Is the growing support for Scottish nationalism based on a wholly explicable desire for a decent government reflecting a decent society?

Posted on

Colin Kidd has what I think to be a very good article on what he calls The Scottish Question in the New Statesman. In it he says:

To be sure, nationalism plays a significant part in the independence cause. But in the broad miscellaneous coalition of voters that supports independence, flag-waving nationalists, though the most obviously visible cohort, rub shoulders with a range of other social types. There are the voters, often middle-aged, who think independence is the best way of preserving what remains of Britain’s cherished welfare state; those who want to live in a normal northern European country — like Denmark or Norway — with a Nordic model of egalitarian social democracy; those who despair of the Brexity delusions of Britain’s post-imperial nostalgia; and a radical younger generation that identifies with Rise, the alternative movement for “Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism”.

The more Boris Johnson resorts to vacuous boosterism — “world-beating” virus contact-tracing apps, and the like — the more Scots relish the idea of belonging to a modern, non-world-beating social democracy.

It’s really not an unreasonable wish, is it? It’s one that many in England would share.

And that is his point. What Kidd is suggesting is that Scotland has not seen a wave of nationalism. Nor, come to that, is support for Scottish independence the opposite of Unionism, which has all its own definitional problems. Rather, it is a desire for decency in government and society.

This will, of course, upset some nationalists. But equally, it suggests that the move towards independence, which Boris Johnson has, yet again, said that he will block this morning, has foundations which are now virtually unstoppable, and which are rooted in the rejection of the model for government that Johnson is, himself, putting forward. For too many people in Scotland that failed model of government appears rooted in real nationalism, which is in their view too popular for their liking in England. The result is a desire for independence, but not Scottish nationalism, per se.

If he’s right, Kidd's argument suggests that Scottish independence is virtually unstoppable, but also implies the same direction of travel for Wales. The article is worth reading.