It was 1957 and Ghana was in the spring of independence from colonial forces. A vibrant Californian, by the name of Richard Nixon, was dispatched by the US Government to attend the inauguration of the Ghanaian constitution. His confidence usurping him, he proceeded to ask audience members "how does it feel to be free?". "How should we know" came the reply; "we're from Alabama".
The 1950s saw the firm foundations of two great social movements in human history; the unshackling from imperialism in the developing world and the advancement for civil rights in the United States. Both these movements could rightly claim that freedom from oppression was a primary motive for their cause. This introduces a resolutely disturbing question; what freedom are people referring to in the debate over Scottish Independence? The idea of Scotland as a colonised and oppressed nation is a repulsive creation of the nationalists, and an affront to those freedom movements in history.
Yet, the idea of English dominance over Scotland has fed into a modern mind-set that the nations can easily be determined by the values of their citizens. England is isolationist, xenophobic and individualist whereas Scotland is liberal, tolerant and outward-looking. This dangerous assumption, subtly perpetrated by the Scottish National Party, allows Scottish politicians to overlook the perpetual intolerance at the heart of the referendum question.
As any Better Together activist would recall, shouts of "traitor" were a common recurrence on the doorsteps of Scotland. Cybernats would frequently desecrate your twitter feed as punishment for the unjustifiable act of speaking out against Alex Salmond. The Saltire, a flag that inspired pride and nostalgia, was hijacked for use as a campaign tool. None of these could be indicators of a liberal or progressive nation. Indeed, the entire notion of abandoning a successful system of sharing and cooperation appears the antithesis of modern liberalism.
The disparities in EU referendum results between Scotland and England has appeared to justify a central plank of Scottish Nationalist thought. Namely, that Scotland is a beacon of liberalism and tolerance suffocating in English hyper-conservatism. This fails to acknowledge that the motivations behind Brexit can be analysed alongside the rise in Scottish Nationalism. Both are clear reactions to the damaging effects of uncontrolled globalisation, with voters both sides of the border feeling their identity needs to be entrenched and the lack of control over their lives needs to be tackled. Describing the pro-independence movement as a "better" form of nationalism, focused on creating an inclusive society, is a decoy to the reality; as anyone who remembers the intimidating Saltire-waving fanatics of 2014 can attest to.
The tempting narrative offered by SNP politicians allows the pro-independence campaign to paint their opponents as defenders of the intolerant, right-wing establishment. It is the job of pro-Union campaigners to tackle this nauseating fallacy and remind voters of where the intolerance in Scotland stems from; the SNP. The Party that screams you are talking Scotland down if you ask a difficult question, that will endlessly ignore and patronise you if you have a different opinion and that seeks to divide a nation for its own political ambitions. The SNP should never have been allowed to proclaim to hold the mantle of liberalism and tolerance. They must be seen for what they are; not social justice warriors but a nationalist movement that seeks to separate Scotland from a successful Union at any cost.
If a second independence referendum is held by 2019, the voices proclaiming the rebirth of a liberal nation need to be tackled. It is a deep offence to our friends and neighbours in the rest of the United Kingdom and allows our nation to overlook the inherent intolerances at the heart of public debate over independence. It is time to take away the fallacies and embrace the reality.
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The Myth of Liberal Scotland | Daniel King Reviewed by Student Voices on 16:48 Rating: