‘Devine’ intervention

As the current party of devolved government in Scotland marks its 10th anniversary in power remarkably, and unusually where a government has retained control for this length of time, it shows no sign of losing the trust of the voters who put them there, the people of Scotland.

Its brand of centre left social democratic inclusive and outward looking civic nationalism has lost none of its appeal, and for many, myself included, is considered as the key which will unlock the door of independence for Scotland.

Meanwhile the titular head of the Scottish branch of the British government, the Conservative and Unionist Party has popped down to London to make an ill-informed audience at University College London even more ill-informed.

She achieved this feat by portraying we who believe in a self-governing Scotland as bad people, as fanatics and brainwashed, sometimes coerced, cultists, who think we are better than our neighbours. If ever you want to learn how to alienate half the population of a country ask Ruth Davidson’s advice, she ‘s great at it.

It is interesting in these circumstances therefore to draw attention to the comments last weekend of the globally respected pre-eminent Scottish historian and national treasure Professor Tom Devine (if you haven’t read his books on Scotland you should).

Tom Devine made the point at an event held in the Scottish parliament building that the rise of the SNP into government and a leading role in Scottish politics has kept Scotland free from the impact of the increasing drift across parts of the globe towards far rightwing populism.

Civic nationalism has been an effective barrier to xenophobia, hate crime and the stigmatisation and persecution of immigrants. We therefore don’t have an equivalent of Le Pen, Geert Wilders, Farage or Nick Griffin.

We are not perfect. We do still have our sectarian issues, and to say that Scotland is entirely racism free would be stretching it. We will always have to remain vigilant, and challenge any of this stuff where and when we see it, but hey, let’s take a compliment when it’s offered. I know we are not used to somebody saying something positive about us, but Professor Devine’s comments are welcome.

Interestingly too he made a point of mentioning how remarkable it was that although the vast majority of English born Scots voted no in the independence referendum hardly a word of criticism or rebuke has gone their way from the vast grassroots independence movement as a result.

Professor Devine clearly has his finger on the pulse of Scottish civic life, knowing correctly that our problem is not with English people, or anybody from anywhere else for that matter. We strive, as a movement for positive change, to welcome and take to our hearts anybody who chooses to live in our country and contribute to our social justice aims, building a better life for all of our citizens.

He recognises and notes, also correctly, that our problem is wholly with being governed by Westminster.

When it comes to respecting informed opinion I think I’d trust Tom Devine’s views any day of the week before those of Ruth Davidson, David Mundell, Kezia Dugdale and Theresa May, wouldn’t you?


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