Nationalism has a dark side, but it’s not so bad | Letters
Martin Kettle’s view of a Scottish independence referendum is distorted by his understandable suspicion of nationalism (Sturgeon is unlikely to get his 2023 referendum, but beware: the threat does not go away, the 1st July). As an English immigrant recently settled in Scotland, I can offer an alternative view. I moved here for many reasons, but one of them was that I was tired of living in England. For most of my adult life I had to endure various forms of Tory government due to a distorted electoral system and an increasingly ignorant English electorate.
I now have a chance to break with this plague, and I will not miss it. As a Social Democrat, I would like Scottish Labor or Scottish Liberal Democrats to support an independence referendum. If they had, I would have voted for them. Since they don’t, I have no choice but to vote SNP or Green (PR lets me vote for both here).
I am not the only one to vote this way and it has nothing to do with Scottish nationalism. If Scotland were to gain independence, I would immediately change my vote to non-nationalist social democratic parties. This is the possible irony of Scottish independence for the SNP: it could lead to its demise.
Barrhead, East Renfrewshire
Martin Kettle’s article takes it for granted that nationalism is a bad thing. Is it true? Norway is a thriving and stable social democracy. Should Norway still be in union with Sweden, which it left in 1905? Do Irish citizens yearn to be back in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (which itself only existed from 1801 to 1922)? Etc.
Nations evolve and change over time. If the people of a nation think that their current state cannot provide what they want and need, why shouldn’t they seek change? Yes, nationalism can have a dark side, but not all nationalism is bad.
Martin Kettle writes that “it may be common to see [Nicola] Sturgeon as essentially the moderate social democratic reformer she sometimes appears to be. But it’s wrong. She is in reality, and above all, a nationalist leader of a nationalist party”. I have lost count of how many times we have had to explain this to friends in England, deceived by the illusion of progressiveness created by the SNP.
Martin Kettle aptly describes the SNP’s scheme and where it could lead, but he does not consider the consequences of an SNP defeat in court or at the ballot box. He would lose his raison d’etre as a political force, paving the way for a realignment at Holyrood.
The demand for Scottish independence is a symptom of the huge democratic deficit in the UK as a whole, highlighted by the current government. Much therefore depends on Labour’s ability to deliver constitutional reforms that not only thwart the arguments for independence, but also appeal to voters in the UK who are tired of living under a centrally elected dictatorship.
I continue to be amazed at the tenacity of SNP supporters despite their party’s appallingly poor record (Letters, June 30). It’s blindingly obvious to everyone in Scotland that independence would be suicide, but they cling to the illusion of a glorious future free from the rots in Westminster, where we can continue to reclaim our hills, lochs and glens .
Education, NHS, justice, infrastructure, policing and society’s drug problems have been grossly mishandled by the SNP. The party refuses to take responsibility for these failures – it is all too easy to blame Westminster.
It should be noted that a slight majority of those who voted in Scotland in the General and Scottish Elections voted for Unionist parties. The inequity of the two forms of voting is all too evident, and we need our electoral systems to be overhauled.
Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway