Alex Massie

The Problem of Being Like Scotland

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One of the problems with nationalism is that it craves attention. The Scottish variety is no exception. Thus, for instance, the normally sensisible SNP Tactical Voting asks:

One day we may read in foreign newspapers "why can't we be more like Scotland?" once in a while. Wouldn't that be a refreshing change?

Jeff goes on to say how jolly splendid it is that the SNP's proposals for price controls on alcohol might be emulated elsewhere in the UK and, who knows, in truly foreign countries too. Whoopee! But this is scarcely surprising. After all the Scottish parliament has led the way before. Brave Wee Scotland was the first to ban the hunting of foxes with hounds and it was also ahead of the curve, I'm afraid, with its draconian, invasive attitude to the consumption of tobacco. These terrible ideas duly spread to the other parts of the United Kingdom, demonstrating only that Tartan Illiberalism is quicker off the mark than its counterparts in Northern Ireland, Wales and England.

Fairness demands that one acknowledge that the Scottish Parliament is set against the idea of ID cards, but that is not a matter for which it has responsibility. In areas in which it may legislate it has generally taken an illiberal, freedom-restricting approach. It would indeed be a refreshing, even, sadly, astonishing change if one could ever see London papers asking "why can't we be more like Scotland" in reference to legislation that was actually worthy of emulation, not a matter for quiet despair. Fat chance.

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.

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