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.
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.