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By Jason Michael
We have to get out of the trap of thinking what others want us to think our campaign for Scottish independence is all about. It is not about either saving or hating England, and neither is it all about membership of the European Union. It is about our freedom.
We hear a lot about grievance in the Scottish constitutional debate. Unionists are forever claiming that the growing separatist sentiment in our country is grounded in nothing more than a nationalist grievance culture. In reality, however, there are few people in Scotland who find themselves preoccupied with the history of England’s maltreatment of Scotland. Regardless of the constant puerile dribble of Dugdale and Kezia’s minions, we do actually understand that Braveheart was only a film. Support for independence has always been about what Scottish people believe to be the best for Scotland, and we know that the reality of austerity hurts our neighbours in other parts of the United Kingdom as much as it does us. It’s not grievance. It is Scotland looking for a Scottish solution for Scotland.
Yet there is an ever present grievance in the discussion – the invented discourse that Scottish independence is all about England. England’s anti-Scottish independence narcissism has two distinct faces; the beggar and the wailer. The beggar is that which argues that without Scotland as part of the Union England, Wales, and Northern Ireland will be abandoned to an eternity of Tory rule, and the wailer’s grievance is that everyone in Scotland just hates English people. No one appears to have spotted the contradiction in these faces. Scotland choosing to remain to save the rUK from the Tories – which we’ve never quite managed in three centuries – implies a love for our seemingly helpless and pathetic English neighbours. If it was hatred we would already be independent.
The truth is that Scottish independence has nothing to do with England other than the fact that is it our union with England we wish to dissolve for the sake of Scotland. Having said this, we also happen to think that English independence would be good for our beloved neighbour. Now that we are moving closer to a second referendum, brought about by Westminster’s blanket refusal to listen to the concerns of Scotland over Brexit, we are seeing a trend towards framing membership of the European Union as the reason for independence. Obviously, given the result of the June EU referendum, the EU is important to Scots, but to make this the basis for independence is weak.
Actually, the premise for independence is prior to either membership of the UK or the EU. Whether we remain in union with England or retain membership of the European Union are decisions for the people of Scotland to make, and the problem is that we do not have the independence to make these decisions for ourselves. It is then not the membership of either that we are arguing for in this debate but the very power to choose. This is what independence means. Therefore the second referendum – when it comes – must not be all about Europe. It can and should only be about gaining for our country the freedom to determine what we want, and if this happens to be the EU then so be it.
“The Scots really hate the English”