For many Unionists, the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014 left a bad taste in the mouth. The ‘nasty nats’ did a good job of earning their reputation. The invective poured out online against prominent unionists was unbelievably crass, and did much to discredit the cause of Scottish independence.
Although I was overseas and unable to vote, like a majority of Scots on that September, I felt a smug sense of satisfaction at the result, a sense that the nobler side in the debate had won. Over two million Scots had voted ‘no’ against only 1.6 million for the ‘yes’ side. The result had come despite – or perhaps because of – the SNP’s dominance of Scottish representative government in the years preceding the vote. However, although the actual referendum campaign crystallised my unionism for a moment, it offered only a brief reverse in an intellectual journey towards Scottish nationalism that had been taking place for many years.
The primary driving impulse was the realisation that my primary national identity was as a Scot, and that our nation’s aspiration to statehood is a natural and irresistible impulse of the Scottish people.
Second, seeing the Conservative Party, Labour Party and Westminster elite’s full-on embrace of corporate wokeness, neoliberalism and neo-Marxist ideology, I realised that the British state had lost the desire to resist the forces of globalism. In the international arena, it frequently acted as leading advocate for woke causes. Britain had unwittingly transformed itself into a tax cow for the funding of woke regressivism, irrespective of the party in power. While these traits are also to be found among the ideologues of the Scottish elite, it undercut any pragmatic argument for remaining in the UK.
Third, observing the work of the corrupt and unaccountable international bureaucracies, I realised that the system of nation-states and the spirit of independence and national self-determination are the best correctives to the tendency towards overcentralisation of power in the modern world. Big tech, big business, big capital, alphabet agencies and the standing international bureaucracies have been engaged in a decades-long powergrab that is only now starting to be resisted by nationalists and patriots in countries around the world. The Brexit vote revealed for many of us the forces wrangling power further and further away from the people.
For many of those on the fence, the problem with Scottish independence is that the SNP’s vision of independence is the only game in town.
Many of us fail to see the logic of gaining our independence from the UK only to lose it again to the EU, an even more remote and unaccountable entity.
Many of us are afraid of the prospect of a Scotland beholden to international capital as both left and right compete to outdo each other in the fiscal profligacy stakes.
Many of us are angered by the takeover of Scottish and British institutions by a fringe minority of hard-left woke activists.
Many of us are livid at having censorship laws and state oversight of parenting decisions crushing traditional social prerogatives.
Many of us will always resist the notion that Scottishness is a mere administrative construct, and believe that a future Scottish citizenship should be for Scots.
Many of us are dismayed that Scotland, once a great industrial powerhouse, has been reduced to dependence on a few important, but relatively marginal sectors.
The SNP’s vision for Scotland is not for independence, but for subjugation: subjugation to the European Union; subjugation to the global money markets; and, subjugation to the church of wokeness. It will not deliver independence, but dependence on Asia for cheap manufactures; enthralment to Californian regressivism; and, servitude to the state for household sustenance.
We need a different vision for an independent Scotland, one that will deliver full freedom.
As a nation we should pursue righteousness, justice and mercy. We should provide temporary refuge for those fleeing persecution, residency for those with Scottish families, while reserving Scottish citizenship for Scots. We should enforce our border. We should crush the cycles of dependency in our inner cities by creating the conditions and providing the capital for Scotland to become an industrial powerhouse once more. Our governments should be forced to balance the books, regardless of which party is in power. We should have legal and administrative codes which are fit for purpose. We should build our military capacity to act as an effective deterrent to foreign adversaries, not for engaging in foreign adventurism. Finally, our foreign policy should be driven not by ideology or fear, but by principle and pragmatism.
But we also – crucially – need to strike a different tone with respect to the other nations in the British Isles. England, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland will always be our closest trading and security partners, and national and cultural kin. The concept of Britishness is one which will and should outlast the United Kingdom, just as our European identity is in no way undermined by not being part of the bureaucratic monstrosity that is the European Union. The English, Scots, Manx, Irish, Welsh, Ulster Scots and Cornish are bound together by shared islands, a shared history and a shared future. Unless we part on friendly terms, the breakup will be exploited by foreign adversaries to weaken both sides’ standing in the world.
Scotland desperately needs a new voice for independence, one that advocates for full freedom, for friendly relations with the rest of the British Isles, for respect for the traditional prerogatives of society, and for renewed industrial prowess.
This is a vision whose time has come.