Monday, March 24, 2014

Nationalism: a dangerous delusion

Six months, then, until the referendum on Scottish separatism. 

Until now, I’ve said little or nothing about this in any public forum. I’ve felt uneasy about my part-time position as a broadcaster on BBC Radio Scotland, where, three late-nights a week, I’m a DJ, committed to playing new and old Scottish rock, pop and folk, set in a broader context of the best in worldwide music. Would stating my opinion alienate some of our small band of listeners? Would it call into question the much-discussed ‘objectivity of the BBC’?

But there has been, and never will be, any political discussion on Morton Through Midnight. Not on air, and not on its dedicated social media feeds or the website. This? This is personal. And too important to ignore. 

I don’t work as a journalist for the BBC.

Also, several of my colleagues in music presentation have made their opinions extremely public. So I thought I would too.

Just to be completely open: I’m a scuffling freelance hack, not on any personal contract with the BBC, paid by the independent production company which makes MTM. The rest of the time I write, books and PR, including professional social media and blogging on the energy sector for the organisation Promote Shetland. I edit the magazine Shetland Life, a monthly for the community in which I live, the Shetland Islands. The radio show is mostly broadcast from a small studio in my home there. I write about whisky and have a live musical show called The Malt and Barley Revue. 

I’m a not-uncritical member of the Labour Party. My wife is deputy chair of the local branch. I love Scotland, celebrate Scottish culture, have spent my entire life here (apart from the first year, after being born in Carlisle. That’s in England, by the way). Just as you don’t have to wear a kilt to prove you’re Scottish (in Phil Cunningham’s immortal phrase, ‘I don’t have to dress up as a Scotsman’). You don’t have to be a nationalist to be proudly Scottish. Even if you were born in Carlisle.

I think, and have always thought, that at its core nationalism, and not just Scottish nationalism, is a dangerous romantic delusion. On its own, it’s devoid of moral value. You have to harness nationalism to other concepts - oppression by a foreign state or interests, human rights - to bring a reactive morality into it. Otherwise, history teaches that nationalism is either a distraction, an entertainment, as at sporting events, or a very dangerous force that can pull communities into anger, blame, bigotry, violence, warfare and death.

In today’s United Kingdom nationalism is essentially divisive and distracting, sucking up energy and resources as the ordinary people of Britain face economic and social crisis, and the poor from Unst to Uttoxeter go hungry. A Britain presided over by a Tory government based on the ruthless pursuit of privilege, propped up by a completely and sadly discredited Liberal Democrat party. 

I believe the poor in Carlisle, Newcastle, Norwich and elsewhere deserve better than being eternally condemned to Tory rule. And that is the utterly selfish promise to the people of England made by a separate Scotland.

Nationalism generally, the SNP in particular, has used whatever political cause it can adopt, adapted to its own ends. The SNP, its present profile formed out of disillusion with the Tories and with its heartlands in former Tory strongholds, has re-invented itself as the supposed haven for the ‘centre left’ in Scotland. A separate Scotland would divest itself of Toryism, they say, reflecting the country’s essential ‘socialist identity’. And, divided from England, Scotland would be, on a Scandinavian model, a social democracy where equality, oil-funded economic growth and glorious tartan fraternity would rule. 

But nationalism, as I’ve said, is essentially value-free. It’s based on emotive concepts such as ‘the right of a nation to establish its own destiny’. Braveheart words with the bruising echo of boots on faces. Nationalism is about flags and tunes, swelling hearts and marching feet. All the rest is stolen. Ideas ripped off for the sake of achieving an end whose entire moral worth, in Scotland, seems to be based on the reactive notion that ‘We’re better than the English.’

Some on the  non-nationalist left have abandoned solidarity with their southland brothers and sisters, believing the nationalist untruth that socialism would rule in ‘New Caledonia’. They see a chance to wield power, at least on a personal level. This is, like so much else in politics, a blinkered reading of history. 

With the death of the SNP in any separate Scotland, I believe we would inevitably see the revival of Scottish Toryism . And with the promise of eternal Conservatism in England, along with the SNP’s back-of-an-envelope currency model giving essential last-word control over Scotland’s economy to the Bank of England, Scotland would still be in thrall to the Old Etonians (and their state-educated fellow-travellers) of London.

And there will be no way back.

No way back for those whose public service pensions will be - at the very least - cut, perhaps lost. No way back for those of us whose families are scattered across England. No way back for those who see their comfortable delusion of ‘socialist Scotland’ founder amid business downturn, oil uncertainty, currency upheaval and inept, self-serving, sentiment-blinded leadership. Oh, and greedy, ruthless investors from around the world keen to divide up what spoils they can tear out of the ruined remnant of a nation.

Britain is a small country. Brutal dismemberment seems horribly wrong. Invoking the strident and historically dangerous emotions of nationalism in any context save the gross exploitation and oppression of a people is foolish in the extreme. And Scotland is not oppressed and exploited by the English. It is exploited and oppressed by the forces of greed and selfishness, the forces of multinational business, the forces of gangsterism, bigotry and sectarian strife. The same basic array of evil faced throughout the UK and beyond.

So I will vote no. No to division, no to separation, no to blind, stupid or deluded, bullying and bitter emotionalism. Put simply, I want greater equality and the alleviation of poverty throughout the UK. And for greater control of our affairs in Shetland, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the regions of England.

I believe the majority of proud Scots want to remain part of the United Kingdom. We must make that plain when we vote in September. We do not want to be railroaded by a minority into the murky uncertainties and empty promises paraded by the SNP. It’s not enough to sit on the fence. It’s not enough to keep quiet.

So it’s a thoroughly Scottish ‘no’ from me. No to separatism. No to division. And an end to this monumental and corrupting distraction from the central moral and political issues we face.


Steve Clarke said...

Congratulations on a lucid, coherent and incisive exploration of the vital positive aspects of the "No" vote. The Secessionists must not be allowed the exclusivity of positive thinking.

Anonymous said...

We ain't a minority. that you will find out soon enough

Neil Spake said...

The daughter of some old friends asked me recently what I thought of "the vote". No, I'm not Scottish, I don't live in Scotland, probably never will (sadly) so my opinion really doesn't matter. However, I will make claim that I am an honourary Scot with loads of pride in Scottish culture, probably more than most natives. I support Scotland at every opportunity be it the brewing industry through my website, promoting Scottish music to Austinites when bands tour here and during SXSW as well as endless social media plugs for great shows such Morton Through Midnight and The Vic Galloway show.
But, as I tell others, I would resoundingly vote "no" were I in a position to do so. Tom has summed up most of the same feeling I share. Economically, independence is very, very scary proposition. And despite being a very learned student of Scottish history, today's UK needs to stay united, not sucked into the Euro and other influences from either Europe or America. To do that, the UK needs everyone, not a diluted population based on the idealism of the few.
So, in short (or not so much), I completely agree with Tom and really appreciate his willingness to express his opinion. It IS an incredibly important decision, Scotland. Don't make the wrong one.
Yours Aye!
Neil Spake

Stan reeves said...

Tom , there are 4m voter in Scotland and more that 25,000 SNP members. I am not a member of a political Party. I am voting yes in September. Estimated 1.5 million people will do the same.
I am the son of an English migrant, married to an English woman. This vote is not racicst or a vote for the SNP. It is a vote for separation from a Union where Scotland has not served Scotland well.
Come an Independent parliament I will vote for the part most likely to deliver social justice.
Do you accuse the 1.5 million people of "dangerous romantic delusion.
devoid of moral value
pulling communities into anger, blame, bigotry, violence, warfare and death.
divisive and distracting
with Braveheart words
abandoned solidarity with their southland brothers
supporting revival of Scottish Toryism
supporting inept, self-serving, sentiment-blinded leadership."
Your angry words betray you and are insulting and intemperate
The Labour Party Britain has failed to deliver any counter to the growing inequality.
they speak for less than 17,000 members and the Tories have less than 11,000
Please do not insult me and fellow yes minded folk.
I have organised and marched for social justice all my life and was for 40 year a Community development worker.I grew up in the 50's and benefited from the construction of the welfare state. The Westminster government has sold that down the river! I have watched the British state hand out so many concessions to capital that we are the most unequal society in Europe.
I have watched Scottish industry being stripped out and the industrial workers being abandoned to a wretched existence in sink estates. These are the children of the skilled and proud people who sent thousands of ships down the Clyde, and are now reduced to begging in Food banks!! Shame on the British establishment. Shame on the Labour Party!
Britain is in the last throws of it's dying Empire, and run by an Old Etonian gang of spivs. Its time for a new relationship.
I believe an Independent Scotland will help the people of Britain to understand that they are no longer the "British Empire" and need to reconstruct their own idea of the remaining countries.

Anonymous said...

Tom - read your piece and find myself in close accord. Very well said.

from Mike Cobley

Liz Dineley said...

I second what Steve said.
Also, as an English person living in England, I have no problem with Scottish independence if that is what the Scottish people want and vote for. However I really hope the majority will not vote for independence, for the purely selfish reason that we'd be condemned (pun intended) to eternal Tory rule. If that happens, I'm moving to Scotland...if that's allowed!

Anonymous said...

Loved reading that - well said. Nationalisim approach is based on fanciful fiction,lacking in fact and if you don't like what the say then you are full of fear - the stance of the current leaders of my devolved country basically saying you are a coward If you disagree with them!

Neil Spake said...

The daughter of some old friends asked me recently what I thought of "the vote". No, I'm not Scottish, I don't live in Scotland, probably never will (sadly) so my opinion really doesn't matter. However, I will make claim that I am an honourary Scot with loads of pride in Scottish culture, probably more than most natives. I support Scotland at every opportunity be it the brewing industry through my website, promoting Scottish music to Austinites when bands tour here and during SXSW as well as endless social media plugs for great shows such Morton Through Midnight and The Vic Galloway show.
But, as I tell others, I would resoundingly vote "no" were I in a position to do so. Tom has summed up most of the same feeling I share. Economically, independence is very, very scary proposition. And despite being a very learned student of Scottish history, today's UK needs to stay united, not sucked into the Euro and other influences from either Europe or America. To do that, the UK needs everyone, not a diluted population based on the idealism of the few.
So, in short (or not so much), I completely agree with Tom and really appreciate his willingness to express his opinion. It IS an incredibly important decision, Scotland. Don't make the wrong one.

Unknown said...

you have put into a nutshell all the worries and fears that separation means to me. Thankyou. Now I know that I am not alone with my fears for this great nation.

Anonymous said...

Tom - a well written and thoughtful piece which is no less than I would expect and which I and many others welcome.

I don't have your easy facility with words so I can't respond in kind but what I can do is point out your basic mistake. That is, as I am sure you are aware, the concept that a desire for independence is necessarily nationalist. Of course the fact that we have a choice is a direct result of the Scottish Nationalist Party and their clear desire to have a referendum. It is a considerable stretch, however, to assume that all who desire independence are supporters of that party or, indeed, nationalists by nature.

In the spirit of being completely open as you were I can reveal that I also was born in England and have spent only the last 25 years of my 60 in this world living in Scotland. I am NOT a nationalist but a socialist at heart, a lifelong Labour voter, and no-one is more depressed than me that I now have no credible party to vote for. In the UK as a whole Labour lost me with the Blair government and both the sudden (and still uncorrected) lurch to the right (rendering them indistinguishable from the opposition parties) and the illegal war in Iraq.

I am voting Yes and hope for a convincing result in favour of independence - then the political posting can be kicked into touch and the real conversation begin. Why am I convinced? It isn't easy to put it into elegant words but I want Scotland, the place where I choose to live, to have greater control over it's own affairs and there is no other sure way to extend that control. It would also be faintly embarrassing to live in the only country in the world to vote against its own independence - a minor point I grant you but there is something there.

So, while I respect your view, I have to disagree - the best summary of my position I have seen yet is a sadly under-reported quote from Allan Grogan (a Scottish Labour member from Angus) and it goes like this;

"Vote yes in 2014 vote Labour in 2016. We can have Labour Party in the Scottish Government that rebuilds social housing, removes privatisation of energy, railways and Royal Mail. A party which removes the anti trade union laws imposed by Westminster. That uses our finite resources to rebuild our industries and creates renewable energy."

Finally let me repeat my main point - not all supporters of independence are nationalists and we are not necessarily going to support the SNP after 2016 in a fairer Scotland.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This is the best NO piece I have read, It describes exactly what I feel about independence.

Unknown said...

Well said, Tom. An accurate representation of where we are at and where we could be headed, as well as a long overdue critique of nationalism as a philosophy.

Doug Limburn said...

Very well put, having lived in Scotland since 1983 but now in Herefordshire , I don't want the UK to break up due to petty nationalism in Scotland and most of my friends up in the highlands don't want to see it either.

Anonymous said...

Blimey, good for you Tom Morton. You are brave to go public on this, and I wish you luck. I will also be voting a quiet "No" come September along with many others.
Unfortunately I'm staying anon for now. I'm not proud of this, but it's also another reason why I will vote no. I am deeply dismayed by the cyberbullying of the last few years. It has stifled all hope of civil debate on this issue, and I don't want this abuse to be carried forward past 2014. Certainly it does not deserve to be rewarded.

Anonymous said...

Blimey, good for you Tom Morton. You are brave to go public on this, and I wish you luck. I will also be voting a quiet "No" come September along with many others.
Unfortunately I'm staying anon for now. I'm not proud of this, but it's also another reason why I will vote no. I am deeply dismayed by the cyberbullying of the last few years. It has stifled all hope of civil debate on this issue, and I don't want this abuse to be carried forward past 2014. Certainly it does not deserve to be rewarded.

Anonymous said...

Very well said.

Anonymous said...

Well said Tom. Great article. People are being conned by the SNP. They'll tell you anything to get you to vote yes. Independence is not something that you can vote out 5 years down the line. Be very careful what you wish for. You can't live on wishes and unfulfilled promises.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for putting into articulate, thoughtful and positive words (definitely not 'insulting and intemperate' as your one critic here so far claims) what I have been struggling to express myself. Since everyone seems to feel the need to say where they're from I'm English with a Scottish partner and children and have been happy to live in Scotland for nearly thirty years.

Wesley Hutchins said...

Greetings from America.


I thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece because it does a bang-up job of explaining why narrow nationalism in most of its forms leads to adverse consequences for everybody. More importantly, it provides a positive explanation for a NO vote, which is sorely lacking from the Pro-Union campaign.

Indeed, you have been brave to speak out in the manner that you did, especially after the threat of "consequences" for Andrew Marr after his spar with Alex Salmond last week.

As an American living in a federal system, I believe that the United Kingdom can benefit from new constitutional structure based on federalism that involves greater powers to the UK nations and regions, whilst also maintaining a firm central government in London to coordinate on issues that require a UK consensus (such as macro-economic policy, currency, interest rates, defense, infrastructure, foreign affairs, and a few others). Certainly, I would recommend using Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution as a guide for what powers the UK Parliament should have in a federal system.

Indeed, after a NO vote, there ought to be a UK constitutional convention. All parties will be invited to attend - including the SNP, Sinn Fein, Plaid Cymru, and etc. to help forge a new and lasting settlement for the entire country. Such a convention and settlement will go on with or without their participation, so it will be their loss not to provide their own ideas to the table, and they will have no right to protest the outcome.

(Also speaking from an American perceptive, if one follows the Nationalist logic about getting rid of UK governments that Scotland did vote for, then that means that the States that voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 ought to secede from the United States.)

I love the United Kingdom almost as much as my own country. Indeed, some of my friends believe that I ought to pull up anchor and move over there since I love it so much. I may not live there, but I look forward to visiting it often (almost like a second home).

The UK is a great place because it is united and contains an assortment of peoples (Scots, English, Northern Irish, and Welsh) who all contribute something to the way I look at Britain.

Dismemberment would horribly ruin that outlook and diminish both Scotland and the rest of the UK as both wrestle with the complicated issues of untangling the centuries-old union. Many of the issues the nationalists bring up are not the result of being part of the UK, but have been the result of global economic changes - such as the demise of industry (which has created our own Rust Belt in the States). The UK can do better, and I believe it will do better under a federal system.

Again, thanks for this piece and thanks for speaking out. I hope there are higher-ups in the Unionist camp who will look at this and take inspiration from it.

James said...

Tom. You are entitled to your opinion of course but you seem to be living in a different country to me. Inequality, rampant big business and a government for rich people. This isn't about nationalism, it's about civilized values.
I note also although you have a negative view of the yes campaign you do not say anything positive about the status quo. If you're waiting for the Labour party to do anything about social justice, be prepared for a long wait.

Anonymous said...

Well done for going public! I disagree totally but there has to be some debate. We can't have a "no politics or religion" rule on this one.

Anonymous said...

Excellent posting and put into words exactly how I feel about the whole thing.

Well said,

TonyF Dumfries said...

Tom....brave of you to come out...there is a fear factor at work here and I think there's a role for the artistic community to give confidence to others to speak up !
I can't however agree with your premise. It pains me in so many ways but I will be voting 'yes'. I could go with your thesis if it were not for the fact that I now see the Blair-Brown- Blunkett-Miilliband et al guys as the same self-selecting elite as the Tory Bullingdon Club that you rail against in your piece.
Brown gave us the 'financial services' do-whatever' club, Blunkett the Asylum Seeker paranoia club, Blair the neo-con Whatever you Say George club.... and an illegal genocidal exploit based on spin and lies...Ed....well....more austerity is fine by us.......
I'm in despair Tom. How did we get to a position that Scottish Labour lost Scotland...??....unbelievable ? No! It has been like watching a slow train crash. As predictable as the collapse of Brown's financial services bubble.
Your thoughts on Scottiah Labour were quaintly nostalgic, but they're the same people as the Bullingdon boys....they're not politicians of the Benn/Foot calibre....there is no vision, no passion and not the slightest pretence at wanting to see the world a better place.
I've had to rationalise a lot in reaching my choices for September...I don't see it as a vote for Nationalism....rather an investment in Regionalism...and a search for politics again...
TonyF Dumfries

Pete Allison said...

I'm with you all the way Tom.

daggsy said...

no offence but you are without doubt totally missing the point Tom.
The vote on independence has nada to do with nationalism nor some hatred or indifference with the English. It's about change. Change that will never be possible under Wastemonster. Whilst your long passionate blog was nicely written it was rooted in a fictional idea of a yes voter. The facts speak for themselves. Britain is broken beyond repair. Time to move on.

Bitterlemming1 said...

A well thought out and well written piece. But I firmly believe that Scotland, and rUK, will be better off if Scotland takes hold of it's own affairs. Westminster will not change if we carry on as is. The UK has a massive deficit that Scotland has been subsidising with oil and whisky revenues As Jim Sillars alluded to, the UK is in a downward financial spiral. It still has an Empire mentality, with it's nuclear weapons and 2 aircraft carriers but no aeroplanes to use on them. Billions wasted while people go hungry. Scotland being better independent is about realism as much as nationalism.

Anonymous said...

Tom, you're wrong.

You've lived here all your life. I haven't. I was born in the Highlands and live here now but have lived and worked in England, Ireland, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. I have close friends in all these countries. None of them are foreigners.

You are a member of the Labour Party. So was I. My father was too, as was his father and his grandfather. They all believed Labour would create a better, more equal Britain for them. Labour failed. It failed because Westminster corrupts. In 1922, David Kirkwood was one of a number of radical socialist MPs elected to Westminster. On entering parliament, he was heard to say to fellow Red Clydesider, John Wheatley, "John, we'll change all this." They didn't. Emmanuel Shinwell, another "Red Clydesider" became Lord Shinwell. Hundreds of sundry Labour Party MPs, activists and donors have subsequently received peerages. They went native. They had their price. Power corrupts and absolute power.....London, Max Kaiser's "epicentre of world fraud" simply buys people. Until its collapse, that will never change. We will not change it, no matter how many well-meaning, naive, deluded Labour voters like you still cling to the illusion that Westminster is somehow representative of ordinary people, especially in communitarian Scotland. English politicians of all hues chase the "Middle England" vote. You aren't on the radar. UKIP isn't knocking on Tom Morton's door because its vote is already rocketing in England. UKIP voters don't care about what Tom Morton thinks or desires.

We now have an Old Etonian cabinet in a parliament with 78% membership of the millionaire club. That should please a good socialist like yourself. And, for the record, none of the Tories' austerity plans are going to be junked by the private school educated Ed Balls. Labour and the Tories will give Middle England its vote on Europe and the Eurosceptic English media will howl. Europe will be abandoned and Scotland will be dragged along, without so much as courtesy, into some right-wing xenophobic dystopia.

What about voting? We'll abandon the working class to permanent Tory rule. Pish. None of the Labour victories required Scottish votes. Blair's landslide certainly didn't. What were the English working class thinking of when they voted for the lovely Mrs Thatcher and decided to inflict 30 years of her and subsequent Tory misery on their working class brethren in Scotland? A simple rush of blood to the head, perhaps? An independent Scotland wouldn't have had it's industries destroyed, the oil money would have been spent in Scotland, as it was in Norway (or Shetland), renewables would not have been neutered by Thatcher's nuclear industry stuffed renewables committee, housing wouldn't be in the insane state its in and the joke of land ownership would have been dealt with decades ago (That is a book in itself).

You're an old, badly programmed plastic leftie with a very comfortable middle class lifestyle. By voting No, you'll subject the people of Scotland to potential Tory rule for an indeterminate period. You don't care about that, as long as you can justify it with some drivel about feeling for the good folk of Manchester or Liverpool. Let them have a revolution. Go and join them, if you wish. We can give the people of England the best lead possible by showing them what a fair, redistributive society looks like, in action. With independence, voting will reflect our aspirations, as it does now (Without
PR, Westminster is a complete sham.).

Your arguments are hollow and serve nobody well. The only radical political change on offer in Britain is not the third rate university debating society speaker, Ed Miliband, it is an independent, left of centre Scotland.

We need expansive thinking and you have singularly failed to do that.

Anonymous said...

Tom, you are to be commended for adding your voice to the debate and for clearly "declaring your interests" up front. Unfortunately it seems to me that you swither between the socialist tendencies for good and justice on the one hand and then lapse into the negative "project fear" and negative portrayal of those in, or veering towards Yes. You equate Yes voters with these words:

dangerous romantic delusion
devoid of moral value
pulling communities into anger, blame, bigotry, violence, warfare and death.
divisive and distracting
with Braveheart words
abandoned solidarity with their southland brothers
supporting revival of Scottish Toryism
supporting inept, self-serving, sentiment-blinded leadership.

Do you really believe that is the mindset of Yes voters? Like you my background - for four decades - has been as a Labour voter. Since Blair arrived (probably started under Kinnock) Labour has lost its soul. It bares no resemblance to the party that my grand father, father and I supported. There is almost nothing to choose between the neo-liberal policies of the three main unionist parties. Our vision of what the UK could have been under a left of centre Labour Party is dead. I choose a more positive path. I am not a "nationalist"; I am someone who recognises that Scotland is a politically minded different animal to the voting majority of the rest of the UK; it is that difference that deserves to be reflected in governments of our choice. Failure to act for change leaves us open to the charge that we had the chance to make a difference and stepped back from making that leap of faith. I am not prepared to be voting fodder for UK Labour any longer. 23% of Labour voters are currently minded to vote Yes; I fully expect that share to grow in the coming months. Come join us!

with Braveheart words
abandoned solidarity with their southland brothers
supporting revival of Scottish Toryism
supporting inept, self-serving, sentiment-blinded leadership."
Your angry words betray you and are insulting and intemperate

John Moxey said...

It's a pity you don't do your research Tom. I understand that if you remove the Scots votes from the general elections since the 70s it wouldn't change the winning party in one single election. I understand the only real election that would have been affected is the last one where true enough the Tories would just have edged a majority.

Apart from being told that an independent Scotland would receive a AAA rating, and would indeed be more than able to pay it's way, and with numerous weighty financial establishments and people highlighting just why The scare mongering "project fear" and the Scots not getting to use the pound is rank idiocy, as well as being against the spirit of the Edinburgh Accord (no pre-negotiations) those prepared to venture off to find the source of stories and yo find the reports conveniently omitted by the BBC et al, or massaged by the same, discover a disgraceful manipulation of democracy and a shameful web of lies as promoted by the no campaign. I don't view the Yes Campaign as angels but the No campaign is an affront to decency. Shameful. Here we are supposed to be having an informed debate, and we can't because only half a picture is being painted. The no campaign is also determined to make this a campaign of character assassination. This is about Scotland, not Alex Salmond.

This election is not about ethnic nationalism, though it may be paint as such. It is about civic independence. All my life I have lived in a second class Scotland, a Scotland I have been told that depends on England, that couldn't survive without the hand outs. Year after year, policy after policy I see decisions being made that damage Scotland, but not just Scotland. The same is true in the North of England, Wales, Cornwall, Northern Ireland too. In Scotland we were seen as, and treated as, a bit of a joke, scrounging second class citizens, we still are. The North of England gets much of the same labels. We now are a nation dominated by London City state. The further from London you travel the less Westminster sees you as of importance, the less infrastructure there is. If we in Scotland go our separate way it is because successive Westminster governments have kept choosing London over the rest of the country, and the only real way for people in Scotland to change that for the better is to stand on our own and stop blaming Westminster for all our woes... And that only happens if we are responsible for ourselves.

All the other parties are Westminster parties, at least until we go our own way. They will always do what the main party in Westminster wants. Many in England have bought the same "Scots are subsidy junkies" rubbish (look at the figures including Scottish generated corporation tax, vat and oil and you see Scotland has long been a net contributor. In fact even without oil that is the case, though it is close to on a par with the rest of the UK.

Stop digesting the spoon fed rubbish from London owned press and media. Use the internet and follow up on claims like the Standard Life relocation myth. You will soon find that the truth is far from what is presented and what you present here.

Lastly, I know several English members of SNP including MSPs, many of Asian descent. I know quite a few Enlish people living in Scotland who are only too aware of the inequalities in the system and who intend to vote Yes. Out of interest the "N" in SNP stands for national, not nationalist, and independence us being championed by far more than the SNP, including members of the Labour Party, Scottish socialists and much more.

By all means don't accept what I say. Challenge it with research into the truth behing the stories, look broader than the tripe spouted by Johann Lamont. You, and we, deserve a better debate than that.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

I have a strong gut feeling that you are speaking for a sizeable majority of Scottish people Mr. Morton. Having listened to you on radio I always regarded you as a man with
a clear voice now I know you have a clear head to go with it, well done.

Gordon Innes said...


I respect and to a degree understand the sentiments you express, and I certainly have no issue with you stating them. I understand that your decision would have been difficult, perhaps more so given the evidence now mounting regarding some lack of impartiality from the BBC. Perhaps it would be better if all involved at the BBC, who wished to do so, did express their personal opinions. My feeling is that this bias is not necessarily deliberate or intended, but perhaps a result of an institutional mindset, London centric control, and perhaps an unintentional hiring grouping.

There are four points I would ask that you consider however:

1. There are some statements in what you have written as facts rather than opinions, which although regularly repeated, have nevertheless already been shown to be untrue. The most obvious to me of these is the claim that EW&NI “deserve better than being eternally condemned to Tory rule.” It is almost ONLY when a majority of Labour MPs have been elected from EW&NI that Labour has formed the UK Government. Since WW2 only in the 1964 election did Scots Labour MPs create such a Government which lasted just 18 months. There are other sources of the data but this is one: I hope you will be able to research this point and those you have made on Public Pensions.

2. The UK, as a state of over 60 Million people, is NOT a small country. It is one of the largest members of the EU. An independent Scotland would be closer in size to the European average.

3. Is the Leadership of the Labour Party, both in Scotland and the UK, upto the job for which you hope they will achieve? It may be argued, fairly, that leaders can change However it is my opinion that while the “New Labour” project has made the party more electable, it has done so by moving closer to the Tory & Lib Dem positions on many policies. In doing so it has lost much of its soul – leaving those in charge as Managers rather than Leaders with a clearly articulated vision or an ability to argue convincingly for change.

4. Finally, without trying to equate Scotland in any way, other than an aspiration for change, I would ask you consider is countries such as Republic of Ireland; Estonia; India and Kenya should currently best be Independent or have some other status? These countries as with many others including the UK state, face all the dangers you highlight of an uncritical national pride and other divisions. But they have the ability to resolve them on their own terms and in their own way – all I ask is that the people of Scotland be given the same opportunity.

I congratulate you on one of the better written pieces in support of a NO vote, however I hope that you will at least look into the points I have covered above, and perhaps correct any factual inaccuracy you may find.

jimmy burnety said...

Excellent article. Sums up my views entirely.

Ken said...

Very well put. I don't think the SNP would go away with independence, or that rUK would be permanently Tory. But these are small points - the break-up would do all the other kinds of damage you mention, and more.

Michael said...

Well done on nailing your colours to the mast - that's an honourable and brave thing to do.

I have two problems with your comments, though, one of fact and one of sentiment.

The factual one is pretty simple: Scottish MPs have only ever given Labour a majority twice in the last sixty years, both times a wafer thin majority that didn't last a full term. So it's factually wrong to say that England would be permanently Tory (also, and to be less temperate, I say that it's patronising bollocks to say that Scotland will save the English from having the government they want - what gives us that right?)

The matter of sentiment is probably more personal, and feel free to disregard it. I'm a Labour Party member, son of a T&G shop steward. I was brought up in the tennaments of Maryhill and the housing schemes of Barlonock. I went to a comprehensive school and managed to get to University on a full grant. I've never voted SNP. I've never voted anything other than Labour. I won't be voting for either in September, I'll be voting for Independence, I'll be voting Yes. And in 2016 I'll be voting Labour.

Unknown said...

Mr M, civic nationalism, please look it up, i thought you were smarter than that.its about democracy, its about peace, its about pacifism. makes me sad as you have been a bit of a hero to me :-(

Cleghorn said...

That all makes good sense - but fingers crossed because there are some idiots out there who will vote yes for all sorts of reasons most of which have nothing to do with common sense.

Willie Fleming said...

Turgid Brit-nationalism trying vainly to disguise itself as "internationalism". Standard fare from well-off ex student politicians.
Your kind of internationalism ends at Dover.

You are well in with the BBC, Tom. For now. Be interesting to see what use they have for you in a couple of years. Especially as non-payment of the license tax is about to become de-criminalised, they probably won't be able to afford you anyway.

Anonymous said...


I'd like to thank you for writing this. I think you sum up perfectly how many (maybe hundreds of thousands if not millions) of scots feel about the referendum and what it is doing to our country. This vote is not about left or right or socialism or capitalism. It is far more important than that, it is something that will change our lives forever. There will be no going back after a yes vote.

The yes camps attempts to hoodwink people into voting yes by saying a yes vote is a vote for Scottish socialists values, or a vote to rid us of the tories, is at best misleading and at worst downright dishonest. It is nothing of the kind. True socialists know that socialism is bigger than national borders, it is something that unites working people irrespective of where they live, in many ways it is the exact opposite of nationalism which is about differentiating yourself from others by blaming them for your own failings and creating boundaries to benefit the people at the top pulling the strings. You just need to see what the marxists or people like George Galloway have to say about the referendum.

I am Scottish and I am British, as are my parents and all of my family going back as long as i can trace. It is who i am and i don't see why i should apologise to anyone for that. I am immensely proud of my country and what it has achieved and i will not allow anyone to break it apart. I know of many scots who will do everything they can to stop the nationalists from winning and as the vote approaches i suspect many of these people who have kept their peace up until now will start to speak out.

My final message is for you to stick in and continue on. You have already attracted the attention of the nationalists and you need to prepare yourself for the abuse and intimidation that will come your way. I have visited many nationalist sites and the some of the things that these people say are highly disturbing. There is a really nasty element to the nationalist movement that needs to be exposed to the wider world. I think if many more reasonable nationalist realised who they were siding with they may change their minds. It is time that we started to stand up to the yes camp to show the world that Scotland is not inhabited by inward looking, parochial nationalists, many of whom permanently carry around an overdeveloped sense of victimhood. I have a lot more to say and i did attempt to do that but i clicked the wrong thing and lost the whole lot so better to go now! I will follow your blog with interest. Good luck and don't give in.

Stevie Mac said...

Tom the problem as I see it now is that you've hung yer jacket on the peg, publicly, so it's going to be very difficult to swing you back the way. It is a well written piece but it's like you've set your stall out on 4 legs, and at least 2 of them are in my humble opinion, totally shoogly.
1. Nationalism - I'm not sure who you talk to but I live in the centre of a city and know lots of Yes voters. The small minority of them are nationalists who have fought tooth and nail to get us to this point. I can't condemn their particular form of nationalism because in the context of time, they will assure me that without it we wouldn't all be at this point, ready to make our choice democratically.
2. Working class unity - this is the biggest area of concern to me as a Yes voter. My Yes vote is a vote for social justice, and an end to Neo Liberalism. If I thought there was any possibility that we could do that through the Westminster system then believe me, I'd be pushing you and yer bike oot the way tae get ma vote in first. I believe it cannot be done through the Westminster system. I believe that even more than ever now that in my lifetime I have watched Labour morph into New Labour which resembles the old Tory ideals of the early 70s. I am voting YES for my working class comrades in Bradford, Corby, Liverpool and all those working class places you care to mention. Perhaps you should go to those places and ask those people whether they support my road or your road. The Independence debate has started to awaken the sleeping giant that is England's working class but it will take another 5-10 years of inequality to drag that homogeneous mass that call themselves the new middle class back down to the earnings levels of the lower paid while the Tory elite get richer and richer. My YES vote will speed that process up because I believe the Labour party will be rejuvenated in an Independent Scotland because WE, the people of Scotland know what we want now and will demand that or else.

Now if you care so much for our working class brothers in sisters in England, then you will seriously consider what I am trying to articulate to you, otherwise it is YOU, not I, who is condemning us and them to a lifetime of Tory rule.

Stevie Mac, Edinburgh

Peter A Bell said...

Tom Morton's British nationalism may well be "value free". My civic nationalism most certainly is not. But I suspect that Mr Morton must be counted among those whose minds are so closed as to render them incapable of understanding anything other than the most clichéd concepts.

Duncan Fraser said...

The Scots cannot save England from Etonian Rule.

Only the English can do that. It is a numbers game, pure and simple.

What we can do, is lead by example, and demonstrate that a country can work together for the good of all of her people.

Vote No, get Nothing.

franwhi said...

I have always respected you as a broadcaster and loved the Tom Morton show on my drive home from work many afternoons. But it hurts me to read your blog about people in Scotland being selfish or small minded or hyper kilted in some way for wanting our own government. I don't understand how wanting to govern yourself separates you in any humanitarian way from your fellow neighbours and family. Are we letting someone else down by wanting to determine our own governance ?

Reider O'Doom said...

A reply to Tom 'Proud Scot' Morton:

Mr Morton, I and many of my fellow Scots have come to see that we ARE being oppressed by foreign interests. Westminster has been oppressing us and bleeding us white for 300 years.

So how have we been oppressed?

The historical detail surrounding the Act of Union shows us that they were incredibly underhanded in ‘acquiring’ Scotland and that they are still being incredibly underhanded as they attempt to retain us. Witness the utter lies being propagated by the NO campaign and being fed to us by both a compliant (largely English millionaire-owned) mainstream media and by the propaganda wing of the Westminster government – the BBC.

Right from the start, there were riots across Scotland for over 2years after the secret passing of the Act of Union. Militias and troops were used to quell these, and they were often led by ‘proud Scots’.
Later, when we had a massive amount of heavy industry, it was because it suited (profited) them for us to do so, and most of our urban populations lived in slums. When it suited (profited) them for our heavy industry to be dismantled then that was done, too, and many of our urban populace live in slums. More than 1-in-5 children born into poverty, foodbanks, a 'bedroom' tax that is impoverishing our disabled and others.
And all the while our young men are at the vanguard of the Army. The Scottish regiments – first in, last out – tend to have much higher casualty rates than the rest of the army.

Yes, we ARE being oppressed by foreign interests. Is that what you said was required for nationalism to have a reactive morality, Mr Morton? Another ‘proud Scot’ who suggest that those who want an independent Scotland are about “Braveheart words with the bruising echo of boots on faces”. That is not a nationalism with which I am familiar. It has no place in the YES campaign. The only people that ever mention ‘Braveheart’ or use the term ‘proud Scot’ are those from the NO campaign. It is this complete and utter failure to understand why people want to vote YES that will be their undoing.
As for, yet again, the old canard about the people of Scotland abandoning the people of England to perpetual Tory rule, please check out this link:

Apologies if this comment is a little disjointed, but I have just written off the cuff and I am feeling quite angry.

Alan Bothwell said...

"I think, and have always thought, that at its core nationalism, and not just Scottish nationalism, is a dangerous romantic delusion."

I am, or was until very recently, a Labour supporter and voter. I do not consider myself a nationalist. Yet I do not find anything in the Yes campaign or the SNP's politics that could be described as dangerous romantic delusion. A desire for independence, given the number of nations that have opted for this status, appears to be quite normal. Surely the abnormal situation is for a small nation of 5 and a bit million people to be in a political union that is overwhelmed by another nation 10 times its size.

As a non-nationalist I do not see the SNP's civic nationalism, or the desire for independence from the Yes campaign, as being value-free. It is partly because of the positive values of both organisations that an alternative to such an unsuitable union is sought.

What I do find disturbing, however, is a narrow British nationalism that insists that Scotland should suffer just because our larger neighbour repeatedly votes for reactionary, neo-liberal parties (and that includes the current Labour Party).

And a solidarity that stops at the UK border, restricting our concern to places such as Carlisle, Newcastle and Norwich, isn't internationalism, it is the same 'bruising echo of boots on faces, flags and tunes, swelling hearts and marching feet' British nationalism that we're all so familiar with.

I'll vote Yes in September, not out of any great sense of flag-waving national pride, but because it will allow our unique society, our national community, to govern itself, decide on our own priorities, and make our own positive contribution to the wellbeing of the international community.

markmclay18 said...

I couldn't disagree with this any more.
The Nationalism you describe is nowhere close to the movement for Scottish independence.
The word Nationalism doesn't describe it either,or Separatism.
Self-Governance is the best description that could be applied.
Until you view the movement in those terms you will be blind to what's going on.

Anonymous said...

Stick to singing bad and patronising folk songs about whisky.

Alan O'Donnell said...

Couldn't disagree more. The suggestion that this referendum is about nationalism vs 'something nobler than nationalism' is deeply flawed. The supreme irony here is that the unionist case is extremely 'nationalistic' in tone (count the union jacks and empire references) while the pro-indy case is anything but.

Anonymous said...


I'd like to thank you for writing this. I think you mirror the feelings of many many scots on this vote. I am deeply concerned about my country being ripped apart. I am Scottish and british and i should have to apologise to anyone for that.

I have tried to post longer comments but they have never managed to work so here i am third time lucky! Maybe the site doesn't like mac's?

I see you have attracted the ire of some of the cybernats and you have also bee singled out for attention on some of the nationalist blog sites. I think i saw you being referred to as something like a preacher of hate. I hope you do not suffer too much harrassment for speaking out and i suppose if you do at least you will know that they fear what you have to say.

I will follow your blog with interest. Good luck and don't let them silence you.

All the best.

Anonymous (for now)

King_of_Old_Argyll said...

An excellent piece that, I'm sure sums up how the (silent) majority of proud Scottish, British folk in our country feel. Well done Tom.

Charles O'Brien. said...

I had to stop reading the why,s and what for,s,it did not make much sense to me.To accuse others of whom you have no knowledge of their circumstances,of being dangerous I think actually puts you in the dangerous league.Give others the same credit you would like given to your opinion.I will vote yes and have wanted to see an independent Scotland since the early 1960,s,I just believe its the right course for Scots to take,by Scots I mean all those here by choice or by birth,we can improve the lot of 5 million people because the rest of the folk in the UK don't want it to be a fair society,so why deny the 5 million who do?perhaps we can encourage more folk in the south to use their vote and come into the 21st century instead of living with the pomp of the 15th.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this. In total agreement with what you say. This is my 4th attempt at posting on your blog so hopefully it will work this time!!

Keep it up, we need people like you to encourage the silent majority to speak up. You have clearly pricked the ears of the nationalists and i have seen your name mentioned on nationalist blog sites. They will start to try and discredit you. Don't let them put you off.

One day i might also start a blog but anonymity suits me for now.

Thanks again and good luck.

Noel Chidwick said...

From what I can tell, most 'No' sayers are very emotional when expressing their views; reason or rational thinking does not seem to come into it. Or petulance: "no you can't have a currency union cos I said so".

I'm probably going to vote yes for one good, simple reason: it brings democracy closer to home. The referendum is not about blind nationalism, it's not really political in itself. It's about being able to choose our decision makers, and being able to communicate with them more effectively. And that Scottish elections are held under PR makes independence even more of a goal.

The other benefits of independence, detailed elsewhere are extra benefits.

And please, Scotland is not too small. Tell the folks of Norway, Luxembourg, Iceland, Ireland, Switzerland and the others that they are too small. I don't seen them begging to be absorbed into a bigger country.

Tom, you are yet another bod who thinks this referendum is about the SNP. It really isn't.

George Reid said...

Tom, I've been a great fan of yours for many years, but I see your post as a particularly (and, if I may say so, untypically) bitter reaction by you to the responses to your original announcement that you will vote 'No'. As a Labour voter who will vote Yes, I don't recognise the way you categorise me and the apparently many, many others who will vote Yes. On the issue of BBC DJs (whatever their contractual relationship) going public, I notice Ken Bruce is staying his hand (and even Andy Marr, who as you know got a poke from Salmond) is saying he was only repeating what he heard on the subject of EU membership.

wilma mcewan said...

can anyone be more bitter than this ,and dare I say nationalistic ,Independence does NOT EQUAL Nationalism,and I see your biggest fan patting you on the back for this rant is "annonymous" why I wonder, Scotland needs this and Scotland will get this ,so carry on,oh dear you are in for a very rude awakening

Anonymous said...

Tom you are my saviour of the radio airwaves however on this I believe you are way off mark and in no position to criticise the 'emotive' language of the yes campaign. Some definite confusion between 'nationailsm' and 'democracy' going on here. I am a member of the Scottish Greens and a past member of Labour - I am voting Yes in September because I want control as close to the people as possible. Independence (not separatism - you kids become independent when they leave home, you don't separate) is just the beginning of a process of democratisation. Scary to take such a bold step, of course. But we can never become progressive if we live in fear.

Anonymous said...

Well said Tom. With you 100%.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, So long as Scotland is ruled by Westminster, Scotland will be subjected to the ideals of the Tory Majority in South East England. I believe that if the majority of Britain want Nuclear Weapons, they ought to have them close to them, not in Scotland where there is no need for a nuclear submarine. There are so many things that Scotland has been short changed on, and yet we always pay our fair share. I am a Green Party voter, and I have a healthy distrust of all politicians. To that end I feel that you need to keep them as close as you can to keep an eye on them. Just look at how little control we have over Westminster policy. On those few points alone, it is YES for me, you are all deluding yourselves, or you have a VERY short memory.

Phil McMenemy said...

This is not about Nationalism, per se, though is it?
Its about self-determination and justness - two things we have NEVER had from Westminster who remain wedded to their dreams of Empire.
YES - bring it on.
Good to talk.

Anonymous said...

Well said Tom. You've hit the nail firmly on the head.