aef11df0-089e-41e5-a4fe-24056d19fa8bThere is a theory going around that, despite a few superficial differences, the SNP and UKIP actually have a lot in common; that Scottish nationalists and English eurosceptics share the same small-minded, separatist view of the world.

Times columnist David Aaronovitch is a proponent (“[Alex Salmond and Nigel Farage] are hard little peas from the same inedible pod”). As is The Spectator’s Sebastian Payne (“two parties … now deploying the same [xenophobic] tactics”). Even Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson seems to buy into it (“In terms of anti-Westminster rhetoric and using that for political ends, I think there is a similarity there”).

But the theory suffers from one pretty substantial flaw: namely, an absence of ‘facts’ and ‘supporting evidence’.

Let’s look, first of all, at where the SNP and UKIP stand in relation to a number of key policy areas.

The SNP wants more immigration; UKIP wants less. The SNP opposes the Coalition Government’s welfare reforms; UKIP wants to extend them by abolishing Jobseekers Allowance and Incapacity Benefit. The SNP is against the construction of new nuclear power stations; UKIP wants nuclear power to produce half the UK’s energy. The SNP wants to cut defence spending and scrap Trident; UKIP wants to increase defence expenditure by 40 per cent and build four new nuclear-armed submarines. The SNP supports a minimum 45p top rate of tax; UKIP wants to merge income tax and national insurance into a single 31 per cent flat rate. The SNP supports an independent Scottish constitution which guarantees a clear set of civil and social rights for all Scottish citizens; UKIP wants to scrap the Human Rights Act. The SNP says Scotland should leave the UK but remain part of the EU; UKIP says Scotland should remain part of the UK but leave the EU.

I could go on. I could add, for instance, that while Nicola Sturgeon was guiding same-sex marriage legislation through the Scottish Parliament, Nigel Farage was slithering about on gay rights. Or that, in contrast to John Swinney’s call for a capital stimulus after the financial crisis, Farage has loudly championed all sorts of austerity cuts.

But I think I’ve made my point. In policy terms, the SNP and UKIP are two very different parties with two very different programmes and two very different visions.

This is, however, only part of the argument. The other part (the main part, in fact) is that the SNP’s independence campaign and UKIP’s anti-EU campaign operate according to the same basic logic – a logic which runs something like this: ‘If only the Scots / the Brits could rid themselves of Westminster / Brussels, then Scotland / Britain would be so much better off’. (If you want the more sinister version, replace ‘Westminster’ with ‘the English’ and ‘Brussels’ with ‘Europeans and immigrants’.)

David Aaronovitch calls this ‘Outopia’: the dream that separation from a larger neighbour will make everything “good and bonny and blithe and gay”.

But this, too, lands well wide of the mark.

Brussels does not exercise the same influence over Britain that Westminster exercises over Scotland.

Although, of course, the European Single Market and EU competition law have a significant bearing on the way the UK economy operates, Britain still runs its own fiscal and monetary regimes and determines much of its own internal regulatory system. (Contrary to UKIP propaganda, House of Commons analysis shows that 86 per cent of all UK regulations initiated between 1997 and 2009 were initiated at Westminster.) By contrast, the Scottish Parliament’s financial powers are extremely limited and, even if the most radical of the unionist parties’ devolution proposals were implemented, Westminster would still control most of Scotland’s main economic assets, not least North Sea oil.

Moreover, it is impossible to imagine a situation in which Britain’s defence, foreign affairs and welfare policies were decided at the European level. Yet Scottish attempts to establish autonomy in these areas are dismissed by Aaronovitch and others as parochial and isolationist.

So the EU and the UK are not the same kinds of union. The former is looser and imposes fewer restrictions on the sovereignty of its constituent members (those outside the Eurozone, at any rate), while the latter remains far too heavily centralised.

And here the SNP – UKIP parallels collapse.

Where UKIP intends to reduce Britain’s relationship with the EU to an almost purely economic level and seal Britain off from those keen to build a life here, the SNP hopes to maintain the social and cultural – as well as some of the political and economic – institutions that currently bind Scotland to the UK.

As David Torrance argues, there is a strong unionist streak in the SNP’s nationalism. If the SNP was truly ‘Outopian’ – if it really believed that the English, as opposed to elements of the Westminster political structure, were holding Scotland back – wouldn’t it campaign for a conclusive and irrevocable break with England, rather than the essentially confederal arrangement outlined in the White Paper?

Then again, perhaps Aaronovitch has a point. If you remove core principles, policies and rhetoric from the equation, it does become increasingly difficult to tell UKIP and the SNP apart.

Comments (84)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published.

  1. macgilleleabhar says:

    Aye Jamie jist like a craw but white.
    The closest to the SNP is the Green Party in Scotland along with Plaid in Wales those being the main left of center parties in the UK whereas the Westminster parties are right of center with hardly any policy differences evident to a layman.
    I believe that is of their own making due to FTP and the nostalgia that is trapping them in a bygone age.

    1. “Jist like a craw but white” – I like that remark. Excellent!

  2. Auld Rock says:

    The trouble with some elements of the ‘unionist right wing press, particularly the Mail, Express and Torygraph, is that they collectively seem to be unable or more likely unwilling to differentiate Scottish Nationalism and its total dislike of Westminster and all it stands for and try and spread the lie that Scottish Nationalism is about dislike of the English as a people. This as we know is a complete load of tosh as there are a great number of English born and of English descent members of the SNP, many of them in senior positions within the Party. They almost remind me of the ‘Anglo Irish’ where many of them were more Irish Nationalists than the native Irish.

    Auld Rock

    1. tartanzen says:

      The article is about the SNP and UKIP. You can’t just expand the SNP side of that to all nationalists! You need to bear in mind that there are plenty of nationalists in Scotland who are not affiliated with the SNP… SNP does not equal Nationalist and vice versa.

  3. Douglas says:

    So, David Aaranovitch, one of the main media spokesmen for the illegal and catastrophic Iraq War is now trying to smear the movement for Scottish independence with comparisons to the racist, xenophobic and extremist UKIP.

    Really no surprise at all, but let’s call it for what it is, a deliberate and very tawdry attempt to smear the democratic movement for Scottish independence by a journalist who writes for the Jewish Chronicle, and consequently, somebody who should no better than to play cheap politics over the serious threat posed by UKIP to interracial harmony in the UK.

    So many of these vastly overrated, self-important Oxford Boys like David Aaranovitch, after flirting with Marx and Communism in their youth, end up on the right, and Aaranovitch is one of these, Hitchens was another.

    On the other hand, almost nobody read him in Scotland anyway.

    So bang on David, naebody is listening anyway, and why would they in England either after you made such a wrong call on Iraq?

    1. gonzalo1 says:

      I loved when Hitchens took Galloway apart though. An intellectual thoroughbred against a donkey.

  4. Andrew Skea says:

    But we could also look at the similarities:
    1) If things are wrong – blame your neighbour.
    2) If you don’t get the policy you want – blame your neighbour
    3) We could all be much happier – if it were not for our nasty neighbour
    4) We could all be much richer – if it were not for our greedy / lazy neighbour
    5) Our neighbours problems are of no concern to us
    6) Independence is everything
    7) Shared sovereignty makes us slaves
    8) We are morally superior so we don’t want dragged down by our neighbours
    9) Tax avoidance, fraud, cheating does not happen here – only our neighbours do these things.
    10) We are concerned about health and education – our neighbours don’t care about these things.

    1. Douglas says:

      Yes, yes, yes, carry on with your slogans, by all means, get it off your chest…

      We are not “blaming” anybody, we are seeking to remedy a democratic deficit which means that we have never had the social democratic government we have been voting for, for at least three decades.

      And we are perfectly entitled to blame Westminster and the London establishment for such outlandish and atypical things as a) The War in Iraq B) Trident C) The tidal wave of xenephobia coming from UKIP and the London press D) The House of Lords E) A sectarian British state which bans Catholics from the throne.

      There is nothing like that combination anywhere else in Europe. It is Britain which is the weirdo neigbour in Europe,just ask any European….

      We aspire to normalcy, that’s right, to be just another modest, discreet, respectful medium sized European country, and just think, you get rid of the “whinging Jocks” into the bargain, so YES YES is WIN WIN for one and all.

    2. A sure sign of the morally bankrupt is a person who posts a diatribe of fabrications, flaky asserytions and phony ideals no independence supporter has ever uttered nor would ever put into print.

      Watching the literary contortions meant to seduce is akin to a pole dancer claiming she’s a modest girl.

    3. Susan Fraser says:

      It’s not about blaming neighbours, it’s about wanting to make different choices to the choices that those neighbours make. I always tell people that the reason for independence is because it is different in Scotland, the people here want to do things in a different way than it is done in the overall UK, and we should get the chance to do it the way we want, rather than the way that other people, that we haven’t voted for but get anyway, want to do it.

  5. thisgreenworld says:

    UKIP and the Scottish Independence movement(s) may be responding to similar anxieties about loss of society and resentment at politicians who enabled the destruction of the national glue that held the UK together (thanks M Thatcher, T Blair and most who followed) and to wider forces such as globalisation and climate change. But the responses could hardly be more different…

    UKIP seem to be mostly a cry of loss, expressing as a collective selfishness and small-minded responses to anxiety, what could be called a ‘neurotic’ response to the fear of and impacts of change – a retrenchment into the mythic past and a blame of outsiders.
    What we have in Scotland though is a powerful and joyous arising of peoples of all political persuasions joining in discussions about what their society could be, how it could be made whole, how we ALL could benefit. A more ‘healthy’ response to change is to recognise it is real, that it hurts, but we are agents of our own future and we can choose our own paths.

    There are many different coloured flags behind independence, and regardless of the outcome in September, Scotland’s peoples have found their vim & voice; and will continue clamouring for a fairer and more equitable society, arranged to suit the many not the few.

    The goal is not to win a referendum, but to rebuild society for the people in it, not the ones who take out value. There are definitely two opposing visions of the future – one arid and negative, one welcoming and participative.

    1. Douglas says:

      I don’t accept any parallels between the independence movement and the UKIP at all, not a single one. The only valid comparison for UKIP would be the National Front in France and Golden Dawn in Greece.

      The movement for Scottish independence has been building for 100 years and more. It is an end in itself and it is not a movement AGAINST anybody, it is not a “protest vote” of some kind, it is about restoring a fully sovereign parliament which we had before so the people of Scotland can decide things for themselves.

      1. You know, Douglas, I see no reason to defend the SNP’s long march to a plebiscite against a rag bag of BNP and EDL refugees clinging to a weak leader in order to teach Johnny Foreigner British is best.

        Soon as you engage them they respond as if you are a foreigner, not yet of their kind.

        The Aaronovitches of this world are small yapping dogs tied to lamposts that we have to pass on the side walk to reach our destination.

    2. Andrew Skea says:

      My observation is that every nationalist movements views itself as “a powerful and joyous arising of peoples of all political persuasions joining in discussions about what their society could be, how it could be made whole, how we ALL could benefit”

      While by contrast others view the same nationalist movement as “cry of loss, expressing as a collective selfishness and small-minded responses to anxiety, what could be called a ‘neurotic’ response to the fear of and impacts of change – a retrenchment into the mythic past and a blame of outsiders”

      As Burns wrote:
      O wad some Power the giftie gie us
      To see oursels as ithers see us!
      It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
      An’ foolish notion:
      What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
      An’ ev’n devotion!

      1. Douglas says:

        But obviously, Burns, like so many poets, is completely misunderstood and misquoted by people like yourself who probably never read him seriously.

        The quote you mention is an attack on the moralizing, self important people who sit at the front of the Kirk and who take themselves so seriously – the poem was prompted by the louse Burns had spotted creeping over the hat of a rich woman in the “good seats” of the church.

        Which could easily be extended to the the darlings and lovies of the London media, like David Aarnovitch, and their friends at Westminster, not to mention all of the bugs that must feast on the ermine and periwig of the House of Lords, all those vastly overrated mediocrities who enjoy privilege and power on account of an accident of birth.

        Any fair-minded democrat can see the virtues of Scottish independence, because if independence for Scotland itself were not enough on its own for some, then a mere reminder that it also means independence from THAT, the Westminster racket, is sufficient to persuade most….

      2. Andrew Skea says:

        I’m intrigued by your right to moralise and judge upon my use of Burns. Why does the excessive moralising in your eyes apply only to those in London / Westminster but not to those on your side? Nationalism has been the source of much conflict for hundreds of year – we all need to stop, take a step back, and “To see oursels as ithers see us!” – then hopefully to see that we are actually more similar than different, we have more in common than in conflict, we maybe want to devolve certain aspects of government, and we maybe want to share certain aspects of government, but we don’t want to build arbitrary borders, and we definitely don’t want to define people without their permission.

      3. tartanfever says:

        ‘we maybe want to devolve certain aspects of government,’

        who is ‘we’ ? (It’s certainly not the people of Scotland who get to decide this)

    3. TartanZen says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more thisgreenworld.

      To refuse the parallel between the appeal of UKIP and the SNP is to refuse the very nature of people and the short list of things that really matter to them.

      Some people (Douglas) however seem to be construing your comments as suggesting there are parallels between the policies and intentions of UKIP and the SNP which is ridiculous. At no point does your comment suggest this at all.

      1. thisgreenworld says:

        thank you…I thought that I was saying they were the complete opposite of each other, and also comparing the narrow UKIP versus the broad up-risings in Scotland!

  6. tartanzen says:

    The problem with this subject is that it is akin to someone suggesting that an apple is an orange and someone else replying that they are in fact different. It doesn’t make any difference to anyone who cares about the real issues of Scottish Independence and membership of the EU.

    Not at any point do we hear/read any discussion about what it really means to be in or out of Europe. Neither are we treated to a proper grown-up discussion of currency options (UK sticks it’s fingers in it’s ears and shouts “No currency union blah blah blah” … SNP does likewise but saying “We will have a currency union blah blah blah”).

    On the currency point for instance, I have yet to hear from any political party (except the SSP which severely lacked an explanation or detail) about the option of having our own currency and pegging it to another.

    All discussions by the SNP and their supporters also seem to lack any mention of how badly the Euro currency union has fared for those countries with weaker economies (e.g. Greece and Spain). What we are treated to instead is an extremely glib statement that many currency unions have prospered in the past (apparently we’re too stupid to realise that they were all wildly different from each other in operation and circumstances). This statement of course conveniently forgets the present currency union that we have been in for 300 years that has served us so badly.

    With regards to being in the EU, there is no discussion or information from the SNP as to what that entails.

    Take for instance our postal system. On one hand we have the SNP telling us that they will re-nationalise it. On the other hand we have the Third Postal Directive as part of the Acquis Communautaire which states that all postal services in member states must be opened up to competition (i.e. we can’t nationalise ours if we are a member of the EU). The only exceptions to have been granted to this are temporal.

    Read the following link to see how the EU views our postal services not as a social or cultural asset but as a cash cow for private business.

    More worrying than the postal situation however is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership currently being negotiated in secret with the USA. See the following link for a wealth of information, some of which is shocking to say the least.

    There is also the small matter of the European Court of Justice which has legal jurisdiction over national state law in many instances. Fine if you agree with their decisions but what if you disagree and what if your national law is contrary to that of the EU?

    If the EU is such a utopia of fairness and socialist policy, why would we not be treated to some details of the benefits available to us from remaining in it or not, as opposed to the usually popular one-liners like “because Fishing!” or “because Immigration!”. There are many in Europe who make the same claim of a democratic deficit as we hear daily in the UK. The recent handling of TTIP can only serve to reinforce this and indeed the EU has many citizens that believe it needs to be democratised. As everywhere, the current primary struggle at the EU is not between countries, it is between national and corporate interests.

    Personally, i’m a nailed-on Yes voter and I tentatively believe we should be in the EU. My EU position is only because I see a lot of good in the EU that needs help and I believe Scotland would provide that (that does not mean I believe the SNP would be the party to provide it!). Membership of the EU has many downsides and many upsides. I believe that the people of Scotland should have a referendum after a Yes vote to decide whether we should be in the EU or not. It seems to me that many people think that the SNP have a mandate to agree anything they like after independence. I voted for them for one single purpose… to have a referendum on Independence. Anything following a Yes vote should be put out to public consultation and referenda on the most important matters.

    1. cirsium says:

      thank you, tartanzen, for bringing up the frightening Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. I regard this as an attack on democracy in Europe and it worries me that there is so little discussion/information about the consequences. I agree with you that “the people of Scotland should have a referendum after a Yes vote to decide whether we should be in the EU or not.”

      1. TartanZen says:

        You’re very welcome 🙂

        On TTIP… there’s only one thing to say really… companies suing countries. Yes, this is the ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) that they are trying to include. It it supposed to be something you only use in the worst circumstances in free trade agreements i.e. trading with a country that has a non-impartial judiciary and/or government. Yet it is being included in a treaty between the US and EU!

        ISDS is already being used in other countries as a part of free trade agreements. There are mining companies suing governments for keeping them out of protected areas, a nuclear power company suing Germany for it’s anti-atomic power policy and Philip Morris (yes, the tobacco company) are suing Australia!

        Not to mention the whole idea seems to be to create a single market encompassing the USA and Europe.

        They also want to remove “trade barriers” which would conveniently allow such products into Europe as those made from chlorine washed chicken (currently banned in the EU but common practice in the USA).

  7. Abulhaq says:

    The UK has reached its Austria-Hungary moment. Some just don’t recognise the fact. Simon Schama in the FT bewails the end of the wonderful amorphous “mess” called the UK. A romantic tale of Scots selling their birthright for England’s glory. Oh dear! we are such a collection of ingrates. He, of course, leaves out that for most of the Union there was, and still is it seems, an anti-Scottish subtext which we are to accept with good grace. Condescendingly, demeaningly comparing our democratic national aspirations to that of a collection of home counties reactionaries is in tune with that. Aaronovitch is just one of a splenetic bunch whose opinions simply add weight to our cause. They can keep their British “values”.

    1. Andrew Skea says:

      Maybe we all need to stop claiming ownership of values. The values we all refer to are largely the same – some call them British values, some call them Scottish values, most of them are also often referred to as Christian values, and no doubt they are also claimed by many others.

      It is up to any individual to define themselves and try to work out where their values have come from. But nobody has the right to denigrate the source of another person’s values – freedom of religion / belief is fairly well accepted – Nationalism appears not to tolerate other people’s beliefs / identity.

      1. TartanZen says:

        Well put Andrew… well put

      2. Abulhaq says:

        The “values” to which I refer are given good account in the predatory history of the British empire. Britishness with its arrogance in assuming moral/ethical superiority over others is what is so often made manifest regarding our case, not to mention latter-day foreign policy posturing.

      3. You have no idea what it is you are arguing about. Nor have you.

        You also have no shame taking a verse from Scotland’s national bard to fling in a people’s face as if it was written to suit your prejudices.

      4. Clootie says:

        “…nationalism appears not to tolerate other people’s beliefs / identity”

        What utter nonsense. The term nationalism is vague and wide ranging. The independence movement in Scotland is an inclusive socially just society concept. Your. Comment is little better than the gutter language of Aaronovitch.

        What evidence do you have. I suspect none when you seek refuge in the classic “appears” escape clause.

      5. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

        Have you seen the Dan Snow program on the British East India Company? Fascinating account of the privateering, entrepreneurial and buccaneering spirit Britain is uniquely claimed to be about. Of course its shot through with skullduggery, deceit, collaborationism, violence, double-dealing, divide and rule, treachery, clientism and the rest. All so redolent of Scotland’s relationship with the British state. These gung-ho, rapacious values are ones we are supposed to find so desirable that we would be mad to opt for democratic sovereignty.

  8. tog says:

    Good piece but it is more an emphasis of the differences between the two. The similarities are as striking as the differences. Both owe their current popularity to a charismatic and slightly maverick leader, both have filled a gap created by the failures of the mainstream parties, both are populist parties who have filled a gap one admittedly on the right the other on the left and their current popularity is despite not because of their commitment to independence either from Europe or the UK. The biggest difference is one is an established mature party so inevitably more mainstream the other is closer to its origins as a single issue campaign but is on a journey to the mainstream. It is clear the two leaders admire each other and while not peas from the same pod are similar and each will use the success of the other to further their own cause

  9. Douglas says:

    Andrew Skea, your Burns probably comes from a quote on the back of a shortbread tin you bought at the airport, read the whole poem, read Burns properly and then we will talk.

    “To see ourselves as other see us” is one of the most misunderstood lines in world literature.

    Burns is talking about the powerful in society giving themselves airs and graces, making all they can over social status and class when the louse does not discriminate between prince and pauper when it comes to sucking blood and getting its meal, and that is why it is particularly apt to use against the Bullingdon Club, The House of Lords, the British Establishment and David “I got it wrong about Iraq but I am still drawing a salary for my opinions” Aaranovitch, who if he hadn’t gone to Oxford would probably be stacking shelves in Tesco by now….another vastly overrated bore from London who trades on a boundless supply of self confidence and chutzpah but whose track record on the big questions of our time is woeful .

    And I am not moralizing, I am merely pointing out the facts as I see them.

    As for nationalists causing trouble or whatever it is you said, let me remind your that Gandhi was also a “nationalist ” and in England they even went so far as to make a film about him….

    1. TartanZen says:

      Although I am of much the same opinion of David Aaranovitch as yourself I see no point in making the point through comparing Journalism, going to Oxford and working in Tesco as if one or more of those is somehow better than the others in stature. They may differ in rewards which is entirely different.

      “As for nationalists causing trouble or whatever it is you said” … dismissiveness… not a great quality

      “Andrew Skea, your Burns probably comes from a quote on the back of a shortbread tin you bought at the airport” … also dismissiveness but with a big pinch of just being a child this time

      “Gandhi was also a “nationalist ” and in England they even went so far as to make a film about him” … there is no point in here… you’re just trying to make your argument more legitimate by mentioning Ghandi.

      Unfortunately for you, any point that Andrew made about some Scottish nationalists not being able to listen and to tolerate other people’s beliefs/opinions has been resolutely made here by yourself.

      1. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

        We have been “tolerant” for centuries. There are some things so rebarbative that to tolerate them smacks of cowardice. The British state is concerned with its survival, not ours. Any argument, any weapon is justified. We have played the patsy rôle too long.

      2. Douglas says:

        You are a long-winded fool.

        Go read a book.

      3. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

        Douglas…. where do your true sympathies seem to lie? generic insults, water off my back.

      4. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

        Douglas….ignore my overly hasty, foolhardy comment. sequential confusion.

      5. Clootie says:

        …he did not say SOME.

      6. Clootie says:


        You appear just as aggressive in putting you own point across.

        Andrew is wrong in my opinion and I have already said why I think that. I see nothing wrong in plain speaking or strong emotion. The latter is often required to contest injustice.

        Putting someone down in a calm manner is still putting someone down!

  10. A.R. Frith says:

    Alasdair F-B:

    In a competition to write a paragraph of fewer than 50 words that includes the noun “patsy”, the verb “smack”, the adjective “rebarbative” and a French loan-word with a circumflex accent, your post would be brilliant. As a contribution to debate – less so. ANY argument? Any WEAPON? I hope a moment’s thought tells you how unwise either would be, both, in their different ways, liable to harm the user more than the opposition.

    1. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

      Given what we are dealing with? Brit state plays dirty. We would do well to fully understand that. This is not a computer game.

      1. A.R. Frith says:

        “Brit state plays dirty” – exactly. In almost every conceivable way. So using “any argument” is to hand them – metaphorical – ammunition (“Look”, they can say, “THIS is the basis of the separatists’ case …” – doing all they can to make sure the valid arguments are drowned out) and as for even talking of weapons, well, just don’t please. Not sensible, even as rhetoric, given, as you say, what we are dealing with.

      2. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

        Understand your concern at the use of highly coloured rhetoric but it is what it is, rhetoric. The threatening stuff dished up by the other side is far from being rhetorical. Some outside commentators have remarked on a tendency to underplay the “passion” in the independence campaign. A tendency to go for the rather prosaic, albeit factual, “Scotch lawyer” approach; Yes Scotland does that to perfection. Certainly frightening the horses unnecessarily is to be avoided but a bit of goading (brio, élan, panache) would not spoil the mix. Scotia might benefit from loosening her stays; she has been trussed up for too long.

  11. Douglas says:

    TartanZen, if I were to argue to a scientist that oxygen was not essential to human life he would dismiss me as a fool, just as I dismiss your playmate above here who never read Burns in his life as a total fool and you as a total fool.

    Anybody who quotes from a poem without knowing what it means is either a fool or young.

    Divisiveness is underrated when it comes to ignoramuses spouting off about something they don’t know, and you’re right, the shelf stackers of Tescoe are much brighter than old David, and you are, I know because I was one of them once.

    Just please don’t think that what the docile English working class – a bunch of sleepwalkers give or take a few exceptions – thinks what is kosha means that we think is kosha in Scotland.

    Me personally, I am fucking raging at your Westminster whorehouse puticlub, like half of Scotland is and I would vote for the Devil himself to get shot of your ermine infested, class ridden, totally corrupt company.

    As for politeness, it is totally overrated, and is just another layer of social snobbery used by the rich so the poor can’t complain.

    What is important is that the poor in Scotland are being fucked up the arse by a rich Westminster elite who you seem to support as does that warmonger Aarantovich, a totally discredited figure by any yardstick..

    1. TartanZen says:

      Scientist? Oxygen? What are you going on about?

      Dismissiveness … not divisiveness… as in you totally dismiss everyone’s arguments without giving them due consideration or making one of your own

      I used to be a shelf stacker at Presto in the 90s… does that now make me as bright as you?

      “the docile English working class – a bunch of sleepwalkers give or take a few exceptions” … sweeping derogatory generalisations are not the sign of a bright person

      “Me personally, I am fucking raging”… yeah, we can tell

      “As for politeness, it is totally overrated, and is just another layer of social snobbery used by the rich so the poor can’t complain.” … I never used the word polite or talked about politeness.

      “a rich Westminster elite who you seem to support” … i’m a Yes voter

      1. Douglas says:

        Tartan Zen, I can see the tartan but not the Zen, my friend….Your style is pretty aggressive and pedantic, regurgitating point by point other people’s comments, a kind of school masterly approach, setting yourself up as a kind of below the line policeman….och well, what does it matter.

        In any case, my frustration comes from the fact that Andrew Skea does not address the issue of whether the SNP and UKIP have any similarities. He just reels off a set of platitudes and cliches about “nationalism”, and so naturally I dismiss him. You can’t confuse dismissing people with questioning their right to speak their mind, they are entirely different things.

        Jamie Maxwell illustrates a number of very clear and stark difference between the SNP and UKIP, but these are completely ignored by Andrew. To hear the same tired slogans and cliches as are repeated endlessly in the mainstream media, without any critical scrutiny, without any questioning, is extremely frustrating.

        And seeing Burns misquoted again and again is just a scandal. You know, the dead can’t answer back, and for that reason we have a duty to them, to not misquote them and misuse them. What did we do to be tortured in Scotland by people misquoting the national poet, cheapening and demeaning poetry and turning it into a kind of slogan or filler to make a a vacuous point?

        If people want to quote Burns, then they should at least pay him the courtesy of actually reading him and understanding what his poetry means.

  12. Capella says:

    “Nationalism appears not to tolerate other people’s beliefs / identity.” Says Andrew Skea, and others agree. Perhaps they missed Robin McAlpine’s excellent explanation of the difference between ethnic, civic and cultural nationalism. Clearly A Skea is talking about ethnic nationalism, which seems to be UKIP’s variety. But the Independence debate is led by civic and cultural nationalism, essentially the idea that Scottish people are better placed to make decisions about our political, economic and cultural values than anyone else. What is so controversial about that?

    1. Tony Philpin says:

      I’d also add that Robin McAlpine’s view of cultural nationalism is that it can encompass internationalism – hence being anything but narrow minded

      1. Absolutely correct. But the full version doesn’t fit the propaganda brief of irritants determined to stand truth on its head. Simpler for them to omit the annoying bits that derail their expressions of hatred.

    2. rabthecab says:

      I believe that’s what’s known as hitting the nail on the head Capella, and I couldn’t agree more.

    3. Clootie says:


      I agree fully

  13. There are, as ever, excellent comments and thinking here.

    But when I see – written in comments – exactly what the establishment wants to be able to point to and quote in order to discredit this entirely peaceful and inclusive movement for self-determination, one that can be a model to the world for how to amicably decide such issues, I have to wonder.

    Especially remembering the undercover police who worked so hard to steer and discredit an equally vital and peaceful movement – the one that us trying to get us to do something about climate change.

    People have feared the establishment will turn nasty in ways we have not yet experienced. My guess is that it will simply try the same game if dressing up as those on the side of Yes in order to fulfil all the projected fears of the mainstream.

    I don’t feel paranoid about it, because if it happens or is happening then as long as we can point out the extent to edict Rhe establishment goes or is willing to go, then true actions simply reveal themselves further. And of course if they don’t act in this way, they reveal themselves as worthy partners in this debate and in fair dealings after the debate is decided.

    1. Sorry – posted too soon. That confusing sentence should have read:

      “. . . as long as we can point out the drastic extent to which the establishment goes, or is willing to go, then their actions simply reveal themselves further”

  14. Andrew Skea says:

    UKIP make great play of the ‘fact’ that they are not racist – which is difficult for them when one of their main concerns is immigration (athough most of the immigrants they are concerned about are of the same race as the majority of us). Many of their attributes are civic and cultural. Likewise the SNP tries to emphasis the cultural and civic attributes of their nationalism, but like UKIP, many of their supporters are anti-neighbour.

    My view is that both versions of Nationalism have only a thin veil over their anti-neighbour driving force, and therefore the best way to exclude discrimination from our politics is to exclude all nationalism – i think we should make this a key component of our identity.

    In any case, Scotlands culture and identity has thrived in the Uk. In fact it could be argued that our culture has been taken round the globe by Britian, and it may be encouraged by a desire to differentiate ourselves in the absence being different nationalities. It is a key component of our culture that other cultures are tollerated and celebrated.

    1. David Agnew says:

      I have to disagree on a few points. UKIP are openly racist but shrug the attacks off as mere banter, as common sense or just out of context. Wind the clock back 10 years and its easy to see how that simply would never have been accepted. Now the MSM simply skirt around the issue and ponder if its plans are economically sound. What a difference an independence referendum makes. Suddenly we have constant articles about how “similar” they are to the SNP. From such lazy and fuzzy logic are narrative fallacies forged. For me its further evidence of how rotten the UK system has become, when a group of people protest the presence of Farage, as being evidence of “Racism” – making their argument somehow irrelevant. Its the sort of thing that leads people like Massie to tweet that Scotland should have at least listened to what the man had to say. Being admonished for challenging racism, because the racist might have had some sensible policies on public services provision – you would be forgiven for thinking you were living in a scene from “In the thick of it”.

      You only have to dip into the odd pro UKIP article, thread or interview to get a sense of how ugly and deluded it all is. Their attributes look like they came out of a 1970’s TV sketch show. Now the SNP are not anti-neighbour, although they routinely portrayed such, yet you will not find any SNP politician or supporter calling Africa Bongo-Bongo land. Or demand that Lenny Henry go to a Black Country. Or that the Welsh are subsidy junkies. But a mere suggestion that England should not control the affairs of Scotland, anymore than the Scots should control the the affairs of the English – its not long before that is denounced as Anti-English, therefore racist. UKIP are demagogues who wallow in blame culture and fear of the Alien. They appeal to the very worst aspects of the human condition. The SNP appeal to a sense that Scotland’s affairs are Scotland’s to manage. Its stretching credulity to almost UKIP levels to suggest that desire for self governance is racist. Yet sadly, its almost the first sod of earth to be chucked at the party.

      I have always found the Idea that Britishness was a superior nationalism, as it was a non-nationalist national identity to be absurd. Expressions of nationalism are to found all through British culture. You can no more exclude nationalism from a countries sense of themselves, than Canute could command the tides of the sea. You cannot celebrate other cultures who are also driven by their own national identity without acknowledging your own. You could say that is the very bedrock of internationalism.

      Thats a word that can never be applied to UKIP. Increasingly its not one that can be applied to the UK as it is increasingly allowing the tone of the debate to be set by UKIP. This surreal situation were the Conservatives are trying to out-right wing UKIP, which is in turn forcing labour to shift further to the right, is the very definition of the term “Tail wagging the dog”.

      Is there an ugly side to nationalism? – of course there is. It should always be challenged, it should always be called out for what it is. We should also beware any attempts to label peaceful protests against racism or euro-phobia as a form of racism in itself, while allowing real racist sentiment to go unchallenged. That is very dangerous, and sadly it seems it’s a path our weak and ineffectual UK MPs seem to have chosen for us.

    2. You are still concocting justification for your inverted racism aimed at Scots.

      None in Scotland advocate closing entry to Scotland or, unlike your London pals, offering non-Scots assisted passage home, wherever that is supposed to be.

      Until you can produce irrevocable proof otherwise, please desist from posting low-opinion as if fact.

    3. “it could be argued that our culture has been taken round the globe by Britian,” (Skea)

      “Our culture”

      And whose would that be, exactly?
      I think you mean foreign policy, and imposing alien British interests on other nations.

    4. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

      Those spex your wearing have a deep rosy hue. Scotland’s culture thriving within the UK and our culture taken around the world are classics of panglossian optimism. Have you ever been abroad? If you have you might have noticed that England is the actual face of Britain, at best we are comedy kilted jump-jimcrows. We exist as painted scenery in an anglo-saxon directed and scripted play. Independence signals a change of direction and script; a consummation devoutly to be wished.

  15. A.R. Frith says:

    Alasdair F-B:

    The “threatening stuff” that is “far from rhetorical” – I’m not clear what you mean. I take it we would agree that the huffing & puffing over currency union IS only bluster, since CU is more to the advantage of rUK than it is to Scotland’s. Bombing our airports? annexing Faslane? well, both threats have been uttered, but have, I think, been perceived as damaging to the Noes, so are not something we need be bothered about for the duration of the campaign, at least (for all that a post-independence government ought to be concerned about them – perhaps).

    What bothers me is what the passion you extol might provoke. I have heard it suggested that Better Together’s antipathy to public rallies is based not on the fear that no-one would turn up, but that, on the contrary, if they had one it would be a magnet for Orange Lodgers, Defence Leaguers, the BNP and such like, who might well go on the rampage. This strikes me as entirely plausible. On our side, we have to assume that there are provocateurs and stooges in our midst who would consider their job well done if some manifestation of “brio, elan [and] panache” could be misrepresented as, say, anti-English rioting. The columns that would appear next day comparing Scotland to Bosnia are doubtless already two-thirds written – and if hostile journalism were the worst outcome we would have got off lightly.

    On the other hand, I think you underrate lawyers – Gandhi and Mandela both were.

    1. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

      We would be unwise to regard all “threats” of the kind displayed in the pages of e.g. the Daily Mail as total bluster. The idea that Faslane might be “occupied” or Orkney and Shetland encouraged to “secede” receives airings in even the so-called quality press. Intended frighteners they may be but with Ukip stalking the field who knows.
      Not a big fan of rallies unless hundreds of thousands, Catalan or Parisian manif’ style, are involved as they inevitably attract the bizarre and the weird souls beloved of a press seeking to negatively (racially?) stereotype and play spot the slavering English hater.
      As for those extrovert latin qualities, I do hope more of our public figures begin to exhibit some of them. Politics is the lovechild of theatre, is it not? Gandhi and Mandela, admittedly advocates both, were rather good at the theatricals. So after his fashion is Alex, his performances do so wind up the opposition. Enter Simon Heffer stage left…..

      1. JBS says:

        ‘Politics is the lovechild of theatre, is it not?’

        The lovechild of theatre and, and? It takes two to tango, does it not?

        Incidentally, my new poem (working title: “Scotland The Sequel: Thick Specs and Bushy Beard”) is nearing completion. The world shall have this whether it will or no.

      2. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

        JBS…..slim volume, private printing, embossed covers….got it on Amazon pre-order.

      3. “Gandhi and Mandela, admittedly advocates both, were rather good at the theatricals.” Frew-Bell

        I have no idea what that means. The “theatricals”? Do you mean oratory skills?

        Mandela had a justified reputation of being a long-winded boring speaker. The essence of what he had to say was not diminished, but he certanly was not theatrical, not like Hitler or Mussolini, or even Tony Blair. Gandhi rarely gave speeches to mass gatherings; how could he? His message was usually passed person to person, word of mouth.

        I have been yards away from Salmond twice now, when he was speaking to a very large audience. Other than some topical jokes, his message was level-headed, and very confident. Theatrical? No.

      4. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

        A Dhia! …some people have no sense of irony…even a sense of self-mockery or fun….do lighten up. Dame Scotia! get oot o yer corsets! Unless the intention is to bore us into the ground?

  16. Iain says:

    ‘Nationalism’ has many forms. It can be applied to aggressive imperialism as well as to liberation movements.

    I think there is general condemnation for the first as being an infringement of the rights of other peoples, and sympathy for the second as being the exercise of the right of self-determination. The most peculiar and, one might say, perverse condemnation of ‘nationalism’ is when all the vile attributes of the first are attributed to the second.

    And this is what we have in the formerly imperialist UK, in respect of its establishment’s and government’s attitude to self-determination in Scotland, Wales – and formerly Ireland. In self-interest, these causes are labelled ‘narrow nationalism’, we should be ‘breaking down barriers, not building them’, we are told, as though rule from London were the ideal form of government of human society, planned with philanthropy by the UK state, shortly to be recognised and adopted by all mankind.

    Why should it be nasty, narrow nationalism for Scotland to govern itself, but no kind of nationalism at all for England to demand retention of its control of other countries?

  17. JBS says:

    Will there still be pink hummer stretch limos in an independent Scotland? A bunch of lassies from down the street went for a night out in one at the weekend. I wouldn’t want a Yes vote to limit their possibilities for future fun and adventure.

  18. virgil_caine says:

    One glaring similarity is in the profiles of the membership of each party, I think it was a Mori research (i might have imagined this) last year and this:–oGAAg&usg=AFQjCNHcrngP0fZ1KgebmG2GtXGyXGuEGg

    that showed that the majority of SNP members are white, middle class, middle aged men and I can’t imagine UKIP being much different.

    What I find weird about this piece being on Bella is why the need to back up the SNP? I thought the independence movement was more than just the SNP, can’t they be left to fight their own battles, win their own arguments?

    Added to this, is the eponymous elephant in the room regarding the SNP’s Tartan Tory membership, neatly silenced except say for something like ‘Business for Scotland’ (i know they are separate) representing a far stronger neo-liberal position on Scottish Independence.

    There is a deep need across both sides to be more reflective on the arguments they are spinning because both smack of bullshit…

    1. “the majority of SNP members are white, middle class, middle aged men and I can’t imagine UKIP being much different.” Caine

      Look at ph photographs, you’ll see the difference.

      And there are no “Tartan Tories,” only in your wildest imagination. Try studying policies not prejudices.

  19. Hmm The European Free Alliance have a video on YouTube for the elections – The SNP & Plaid being EFA members. It says 70% of our laws are made by the EU.

  20. thisgreenworld says:

    is it just me, or is the language around here getting worse? it feels pretty threatening at times, and I feel I need to be quite brave to write anything ‘below the line’, knowing that any slip or imprecision will be seized upon as evidence of idiocy, deliberate misleading, heresy or worse.

    let’s not try to recreate the Spanish civil war here…there will be plenty of time to fall out AFTER the referendum is won!

  21. A.R. Frith says:

    Alasdair F-B:

    Like Grouse Beater, I don’t – excuse me for my deficient sense of fun – see irony in what you have been saying: just imprecision, in that you conflate passion (felt) and theatricality (feigned – or, at least, certainly unspontaneous).

    Having said which, I would have no problem (sorry, G B) in describing many political giants as deploying theatricality, in all sorts of ways: when Mandela took de Klerk’s hand at the end of their pre-election debate in 94, that was theatrical; Gandhi’s going to the sea to make salt, as shown in the Attenborough film, was too, on a grander scale. If you want to mention the FM in the same paragraph, well, the press conference claiming victory in 2007, and his dubbing the deal on the referendum “the Edinburgh Agreement” were both theatrical. They were memorable acts – gestures, if you will – which the opposition didn’t know how to deal with and so which fixed a particular version of a situation or events as the “real” one.

    The risk of this tactic is that it my fix entirely the wrong message (as Kinnock contrived to, at Labour’s Sheffield rally in 92); also, it is subject to the law of diminishing returns. A politician who relies on stunts and speechmaking is likely to be seen as dodgy – as Churchill was, throughout the 20s and 30s, or Heseltine in the 70s and 80s – or indeed BE dodgy, beyond doubt: cf. Enoch Powell and Quintin Hogg (to name but two conspicuously nasty, dishonest men).

    However if theatricality is a bad thing except in controlled moderation, passion is potentially worse. I would concede that the lack of it MAY be a problem – in summer 2012, I saw an eminent elderly SNP activist being asked what he wanted from independence, and although he came out with the right answers, I, at least, had the sense that if he’d been asked to DEFINE “social justice”, say, he would have been umming and erring, since he knew, rather than felt, what it meant. Nevertheless, if passion means (e.g.) speaking/writing/posting before we think (and – let’s agree – it can do) it is no help to us. Using words that express our emotion rather than convey our meaning, ditto. For example, as I would define the term there certainly ARE “tartan Tories” in the SNP – anyone who talks about the need for “government” (without an article) to be “business-friendly” is one, in my book ( – “business-friendly” being a euphemism for “soft on crime”, of course, in respect of tax evasion, denial of workers’ rights, breaches of health & safety law, etc.) Yet B G denies their existence, so evidently his definition is different – but we can’t have discussion without a preliminary clarification of our terminology, in the lawyerly way that you, A F-B, profess to deplore. It may be a pleasure to wind up the opposition, but it is a damaging self-indulgence if it leads us to make utterances that can be, as the man said, twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools; or that, untwisted, needlessly antagonize or confuse anyone else. No?

    (Excuse the shouty capitals, but I don’t know how to do italics, still less diacritics.)

    1. A.R. Frith says:

      Oops – “B G” = Brouse Geater – slip of the typing finger.

      1. You thesis makes sense only if you drop the word “theatrical.”

        It means “larger than life” and more often than not, “insincere.”

        Many of the incidents your quote were not insincere, and often low key. What significance the observer places on them cannot be automatically attributed to the participants.

        It is a fact that both Hitler and Mussolini practiced speeches before a mirror, a sure sign of theatrical intent, and indeed, all the exaggerated hand gestures, posturing, and shouts during their oration attest to their planned effect on audiences. That’s theatrical. It is meant to whip up mass emotion.

        Walking with someone and then slipping your hand into theirs is not theatrical. It’s affectionate.

        Finally, “Tartan Tory” is a slogan, like all slogans peurile and hollow, devised to bring to mind a stereotype, thus stopping the recipient from thinking for himself, instead conjuring in their mind a fictional character, a composite, that does not actually exist.

        The intent there is to manufacture consent – Tartan Tories are bad for democracy; the SNP is full of Tartan Tories, hence the SNP is a bad political party. One does not need to think any further.

  22. A.R. Frith says:

    Grouse Beater:

    You begin by saying theatricality is “more often than not” insincere, and proceed as if you had established it is always so, ergo my examples cannot be theatrical.


    Rhetoric is an art form. That some reprehensible people have practised it does not invalidate it as such. The same applies to other sorts of demonstration. All of them can be characterised as theatrical. If done skilfully, the response of hearers/viewers certainly CAN be attributed to the speaker or doer. I really don’t see how you can say that the Gettysburg Address, or “We shall fight them on the beaches …(etc)” or “Ich bin ein Berliner” were NOT theatrical in that sense (i.e. the usual sense); and the fact that they had been written out beforehand, and probably rehearsed, in no way diminishes the speaker in each case, or reflects on his sincerity.

    On your second point: would you accept “cliche” in place of “slogan”? – since what you are calling by the latter seems to be what I’d call by the former. “Tartan Tory” IS a cliche -agreed. Cliches are a substitute for original thought – yes: agreed again. However …

    Do you know the story of Andrew Lloyd Webber (in the version I heard) saying plaintively to a colleague: “Why is it that people take an instant dislike to me?” – to which the colleague said, thoughtfully, “Well – it saves time.”

    The reason cliches last is usually (not always) that they hold sufficient truth that they DO actually serve as valid generalisations that “save time”; and just because a phrase can be used unthinkingly doesn’t make it meaningless, or even, necessarily, false. You assume a particular intent on the part of users of “tartan Tory” – it may, on the other hand, just be ignorance, OR they may be giving it a meaning different from what you understand by it – the problem with off-the-peg insults. The last possibility was what I was alluding to in my previous post, when I pointed out to comrade Frew-Bell that your assertion that the SNP is a TT-free Zone depends on your definition being the same as your hearers’ for it to be understood, and that such a common understanding cannot always be presumed.

    1. Here is another slogan: Clarity of meaning is preferred to oodles of waffle.

      1. A.R. Frith says:

        If you like: though for memorability it’s hardly on a par with “It’s Scotland’s Oil” or “Labour Isn’t Working”, and for content has nothing on “Think globally, act locally”, “Don’t mourn – organise” or “Who? Whom?”. Also, it might be mistaken for an attempt at a riposte – clarity depending on context, as well as choice of words – which would be v. unfortunate. Any reader who took it that “oodles of waffle” was intended to refer to my posting would infer that I hadn’t expressed myself in terms sufficiently simple for you to comprehend – deplorable – rather than that you were echoing my reservations anent FrewBellian histrionics. As I trust you are.

  23. Leonora says:

    They are there to protect yourself by speaking to the school
    bus next one. That’s when you use a large nap roller, if you choose to come.

    He said:” I didn’t make anything of it. Government contractors, who, although he does have teeth. They have to find someone willing to compromise your value system. C Benjamin, school bus who testified before the project.

  24. I think everything said was very logical. However, think
    on this, what if you added a little content? I ain’t suggesting your information is not good., however what if you added a post title to possibly
    get folk’s attention? I mean Eurovision « is a little boring.
    You should peek at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they write news headlines to
    grab viewers interested. You might add a related video or
    a related picture or two to get people excited about what you’ve written. In my opinion, it could make
    your blog a little livelier.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.