Alex Massie

Bannockburn Should Be Celebrated

Text settings

The usually estimable David Maddox has a very strange post up at the Scotsman's politics blog complaining that Alex Salmond wants to exploit the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn. Apparently:

While Bannockburn is a battle which Scots should take historic pride in, seeing off an invading English army which had numerical superiority, it nevertheless is symbolic of anti-English feeling which are rife with the SNP and nationalist movement as a whole.

So much for the "positive nationalism" which Mr Salmond claims to espouse.

It is difficult to escape the feeling that this will be a year long "hate the English" festival in the run-up to a double election in 2015.

This is, alas, piffle. True, there is an anti-English element within the SNP but any reasonable or fair-minded evaluation of the movement might conclude that as nationalist parties go the SNP is pretty short on the kind of blood, soil and thunder that tends to be a big part of such movements elsewhere. It's there but it's not, despite what blog commenters might leave one to believe, all there is to the party.

And in any case Maddox's agument seems to be that because some people might have the wrong idea about remembering Bannockburn no-one should be able to remember it at all and, consequently, Scots should have to ignore or avoid or deny their own history.

But, as I've said before, Bannockburn isn't "owned" by any political party, movement or prejudice and nor should it be. Apart from anything else Unionists should celebrate Bruce's triumph too since victory in the Wars of Independence avoided incorporation and made a consensual Union of nation states possible. 

True, it would be good to ditch that hopeless dirge Flower of Scotlan,d but the notion that half the country is constantly revisiting and living out Bannockburn-related fantasies is a nonsense. There's really nothing terribly sinister about acknowledging the anniversary anymore than might be the case with, say, Trafalgar.

For that matter, the idea that the SNP will reap some electoral advantage from a "year long hate the English festival" is the sort of paranoid and delusional fantasy that's the province of the more imaginative kind of London-based commentators. It bears little relation to the reality of the Scotlands most of us inhabit.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.