I’m fed up, seriously fed up, fed up with metropolitan Londonsplainers coming up to Scotland and informing us that we’re a bunch of divisive racists for wanting independence. The real fascists in Scotland, the real blood and soil nationalists who hate immigrants, Muslims, and who espouse xenophobia as their policy of choice are far more likely to be found waving a Union fleg than a Saltire. The only people who were convicted of offences of violence related to the independence referendum were supporters of the Union, not supporters of independence.
The actual paid up members of fascist and extreme right organisations in Scotland are overwhelmingly opponents of independence. The people on social media who are most prone to telling others that they can’t be Scottish unless they were born in Scotland to Scottish parents are overwhelmingly opponents of independence. Those who want to remove EU citizens from the ballot are overwhelmingly opponents of independence. Those who hate on immigrants and long for an isolationist little country that harks back to a fantasy golden age where everyone was white and heterosexual are overwhelmingly opponents of independence.
Those metrosplainers who condemn the independence movement for its supposed divisiveness and racism never ever notice the great big beam in their own eye marching around their cornea with an Orange sash, a Union fleg, and a fascist salute in defence of Britain. Try and point out to them that of the two sides in the Scottish constitutional debate the one which has the real problem with xenophobia, intolerance, racism, homophobia and sexism is the Unionist side, and you will be met with howls of outrage at your utter gall in suggesting that supporting the Union makes you a bigot. How very dare you insinuate that ordinary supporters of the Union are creatures cut from the same cloth as members of Britain First or the Orange Lodge.
Yet the very same people will cheerfully slander the entire independence movement on the basis of an anecdote about an English person who went into a pub in the Western Isles and suddenly everyone started talking about him in Gaelic. Everything negative ever said to any English person in Scotland is evidence of a deep dark cancer that lurks at the very heart of the Scottish psyche, but the same remarks made in the English media about Scots are just banter, and it’s typical of thin skinned nationalists and their grievance mongering to take offence.
What Sadiq Khan has just done with his tired unthinking comments is to give succour to the real racists and bigots, allowing them to dress their xenophobia and hatred in a veneer of tolerance that doesn’t really exist. He’s given the real bigots an excuse to point at someone else as the problem instead of addressing their own behaviour. He’s excusing Unionism of its sins and distracting it from its own shortcomings.
The Unionists claim that the movement for Scottish independence is based upon anti-English racism because they have no substantive arguments. Instead they resort to stirring up the ancient prejudice and stereotype amongst some people in England that Scotland’s cultural distinctiveness begins and ends with a hatred of English people. All they’re doing is further weakening the last frayed bonds that tie Scotland to this dysfunctional state. They’re destroying the very thing they claim to be defending.
Anas Sarwar seized on Sadiq Khan’s words to demand what he called an end to Scottish exceptionalism. Yet no one is claiming that Scottish people are on the whole better than anyone else. The only people who say so are Unionists seeking a straw man to attack. People aren’t better than one another, Scottish people are not better than English people or anyone else. But the choices that people make can be better. And I will defend to the death the belief that choosing tolerance, choosing acceptance of difference, choosing to celebrate diversity is a better choice than choosing xenophobia, choosing insularity, and choosing isolationism. It’s British nationalism which chooses the latter, it’s the Scottish independence movement which chooses the former. That’s the choice that faces Scotland, and it’s not exceptionalism to want Scotland to make the better choice. It’s a matter of survival of everything that’s decent.
Wanting Scotland to make the better choice is racist and divisive according to the apologists for the racism and division of Brexit.
Obviously the way for the Labour party to regain its lost ground in Scotland is to insult everyone who has voted SNP. They’re polling a paltry 15% in the polls and having lost almost all their MPs they’re now facing the loss of all the councils they control. In an attempt to extricate himself from the very big hole he dug for himself, Sadiq Khan later clarified that he doesn’t think that supporters of Scottish independence are racist. It’s just that they’re indistinguishable from racists. So that’s OK then. Must be thon big beam in his Unionist eye getting in the way of his clarity of vision then. So how’s that wooing voters back from the SNP thing going for you Labour?
Labour continues to cling to its dreams of a Britain that will never come to pass, saying its ritual prayers of exorcism against its imaginary demons while the real demons devour it. Labour is talking with the Tories about forming coalitions in certain councils in order to keep them out of SNP control. They dance with the devil rather than face up to the realities of Scotland’s choices. They tell us that we can chase the federalism fairy when its own leadership has no interest, never mind the other UK parties. Labour in Scotland insist that Scotland can remain a part of the UK and the EU while their own party leadership in Westminster has surrendered any pretence of representing the interests of those who voted to remain and the Tories run rampant with their xenophobic plans to rip up the post-WW2 settlement and destroy the welfare state.
Then some clueless Londoner comes up to lecture and insult ordinary Scots on how we’re doing politics all wrong because wanting independence is the same as racism, and gives Labour in Scotland a convenient distraction from real ways in which it can get out of the mess that it’s made for itself. No wonder there’s so much wrath at Khan.
Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-25th-feb-2017
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