On diversity

In support of remaining in the United Kingdom, I raise the spectre of the adverse potential of ­nationalism.

I have direct experience of the aftermath of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, listening to the voices of people directly affected by the rise of nationalistic calls which set the Serb, Croat and Bosnian peoples into a bloody conflict.

It was one that set neighbours, friends – in some cases even family members – against each other with dire consequences, all in the name of national identity.

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It is entirely possible to trace parallels in the equally bloody conflicts across the globe which seek to use identity as a means to gaining ideological, political and economic power.

I am not suggesting Scottish Nationalists have any intent in this regard, but my case is that nationalism is by its very nature a divisive measure, however democratic it might seem.

For example, I understand that the Nationalists’ white paper contains the assertion that, in the event of a Yes vote, all of us residing in Scotland will be granted Scottish citizenship, whether we like it or not.

This is a prospect which could feed an undercurrent of resentment to the use of newly acquired powers.

Clearly there will be those of us who wish to remain British citizens in a United Kingdom irrespective of our place of birth, colour, accent or faith.

If only partially expressed, there are already some elements, recently revealed, of antagonistic comments against those expressing support for the Union.

Fundamentally, the ensuing divisions seem to me to be retrograde; a step back 300 years, to a more primitive perspective of tribal identity.

I believe that preserving the rich culture of the Scots is not ­dependent on nationalistic endeavour.

We should surely be well-versed by now in encouraging diversity and acceptance, and be able to secure selfhood and remain in the UK.

All it takes is respecting and valuing difference.


Gardner’s Crescent