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Civic nationalism vs British nationalism

Posted on December 11, 2012 by

The modern Scottish independence movement is 84 years old, dating back to the 1928 formation of the National Party of Scotland, forerunner to the SNP. It is a peaceful, inclusive, civic and democratic movement – to the best of our knowledge, and almost uniquely, not a single life has been lost in pursuit of Scottish independence.

Despite this, so-called “Unionists” (more properly described as British nationalists) still regularly try to portray independence campaigners as violent racists. As recently as a few days ago, one prominent Labour activist frequently employed as a commentator on BBC Scotland political shows attempted to perpetuate baseless (but oft-repeated by Unionists) 70-year-old smears that the former SNP leader Arthur Donaldson was a Nazi sympathiser engaged in attempts to collaborate with the Germans during WW2, sabotage the British war effort and set up a Vichy-style government in Scotland. These claims were cited, astonishingly, as evidence of “the SNP’s fascist past”.

Such attacks are all the more bizarre given the constant reminders on the news that the only nationalists attempting to secure their goals by violence in the United Kingdom are those who do so in the name of Britishness, waving the Union Jack.

“Rioters have been warned against ‘holding Belfast to ransom’ after a petrol bomb attack on a police officer by suspected loyalists which is being treated as attempted murder. A gang of 15 men targeted surrounded and smashed the unmarked vehicle on Monday night outside the offices of Alliance Party MP Naomi Long in Newlands Road.

It was the worst incident in another night of violence in parts of east and south Belfast involving loyalists who took to the streets again in protest against a decision to restrict the flying of the Union Flag at Belfast City Hall.”

“The violence, which has left 28 police officers with injuries, overshadowed a visit to Northern Ireland by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Much of the anger has been directed towards the non-sectarian Alliance Party, whose councillors in Belfast voted to limit the number of days the Union flag could be flown over the city hall from 365 to 17.”

“Mobs of youths draped in Union flags clashed with officers dressed in riot gear close to the city centre and several locations on the outskirts of Belfast. Cars were set alight and hundreds of people attending a Christmas function had to be evacuated. Six police officers were injured in clashes in the Ballysillan area in the north west of the city while two more were injured during violence in the city centre.

The trouble flared after a week of protests by Loyalists over new restrictions on flying the Union Flag at Belfast City Hall.”

“Police in Belfast are on high alert after loyalists burned two Irish tricolours at a mass Union Flag protest in the city center.

Demonstrators in a 2,000 strong crowd applauded as the Irish flags were burnt on another day of tension in the province.”

“A further six officers were injured as they dealt with disorder near the Crumlin Road and Ligoneill Road. A total of 12 people have been arrested, including a 13-year-old boy.”

“Belfast has been hit by another night of rioting as hundreds of loyalists took to the streets to protest over flags. Eight police officers were injured, with two needing hospital treatment, and five people were arrested following clashes across the city.

Police are carrying out a major security operation to prevent further violence later today. With a major protest planned in the city’s centre, traders are worried business could be seriously affected on what should be one of the busiest shopping days of the year.”

Still, those dastardly “cybernats” and their occasional rudeness on the internet, eh?

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24 to “Civic nationalism vs British nationalism”

  1. Luigi says:

    Recently, there have been a number of instances where Saltires have been deliberately removed, for political reasons,  from fire engines, football club emblems, council offices etc etc. People were offended, but only feelings were hurt. Noone rioted.

  2. muttley79 says:

    Ian Smart unfortunately has damaged his own reputation irreparably.  He comes across as a fanatic of the first degree of Scottish Labour.  There was a debate others and I had with a poster (called Rider) on the Guardian website a few weeks ago.  Scot (Sneekyboy) debated with him from this website.  It was about Donaldson and his so-called Fascist/Nazi sympathies.  It was very similar to the Twitter page you showed Rev Stu.  It looks like Rider could well be Ian Smart.  The content was certainly uncannily similar.  Rider actually said the SNP are, not even were, a party of the far-Right!  If it is Smart then I am afraid he has become a hateful individual, and has a genuinely worrying obsession with the SNP. 

  3. muttley79 says:

    Here is one of Rider 000’s posts from the Guardian debate: 
    @muttley79 – In May 1941, during World War II, Arthur Donaldson a leading SNP member at the time and later SNP leader from 1960-1969 was arrested by police who allegedly suspected him and a number of other SNP figures, of “subversive activities”, due to their support for the Scottish Neutrality League.

    Donaldson intended to set up a puppet government akin to that of Vidkun Quisling (of Norway) in the event of a Nazi invasion.

    According to papers released by MI5, which led raids against many Scottish nationalists, “subversive literature” and a “large cache of weapons” were found in their possession.

    According to an MI5 file on Donaldson released in November 2005 he was arrested because the MI5 believed him to be a “Nazi sympathiser”, and that he hoped to become part of a “puppet government” set up by the Nazis after they occupied Britain.

    Taken from official record:

    “During a long conversation, Donaldson gave great praise to Germany saying that England would be completely crushed by the early spring; the Government would leave the country and that England’s position would be absolutely hopeless, as poverty and famine would be their only reward for declaring war on Germany.”

    “Scotland on the other hand had great possibilities. We must, he declared, be able to show the German Government that we are organised and that we have a clear cut policy for the betterment of Scotland; that we have tried our best to persuade the English Government that we want Scottish Independence and that we are not in with them in this war.”

    “If we can do that you can be sure that Germany will give us every possible assistance in our early struggle. The time is not yet ripe for us to start a virile campaign against England, but when fire and confusion is at its height in England, we can start in earnest.”

    From another blogger. You can research the subject matter further if it interests you.

  4. Vronsky says:

    The Unionist cause must use lies as the truth cannot serve their case.  This will be their strategy for the next two years: smear, slander, slur, insult, label and libel.  However let’s remember that they probably have the entire resources of the UK Treasury at their disposal for this campaign, and we must assume that they are receiving some well-researched feedback that the mudslinging is effective. 
    It isn’t necessary for the voters truly to believe them:  if you’re not very sure about radical change then some excuse not to do it is welcome, even if you don’t really believe it.  ‘It looks like rain – I’ll wash the windows tomorrow’ . That sort of rationalisation.  So perhaps we shouldn’t be fooled by the crudity of the Unionist approach – though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.  It’s reminiscent of the strategy of the tobacco companies on the health dangers of smoking – the facts speak all too clearly, so create doubt and confusion.

  5. Jen says:

    Perhaps, when Scotland is independent, Westminister might face pressure and calls to “let NI go” due to austerity.  I’ll bet these people will be willing to sort themselves out and stop resorting to violence and aggression.  However, will the republic want them.  If I lived in Eire, I would have to think seriously about unification as these Brit Nats could cause no end of bother to a peaceful Eire. 

    I doubt, Westminister will let them go, as it serves the “empire” mentality.   My great gran used to say that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” thus the cycle of troubles will continue in NI, as they rip themselves apart for a government that could not careless unless it stretches to the UK.   

  6. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:


    You cant say for sure who rider is and to be honest it doesnt matter.

    He is Anti-anything good about Scotland and thats all you need to know.

    If the SNP as Nazi sympathisers crops up again just quote from this article on the Universality of Cheers Blogspot.

  7. Doug Daniel says:

    All that violence over a bloody flag. As you say, nobody ever got hurt over a “Cybernat” calling Jim Murphy or Johann Lamont a Quisling on Twitter.

    It’s tempting to think this is just youths looking for an excuse to have their own version of the English riots from last year, but look at the fourth picture and witness the old man, grinning from ear to ear at the sight of the Irish tricolour being burned, and the woman beside him gleefully waving her little union jack flag. This is the same sort of hatred that runs through Orange marches and rallies by the EDL and BNP. It’s the hatred that people of a certain persuasion in Glasgow are brought up to feel against fellow Glaswegians. It’s a hatred that has nothing to do with Scottish nationalism, and it’s outrageous that people try to paint us with a similar brush, such as dopey John Redwood in his blog yesterday.

    Scottish nationalism is based on a love of our country and a willingness to embrace the world; British nationalism is about hatred, jealousy and a distrust of outsiders. That is one very big difference.

    (Do I spot someone sporting a scarf of that new Scottish team in the bottom centre of the second picture? I’m quite glad we’ve not had the violence spilling over here, although you can be sure certain elements have thought about it.)

  8. mato21 says:

    It saddens me that again NI is suffering from violence from these thugs but it angers me that these same people are actively being courted to interfere in our referendum Make no mistake it is not the peaceful ones who will be heard it will be the face covered thugs No right minded person would enterain their participation in any form

  9. muttley79 says:

    Yes, fair point.  I was not saying that it was Ian Smart, just that there were similarities in their focusing on a supposed link between the SNP and fascism/Nazism. 

  10. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    Its the latest tactic since Tartan tories doesnt work anymore what with Labour jumping into bed with them…

    @Muttley – Can you see if you can comment on this guardian story as I seem to be locked out of commenting despite being signed in

  11. muttley79 says:

    Yes, I have just posted.  Don’t know fuck all about Rockall to be honest!…

  12. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    Thanks Muttley. Its working now. 8)

  13. Wullie says:

    I would suggest that the hatred towards Scotland and the Scots is such that a NO vote is now utterly unthinkable.

  14. muttley79 says:

    I would love to agree with you, but unfortunately it is going to be a long struggle.  There are too many vested interests for it to be easy.  You also have generally the Scottish middle classes to contend with, and try to win over.

  15. Hamish Henderson says:

    What a pleasure is was to read about Arthur Donaldson and RE Muirhead both of whom I knew, Arthur particularly well. The allegation that Arthur was a Nazi sympathiser is risible. While he was steadfast in his love of Scotland and a great fighter for our freedom a more gentle man you would be hard pressed to find.
    I was also a member of the Scottish Congress which I joined in the late fifties (I still wear my Congress badge on my kilt jacket) and it was through my membership of this organisation, later amalgamated with the SNP that I met R.E. 
    Another great nationalist and friend, John Murphy, took on the job of collating RE’s books and letters. Unfortunately on R.E.’s death many documents were destroyed and sadly my friend died before he could put the collection together.
    I hadn’t realised just how much water has gone under the bridge since those days as I was perplexed that a suporter of Independence wouldn’t know about Arthur Donaldson or RE Muirhead. Perhaps someone should start to gather as much information of these giants of the struggle before it is too late then when we are Independent we can esconce them in a Hall of Heroes.
    Suas Alba, Buaidh no Bas

  16. David Smith says:

    Of course the two photos illustrate perfectly the standard response of the Loyalist to any perceived slight; 1) attack those who promote tolerance. 2)burn an Irish tricolour.
    Great to see that such intellectual giants are keen to make a contribution to the debate about our country’s future.

  17. James Morton says:

    I remember Anuerin Bevan saying that Tories need a bogey man, when they don’t have a position, a bogyeman will do. Pretty much sums up the who better together campaign.

  18. muttley79 says:

    Ironically the SNP was partly founded by some of those on the traditional left of Scottish Labour, who had become disillusioned by the refusal to honour the promise of Home Rule.  Given this, I doubt if Cunnighame Graham and Muirhead would be surprised at the antics of Scottish Laboour today. 

  19. Craig P says:

    Hamish – it has been a long road, and who knows what twists and turns there will be before and after 2014? It would definitely be worth collecting any stories or material you might have about the early days of the NPS / SNP, because everyone will want to know the story once we gain independence. 

  20. JLT says:


    If I lived in Eire, I would have to think seriously about unification as these Brit Nats could cause no end of bother to a peaceful Eire.  

    Jen, to be really honest, I hope they don’t join Eire …because if that happens, you will have roughly 1 million ‘Brits’ living under a country they don’t want to be in. And because of that, I fear a lot of them (and I mean …a lot of them) would up sticks, and move to the mainland. That means, a few would settle in England, and the rest would come to …yep, you guessed it …Scotland.

    If we are independent, and all of this came to pass, I would be vetting these people silly before I let them move here to Scotland. Anyone with connections to military organisations, or been jailed for sectarian violence, then I would point blank refuse them entry. In fact …even just having the view that an Independent Scotland is wrong would be enough for me to stop them crossing the Irish Sea. We’ve got enough of these Orange nutters.
    I can just see it …we let a lot of them in, and after a bit, they demand a referendum …to have Scotland rejoin the UK !!!

  21. Caadfael says:

    Fully agree JLT, our own home grown nutters are bad enough without importing any more!
    Instant reparation sine die!

  22. BillyBigBaws says:

    Oswald Mosley was a cabinet minister in a Labour government. Enoch Powell was a cabinet minster in a Conservative government. A large part of the British aristocracy and establishment were sympathetic to Nazism, and in fact had prominent Nazis as honoured guests pre-war. Who was in the Cliveden Set? Scots and Welsh nationalists? No, of course not.

    Who did Rudolf Hess ask to see when he fled to Renfrewshire? Was it an SNP leader? No. It was the Duke of Hamilton. King Edward himself, briefly monarch of the United Kingdom, had extensive links to the Nazis, whom he admired. His wife liked them even more than he did.

    Just a few things I like to bring up when a unionist revives the Arthur Donaldson smear story. The fact is that it has always been the British establishment who have harboured the biggest ("Tractor" - Ed)s to the British people.

    Who was that guy that helped the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour? Oh yeah, Lord Sempill, one of Churchill’s mates, who continued passing secrets to the Japanese even after war with them had commenced. The list is endless. The betrayals are endless. The hypocrisy is endless.


  23. BillyBigBaws says:

    On a lighter note, if the SNP are fascists, is that why we have Rudolf Hess doing the weather reports up here now?

  24. Mary M says:

    Europe must ‘be vigilant’ against extreme nationalism warns the EU Commission president.

    I trust that he will be speaking out against these demonstrations and praising the peaceful path taken by Scottish Nationalism.

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