There has been a growing trend in recent months by the Separatists to regard and publically name those who are Scottish and in favour of remaining in the United Kingdom as “anti Scottish”, if not worse. The implication is that to be truly Scottish you cannot possibly be in favour of remaining in the United Kingdom.
Joan McAlpine, Mr Salmond’s parliamentary aide has been widely reported as writing that the United Kingdom was like an English “domineering man” tyrannising and threatening a “talented, well-educated (Scottish) girl with good prospects and has also been reported as commenting that political parties opposed to separation from the UK were somehow “anti-Scottish”.
Comments have also been particularly strong in the internet and chat fora. One Dynamic Nation was barraged with cries of “betrayal” and “treason” when we launched. It was very unpleasant to be on the receiving end of such, usually anonymous, tirades. For many separatists simply branding someone with a different point of view as a “traitor”” is seen as a credible way to win an argument. Treason however implies you are betraying your own country and last time we checked our country was still the United Kingdom and, although dented by the credit crunch, no part of the UK, including Scotland, could claim they were really actually being oppressed by the other constituent parts of our nation, despite Joan McAlpine’s reported comments. Accusing someone of betraying their country may have the function of closing down debate, as contributors get tired of their loyalty being call into question, but it is certainly not debate in the way commonly understood. We live in a mature democracy where differing views are permissible and that is a freedom we have fought hard to create and maintain over many centuries, north and south of the “border”.
Such opinions do however reflect the growth of a worrying trend of pro-nationalism and anti Britishness in Scotland which must be overcome if Scotland is ever again going to feel comfortable with its identity within the UK. No one wants to be made to feel as if their loyalty is being questioned if say they chose to fly the Union flag in preference to the Scottish flag. The Union flag is after all our national flag and we should be proud of it and the freedom and democracy it represents. It must never become an issue that it is wrong to feel British in Scotland – although to a certain extent things are heading that way. If that ever happens then effectively the Union is lost. This would create a confrontational posture within the constituent nations in the management of the union and in our opinion we would be following an inexorable path towards eventual separation if this were to happen.
It would come down to – “We have nothing in common any more with the other parts of the UK – we are no longer welcome – why should we stay?”
The Scottish Conservatives have borne the brunt of this anti British sentiment. The “bold” is intentional because the Scottish Conservatives are in fact Scottish. They are rather unfairly seen as a British party rather than a Scottish party when in fact the Scottish organisation is separate from the national organisation. They have been touted as an enemy that can never represent Scottish interests and yet they still represent some 16.7% of the Scottish vote. This attitude has tarnished views on the current government. In fact Scotland is well represented in a government which is a Coalition government and not a Conservative government, despite the spin given in some quarters, with a view to promoting a sense of division between Scotland and the rest of the UK. The totality still represents some 35.5% of the Scottish vote with 12 MPs representing Scotland – double the 6 SNP MPs with 19.9% of the vote who claim to have a mandate to speak for the whole of Scotland. The Lib Dems are unfortunately now also feeling the effects of such sentiments. Their Scottish MPs and Cabinet Ministers are almost being regarded as not Scottish and therefore unfairly not representing Scottish interests.
Labour have not faired quite so badly as yet. But this may change as they start to adopt a more aggressive stance in defending the UK. Especially if the popular view becomes that you have to be Scottish or British – but you can’t be both.
There is however a positive way to address this. Our sense of Britishness is being eroded but we are convinced it can be recaptured. One Dynamic Nation are convinced that the key to rekindling a desire for Scotland to remain within the UK is for Scots to recover their sense of Britishness – that although we are proud to be Scots, we are also proud to be British. If this can be done then the risk of being thought of as a traitor or un-Scottish, just because someone happens to be proud of also being British, is substantially reduced.
There will be no heads lopped off in a frenzy of nationalism!
We have encouraged our supporters to send us pictures of British flags flying in parts of Scotland and we will start to post the best of these. As individuals we should also be encouraging people, organisations and businesses to fly the Union flag wherever possible and especially on occasions like the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics were we have a right to be proud of being part of this great British nation. If this is combined with flying the Scottish flag as well then so much the better. It demonstrates we are proud to be both British and Scottish and that is the strength of our Union!
We hope, with your help, to make this a major campaign.
Keep the British and Scottish flags flying together!