Your correspondents commenting on Rafael Behr’s piece on nationalism either side of the border sing from the same SNP song sheet (Letters, 17 February). They have bought into the fallacy that Scottish nationalism is benign, compared with the other nationalisms we know and dislike.
This is a myth. Scottish nationalism has attracted large numbers of Scots whose motivation is anti-Englishness and anti-Toryism – these two being congruent in many minds. Those who oppose Scottish independence are routinely abused as “traitors”, “quislings”, “not true Scots” (and these are the printable insults). We are told by some nationalists to “go back to England” when we are Scots, born and bred.
For those that see the SNP as an inherently forward-thinking party, was it “progressive” to have a council tax freeze for several years, leading to councils being starved of funds and services slashed? Would a left-of-centre party have done deals with an American private healthcare company, as the SNP has done? Or denied thousands of Scottish students places at universities because of the tight cap on numbers, a result of the free tuition policy?
As for the praise of Holyrood and its electoral system, sitting in a semi-circle has not meant compromise, nor constructive government. The Holyrood parliament has not brought forward a single debate on education – a service in crisis – for over two years.
As a supporter of proportional representation for over 40 years, I am now disillusioned by it, given the Scottish experience. In the 2016 election, the Liberal Democrats won 7.8% of the vote, for which they were awarded five seats of the 129, four of which were for elected members and one a list seat. The Green party won 0.6% of the vote and received six list seats. These six list seats are crucial, because they give the minority SNP government a majority on the issue of independence.
As an avid remainer, I can see why people are disappointed that Brexit has happened even though a majority of Scottish voters backed remain. But two mistakes are worse than one. Inflicting the disaster of separation on Scotland will compound the problems that Brexit will undoubtedly bring, and our standard of living will be seriously damaged.
• The responses to Rafael Behr’s article raise many salient points which I agree with, as an “exiled” Scot. However, to say the SNP has always had a different, more liberal politics is at best a mistake, and at worst the essence of nationalism – the “we were always as we are now” delusion.
When I lived in Glasgow in the 1970s the SNP were quite rightly known as the “tartan Tories” for their anti-trade-union, anti-immigrant rhetoric. The culmination of this was their partnership with the Conservatives to usher in Thatcherism.
Yes, Nicola Sturgeon is in many ways the most capable party leader we have in the UK, and the focus on a progressive alternative is brighter in the SNP than Labour. But avoid the mythologising, the rewriting of history or the lie of extreme nationalism – the odious “wha’s like us?” mentality which has tarnished our politics for years.
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