Home > Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Politics > Nationalist: If you’re a Unionist, you’re not loyal to Scotland

Nationalist: If you’re a Unionist, you’re not loyal to Scotland


I wanted to thank Tom Harris MP on twitter for bringing this to my attention.

The original tweets:

Now David Berry was the SNPs candidate in East Lothian in May last year. Yes, he was the guy who almost knocked the then Scottish Labour leader, Iain Gray out of parliament.

What angers me about Berry’s comment is that the SNP still seem to think that the only people who want to see Scotland do well is them. That somehow wanting to be part of a union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland is somehow betraying Scotland. Its the same with the eurosceptics, that somehow if you are pro-EU, you are betraying the UK.

I know many nationalist will consider me a unionist because I think that we are stronger together and weaker apart. I believe in a Union, I do not believe in the current Union. I hate some of the arguments coming out of the coalition government and a lot of Labour heads as well. I hate the argument about economic benefits.

The SNP are incapable of grasping the idea that people of Scotland no matter their political views are all 100% loyal to Scotland. Everybody in Scotland wants to see Scotland fly.

The SNP love to talk about Unionists talking down Scotland but the real people who talk Scotland down are the nationalists. The SNP talk down the UK government without realising that to talk down the UK government is to talk Scotland down. To talk down Northern Ireland is to talk down Scotland. To talk down Wales is to talk down Scotland. To talk down England is to talk down Scotland. To talk down the EU is to talk down Scotland.

The UK is a team and to talk down one player is to talk down the whole team. We can criticise the UK government, we can challenge them but to talk them down is to talk us down as well.

I recently watched the movie Miracle(2004). Inspirational movie. Highly recommend it, if you haven’t seen it. The one thing it teaches and shows incredibly clear that if your thinking about yourself and not about the team, then you can’t be great. To me, it shows the dangers of being divisive. If you harbour rivalries, if you have an us vs them attitude then you can never be great.

The thing the nationalists are great at is creating this Scotland vs the rest of the UK attitude. They are great at creating a rivalry along an abstract border. The SNP are great at talking about the sovereignty of the Scottish people and about this nation called Scotland but what is a nation? Shared culture, shared language, shared history? Cumbria used to be part of the Kingdom of Scotland should we allow them to become part of Scotland again? I’m from Strathclyde which used to be a Kingdom, which means it was once a sovereign nation. What if in an independent Scotland, I don’t fancy being run by holyrood? I want to have more powers for Strathclyde. I don’t feel I have that much in common with the east coasters or the highlanders so can Strathclyde become an independent nation?

Nationalists use abstract concepts of nationhood to divide and weaken countries. The SNP love to blame Westminster for Scotland’s ills but Westminster hasn’t just failed Scotland but the whole of the UK. We need to devolve power away from Westminster and in my opinion devolve some up towards Westminster so that we can build a country of individuals, but we can also build a team from the centre as well.

In my opinion, the only party that can deliver on this is a Liberal Democrat one, which is why I want to see a LibDem majority government in Westminster in 2015 and a LibDem-led/majority government in Scotland in 2016.

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  1. January 1, 2012 at 23:25

    Sorry to make you angry. I don’t say you’re responsible but If official unionist spokespeople would only try talking Scotland up (as you suggest) we’d all get along better. But “ripping Scotland out of the Union” and such inflammatory language is used by Blair, Cameron, both Alexanders, Murphy, Curran, Rennie, both Davidsons, etc. Cite me, please, ANY verifiable equivalent negative comment from anyone in the SNP

    I respect what you write and have heard such arguments from Lib-Dems before. What I find simplistic is the way you all overlook the views of most English politicians who use ‘Britain’ and ‘England’ as virtually interchangeable and what is good for the one must, ipse facto, be good for the other. Hence my assertion of your confusion of loyalty.

    Even if 100% of the people are loyal to Scotland (nice idea but there is evidence otherwise), you and other shades of unionist will face dilemmas. Where do you stand on feed-in tariffs that favour English and penalise Scots generators? Where do you stand on Scots being mainly anti-nuclear but a next generation of Trident is to foisted on them? (Again!) Where do you stand that 6,000 sq km of oil/gas-rich North Sea off Berwick were re-allocated to England on the q.t. in 1999 without a single Scot being asked? Where do you stand on fishing rights & quotas being bargained away to Spain’s benefit because fish is of tertiary importance to England? I’m clear: my loyalty in all these (and many other) matters is to Scotland. Are you?

    We’re not doing anyone down, least of all the poor English who are now afflicted to a similar identity crisis to that the Scots suffered in the ’70s and ’80s. I wish them well in solving it. But if this union with them is such a good deal, why aren’t the Irish (whom we hear regular being put down as in an ‘arc of insolvency’) clamouring to come back in. And if Scots are such a charity case, why does every release of government papers reveal more Whitehall dirty tricks to keep us in?

    Read any of my 260 blogs from the last year and show me where I talk any culture down. Note that I do talk about our Brythonic past and ancient international links. But for you to argue that the Scots are not clear about their culture, their country and its distinct identity is to ignore what has been going on here since Thatcher got us good and mad in the eighties. We haven’t looked back since and show no intention of doing so now. For me, that’s good.

    • January 2, 2012 at 12:57

      I think part of the problem is that we have different definitions of talking Scotland up. “ripping Scotland out of the Union” might be overboard but it depends on your point of view. The SNPs actions in October about having two questions on the referendum ballot and saying that you’ll declare a mandate for independence if more people vote for “devo-max”/full fiscal autonomy is I would think makes the “ripping Scotland out of the union” as accurate. The SNP will do anything to get Scotland out of the union even if there isn’t a proper mandate for it. BTW democracy isn’t just about a majority, its about consensus.

      I do not overlook anyone who use “Britain” and “England” as interchangeable. I am often correcting people for it. Most English and I would add English politicians to that as well do it out of ignorance not arrogance. I am in favour of all parts of the UK being taught a history of the UK in schools from an unbiased stand point.

      I’m a liberal and perhaps more importantly, Scottish Liberal Democrat so I don’t believe in the trickle down effect, whether its from rich to poor or from one part of the nation to the other.

      I’m not in favour of anything that favours one part of the country and penalises another. I’m a LibDem, I don’t agree with Trident and in government we’ve pushed back the debate on a replacement until after 2015. Even though, I’m not in favour of Trident, if we have it I believe it should be parked in the Thames outside parliament. If parliament wants Trident, they can have it. They shouldn’t have anything to worry about after all it is supposed to be a deterrent.

      I’m not up on the facts on the North sea off Berwick or fishing quotas so wouldn’t want to make a decision now without the full facts and your question is loaded. As for not a single Scot being asked – we are in a union, sometimes you aren’t asked. The English would come back with the fact that more money is spent in Scotland per head than in England without a single English person being asked. The barnet formula is based on population and not need.

      I think both sides have done wrong but my argument still stands. This us vs them is bad for us and is bad for them. I’d be much happier and easier with independence if all this hatred wasn’t being whipped up. I am clear we can be better together than we can be apart especially if there is hatred between the nations. I’m not really up on what happened around Irish independence but my feeling is that there wasn’t as much hatred being whipped. Perhaps there was on the Irish side but there didn’t seem to be much hatred on this side.

      I would describe myself as a Union sceptic rather than a unionist or nationalist because I think there needs to be changes so that things like you suggest are a sideshow rather than a cause of anger and hatred towards are fellow countrymen. I think the people of Scotland can help to lead that change.

  2. January 2, 2012 at 16:06

    Don’t have much trouble with your position on most of this, even if I disagree with a fair bit. But I do object to accusations about SNP actions. No-one I know in the SNP is about stuffing anything down people’s throats. If you had had a history of near eighty years of derision from Churchill on through Willie Ross and all his successors, including your own Lib-Dem support for cack-handed, Division III performance from McConnell’s self -serving Executive, then you might be forgiven for a little payback.

    But that hasn’t happened. We have always listened to the Scottish people. We always accept their decisions. No-one has ever been hurt—let alone killed—in pursuing our cause. Why do you think a bunch of determined, principled patriots would throw all that over?

    We now have a decent, hard-working government for ALL the people of Scotland. You may not agree—but 45% of the people do, which is why your own colleagues were so comprehensively gubbed last year. The SNP position on the referendum is that we need to TALK about it first. To listen to Moore or Lamont, they want to bring it on tormorrow. But it’s a huge step. Should the (largely apolitical) majority not get to swill the options around the bottom of a coffee with friends?

    You want changes within the union? Good luck. I have watched years of patronising colonialism inform London’s attitude to Scotland. They only pay real attention when the SNP puts a rocket up them. You want rid of Trident? Good luck without independence. You want a reversal of the lunatic cuts to Coast Guard rescue? (Clyde had the most incidents @ over 1,300 and is being axed). Good luck without independence. You want North Sea oil rigs & pipelines protected? (There are no RN combat ships deployed in home waters since October and the only credible substitute—Nimrods flying out of Lossiemouth—are axed) Good luck without independence. Add these to my previous list.

    Every time I hear a London politician (that includes Moore, Davidson et al) open their cake hole on Scotland, I hear self-serving job-securing spin and damn little about the Scottish people. For me, that started in the seventies and the secret papers since released for that period confirm a wheen of bullshit, laced with lies. Today is no different.

    I admire your sincerity, especially in loyalty to a party that has done so little for your country. Tavish Scott’s entire contributions as leader were moans about how Shetland was discriminated against (check your party website)—fair enough for an MSP but poor show for a leader. All this puts us on opposite sides of this argument so we must agree to differ.

  3. January 3, 2012 at 19:10

    OK, a slightly different perspective from another Lib Dem.

    I’m getiing quite tired of the simplicities that many are perpetuating on both “sides”.

    The “unionist” parties (in which, for the sake of argument, I’ll also include the “federalist” Lib Dems) have got both their tactics wrong as well as failing to appreciate the changing nature of the SNP when they allege it accuses those opposed to independence of disloyalty. The SNP’s approach is recent years has become more subtle and more professional. In fact, David Berry didn’t even say what Tom Harris has accused him of: what he does do is draw a line and suggest that those on one side “know where their loyalties lie” whereas those on the other don’t. I’d take this as inferring that nationalists are less confused about their allegiances and less politically conflicted due to having little respect for the union. That’s not an entirely unfair point to make, although I would counter by arguing that many “unionists” are in no way conflicted and have little trouble being loyal to what they perceive as both British and Scottish interests. I think he’s wrong and resorting to an unfair simplicity, but I wouldn’t go as far as Tom Harris’s interpretation (which itself is unnecessary and unreasonable intervention).

    While the SNP has matured in recent years and worked on the professional presentation I mentioned earlier, that is not true of all “cybernats”. Some indeed resort to simplicities which are so offensive and intellectually arrogant. I have no time for this, especially when it extends to making value judgements about people on the basis of how one identifies with the cause of Scottish independence. Similarly, overusing cliches such as “talking Scotland down” to the point that they are completely emptied of any specific meaning adds little to the democratic discussion I want to see. In my view both “sides” are guilty of talking down either Scotland or Scots in pursuit of political advantage: none of this is helpful or responsible.

    Let’s have the argument. Let’s have a reasoned debate in which the electorate can be empowered and educated to make an informed choice in the referendum. And let’s move away from personalising or polarising it, or the idea that anyone who thinks differently to us can not by definition be working in Scotland’s interests or loyal to our great nation (and yes, we are a great nation!).

    I will agree with David Berry on one particular point – the Lib Dems could and should have done so much more for Scotland. IThe accusation that we have done nothing is grossly unfair, but since securing devolution we haven’t done enough to ensure that it continues to work in Scotland’s interests or to promote further devolution other than in desperation whenever the nationalists have applied a bit of pressure. We had the opportunity to be the party of devolution and to become identified in the public eye as the one party that truly believed in it (the Tories never have, Labour have never cared less and the SNP want full independence) but we never fully appreciated the opportunities for both ourselves as a party and Scotland as a whole in promoting further home rule in keeping with our localist credentials. We went into coalition with Labour and thought the job was done.

    People of all political persuasions and of none are fiercely loyal to Scotland, as indeed am I. Instead of judging others for their supposed attitudes, who can’t Scotland’s politicians work together to ensure that the inevitable referendum debate is a responsible one that, irrespective of the outcome, will lead to a more united Scotland rather than a fractious and divided one?

    • January 3, 2012 at 20:01

      Andrew, I agree with most of you what you say but I think its disingenuous to say “unionist” don’t know where they’re loyalties lie. I would say every Scottish “unionist” is loyal to Scotland and Britain. I say this for all Scottish MPs and MSPs and MEPs. They are fighting for Scottish interests as well as British interests. I think that a lot of them have differing views on what is in the best interests of Scotland are. Thats what I would expect and I think it is good.

      Is it true that some “unionists” are maybe a little too desperate to hang on to the Union that it is clouding their judgement? I would say it is.

      Is it true that some “separatists” are maybe a little too desperate to leave the UK that it is clouding their judgement? I would say it is.

      If anything all our loyalties are confused whatever side of the debate we are on. This is why we need to have a reasoned debate as you say and I think the sooner we know the date and the question of the referendum, the sooner we can start having that debate rather than the sideshow that we are having. So to say one side knows where their loyalties lie is completely disingenuous and is verging on saying that one side is not loyal whilst one side is.

      I want a reasoned debate over the whole of the UK not just Scotland. Its why I wrote this piece on LibDemVoice [url=http://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-a-new-approach-to-our-union-25895.html]A New Approach to Our Union[/url]

  4. January 3, 2012 at 20:15

    I agree with you Nic, as I said it’s a “fair point” for him to make on the basis that separatists only feel loyalty to Scotland, but an “unfair simplicity” to suggest that “unionists” can not be equally as loyal and as such he was utterly wrong. It’s a far cry though from Tom Harris’s allegation that Berry was claiming non-separatists were “disloyal” though. He neither said nor implied anything of the sort.

    As you also very rightly say, the “sideshow” is an unhelpful distraction.

  5. R Bell
    January 22, 2012 at 18:19

    Certain unionists are anti-Scottish because they are negative and talk in terms of what e can’t do, not what we can. Unionists would steal points off the SNP if they were more positive, and stuck to their policies.

    “What I find simplistic is the way you all overlook the views of most English politicians who use ‘Britain’ and ‘England’ as virtually interchangeable”

    This is a good point. A lot of unionists forget that millions of people in the UK are also neither English nor Scottish.

    Scotland has a population of about five million. Wales and Northern Ireland have about the same combined. So why are unionists always talking about the rest of the UK as “England”?

    • January 23, 2012 at 13:19

      I find it simplistic, how you treat all Unionists the same. I believe in a union, not this one though. I want to see the Union reformed. I called someone out on youtube yesterday for saying Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of England, Scotland, Wales and NI equally and reminded them that Her Majesty in Scotland is technically Queen Elizabeth the First.

      I call people out when they say England when they mean Britain or even the UK. I have an Irish mother so I am aware the rest of UK is not just England. The tricky part is, is that England is so geographic and demographically dominant that it is hard plus halve the NI choose to be called Irish and not British or Uker and the Welsh well for about 200 years before the Act of Union between Scotland & England, Wales was joined to England and seen as a principality of England. Even in the Kings title was ignored, whereas that was never the case with Scotland or Ireland before the republic went independent.

  6. July 18, 2012 at 13:08

    Very interesting post, I agree with most of what you have said, it absolutely sickens me to the back teeth from my personal experience. I am a Scottish Nationalist because I’m proud of my countries battle history and what my nation has achieved throughout the Scottish Enlightenment. One thing I noticed however, is the painfully obvious thing certain Nationalists skip over, and that is the importance the Union has had on Scotland. Instead these certain individuals (Nationalists) moan about how the people never had the choice for this Union to be formed, (basically speaking they would never have accepted it). In other words, they ignorantly turn the blind eye to the success the Union of 1707 had on Scotland’s history, want an example? The Scottish Enlightenment.

    The problem with Nationalists claiming Unionists as negative, they can’t even see themselves in the mirror, instead they continue to nit pick away at 300 years ago whilst continuously ignoring the success the Union had. Look at the fur trapping trade because of Capitalism, even the Tobacco trade, again because of Capitalism. That trade happened because of the Union. One thing these certain nationalists who support Scottish Independence ignore, is what the Union gave access to, the whole reason the Union was formed wasn’t just because King James believed in peace and unity, he saw an opportunity for Scotland to compete on the Global Market, this of course was something the Independent Scotland of it’s time, could not do, that’s why the Union was formed.

    We all know what was to follow wasn’t pleasant with the Highland Clearances, it’s not something I agree with, but like Robert Burns in ‘Ye Jacobites by Name’, I don’t agree with the Jacobite uprising in the first place. That’s besides the point however. Turn your attention to Margeret Thatcher, one of the greatest Prime Ministers Britain has seen in years, with so many myths surrounding her time as Prime Minister, it’s almost laughable. One of those myths was that Thatcher was to blame for the decline in our industries, absolute rubbish, the decline in our industries was happening long before she even stepped in as Prime Minister. That of course is one of many examples.

    Sadly, we live in a stubborn country, that has went from producing intelligent men like Robert Burns, David Hume, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott and let’s not forget the great Adam Smith. Unfortunately however, we no longer live with Adam Smith’s economic foundations, because the Bank of England was hijacked after the Battle of Waterloo by a bunch of Socialist corrupted bankers. Then following from that you had the same tyranny attacking America, where a large part of our nation fought and died for their independence. One of the greatest of course was President Andrew Jackson, not just the American Scot who from the foundations of John Knox laid the foundations of democracy in the United States, but the man who put an end to the second bank.

    Tyranny wouldn’t give in though, it kept relentlessly attacking, one of those Socialist tyrants was Alexander Hamilton, one of the biggest half Scottish traitors you will ever know in history to mankind and it was his foundations that created ‘Crony Capitalism’, a form of Socialism because it involves Government Taxation, which then allows bigger more powerful government to favour the rich by taxing people of society and paying for the losses of the more successful. From Alexander Hamilton’s foundation, by the time 1913 came, the Federal Reserve was formed, America’s third and final bank, The United States of America was confirmed bought and sold.

    The same power that rules the money supply in the United Kingdom (Bank of England) rules and controls the Federal Reserve. You noted in your blog of course about how they waste their breath blaming Westminster, Westminster are nothing other than a puppet, they are another US Government that are controlled by the banks. Politicians I’m afraid are all bought and paid for. The sad fact of all this is, within the space of 100 years, the United Kingdom has been attacked by the Socialist Marxism and the Leftists. They are the reason why you are so far in debt today.

    What they do not tell you is that the same people who formed the Soviet Union, are the same people who formed the United Nations, oh but they’re all for world peace. Then they formed what you call the European Union. Margeret Thatcher didn’t hate Scotland, she hated Socialism and that’s why Scotland thought she hated Scotland. As Margeret Thatcher rightly said, we shouldn’t go anywhere near the European Union and that Socialism is the path to Communism. No truer words can be spoken. What difference is there between a Soviet Union that was created by force, to a European Union that is created with the eventual exact same ending which is Socialism leading all countries towards the same goal.

    It’s amazing however how the leftist media tried to hide the fact the New World Order exists, and when they came out and openly admitted about the New World Order, people unbelievably still think it’s a conspiracy theory. It’s amazing how brainwashed people are. So amazing that the Totalitarianism in the European Union is so obvious, it’s hard not to laugh at it. I mean what is the aim of the New World Order? For a one world currency and one world government, funny that is, Brussell’s and the Euro currency smell’s of exactly that.

    So no, I do not support the European Union, because yes, it was based off the same principles as the Soviet Union, research and educate yourself on this and you will learn that truth. And have you ever questioned to yourself why your mainstream media are so in support of all these wars? Do you honestly think for one second that 9/11 was a terrorist attack? No, it was an inside job and even plenty of evidence can provide that. Your country is ruled and controlled by zionists, you are serving the interests and fighting the wars for Israel, again those are no conspiracy theories, you educate yourself on those things and you’ll see how corrupt things are.

    But your leftist Marxist media will never show you those things, which is why they try to restrict internet access, because knowledge is dangerous to them, the less knowledge you have, the easier you are to being controlled. Yes the Nationalists are ignorant, this comes from a Scottish Nationalist who supports the Union, but supports UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party). Ask yourself, the United Kingdom are over 1 trillion in debt and have been a nation of consumerism, whilst little production over the years, meaning little export, is it any wonder why the United Kingdom is so far in debt? No.

    35 years ago China had a Capitalist Revolution, why else you think all over the world you see products in the UK and USA saying “Made in China” on the bottom of them, or on their labels? Because your Marxist media and Marxist Leftist schools do not teach you, that Capitalism is what creates the jobs and trade, not Socialism. What has been bringing money into the UK hasn’t been because of Socialism, but because you are in a mixed economy, but because the Socialism stifles Capitalism, your country has been producing little.

    Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Socialism:

    “A socialist economy is based on some form of social ownership, which includes varieties of public ownership and independent cooperatives, over the means of production…”

    You see that, “over the means of production.” You see, the more Socialist you become, the less productive your nation is, this is because of government regulation over free market Capitalist economy, it hurts your economy. Government and it’s Leftist Media don’t want you knowing this, they want you to believe you need Government, remember they work for the corrupt Socialist bankers, not the other way around.

    So essentially, what the independent Scotland will bring to our country, is less production and bigger debt, but let the Nationalists think they’ve got something of worth, wait till the Greatest Depression hits and their paper money devalues to nothing, then we’ll see them talk about how successful Scotland’s been, or if still part of the Union, they’ll be stupid enough to blame the Union for the Greatest Depression. When in real fact the reality of why it’s happening is because, well simple really, you allowed the free market Capitalist economy to be regulated by government by supporting Socialism lol fantastic isn’t it? It’s amazing what education can do for oneself, it can open your eyes at the same time it can depress you, knowing just how evil these people are.

    But yes, you are not less Scottish for supporting the Union, you have every right to be proud of your nation just as much as anyone has.

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