Sunday 18 March 2012

On SNP scaremongering

Yes, you read that right - SNP scaremongering, not unionist scaremongering, for a change. As I have discussed before, the fundamental problem with Scottish nationalism is that there aren't any of the usual motivations that drive secessionist movements. Scotland just doesn't have the distinct ethnic identity of, say, the Basque country, or the distinct cultural and linguistic identity of Catalonia, or the distinct religious identity of the Irish Free State (as was). Without these things, you don't have real nationalism; you just have politics.

The rhetoric from the SNP of late tacitly acknowledges this. And this is why they have resorted to creating the absurd bogeyman of the Tory Thousand-Year Reich in order to justify themselves. At their conference last week, Salmond's oft-quoted soundbite was "Home Rule with independence beats Tory rule from Westminster". Today, Kenneth Gibson parroted the same line: "When the people of Scotland are given the choice in 2014 between home rule with independence or Tory rule from Westminster, I am confident they will trust themselves and vote Yes for independence." What about Labour rule from Westminster? Is that a negligible possibility, now and forever? I seem to remember, not so long ago, we actually had a Labour government at Westminster - with Scotsmen at both No. 10 and No. 11 Downing Street and at the Ministries of Defence and International Development, to boot! Not bad for the UK's "surly lodger". But the SNP must cast the UK as a perpetual Tory single-party state, as their only remotely tenable argument is that Scotland is just too socialist to ever be politically reconcilable with the rest of the UK.

But that's just politics, not nationalism. Politics is an ever-changing landscape - let's not forget that the 1955 general election was a landslide victory for the Conservative-aligned Scottish Unionist Party. And the fact that a Conservative currently has a five-year lease on a house in Downing Street is not a good enough reason to rip up a 300-year-old constitution.

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