Divining loyalties

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Dr Richard Marsh (Letters, 5 June) seeks to distinguish between nationalism and patriotism. Unfortunately, wars have been fought because of differing interpretations of words.

For the record, the SNP is the Scottish National Party. There has never been an “ist” in its name except when put there by opponents or through carelessness.

And the SNP is only part of the Yes campaign. Many members of that campaign would accept description as patriots but not as nationalists. And arguably, much of the Yes movement has now been taken over by people with no attachment to any political party or to the formal Yes organisation.

(Dr) David Stevenson

Blacket Place

Edinburgh

I have grown accustomed over many years to seeing George Orwell cited in order to impugn the motivations of those favouring Scottish independence. Dr Richard Marsh is merely the latest in a long line of letter writers to attempt this.

Each time, the modus operandi is the same – quote a couple of lines from Notes On Nationalism, before attempting to claim unionism as “patriotism” and support for independence as “nationalism”. It’s surprising that this “four legs good, two legs bad” type of argument doesn’t put the writers in mind of one of Orwell’s more famous works.

I’ll vote Yes in September, not because of nationalism, patriotism or anyone’s attempt at manufacturing a self-serving distinction between the two. Rather, I will do so because I think all powers currently reserved to Westminster would be better discharged by a government in Scotland, accountable to voters in Scotland. Presumably, many planning to vote No will do so on the basis of an equal but opposite belief that either all or some, those powers should remain where they are.

In mounting an appeal to patriotism of whatever kind, Dr Marsh urges us to “comprehensively reject nationalism” in September, which rather begs the question of which nationalism it is he would prefer us to reject.

Richard Thomson

Blairythan Terrace

Foveran, Aberdeenshire

I can only agree with Richard Marsh on the difference between nationalism and patriotism. Scotland needs to detach itself from the narrow nationalism that continues to characterise the UK,

He manifests the usual unionist blind spot whereby Scottish patriotism is always “narrow” and rather nasty, whereas if London is in control everything somehow becomes generous and broad-minded. On what grounds does he argue that the UK is a patriotic rather than nationalistic institution?

One can sympathise with Mary Archibald’s plea (Letters, 5 June) for a vote for expatriate Scots, but why restrict it to those in England? And apart from the administrative difficulties, there is a logical corollary she might not welcome.

If such are to be granted a vote on the grounds of nationality alone, then those resident in Scotland but not Scots, however defined, should not get a vote. You cannot have it both ways!

Alan Oliver

Battock Road

Falkirk

Richard Marsh, like earlier correspondents, quoted George Orwell’s opinion about nationalism as if frequent repetition made it into an unassailable truth.

Any review of history shows that most of the conflicts in the world have been caused by the suppression of nationalism by obsessive imperialists.

People like the Hapsburgs, Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin all committed monstrous crimes to suppress nationalism in the countries they conquered. The British were never avid supporters of Indian nationalism.

The essentially hypocritical distinction between patriotism and nationalism might be summarised by saying that if we support our own country, that is proper patriotism, but if other people support their country, that is narrow nationalism.

P M Dryburgh

Newbattle Terrace

Edinburgh