When Boris Johnson said no to another referendum on Scottish independence, Alex Neil, a former health secretary in the Scottish government, called on Scots to force the PM’s hand by emulating Mahatma Gandhi. Passive resistance, “securing rights by personal suffering” as Gandhi put it, was the way, thought Neil, to shame the British oppressor into acquiescence. To borrow a tactic for Scots dissent from the Indian national movement is to reveal how nationalists see Scotland (once a great reservoir of imperial officials, high and low): as an oppressed colony under the despotic rule of the South England Company.
Nationalists have long believed Scots are a more moral people than the English (a view not confined to nationalists, to be fair). Thus the revelation by the Scottish Sun last week that Derek Mackay, the finance secretary (widely tipped to be a future party leader) was forced to resign after sending a series of affectionate messages to a 16-year old boy, point to a culture in which inappropriate sexual behaviour may be as common as anywhere else; even as common as in Westminster, a constant source of pejorative reference.
The trial of former first minister Alex Salmond on a raft of charges of sexual assault begins in Edinburgh in early March. Salmond has strongly denied all of these charges and appears confident of being cleared. But his lucrative job as a presenter on the Russian propaganda channel RT has attracted wide criticism, even from his successor, Nicola Sturgeon. His view of Britain appears to have led him to work for a channel which shares his antipathy.
The assumption of English moral turpitude is an ingrained tic in nationalist circles. Both SNP members and senior figures in the party jab constantly at England’s opposition to immigration and racist and imperialist attitudes. This of an England which has, proportionately and of course absolutely, by far the largest population of immigrants and their descendants in the British Isles.