Scotland and the Politics of Identity

The Scottish National Party's Alex Salmond and Hamza Yousaf prior to a swearing-in ceremony at the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish National Party’s Alex Salmond and Hamza Yousaf prior to a swearing-in ceremony at the Scottish Parliament.

The UK general election campaign has already begun to focus on the politics of identity  not (perish the thought) racial identity, nor even any form of English or British identity  but, needless to say, Scottish identity.

One might have thought the narrow failure of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in last year’s independence referendum would have buried the issue, at least for a while, as happened with their previous failure in the 1979 referendum.  But it seems that the SNP is likely to achieve record gains at the election on May 7th, and party leader Nicola Sturgeon was widely seen as the most successful performer at the seven-way leaders’ debate on April 2nd.

This morning’s news bulletins led with allegations in the Daily Telegraph that Ms Sturgeon had privately expressed a preference for a Conservative rather than Labour election victory, during leaked conversation with a French diplomat.

This might have been cynical calculation: while racial nationalist parties such as the NF and BNP have traditionally benefited from periods of Labour government which wind up the natural resentment of their supporters, conversely the SNP might have been expected to benefit from disgust north of the border at yet another Tory tenancy of Downing Street.

H&D readers can be forgiven for asking just what is Scottish nationalism?  The SNP seems to favour reclaiming sovereignty from Westminster, but surrendering it to Brussels.  And of course the party is eager to embrace as “Scottish” just about any type of immigrant, while rejecting fellow Britons as colonisers.


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