Tolerance and mutual respect

I was saddened to read Michael Wilson’s letter to your paper last week.

I know Michael as an educated, intelligent and articulate friend, but in arguing that all national movements are bigoted and angry he resorts to a manner of expression that is, well, itself slightly bigoted and angry.

Michael cites an example of national violence while failing to acknowledge that this is a specific instance of ethnic nationalism.

There are countless examples of liberal democracies which have a foundation of a very different civic nationalism. France and America are widely regarded as examples of this, where the nation is composed of all, regardless of race, colour, gender, language or ethnicity, and where common cultural components of history and language shape and distinguish the society.

Indeed, liberal nationalists argue that without a national foundation, democratic and liberal principles of mutual respect, freedom and equality are often undermined.

Michael expresses a dual national identity of British and Scottish – I welcome that, but I just don’t share it. I hope that his dual national identity will help him express in double measure the tolerance and mutual respect that are hallmarks of the national movement in this country.

Stuart Bell

(SNP candidate for Tweeddale East)