A Dirty Word.
Nationalism. It has a tarnished history, written in the blood and tears of those it deemed ‘other’. It is a foul word which draws links to 1930s Germany, to the BNP and EDL. To Erdogan’s Turkey and Bolsonaro’s Brazil. Therefore, following Edinburgh’s 200,000 strong independence march on Saturday 5 October, the world is beginning to take note of Scotland. People across the globe are finally noticing the groundswell of Scottish nationalism that the rest of us continue to live through. Prompting the question: ‘is Scotland on the receiving end of this attention for the wrong reasons?’
The short answer is no. The long answer is definitely not. Anybody who is or has been affiliated with the Yes movement, the Scottish Greens, the SNP or has even witnessed what they do and campaign for can see this claim for the sheer nonsense that it is. Our message is one of inclusiveness and self-determination. We want to be able to hold our government to account. We want our representatives to share our values and have the power to create, pass and legislate in accordance with these values.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, recently claimed that Scottish and English nationalism were the same, stating that Scottish nationalists (of which I count myself one) believe “we’re better than the others”. This prompted one of Edinburgh University’s own professors, Ailsa Henderson, to weigh into the debate. She said that, after writing tens of thousands of words on the subject, it was evident that the two movements were vastly different.
English nationalism is unfortunately, a distasteful ideology – it certainly comes across that way. It manifests itself in indubitably vile characters; in the likes of Steven Yaxley-Lennon and ‘Manky Jaikit’ man, the holocaust denier and former UKIP candidate who leads the 30 strong group of counter-protesters (on a good day) during independence marches, and believes the British Union is 5,000 years old. Let’s not forget about Anne Widdicombe, one of the recent Brexit party MEPs – a hateful woman if ever there was one. Contrast this with the senior figures in the SNP and the ‘Yes’ movement, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister and one of the most respected world leaders, not just in Europe but so too on the global stage; Joanna Cherry QC MP, the woman who has extracted numerous concessions and defeats from an unelected Prime Minister (who receives his instructions through a portrait of Thatcher installed with a speaker to relay the whisperings of Dominic Cummings -a man who makes the EDL look like the Mormons on Nicolson Street). The list continues: Alyn Smith, Ian Blackford, Mhairi Black, George Kerevan, Ruth Wishart – all of them responsible and sensible public figures who are campaigning for Yes from a place of compassion and who steer clear of the vulgar, populist rhetoric so frequently employed by our unfortunate counterparts down south.
The Scottish ‘Nationalist’ movement has consisted of one word: ‘hope’. Hope for a better future. Hope for a government that is accountable to the Scottish people. Hope for a world where Scotland and her people can take their place – our place – on the world stage, to work together with the rest of the world for the betterment of all our people. One needs only to look at the ‘Declaration for Independence’ released recently, at its signatories and the information written within it to understand this. Scottish nationalism and the values driving both it and the independence movement are best characterised in the words of Madame Ecosse herself, Winnie Ewing: “Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on”.