I totally fail to recognise the independence movement that Kevin McKenna describes in his opening paragraphs. Once again, he embraces the cosy consensus of the British media with an eagerness that is curious in one who, in other aspects of his analysis, demonstrates that he is well able to break free of the ill-informed prejudice and intellectual indolence which characterises the larger part of mainstream journalists’ commentary on Scottish politics.
The fallacy that McKenna picks up and runs with on this occasion is the notion that England was “held up for contempt and revulsion” by any significant part of the Yes movement during the first referendum campaign. Allied to this is the calumny that independence supporters claimed the attitudes and values of people in Scotland were somehow superior to those of people in England. To this, Kevin McKenna has appended the casually insulting idea that Scotland’s distinctive political culture developed only as a reaction to the political culture prevailing in the rest of the UK.
The reality is that any “contempt and revulsion” was reserved, not for England, but for the neo-liberal ideology, austerity fetishism, corruption and incompetence that pervades the British political establishment.
Nobody ever claimed that Scotland was “holding itself to a much more virtuous model of humanity”. As I wrote just a week before the vote in 2014,
Independence is self-evidently right in and of itself. It is, after all, the normal status of a nation. But independence is not a solution to any problems in and of itself. It is merely the gateway to being able to address Scotland’s problems in our own way and according to the needs and priorities of Scotland’s people – the people who call Scotland home.
Those needs and priorities are not significantly different from those of people in the rest of the UK. Our attitudes and values are much the same. But the deeply ingrained political culture of the British state is such that those attitudes and values are all but totally excluded from the process of formulating public policy. The needs and priorities of people are not addressed. They are subordinated to political expediency and an overarching economic imperative.
By virtue of its separate democratic institutions and processes, Scotland has developed a distinctive political culture in the sense that, at least relative to the British state, the attitudes and values of people find more effective expression and their needs and priorities are therefore better addressed.
Some might say that these are nit-picking points. Especially those who feel that, despite his susceptibility to the cosy consensus of the mainstream media, Kevin McKenna arrives at the correct conclusions. But if the final stage in Scotland’s journey to independence is to be driven to any extent by the contrast between political cultures and the visions for the future that they engender, then it is surely important to understand the nature of those political cultures.
It is important to understand that we aspire to bring our government home and begin the task of addressing Scotland’s problems in our own way and according to the needs and priorities of ALL Scotland’s people, not because we assert that our attitudes and values are superior, but because we refuse to accept that they are inferior.Views: 2723
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