Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Yes to the UK: Dilettante on The Student Journals

I've got another article published over on TSJ, this time setting out in broad strokes why I'm a unionist and why others should be too.


  1. Interesting stuff although I would like to pick you up on three things:

    1 - Whilst Salmond did not run on the constitutional question specifically, it is well known that the SNP wants a referendum. Salmond also ran on "return the SNP to beef up the Scotland bill."

    2 - Concerning support for independence - it is not trailing at 20% but averages between 25-33%. Some polls give extreme readings either way outside that bracket.

    3 - And your claim about Gaelic signage. I am interested where that came from. I scanned the SNP manifesto and the Scottish government website for this for a "every road sign" bit but could not find it.

    Whilst not a Gaelic speaker and thinking too much money/time is spent on Gaelic broadcasting in Scotland, I do defend the right for it to be protected. I think the pecentage you mention is the same amount of the Swiss population that speak Romansch, a language that now has official status in Switzerland alongside German, French and Italian. Is the preservation by the federal authorities of a lingo only spoken in the far south-east of the country worth protecting. That is for the Swiss.

    I note your complaint about the teaching of the Welsh language. Whilst this is up to the Welsh, it is no more prescriptive than ordering children to continue to learn a foreign language at GCSE/Standard Grade level - the latter is a standard in many parts of Scotland, whether French or German - other languages might also be an option.

    I wonder where all this unitarist unionism comes from. The insistance that one size must fit all - like it might be said of a narrow unionist like Franco (there are narrow unionists as well as nationalists) who outlawed or suppressed institutions, flags, languages and even dances because he felt so threatened by them, just as he near predecessor de Riveria did as both felt it undermined Spanish unity.

    You mention exclusiveness. In the SNP, which I am not a member, remember that two SNP MSPs consider themselves Scottish-Italian - one took his oath in Italian. Another considers himself a Scots-Asian. They live with these identities.

    You of course mention about Anglo-Irish Catholics like yourself. As someone who probably knows a lot about Irish history, have you ever asked yourself why two well-educated men like Patrick Pierce and Charles Burgess with English fathers and Irish mothers turned on the British state so violently? Or Michael Collins, a man who lived a third of his life in England and worked for the City and Whitehall?

    What was so wrong with the British state that created the conditions for their disaffection?

  2. I read the Gaelic language point in several places, I'll be very happy if its wrong.

    Yes, you do get narrow unionism. That is why unionism isn't something that many people self-identify as any more, despite most people wanting to preserve the UK. The purpose of the article was to try to (start) rejuvenating a positive perception of unionism and the UK.

    Yes, there are some prescriptive things that aren't nationalist. However, I refute your contention that being forced to learn Welsh is no different to being forced to learn a foreign language. Being forced to learn a foreign language does not have the identity implications (and indeed the identity-driven motivations) of forcing people to learn dying 'national' languages. You know that I don't support the state-enforced preservation of dying languages Aberdonian, we've covered this ground before.

    For the Italian-Scottish and Asian-Scottish people, I didn't know about them but they are probably the most tragic figures in the whole sorry saga of nationalism. For these are people so enamoured with borders that even while they are living embodiments of the fact that cultural divides can be conquered, they subscribe to a movement dedicated to reinforcing them.

    If you look at graphs that show polling data on the constitutional question, you will see a gradual but steady decline in support for independence, a strong rise in support for devolution, and a fluctuating stability of between 10% to 17% in people who want the parliament abolished.

    To avoid a whole new essay on a topic not related to my article, yes, I have considered why those men chose the route they took. I disagree with their conclusions.