Thursday 18 August 2022

How to put out the flames of SNP anger


There is a lot of anger in Scottish politics. It comes mainly from the Scottish nationalist side of the argument. There are people on the Pro UK side who behave badly, but these are almost exclusively from the Orange side of the sectarian divide in the Central Belt. I have not once seen a Pro UK demonstration in Aberdeenshire. If Nicola Sturgeon visits Aberdeen, there will not be a single Pro UK person shouting at her.

Online there are some Pro UK people who behave badly, but the main Pro UK people I know of do not attack SNP politicians personally. I write essays, which can sometimes be hard hitting, but I try to distinguish between the personal and the political. I disagree with people like Sturgeon. I think it is wrong what her party has done to Scotland. But I don’t wish any SNP politician personal ill, nor any SNP supporter.

I don’t honestly know many Scottish nationalists personally either online or off. I turned off the comments on my site because all I got was personal abuse from Scottish nationalists. I have a policy of not answering polite nationalists more than once or twice on Twitter and of blocking impolite or annoying ones immediately. It is the only way to stay sane.

I have noticed certain Pro UK commentators using the term “Brit Nats” to refer to Pro UK people they disagree with. I have a long-standing policy of blocking immediately anyone who uses this term. This along with “Yoons” was invented by Scottish nationalists in order to draw equivalence between their nationalism and the supposed nationalism that wished to hold the UK together. But it is a false equivalence. It is not nationalistic to wish to maintain the territorial integrity of your nation state. Every country in the world wants to do this. To call it nationalist makes the word meaningless.

Nationalism is always either about secession or unification. But the UK does not wish to leave another country, nor does it wish to join with another country. So, to describe British people as nationalists is as absurd as describing French people as nationalists because they don’t want France to break up.

Nor is it reasonable to use the term “Brit Nats” as the equivalent of Cybernats. We are not Nats and there simply is not the equivalent of Pro UK people attacking SNP supporters online.

I write articles, but I never ever attach links to these articles to the Twitter accounts of SNP politicians or supporters. I almost never initiate a conversation on Twitter with a Scottish Nationalist and would generally prefer to be left alone by them. I have not once seen an example of a Pro UK organised attack either online or offline that is remotely similar to the Cybernat attacks that were routine during the referendum of 2014 and are becoming more commonplace now.

The strength of the Pro UK argument is that our side generally has behaved much better that the nationalists. I see nothing wrong with expressing ideas that Scottish nationalists dislike, such as denying that there is a democratic right to secession or arguing that there is no democratic deficit. I think it is perfectly fine to mock SNP politicians and to ridicule their policies.

There is a certain kind of Pro UK commentator that doesn’t want to frighten the Scottish nationalist horses. It is for this reason that Liz Truss talks of herself as a child of the union and why we have a Minister for the union. It is why we think of the UK as four separate countries, because otherwise some Scots would be angry. But it is precisely because of this sort of appeasement that the UK has a problem with secession while France does not.

There is nothing whatsoever historically different from the way in which the UK was formed than from the way any other European country was formed. There were separate kingdoms which merged. Perhaps there was an act of union perhaps not. But they became one country while we remained four. The union is not a strength. It is a weakness. It is the Scottish nationalists who believe most in the union and who object most if I say there is no union.

There is a lot to like about Liz Truss, but someone need to tell her to ditch the stuff about the UK family as if we are some sort of husband and wife. This stuff only helps the SNP, because a family is made up of separate parts that can divorce and can leave home. A country like France is not a family. There is no wife called Burgundy married to a husband called Brittany. There is no union and therefore nothing to split up. There is one thing. France.

Scottish nationalists would be very angry indeed if Liz Truss told the truth about the UK, that legally we are one nation where the parts happen to be called countries. There is one sovereignty, and it extends equally over all UK territory. There is no democratic right to secession and therefore the UK is as within its rights just like the USA or Germany to deny an independence referendum forever.  

But the key to remember is that we are going to have to go through Scottish nationalist anger at some point whether we have a referendum or not. Scottish nationalists would be angry during an independence campaign and would certainly be angry if they lost. They would be angry with Pro UK people even if they won.

Scottish nationalists are angry because nationalism makes people angry. Places that were previously reasonably peaceful like Yugoslavia had people hating their neighbours who previously were friends because someone let the nationalist genie out of the bottle and the disease spread.

What we have done since 2014 is to keep the Scottish nationalist flame alive. We have given them hope. Always, next year there will be another referendum. So, we never go back to where we were before Scotland discovered nationalism.

If you take away the hope, there will be a burst of anger, but if you do it legally and calmly and methodically and explain carefully that the UK is just like France, then the flames of Scottish nationalism will soon turn into ashes and those flames of anger would actually be no worse than you would have to endure anyway.

There is anger in Scotland, but I don’t think Scotland is remotely revolutionary. Support for independence is contingent on it being easy and life going on pretty much like now. The number of fanatics on the SNP side who are willing to suffer a large drop in their standard of living to gain independence is small indeed.

So, tell them your only legal route to independence is holding a revolution (like the USA did in 1776). We will not fight you, but nor will we help you, nor recognise you and no one else will either. Tell them that and you will put out the fire and eventually put out the anger also.