Scotland’s well-behaved nationalists

One thing that really stuck me about the leaflets from Ukip and the BNP for the recent European Parliamentary election was the fact that they were stuffed full of cheesy patriotic symbols — Union Flags, Spitfires, Winston Churchills and so on. Any electorate in the world will have a certain contingent who are enticed by nationalistic rhetoric at the expense of good policies.

In England, Ukip and the BNP have cornered this market pretty well, with the English Democrats also doing a good job of it. One thing that these three parties have in common — aside from their narrow nationalism — is the fact that they are all pretty vile.

Here in Scotland the nationalist vote is completely mopped up by the SNP. We all know that the SNP uses national symbols which appeal to base instincts which may entice certain types of voters. This gets up some people’s noses, including mine.

But the SNP have done a grand job by keeping a lid on the nastier side of nationalism. For this we can be thankful. All though there is, without a doubt, a nastier side to some of their supporters — as we have seen with the Cybernats — you won’t find these types of views coming from the mainstream of the party.

Indeed, the party is at pains to promote a progressive type of nationalism. They embrace civic nationalism. They reject ideas of Scottishness defined in terms of ethnicity. They avoid anti-English approaches. And we can be especially thankful that violent methods do not form part of the nationalist agenda in Scotland.

This is combined with progressive policies, including an enlightened approach to immigration and a positive agenda towards Europe. While in many other parts of the world nationalism may be equated with right-wing or fascist concepts, the SNP combine a nationalist ideology with a broadly centrist agenda.

Whatever the motives of the voters, the SNP’s form of nationalism is a great deal more tolerant — and tolerable — than the forms of nationalism we see from the likes of Ukip, the BNP, the French National Front, the Movement for a Better Hungary, or any number of extreme parties across the world.

Richard Thomson recently described the SNP as being part of “unquestionably the best behaved nationalist movement in the world”. Looking at the European election results and seeing where nationalist votes seem to go, it’s easy to agree with him.


  1. Definitely agree Duncan.

    I do think people underestimate the extra obstacle the SNP have in their path just to get some people to listen to them, particularly as we become more multi-cultural north of the border.

    I shared a flat with a Greek girl during the 2007 election and she snorted in derision at an SNP leaflet coming through the door. Naturally, I was aghast!

    It turned out that any party that ended “National Party” would have received the same reaction due to her knowledge of Politics back home and across Europe in general.

    So there’s lots of voters out there who aren’t giving the SNP a fair crack of the whip when the party is, in my view at least, the polar opposite of what some people will think of it based purely on its name.

    Incidentally, my ex-flatmate ended up voting SNP through a few debates we had over the kitchen table but mostly off the back of a speech Nicola Sturgeon gave a few days before polling day.

  2. “We all know that the SNP uses national symbols which appeal to base instincts which may entice certain types of voters.”

    Can i direct you to the ‘Scottish Labour Party’s website or indeed the ‘Scottish’ Liberal Democracts website.

    Both covered in Saltires.

    Smearing the SNP by association with BNP/UKIP is a cheap shot and dare I say a little bitter, you seem to be in denial however that on looking at the policies on offer, 30% of Scots choose the SNP’s.

    Isn’t it time the opposition parties in Scotland set out their stall and actually discussed their policies for a change?

  3. I’m also intrigued by your definition of ‘nationalists’

    The BNP & UKIP both strongly support the unions, they are infact unionists.

    Does it not worry you that the BNP are unionists with racist policies bolted on?

    Why is that unionist parties enjoy the support of bigoted Orangemen in West Central Scotland?

    What does that say about unionism in Scotland?

    Is unionism naturally racist?

  4. Wardog, did you even read my post? I didn’t “smear the SNP by association with BNP/UKIP”. I did the complete opposite by saying that they are not like the BNP and Ukip.

    I don’t get your point in comment #3. British nationalism is still nationalism, whether it is unionist or not.

  5. Wardog asks: “Is unionism naturally racist?”

    Yes, of course! It is “naturally racist” to hold the opinion that people in England, Wales, Scotland and N.Ireland benefit in a qualitative sense by sharing sovereignty within a unique “nation of nations” arrangement.

    It is “naturally racist” to consider that the factors which bind the people of those constituent nations into a united kingdom are stronger and of more value than the various petty squabbles over Barnett consequentials and whatever else can be manipulated to whip up resentment and drive a wedge.


  6. Are UKIP “vile”? Their raison d’être – withdrawal from the EU – seems fair enough to many of us. Okay, they’re very corrupt and have a habit of selecting complete weirdos as candidates, but I wouldn’t have thought even the most ardent Europhile would bracket them with the BNP. UKIP and the SNP both seek independence; the BNP seek supremacy.

  7. Well, I think Ukip’s policies on immigration are fairly self-evidently vile — not to mention against the interests of people in this country.

    I presume you mean Scotland? Can you tell me why thinking your own countrymen should have preference in jobs, housing etc would be ‘vile’ or against the ‘interest of people in this country?’

    Would you offer a job to someone from abroad in preference to someone from your own country, provided they were equal in qualifications, experience, etc?

    If so I wonder why you would adopt such a stance?

  8. I presume you mean Scotland? Can you tell me why thinking your own countrymen should have preference in jobs, housing etc would be ‘vile’ or against the ‘interest of people in this country?’

    It doesn’t matter whether I’m talking about Scotland, the UK, Europe or Timbuktu. Trade isn’t a zero-sum game. If shutting the door was good for the economy, North Korea would be the most prosperous country in the world.

  9. I didn’t say shut the door, I asked you if given all things being equal, would you employ a person from abroad, in preference to a fellow countryman. If so why? I don’t happen to subscribe to the view that everyone from abroad is a harder worker than the ‘native’ workforce in the UK. If they were then their countries would be very sucessful, and the UK would not have immigration, rather emigration would be the problem.

  10. Bert, I should think it is obvious that given all things being equal, and assuming one is not a racist, one would have to toss a coin to decide which person to employ. If the person from abroad is better at doing the job than the native, then I should employ the person from abroad, because I am not a racist. There is nothing else to say.

    Just as it would be banal to note that people moving from different parts of the UK to others benefits the economy, so people moving from different parts of the world benefits the economy. No-one would bat an eyelid if I decided to up sticks and move to London. Why anyone should care more about someone from, say, Cologne or Krakow moving to London is beyond me. Unless they’re a racist, of course.

  11. Doctor twee,

    we’re arising. I know you hate it. Too bad mate. People like you made us.

    By the way idiot, the BNP AND UKIP are not nationalists! Read the names of the two parties again. Do the words British and United Kingdom conjure up thoughts of a nationality to you? If so, can you tell me where I might evidence of the british nation and united kingdom nation? The two do not exist. Infact, they have NEVER existed.

  12. The SNP has done an amazing job, thus far, in Scotland and should rightly be commended on the fact they have moved Scottish Nationalism to the centre of Politics and the agenda.

    However I have to take issue with you on a number of points.
    1 The BNP and Ukip are British parties and not English.
    2 The BNP are racist thugs and should not be compared to either Ukip or the English Democrat Party.
    3 The English Democrat Party qualifies the term ‘the English’ (in their manifesto) as anyone that is registered to vote within the English borders. It does not set ethnicity as a pre qualification for anything.
    4 Stopping mass open door immigration does not harm the people of this country. This country should, and does to a great many, mean more than its economy.

    Now I am sure your article has drawn, as intended, many additional readers. But I should think that a more constructive debate on this subject would have been a much more useful application of your time, and much better for the countries interest.

  13. Why is it Civic nationalism when the scots embrace it and ‘cheese’ when we do Duncan. Too right the S.N.P try to avoid anti english propaganda .They are fully aware that Scotland still needs its close ties with England financially and economically.

  14. Thank your for your comments, and for your group’s charming remarks on Facebook.

    Mark Pearson: Ginger jock is talking crap, nuff said!!!!!!!

    Vile? I couldn’t possibly comment.

    Hereward the Waker — You may believe that the British nation or the United Kingdom nation do not exist. I would posit that any widely-accepted definition of the word “nation” (which is admittedly a relatively fluid concept) would consider Britain to be a nation. I would be interested to hear your definition of “nation”, if it is one which means that England is a nation but Britain is not.

    You ask me to read the names of the parties. I would say that the name of the British National Party is a pretty strong indication that it is a party that contends that Britain is a nation.

    Kieran — I will deal with your points using your numbering.

    1. Where did I say that the BNP and Ukip are English parties? If you are referring to where I say, “In England, Ukip and the BNP have cornered this market pretty well,” that is exactly what I mean and nothing else. They have done a good job of campaigning on a nationalistic basis in England — more successfully than other parts of the UK.
    2. You are right that the BNP are racist, but this article was concerned with nationalist parties. The BNP, Ukip and the EDP undoubtedly all are nationalist parties.
    3. Fair enough, but the EDP does seem peculiarly obsessed with people of other ethnicities.

      For instance, in my very brief tour of the party’s official Facebook page, one entry posted by the administrator states: “6 Million claiming benefits, how many are foriegn nationals?”

      The administrator goes on to say: “and are they also claiming child tax credit and still sending that “home”
      Remove all foreign nationals from our benefit entitlement and see what happens”

      This entry attracts a number of dubious comments from supporters including:

      • “Out out out out out em all.”
      • “kick out all not british people and give the jobs and this country back 2 us”
      • “get out off england”

      Is that official party policy?

    4. Am I to take from this statement that you think it would be better for the whole of England to live in squalor as long as there were no foreign people in it?

    Elaine — I think I made fairly clear why the SNP’s form of nationalism is civic nationalism. They favour European integration, they do not oppose immigration and make no reference to concepts such as “indigenous” Scots.

  15. Duncan
    A Facebook account, even an official one, has many people contributing and not all or indeed even most are party members. Certainly you would not contend such.
    EVERY party, even the SNP, has supporters (internal and external) that have views that do not represent ‘the party line’.

    Do you believe that there are not foreign nationals on benefits within the UK that are sending money home? And would you consider this perverse? There is nothing racist in this. Benefits are provided to people to survive within the UK not to be sent home to support others.

    Your question regarding my fourth point is, frankly, contemptible.
    I neither said, nor alluded to, a complete stop to immigration or the removal of all foreign nationals.
    Do you not believe that there is an entire chasm between the two extremes? And that it should be possible to work within that grey area?

    My comment about a country being more than just an economy is something that many people feel and is, currently, not represented within the three main parties in England.
    We should be able to protect and encourage our own culture and traditions whilst maintaining our economy.

  16. Kieran,

    You make some fair points.

    Certainly, when it comes to supporters who may be more extreme than the official party line, that is indeed true, and I even brought that up myself in my original article when I mentioned the Cybernats. I was surprised, though, to find what I would consider to be extreme viewpoints posted by the administrator of the official EDP Facebook page. You certainly wouldn’t see language like that coming from an official SNP source.

    As for your point about foreign nationals on benefits, that is a difficult puzzle to which there is no perfect answer (if only we could live in a utopia, huh?). While a more open approach towards immigration will probably have an effect on the benefits system, you would not want to get rid of either immigration or benefits. Suffice to say that I think the “problem” is massively overblown by the likes of the EDP. Do you really think, like many EDP supporters on Facebook appear to, that 99% of people on benefits are foreign? This apparently widespread belief among supporters of the EDP brings it into question.

    I think bringing a halt to cultural evolution would be counter-productive and detrimental to any country, whether it is Britain, England, Scotland or wherever. England is an inherently multicultural nation, always has been, and the evolution of culture is a naturally occurring process which I don’t see the point in trying to avoid.

    In fact, the influence of other cultures is to be highly welcomed in my view. Even if immigration led to a reduction in economic output (which it doesn’t — quite the opposite, in fact), it would be worth it for the extra cultural value it brings.


    I’m sorry to say it, but the official EDP Facebook page is doing my work for me. Now Steven Uncles has baselessly accused me of being a “Racist Scot” on the Facebook page. You would certainly struggle to find a senior member of the SNP behaving like this.

    ENGLAND Yes Duncan, just can't help is dislike of the English - he is infact a Racist Scot.

  17. Duncan
    You are right that that particular blog lent itself to many rather uninformed bigoted responses.
    My personal response was to ask the EDP to go to the ‘Office of National Statistics’ as I am sure that they would have an actual answer and that I would be surprised if it was as many as 25%.
    I would not propose an end to either benefits or immigration or even benefits for immigrants.

    “cultural evolution”
    What is currently happening is not cultural evolution it is more akin to having your cultural identity conquered. I know that you will think that this is just rhetoric but truly it isn’t.
    Have you seen the stats?
    Each year we are taking in over 500,000 people whilst we loose nearly 150,000 British people each year. Both of these numbers are accelerating.
    England has

    “England is an inherently multicultural nation, always has been”
    There is no time in our history where we have had so many different cultures, and each so numerous, as now. Previously we have had waves of Jews, Dutch, French, Scandinavian, Irish but all of these came in a different phase of our past and none of these were close in the numbers that we see today (either actual or by % of population).

    Seriously – I don’t know what it is like in Kirkcaldy, Fife, as I have never been lucky enough to visit that part of Scotland, but come down to Bradford, Leicester or (of course) London and take a look around.
    Two recent studies, one in the US the other in the EU, came up with similar numbers for the changing demographics of the world. By 2050 the EU will be 20% Muslim. Holland, France, Spain and Britain will be a higher percentage than this long before this. And that is just Muslims – what about the rest?

    I, like you, welcome the INFLUENCE of other cultures upon our own. This is the way of things and we are all better off for this. HOWEVER there is a difference between influence and making up (lets say) 30% of the population.

  18. Kieran,

    Thanks again for your comment.

    I don’t think the migration statistics you bring up are too worrying. Migration is another natural phenomenon, and I don’t find cross-border migration any more offensive than migration between areas within a country. Not many people would bat an eyelid if I moved from Kirkcaldy to Glasgow or from Glasgow to London (though I don’t know, maybe people in the EDP would?). Why it should be so awful that I should move from London to, say, Tallinn or vice-versa, I don’t know.

    I think in your penultimate paragraph you are implying that there are relatively few nonwhite people in Kirkcaldy. You would be correct in that, although I find it interesting that you felt safe to assume so. The fact that you have to list a few specific areas such as Bradford or Leicester is evidence that the “problem” is actually not very widespread, and confined to a few instances.

    Finally, population forecasts are notoriously unreliable and I would not trust any population projections 40 years into the future very much. Even so, if the EU were to be 20% Muslim, that doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem to me. For one thing, that would still be 80% non-Muslim. Today, the EU is majority Christian, which as an agnostic puts me in the minority — but I don’t feel remotely threatened by that fact.

  19. Duncan. I am well aware of the SNP,s stance on european integration. That is all well and good but one has to draw the line between integration and being totally controlled by them, which i believe is a major threat.I do not have a problem with anyone fleeing persicution and genuine asylum seekers. I have a problem with individuals making the country a far worse place with their criminal lifestyles.And i mean all residents pf england. There is nothing wrong with being the indigenous race in a country. you seem to use that term as if it is wrong.People around the world are not ashamed of trying to protect its indigenous communities heritage,customs and religions.Ours are being taken away from us. Not by immigrants but by the far left lily livered brigade.The S.N.P as you have said are keen on european integration. That is where you showed your true colours.I was not talking about Europe i was talking about England.I am not european i am english.Do you class yourself as a scotsman or a european.Do you go round telling people you are european.;I was talking of the benefits Scotland gets from England and that is exactly why the S.N.P will not use the anti English rethorric.

  20. Elaine,

    Who is the “indigenous race” of England?

    I do not go around the place describing myself in terms like “Scottish” or “European”. I am happy being myself, and I do not need to attach myself to national symbols in order to give myself an identity.

  21. Duncan;

    As an English person I’m really, really embarrassed by the amount of racist lickspittle you’ve had to read on this thread.

    Please rest assured that most people down here don’t think like this.

    I’m from Leicester, & we have benefitted from cultural integration for many years & are very proud of it.

    This is why I liked your post. Though I find them a strange party in some areas, the SNP recognises the benefits from immigration wheres the BNP, UKIP & the English Democrats ignores the success stories such as Leicester & overload on the propaganda, such as “indigenous cultures being destroyed by the enemy muslims” crap.

    I personally think that the English Democrats are where the SNP were in the 70s & 80s. Run by largely crude figures who rely on objects of blame to promote their minority views. This thread can be used as proof of that.

    I’m just really sorry that you have been subjected the spEak You’re bRanes set.



    p.s- Love the blog!

  22. Luke,

    Many thanks for your comment. Glad you enjoy the blog. I agree with your assessment. It was the SNP’s improvement in the past couple of decades that I intended to bring attention to, and with a bit of luck there will be a similar improvement in the outlook of parties such as the EDP.