Beyond a Politics of Resentment

481050_470841956301984_1914143826_nA new generation is emerging, arguing for Scottish independence on a radical, inclusive basis. Liam O’Hare, one of the organisers of the Farage protest is one of them. He guest blogs for Bella today…

Generally viewed as being on the opposite ends of the political spectrum, Nigel Farage and George Galloway are unlikely bedfellows. However, over the past few days, they have found themselves united by their brash and uninformed entrance into the debate over Scottish independence.

To begin with, Farage’s attempt to re-launch UKIP in Scotland was challenged by protesters from the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) who told him that his extreme anti-immigrant politics were not welcome in Scotland. This subsequently led to Farage calling the protest “Anti-English and decrying the “Ugly face of Scottish nationalism”. 1

Meanwhile, speaking to the Sunday Herald yesterday, George Galloway has chucked his oar in by warning Irish Catholics in Scotland of the recriminations for them in an independent Scotland.  According to the Respect MP, “there’s an historic crossover between Scottish nationalism and anti-Irish-Roman Catholicism” and has urged Scotland’s Catholics to be “careful what they wish for”. 2

These are either evidence of the total ignorance of Farage and Galloway or they are deliberate misrepresentations of the current political dynamic in Scotland.

Those who protested the UKIP leader did so, not because of where Mr Farage was born, but because UKIP are a party with a well-documented agenda of racism, homophobia, and sexism.   Indeed, their far-Right politics are largely alien in Scotland where there is a broad consensus around the need for more progressive policies on immigration. The scapegoating of immigrants for society’s problems, a line peddled by not only UKIP but all the Westminster parties, is challenged with a different narrative in Scotland. This was what we saw happen on the streets of Edinburgh last week.

Now, there is no doubt that anti-Irish racism is alive and well in Scotland, as I can personally testify to. In the wake of the Farage protest, after conducting several interviews for the broadcast and print media, I have received a barrage of abuse from online bigots. Most of the stick has centred upon the fact my name implies an obvious Irish heritage. Tweets along the along the lines of “Liam O’Hare started this protest in Edinburgh apparently. The name speaks volumes” and “Liam O’Hare. Wonder what his religious and political beliefs are #Scots/Irish bigot” have been numerous.

However, Galloway is frankly out of touch if he thinks it is Scottish nationalism which fuels this.

This anti-Irish sentiment on display is not the face of Scottish nationalism but of British nationalism – which is a damn sight uglier. It is British nationalism which has been used to drum up support for illegal wars and the expansionist, aggressive foreign policy of Britain. It is British nationalism which screams “British jobs for British workers” and says we need to leave the EU and shut the borders.  Indeed, it is British nationalism which provided the basis for the long oppression of the Irish by the British state. And, dare I say it, it is British nationalism which is on display at Ibrox Park every week when Rangers supporters wave the Union Jack and chant various diatribes about Roman Catholics.

It is the inherent racism of British nationalism, which has wreaked havoc across the world, which needs to be consigned to history if we want to rid Scotland of discrimination on ethnic and religious grounds. Bigotry may once have laced the SNP’s bloodstream but, despite the wholly ill-judged Offensive Behaviour Bill3, it has must be acknowledged that it has moved on leaps and bounds since then.

Furthermore, what Farage and Galloway, and indeed much of the mainstream media, fail to recognise is that an alternative case for Scottish independence has emerged. This is a case for a Yes vote in September 2014 that is not rested upon the Saltire, the kilt and old adages of Scottish nationalism. Instead, what Radical Independence is articulating is a vision for an internationalist, multicultural Scotland that seeks to eradicate inequality and become a force for progress in the world. A Scotland that welcomes immigrants, but does not welcome the deeply nasty and reactionary politics of Nigel Farage.

The distinctiveness of the political climate in Scotland is becoming more apparent with every passing day.  Indeed, politics in Westminster could almost be being conducted in an entirely different orbit. From austerity to trident and the European Union to immigration, the consensus in Scotland is for something altogether different than what the British Government has planned. The alarming rise of UKIP is merely indicative of this.

And the deeper this wedge is driven, the more likely it is that we will witness this political divide turning into a constitutional one. A Panelbase poll released today in the Sunday Times said that if the UK looked likely to withdraw from the EU, then support for independence would be equal with those opposed, at 44%.4 In amongst all the commotion of his visit to Scotland, perhaps what Nigel Farage did not realise is that it is an aversion to his type of politics that might tip the balance in the referendum next year.

It has always been clear that people will only vote for independence in 2014 if they think it will make a positive and fundamental difference to their lives. The rightward turn of politics in England, combined with the growing momentum of the RIC is making this outcome seem more and more likely.

A new generation is emerging, arguing for Scottish independence on a radical, inclusive basis. Not only are we leaving the dogmas of Farage and Galloway behind but, with any luck, we could soon be leaving the corrupt British system behind too.

1. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/05/17/nigel-farage-condemnns-scottish-nationalists-edinburgh_n_3291112.html

2. http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/political-news/galloway-attacked-for-snp-catholic-slur.21116305

3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-22041832

4. http://news.stv.tv/politics/218797-yes-campaign-narrowing-poll-gap-in-independence-referendum-battle/

Comments (48)

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  1. megz says:

    These are either evidence of the total ignorance of Farage and Galloway or they are deliberate misrepresentations of the current political dynamic in Scotland.

    it is the latter, its all very deliberate and you hit the nail on the head by saying that it isn’t Scottish nationalism but British nationalism at work when discussing anti-Irish catholic hatred. Galloway knows exactly what he is doing and he know that what he says will resonate with some because sectarianism has been Scotland’s shame for a long time.

    1. megz says:

      and when i say that i mean I see sectarianism as a divide and rule tactic that is caused by fear of Irish nationalism threatening Scotland’s place within the UK while ensuring Scotland remains divided on political/religious lines to maintain that place

      1. Danny McGoo says:

        I grew up in Glasgow and was left with an overwelming sense that through prejudice was a two way street there was a great deal more traffic going one way than the other. Responsibility for sectarianism in Scotland lies mainly with the Catholic preisthood – pre-school children being taken behind closed doors. Give me a child till it is seven and I will give you a ‘victim’ for life.

  2. picpac67 says:

    Amen to that. To paraphrase a well-known saying: What does it profit a nation to gain its whole world (independence) and suffer the loss of its soul?

  3. Tom Webster says:

    What unites Galloway and Farage is an sensationalist self-interestedness which is willing to twist any situation to their preformed thesis regardless of and despite the actual empirical evidence. As an Englishman having lived here for more than fifteen years I have always found a default of inclusiveness within the work for devolution and independence completely contrary to English or British nationalism. It is to the shame of the Herald that they gave Galloway the space for his idiocy. In discussions about independence I have never had my place of birth raised as a supposed argument about my licence to contribute or vote.

    1. Sunshine on Crieff says:

      ” In discussions about independence I have never had my place of birth raised as a supposed argument about my licence to contribute or vote.”

      I have, by people who oppose independence.

    2. Dean Richardson says:

      I’ll take you up on one point. There are quite a few people here in England who are trying to build a positive, inclusive civic English nationalism, but it’s the Brit nats who do everything to prevent that. You’ll find those who wave the English flag and will tell you that you can only be English if you are white and your family’s been here several generations (certainly since before England saw large-scale non-white immigration), but, when all is said and done, they’re Brit nats, because they would view the break up of the ‘Union’ with horror. Personally, I want England to be a sovereign state that has a far mature and pleasant relationship with the neighbours than the political ‘union’ will ever allow.

  4. Paul says:

    I don’t usually comment but I felt compelled to here. I find this argument rather simplistic and negligent of balance. I do understand that it’s not nice to have bigotry thrown your way, and it’s a deplorable act. However, you’re essentially arguing that people are stereotyping you because of you Irish sounding name, but ironically, you then go onto stereotype Rangers supporters as ‘British nationalists’ because they fly the Union flag. You tarnish Rangers supporters with the same brush as those who argue for ‘British job for British workers’. Don’t you see the irony of that? You fail to differentiate between the British Nationalism of the BNP and the British Unionism of say, Ulster Unionists, or indeed of British Loyalism. It’s British Loyalism that is a feature at Rangers games, not British Nationalism. Finally, have you ever seen the inside of Celtic Park during a game? Irish tricolors everywhere, and anti-British chants. So if you’re going to stereotype all Rangers supporters as anti-Catholic (which is exactly what you did), the don’t forget to mention that all Celtic fans are anti-Protestant (nobody in their right mind would argue that, but yet you argued it about Rangers fans). That’s only a snippet of what is wrong with this extremely imbalanced, ignorant and simplistic piece. But if we’re going to have a progressive future in Scotland, then your views are welcome and mine are too (unless you do the undemocratic thing and filter out my critical comments).

    1. Domhnall says:

      What is the difference between British Loyalism and British Nationalism? To me they look and sound the same. Please can someone explain this to me?

    2. Kevin says:

      I would argue that British loyalism and British nationalism are one and the same: a blind support for the actions of the British state. It promotes an attitude to the state that neuters any rational response to its crimes.

    3. Sandy says:

      i don`t do religion and i don`t do football and i agree i get dismayed at the Irish tri colour being displayed especially at international games but i am equally bewildered at Rangers supporter waving the English flag.Why?
      Ashamed of the Saltire?

      1. Dean Richardson says:

        You mean you’ve seen St George’s cross at Ibrox? When? When they’ve played Berwick or a pre-season against a club from the English leagues?

    4. barry says:

      You argue that the original article is simplistic and then make some of the naivest arguments i ever read. The icing on the cake is when you invoke Ulster Unionists as the ideal British ‘Nationalism/Unionism’. (I will assume that no-one is giving credibility to your stance on British loyalism). The Ulster Unionists ran one of the most right wing sectarian regimes ever known in Europe for 60 years, then moved further to the right once the Irish demanded civil rights – yes – civil rights. What you don’t grasp is that there is no difference between the far-right in Northern Ireland and the far-right in England (except possibly the far-right in Northern Ireland invokes religion for political cover). However, British society has never seen a need to challenge far-right activity in Ireland because it is pro-British – a friend of sorts. So, don’t assume that their policies are some how more acceptable because the media in this country doesn’t challenge them.

  5. Charles Patrick O'Brien says:

    Aye I might have the right name to comment, but never understood bigotry, it just cuts out a large sector of society where I might find the best friend ever.

  6. pmcrek says:

    Segragating children in Scotland based on whether their parents believe in transubstantiation (although I doubt many know what it is), is just about the most bizarre thing that happens in modern Scotland.

    It boggles the mind how parochial and inward looking those who support religious schools and segregating children are. If you wish to teach your children about religion be my guest, just dont do it with public money and during school hours.

    I say this as someone who resents all of the 12 odd years I spent segregated in Catholic schools, as though there was something wrong or different about us.

    1. Charles Patrick O'Brien says:

      I can tell you that Catholic schools don’t just exist in Scotland, but all over the world,but it is only here that they get a bad press, plenty religious schools in England, Australia, the USA, and people there line up, even non religious people to send their children to them, oh and I only spent 10 years in school.All with Saint in their names.

    2. Louis says:

      Quite right old boy, non – denominational schools is the way forward

  7. Paul Buchan says:

    Paul:
    “So if you’re going to stereotype all Rangers supporters as anti-Catholic (which is exactly what you did)…”

    I don’t think he did: he never claimed that all Rangers supporters take part in this, nor did he deny that sectarianism and nationalism takes other forms (e.g. with Celtic) – it was simply an example of one kind of close-minded nationalism that can be frequently come across. I think his point was the underlying current of British nationalism that spreads into a lot of areas in our society. It’s not just the BNP who argue for “British jobs for British workers”: Gordon Brown said it. All these types of nationalism or bigotry (loyalism, unionism, anti-Irish comments, etc.) are to be juxtaposed with RIC’s inclusiveness.

    In response to the article itself:
    “what Radical Independence is articulating is a vision for an internationalist, multicultural Scotland that seeks to eradicate inequality and become a force for progress in the world.”
    I don’t think this is as new or unique as the author seems to suggest: after all, this description could very well fit the SNP’s vision for an independent Scotland.

    1. Paul says:

      Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. Either way, care has to be taken when speaking about such sensitive issues, especially when articulating a polemic and not acknowledging that both sides are as bad as one another (growing up in NI, I’ve experienced that both sides of the religious divide are equally as bitter and ignorant).

      1. bellacaledonia says:

        When you say “not acknowledging that both sides are as bad as one another” – that’s an assertion not a fact – and one that many people would dispute. We’re not in Northern Ireland.

        1. Paul says:

          Well, if the bigotry displayed by a minority Protestants and a minority of Catholics isn’t equally bitter and ignorant, then what is it? Are you suggesting that some people have grounds for believing that bigotry from one side is worse than the bigotry from the other side? I sincerely hope not! And, did I at any point state that we’re not talking about Scotland rather than Northern Ireland? I’d appreciate if you could clear those two questions up for me…

        2. Paul says:

          *Edited* Well, if the bigotry displayed by a minority of Protestants and a minority of Catholics isn’t equally bitter and ignorant, then what is it? Are you suggesting that some people have grounds for believing that bigotry from one side is worse than the bigotry from the other side? I sincerely hope not! And, did I at any point state that we’re not talking about Scotland? I’d appreciate if you could clear those two questions up for me…

    2. bellacaledonia says:

      Hi – of course bigotry or racism is as bad wherever it comes from, that’s not what I was arguing – I’m arguing against the assumption / presumption that ‘one side is as bad as the other’ in terms of scale, impact, violence or intensity. It’s clearly not.

      There is and was no systematic persecution of protestants, there is and was no organisation aimed at harassing or intimidating catholic communities and there is and was no enshrined constitutional laws based against protestants as there is against catholics.

      I say this as someone of no religion.

      1. andyshall says:

        There is and has on the other hand organised homophobia, sexism and religious bigotry expressed by a man now exposed as a sex abuser.

  8. Lord and Lady Saughton says:

    It’s a familiar loyalist tactic to blame segregated schools – so I seriously doubt you’ve been there yourself my friend. Many Catholic schools exist in many other countries and pass off without comments like yours.

  9. Danny McGoo says:

    Joint campases are a repugnance to any level minded person. A school building with a seperate entrance, playground time, dinning and toilet block for Catholic 5 year olds from eveyone else. However, what must be remembered is that it is only symbolic. In actual fact it wont give them an extra day. They’r slowly assimilating and will eventually forget themselves. It is in fact an act of desperation.

    1. Danny McGoo says:

      Seperate educational arrangements do not cause sectarianism and its removal will not eradicate it. Seperatation at school is irrelevant. It’s an empty symbol that one day will die of natural causes.

  10. florian albert says:

    Despite talk of a ‘new generation’ of activists, the left in Scotland has very little support and shows almost no sign of gaining much more. In the 2010 General Election, UKIP – overwhelmingly a party of the English middle-class – got more votes than the four socialist parties combined. Even the BNP outvoted each of the four. This in the midst of the biggest crisis for capitalism for nearly 80 years. Ordinary Scots are concerned about immigration acting to depress wages further at a time of austerity. (Try running an election campaign on a platform of support for immigration and see what happens) Stunts like the ambush of Nigel Farage do not compensate for a lack of working class support. The Radical Independence movement was delighted with 300 people at a conference earlier this year. As I stated at the time, it was half the crowd at the Queen of the South game on the same day. Some of the left are confusing getting on the TV news with increased political importance.

    1. barry says:

      But surely you must understand that the radical left is not going to become some kind of populist group who throws out any reactionary policy to suit an election campaign – what would be the point of being a radical alternative? You say that we should essentially blame immigrants for existing during an economic crisis and not focus on who is causing the crisis…If we went back in history 80 years and we were talking in Germany, the Right of the time would be saying ‘all of our economic problems are being caused by the immigrants and the Jews’ to which you would say, ‘this is an acceptable position because most of the workers believe it’. Secondly, the coverage has caused you to come here and comment, so the left is on the agenda and of political importance.

  11. Ged Mitchell says:

    I was born a Catholic, brought up as one, was an altar boy and wanted, as a boy, to be a monk which is probably why I am a confirmed atheist. I’m saying this because I want to make it clear that I hold no religious views or even want to take sides in bigotry. What I do want to correct is the view that all Rangers supporters are confirmed loyalists and would vote no. That is not the case. I personally know quite a few Rangers supporters who are going to vote YES because they want independence. They have told me that there are more of them than we, non-Ranger’s supporters, realise. BTW, I’m a DUFC supporter.
    I would also point out that I know Catholics who are Rangers supporters and protestants who are Celtic supporters.
    Also there were anti-protestant laws laws in Scotland (when Scotland was a Catholic country) and the protestants were persecuted. This is the sad thing about holding religious views; it’s weird. We have 3 major religions, on the small planet, who all believe in the one God but call him/her/it by different names and still we kill each other in the name of this God. Sad.
    I say good luck to Rangers and Celtic because Scotland needs BOTH these major teams to do well. There are staunch bigots on both sides. Hopefully they will, one day, come to their senses.

  12. Danny McGoo says:

    Geb – don’t forget the Buddhists. They dn’t believe in God and don’t go to war in the name of religion!

  13. annie says:

    Hmm, not quite true, Danny McGoo

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22356306

    Amazing what American spin can achieve globally.

  14. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Lots of misconceptions here. There was 800 people at the RIC Conference(paying £10 per head) in their first such venture. There are more people at QOS games than there are at most party conferences so I don’t know the point being made.
    Scotland had a long history of anti Catholic bigotry, though in fact is was as much historical,social and political as religious and was in major part anti Irishism. This is an hitorical relic of English interference in the affairs of its two small neighbours. The incidence of aggressive behaviour on bigoted grounds still is about 7 to 1 against Catholics though this in some part represents the numerical difference between Catholics and non Catholics in Scotland . This has little to do with religion per se but is a form of tribalism. Catholic schools are not a cause of sectarianism (as several people have pointed out )and religious schools operate all over the world without causing sectarianism. I was for years a Catholic teacher in a Catholic school in Lanarkshire and my feet wouldn’t have touched the floor had I introduced any segregation nonsense into the school. Sectarianism is a community,family thing. The argument that doing away with Catholic schools will help defeat bigotry and sectartianism that already exists is a different argument but there is no evidence that would support that. I have lived in two communities in which all children went to the same non denominational schools and we still had battles in the streets after Old Firm matches.
    There is of course nasty bigotry evident in the “catholic” community as well but this mostly has defensive roots. The Catholics of my father’s generation kept their heads down and said nothing in the face of bigotry. Todays generation don’t do that
    Scotland should hold its hands up to historical anti Catholic/Irish intolerance which was always more of a feature in those areas of Scotland where there was large scale Irish immigration which put pressure on the jobs market in times of depression for instance. And then we should move on.
    Bigotry has never affected me or my big extended Catholic family. We wouldn’t allow it to affect us. Playing the religious card is the last refuge of scoundrels who are in panic about the union.
    But history and race memory make this still a very effective card for the unionists to play in some sections of the community

  15. Dave Coull says:

    My son was born in London, lived in England until he was a teenager, speaks with a noticably English accent, and campaigns for independence for Scotland in his noticably English accent. The only people who ever questioned his right to have an opinion on the independence of the country he lives in were Unionists!

  16. annie says:

    “… to historical anti Catholic/Irish intolerance which was always more of a feature in those areas of Scotland where there was large scale Irish immigration which put pressure on the jobs market in times of depression for instance.”

    Yes, and was encouraged and condoned by the establishment in an effort to divide and rule the working classes, enabling them to create a distraction from the real enemy of the people – the profiteering capitalists.

    George Galloway should think black burning shame of himself in trying to up the anti on this old chestnut.

    1. Louis says:

      Yes well said Annie. If only the huddled masses realized that they are being used as political pawns in the never ending divide and rule strategy.

  17. Jello Biafra says:

    An Irishman organizing a racist rally/attack. F*ck me!! wonders will never cease!!

  18. Phil K says:

    And Ged – CORRECT. I live other side of border, and we Geordies have always got on well with Scots – thats changing, Ive seen. As for Proddies supporting Celtic – I can confirm that. My own family, one branch are Presbyterians and loyal Celtic fans. Never known it the other way though. Never EVER known a catholic support Rangers, apart from Patsy Kensit who supported them because her boyfriend played for them. And she couldn’t give a toss about religion – as it SHOULD be.

  19. stephanie says:

    Liam I think to state the bigotry is one sided is bigotted itself. There is a hatred of the uk in scotland and if you were to state that none of it stems from irish republicanisim you would be misrepresnting the truth. I’m sorry I have been racialy attacked by celtic supporters on more than the odd occasion and I’m neither protestant or a loyalist. I do support certain ukip policies and I am against a yes vote based on economics and being british! I don’t see why I should be demonised for this. And unlike many yes voters I base my distrust of independence on monetary and fiscal grounds and its understanding. Many irish people are currently suffering from being in the eu and if the eu were to get there way they would suffer more. Scotland has a strong economic history based on being part of the uk, if that makes me a racist I suspect you have either little understanding of the term or you are the racist and facist you so verbally attack.

  20. HerewardAwake! says:

    I put my foot down into something very smelly recently and it turned out to have ‘Bella Caledonia’ smeared all over it. If this is the voice of the new Scotland then heaven help it! Prejudice and rant everywhere. As an Anglo-Scot I can’t change the many abuses of the past – on all sides – but am proud of the united achievements of our tiny island mixture of nationalities and races and am very concerned about our future. Get a grip, Scotland, before you vanish up the orifice of your own vanity and prejudice!

    1. Will McEwan says:

      What rubbish. An article devoid of prejudice and rant is described as an article full of prejudice and rant.

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