Scottish Nationalism’s Dangerous Cult of Victimhood

11 December 2013

Danny Finkelstein’s column in the Times today is characteristically elegant and incisive. In politics as in life he writes, “whatever apparent power and temptation lies with the adoption of the identity of victimhood it is ultimately destructive”.

Since Finkelstein is pondering lessons that may be drawn from the life of Nelson Mandela it may not be immediately obvious that the conclusion he reaches has some relevance to the campaign for Scottish independence. I better elaborate, then.

Much has been said about how and why Unionists need a better “narrative” when making the case for Scotland as part of the United Kingdom. This is true. There is a need for a positive, optimistic, case for the Union. This is also true.

On the other hand, it is less frequently noted that the Yes campaign is pretty negative too. For all the talk of hope and change and so on it remains the case that the SNP – and the broader Yes campaign – is just as happy to wallow in negativity as their Unionist opponents.

In one sense this is as understandable as it is unavoidable. To win, the nationalists must first persuade Scots that the United Kingdom is irretrievably broken and, secondly, that independence is the best way of fixing Scotland or, if you prefer, salvaging something from the wreckage. Inevitably this demands some emphasis on the negative aspects of life in modern Britain. Less hope, more whinge.

This is fine as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go very far for the simple reason that, despite the usual grumbling, most people do not think life in Britain is all that intolerable.

Despite this, Yes campaigners would have you believe that the future for Scotland inside the United Kingdom is bleaker than a November day in Fraserburgh. A cold future awaits us, perhaps even a mini ice age. Just contemplating the notion should be enough to give you the shivers.

After all, what is there to look forward to? Another Tory-led government? Nuclear-armed submarines on the Clyde? The bedroom tax and more welfare reform? Cuts to the Scottish block grant? The prospect of having to work until you are 70 before receiving a state pension? Ochone, ochone.


Fine. These may all be unfortunate things up with which we may have to put. They’re not quite the kind of grievances that demand independence, however. Much more of this and you start to get the impression that the SNP think Scotland is some poor, abused, much put upon creature. A victim, in other words. There is, thus, a streak of self-pity running through the Yes campaign and self-pity is rarely ennobling or dignified. Poor wee Scotland needs independence, you see, to protect itself against the southern nasties.

But most people don’t think like that. They don’t believe Scots should be scared of a future within the United Kingdom for the obvious reason that they’re not scared by living in the United Kingdom right now. Trying to persuade them otherwise asks them to doubt their own experience.

It is true that polls presently show that those Scots with least to lose are also those most likely to vote for independence. Furthermore, polls do suggest that the referendum result becomes a coin-toss if – a mighty if – the nationalists can persuade people that independence will make them materially better off.

I wonder, however, how presenting Scots as victims helps persuade the electorate that they actually will be better off after independence. I have my doubts. I wonder if this picture of a Scotland that needs to be protected does not, for some, suggest a Scotland too feeble or timid to make a proper go of things after independence. That is, I wonder if one part of the nationalist message cuts across or contradicts another part of the independence pitch.

And, of course, there is Holyrood. Many people take the view that the Scottish parliament already safeguards Scotland’s ability to withstand policy made in Westminster. Not, admittedly, in every area but in many. After all, Alex Salmond won two elections by promising he could use Holyrood’s powers to stand up for Scotland. Now the nationalists tell us he won’t be able to do so in the event of Scotland voting No. Really?

Nor is nationalist talk of a renewed democratic deficit all that persuasive. Sure, the Tories only have one MP in Scotland and between them the coalition parties can only count on a dozen Scottish votes. But a majority of English voters did not vote Conservative either. There is a distinction to be drawn between legitimacy conferred by a parliamentary majority and that earned by a majority of votes cast. In the latter instance, Scotland is different only by degree not kind.

The fact of the matter is that almost all British governments are delivered on a minority of the vote. Neither Tony Blair nor Margaret Thatcher ever won a majority of votes cast. They were the most popular minority enthusiasm. (Alex Salmond didn’t win a majority of votes cast in 2011 either). And within Scotland 875,000 people voted for Conservative or Liberal Democrat candidates in 2010. (490,000 voted SNP.) You can argue that’s not enough to give the government “legitimacy” but you can’t quite pretend it’s a trivial level of support for the governing parties.

Even after independence most of us are likely to be ruled by a party for which we did not vote. Scotland, in this respect, will just be a smaller Britain. That’s fine but I think it reduces the impact of the democratic deficit argument which is, in any case, in part the consequence of our electoral system not the cumulative total of votes cast.

Anyway, the point is that this too stresses Scottish victimhood and this is a problem not simply because it is unattractive and negative but because, again, it is not how people see themselves or, just as importantly, how they would like to see themselves.

The Yes campaign has to paint this dystopian picture of life in Britain before it can sell its sunny portrait of life after independence. Fair enough. But the trouble is that part one of the project requires hefty amounts of scaremongering (to choose a word at random) before you can switch to part two.

Sensible Unionists acknowledge there’s no good reason why Scotland couldn’t possibly thrive after independence (though there’d be an awkward and difficult transition period).

But the reverse holds true too: Scotland can be a pretty decent and happy and prosperous place without independence too. Can be? Why, is! If it weren’t there’d be no good economic case for independence at all. Life will go on. Even after a No vote.

The more nationalists deny this the dafter – and smaller – they look. There is, then, more than one Project Fear in this referendum and neither of them are particularly attractive. As Danny Finkelstein says, cultivating victimhood is a destructive hobby.


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  • Alex

    I don’t see us Scots as victims, I don’t even think we have been given a bad deal from westminster. In fact even if the block grant was suddenly doubled tomorrow I would still vote YES. The reason; I don’t want handouts and I don’t want special treatment or sweeteners (with unknown disclaimers).

    As for the UK, I don’t think its such a bad place but that does not mean we can’t work to make it better.

    Why do I believe independence is the way to do this – well we already see ourselves as differing countries with unique culture and politics but our political system no longer reflects this. The figures you show above only prove my point because in a single country those minorities might be acceptable, not in two countries where one minority wins over a clear majority.

    The extra portion of expenditure given to Scotland under the Barnett formula is perceived as a subsidy in England and resented. Equally Scots resent that they pay more than their geographic share of tax revenues and then see it spent on things not relevant to them such as the Olympics.

    This resentment is only there because we see ourselves as different countries. A real cohesive union would pull as one and there would be no talk of subsidies from either side. This is why, you never hear talk of Yorkshire subsidising London, even though the Barnett formula, by that same logic, does.

    I want to see Scotland, England and Wales fully responsible for themselves fiscally and otherwise and to see the benefits this will give to our self confidence and national psyches.

  • almondaxles

    Just another embarrassing manifestation of the mendicant region of the UK, surely?

  • justejudexultionis

    Time to put the union out of its misery! To leave it any longer would be cruel and unjust!

  • justejudexultionis

    Is Massie being paid by Project Fear to spout this bigoted bile? The ugly side of British Nationalism is very ugly indeed!

    The last hundred years of the union (or annexation as it should properly be considered) have seen Scotland decline from world-beating brilliance to peripheral obscurity. We must have a constitutional revolution to restore Scotland to what she was during the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution, and that can only be achieved through separation from the centralised, authoritarian, rentier capitalist state located in London. The ‘values’ of Thatcherism (namely the selling off of key national assets and resources to the highest bidder and naked worship of money) are alien to Scotland, Wales and the north of England.



    • Wessex Man

      Last time I was in Newcastle I never met anyone with your attitude, did they run you out of town and why are you posting to yourself billy no mates?

  • allymax bruce

    This is clever article Alex Massie; I’m glad you cottoned-on to the
    Psychological Warfare being meted out by the Unionist political party’s on the Independence issue. Twenty-four hours, 7 days-a-week, wall-to-wall negative smear, fear & sneer is abound on all our BBC, ITV, Sky, and C4 television channels; forcing sneering imposition ideals, in the propensity to besmirch Scots & Scotland into believing we, Scots & Scotland, are ‘too wee, too poor, & too stupid’, to be independent. We are ‘subjected’ to this televised abuse from the Unionist Political Party’s in Holyrood all the time! Now, with a horrendous, degenerating, brainwashing propaganda tool like the TV, beaming hate-speech into our minds non-stop, how else are the people going to understand they’re being horrendously abused? Do you think this is a fair-fight? Not on yer nelly, Alex; and you know it! So, let’s move the platform of the Unionist hate-speech to a level playing field; where it’s out in the open, and understood there is an abuser, and a victim, in all this evil cognitive-inducing anxiety. The first determination must be, that the Unionists are using evil abusive methods, while the Nationalists are the victims. First rule in Psychological Warfare, always determine who the proponent/abuser is; thus, the target/victim is defined. Now, this will blow-open and show the hatred Labour, Tories, Lib-Dems have for Scotland. Moreover, it will begin to show that the Unionists are only selling an ‘ideal'; where-as the Nationalists are proposing ‘worth’. Westminster can try to ‘sell’ an ideal through hate methods, but it won’t ever have ‘worth’, because it’s only an ideal of status-quo; of-which, Scots & Scotland are not ‘buying’! Where-as, the SNP, Yes Campaign, and the Nationalists are promoting Hope, prosperity, and a future of ‘worth’. …. “whatever apparent power and temptation lies with the adoption of the
    identity of victimhood it is ultimately destructive”. (Danny
    Finkelstein; The Times). …. Sorry Finkelstein, but you’re wrong!

    • Michael Vicary

      Sneering, hate, abuser, degenerating, horrendous, evil?? Sounds like a victim to me.

      • justejudexultionis

        No. Publications like the so-called ‘Scotsman’ have been spouting absurd propaganda for the last year. The ‘Scotsman’ apparently believes that the Scots are too stupid to govern themselves, thereby proving that they are in fact no ‘Scotsmen’ at all, but quisling idiots wedded to the kind of corrupt parasitism that is so characteristic of the City of London.

      • allymax bruce

        Hello Michael, thanks for your reply. To put my comment, (that Westminster Labour/Tory/Lib-Dems are hateful & abusive to Scots & Scotland), in context, the Unionists basically pissed on our parade, and they were sneeringly happy to do it. If this was any other working environment, it would be subject to a Disciplinary Hearing! It’s the same as a man coming in from his work every night, and scrunching-up his face, and saying hateful, spiteful, and abusive things to his wife. Constant psychological abuse like this sets an environment where the children, (audience), think it’s normal to conduct hate-speech; the functioning of this by the BBC, ITV, SKY, news channels only facilitates the hate to continue. This is what’s being passed-off as ‘normal’ by the the Unionist political party’s. Scots see it all the time on our tv; in our Holyrood parliament, Labour, Tory & Lib-Dems constantly use hate-speech when addressing our SNP majority ruling political party & Scottish Government. Unconsciously, it has a seriously deleterious effect on the mindset of a person’s cognitive awareness; it forces the person to ‘switch-off’. And that’s exactly what I’ve done; since Scotland published its White Paper on Scottish Independence last Nov’, and all the Unionists were in glorious glee pissing on our parade, I’ve switched off all BBC, ITV, SKY, C4 tv channels, and I never read any of the Main-Stream-Media newspapers neither. It’s all anti-Scottish hate-speech. It was seriously vile & disgusting to watch such evil hate-speech on all these tv channels, and this forum was horrendous too; the names I was being called was hate-speech, but those participating in it think it’s ‘normal’ to abuse the Scotch, Jocks, sweaty’s, etc. Well, Westminster have been doing it for a thousand years, why wouldn’t they think it’s not normal! I’ve now boycotted BBC, ITV, SKY, C4, news; I just don’t switch those channels on anymore. The political programmes are horrendous too, they have a nasty sniping negative agenda; the presenters ask sneering questions, then rudely interrupt the Nationalist guest. It’s so demeaning, it’s actually a planned strategy; it’s a tactical method of Psychological Warfare. That’s what Westminster, Labour, Tories, Lib-Dems, and all their political programmes/presenters think of Scots & Scotland; they literally hate us. Moreover, when the Westminster Party’s say we’ll get Devo-Max, I’m filled with trepidation; I mean, we’ve already got Devolution that brings this hate-speech, Class separist policies, Austerity of tax-payers to fund crooked bankers, and the massive Impoverishment of the poor by ‘sanctioning’ of their pittance unemployment benefits! The poor are left with NOTHING to live on! Gordon Brown even threatened to put tanks on Scotland’s streets if we tried to vote for Independence! All while Westminster give all our tax-payers money to the super-rich! I certainly don’t want this Devolution abuse ‘Maximised’! Scottish Independence is the only way to get away from this Westminste evil.

  • FF42

    I wonder how the negativity on both sides plays out with the sceptical but might be convinced crowd. These are the people that will decide the referendum. My impression is that most Scots are comfortable being part of Britain (which is perhaps a weaker form of identity than being British). They are proud Scots and are happy to assert that identity. I suspect they see the referendum as a false choice between the Union and independence. They want both. You might regard this as contradictory, or perhaps it can be articulated as Devomax. False choice or not, they will be conscientious and will put their cross against Yes or No.

    • justejudexultionis

      I’m from Newcastle and certainly not comfortable with Scotland, or indeed the north-east of England, being part of the union. The union will die its own natural death sooner or later.

    • terregles2

      It has nothing to do with being Scottish it has to do with bad government. Many people living in Scotland think that Westminster is a disaster and believe they can do better themselves, No wonder.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Both the SNP and UKIP are a reflection of the contempt with which the poor bloody infantry regard the corrupt Westminster circus. As a UKIP supporter I have sympathy with the people who voted SNP: who else would an ex-conservative vote for in Scotland?

    The Conservative Party, to use current phraseology; is “no longer fit for purpose.” They have only one seat in Scotland where previously they had 50% of the seats. They have little support in the north of England and in the south UKIP are eating into their support.

    Both the SNP and UKIP look at Germany and see what they have achieved when technology, finance, politics and labour all pull together. We look at France and see Concorde parlayed into Airbus using French imagination and flair: then we look at our political set-up and reach for the sick-bag. We see that the vested interests of organised labour and radical middle class revolution on the left and the interests of corporate multi-nationals on the right have taken over the shop: and it is we that have to pay the piper and the butchers’ bill.

    The SNP want out of this mess: why would they not when they look south of the border and see the English towns and cities turned into third-world middens. They don’t want it to happen in Scotland where there is room for only one nationalism. And who can blame them. UKIP want to destroy the whole rotten political elite: not because we are nihilists but because some rubbish Oxbridge degree in PPE or the humanities is no longer good enough to run a modern state driven by technology; an area which I am afraid the political class do not understand. The Tory Party is in terminal decline: the only big thinker with the imagination and courage to possibly pull it round is Boris (like him or loathe him). But UKIP are going to do the Tories a favour: we are going to de-fenestrate Cameron since the Tories haven’t got the guts to do it themselves.

    The whole point of UKIP is to replace the political establishment as a whole: the SNP wish to use radical surgery to cut off the diseased part. But it will be UKIP in England that will deliver the first act of renewal which will impact on the political right. Shorn of recourse to its natural party of power which will no longer be electable; it will be forced to reform along lines more amenable to English ethnic interests. The reformed right will then do to the left what UKIP did to it: the left will be obliged to reform as well.

    Whether it will be in time to save the Union only time will tell.

    • Wessex Man

      erm, I’m a member of UKip as well but acknowledge if we are ever going to become a national party we need to put our views across in a moderate way. We actually push the Tories and Lib/dems into third and fourth place in by-elections in the Labour strongholds of North, indeed in one the Lib/Dems lost their deposit.

      I’m very relaxed with Scotland gaining independence, it instantly removes 50+ Labour MPs from Westminster because the Scots no matter who they vote for in their Parliament revel in sending Labour to the UK Parliament to vote on purely English matters. The reasonable Scot Nats are quite right there is no need the snipey attacks on each side of the argument and we English aren’t allowed a vote anyway. It is amusing though to read Alex Massie’s strange ramblings and to wind up the Cybernat nutjobs.

      • justejudexultionis

        As opposed to the British Nationalist ‘nutjobs’?

        • Wessex Man

          Yes that’s right , going to find me some and name them are you? or is it you just being you?

  • terence patrick hewett

    B**ger Scotland. In England we are going to knot the rope, kick the chair away and hang all of the traitors who have betrayed our country. You will be hanged and then hung in the traditional way.

  • Ed

    Uncharacteristically terrible piece mate. I usually find your articles stimulating, but this is about as weighty as a fart.

    It’s as though, so desperate were you to write a Mandela angle into it, via Finkelstein’s victimhood idea, that you just momentarily unlatched yourself from any real actual facts about the democratic deficit and the characters and strategies of the opposing campaigns on independence.

    (And just on the suggestion that ‘most people don’t find life in the UK intolerable’. This kind of crap insults us. Everything’s hunky dory as long as the number of people committing suicide or emigrating is less than 50% of the population?)

    I’ve long given up on the possibility that someone resembling a sub-editor might read through your pieces before they’re posted. But is it also too much to hope that you take a quick look at them yourself, just to check you’re not wasting everyone’s time?

    • justejudexultionis

      Yes, Massie must be loaded or have a nice goldplated babyboomer pension lined up if he thinks everything is ok in Unionland. When will this British Nationalist learn?

  • Rev. Stuart Campbell

    Och Alex, this is so far below your normal standards of intelligence I can only assume you had a heavily liquid lunch.

    1. FPTP distorts voting patterns, because it inevitably leads to a two-party system. Westminster votes in Scotland are therefore a terrible barometer of anything. At Holyrood elections, people vote for the party they actually want, not the least-worst of the only two who can feasibly win.

    2. You can’t just lump the votes of two parties together after the fact. Lib Dems weren’t voting for a Tory government and vice versa. By that argument, Scotland voted overwhelmingly for a Labour-SNP coalition.

    3. It’s absurdly disingenuous to pretend there’s no significant difference in terms of democratic deficits between Westminster and Holyrood. It’s true that nobody’s secured 50% of the popular vote since nineteen-oatcake, but you can get a crushing three-figure majority at Westminster on 35% of the vote. The SNP just barely scraped a single-figure one on 45%.

    4. You might not be scared of living in the UK five years from now, but some of us are bloody terrified, because we’ve got our eyes open. How many foodbanks will it take before you give up the smug “Hey, we’re not Ethiopia” routine?

    And that’s just the most obvious stuff.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Hey, we’re not Ethiopia. We’re not even France!

    • Dougie

      The reason for the food banks is that we have been living beyond our means for a decade and the credit has dried up. Well done prudent Scot, G. Brown. The Scottish Government had and has the ability to run a balanced budget by raising additional tax and spending less on welfare and public services but chose not to. It is clear an SNP Government of an independent Scotland will carry on in the same way. Hence the food banks won’t be going away in an independent Scotland any time soon.

      • dougthedug

        The Scottish Government had and has the ability to run a balanced budget by raising additional tax and spending less on welfare and public services but chose not to.

        The Scottish Government of whatever political stripe has always run a balanced budget because it’s given a block grant and no borrowing powers. It has to run a balanced budget.

        It has no authority over welfare as that is run by Westminster.

        Do you live in Scotland?

  • Paddy Briggs

    I lived in Scotland for three years then in Hong Kong, which was run by Scots in those days, for four more. I have many Scottish friends and love their country. I have never, ever heard Scots of my acquaintance demean their Scottishness of which they are justly proud. But I’ve never heard them deny or denigrate their Britishness either. More than the English Scots can resolve easily the slight paradox of being binational. They are simultaneously Scottish and British – and proud of it. They don’t see themselves as victims – on the contrary they rather relish the fact that they can emphasise their Scottishness (at Murrayfield) or their Britishness (at London 2012) without there being an ounce of conflict in this.

    When it comes to Mr Salmond’s referendum Scots will surely ask themselves whether they want to break up the United Kingdom, after three hundred years, or not. And whether they as individuals will give up one of their bits of national identity, their Britishness, or not. They will be no less Scottish if they stay British. And that I think will clinch the argument for “No”.

    • terregles2

      I live in Scotland and I don’t know anyone who says that they are proud to be British.
      Voting YES in 2014 has nothing to do with being Scottish. Many YES voters are English people who now live and work in Scotland. Like many Scots they think that Scotland would have better government from Holyrood rather than Westminster.
      There is no point in Scotland passing the running of our country down to Westminster and then complaining that they are not doing it properly. I do not understand why anyone would be proud to be Scottish, Welsh, French English, Irish or anything else.. Our nationality is only an accident of birth. We are no better or worse than any other nationality. It is however more than time that we behaved like every other nation and had self government.
      Westminster are incompetent and out of touch with Scottish people. The sooner that people living in Scotland whatever their origins take control of our own country and address the important issues that Westminster have failed to tackle the better.
      We look at the Westminster shambles and the ridiculous House of Lords and know that we could build a better country.

      • Paddy Briggs

        What a deeply depressing little tirade. Not least this:

        ” I do not understand why anyone would be proud to be Scottish, Welsh, French English, Irish or anything else.. Our nationality is only an accident of birth.”

        Our nationality is so much more than how you describe it. Not because we think that we are better than other nationalities but we are proud of our own. Very sad.

        • terregles2

          Nothing sad about it. I judge people for what they are not what country they were born in. I have friends of various nationalities. I am certainly not ashamed to be Scottish but my English friends are not any different to me because they were born in another country.
          It is a strange kind of Scottish pride that stands by and let’s Scotland be ruined by poor government from Westminster.
          Those of us who are truly proud of Scotland want to take responsibility for building the kind of country that everyone living here can be proud of. We don’t define ourselves by standing under a particular flag at Murrayfield or another flag in London 2012.
          You say our nationality is so much more than how I describe it. I prefer to express my national pride in the type of society and country that I pass onto my children and future generations.

          • Angus_MacLellan

            Face it, your a commie and a fake . You have no right calling yourself a nationalist

        • Jambo25

          Your problem, Mr. Briggs, is that those attitudes and experiences which ‘made’ us British have either weakened or evaporated. The Empire is gone. Mass military or naval service has gone. All UK-nationalised industries gone. All-UK trades unions-severely weakened and curtailed in size. Major UK employers shrunk and replaced with local or internationally based ones. Shopping is now done at US, German, Swedish or Spanish controlled retailers in many cases,

          Culturally we’ve grown apart as well. No more Home International Soccer. Rugby ties being weakened by PRL. No more national theatre, opera, ballet or orchestral tours by London based organisations. That’s provided by Scottish National institutions now. Less homogeneous mass media provision etc etc.

          Political life is fragmenting as well. The largest centre-right party has pretty much committed suicide in Scotland. There’s a fair amount of indication that people increasingly look to Holyrood rather than Westminster now. Electoral systems for both Holyrood and Scottish local government are now different from those in use in England.

          The reality is that the whole concept of Britishness is slowly dying. My grandfathers’ and father’s generations may have had a strong British identity but my generation (I’m early 60s) doesn’t and my son’s hardly any feelings of Britishness at all.

      • Redneck


        I live in Scotland. I, and the vast majority of my friends, colleagues & neighbours are extremely proud to be British. Those that don’t are easily <5%.

        Most are fed-up by the endless dominance of the "Nationalist" debate and find it fruitless.
        The pro-Independence zealots tend, inevitably, to dominate the debate. Those happy with being part of the UK, feel no great need to become agitated: we're happy with our position. It's up to the "pro-camp" to justify their desire.

        A proud British Scot's opinion.

        • terregles2

          Well unlike yourself I have not asked all of my friends,all of my colleagues and have not knocked on all my neighbour’s doors and asked them if they are proud to be British.
          I have never heard any of them saying that they are and the Scottish census figures show that the majority of Scots consider themselves as Scots rather than British.
          I have heard a lot of my work colleagues be very critical of British foreign policy in particular my English work colleagues. They consider themselves to be English rather than British.
          I also don’t know anyone who is tired of the nationalism debate. Even my friends who are considering a no vote think that it is the biggest decision we will have to make and indeed are constantly asking for more information before they vote.

        • Jambo25

          Strange that, as the last census found that 62% of the Scottish population described themselves as ‘Scottish only’ and a a further 18% as ‘Scottish first and only then, British’.

          It is perfectly possible that the independence referendum will return a ‘No’ vote. That does not point to an upsurge of Britnat nationalism or identity. It simply points to a belief that peoples’ perception is that their economic self-interest is best served by sticking with the Union (For now.).

          • Wessex Man

            Make the most of that Census because you only get to keep the Census if you vote for Independence, Call me Dave intends to do away with them in the UK.

            I was always taught that the Cenus was held to establish areas of population movements growth and decline to better aim Government spending. call me Dave wants to do way with them because ‘they cost too much’ tosh!

            • Jambo25

              I’m simply relaying what the census results, in Scotland, showed. Actually the proposed ending of the census is another example of what I referred to in my reply to Paddy Briggs: this hollowing out or dilution of the experiences and institutions which used to make us all ‘British’.

              The rush to ‘globalise’ our media and cultural institutions. The similar ‘globalisation’ of our economy. The withdrawal of the British state from quite wide areas of life. The decision by the Tory Party to forsake the old ‘One Nation’ Toryism and to turn itself into a largely Southern English, suburban party. Most of these things were done, not by evil, divisive Scotnats, but by the British state and it’s associated institutions itself.

              A good example of this would be the way in which HE finance has differed between the 2 countries (3 if you include Wales). In the last 15-20 years of my career I was in charge of 6th forms in a couple of schools and went out of my way to try and encourage my pupils to look to universities other than Edinburgh, St Andrews etc. Along with colleagues in other schools, I was pretty successful in this and a lot of our pupils started going south to Durham, Manchester, London, York, Bristol etc as well as to Oxbridge. Charging higher and higher fees in England has killed that trend stone dead.

        • asalord

          I am a Scot.
          I will never describe myself as British.
          I don’t blame the English for Scotland being stuck in this debilitating union.

          • justejudexultionis

            The union has ruined Edinburgh and Glasgow over the last hundred years – both cities have been in terminal decline since 1900 thanks to this unequal power relationship and the increased centralisation of economic power within the M25.

        • Spammo Twatbury

          Anyone who’s “proud” of something they had no influence over is an idiot, whether they’re Scottish or British or Belgian or anything else.

          • Redneck


            An interesting observation, thank you. Is “being proud to be something” the same as “being proud of something”?

            I had meant the former but if you decree them equivalent, then clearly I stand guilty as charged, a proud British idiot.

            How can I live with myself…

      • Angus_MacLellan

        “I live in Scotland and I don’t know anyone who says that they are proud to be British ” – I find it impossible to believe anyone in Scotland could say such a thing. Do you live in an uninhabited island – perhaps the Wee Cumbrae – or maybe the Kinghorn community or Govanhill..

        You are clearly bonkers.

        • terregles2

          Think it is you that is bonkers. You must have walked around with your hands over your ears after the British government illegally invaded Iraq, So many Scots and indeed English people were saying how ashamed they were to be British.
          I live in the highly populated central belt but I obviously live and work beside different people to yourself.
          Interesting that you mention Govanhill. It is an area that suffers sometimes from the dreadful BNP demonstrations when busloads invade from the south.. When BNP appear on any Scottish streets I hear many Scots and the English people I work beside saying that Britain makes them feel ashamed.

    • DougDaniel

      Yeah, erm, before you put all your eggs in the “Scotch people are jolly proud of good old Blighty” basket, you might want to consider that the 2011 census showed that 62% of people in Scotland describe themselves solely as Scottish, with only 18% saying they felt Scottish AND British…

  • robertsonjames

    You’re wasting your time, Alex. Most people interested in this issue at the moment are Nationalists. Your arguments will therefore not get a hearing because your message that a decisive No is likely next year (an assessment backed up by the overwhelming weight of available evidence) is so profoundly unwelcome. Indeed most of them have had to become adept at filtering out the disspiriting news from the opinion polls (with No still a good 20 points clear and the clock ticking), either by ignoring them entirely or by arguing that the polls are rigged by Unionists or by insisting that there is a profound groundswell of pro-independence opinion out there across Scotland that they alone (surprise, surprise) are picking up but the various professional pollsters, each with a different methodology, are missing.

    At some point, though, reality is going to hit, probably for many of them no earlier than next autumn once the final result of the referendum is in and the awful truth that secessionism is and always has been a minority viewpoint in Scotland can no longer be ignored or wished away. Then the fun and games start within the Nationalist movement, with those who never adjusted their expectations in light of the very clear contradictory evidence requiring instead an elaborate conspiracy theory to explain what for them always remained an inconceivable outcome.

    My money, for what it’s worth, is on Salmond and the leadership of the SNP being squarely in the dock this time next year for having allegedly sold the cause down the river (“treachery!” coming to Nationalist lips almost as naturally as “Freedom!”).

    • DougDaniel

      If “Most people interested in this issue at the moment are Nationalists”, then how can you possibly predict what the result will be in September next year, when the whole country will be interested in it?

      You paint a picture of a failed independence movement turning on itself and looking for scapegoats. It’s a bit ironic then that the past week has just seen senior Tories briefing against the head of the No campaign, and an article in the Times quoting unionist politicians talking about the amateurism of the staff of Better Together. If the No campaign is going so well, then how come they’re acting like they’ve already lost?

      (The answer, of course, is that they know the results of their own private polling and canvassing…)

    • terregles2

      Anyone who predicts the outcome of any future political event is foolish in the extreme. A week indeed is a long time in politics and 10 months a lifetime. I do not know what the referendum result will be but I think it might possibly be a closer result than some people are predicting.
      If it is a no vote that has the majority I don’t think that will have much of an impact on the majority that the SNP have in Holyrood.
      I know people who continue to vote for the SNP but do not want Scottish independence and they say they will still vote SNP after a no vote.
      Why would a no vote put anyone in the dock? What a bizarre assertion. if it is a no vote then the SNP will continue to argue for independence and hope that they can continue to build on their vote as they have done over the years.
      It is important to remember that there are very many people who have never voted SNP and never would vote SNP who are still voting YES. There is now a breakaway Labour party campaigning for YES along with the Greens and several other non SNP parties.

  • FranzFerdinand

    “Cuts to the Scottish block grant?”
    To be fair Alex, there is an all party committee who have recommended cutting £4 Billion annual of the block grant in the event of a NO…..
    And all the Unionist parties have made clear they want to look at Barnett again….either to ‘renegotiate’ or ‘re-assess on a more needs based basis’….
    In other words…..Scotland is facing it’s budget being slashed after a No vote….perhaps not £4BN but certainly slashed….
    So as far as scare stories go this one does actually have some documentary proof to back it up
    Certainly when compared to the more lamentable efforts on the Unionist side, which you yourself have mocked and dismissed on here previously.

  • liberalfish

    This article has more holes than a well used sieve. It is so convoluted in logic that I need time to work through the numerous fallacies presented. One major one right away is the idea that it is a cult of victimhood. The issue is about self determination and outlooks on the political economy. To suggest Scotland is fine with the status quo requires a remarkable level of denial of both the empirical and reason. Plenty evidence to shut that idiocy down. Get honest man. To pretend these idivergent positions on ssues of a welfare state, defence, economic self determination, political self determination, are about a ‘cult of victimhood’ is nonsense.

  • MichtyMe

    Why pick on the Nats Alex, most of the folk who comment here, usually Southerners, hate the UK, think it gone to the dogs, heading for a dystopian future, a quite common perception and not just in Scotland.

    • Kennybhoy

      Aye. Both represent self-selecting, self-reinforcing minorites among the general population.Which does not make them wrong but stil…:-)

  • dougthedug

    An interesting article Alex where saying, “We can have a better Scotland if we run it ourselves”, now counts as cultivating victimhood.

    I noticed with interest this paragraph:

    “After all, what is there to look forward to? Another Tory-led government? Nuclear-armed submarines on the Clyde? The bedroom tax and more welfare reform? Cuts to the Scottish block grant? The prospect of having to work until you are 70 before receiving a state pension? Ochone, ochone.”

    I don’t quite understand your meaning since that paragraph describes the future for Scotland if it stays in the Union. Are you saying you don’t believe it or we should just shut up and accept it?

    PS. Is the cod gaelic in there for comic effect?

    • Spammo Twatbury

      It’s what “Angus Og” used to say in the Daily Record cartoon.

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