“Xenophobic” is certainly the wrong word. Xenophobia is the hatred of foreigners, and I am certain that SNP members as a whole do not hate all foreigners.
A more accurate word might be, well, nationalist. Hardly a slur, to some. But as I said a couple of weeks ago, I do find slightly distasteful an ideology that thinks the most important thing is where policies are made rather than which policies are made.
The comments might have resulted in the SNP rolling with faux-outrage. But I think we all know the certain kind of thing Jamie Stone was talking about, and it has a certain ring of truth to it.
Most SNP supporters probably call themselves nationalists (correct me if I’m wrong), but the way some of them react when somebody calls them the Scottish Nationalist Party is quite telling in a way. They know that the N-word sounds bad.
The E-word is even worse, and the SNP now goes to great lengths to make it look as though it quite likes (or is at least ambivalent towards) England. Not that I believe this is merely cynical political gameplay. I am sure that the majority of SNP members and the SNP party itself are not Anglophobic.
The problem for the SNP is the independence movement as a whole. Ask the average independence-supporting Joe on the street why he wants Scotland to be independent, and you are more likely to get an incoherent anti-English rant than any talk about the finer points of the economy.
So now rather than thinly veiled attacks on England or Britian, the official, SNP-led pro-independence voice is all about how successful small countries are. Although this doesn’t square with the SNP’s recognition that Scotland needs more immigrants. That is how you improve the economy, not divorcing Scotland from England.
Despite the SNP’s official line, there are little glimpses of what the SNP is really about from time to time. There are the claims from some SNP members that an independent Scottish Parliament would be inherently better than Westminster. It is never explained why though. Or why the Scottish economy would suddenly blossom once you erect a barrier at the border. Surely if Scotland was such a great nation it wouldn’t need to be independent to have a wonderful economy.
Take also the recent issue of the theatre in Berwick-upon-Tweed that was accused of being racist by SNP MSP Christine Grahame. What a cheek! Here is the SNP bullying a private theatre that is in a location that it would rather was in a different country! So much for independence then. It reeked more of scoring a point against England than anything else.
Christine Grahame was at it again when she made her offensive remarks bemoaning media coverage of cricket, “which is only of marginal interest in Scotland.” It played on the popular myth that cricket is a sport for English toffs and Scots are completely uninterested in it.
The problem is that it is actually a bare-faced lie because cricket is a more popular participation sport in Scotland than it is even in England and has a longer history in Scotland than even football.
And before you all start, I am very well aware that Christine Grahame was born in England. But this makes the point all that more important. Because I think the very fact that she feels the need to take these pot-shots at England and its culture is very revealing indeed.
A lot of people will claim she has a valid point about London-dominance in the media. It is a common complaint. But the points about media coverage are all rather silly if you ask me.
If Scottish independence even changed the face of the media, it would only mean that the news would be Glasgow-dominated (with a bit of Edinburgh if you’re lucky) rather than London-dominated. Big whoop if you’re in Glasgow. Not much cop if you are one of the majority of Scots who happen not to live in the big two though. We have enough Glasbolisation as it is.
New Labour is all about embracing the free market, getting rid of Clause IV and generally being nice and middle class. And every so often a Terry Kelly comes along to remind you what goes on when you scrape beneath the surface. By the same token, the SNP’s cuddly image can let you forget about some unsavoury elements of the grassroots independence movement.
In my post a couple of weeks ago I said I was considering voting for the SNP. As things stand at the moment, I won’t be. The debates over the past couple of weeks have reminded me why I dislike nationalism so much. I respect the Liberal Democrats that little bit more as well.