Nationalism could result in different parts of Scotland adopting a ‘clan-like’ mentality. writes Jim Duffy.
Do you remember Mandy? No, not the Barry Manilow song, the New Labour politician. Yes, Lord Mandelson, as he is now known. He was in and out of Tony Blair’s Cabinet more often than it rains in Glasgow. A key architect of the New Labour movement, which in itself these days sounds totally ridiculous based on where the current Labour Party is, Mandy was always one to have his say no matter who it upset.
So, this political relic has popped his head above the parapet again this week. And I’ve been educated. He has given us a clear definition of the difference between a nationalist and a patriot. This, in turn, made me think of how polarised and dysfunctional an independent Scotland would be actually become ...
Patriotism apparently is love of one’s own country. I guess that’s why the Americans always call themselves patriots. They salute the flag and it hangs proudly everywhere. They then created the Patriot Act after 9/11. An Act designed to protect their beloved country. And of course the Americans created a missile defence system called the Patriot Defence System that they sell all over over the world to their “friends”.
I’m digressing into vituperative mocking of America here .... apologies, back to Mandelson. So, patriotism is all about loving your country, wanting the best for it, caring about it, its societies and well-being. It all sounds very altruistic, noble and meaningful.
In fact, I could call myself a patriot of Scotland. I’m proud of being Scottish and proud of being part of the United Kingdom as well. So, I’m doubly patriotic. But, I feel nothing for the EU. So, no treble here. I bet 99 per cent of you reading this are patriotic about your country. We should be as it’s harmless and built upon genuine, unbiased thinking.
So what about nationalism? Well, according to Lord Mandelson, “nationalism, on the other hand, is a hatred of foreigners”. Strong words, all within the context of Brexit and where it stemmed from. But, if I apply this to how nationalism pertains to I me as a Scot, then I’m not happy and, in fact, can see trouble ahead.
Nationalism is not a warm and fuzzy term. It might feel warm and fuzzy to the tartan tammy brigade, who watch Braveheart every month and like fudge and black pudding. For them, nationalism is a term that imbues a collective oneness. It has an over-arching theme of “we are in this together” – all for one and one for all, and all that. Let’s called this fuzzy nationalism.
Yes, I can hear some Scottish Labour MSP using this phrase very soon at Holyrood. It should get her or him a great round of applause and table tapping. Many of the nationalists I know are Fuzzy-Nats. They go all goey at the thought of an independent Scotland. Never mind that we will all be skint for decades, at least we will all be chums. I think not.
What nationalism really is all about is polarisation. It’s a straight binary option internally and externally. Externally, if Scotland ever became independent it is an easy one to see. We sit as a sovereign nation and try our very best to stand on our own two feet. We do deals with other nations and trade globally. I get this and can see it operating as part of a wider economic plan.
But, it is the internal nationalism that will tear us apart. This is where I agree with Mandy and his meta-narrative on what it truly means to be a nationalist. Nationalism breeds contempt for others around you. We saw it in the Indyref campaign. Family member against family member right up to cities and regions being more “nationalistic” than others. It spews forth bile, taunts and acutely acerbic, negative language that pit one neighbour against another. This internal nationalism is corrosive and will only lead to no good, it could be argued.
As Scotland is a small country with only a handful of cities, each of these under a nationalist “regime” would compete to be the Number One. Please don’t think for one minute that Glasgow City Council would chum up with Dundee City Council, if there was money on the table. No, each city will embark on getting as much for itself as it possibly can. It will be survival of the fittest and pugilistic in nature. After all, everyone knows that currently, Glasgow makes the money, while Edinburgh banks it – right? And as for Dundee? It soaks money up. Let’s hope that V&A thing makes a few headlines and a few bob. So, why would each city “share” what it has? Certainly not too be patriotic.
Don’t be fooled into believing that nationalism is a positive force for good. I accept that many Scots feel that nationalism is what they believe in and will vote for if the opportunity presents itself again. But, nationalism will then eat the country apart as we compete internally and become “clan-like” again in our mentality. If we are being honest, Aberdeen will probably build a wall around itself and want its own independence stating it has all the oil. You heard it hear first!
So, maybe now is the time to listen to Lord Mandelson. I cannot believe I just said that to be honest. But, perhaps it’s time to reformat and re-frame nationalism with patriotism.
Would I vote for the Scottish Patriot Party? That depends. But, when we reference how we think about Scotland as an independent country, perhaps we should be thinking about patriotism that is more positive and not nationalism that could tear us all apart.