01 Jul Patriotism doesn’t belong to Scottish nationalists
From No To Scottish Independence http://www.notoscottishindependence.org.uk/
Debates are great – especially for those on the fence. One side proposes something, and the other argues against those proposals. Both sides cite facts and figures from third party sources, and both sides can agree on some things, and whatever’s left is down to the individual decision. Simple, no?
However, when the proposing side doesn’t make a case it makes it difficult for the opposing side. In the debate over Scottish independence, the biggest argument seems to be for securing Scottish identity – but is the Scottish way of life in danger, and if so, how can a Government make you feel more Scottish?
We elect our representatives to Government on one night on one day in one year out of four. Is that when we need to feel proud to be Scottish? Are all those other days simply an interval for the ticking of a box? Well of course not – because, unlike in politics, patriotism has no losers.
The SNP are quite clever in the way they’ve linked Scottish identity to their politics. They don’t say that if you vote against them you’re anti-Scottish, but they do have a clever way of getting away with the mere suggestion that you are anti-Scottish and that comes down to one word – Unionist.
If there’s one way to confound someone arguing for independence, it’s to take away the idealistic, Scottish argument of “freedom from oppression” and “freedom from Westminster”. They tend not to go into the details of economics, energy, Europe or taxes. They’ll tell you that it’s Scotland’s time, that the UK has suppressed Scottish identity and that Scotland deserves to govern itself, and maybe throw “freedom” into the mix.
At this point you might disagree with said pro-independence person or group. After all, you might not have any of those feelings. You may actually be quite happy with being Scottish but a skewed sense of grievance can be fomented by turning it all into a “who’s more Scottish” competition. In reality though they can’t question how you feel about your identity, no matter how hard they try. So they brand you as Unionist, because it’s easier to think of anyone who opposes independence as a foreigner, and by calling you a Unionist they’re trying to say you don’t know how it feels to be Scottish.
Think about that, though. Is anyone against independence British and not Scottish? Of course not – but from the language of the debate you’d think that was the case. How is it that Scottish identity has to supersede British identity, and vice-versa?
Next year we have the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. I’m a proud Scot, but I can still be British for a few days so that I’m not enjoying another nation’s celebrations. When you see a Scot on the news who’s accomplished something truly remarkable, you feel pride – vicarious pride, but pride nonetheless and that’s a great feeling to have. If the group that calls you a Unionist for disagreeing with them won’t be enjoying the Olympics, supporting Team GB, or feeling pride in British achievements than you can only give up. That person has chosen to prioritise Scottishness above all else, and you can’t convince someone they aren’t only Scottish.
Perhaps the question isn’t about whether or not a Government can make you feel more patriotic – but should we allow a political party to use our patriotism against us? I certainly don’t need to choose between being British and Scottish because I’m both, and sometimes more of one than the other. If my identity is being suppressed then I haven’t noticed, to be honest, and I can’t think of any examples when that would be the case. If anything, I’m embarrassed to be Scottish when my countrymen infer that I’m anti-Scottish, or when a political party tries to tell me what it means to be Scottish.
Ultimately the independence referendum is not a decision about identity – because we have that, and most people don’t need to choose between one or the other – but rather self-interest. If you think your family will be less Scottish in a few decades, then maybe you can vote yes. If you don’t want to risk giving them the best in life, then vote no.
Our patriotism doesn’t belong to any political party.
Glasgow-born Ali Syme works as a campaign strategist for www.notoscottishindependence.org.uk/ and is currently employed full time as a digital marketer for an online retailer. He is one of now 11 campaign members who question the argument for independence.