One or two of you may have noticed that my previous post triggered a brief Twitter spat with Scottish Labour's one-man online presence (or so it seems at times) Duncan Hothersall, who decreed that I was guilty of "bitter nationalism". The exchange followed a familiar pattern - I pointed out that he is a British nationalist, he denied it, I challenged him to justify the denial given that he enthusiastically supports the existence of a British state, and he then resorted to some highly entertaining obfuscation and sophistry. The most creative example of the latter was this -
"Ha. The Olympics, despite protestations from your side, is not about nationalism, just nations."
Now that's very interesting. One of the arguments unionists like to make is that the British state is different and morally superior to other states because it isn't a nation state, but rather a "multi-national state". OK, we all know this is bunkum, but let's pursue the point just for a moment. Britishness, the theory goes, transcends nationalism, because Britain isn't a nation at all, it's just a state. The nations belonging to the state are Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales - the UK state, therefore, is supposedly a shining example of Duncan's much-vaunted "internationalism" in action.
But wait just a moment - if that's the case, and if the Olympics is "just about nations" rather than about nationalist politics, why is the Scottish nation barred from taking part? Why are Scottish athletes banned - literally banned - from displaying the flag of their own nation? And why the attempts to browbeat Scottish and Welsh athletes into singing an anthem they clearly regard as foreign, and which they don't want to sing?
I'm confused, Duncan.