I am a nationalist

I wonder if it would have made any difference. If Nicola Sturgeon was able to go back in time and give the party a different name, what would change? The word ‘National’ in Scottish National Party is only problematic because of the negative associations attached to it by the SNP’s opponents. Changing the party’s name would do nothing to alter the behaviour of those who seek to damage its reputation and undermine its legitimacy. They would simply find a way to hang negative associations on the new name.

The only way one might hope to foil malicious propagandists would be to devise a name that is totally bland and meaningless. But, supposing such a perfectly vapid title could be contrived, wouldn’t it simply give the party’s enemies a blank sheet on which to inscribe their calumnies?

It’s not just the name. Everything any SNP politician or spokesperson says is liable to be misrepresented by the British parties and the British media. How often have you seen comments on social media complaining that so-and-so has said something which ‘gives our opponents ammunition’. The problem with that is that it’s pretty much impossible to say anything that doesn’t lend itself to malevolent misrepresentation by persons who are sufficiently unprincipled and proficient in the ‘black arts’.

Arguably, the most pernicious form of censorship is self-censorship. By which I mean, not the obvious need to frame statements with care to ensure that they convey the intended message, but that insidious pressure which can allow a third party to insinuate themselves into the process of formulating statements. There is a huge difference between thinking before you speak and pandering to opponents by censoring what you say.

I understand what Nicola Sturgeon is saying. I also understand that what she says will be twisted and spun by the British parties and their accomplices in the media. Some will doubtless attempt to portray the First Minister’s remarks as acknowledging that the word ‘National’ really does denote the things that the SNP’s opponents say it does. Which rather proves my point about it not being safe to say anything. It’s not even safe to say nothing!

Where Ms Sturgeon and I differ is in the way we perceive the issue of the ‘National’ bit of the SNP’s name. While she regards the word itself as the problem, I maintain that the problem lies in the misrepresentation of the word and the inadequacy of efforts to counter this misrepresentation.

I have no objects at all to being labelled a ‘nationalist’. I am untroubled by the label because I refuse to accept any definition of it other than my own. I decide what my politics are. Nobody else has the authority or the ability to tell me what I think. I’m not about to attempt to set out my entire political philosophy here. Suffice it to say that those who use the term ‘nationalist’ as an insult aren’t referring to my politics at all, but to something concocted from their own prejudices.

Similarly, I find no problem with the word ‘National’ on my SNP membership card. On the contrary, I take some pride in being associated with a political party that is ‘National’ in the sense of seeking to represent the whole nation of Scotland rather than some particular sector, interest or ideology. I am proud to be part of a movement which aspires to serve all of Scotland’s people, without qualification.

Instead of fretting about the party’s name and what others make of it, let’s work harder to inform people what we mean when we talk about the Scottish National Party.

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16 thoughts on “I am a nationalist

  1. Fred

    Nicola is attempting to appease the feral beast of BBC Scotland and the tabloid press.They cannot be appeased ,they will simply see this as a sign of weakness and will be back for more!Mistake Nicola!

  2. William Ross

    Well said Peter. I agree with you 100%. A lot of rot is talked about “nationalism”. I have no interest in trying to take over someone else`s country or trying to argue that Scots are better. They are just different. I love my country and I want it to be open, democratic and prosperous.

    What worries me is that Nicola shows signs of being deeply confused. A lot of the time she says that she does not support independence just for its own sake, but to better pursue policy goals. Frankly, that’s incoherent., because Nicola cannot know( as neither can I ) what policies Scotland may select after independence. Is Corbynite Union better than Thatcherite independence? Certainly not, providing Scotland is a democratic country. I don`t want a Corbyn government anywhere but if it is elected then I must accept it.

    To me its simple. Scotland is a country and thus must be sovereign. Anything less is a failure. I am an unashamed nationalist.

  3. Clydebuilt

    Last sentence says it all .. . . . In Nicolas defence, don’t think it’s something that occupies her mind that much . . .

  4. Hugh Wallace

    Personally I wish the party was the Scottish Independence Party but unless we are planning on actually changing the name it is all academic.

    So in the interests of being purely academic, it is unfortunate that ‘nationalist’ has connotations and associations that do not reflect the aims & views of the SNP but I have an additional extra aversion to the word ‘national’ due to my childhood in New Zealand & memories of the National Party there who are the direct equivalents of the Conservatives here. Mind you, at that time the NZ Labour Party was in government & borrowing its economic policies from a certain Mrs T (please don’t think that Tony B invented the idea of ‘new labour’) so my idea for the worst political party name ever is the Scottish National Labour Conservatives, or the like…

  5. Davy.

    while I understand what Nicola means by the use of the word “National”, I have to agree with yersel that it would not matter what we were called, the YOONS would find someway to miscall it.

    So I am a proud member of the Scottish National Party and all it stands for.


    PS. The yoon parties would greet with joy to have half of what the SNP has and stands for.

  6. Alasdair Macdonald

    There is no doubt that the word ‘nationalism’ carries baggage. So do words like ‘Tory’, ‘Marxist’, ‘libertarian’.

    Indeed, there was a time when I was lukewarm about independence for Scotland, because of the connotations of ‘nationalism’. I was born just after WW2. Both parents always described themselves as Scots and my mother proudly put Gael first. They had a good knowledge of the history of Scotland and a sense of some of the injustices inflicted upon Scotland. Yet, having just come through a war in which my father served actively for 5 years, they had a sense of loyalty to the Britain for which they had fought, and a wariness of the nationalism espoused by Mussolini, Hitler, Franco and in Japan.

    They were, in some ways internationalist, my father more so having served overseas and having grown up listening to people like John MacLean.

    Like most people, including myself, they held a range of sometimes contradictory views.

    But, if one becomes reflective and is prepared to change one’s views then, most of the contradictions can be resolved, in time.

    One of the things which helped clarify my ideas was Alex Salmond’s articulation of the concept of ‘civic nationalism’. He was articulate and could expand on the subject and refute counterarguments.

    To change people’s attitudes they have to be presented with plausible alternative ideas which are still reasonably close to what they currently believe, so that ‘cognitive dissonance’ is set up, which is resolvable by shifting one’s attitude in the desired direction. Once the change has been made – and it is by oneself, so the bane of ‘ego involvement’ is bypassed – then making further change becomes easier.

    This is why so many ‘idealists’, ‘purists’, ‘extremists’ fail to convince many. They are putting forward views which are so far from those of the listener that they are simply rejected as incomprehensible, and, since so many ‘purists’ are often smugly superior and condescending, and scornfully scathing that personal dislike of them intrudes and we simply shun them. Of course, there are many idealists who are much more respectful of others and maintain the cherished ideals until the circumstances become more favourable.

    For a number of NOers, whom I know well and whose views on a wide range of issues are similar to mine, simply reject independence because of the malign clouds hanging around their concept of what ‘nationalism’ connotes. Facts are not enough. There is an emotional aspect which has to be addressed. Too many people seem to have the belief that there is some ‘pure reason’ which we can deploy, once we shun emotions, and then people we see the light.

    Wanting independence for Scotland has a strongly emotional aspect for me. There are also sound social, economic, historic, cultural arguments for it. Many of the anti”nationalists” have a strong emotional attachment to a concept of Scotland, but they feel that the UK still accommodates that, partly because they also have an emotional attachment to ‘Britain’, as my parents had.

    Mr Bell is entirely entitled to be a ‘nationalist’ as he defines it for himself and to reject any straw man concept of ‘nationalism’ being imposed upon him. I support him in that. Nevertheless, I think it is reasonable to be aware of the term’s baggage and to be prepared to discuss it openly and frankly, which is what very few British nationalists are even prepared to admit to themselves.

    A potent line of argument is to engage such people to get them to articulate what ‘Britishness’ and ‘British values’ actually are. The failed Prime Minister, Gordon Brown never managed to do it. ‘Strong and Stable’ simply bleats ‘British values are British values’, ‘Brexit means Brexit’, …… and crap is crap.

  7. Lochside

    Nicola Sturgeon’s casting doubt on being a ‘nationalist’ is why I am getting tired of the effete SNP and their feeble Uriah Heap act in face of naked English Imperialism posing as Britnat unity. If someone attacks you either verbally or physically you are entitled under natural law to defend yourself. Our government and supposed ‘National ‘ party have forgotten that basic human and political fact. Constantly grovelling and apologising for our existence as a movement is an unedifying spectacle in the face of British imperialistic hypocrisy and power.

    When are we going to stand up? When are our leaders..the SNP led by Sturgeon going to challenge direcly by verbal or legal terms the atrocity of the BBC’s outpourings and the nascent fascist state unfolding under their supine stare?..We are fast being sucked into the black hole of the Brexit catastrophe without as much as a squeak from NS….baby boxes and critique of Orange Hitler are all very well…what about our Nation and its very existence?

    Bruce and Wallace…a land that resisted the Romans and the acquisitive and cruel English …now disappearing under the quicksand of stealth and indecision.

    Remember this?

    Fareweel even tae oor Scottish name
    Sae famed in martial story
    Noo Sark runs o’er the Solway sands
    Tweed runs tae the ocean
    Tae mark where
    England’s province stands
    Such a parcel o’ rogues in a nation
    What force or guile could not subdue
    Through many war-like ages
    Is rocked now by the coward few
    For hireling traitor’s wages
    The English steel we could disdain
    Secure in valour’s station
    But English gold has been oor bane

    Sic a Parcel o’ rogues in our nation.

  8. Lochside

    I am a Nationalist… aye me… and it’s time Nicola Sturgeon stopped apologising to the English and their Scottish wannabes for representing the party of the Scottish people. We have nothing to apologise for. Democratic ?..aye…Honest and for equal rights?…aye…..Fair distribution of wealth and land?…aye. Can the WM corrupt hegemony say the same?…under no circumstances. So why the pleading and supine attitude?

    The SNP lost a quarter of the vote…why?…because they are playing Westminster’s corrupt and bent game. They have ignored our democratic victories in 1979 referendum, and in 2007, 2015 and 2017 General Elections.,plus the 2016 EU Referendum.The 2014 Referendum was rigged for defeat by late interventions by Gordon Brown with the illegal and dishonest ‘VOW’ and Scots residents being outvoted by RUK and EU votes.

    How long can we tolerate democratic usurpation by the English majority at WM? Are we a sovereign nation?…..AS gave away our basic democratic premise for Independence i.e. a majority of MPs seats at Westminster by the rigged Referendum of 2014. For three hundred years we had the right to dissolve the British Parliamentary Union by this simple device.

    In reality, this option has only existed since 1930 when full voting rights for all of the Scottish electorate has existed. Yet in 2014, we were cheated into not only rejecting , by a bogus majority the right to govern ourselves…but we gave up the right to dissolve the malignant ‘Union’ other than through another gerrymandered ‘Referendum’.And now the SNP have shrivelled away from even that and demanding our right to remain in the EU.

    We need this challenged and discarded. We need ‘Nationalism’ for Scotland to be first and foremost in order to dissolve this perfidious Union.Then we can discard’Nationalism’ for normal political discourse and have the country and State that the majority want…free of English ‘Nationalism’ and its ugly sister of British Nationalism.

  9. Willie John

    Who cares what the name is, it is the end result that is important. If we can get the message across that Scotland was, and can, be a nation like any other then eventually we will be.

    And ten years after independence? The SNP may well be just a minority party with voters going “back home” to their old parties – but those parties ‘will’ be for Scotland (the tories will have to drop the Unionist part but likely still be around) but that won’t matter because the SNP will have delivered what we need.

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