Saturday, 15 May 2010

The tragic flaw of Salmond's nationalism

The SNP fought - and lost - the 2010 UK general election on a platform of "More Nats, Less Cuts". I've never been a fan of Alex Salmond, and the linguistic butchery of that phrase gave my dislike of him and his party even greater force. But the message it summarises - that the SNP will "fight for Scotland" - is even more offensive when extracted from its soundbite.

The message, which has been reprised repeatedly by Salmond in response to David Cameron's visit north, and appears to form the bulk of SNP policy for all eventualities, is that when cuts come they should not fall on Scotland. This is ludicrous. It is juvenile. It is beyond reason. It is classic SNP.

What the SNP are saying is that, when cuts in public spending are brought in to tackle our national deficit, as we know they must be, they should be made only to the services of the English, Welsh and Northern Irish. In the face of dwindling tax receipts from all parts of the UK, including Scotland, Salmond wants to take more and more for Scotland and leave less and less for the rest of our countrymen.

This for me is the tragic flaw of Salmond's populist brand of nationalism. By reducing his message down to "fighting for Scotland" he ends up being no more than a greedy beggar. And he paints us in Scotland all as greedy beggars too.

Scots voted overwhelmingly last week to reject Salmond's message, and his failed Scottish Government, and placed their trust in a Labour party which has principles, not self-interest, at its heart. One of the reasons we saw such big swings towards Labour in Scotland is that people know that when times get tough it's far more important to be fair and equitable than to be greedy and isolationist.

Next year we'll have the chance to kick them out of power altogether, and I have no doubt we'll take it. Scotland is not taken in by nationalist protectionism. Scotland has demonstrated that it believes in fairness. With apologies for compounding the sins against grammar: "Less Nats, Thank Goodness".


  1. What is specifically is Salmond asking for?

  2. @Euan Salmond is essentially asking for the moon on a stick - he is asking for Scotland to be spared the cuts that are inevitable given the deficit. But his aim is not actually to protect the Scottish budget - it is to be able to say that he fought to protect the Scottish budget, and use the coming cuts as ammunition in an independence referendum.

    If we ever do have such a referendum - and I personally have never run from the idea - we can expect to see that argument front and centre. And those who value the union need to be wary of allowing the argument against to be characterised as "scotland cannot stand on her own feet". Scotland could be a successful independent country. But she can also be a successful nation of the UK. It's a choice that should be based on sober analysis, not tribalism or fearmongering.

  3. Yes, but what specifically is Salmond asking for. i.e. the actual detailed list of demands?

  4. @Euan He has said he wants no cuts in "health, education and jobs" in Scotland. He is apparently unconcerned about whether such cuts might occur elsewhere in the UK.

  5. But what are the specific items?