Wales Office minister, Guto Bebb, probably doesn’t realise it but his reported remarks following a recent visit to Edinburgh neatly encapsulate the attitude of British nationalists towards Scotland. They are perplexed to find that Scotland is “another country”, and bitterly resentful of our stubborn refusal to conform to their ‘One Nation’ vision of ‘Great Britain’.
What Mr Bebb was seeing is, not just that sense of nationhood which persists despite all efforts to contrive a common British identity, but a distinctive political culture developed through Scotland’s particular democratic institutions and processes. A political culture which now contrasts starkly with the insular exceptionalism of the British state. A culture characterised by openness and tolerance and inclusiveness. A culture whose nature and distinctiveness was amply in evidence at the SNP’s Spring Conference in Aberdeen last weekend.
But why is Guto Bebb “despondent”? Why should Scotland simply being Scotland be a cause for regret? What is diminished by Scotland following its own political path? Who is harmed by Scotland charting a course that is informed by the democratic choices of Scotland’s people, rather than the self-serving demands of a political and economic elite?
It may be true that “we achieve more together”, as Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns said when he was challenged about his minister’s comments on ITV’s Peston on Sunday Programme. But coexistence and cooperation do not require some imposed uniformity. Rejection of that imposed uniformity does not preclude a healthier form of association. Difference does not necessarily imply animosity or enmity.
Scotland feels like a separate country because it is just that. As such, it must be allowed to adopt and develop the form of government that best suits its people. Any power which denies this right and seeks to inflict its own form of government in defiance of the will of the people inevitably takes on the characteristics of an occupying power.
Perhaps the discomfort felt by Guto Bebb was occasioned by dawning awareness that he represents that occupying power.Views: 4361
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