On Nationalism…

posted in: Editorials | 26

Many of you will have seen the comments of London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan over the weekend to Scottish Labour’s annual conference; many of you will share the outrage felt by our members, by supporters of Scottish independence, and indeed across the Scottish political spectrum at what we feel is a completely unjustified and untrue attack on self-determination.

You can read his full comments here, but the gist of it is that supporting Scottish independence means you’re equivalent to racists and bigots that divide people according to race or religion.

He states:


There’s no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of whether we’re English or Scottish and those who try to divide us on the basis of our background, race or religion.

This falsely assumes that the independence movement divides people according to whether you’re English or Scottish.
Let us be clear. IT ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT.

As English Scots, we know this. Our very existence shows this; indeed it feels absurd for me to type this out!
Three years after our group was established; after the referendum in 2014 where we put to bed the old lie about Scottish nationalism being anti-English ; almost three decades after the Claim of Right which asserted Scotland has a right to determine a future for herself and the government that best suits her needs (keen students of recent political history will note some of the signatories of that document in 1989 included Gordon Brown & Alastair Darling!), yet here we are, still having this same old conversation. Sadiq, the records wearing a bit thin here.

Lest we need to spell it out agin, ad nauseum, independence is about Scotland’s self-determination.
Our opposition to Westminster is because we feel that Scotland should get the government we elect.

To suggest that support this is in some way racism is not only patent nonsense, it’s offensive to boot.

The Scottish independence movement is one of civic, not ethnic nationalism.
So many times folk from Westminster either don’t understand or don’t care about that distinction, to their detriment. Mayor Khan is merely the latest in a long line of London-based politicians to fall foul of the simple fact that Scottish nationalism is based on the simple premise that decisions about Scotland should be made by the people that live and work here. To suggest ANY correlation with the odious politics of Donald Trump, or the sad, lamentable rise of far-right politics in other places is completely wrong and distasteful to many, given the open & welcoming nature of the independence movement.

Another comment in his speech was this gem:

The antidote to Brexit and the rise of right-wing populist parties is not to run away, break away or push our neighbours away. It’s to lead in a different direction – the right direction.

The ironic thing about this statement is it doesn’t seem to notice that Brexit IS about running away..and pushing our nearest neighbours aside to boot.
The London-centric attitude shines clearly through in many of his words; to our members in Shetland for instance, their nearest neighbour is Norway, which if Brexit were to be inflicted upon Scotland would no longer be part of a single market with them.
The calls for a second independence referendum which grow louder and more irresistible with every passing day, are centred around this. We want a close relationship with our European neighbours; with Ireland, Norway, France and others. Countries we share so much history with here in Scotland. Alliances made, wars fought and families shared.
Yet the Brexiteers would have us dragged out of a close union with our neighbours, against the expressed democratic will of the Scottish people, to be isolated and ever more at the whim of a government we rarely if ever have any significant role in electing, and whose policies are seldom in Scotland’s best interests.

To campaign against that terrible fate, Mayor Khan, is not racism.  It is not divisive to say we should run our own affairs or seek close partnerships with our neighbours – and that includes England.  After independence, the people of Scotland will throw their arms open to our neighbours in England, with ourselves as a group with many family members and friends across the border leading that fraternal charge.  That will happen no matter what you say.

Brexit may be the right direction for England. It may not. Despite our origins, that’s not for us as a group, nor for Scotland as a country, to say. But equally it cannot be the case that the voters in Scotland who chose to remain in Europe can have that decision cast aside by the numerically superior votes in England. Thus it is only fair for us to choose OUR “right direction”.

That’s not racism, Sadiq.

It’s democracy.

26 Responses

  1. Excellent piece which I hope will be read by many……. as well as Sadiq.

  2. Margo Murray

    Thank you! I agree with Jan.

  3. Graham Bell

    Posted link and extract on our Facebook page – YES Ross & Sutherland, as its such an excellent article we felt compelled to share as widely as we can.
    Great work from guys!!

  4. Kelly Macdonald

    Right on the nail. It’s not the English we have issues with … it’s Westminster . Simples ! Alba Gu Brath

  5. David Beckett

    I admire you English Scots and you are right we will accept anyone from England to come live in Scotland as long as they accept our values and understand Scotland is a free independent country

  6. Peter Kennedy

    It just shows how out of touch Mr Khan is.

    However, what we need is true independence! Independence from the UK, and also independence from the bureaucratic EU. We can still have fair, just laws out with the EU. With the EU we get swallowed up with new-liberalism and end up with CETA and possibly TTIP. We need an independent Scotland outside the EU.

  7. As a Scot born here to and English father and Scottish mother I have many relatives on both sides of the border. I do not have any feelings other love for all my English family and friends made over the years. I am deeply offended and disappointed by Mr Khans remarks. Scotland has a right to govern itself and to be continually ignored by the English governments only makes the case for Independence for Scotland all the more important today.

  8. Phil devitt

    Very well written and very true

  9. Gòrdan MacGhille EathainIain MacIain


  10. James McGlynn

    Racist ; a person showing or feeling discrimination or prejudice against people of other races .
    Me thinks you doth protest too much Mr.Khan !
    Do you have a mirror or would a multi faceted viewing contraption be more suitable for your easily changeable chameleon like political positioning .

  11. An English arsehole is despised and hated in Scotland because he or she is an arsehole, not because they are English. The same holds true for every other nationality.

  12. Ruth Hanratty

    Excellent piece Math. Thank you.

  13. Charles Docherty

    This responce should have been e mailed to newspapers, especially the London Evening Standard & the Metro, on Saturday or Sunday morning .
    Sadiq Khan’s well paid job is to look after and inprove London not to go gallivaning up to Perth spouting lies. I hope that his Perth expenses were paid for out of his own pocket or by the impoverished Labour Party (Scottish Region) and that he doesnt try to claim them back from the London council taxpayers.

  14. Brian Doonthetoon

    I’ll just point out that at the last two or three rallies last year, including Glasgow Green in September, and the Hollyrood rally in October, “English Scots For Yes” were sheltering under a gazebo provided by the Wings Over Scotland contingent, shepherded by Ronnie Anderson, in a spirit of mutual self-help towards independence for our nation.
    “English Scots For Yes” do exceedingly good cakes…

  15. Excellent well written intelligent piece and quickly to the point. I loved reading your thoughts and truly appreciate the time taken to write it. Thank you for your indight

  16. I know many people who were born in England that voted for independence last time. I think he knows London will be a fraction of itself when it no longer flies the union jack. Its just sad that he decide to call us racist in order to further his cause. Disappointed in him to be honest.

  17. Thomas Valentine

    Khan knows his accusations were false. He is following his party’s strategy of demonizing anyone in Scotland who supports greater autonomy or independence. Nothing we say here, none of the facts and especially none of what we saw with our own eyes; ever finds it’s way to the pages of English newspapers or TV news. Anne Begg MP for Labour and Aberdeen South campaigning in Dundee with BNP activists from her own constituency including a man she sat next to at election night declarations. We say the pictures but the majority in England are totally unaware.
    It is called manufacturing consensus. The population is being indoctrinated with the opinion that supporters of independence are dangerous fascists and racist that must be dealt with harshly. We are being turned into a Scottish “Mau Mau” with the eager panting help of Dugdale and failing local sales team.

  18. Totally agree with what you have written, pity the msm won’t pick up on it

  19. Superb piece … speaking as a Londoner married to a West Highlander, and having spent 20 glorious years living in Scotland, I could not agree more!

  20. Dorothy Devine

    Thank you but I’m sure someone will emerge from the woodwork to say you were ‘forced’ to write this because you were scared of reprisals from the forces of evil !

    I am forever amazed by the lack of self awareness displayed BTL on newspaper websites – merrily insulting but immediately offended by mild rebuke.

  21. Stephen Gray

    Scot, English, Welsh, black, white, brown who cares!
    Bring something positive to my table and you’ll always be welcome.

  22. A well considered and eloquent response.
    You need to communicate this to some of your more reactionary, English compatriots.
    Let’s have a debate about the issues rather then swapping insults and ill informed opinion.

    Iain Black (Yes voter)

  23. […] speak of the experience of an English Scot. Sylvina Tilbury, Math Campbell-Sturgess, and the many English Scots for Yes can. Similarly, I cannot speak of the experience as an Afro-Carribean Scot, Asian Scot, or Danish […]

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