I wrote yesterday’s blog article about the importance of not allowing British nationalists to pose as non-nationalists or anti-nationalists before Chris Deerin’s piece was published in Tuesday’s Daily Herald newspaper. And there it was, in all its self-righteous and self-deluding glory, a proponent of British nationalism staking out the moral high ground and linking the Scottish independence movement to the Nazis of Charlottesville while at the same time he was seemingly blithely unaware of his own nationalism. Or at least hoping that we were. The piece was a frankly nauseating attempt to link the desire for Scottish independence with the violent white supremacist fascists of AmeriKKKa who drove a car into an innocent woman, aping the terrorist tactics of ISIL.
This is an individual who writes for the Daily Mail, lecturing others on the evils of identity politics. If you don’t understand the difference between a social democratic independence movement which is founded in civic nationalism and the belief that Scottishness isn’t about your ancestry it’s about choice, that Scottishness isn’t about the past, it’s about the future, with the exclusionary fascist politics of racism, discrimination, and bigotry, you really should refrain from commenting on either. Because you have disqualified yourself from having an informed opinion.
Chris disingenously claims in his Herald piece that after writing an article saying why he’d be voting No in the referendum of 2014, he was subjected to horrible abuse from independence supporters. He’s being deliberately misleading. He doesn’t say what his article was really about, nor why it provoked anger and outrage amongst many of those who read it. It wasn’t just because he said he was voting No that people were offended. Lots of people managed to vote No without being offensive about it. It was his reason and the way he expressed it which were so offensive to many.
During the independence referendum campaign, early in 2014, Chris wrote an article for the Daily Mail in which he argued that voting No, voting to remain British, was the moral choice. If Scots chose that they no longer wanted to be British, Chris’s clear implication was that they would be diminishing the good in this world and replacing it with evil. He was arguing in effect that to vote to cease to be British meant surrendering a part of one’s moral being and ceasing to be properly human and humane. If you voted Yes, Chris was arguing, you’d be a lesser person for it. Then after writing the blue touchpaper, he affected surprise that there were fireworks.
It was in fact Chris and that particular article that I had in mind when I wrote in yesterday’s blog piece, “There is a moral choice in this campaign, and it doesn’t lie in choosing British nationalism.” He wrote that article, and then he acted all offended that people were upset by being accused of being less than moral beings because they don’t happen to share Chris’s view of the constitutional settlement. Then of course he milked the outrage that his offensive article predictably provoked to write a few more pieces for the British nationalist media about how awful and offensive Scottish nationalists are. And here he is, over three years later, still doing it, still pretending that his British nationalism is superior by virtue of not being nationalist at all.
Chris wasn’t subjected to abuse just because he was voting No, he angered and insulted people – quite deliberately – by insinuating that voting Yes made them less moral and that morality properly rests with the Westminster parliament. It plays into the ancient British nationalist racist stereotype that Scots require the tender administrations of Westminster in order to be properly civilised human beings. Then Chris complained when the people whom he had insulted insulted him back. I’m not about to defend outright abuse, but if you’re going to tell people, especially in the pages of the Daily Mail of all places, that they are less moral if they don’t vote the way you want them to – what sort of reaction do you expect exactly? He was trolling people, and then having provoked an entirely predictable response, he was able to play the victim. He’s still playing the victim. Welcome to the British nationalist playbook.
Claiming that choosing to be British is a moral choice is a deeply nationalist assertion. It is in fact an offensively nationalist assertion. It is nothing less than the assertion that your particular brand of nationalism is morally and ethically superior to that of other less fortunate and more benighted nations. It is the claim that to be British means that you are a better human being than people who are not. That is a nationalist sentiment to its very core. That is a nationalist sentiment which has far more in common with the vile view of the American far right that only white people are properly human than anything you’ll find in the mainstream Scottish independence campaign.
British nationalism is far more dangerous than Scottish nationalism. It’s more dangerous because it has nuclear weapons and fetishises the military. It’s more dangerous because it is the expression of a state which lacks a written constitution and proper checks and balances on power. But above all it’s more dangerous because its core belief is that it is not nationalism at all. British nationalism is the nationalism of the unaware, the blind, the obtuse. That’s the kind of lack of insight that has led to Brexit, has led to the shocking rise in hate crimes in the UK since the EU referendum, and which threatens to ruin this country.
Chris Deerin’s Daily Mail piece struck me then, and nothing that has happened since has shifted my opinion, as the epitome of self-righteous British nationalism masquerading as non-nationalism or anti-nationalism. His article for the Herald this week proves that nothing has changed. British nationalism remains as lacking in self-awareness as ever. It’s Chris’s kind of trite nonsense that demands that Scottish independence supporters stop colluding with the British nationalist fantasy that British nationalism is somehow non-nationalist.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
Wee Ginger Fundraiser
I’m doing a fundraiser this year to keep this blog going for another twelve month and to allow the dug and me to continue visiting local groups all across Scotland. You can donate via my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo –
Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account I’ve set up for the purposes of this fundraiser, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at email@example.com and I will send the necessary information. Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.