You Do Not Exist
You know they are scared now, don’t you? Deeply unsettled. Despite endless proclamations of “I’m a proud Scot but …” the reality of a deep-seated cultural self-hatred is seeping out. Self-hatred amongst the Love Bombs.
As the Commonwealth Games kicks off and the palpable feel-good factor kicks-in, Hamish Macdonell at The Spectator (‘The SNP might not realise it, but in sport, there’s a difference between patriotism and nationalism‘) writes:
“For some English viewers, the coverage from Glasgow 2014 might be more than a bit unsettling”.
Eh? Why’s that? Actually with the bulk of the BBC coverage it seems to have been co-opted and shredded of any political message (the latter probably being a good thing).
The problem, apparently is that “Here we are, just eight weeks from the referendum on Scottish independence and our screens are suddenly going to be filled with kilts, Saltires and songs”.
Yeah what a bunch of bastards we are with our flag and our kilts. It’s almost as if we feel like we have the right to exist. But that’s not the worst of it.
“Even the official emblem of the Glasgow Games – a jaggy thistle – seems to have been deliberately designed to prickle and get underneath those prissy white strips worn by the dastardly English. As a result, for the next two weeks it really will seem as if the English (as well as the Welsh and Northern Irish) will be competing in a different country.”
Here pictured (right) is the terrifying nationalist icon ‘Clyde’ the giant wobbly thistle that so worries Hamish and beside him the brutal 12 year old Beth Gilmour from Cumbernauld who created him. She’s clearly a Leni Riefenstahl in the making.
The message from The Spectator is twofold: ANY expression of self-identity is lashed to a visceral anti-Englishness and driven by Alex Salmond. No other explanation is conceivable.
The implicit and clearly aggravated sub-text is this: your country does not exist, stop pretending you have a right to be.
Two other examples rose in the past few days to reinforce this idea.
Martin Kettle writing in the Guardian about Neal Ascherson, writes confidently:
“Scotland has not, by and large, been singled out for mistreatment or disruption”. The statement requires , apparently, neither qualification nor reference, it just IS.
“Nor, in spite of Scotland’s many real historic differences from other parts of the UK (and of the many differences within Scotland itself), has it become politically or ideologically a significantly different place from the rest of the UK.”
This assertion of Scottish exceptionalism, which comfortingly casts Scotland as a fundamentally more progressive, more egalitarian and more social democratic place than the rest of Britain, is an important and familiar theme of the independence debate…In reality, opinion polls show fewer fundamental differences of view between Scots and other British people than Ascherson and his fellow idealists allow. Just as importantly, devolution has long recognised Scotland’s right to decide a large range of issues about its own evolution anyway.”
Kettle is so besotted by this Bland Britain concept he staggers over into ridicule: “Where Ascherson is clearly right, however, is that the independence debate has energised Britain’s debate about itself. Obviously that is true in Scotland, and some of that debate has been the best revival of civic engagement in these islands for many years. But it is also happening in Wales and England …Only yesterday, a Commons committee proposed new tax-raising powers for English local government.”
That is, frankly, a hilarious leap from the energy, breadth and multiplicity of the Yes movement to a single Commons committee. There isn’t such a thing as ‘Britain’s debate about itself’ most commentary is scornful, ignorant or deeply patronising. To have debate about Britain itself would require a level of detachment and self-criticism among the English commentariat that is nowhere to be seen.
It’s a repeat of the same message: You have no distinguishing features. To think that you can be distinguished is to be ‘romantic’ or to think that you are ‘better than others’.
But the prize for absurdist top-down policy wonk must go Demos think-tank who published an extraordinary variation. Scotland does not exist in this reckoning because we have different surnames. In ‘Scotland’s many subcultures’ researchers Richard Webber and Trevor Phillips ‘expose the myth’ of Scottish identity by revealing eight types.
They argue: “Clearly it in the interest of the SNP leadership to conduct the argument for independence on the premise that there is a single Scottish identity. No separatist movement has achieved its aims by highlighting the internal diversity of a would-be independent territory.
Scotland is uniform neither in terms of its ancestry, history and culture; that its electorate, just like that of the rest of the UK, is an amalgam of people of diverse origins who, despite the similarity of their physical appearance, derive from distinctly different cultural backgrounds; and that these differences may have a significant influence on people’s support for the concept of an independent Scotland.”
It’s a quite shocking analysis that is wrong from top to bottom and inside out.
I’m astounded it was commissioned, funded and published.
They very obviously haven’t done any research of the ACTUAL campaign being run, which is predicated, largely, on a multiple, inclusive, civic, internationalist worldview. It’s based on exploring celebrating and engaging with Scotland’s many many subcultures.
Ask Humza Yousaf, ask Aamer Anwar, ask Christian Allard ask Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. Or ask Kampania polskiej społeczności w Szkocji – głosujemy na TAK!
It’s an offensive, lazy reductionist theory and it should be called out as such.
But at base it’s the same as Hamish Macdonell and Martin Kettle, the message is simple: you do not exist.
This campaign has allowed us to have a real long hard look at ourselves and ask some fundamental questions. It has been a revealing and a personally challenging period. But what’s more interesting is what others think of us, and in some cases, it’s ‘not very much at all.’