The set-to over Sturgeon and Salmond is not only about Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond, this is a proxy for two very different visions of an independent Scotland. We’re divided down other lines too, wrangling between factions with distinct visions of their own. And this idea of vision is, we can be sure, the key to understanding why we are in this maul. Perhaps without realising it, we have moved to the next stage of the independence campaign; the stage at which we have accepted the defeat of the union and have begun thinking about politics beyond independence.
Frustratingly, the Scottish independence movement has no shortage of crypto-unionists – many of whom are in positions of power and influence in the Scottish National Party and throughout the wider movement. In my previous article we looked at the attitude of Cameron Archibald, James Kelly, and Ross Greer towards Ireland and the Irish struggle for independence. Their assumption is that Ireland’s armed resistance to British occupation and aggression is deviant in nature
Regardless of this, however, Scotland is not England’s possession. Scotland and the Scottish nation – its culture, identity, and resources – are the shared heritage and possession of the Scots. The incorporating union of 1707 has always been exactly that to Scotland; the fusion of two distinct kingdoms. But, and from the very beginning, in England the union – which was secured with the bribery of Scots nobles and the threat of invasion – has always been understood as the annexation or absorption of Scotland by England. So, when we hear English people opine about Scottish independence...
Fifty to a hundred guys – and a few girls – dressed mainly in black, hoods up and faces covered, swaggering in a column towards a specified location in any city sends a very clear message! And we all understand what that message is. We don’t all button up the back. Regardless of how Police Scotland treat Loyalists, it was right for the police to intercept this little army – and it wasn’t wrong of witnesses and folk on social media to think this was a repeat of the last Loyalist day out. This brigade, this battalion, looked like a duck and it sure as hell quacked like a duck.
Granted, most of us pay this garbage little attention, and for good reason – but let me put it to you that this might be something of a mistake. In the replies to some of these bigoted comments independentistas have pointed out that religion is all but dead in Scotland. Insofar as we read these sentiments as an appeal to religious loyalties, they are meaningless. Protestantism and Catholicism have become redundant terms to a majority secular Scotland. This is where we are getting it wrong; these appeals are not to faith traditions or religious loyalties.
Sectarianism is a reflection of the historical, social, and political tensions of Scotland, dating back – of course – to the Reformation. Even then however, from the mid-sixteenth century, the struggle between Catholicism and the various Protestantisms of the Reformation period was always, in essence – as it was in England and on the continent, a power struggle. With the Peace of Westphalia – ending the Wars of Religion in 1648 – where states recognised the principle of cuius regio eius religio, which granted the monarch the right to determine the religion of the state.
After sharing his latest opinion piece in The Times on social media, Massie added an afterthought, suggesting that “we might ponder how the decline of Presbyterian Scotland both made Scotland a warmer house for Catholics and independence.” Given his unhidden political bias against Scottish nationalism and independence, it could only be assumed that his linking of independence with Scotland becoming less hostile to Catholicism assumed his negative opinion of the latter. Sure, the last thing we need, we take from this, is Scotland becoming a more welcoming place for Catholics.
The vision of independence is one of a through road on which power is brought back to Scotland, enabling us to tackle the problems neither Westminster nor Scotland’s unionists have any interest in addressing. The bottom line is that we can do nothing to better Scotland without first returning state power to the country. We may be able to see the problems we face. We might even see the causes of these problems. But there is precious little we can do to change things without first winning independence and in so doing taking the power we need to effect the change we want.