The Father Dougals of British nationalism

Sometimes when you are an advocate of Scottish independence and you are constantly confronted with the same specious arguments from British nationalists, you feel like you’re Father Ted, trying to explain a very simple concept to Father Dougal. No matter how often you go over it, it fails to penetrate, even when you use very simple words. And. Speak. Very Slowly. This is because whereas Father Dougal is merely dense, British nationalists have a vested interest in refusing to understand the point you’re making.

There are several such concepts. There’s the concept that Spain will not in fact veto an application from an independent Scotland to join the EU. That one has been done to death, shot in the head, and buried in a ditch off the side of a back road in the hills above Benidorm by no less a person than the Spanish Foreign Minister, but it still pops up like the undead Michael Forsyth.

Then there’s the concept that an independent Scotland would not and could not be forced to join the euro. You can explain until you are as blue in the face as the cookie monster with his head in a plastic bag that joining the ERM-2 is a necessary precondition for joining the eurozone, and the EU imposes no timetable on member states to do so, and anyway it has no mechanisms for compelling them even if it did. But generally to no avail.

And finally, there’s the concept that membership of the EU for an independent Scotland is not remotely comparable with Scotland’s current position within the UK. If I had a euro cent for every time some opponent of independence has claimed that membership of the EU for an independent Scotland isn’t “real” independence, and that we’d have less influence within the EU than we currently do as a subordinate and ignored part of the UK, I’d have enough money to buy a couple of espressos and some coffee ice cream in one of the nicer cafés along the Malaga seafront, as well as the airfare to get there. Which might just provide the caffeine shot necessary to deal with the tedium of dealing with obtuse British nationalists.

Comparing the position of an independent Scotland within the EU with that of Scotland’s current status within the UK is rather like comparing the position of an animal in a zoo with one which roams in a fenced off national park the size of the Cairngorms. Both of them have restrictions on their absolute freedom of movement, but one of them is considerably more restricted than the other. And it’s not the one in the EU national park.

The EU is far from perfect. Its response to the situation in Catalonia was disappointing, to put it mildly. However it has demonstrated that it is a member club of states, it looks after the interests of its member states. Catalonia is not a member, Spain is.

We’re constantly told that the UK is a family of nations, a partnership of nations, but Scotland has had zero input into determining the course of Brexit. The concerns and interests of Scotland have at every turn been ignored and marginalised by a British government which is only interested in what’s good for the Conservative party. However we have seen from the response of the EU to the Brexit crisis that there is indeed a nation in these islands which really is a valued partner in a family of nations, which has its concerns listened to, and its needs taken into account. That nation is Ireland. It’s not Scotland. The so-called partnership of nations of the UK has been shown to be meaningless cant designed to allow British nationalists in Scotland to resign themselves to Scotland’s inferior position.

The inferiority of Scotland within the UK is illustrated time and time again. If the EU imposed as many restrictions on its member states as are imposed upon Scotland by the UK government, there would have been no EU referendum unless the EU had consented to it. That’s where Scotland is within the UK. Theresa May insists that she has the absolute right to decide whether Scotland is allowed to even ask itself about its own future.

Then take the words of arch-Brextremist Jacob Rees-Mogg. Jacob threatened recently that if the UK has to remain a member of the EU for some time to come, that it should wield its veto and prevent the passage of the EU budget. All EU member states have a veto on the budget, which is arrived at after negotiations between all the EU member states. Scotland not only has no veto on the UK budget, it has no say or input into determining it.

Right now, far from taking back control, the UK has no option but to hope and pray that the EU decides to permit an extension to Article 50, otherwise we face the chaos and trauma of a no-deal exit. Every EU member state has a say, and every EU member state has a veto. Right now, the 1.3 million people of Estonia and the 475,000 inhabitants of Malta have more of a say over the future of Scotland than Scotland does itself.

The EU doesn’t set our taxes and prioritise the enrichment of the wealthy. It doesn’t decide our social security policies and force humiliation on disabled people and make children rely on foodbanks. It doesn’t determine a housing policy that puts affordable homes out of reach of working people. It doesn’t enforce a hostile environment on those who do us the honour of choosing to make their lives in our country. The EU doesn’t take us into foreign wars in countries where we have no business being. It doesn’t site weapons of mass destruction within a few miles of our largest city.

The UK does all those things, and it does so whether Scotland wants it to or not. It does so without Scotland having any representation at the highest level of British government except David Mundell who hasn’t resigned yet. He has never seen his job as being Scotland’s voice in the British government, he’s the British government’s voice in Scotland.

So don’t try and pretend that an independent Scotland which chooses to join the EU would have less control over its own destiny than Scotland does right now. That’s an arrogant nonsense of British nationalism, the very sort of arrogant nonsense that has brought about this sorry state of Brexit affairs to begin with. Even Father Dougal could grasp that truth.

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31 comments on “The Father Dougals of British nationalism

  1. Jan Cowan says:

    Exactly, Paul. Your words should be printed and circulated in a leaflet.

    Leslie Evans keeps appearing in my nightmares. Do I worry unnecessarily?

  2. Alasdair Sutherland says:

    I see the right wing extremists, and the virtually identical unionists, less like Father Dougal and more like Father Jack of the same show. Their only response seems to be, “Brexit!” or sometime, “Brexit means Brexit!”
    No amount of dialogue elicits any more edifying response.

  3. But, but,Paul, England out of the goodness of its heart buys 4 times as much as the EU from us.
    If we leave their ‘precious Union, they will cease to trade with us and we will plummet into chaos and basket case poverty, with a £15 billion debt we won’t be able to repay!
    England, set free at last, free at last, won’t need our agriculture, our aquaculture, our whisky, water, oil, gas, electricity or timber.
    They’ll make their own deals with the EU on WTO terms but only if our fellow Europeans realise that England must punish Scotland and destroy us for running out on them.
    And Barnier and Tusk and our fellow 27 members will agree to this smiting of the Rebellious Scot by Mighty England, because it’s not as if Scotland within the European Union will have the same protection as Ireland, or Malta..

    Mundell is in the National today bleating that a No Deal outcome would make Indyref 2 more likely.
    I see what he is trying to do there.
    We won’t demand Indyref 2 if May’s Deal gets through?
    Only Eurmageddon would trigger a second Independence vote?
    Aye, right.
    The material change, Scotland being dragged out of the EU against the specific will of the people of Scotland is the red line.
    Any form of English Blue or Red Tory Brexit is the trigger.
    Scotland voted to Remain in the EU.
    And Remain we shall.
    What is the English parliament going to do to prevent that?
    Close Holyrood, introduce Martial Law, close our borders?
    I refuse to allow Corbyn and May to take away my European citizenship, as early perhaps as Friday 12th April.
    Do any of the Brit Nats and the compliant Scottish media really think that I, and millions now, of my Scots will meekly let this happen?
    Their precious Union is dead.
    ‘Bye, England.
    Enjoy your Argentinian corned beef and 12 month old NZ lamb.
    I have had them up to here.

    • Robert Harrison says:

      Jack lets be honest that was bullshite scaremongering in indyref1 as England business owners said in 2014 they wouldn’t sacrifice there profits because Scotland was an independent country just because of some politicians say so i doubt when it becomes that way of stop trade with Scotland and lose money or trade and profit think theyd chose trade profit over Westminsters cut all trade because business owners wouldnt want to lose possible profits because of some anti Scottish bastard in Westminster demanding trade with Scotland stop.

      • when we retake self determination, Robert, I cannot imagine that Big Business, especially heavy engineering and the automotive industries have not already undertaken Impact Analyses on England leaving Europe, and produced Feasibility Studies whose recommendations would be to relocate in Scotland.
        The NE of England would be devastated.
        100,000’s will head North to escape dying England.
        All welcome of course.

        • Robert Harrison says:

          Thats why theyd most likely end up becoming southern Scotland instead of being northern England and the Scotland England border will be moved to Birmingham so Scotland could end up expanding its size once independent with everywher in northern England from berwick to Manchester wanting to join an indy Scotland.

          • Robert, I once co-hosted and event in Brighton with a colleague from Gateshead, whose family had moved South from Musselburgh in the dim and distant, to an audience of University educated ‘Southerners’, who surmised from our introductions that we were both Jocks, and in stage whispers, hoped that there would be written hand-outs, because they were struggling to understand our Jockanese accents.
            Be assured my co-pilot was and still is, a passionate Englishman, and at the time had to be restrained from ladling in to the ‘soft Southerners’ who were accusing him of being Scottish.

            I know from decades of experience that the further south you venture in England, the less the locals know,or frankly care, about Scotland.
            Witness Judy Murray being knocked back for doughnuts (£4.50 a pop!) in London yesterday.
            This group of highly educated and extremely influential ‘soft Southerners’ believed Gateshead to be in the Northern Colony, Scotland.
            If I recall the culmination of the Anglo Scottish Border wars was in the 15th Century at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, when the English whupped our asses, before turning on each other in the War of the Roses.
            I seriously doubt that Northern English patriots would sell their birth rights and join Free Scotland.
            But if the Giant Sunderland car factory closes, many may ’emigrate’ North to Scotland, if we become the Place To Settle in post Brexit Britain.
            I watched Newsnight tonight. Emily Maitlis anchored, churning out the same old same old Brexit madness.
            I believe that the dam will burst by Friday, and all hell will break loose Down There.
            We must be ready.
            Rise and resist, Scotland.

  4. […] Wee Ginger Dug The Father Dougals of British nationalism Sometimes when you are an advocate of Scottish independence and you are constantly […]

  5. Brian Powell says:

    Yes, it would be fun at the next FMQs, if the FM stood up with a megaphone and shouted to the Labour benches, “What the fuck is wrong with you? You side with these shitbag Tories, just what the fuck is wrong with you?”

  6. Robert Harrison says:

    Now you seeing these English supremacist types for what they are stupid blockheaded morons who you could bury in evidence and theyd still claim you was spouting lies because they cant accept there veiws are wrong in any shape or form it so turns them nasty and violent instead ive seen it with the Englanders when i proved Scotland wasnt the basket case they claimed they turned right nasty everytime all because they cant accept what they believe is wrong.

    • Anne Martin says:

      It gets right up my nose when they say that Scots don’t want ‘another nasty, divisive referendum’. It wasn’t nasty or divisive first time round and would not be again.

      Now, the EU referendum definitely was both nasty and divisive.

      • Eric the Cheeseman says:

        Ah, but remember Anne, there was that nasty and divisive egg thrown at Jim Murphy and…and… nope, that’s about it really.

        Never in my lifetime has a political vote engaged the imagination and involvement of the public so much. Davidson & Rennie are like scratched records, repeating that ‘nasty & divisive’ line over and over

        • Robert Harrison says:

          In the independence referendum lot of angry shouting but only one egg throw by the yes side the no side smashed car windows with yes stickers on them and assaulted on yesser in Edinburgh yet nothing said about those incidents on the news even though i saw pictures of them incidents on facebook.

          Eu referendum two angry campaigns one labour mp shot dead in England these so called british thats the problem here because the guy who done it was an extremist britnat.

          • Eric the Cheeseman says:

            From my ownexperience Robert, Britnats best way of putting their case for the UK across, is with aggression.

            They take it personally, as though independence would somehow steal their identity, somehow steal their nationality, and somehow steal their flag and monarch from them. They think that independence is an insult to those who fought in WW2, and like their political masters… they have the world’s biggest superiority complex, where they believe that they still have an empire. They also believe that the whole world is in awe of the UK, and that everybody wants to be British.

            Times have changed, but sadly Britnats will never change. They are not worth engaging with next time around… that energy will be best served by informing the don’t knows and the unsures. There’s more than enough of them out there, waiting to be convinced, giving the Indy movement enough votes to take us over and beyond the required numbers.

  7. Donald Anderson says:

    If Dougal was here he’d tell you himself.

  8. benmadigan says:

    Excellent article Paul .
    The implications of Scotland not gaining her freedom are truly frightening –

    To while away the time while we wait for a decision,

    here’s a concert from the last Irish bard

  9. Eric the Cheeseman says:

    For Indyref2, I’m looking forward to hopefully engaging with 2014’s soft NO’s, last-minute NO’s, regretful NO’s and ‘eyes-opened-by-5-years-of-anti-Scottish-incompetence-by-Westminster NO’s.

    The thought of having to engage with people who you believed to be smart, intelligent, or even just sensible, bleating about a Spanish veto, the Euro, a deficit, or our biggest trading partner (who will spit the dummy, stick ear plugs in and refuse to trade with their neighbour….. aye, ok then!!), is both insulting, and tiresome.

    I’ll save my ‘convincing’ debating for people who actually want to engage, and leave the nationalists (my new term for unionists) to fester in their isolated new utopia of blue passports, austerity, and memories of 1945.

  10. Robert Graham says:

    I blame our Education System ,
    So many Scots haven’t a bleedn clue about their own country and how we are in the position we are right now , a sad state of affairs ,
    The information is out there you just need to look , it isn’t hidden ,
    Then again a lot of our fellow Scots are just dumb and bloody lazy , in a perpetual comatose state unwilling or unable to see what is right in front of them .

    • diabloandco says:

      The information is well hidden in schools , I think the only piece I witnessed taught was about poor old King Alexander falling off his horse in a storm and dying. After that it was on to the ‘glorious wars’ and the ‘cradle to grave ‘ stuff of the NHS , with a dod of martin Luther King and JFK flung in.

      I know of one primary which chose to re name its house groups with very ‘British’ folk David Attenborough House and Jessica Ennis Hill house – nae harm to the lass but it ain’t exactly catchy to bellow at the kids. besides , correct me if I’m wrong , but are there not some modern Scots heroes and heroines with less cumbersome names.

      It’s like our education system has deliberately wiped out Scottishness other than a wee nod to Burns once a year.

      • Wee Chid says:

        Or if your in England that would be Jessicarennis Hill. No very guid at diphthongs, some of our neighbours

  11. deelsdugs says:

    I have a Scottish, middle aged male friend, who is hellbent that Scotland should be independent and most definitely not be in the EU. He is now retired after many years working in the oil industry in hot countries.
    What do you say to people like that? Reasonable suggestions of advice, much appreciated please. Ta.

    • diabloandco says:

      Tell him that leaving the EU is depriving children who live here the chance to travel and learn about other cultures in Europe. He obviously worked in other countries , presumably enjoyed it , why would he want to deprive the children of Scotland the same opportunity?

      • Welsh Sion says:

        … or even his own children/those in his own family/amongst his friends.

      • deelsdugs says:

        Tried that, he also has a son of 20 so where his brain is at, I do not know. He’s not had a dig at any of my fb posts lately, so maybe what I said to him via messenger made him think a little…
        Thanks for the support though. Much appreciated in this dysfunctional time.

    • weegingerdug says:

      What you say is that independence is about Scotland having the ability to choose for itself what sort of country it wants to be. If he wants Scotland to be outside the EU, then surely he wants that to be negotiated by a Scottish government that seeks the best deal for the people of Scotland – not a Tory Brexit which ignores our concerns. We have to achieve independence first, and only then can we decide what sort of a relationship we want with the EU. The point however, is that this decision should be one for the people of Scotland to make.

  12. Welsh Sion says:


    You are not alone, Scotland.


    (Translation: GT and WS)

    Eiris Llywelyn faces prison for refusing to pay for a television licence
    Golwg Magazine, 3 April 2019 at 16:49 Updated 4 April 2019 at 12:36 2

    Eiris Llywelyn, a 68-year-old woman from Ceredigion, is taking a “brave stance” as she refuses to pay the TV licence fee as part of a campaign to devolve broadcasting powers to Wales.

    Cymdeithas yr Iaith [The Welsh Language Society’s] Aled Powell’s comments come after a court fined her £220 following a hearing in Aberystwyth today (Wednesday, April 3).

    Eiris Llywelyn of Ffostrasol is the third person to go to court as part of the campaign, but is the first to refuse to pay a fine.

    As a result, she faces a period of imprisonment as Cymdeithas yr Iaith insists that broadcasting powers are essential to maintain democracy.

    “This campaign is as important as the 70s and 80s battle for establishing the [Welsh language] channel [S4C], says Eiris Llywelyn. “It is a struggle for the future of our language and communities and for democracy. Democracy is impossible if we do not have control of the media – and the media reflects our values ​​and culture and that we see the world through a Welsh window.

    “Devolving the broadcasting system is just as important as the devolution of political power. The current one is a broadcasting system run from Westminster.

    “We are treated as part of England by all British broadcasters and British propaganda is broadcast to us in Wales on a daily basis. Westminster holds the reins.

    “This is why we are a backwater for the broadcasting landscape in Wales and why we have only one television channel – and that financial certainty and editorial independence are at stake; one radio station and a few hours on a second station.
    “Commercial companies are free to do what they want with local radio and remove the few Welsh hours that were previously broadcast.

    “The deficit on other platforms is disastrous and Wales is far behind in the digital revolution.

    “The language will not live unless it is used across all media and is the language of digital media in Wales.

    “The lack of Welsh language content on the web is a matter of concern and if the Welsh language is not visible and adapts to the digital age it will have no future.”

    • Andy Anderson says:

      Hello Welsh Sion. A few weeks ago I asked you to recommend a book on Welsh History. I have now read John Davies book, all 792 pages. Excellent. Thanks for the recommendation.

      • Welsh Sion says:

        Thanks for the acknowledgement, Andy Anderson and pleased that you enjoyed the book. (JD was not a family member, so I’m not practising any nepotism!) Of course, you may be aware of a few changes since the book came out – things change so quickly, these days! – but I hope that myself and the few Cymry here will try to keep you up to speed with developments. (These indy blogs are a good way for me to keep up to date with my homeland, too …)

        Now, next up. How about buying my dad’s books and mine? 😉 (Use my LinkedIn profile if you want – brown link on my name. I wouldn’t like to disrupt WGD’s threads just in order to promote the Welsh Sion clan 🙂 )

  13. aaron blue says:

    British nationalist arguments against Scotland’s independence are as stale and smelly as a seagull’s excrement after it has guzzled a bag of rancid fish guts, then followed it with a guttery cigar butt washed down by the dregs of a broken Buckfast bottle.

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