Some British nationalists, presumably for the bantz, decided to mount a banner likening Nicola Sturgeon to a Nazi on a fence close to the official residence of the First Minister. Complete with a faux Germanic font and a racist misspelling of English as spoken by the cast playing the Germans in ‘Allo ‘Allo, it was topped off with a photo of the First Minister with a Hitler moustache. It’s the sort of thing you’d only find funny if you have a sense of humour that makes Mother Brown’s Boys seem sophisticated and your politics are those of Nigel Farage. Which is a good description of a sizeable contingent of the British nationalist roasters who post regularly on Twitter.
On Friday Nigel Farage blamed the knife attack in Glasgow on asylum seekers, stirring up racism, and stirring up the racist thugs who have threatened to take to the city’s streets again over the weekend. By Saturday it was being reported that staff at the hotel had previously warned about the assailant’s mental health issues. The very night before the attack they had warned that he was mentally unstable. Other residents in the hotel warned that the man was suffering from severe paranoia and had threatened violence. Three of the victims of the attack were asylum seekers themselves. It had nothing to do with Nigel’s pathetic attempts at race baiting or warnings about terrorism, and a great deal to do with the despair into which vulnerable and damaged people fall once they become enmeshed in the UK’s cruel and heartless immigration and asylum system.
But the cruelty of the British state doesn’t stop British nationalists from blaming asylum seekers and migrants. The extreme fringe of British nationalism has been emboldened and empowered by mainstream British nationalist politicians, in particular a Conservative party which has adopted the politics of Ukip wholesale. We have a part time prime minister with a long and inglorious history of making racist, xenophobic and homophobic comments. Lying and cheating has become normal in British politics. The blame for this lies squarely with mainstream British nationalist politicians.
In Scotland we have in addition the constitutional dimension, and British nationalist politicians have never hesitated to characterise the entire independence movement and mainstream pro-independence parties with the views of a tiny and unrepresentative extreme fringe. It is commonplace for supporters of independence to face baseless accusations of anti-English racism, to be blamed entirely for stoking divisions. British nationalist politicians regularly paint a picture of a Scotland which is riven with hatred. In all this, British nationalists consistently regard themselves as innocent victims of a vile Scottish nationalism. By doing this, mainstream British nationalist politicians are creating the circumstances where British nationalist fascist thugs feel that they are justified in running riot in the streets of Scotland’s cities searching for migrants, independence supporters, or anyone who is different to attack.
Lib Dem MSP [insert blank space here] for Edinburgh tweeted a photo of the banner of Nicola Sturgeon and wailed “Aren’t we better than this?” [Insert blank space here] only succeeded in giving the banner and its claim that the SNP are Nazis greater publicity and in making the idiots who created it very happy indeed. The first rule of dealing with wilful idiocy in public life is not to amplify it or to publicise it, which is why Lib Dem MSP [insert blank space here] will henceforth be known as [insert blank space here]. Although this is a trifle unfair – a blank space would do a far better job of standing up for Scotland’s interests than [insert blank space here].
There’s a number of points here, the first of which is that [insert blank space here] wouldn’t respond to an offensive banner put up by independence supporters using the first person plural pronoun. Othering is the way they go when dealing with independence supporters, but when it’s British nationalists who are the issue, it’s “Scotland’s shame”. This is the nub of the problem. [Insert blank space here] and his party have been very good throwing a not inconsiderable quantity of mud themselves. Just ask Michelle Thomson. However the poor behaviour of British nationalists is not to be regarded as a problem caused by British nationalism.
‘We’ as in independence supporters are most definitely better than this [insert blank space here], because we don’t call our opponents in mainstream political parties ‘Nazis’. This is not unrelated to the fact that there is a considerable number of actual Nazis amidst the ranks of British nationalists as we have seen in George Square in Glasgow over the past few days and we need the word to refer to the British nationalist fascists who have been empowered and emboldened by the kind of language used by those of a more mainstream British nationalist persuasion.
Which leads us on to the second point. No, [insert blank space here], you are not better than this. British nationalism has a serious problem with the racists, sectarian bigots, homophobes, and out and out fascists who infest its ranks. The constant and unremitting SNPbaddery from the mainstream British nationalists has only fomented, fostered, and encouraged their extremist fringe. That much was proven by the response of British nationalists to [insert blank space here]’s tweet. They showed that no, they’re not better than this. They revel in it. They love it. They take huge pleasure from it. And let’s face it, it’s probably the only pleasure that they’ve got, what with British nationalism being the political manifestation of misery.
British nationalism has a sickness at its very heart. It’s a sickness that for far too long we have been discouraged from examining. British nationalism teaches us that it is normal for a country to doubt itself. It tells us that we are dependent and incapable, that we are risible, weak, and trivial. It tells us that we are infants who need to be looked after. It tells us that it’s normal to despise your own culture and languages. It tells us that it’s normal to allow bigots to parade down the streets of our towns and cities banging big drums and singing songs of hatred about a large minority of their fellow country men and women. It tells us that it’s not nationalism to believe in the British state, that being British is the standard by which all other nations are to be judged. Well it’s not bloody normal. None of this is normal. It’s a neurosis.
British nationalism blames the weak, the poor, the marginalised. It blames the poor for their poverty while the British establishment enriches the wealthy. It blames Scotland for problems that are visited upon it by the British state. It’s quick to take offence and it’s utterly shameless. Yet Scotland is better than this. It’s better than British nationalism. That’s the point that [insert blank space here] can’t bring himself to face up to.
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