People ask me on social media what my dislike of the SNP stems from. I’m not Scottish, nor have I ever lived there; my only link at all to the place is my Glaswegian grandmother, but she has nothing to do with my anti-SNP vibe. It’s very simple: I don’t like nationalism, of any stripe. I often get this “the SNP engage in civic nationalism, not ethnic nationalism” thrown at me, but that just sounds like equivocation. Nationalism is nationalism as far as I’m concerned.
I see nationalism as an anti-progressive force, and I could use copious examples from the 20th century to back up my point of view. Pretty much all of the experiments with socialism in the last one hundred years started out with a type of “civic nationalism”, meant to be the precursor to a worldwide freeing of the international proletariat. Yet, that same nationalism always, always reared its ugly side eventually – don’t like what the government is up to and wish to protest? That’s anti-nationalist and thus anti-worker and thus pro-capitalism. Nationalism leads to a place where any dissent is forbidden, whatever descriptive adjective you place in front of it.
So the slightly pro-SNP slant of the left of centre media thus far since the dissolution of parliament has really irked me. In the wake of the leaked memo of Sturgeon’s discussion with the French ambassador; in the coverage of the debates; in any attack on the SNP from almost any quarter, we seem to get a robust defence of the Nats from certain outlets.
The thing that’s strangest about this position is that the party it hurts the most is Labour (the Tories have one seat they can possibly lose to the SNP). Given they are presumably trying to help Labour get into power, why support a party that directly threatens Labour? Because they have fooled themselves into thinking that a Labour-SNP government would usher in some sort of progressive golden era, I think, against any possible logic; against the lessons from history about the inevitable effects of nationalism.
If you think I’m exaggerating all of this for effect, get a load of this excerpt from a Zoe Williams article from the weekend, in reference to Sturgeon:
“But what if she’s not trying to maximise her advantage? What if she’s not out to embarrass Miliband? What if she’s actually on the level? What if she is genuinely worried about the entire nation, not just the bits in her purview? What if she’s trying to build a real alliance, based on a shared belief in social justice and humanity’s innate generosity? Then Westminster is really in trouble.”
What the type of thinking employed here has is a load of blind spots about how politics and indeed human beings work. The SNP only care about Scotland – I don’t care what anyone says to the contrary, that is by nature who they are as a party. They want to separate from the UK, to make that country obsolete in fact. If this affects England badly? Who cares, not the SNP’s concern. They only run candidates in Scotland for a reason – they are essentially a single issue party with a bulked out policy agenda to accommodate getting elected to achieve that one aim. Yes, some of it sounds fluffy and nice in a Zoe Williams kind of a way, but that isn’t really what a nationalist party cares about ultimately. Just as UKIP are about securing a British exit from the EU, the SNP are about making Scotland an independent country. Not making England a more progressive place. Not making the Labour Party more left wing. All of those things, in fact, would work against the SNP’s ultimate, stated aim. So forgive me if I don’t drink the Kool Aid on this one.
The reason I think the left media have taken such a shine to the SNP may have something to do with the Green surge petering out, and with it a credible pull on Labour from the left. Whatever it’s about, however, I wish they’d cut it out.