish between patriotism and extremism. I did not know whether to laugh or cry about one passage in the former article which suggested that

"In the patriotic fervour of Facebook groups like “Do Not Break Our Unity”, there is a different kind of unionism. It waves the Union Jack with pride, wears the poppy, celebrates the monarchy, approves of Theresa May and voted Brexit."

Four of those five criteria for "a different kind of unionism" apply to me and I strongly object to the suggestion that any of the five have a proper place in an article about extremism.

Unfortunately most of the other points made by both articles cannot be so easily dismissed. Some are seriously frightening - I knew that the previous leader of Scottish Labour had suffered disruption and intimidation while campaigning for "Better Together" but not that he had been presented with "Yes" campaigners who had literally formed up in a "testudo" (tortoise) battle formation, copying the military tactics of a Roman legion!

Mainstream politicians of all parties have a responsibility to make sure that arguments are expressed in a calm and respectful way. And those who bully, threaten, or intimidate should be dealt with by the law - certainly well before the point at which they start quite literally adopting military battle tactics.

4 comments:

Jim said...

Its quite a simple thing really, look 3 years ago, yes 3 years. The people of Scotland voted in a democratic referendum, "shall we remain members of the UK or shall we not?"

55% of the people in that referendum, that once in a generation referendum, that once in a lifetime referendum, voted that they should.

I think that should be respected.

in 2016 there was a UK wide referendum saying should the UK remain part of the EU or not, the democratic vote then was "no it should not"

i think that vote should be respected as well.

So sick of seeing all of these protests about democratic things, if people actually cared that much then they should have voted in the first place, and if you did vote and dont like the result, then live with it, you were out voted.

Now if you do happen to think that the people shoud have more control over the government then read up on the Harrogate agenda, and welcome aboard. but you cant use that sort of argumenent on demographics over national referendums right now.

Both referendums were "one person, one vote" and that is how both referendums were won or lost.

Now would you turn many voters, unlikely, but you may get a better turnout on the losing side of both than the orgional vote, though they both could and should have turned out the first time.

Does that mean i will support the current system? - well no. I voted conservative last time because i wanted an EU referendum. Will i do so again, probably not. At the moment i think I will abstain. Its really not difficult.

Jim said...

also, certainly with the scottish one,

I think actually a second referendum would result in a higher percntage for remain in the UK, that is purly on economics, but it most likely would.

an independent Scotland would have pretty much no chance of joining the EU as it is, a deficit higher than Greece, and a welfare state so demanding. it has no chance.

the EU has 3%GDP as max deficit, Scotlands is almost 10%.

there should be a time people can actually think logically about things.

Anonymous said...

"people can actually think logically about things".

Chris Whiteside said...

I certainly agree with you on most of that, Jim, and particularly that both referendum results - including both the one I personally agreed with and the one I personally didn't vote for - should be respected.

But what is far more worrying to me than people who take a different view on that is people who are too ready to accuse those who take a different view from themselves as traitors and think it is OK harass or intimidate them.

Will people take a rational view? I hope so and I think so. But I don't think we can take anything for granted at the moment.