Monday, May 3, 2010

'Braveheart was a long time ago...'

In my last post I briefly mentioned Richard Bacon's interview with Ieuan Wyn Jones on BBC3, which was one of a series of interviews with the party leaders specifically for the benefit of first-time voters. Each programme contained voxpops from young people, allowing them to articulate their concerns, and deliver their verdict on the political party in question. There was an interesting contribution from one guy on the programme featuring Alex Salmond, in which he expressed his disdain for the idea of Scottish independence in the following terms -

"Braveheart was a long time ago. You know what, English people? I forgive you. We still kicked your ass, but I forgive you."

A very witty line, but also of course a monumental red herring. It's an attempt to conflate two entirely different things - chippiness against the English, and a desire for Scotland to stand on its own feet as a normal independent country. Most British people got over America's uppitiness in 1776 a long time ago, but it doesn't logically follow from there that we all now want to be ruled from Washington DC. (Leaving Tony Blair's deepest longings out of this for a moment.)

In truth, and it may seem counter-intuitive to some, chippiness against the English is most commonly found among people who are - at least passively - political unionists. It's the 'ninety-minute nationalist' phenomenon identified by Jim Sillars all those years ago. People who have a victim complex on behalf of Scotland actually need the union to be maintained so they can carry on nursing their grievance indefinitely.

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