Graeme Archer

Alex Salmond is wrong. Scotland isn’t more ‘socially just’ than the rest of Britain

Alex Salmond’s suggestion that Scotland is more predisposed towards ‘social justice’ than other parts of Britain is absurd, repellent, and embarrassing. Let’s take those points in order.

From the Left’s perspective first. To care about the dispossessed must surely imply a sense of solidarity. I walked to the BBC studio this morning through a nearly empty, still cold Brighton. Only nearly empty – the people who’d slept rough the night before were in evidence, of course. Salmond’s message of solidarity, of concern for the dispossessed in England, is: ‘Get lost. You don’t matter, except that my new socially just Scotland will act as a beacon to the socially unjust English.’

That Salmond beacon, unfortunately, would not warm a single, homeless, English soul. If you think political action can alleviate poverty, on what basis do you make such action more efficacious, by drawing an arbitrary circumference around those you seek to help?

During the discussion on the Today programme, my opponent claimed it was ‘specious’ of me to ask whether my English father had less concern for justice than my Scottish mother. But it’s entirely the right question to ask: it’s not those of us who are happy being Scottish and British who claim that such a qualititative difference exists. Nationalists do not like to follow through their arguments, but ‘Scotland is more in favour of social justice than England’ must have such a follow-on, direct interpretation, or it is a void claim. Well, it is void, as void as it is repellent. No-one should fall for the dog whistles of a demagogue, waxing on misty-eyed about the properties of his ‘people’.

To see how embarrassing Salmond’s claim is, even on its own terms, we should move our perspective a little to the Right (but we’ll stay personal).

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