The other night on Newsnight on BBC, arch conservative David Frum, a former speechwriter to George W Bush, made the ludicrous claim that Scottish nationalism was being funded by the Kremlin. Being a former speechwriter to the president whose only redeeming feature is that he was merely off the planet and not actually out in interstellar space like Donald Trump, Frum has of course got previous for not dealing with happenings here on Earth.
If Scottish nationalism was indeed funded by the Kremlin, it would save a lot of us bloggers and new media types from having to punt fundraisers, flog our books, or ask for donations. However Scottish nationalism manages to do quite well for itself without any assistance from regressive homophobic imperialist kleptocrats. We have quite enough of those in Westminster and are trying to get away from them as fast as our hairy wee Caledonian legs can carry us without getting into bed with their Russian equivalents. Actually we couldn’t get into bed with them anyway, what with the Russian government being notoriously homophobic and Scottish nationalism being as gay-friendly as a nightclub in Amsterdam.
The argument Frum was trying to articulate is that there is no real cause or basis to the desire for Scottish self-determination, it’s all being stirred up by evil people outside. Frum wants to make out that Scotland is nothing more than a little cog in the gearwheel driving the Axis of Evil. Why the Kremlin would want to support a movement that sees its natural allies amongst the 143 non-Russian nationalities of Russia, Frum didn’t explain.
The chances are that your average supporter of Scottish self-determination is going to be highly sympathetic to the struggles of other small stateless nations to achieve autonomy. You might just think that the successful establishment of an independent Scottish state might make the Chuvash, the Tatars, the Yakut or the Tuva, to name but a few, redouble their own efforts for self-determination and the assertion of their linguistic, cultural, and political rights.
In Scottish terms, Frum is a far right wing extremist. He’d find our Tory party dangerously liberal. In America, a conservative party led by an out lesbian is a contradiction. In American politics Frum is considered a far right neo-conservative, he’s not usually considered swivel eyed, but that’s only because they have Donald Trump as a standard of comparison. His insight into Scottish nationalism is less than that of your average Guardian columnist, but then, there’s no particular reason why he ought to be blessed with any great understanding of Scottish politics. We can just point and laugh.
The Guardian’s Martin Kettle is a different kettle of fishy fallacies. He gets paid very highly to comment on British politics, but as far as Scotland is concerned he’s as out of touch and clueless as David Frum. Today in the Guardian the former acolyte of Tony Blair has submitted a 1000 word article bemoaning the lack of opposition to the SNP and warning that in the future it’s going to be harder than before to blame the English. They get an easy run you know, that SNP that isn’t ever challenged by a Scottish media that is almost entirely united against it.
I’m sick fed up of people who should know better repeating lazy slurs that Scottish self-determination is all about blaming the English. Frankly, it’s racist. It plays on the ancient English stereotype that there is no content to a Scottish identity than a deep seated desire not to be English, that we have no culture, no language, and nothing to distinguish ourselves except a visceral hatred for our neighbours. The anti-Scottish sentiment that exists in England is dismissed as banter, yet anti-English sentiment in Scotland is not merely a dark canker that lurks at the very heart of the Scottish psyche, it’s all that Scotland has and all that Scotland is.
We don’t blame “the English”, Martin, we blame the Westminster parliament, which as a political correspondent you may have noticed is also the parliament of Scotland. The word Westminster is not Scottish cybernat code for England. Westminster is not an English institution, it just acts as though it is and that’s part of the problem. Westminster is the parliament of the entire United Kingdom, yet it’s a parliament in which Scotland’s voice is sidelined, marginalised, and ignored. Pointing that out and seeking a means to correct a lamentable state of affairs in which the highest authority for Scotland serves Scotland badly and doesn’t reflect Scotland’s choices is not “blaming the English”.
We don’t blame “the English”, Martin, we blame people like you. You may be English, but that’s not what we’re blaming you for. We blame you for your arrogance, your ignorance, and your self-regarding egoism that insists on believing that the question of Scotland’s constitutional settlement is all about you. It’s not about you Martin. It’s about Scotland, and what is best for this country that we, not you, live in and understand. It’s about us.
David Frum has an excuse for his asinine idiocy. Martin Kettle doesn’t. But the reason that Scotland’s campaign for self-determination is never going to go away is because as long as we remain a part of the United Kingdom, the ultimate powers that be and the opinion formers that they listen to will be clueless about Scotland, will care little or nothing about us, and will frame our country in lazy stereotypes that suit their own agendas and do nothing to improve Scotland.
Scotland taking responsibility for itself and seeking a means to address the problems in Scotland is the very opposite of blaming the English. It means Scotland will have no one to blame but itself. Scotland and her people will be responsible for our own successes and our own failures. But highly paid commentators in UK national newpapers find it preferable to keep repeating lazy racist insults than to try and understand what is going on in what is, or so they keep telling us, a much loved and valued part of their own country. Maybe the likes of Martin Kettle will come to understand that one day, but that’s only going to happen after the event of Scottish independence. All the Martin Kettles of this world do is give us greater impetus to reach that goal.
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