‘Yes to Scottish independence. No to nationalism’ | C. Bennett- The Guardian

‘Yes to Scottish independence. No to nationalism’ | C. Bennett- The Guardian

If the clue to SNP behaviour might seem to be in the name, Salmond’s deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, has been refreshingly clear about her reluctance to “go on”, like some of her party’s allies, about 1,000 years of character-building history, and her preference for looking ahead, to “the Scotland we want to be”. “For me,”, she said last year, “the fact of nationhood or Scottish identity is not the motive force for independence.” Rather, she wants the claim to independence to rest on principles of “democracy and social justice”. Scotland has a democratic right to independence, without which it cannot achieve a level social justice that is impossible, she maintains, within a devolved Scotland. “The Westminster system of government has had its chance and failed.”

It is an argument, in that case, which might easily, without bagpipes or warriors, appeal to residents of any impoverished and resentful region of the United Kingdom, if only they had the means and a similar certainty that, left to themselves, a more equal society would result. Is the Scottish character so much more just and fair-minded than the English/British version as to guarantee the kind of nation Sturgeon wants to build? As encouraging as it is to think so, if only to feed fantasies of some day crossing the border, the generalisation recalls, in its reductive way, a passage in Orwell’s Notes on Nationalism written in 1945. He mocks, among other things, “the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’.”

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