Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Nationalism’
A Different Scotland is Happening
Gerry Hassan and James Mitchell
Scottish Review, November 27th 2013
Many words will be written this week and in the years to come about the independence debate and the publication of the Scottish Government White Paper on independence launched yesterday in Glasgow by Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.
All of this has come about after negotiations between the UK and Scottish Governments. They agreed the question to be put to the Scottish people, about who could vote and the rules of the referendum. The two Governments and campaign organisations associated with each side seek to define the terms of the debate: independence vs. separatism; hope vs. fear; change vs. continuity.
There is nothing unusual in this. Elections and referendums in liberal democracies are about giving the public an authoritative voice on pre-determined choices.
As a device for consulting the people, the referendum is now more commonly used in the UK than the past. It has value in ensuring that a decision carries the legitimising power of public support, as happened in the 1997 devolution vote. But referendums have their limitations. They encourage highly adversarial politics and limit choices to what is on offer at the ballot box, even if the public might prefer something else. These features can limit public involvement to being spectators. Read the rest of this entry »
History in the Making: The Battle for Scotland’s Future
National Collective, November 20th 2013
The campaign on Scottish independence has reached new levels – a battle of competing specialist documents – firstly, there has been an Institute for Fiscal Studies report, matched by a Scottish Government paper on the economic independence, and next week the much anticipated White Paper on Scottish independence.
The latter is a milestone in the pro-independence debate. Whatever its content, style and persuasiveness things will never quite be the same again. A devolved administration in part of the UK lays out the case for independence and for formally ending the 300 year old union which has bound Scotland and England together.
Yet beneath these is a contest between two competing technocratic versions of the world, shaped by faith in conventional economic growth models which are globally growing more threadbare and discredited by the day. This is the rationalist mindset, illustrating by the actions of both campaigns the limits of such an approach and politics.
Then there is the mainstream media. The IFS report was greeted by what can only be called near-hysteria by some of the pro-union newspapers. The Scottish edition of ‘the Daily Mail’ shouted ‘BLACK HOLE: Report exposes SNP economic gap: They’ll have to raise income tax or slash spending’ on its front page; the ‘Daily Telegraph’ that ‘Separation would deal £6bn blow, impartial study finds’. We have had two and a half years of this one-sided Pathe News style propaganda and clearly it is only going in one direction: towards a date with Armageddon on September 18th 2014. Read the rest of this entry »
Unionists, come out and declare your ‘nationalism’
The Scotsman, August 10th 2013
The story is familiar: there is a pesky, partisan, immature nationalism out and about influencing our body politic.
This is the account of Scottish nationalism put forward by a range of commentators and public figures. Yet it could as easily be articulated about the ideas of unionism because unionism is at its heart a form of nationalism – British state nationalism.
Scottish nationalism has its faults and limitations. It is cautious, conservative and shaped by the characteristics of the society from which it was born. It is also a nationalism, but at least it understands itself as such and is seen as such a phenomenon by everyone.
Unionism doesn’t comprehend that it is a nationalism. It is an obvious point when you think about it. What state does unionism declare its allegiance and loyalty to above all else? The British state. Yet unionism is in denial that it is such a thing as nationalism; it thinks nationalism is about others and not about itself. Read the rest of this entry »
Labour and Independence: The Power of the Past
National Collective, August 2nd 2013
Beyond the posturing, allegations and counter-allegations of recent days on the vexed subject of Labour for Independence, there are a series of important and often unexplored questions which tell us much about Scottish politics.
Why does Labour, ostensibly ‘a non-nationalist, non-unionist party’ in the words of Lallands Peat Worrier’s reflective blog (1), so preclude not only any consideration of independence, but so firmly, trenchantly and aggressively, a rejection of it? The answer is complex, and can be found deep in the history and evolution of British and Scottish Labour.
It is about the idea of ‘Labour Scotland’ (which some present day Labour politicians seem to be unable to comprehend as distinct from Scottish Labour) and its relationship to ‘Labour Britain’. It is about how Fabian socialism became an ideology of the British state, and one which saw the British state as the main instrument of its policies and practices. But crucially, it is about how Labour, which has through the ages proclaimed itself as a party of the future and creating the future, has been historically and contemporaneously shaped, defined and even a prisoner of the past. Read the rest of this entry »
Time for a Radical Scotland to challenge our forces of conservatism
The Scotsman, June 1st 2013
Scotland has long prided itself on its radical and socialist traditions, from Red Clydeside and UCS to rent strikes, occupations and the campaign which achieved the Scottish Parliament.
This week Alex Salmond faced more criticism over his corporation tax policy from predictable quarters such as Johann Lamont and less predictable ones such as pro-independence supporters and economists Jim and Margaret Cuthbert and Council of Economic Advisers member Professor Joseph Stiglitz.
This raises all sorts of questions: about the nature and dynamics of the independence project, Labour-SNP competition, and the characteristics of the Scottish left. Underneath this is the dilemma of who really speaks for and represents Scotland’s radical traditions? And who is looking at turning these into thinking and policies for today? Read the rest of this entry »