Fervent SNP supporter Derek Philips asks if I once stood as an SNP council candidate (letters, August 14). I did – 15 years ago.
And it was partly that experience which caused me to quit the party soon after. I came to the conclusion that the people who run the SNP want power not for Scotland, but over Scotland.
I used to think that the SNP was different from other nationalist parties. But the advance of knowledge – especially insider knowledge – dispels many cherished illusions.
All nationalism predicates exclusion. All nationalism involves borders and barriers, and a grasping us versus them. Its subtext is always the same – we’re better than them.
Nationalism requires a charismatic leader, a party organisation, a top-down command structure, a symbol, a flag and a propaganda gospel. It also requires someone to blame for the supposed misfortunes or difficulties facing the nation, both in the present, but also over the centuries long past.
In the case of the SNP, the leader, Alex Salmond, is venerated by the party foot soldiers who must obey party policy. The symbol is the pig in a poke. The flag is, of course, the Saltire, contrasting with the Union flag, described by an SNP MSP as “the butcher’s apron”.
The gospel is the hallowed White Paper which ignores all the risks and dangers of separation and talks up a fairy-tale future which experts view with incredulity.
The politics of grievance supply the blame game, which includes monstering the SNP’s opponents and recalling the slaughter of Auld Scotland’s ancient battles. Forget the Battle of Britain or the Battle of the Atlantic, but remember Bannockburn and Stirling Bridge. Don’t mention the war because the Scottish nationalist leaders then were interned and because it was a war and a victory against nationalism.
The trouble is that all these mechanisms contrive to diminish individual thought and therefore individual liberty. “Here’s tae us, wha’s like us” is not conducive to individual freedom upon which human creativity and innovation depend.
That is why nationalism is wrong – it subsumes the individual to the party and ultimately to the state.
Of the 23 per cent of the Scottish electorate who voted SNP at the last Holyrood election, I would expect many to vote No. They have too much to lose.