Populism and Democracy in Scotland

Regularly on social media I and others are called fifth-columnists for openly criticising the SNP, for having the audacity to air our disagreement with ‘Nicola.’ The suggestion is that by doing this we are undermining independence, the implication being that we are traitors or British government ‘plants’ sowing seeds of discord. Certainly, this has made my own commitment to independence one of the most frustrating and painful political experiences of my life – but it has not shaken my resolve.

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Five Years On

In 2014 we saw ourselves as a small nation in a David-versus-Goliath fight. Realistically, in the beginning we did not expect to win. One theme repeated frequently at the time was that we just wanted to be a nuisance, that we wanted to have a bit of craic, upset the apple cart, and maybe – if we got lucky – give the English political establishment a bloody nose. We saw ourselves as a pesky younger sibling trying to make a point. But something changed. At some point in August 2014 it dawned on us that we might win – that we had a real shot of securing independence.

Nigel Farage: The Threat to Democracy

Students of the far-right are well acquainted with this strategy of waiting. Since Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists, all the essential ingredients of true ideological racism – white supremacism and fascism – have been patiently waiting in the undergrowth, moving through a series of permutations; the National Front, the BNP, UKIP, and the Brexit Party – to name a few. Farage is not like the more obvious racists. He’s not like Nick Griffin or Tommy Robinson.

What Working-Class?

Now when I listen to Leonard and Sweeney and Co. prattling on about the working-class it means nothing. Their insincerity and lack of authenticity no longer upset me. Council housing area vermin (CHAVs) like me stopped caring about their hypocrisy years ago. Most of us gave up on politics altogether, thinking no doubt that David Cameron was at least honest about his loathing of us as a class without aspiration. As we awoke during the 2014 independence referendum campaign, after a long sleep, we saw up close how Labour campaigned against us.

National Pride

Cat Boyd – writer and “internationalist” – gave us another horrifying example of this pitiful self-loathing attitude at the weekend when she posted to her Twitter page a short video featuring an ad by the Scotland Is Now campaign, a campaign designed to attract tourism and foreign investment to the country, with her own comment: “peak nationalism.” As small-minded, xenophobic, and potentially violent supporters of Brexit were marching through the streets of London trailing effigies of hanged politicians behind them, Boyd was doing her best to smear an effort to project Scotland...

Brexit’s Neon-Nazis

In may respects, Brexit and all the turmoil and chaos that has brought Britain to this point has brought us full circle, right back to the revolutionary potential of the late 20s and 30s. The political left has disengaged from the politics of the street and the centre has completely come apart. The only real political strength in England today is the right and the racist far-right. Given this, the yellow vests movement – with its overt “neon-Nazi” leanings – should be a cause for serious concern.

Getting on With the Day Job

We cannot win independence now without the SNP. All our efforts are in vain, whether radical or alternative, if those efforts are not working in accord with the efforts of the whole movement; moving in the same direction as all the people and groups now on the march. So, allow me to be clear: I pledge my commitment to support the SNP in the job that it is doing. I will not engage myself in any activism aimed at harming or undermining the work it is doing. I will not make one single elected representative of the SNP my personal or political enemy.

Clashing Symbols

It is no accident that from 1999, with the opening of the Scottish parliament, there has been a marked increase in the popular cultural use of the symbols of Britain and Britishness. Before then, with the exception of a minority of nationalists and republicans, the union flag flying over council offices and other public buildings in Scotland hardly raised an eyebrow. The flag of the UK was a simple and largely inoffensive statement of political settlement and reality. It was rare, if ever, it was featured in popular entertainment.