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Are the commitment to Scottish independence and the Scottish National Party’s surge evidence of a clash of values between Scotland and England ?

Didier Revest
p. 37-75

Abstract

The notion that Scotland could one day become independent owes much to the fact that Scottish society is quite often described as being more progressive than English society. The (self-)description, of course, plays no mean part in Nationalist discourse, which stresses such things as the support for the Conservatives in England and the rise of UKIP. Nevertheless, there is factual evidence that the rejection of London policies and the increased backing for anti-Union parties in Scotland should not automatically be equated with proof that the Scots’ outlook on education, social justice, the economy, immigration, etc., and that of the English are poles asunder. But if so, then it may well be that the gap between (self-)description and reality tells us a lot more about the essence of Scottish nationalism than about any discrepancy between Scotland and England.

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Introduction

1It has become commonplace to think that Scottish society is more caring, more socially progressive, more welcoming to foreigners, etc. than England. At the very least, this is what a great many people in Scotland (and elsewhere), not just the man in the street, but also trade unionists, academics, journalists, politicians and so on, routinely declare.

  • 1 See Understanding Scotland: the Sociology of a Stateless Nation London: Routledge, 1992, pp. 125, 1 (...)
  • 2 See Ferguson, I., “An Attitude Problem? Confidence and Well-being in Scotland”, in Davidson et altr (...)

2For example, David McCrone, a prominent Scottish sociologist, explained in the early 1990s that Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal choices were rejected in Scotland on account of the strength of its civil society and its corporatist network.1 Some ten years later, Scottish psychologist Carol Craig, author of The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence (2003), was adamant that, unlike the English, the Scots espouse collectivism as they believe in the value of community.2

3Another good example is Scottish political analyst Gerry Hassan, who has written that

  • 3 Hassan, G., “Our differences and commonalities”, The Scotsman, 7 September 2013.

Scotland is a distinctive country and political culture on many criteria. We don’t vote Tory in any numbers, have a different attitude to the public sector and abhor the marketisation and privatisation of successive Westminster administrations.3

4Meanwhile, Scottish folk singer Karine Polwart has lamented the fact that

  • 4 Polwart, K., “Why I’ll vote Yes despite the SNP”, The Scotsman, 16 February 2013.

Every time I witness Nigel Farage, or a member of our elected Westminster government, on TV, I sense not just that my core values and priorities don’t count at UK level, but that they’re in imminent danger of evisceration.4

  • 5 Dorling, D., 2011, p. 179.
  • 6 See e.g. McKenna, K., “The union is once again at risk – thanks to Labour”,The Guardian, 7 March 20 (...)
  • 7 Lee, C. H., 1995, p. 117.
  • 8 Danson, M., Lloyd, M. G. & Newlands, D., “Scotland”, in R. Martin & P. Townroe (eds.), 1992, pp. 10 (...)
  • 9 Callinicos, A., 2001, p. 53.

5The causes of this outburst of indignation are not far to seek. Prof. Daniel Dorling has explained that differences between areas in Britain, e.g. in terms of income, votes, education, housing and life expectancy, were as marked by 2004 as they had been in 1934.5 New Labour governments, indeed, have often been put in the dock for not opposing with sufficient energy the business and financial elites’ drive towards always more privatisation (e.g. in education and the NHS)6, and for defending an agenda that is primarily agreeable to middle-class England whose support it needs to get into Number 10 Downing Street. Of course, to many Scots (to begin with, in local government and the churches), things had already changed for the worse in preceding decades. Under Mrs Thatcher, unemployment in Scotland remained high, in particular because of the severe decline of manufacturing7, and relative living standards fell steadily, while public resources were replaced with private sector investment.8 Not to mention the shifting of the fiscal burden from direct to indirect taxation by both Tories and Labour, which is a policy that tends to impede redistribution.9

  • 10 Dorling, 2011, p. 327.

6More recent illustrations of this kind of policy include, to take but one example, the UK coalition government’s Comprehensive Spending Review of October 2010; it was decried as an attack on the livelihoods and well-being of the poor, and was even criticised by London Mayor Boris Johnson himself, who talked about “social cleansing” as it risked driving the poor from cities.10

  • 11 It was a loan (introduced in 2001) which graduates were required to pay back. It was abolished in A (...)
  • 12 Perryman, M., “A jigsaw state”, in M. Perryman, (ed.), 2009, p. 23.

7This contrasts sharply with some of the policies put forward by the Edinburgh Parliament under the Scottish National Party (SNP). For example, from 2007, the Scottish Government cut prescription charges, abolished the graduate endowment11 and also introduced free nursing care for the elderly who could not cope on their own.12 Furthermore, as Deputy Director of the Academy of Government and Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Edinburgh Eve Hepburn has explained :

  • 13 Hepburn, E., “Independence and the immigration debate in Scotland”, in Scotland alone? Awaiting the (...)

Since taking control of the Scottish Government in 2007, the SNP has built upon […] a civic, inclusive and multicultural identity for Scotland. It has also fought to increase immigration to Scotland (in retaliation against UK policy), not only for cold, hard economic reasons (though increasing economic and population growth is by far the most important consideration), but also – in a more humanistic vein – to enrich Scotland’s cultural diversity and international linkages. This positive endorsement contrasts sharply with UK politics […].13

8Last but not least, it has been said that the SNP

  • 14 Crawford, E., “Why the SNP is a party to be reckoned with”, The Guardian, 4 February 2015.

uses the language of the future, [that] it makes a positive case for EU membership and has managed to show a good proportion of the electorate that it is on their side.14

9Unsurprisingly, in the wake of the party’s landslide victory on 7 May 2015, Scottish Trades Union Congress General Secretary Grahame Smith said :

  • 15 Quoted by Robertson, G., “General Election 2015: SNP landslide is NOT a vote for Scottish Independe (...)

It is clear that there is in Scotland a monumental movement for change […]. [The] demand was […] for a progressive policy agenda. It was for an end to austerity, an end to exploitative work practices, an end to poverty, and a positive future for our young people. This is the agenda that the people of Scotland expect to be fought for at Westminster on their behalf.15

10In short, it seems that The Economist hit the nail on the head when on 2 May 2015 it published an article entitled: “Scotland is another country”.

11As we shall see first, the debate on Scottish independence, like the 2015 General Election campaign, has seemingly proved the point. Only a fool therefore would dare argue to the contrary. Yet, step into a fool’s shoes I will because I believe that there are very good reasons why I must do so. Year after year, indeed, and despite differences at times, surveys have time and again shown that, on immigration, education, inequality, the NHS, and so on, and so forth, the Scots and the English, like their respective political representatives, are in the main not exactly poles apart. I shall then explain that the rise of UKIP in England probably makes relatively little difference. Finally, I shall offer a partly tentative explanation of what that situation tells us about the movement committed to Scottish independence and the SNP’s surge.

Clear red water

  • 16 Quoted by Peterkin, T., “SNP party conference: ‘We’re ruled by a bunch of Snootys,’ says Alex Salmo (...)
  • 17 Scotland’s Future – Your Guide to an Independent Scotland, 2013, e.g. pp. 43-44 & 608.

12Independence has been presented as absolutely necessary not just from an economic perspective, but also from a social one, the idea being that separation would be more conducive to social fairness and solidarity than the current Union. Characteristically, on 20 October 2012, in his address to the SNP’s conference in Perth, former First Minister Alex Salmond (2007-2014) insisted that the whole point of the nationalist cause was “to create a more prosperous economy and a more just society”16, a message naturally echoed a year later by the Scottish Government’s white paper on independence.17

13Current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who took over responsibility for the independence referendum from late 2012, has since then often pugnaciously made the very same point. In early 2013, she said :

  • 18 Sturgeon, N., “No more ‘what ifs’”, Scotland on Sunday, 27 January 2013.

the case for independence does not rest on identity or nationality, but rather on values of social justice, enterprise and democracy. […] the UK is the fourth most unequal country in the developed world […] and my contention is that the UK has failed Scotland over the long term […].18

  • 19 See Whitaker, A., “No child poverty in independent Scotland – Sturgeon”,The Scotsman, 8 March 2013.

14Speaking at an End Child Poverty coalition event in Edinburgh in early March 2013, she even asserted that, along with other “economic and social rights” (e.g. the right to a life free of poverty), eradicating child poverty might be written into an independent Scotland’s constitution.19

  • 20 Quoted by Whitaker, A., “Harvie ‘radical vision’ claim”, The Scotsman, 5 October 2013.

15Likewise, in his speech to the Scottish Green Party conference in early October 2013, Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the party, defended a “radical vision” of independence whose aim was a reformed economy to tackle inequality, a more equal distribution of wealth, an ambitious plan to fight climate change.20

  • 21 Kane, P., “A ‘Yes’ vote is not just for independence, it can let us find our own direction”, Scotla (...)
  • 22 Yes Scotland was the organisation launched in May 2012 to promote the cause of independence; it com (...)
  • 23 Quoted in “Scotland’s Road to Socialism”,The Scotsman, 29 May 2013.

16Many Scots from all walks of life have welcomed the vision. Scottish musician and activist Pat Kane has said that independence would be the expression of a belief in Scottish people’s ability to come up with a progressive agenda for housing, health, welfare, education, and even defence and economics.21 Colin Fox, Scottish Socialist Party spokesman and Yes Scotland22 advisory board member, has explained that it would amount to a “significant defeat for the British state and its stranglehold over our economy, society, culture and politics.”23 Dennis Canavan, a former Labour MP and Independent Member of the Scottish Parliament, and a prominent member of the Yes Scotland campaign, was even more explicit :

  • 24 Canavan, D., “Only way to escape austerity that punishes the poor”, The Scotsman, 4 May 2013.

We can choose to continue as members of a discredited Union in which economic consensus has brought us to the brink of bankruptcy and the political consensus is scapegoating the poor. Or we can start afresh with independence and try to build a more caring, sharing society, where the freedom of people is more important than the freedom of market forces.24

  • 25 Quoted in “Sturgeon to attack Westminster economic policy”, The Scotsman, 11 February 2015.

17Although they were clever enough to decouple the General Election from the independence question proper, the SNP fundamentally based their 2015 campaign on the same approach, i.e. the notion that Scotland and England are different, that (to put it simply) the Scots are not like the more market-oriented English. In a speech at University College London in early 2015, N. Sturgeon said that further austerity cuts imposed by a re-elected David Cameron would be “morally unjustifiable and economically unsustainable”, in particular for the most vulnerable (“women, people with disabilities and people on low incomes”). She therefore vowed to “use the powers we have in the Scottish Parliament to pursue a different approach; one based on partnership, fairness and prosperity.”25

  • 26 See Whitaker, Andrew, “John Swinney launches SNP business manifesto”,The Scotsman, 16 April 2015.

18The SNP’s jobs manifesto launched by Deputy First Minister John Swinney in mid-April 2015 typically contained the following measures: increasing the national minimum wage by 2020 (from £ 6.50 to £ 8.70 an hour), ending zero hours contracts, and fighting the “scourge of in-work poverty”.26

  • 27 See Peterkin, T., “Sturgeon vows to tackle inequality and poverty”, The Scotsman, 15 November 2014.

19This is just the sort of agenda that, on becoming First Minister in late 2014, after the referendum, N. Sturgeon set out to implement in Scotland. She announced a multi-billion pound childcare package, promised to increase NHS spending and said she would become a “champion” of the living wage. She also promised “radical action” on empowering communities, attainment in schools, land reform and tackling domestic abuse and gender equality.27

20At this stage, it would be very difficult not to agree with Blair Jenkins, the chief executive of Yes Scotland, when he said,

  • 28 Jenkins, B., “Scots prepared for independence”, The Scotsman, 11 July 2013. To Blair Jenkins, there (...)

There is a consensus for economic and social development in Scotland that is markedly different from the divisive and socially unjust model that has dominated Westminster politics for more than 30 years.28

21Or as journalist Joyce McMillan has written :

  • 29 McMillan, J., “Why ‘new powers’ won’t be enough”, The Scotsman, 23 January 2015

[…] the debate in Scotland – at grassroots level – […] is, at heart, about the defence of social justice and public services, against an economic consensus at Westminster – reflected in last week’s cross-party vote for continuing austerity after the general election – that seems to reflect very different priorities. And in that sense, many of Scotland’s Yes voters were acting […] against the failed top-down politics of “austerity”, which methodically punishes the most vulnerable, and hammers the quality of life of middle earners, in order to bail out a system whose workings become ever harder to reconcile with any notion of fairness or sustainability.29

  • 30 i.e. the development and operation (in the Firth of Clyde) of the UK’s nuclear warheads.

22These pronouncements, however, can in fact be thought of as rather strange for at least two reasons. Speaking on Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme in March 2015, N. Sturgeon came down on both David Cameron and Ed Miliband for insisting on further spending cuts, for wanting to renew Trident30, and for offering “nothing of passion and principle.” Yet, interestingly, she also pointed out that

  • 31 Quoted by Brooks, L., “SNP will be a ‘progressive ally’ to rest of the UK, says party leader”, The (...)

there are many people in other parts of the UK who are as disillusioned with the Westminster establishment as Scotland is and we can build progressive alliances with our friends in other parts of the UK.31

  • 32 Around 2010, the radical left, for example, consisted of about one thousand members. See Davidson, (...)

23But, if Scotland’s values are so different from those in the rest of the UK, and from English ones in particular, that independence can reasonably be contemplated and a referendum held, then what would be the point of attempting to reach out to “other parts of the UK”? Another difficulty has to do with the fact that, unlike other pro-independence organisations (which, again, are a lot smaller anyway)32, the SNP (clearly the largest political party today) has been in office for eight years now, and that, as many commentators have underlined, there is evidence that their actual decisions have not been exactly as immaculately progressive as suggested above. And so to these two questions we must now turn.

When there is more than meets the ear

  • 33 McCafferty, P. & Mooney, G., “Resisting the Neoliberal ’Modernisation’ of Public Services in Contem (...)
  • 34 Scandrett, E., “Environmental Justice in Scotland: Incorporation and Conflict”, in Davidson et altr (...)
  • 35 Wiltshire, S., “Criminal Justice: A Test of Scottish Distinctiveness”, in Davidson et altri, (eds.) (...)

24When the SNP came into office in 2007, they may have replaced public private partnerships with a not-for-profit organisation, i.e. the Scottish Futures Trust, but the latter still relied upon private finance to fund public projects. The SNP may also have pledged themselves to reduce class sizes, abolish prescription charges and restructure student support, but these measures were to be achieved through economic growth, i.e. by making sure Scotland was, in the words of Alex Salmond, “open for business”, a mantra fully embraced by New Labour.33 (I shall come back on this point below) In its commitment to a “Greener Scotland” too, the SNP Government adopted a plainly pro-business agenda.34 Likewise, antisocial behaviour was tackled in much the same way as previous Scottish administrations had done and therefore resembled Westminster policies.35 Moreover,

  • 36 Davidson, “Neoliberal Politics in a Devolved Scotland”, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 340.

The freeze in Council Tax bills, for example, meant that the income of around 75 percent of Scottish households increased over the Financial Year 2008-09, but their overall standard of living was also reduced, as councils attempted to withdraw services in order to compensate for reduced levels of income.36

  • 37 McCafferty & Mooney, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 179.
  • 38 See Monteith, B., “Mad not to use existing powers”, The Scotsman, 1 April 2013.

25Finally, there was actually little commitment to tackling social and economic inequalities and the vested interests in Scottish society.37 Tellingly, the decision taken under Labour First Minister Jack McConnell (2001-2007) to end the funding of the cost of maintaining the administrative set-up that went with the possibility to vary income tax by 3 percent was eventually endorsed by the SNP.38

  • 39 McCafferty & Mooney, in Davidson et altri (eds.), 2010, pp. 175-176.

26That is why, as has been argued, during the election campaign of 2007, with the exception of the constitutional question, the war in Iraq and nuclear energy, the real difference between Labour and the SNP had to do with rhetoric.39

  • 40 See Maddox, D., “Ed Miliband unveils offensive linking SNP to Tories”, The Scotsman, 21 March 2015. (...)

27Interestingly too, an analysis of voting by the House of Commons library has shown that, between 2001 and 2005, when the SNP and Tories both voted, they supported the same measures 64 percent of the time. For the 2005-2010 period, SNP and Tories voted together 71 percent of the time. In fact, the figures are higher for budget and finance votes: from 2001 to 2005, the SNP voted with the Tories 68 percent of the time and 88 percent between 2005 and 2010.40

  • 41 Macdonell, H., 2009, pp. 173-175.
  • 42 See Gall, G., “Debate must focus on individuals”, The Scotsman, 15 October 2013. The SNP had fought (...)

28This, in fact, should come as no surprise. First of all, the SNP under John Swinney had, by the early 2000s, realized that defending an agenda based on higher income tax – to defeat Labour – had cost them dear in the 1999 Scottish elections. Becoming the largest party also meant winning over the business community, which they set out to do from early 2002. Thus, however, the party had to fundamentally alter its strategy and message.41 Eight months before the 2003 Scottish Parliament elections, they decided against retaining their “penny for Scotland” pledge, which would have seen income tax – and thereby funds for the public sector – increase by 1 percent.42

29Secondly, many within the SNP have long striven to marry a social-democratic ideal and discourse with a far more liberal economic agenda. In July 1970, scholar and long-standing member of the SNP Douglas Young explained that he favoured

  • 43 Young, D., 1971, pp. X-xi.

a reasonable amount of reasonable socialism in a mixed economy [sic], but would like to see Scottish socialism operated in Scotland, and creating a general economic climate congenial to entreprise and excellence in the private sector of industry [sic].43

  • 44 See Torrance, D., “The reinvention of the SNP”, The Guardian, 21 May 2015.

30Time has hardly made a difference to this situation. The working title of the SNP’s 2007 manifesto was A Culture of Independence. At the time, N. Sturgeon, who has since then made strenuous efforts to make Scottish nationalism synonymous with a centre-left agenda, attempted to depict the notion as both constitutional and personal. To her, governments “should not go around getting in people’s way when they don’t need to”, an approach which the SNP hoped would “strike a chord with people in the middle classes”.44 (more about these contradictory trends below and in part 4).

  • 45 Speaking on the BBC News at 10 programme on 20 April 2015.

31The SNP’s second mandate from 2011 has apparently not been inspired by a radically different agenda. According to BBC economics editor Robert Peston45, despite overall spending being 18 percent higher in Scotland (as of 2014), public spending on health per head from 2008-09 to 2012-13 went up by 8.1 percent in Scotland while it increased by 11.7 percent in England; meanwhile, spending on schools went down 3.8 percent in the former but went up 6 percent in the latter.

  • 46 Quoted by Macnab, S., “SNP backs calls for oil jobs to move to Scotland”, The Scotsman, 10 March 20 (...)
  • 47 See Whitaker, A., “SNP signs no-strike deal with Scots prison staff”, The Scotsman, 22 February 201 (...)

32 Scotland’s interests, too, have sometimes been defended using language that echoes the priorities of big business. In early 2015, for instance, Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing warned that his country, having to compete for investment with other oil-producing nations, was “not competitive because both costs and tax are too high”.46 At other times, it was more than just the language that reflected the kind of action taken by the UK coalition government. In an early 2015 deal that angered the STUC, the Scottish Government encouraged a two-year no-strike agreement in the Scottish Prison service in exchange for a £ 2,000 bonus payment while condemning the London government for threatening to introduce strike ballot thresholds.47

  • 48 See “Employment in Scotland rises by 3,000”, The Scotsman, 17 April 2015.
  • 49 See Maddox, D., “82% of jobs created in Scotland post-2010 low-paid”, The Scotsman, 25 February 201 (...)
  • 50 See “Labour Market” – Scottish Economy Watch, 2015 (unpaged).

33During the General Election campaign, the UK Conservatives, David Cameron prominent among them, typically made hay of the increase in employment figures, but they were not the only ones. In April 2015, Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish Government’s Fair Work, Skills and Training Secretary, congratulated herself on the fact that youth unemployment figures in Scotland had improved, that female employment level had increased significantly in 2014, and that the number of economically active Scots had reached an all-time high.48 Both parties thus conveniently glossed over the fact that, according to statistics from the House of Commons library, 82 percent of the jobs created from 2010 to 2014 in Scotland were low-paid whilst 28 percent were zero-hour contracts.49 In other words, as Brian Ashcroft, an emeritus professor in economics in the Strathclyde Business School at the University of Strathclyde and Economics Editor of the Fraser of Allander Institute Economic Commentary, has said: there has been “a shift since the recession away from full-time, permanent, employees, towards, part-time, temporary, and self-employment.”50

  • 51 Page 7 of the SNP’s 2013 Scotland’s Economy: the case for independence reads: “A competitive econom (...)
  • 52 Davidson, N., “What was Neoliberalism?”, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 51.
  • 53 Quoted in “Sturgeon to attack Westminster economic policy”, The Scotsman, 11 February 2015.

34This situation is interesting because it is typical of economies that set a high value on creating as many jobs as possible over as short a period of time as possible mainly through private investment, and because, overall, as already said, it shows the SNP are, despite their protests to the contrary, on the same wavelength as e.g. New Labour. Indeed, the problem here is that, though laudable in the short term, marrying social democracy and neoliberalism does not consist of a synthesis of the two (which the SNP nevertheless believe they can achieve51), but an adaptation of the former to the latter,52 as powerful vested interests remain unchallenged for structural reasons. Relying on the private sector, and in particular big business, for job creation means little can then be said about the distribution of power and wealth, or, more generally, about the way the market economy is organized. Anyway, the jobs created have not exactly been what N. Sturgeon had in mind in her London speech of February 2015, when she said that “Economic policy is a means not an end ; it’s the means for citizens to lead happy, healthy, fulfilling lives.”53

  • 54 Quoted by Barnes, E., “SNP ‘not offering’ full Scottish independence” – The Scotsman, 29 May 2013.

35It therefore seems that Jim and Margaret Cuthbert, two of Scotland’s most distinguished economists, were right when they explained in mid-2013 that the SNP was not offering full independence since it was “vanishingly unlikely” that they would take on “the vested interests which currently hold sway” to address burning questions such as child poverty, unemployment or unfair land and wealth distribution.54

  • 55 Edwards, R., “Bitter row between Joan McAlpine, Fergus Ewing over shale gas sparks complaint to Stu (...)

36Finally, the party has been riven by the sort of divisions between the proponents of ideologically different economic policies that we have already mentioned. A good illustration is the bitter row that erupted in early 2015 between two prominent nationalists, Joan McAlpine, a south Scotland MSP, and Fergus Ewing, the energy minister, about onshore gas exploitation. The latter severely reprimanded the former as she had dared criticise the Duke of Buccleuch’s plans to mine for methane in Dumfries and Galloway.55

  • 56 McCafferty & Mooney, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 178.
  • 57 Davidson, “What was Neoliberalism”, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 53.
  • 58 Peterkin, T., “John Swinney will cut property tax for middle-class”, The Scotsman, 21 January 2015.

37I am naturally aware that from 2007, the crisis and the subsequent cuts imposed by Westminster no doubt explain why the SNP had to shelve key manifesto commitments.56 I equally appreciate that the discrepancy between discourse and action is hardly a first. Many political formations from Solidarity in Poland to the African National Congress in South Africa and the British, New Zealand and Norwegian Labour parties, which had more or less been committed to fighting neoliberal policies, finally implemented them once in office.57 One also has to acknowledge the fact that certain measures have of course clearly been adopted by the SNP with a view to making things fairer; a good example is its choice to help the housing market while making the property tax system more equitable.58

  • 59 See Maddox, D., “IFS thinktank: SNP plans would prolong austerity”, The Scotsman, 23 April 2015.

38However that may be, the fact remains that the foregoing is in rather marked contrast to what might have been expected from the SNP’s declarations of intent. Or, to put it as Britain’s leading independent economic thinktank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, did during the 2015 General Election: “There is a considerable disconnect between [the] rhetoric and their stated plans for total spending”.59 Not only this, but the IFS insisted that by 2019-20, the SNP plans would have meant a lower level of public spending than Labour, a party the SNP has attacked relentlessly over the years for not being progressive enough.

39So much for the policies of the party currently in office in Scotland. What about the Scottish population now? Does it live up to its reputation as a population that has a different ethos to more “right-wing England”?

40If Prof. Michael Keating is to be believed, and as explained above in the introduction, a majority of Scottish people in recent decades, from school boards to academics, medical practitioners, etc., have expressed more scepticism than the English about Conservative and New Labour policies :

  • 60 Keating, M., 2009, pp. 55 & 69.

These elements together have served to create a moral community and public space in Scotland that is not necessarily to the left of England in a traditional sense, but is deeply imbued with ideas of collective welfare and social responsibility.60

41Nevertheless, as we are now going to see, whatever the chosen criterion/criteria, differences tend to be, more often than not, rather negligible.

  • 61 Curtice, J., “Brought Together or Driven Apart?”, in W. M. Miller, (ed.), 2005, pp. 162-165.
  • 62 Curtice, J. & Ormston, R., 2011, pp. 1, 4 & 2. The report was based on surveys conducted between Ju (...)

42Over the late 1990s-early 2000s, the two countries had practically the same socio-economic outlook e.g. on tuition fees or the personal care costs of the elderly.61 Some ten years afterwards, a similar picture obtained. A late 2011 report by John Curtice and Rachel Ormston reached the following conclusion: “the differences are modest at best. Like England, Scotland has become less – not more – social democratic since the start of devolution.” Thus, by 2010, 78 percent of Scottish people said that the gap between low earners and people on high incomes was too wide while the figure in England was 74 percent. Attitudes towards the distribution of wealth also revealed the same pattern, with 55 percent in England and 59 percent in Scotland agreeing that it was unequal.62

  • 63 See Peterkin, T., “Scots voters support student tuition fees”, The Scotsman, 21 April 2011. For com (...)
  • 64 Curtice & Ormston, 2011, p. 4.

43However surprising, the same applied to higher education in Scotland. It may in recent years have been less market-oriented than in England, but an early 2011 YouGov poll of 1,135 Scottish adults showed that 65 percent of them agreed with the notion that students had to make a contribution of up to £ 4,000 once they had a job. Actually, the poll showed that 66 percent of SNP voters supported the policy.63 Besides, according to evidence provided by J. Curtice and R. Ormston, during the 2000s, the level of opposition to tuition fees fell in Scotland. By 2010, it was little more than half what it had been ten years earlier, a change comparable to what had happened in England.64

  • 65 YouGov/Sunday Times Survey, 2013, p. 7.
  • 66 YouGov survey on income tax, 2014, pp. 1 & 2.
  • 67 YouGov survey about the trickle-down theory in economics, 2015, p. 1.

44Time and time again, more recent surveys have told the same story. A September 2013 YouGov survey found for example that, on taxation, the notion of “Increasing the current top rate of income tax for people earning over £ 150,000 from 45p to 50p” was supported by 73 percent of Scots, 73 percent of people in northern England, 63 percent of those in the south of England (outside London) and 64 percent of UKIP voters. “Introducing a new tax on homes worth more than £ 2 million” had the backing of 68 percent of Scots, 77 percent of people in the north of England, 62 percent of those in the south of England (outside London) and 63 percent of UKIP voters.65 The findings were confirmed some six months later by another YouGov survey; 39 percent of people in Scotland, 36 percent in the south of England (outside London) and 36 percent of UKIP voters supported “increasing the current top rate of income tax to 80% for income over £ 300,000 a year”; moreover, 11 percent of Scots wanted to “see the level of inheritance tax increased”, while 21 percent of people in the south of England (outside London) and 26 percent of UKIP voters did.66 Another YouGov survey in early 2015 revealed that taxing income was deemed “the more effective way of decreasing inequality” by 33 percent of people in Scotland, 35 percent in the south of England (outside London) and 32 percent of UKIP voters, while taxing wealth was favoured by 46 percent of people in Scotland, 44 percent in the south of England (outside London) and 48 percent of UKIP voters.67

  • 68 YouGov Survey, 2014, p. 3.
  • 69 YouGov survey on what makes a good employer, 2011, p. 1.

45In yet another recent survey, 76 percent of Scots, 76 percent of the people in the south of England (outside London) and 81 percent of UKIP voters said they did not admire investment bankers while teachers were admired by 78 percent, 78 percent and 79 percent respectively.68 Similarly, when asked in late 2011 about what made a good employer, 37 percent of Scottish respondents, 43 percent of those in the south of England (outside London) and 40 percent in the north of England said: “Great culture and strong values”; meanwhile, 29 percent of Scots, 31 percent of people in southern England (outside London) and 32 percent in the north of England went for “Takes its Corporate social responsibility (CSR) seriously”.69

  • 70 YouGov/Chatham House Survey, 2012, pp. 8 & 12.

46Finally, a 2012 survey on UK foreign policy found that 39 percent of Scots, 38 percent of people in the south of England (outside London) and 41 percent in London agreed that “British foreign policy should be based at least in part on ethical considerations”; it also found that “Overseas aid by UK govt. in 2011” was deemed “too much” by 67 percent of Scots and 65 percent of respondents in the south of England (outside London).70

  • 71 See Stanford, P., “Norwich: capital of the church’s radical campaign for country with a conscience” (...)

47All these figures and parallels are corroborated, I believe, by evidence of another nature. The Church of England (which, in a sense, epitomizes Englishness) has for some time now clearly been in tune with a majority of English and Scottish voters. In February 2015, bishops published a 52-page open letter (which was duly attacked by some Tory MPs) to help voters consider how “to build the kind of society which people say they want”; in tones reminiscent of Scottish political discourse, these “guidance notes” condemned an “almost moribund political culture”, a society that “celebrates equality” but “treats the poor and vulnerable as unwanted, unvalued and unnoticed”, and appealed for a “fresh moral vision of the kind of country we want to be”. One month earlier, Archbishops John Sentamu (York) and Justin Welby (Canterbury) had published a book of essays (On Rock or Sand?) which diagnosed the limitations of a market economy and condemned the UK coalition government for creating an increasingly divided Britain.71

  • 72 See Phipps, C. & Sparrow, A., “Election 2015: who won the TV leaders’ debate?, The Guardian, 3 Apri (...)
  • 73 See Jones, O., “Low pay and high rent: is work really the route out of poverty in Tory Britain?”, T (...)

48Here is another very interesting fact. During the Leaders’ debate broadcast by ITV 1 on 2 April 2015, N. Sturgeon, who talked about being “progressive”, saving the NHS, welcoming immigrants, etc., was cheered by viewers throughout the UK 83 percent of the time, which put her well ahead of all the other participants (e.g. Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood, who came second on 66 percent, and Ed Milliband, who was on 47 percent).72 Unsurprisingly, one of the most popular Google searches that night was from voters in England asking if they could vote for N. Sturgeon’s party.73

  • 74 McCrone, D., 1998, p. 150, and Curtice, J., 1992, p. 18.

49I believe that the point I have tried to make remains valid despite the presence of Conservative Governments at Westminster. Images of “Tory England” and “Radical Scotland”, indeed, need further qualification. Political polarization (Conservative versus Liberal) between England and the rest of Britain was actually more marked before 1914 than, in more recent decades, the opposition between Labour and the Tories; in addition, from 1945 Wales and the north of England have averaged a higher percentage of left-wing MPs than Scotland, where Labour’s success actually came in the late 1950s. Up until the 1980s too, the south of England had been on the winning side less often than the north and Midlands of England or Scotland. It was therefore possible to write, by the early 1990s, that the most obvious line of political cleavage lay between south and north Britain.74

  • 75 Lijphart, A., 2008, pp. 118-119.
  • 76 Lijphart, A., 1999, p. 290.
  • 77 Lijphart, 2008, p. 48.

50One should not overlook another basic fact either: the gap between the electoral basis of the majority party and its actual number of seats is always huge (because of the system known as “first past the post”). With one exception (in 1955), from WW2 onwards, winning parties have never won majorities of the total vote in either Scotland or England.75 As a consequence, the UK has tended to be a pluralitarian democracy (i.e. one in which parliamentary majorities and cabinets have been supported by the largest minority of voters76) rather than a majoritarian one, a situation that has led to artificial majorities.77

  • 78 In the summer of 2014, the Electoral Commission said not only that 7.5 million eligible voters were (...)
  • 79 Jones, Owen, 2012, pp. 69-70.

51This has been particularly true of the Conservative party. As journalist Owen Jones has explained, in 1979, M. Thatcher became Prime Minister with a smaller share of the vote than any of the winning parties post WW2, with the exception of the two 1974 general elections; besides, if voter apathy (which has traditionally affected Labour more78) is factored in, she never managed to sound convincing to more than a third of eligible voters.79 As a matter of fact, her party’s so-called landslide victory in 1983 saw it secure 362 of all English seats on the basis of almost 46 percent of the vote while e.g. the Liberal/SDP Alliance, with more than 26 percent, only got 13.

52Importantly, the austerity measures imposed by the coalition under D. Cameron were introduced by a government that did not command a majority in England. Only 39.5 percent of the English electorate voted for the Conservatives in the 2010 General Election while not that many more (41 percent) did in 2015. That is because, on both occasions, huge swathes of urban England – the North East, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, South Yorkshire and London – did not want them in office. These results, however, translated into no fewer than 297 English seats for the Tories in the House of Commons in 2010 and 319 English seats in 2015.

53From a strictly democratic point of view, the implications are dire. Though they received around 2.5 million votes in the 2015 General Election, the Lib Dems now only have 8 MPs. Under proportional representation, they would have 51. The Green Party were another casualty of the first-past-the-post system; their support quadrupled to over one million, but they still have only one MP. UKIP did a lot better, with 4 million votes; yet, they have ended up in the same situation as the Green Party in terms of seats. According to a study published by the Electoral Reform Society on 1 June 2015, these were the most disproportionate election results in British history. Or, as journalist Andrew Rawnsley has written :

  • 80 Rawnsley, A., “The real reason David Cameron is sitting on a Commons majority”, The Observer, 31 Ma (...)

By no normal definition of the word mandate [therefore] did [the Conservatives] get the endorsement of the electorate to fully implement their manifesto. Nearly two-thirds of voters did not put their cross in the Tory box. […] It is first past the post that alchemises a minority vote share into more than half of the seats in the House of Commons, every seat in the cabinet and the power to pursue an entirely Tory agenda for the next five years.80

54The SNP can only be aware of the existence of the diffraction and of the artificially exaggerated regional and national divides which it necessarily entails. Writing weeks before the May 2015 General Election, The Economist explained :

  • 81 “In praise of Alex Salmond”, The Economist, 26 March 2015.

First past the post is actually cruel to parties whose votes are dispersed and kind to those whose votes are concentrated. In this year’s election the SNP stands to benefit hugely from it. Martin Baxter of Electoral Calculus works out that, under a proportional-representation system, the SNP could expect to win not 46 seats but just 23.81

55In the event, of course, the party managed to win 56 seats (out of a total of 59) with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote.

56The issue may of course be evaded as English politics seems to have changed due to the rise of UKIP. But can the rather robust support for this party in England be interpreted as a sign that Scotland and England have been drifting apart for some time now regardless of the above evidence to the contrary?

The strange case of UKIP

57Let’s look at the issue of immigration first as it is, along with the EU, the party’s main focus and as it has given the party and its supporters (most of whom live in England) a rather bad name. But let’s address the question from the perspective of UKIP voters. Indeed, while some prominent figures within the party appear to simply abhor any form of immigration whatsoever, an attitude systematically condemned by mainstream political parties in Scotland, the outlook of UKIP voters on the subject is probably more complex. In fact, as we shall see, it reflects to some extent some of the concerns of the Scottish electorate.

  • 82 YouGov/Times Survey, 2013, p. 1.
  • 83 YouGov/Sun on Sunday Survey, 2014, pp. 8 & 9.

58There is of course no denying that UKIP voters are more likely than other sections of the UK electorate to oppose immigration. For example, according to a YouGov survey carried out in late 2013, 84 percent of UKIP voters, compared to 51 percent of Scots and 56 percent of people in the south of England (outside London), saw “Greater control of our borders and immigration from the EU” as a priority “When renegotiating Britain’s relationship with the EU”.82 Likewise, 75 percent of UKIP voters polled in late 2014 by YouGov believed that “There should be tighter limits on the amount of immigration”; rather fewer people elsewhere agreed: 62 percent in Scotland, 69 percent in the south of England and 60 percent in London. Besides, while 61 percent of Scots, 70 percent of people in the south of England and 58 percent in London supported the notion that “people should have to live here for a period before being entitled to NHS treatment”, 90 percent of UKIP voters did.83 But there is more.

  • 84 YouGov/Cambridge Survey on immigration, 2011, pp. 1, 2, 4 & 5.

59In 2011, 64 percent of Scots, 68 percent of voters in the south of England and 59 percent in London agreed that “Britain is losing its own culture” because of immigration. 72 percent, 77 percent and 68 percent respectively thought that “There must be an annual limit to the number of immigrants allowed to come and stay Britain [sic]”. Only 32 percent, 23 percent and 32 percent respectively believed that “Immigration improves British society”. Finally, only 28 percent of Scots, 24 percent of people in the south of England and 31 percent in London agreed with the following proposition: “Asylum seekers should be entitled to some welfare benefits while their applications are being considered”.84

  • 85 YouGov/The Times Survey on immigration, 2015, pp. 1, 3 & 2. For more or less comparable results, se (...)

60Four years and more surveys taking UKIP voters into consideration have not made much of a difference. In early 2015, asked about whether or not the level of immigration into Britain had been good or bad over the ten previous years, 39 percent of Scots, 36 percent of people in the south of England and 22 percent in London answered that it had been “mostly bad”. 44 percent, 39 percent and 32 percent respectively said fewer people “with low levels of education and skills, looking for low paid work” should be allowed into the UK. Conversely, 42 percent, 50 percent and 45 percent respectively believed that the UK had the right number of immigrants “with high levels of education and skills, looking for high paid jobs”. Quite interestingly, the darker the skin of the immigrants, or the more exotic their geographical origin, the less enthusiasm on the part of the respondents: while Germans, for instance, were seen as having made a “positive” contribution by 44 percent of Scots, 49 percent of voters in the south of England (outside London) and 41 percent of UKIP voters, only 15 percent, 14 percent and 1 percent respectively thought Romanians had contributed positively. Concerning Nigerians, the figures – again respectively – were: 16 percent, 13 percent and 4 percent.85

  • 86 Quoted by Macnab, S., “Immigration: Scots ‘no more tolerant than English’”, The Scotsman, 10 March (...)

61The lesson we may derive from these findings is that, by and large, immigration is seen as positive by Scots and south of England/UKIP voters alike so long as immigrants appear to belong to a category which is believed to contribute to the local/national economy. This suggests an outlook on immigration that has nothing to do with moral values as such and everything to do with – to put it bluntly – self-interest. It is therefore difficult not to agree with Geoff Palmer’s (professor emeritus at Heriot Watt University) pronouncement that “You have the myth of the Scots being more tolerant than the English.”86

62On this particular question, surprisingly, there is relatively little difference between UKIP’s stance and that of the SNP. In fact, both parties’ vision seems to chime in with the preoccupations of the electorate. Indeed, the 2015 SNP manifesto reads (to my mind, in very revealing terms) :

  • 87 Stronger for Scotland (SNP Manifesto 2015), 2015, p. 9.

Diversity is one of Scotland’s great strengths. Effective immigration controls are important, but we must also remember that those who have come to Scotland from other countries make a significant contribution to our economy and our society. We will support sensible immigration policies that meet our economic needs and, as a priority, we will seek the reintroduction of the post study work visa, so that those we have helped educate are able, if they so choose, to make a contribution to our economy.87 (my italics)

63The same goes for page 11 of the Manifesto for a Stronger Scotland (April 2015) :

  • 88 Manifesto for a Stronger Scotland, 2015, p. 11.

Scotland needs an immigration policy suited to our specific circumstances and needs. In particular, we wish to see the reintroduction of the post-study work visa so students who have been educated in Scotland can spend 2 years working here after their studies and can contribute to growing our economy.88 (my emphasis)

  • 89 Quoted in Macnab, S., “Immigration: Scots ‘no more tolerant than English’”, The Scotsman, 10 March (...)

64Earlier this year, a Scottish Government spokeswoman put it in a nutshell when she said that Scotland must attract “world-class talent” to fill vacancies which workers north of the border can’t, emphasising into the bargain that “The people of Scotland recognise the value of high-skilled migrants to our economy and society”.89 (my italics)

  • 90 Jamieson, B., “What does Scotland really think?”, The Scotsman, 12 March 2015.

65That is why I can hardly agree with certain Scottish commentators. In the wake of an early March 2015 YouGov/BBC poll showing that 64 percent of Scots (and 70 percent of people Britain wide) thought immigration should be reduced or stopped completely, Scottish journalist Bill Jamieson wrote that “The views of Scotland’s biggest political parties are at odds with voters’ views on a range of key issues”, to begin with immigration. This however is if we take the SNP’s declarations at face value and out of context.90 Neither can I agree with academic Eve Hepburn when she writes that

immigration has not featured as a polarising issue north of the border [on account of] the overwhelmingly positive position of all of Scotland’s political parties – in particular, the Scottish National Party.

  • 91 Hepburn, in Scotland alone?, pp. 10 & 11.

66She may be right when she points out that “Another reason why immigration has failed to polarise debates in Scotland is because of the broadly accepted need for more immigrants.” But as we have seen, “more immigrants” is primarily understood by the SNP and a majority of the Scottish electorate as meaning: more highly-qualified immigrants.91

67Like the SNP (and the Tories and Labour), UKIP also see immigration first and foremost as something to be controlled and taken advantage of (despite the equally rousing rhetoric about being an “outward-looking country”). Their 2015 manifesto reads :

  • 92 Believe in Britain (UKIP Manifesto 2015), 2015, p. 11.

TO REFORM OUR IMMIGRATION SYSTEM UKIP WILL :
Take back control of our borders
Put a five-year moratorium on immigration for unskilled workers, which will enable the unemployed already living here to find work and those already working to see wage growth
Introduce an Australian-style points based system to manage the number and skills of people coming into the country, treating all citizens of the world on a fair and equal basis as a welcoming, outward-looking country.92 (my emphasis)

68The rise of UKIP should not necessarily be construed either as proof of England moving radically to the right. As a matter of fact, there are more surprises in store for those who are interested in UKIP voters’ take on the social question (a glimpse of which we have already had above – see part 2). Again, needless to say that, in the upper echelons of the party, the talk is all about cutting tax, promoting business and cutting public services down to size, which is hardly a surprise in that UKIP has been boosted by defections from the Conservative party. However, this is not how many UKIP voters see these problems.

  • 93 YouGov/Times RedBox Survey, 2014, pp. 2 & 3.

69According to a December 2014 YouGov survey, 24 percent of UKIP voters saw the party as a left-wing or left-of-centre/centre political formation while 23 percent of them saw Nigel Farage as a left-wing or left-of-centre/centre politician. More interestingly still, 31 percent of UKIP voters described themselves as left-wing or left-of-centre/centre voters and only 24 percent characterised themselves as “fairly” or “very” right-wing.93 Commenting on the findings, William Jordan (who writes and charts for YouGov) explained that although the public see UKIP as the most right-wing of all the parties, UKIP voters, in aggregate, viewed themselves to the left of the Tories, with only 43 percent saying they were “slightly right-of-centre”, or “fairly right-wing”, or “very right-wing” as against 61 percent of Conservative voters. This suggests that

  • 94 Jordan, W., “UKIP voters now put themselves to the left of Tories”, 2014.

Some of UKIP’s centrists could well be protest voters […] turning to UKIP for non-ideological reasons, but this wouldn’t be the first time UKIP voters defied the right-wing label. Past YouGov polling has found them to the left of Conservatives on a number of issues, including rail nationalisation, bank regulation and even Ed Miliband’s proposed energy price freeze.94

  • 95 YouGov/Sun on Sunday Survey, 2014, p. 9.
  • 96 YouGov/Sunday Times Survey, 2015, p. 7. For similar figures and answers, see YouGov Survey, 2014.
  • 97 “British Social Attitudes”, 2015 (unpaged).

70This situation has been reflected in other polls. In late 2014, no fewer than 46 percent of UKIP voters opposed “Increasing the amount of NHS services that are provided by private companies”.95 In early 2015, 74 percent of Scots, 80 percent of English voters and 79 percent of UKIP ones wanted the UK government to protect the NHS from austerity cuts.96 76 percent of UKIP supporters also said they believed that there is one law for the poor and one for the rich (compared with 59 percent of voters as a whole); besides, they were more likely to feel concerned about economic unfairness. Importantly, there was over twice as much support for UKIP among those in more working class occupations (11 percent) than among people in professional and salaried managerial positions (5 percent).97

  • 98 See Freedland, J., “Ukip looks hilarious. But soon we won’t be laughing”, The Guardian, 16 May 2015 (...)

71It is therefore not surprising at all that on 7 May 2015 UKIP should have done particularly well in declining towns in the north and on the east coast of England; it won 25 percent or more of the vote in places such as Hartlepool, Grimsby, Skegness and Thurrock. That is why the party hurt Labour twice as much as it did the Conservatives: in areas where it advanced most, Labour retreated by four points when the Tories only lost two.98

  • 99 One of Wales’ most prominent UKIP campaigners, he is the 61-year-old great-grandson of Scottish Lab (...)
  • 100 See Williamson, D., “Welsh Ukip candidate will make bid for the support of Scotland’s blue-collar w (...)

72That quite a few left-wing voters should be attracted to UKIP is perfectly understandable if one bears in mind the fact that the rhetoric of the party sometimes has a decidedly Old Labour ring to it. For example, Blair Smillie99, who stood for UKIP in Alyn and Deeside in the May 2015 General Election, said – typically – that he was concerned about the impact of the EU on the lives of working people, thereby raising the case of the “working poor”, but he also attacked the harm caused by zero-hour contracts and the influence of corporations whose power he compared to that of aristocrats in the past.100

  • 101 Officially known as the “under-occupancy charge”, it was introduced in April 2013; it restricts the (...)
  • 102 See “UKIP or Green: can you spot the difference?”, The Economist, 15 April 2015.

73This is not an isolated case, far from it. However astonishing, UKIP’s 2015 manifesto read at times like that of the Green Party. While the latter denounced the fact that “Our current politics [is] dominated by a small social group and the power of vested interests”, the former called for “Rebalanc[ing] power from large corporations and big government institutions and put it back into the hands of the people of this country”. On the NHS, UKIP wanted to “Invest an extra £ 12 billion into the NHS [and] put £ 5.2 billion more into social care” whilst the Green Party advocated an immediate increase of “the overall NHS Budget by £ 12 billion a year” and “free social care as well as free healthcare for older people”. On tuition fees, the Greens were no doubt more upbeat as they wanted to end them, but UKIP proposed to “Waive tuition fees for students taking a degree in science ; technology ; engineering ; maths or medicine”. Finally, both parties insisted the bedroom tax101 had to be scrapped.102

  • 103 “British Social Attitudes”, 2015 (unpaged).

74Consequently, although “Kippers” are for instance more likely than the average voter to support the death penalty or to believe young people have too little respect for British values103, they are hardly a sign of England veering to the right and becoming unusually socially conservative; UKIP in fact sounds attractive to those who, whether on the left or on the right, feel powerless and disenfranchised. Hence the rather marked contradictions in terms of support and rhetoric. As journalist Michael White has written :

  • 104 White, M., “Ukip’s Dad’s Army marches on a ration of nostalgia and grievance”, The Guardian, 28 Feb (...)

You can tell a lot about a political party by the bits in their leaders’ speeches that activists choose to clap. Enterprise and patriotism among the Tories, solidarity and the NHS with Labour, liberty with the Lib Dems. A Ukip conference is different: in 2015 it cheers them all, even the anarchic leftwing cartoonists murdered at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.104

  • 105 YouGov Survey on EU referendum and immigration, 2014, p. 1.

75Last but not least, there is of course the small matter of Europe. In late 2014, a YouGov survey found that “If there was a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union”, 47 percent of Scots, 35 percent of voters in the south of England, 40 percent of Londoners and 2 percent of UKIP voters only would vote to remain in the EU.105 This last figure suggests an attitude that could not be more different from the SNP’s stance on the question. For example, in mid-2013, the party insisted that

  • 106 Scotland’s Economy: the case for independence, 2013, p. 42.

We need to become more internationalist, and more engaged in Europe, not issuing threats about leaving the EU as the current UK government is doing.106

76However, is the assertion a sign that the EU matters to the SNP, and to Scots in general, for reasons that have to do with a deep-seated desire to uphold progressive values? My contention is that this is doubtful.

  • 107 Dardanelli, P., 2005, pp. 152-154.
  • 108 Dodds, A. & Seawright, D., “The politics of identity: Scottish nationalism”, in M. O’Neill, (ed.), (...)

77Europe has hardly ever been an end in itself for the SNP. By the 1990s, the politics of devolution had undoubtedly become Europeanised, but the European dimension was exploited primarily because it made the demand for self-government more credible.107 Moreover, when, in 1993, the SNP finally accepted to acquiesce to the Maastricht Treaty, it was basically in exchange for a number of seats on Europe’s Committee for the Regions.108

  • 109 See e.g. Jamieson, B., “Beware independence blank cheque”, The Scotsman, 29 August 2013.

78Why should the EU be an end in itself now? It is likely that the Nationalists are fully aware that, being a small nation in terms of territory and population, Scotland needs Europe’s market more than anything else to secure its economic future. Hence, early on during the independence referendum campaign, their hesitations over issues such as keeping sterling after independence or joining the euro (which, as things stand, is the epitome of political integration at EU-level). But, with the deepening crisis in the eurozone, it was not long before the Yes campaign explained that an independent Scotland would share a common interest rate and monetary policy with the rest of the (former) UK, and also that it would retain the pound (with the Bank of England as lender of last resort).109

  • 110 See Macnab, S., “Scots could see second referendum, says ex-SNP leader”, The Scotsman, 5 March 2013 (...)
  • 111 See Revest, D., 2014, p. 63.
  • 112 Sillars, J., “Market forcing the independence issue” – The Scotsman, 26 October 2012.
  • 113 Sillars, J., “You can’t be serious, SNP…”, The Scotsman, 13 December 2012.

79The fact that so momentous a decision should first and foremost hinge on purely economic interest will probably sound strange to many. The SNP, indeed, is a (self-professed) left-leaning party. But, as ever, things are more complex. A fine illustration is Jim Sillars, a former deputy leader of the SNP and left-wing intellectual. In late 2012, he backed former SNP leader Gordon Wilson (not exactly a Marxist) who defended the idea of joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) after independence.110 Despite the fact that EFTA (founded by the Stockholm Convention in 1960) promotes international trade without the germane political tools to make it socially fair and “was established as an economic counterbalance to the more politically driven European Economic Community”111, it still represented, to J. Sillars, a perfect alternative for access to the European market112, as it is based on the “free movement of capital, labour, goods and services”.113

80All in all, one may then argue that the big dividing line between the average English/UKIP voter and the SNP/average Scottish voter boils down to the fact that the former is in a position to imagine – perhaps erroneously – that his (larger) country and the (larger) domestic market that goes with it could survive economically outside the EU while the latter have a distinct feeling their country just can’t.

  • 114 See Curtice, J., “Finance key in independence debate”, The Scotsman, 21 January 2014.

81One thing, however, remains certain: Europe, as a fully-fledged social community and as a political project, is not quite so popular in Scotland as some would have us believe. For example, according to a ScotCen survey conducted between June and October 2013, 67 percent of Yes voters and 70 percent of No voters may have said that an independent Scotland must remain within the EU, but unqualified support for membership no matter what was rather thin on the ground : 57 percent of pro-independence voters and 63 percent of anti-independence supporters thought that the UK should reduce the EU’s powers or simply pull out of Europe.114

82Thus, if we take account of all the parameters seen above, it seems arguable that, after all, the English are not so different from the Scots in terms of values (whatever these may be). So why do the SNP et altri keep telling us (and themselves) that they are ? The short answer is: because of the nature of Scottish nationalism. And now for the long (partly tentative) answer.

Squaring the circle

  • 115 Miller, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2014, pp. 101-102.

83As a commentator has written, the SNP’s focus on the opposition between Scotland and England, a focus shared by many, including high-profile intellectuals (see Introduction), overplays the social democratic unity of civil society.115 But the party has had no other option for at least two structural reasons.

84Promoting an ethnic form of nationalism (strictly speaking) has long been out of the question. Indeed, Scottish Nationalists would then immediately be open to accusations of racism in a society whose cultural diversity has become more marked over the years (see footnote 124 in Conclusion below). All that is left, then, is an apparently innocuous form of difference: quintessentially “Scottish values”. In other words, Scottish divergence has nothing to do with race or religion or this or that cultural attribute, and everything to do with an outlook on life and society which is specific to Scotland, i.e. which cannot really be found in England.

85The vision Nationalists must then defend presupposes individuals that are fundamentally determined, whether they like it or not, by their Scottish environment, but not in a way that smacks of cultural relativism. Nevertheless, this remains fraught with problems that are often overlooked by commentators.

  • 116 “From the moment that a nation makes the turn to nationalism, the idea of a political nation is sup (...)

86The cultural content of Scottish nationalism may be relatively weak on account of a lack of clearly identifiable linguistic, religious, etc. markers, but, because of it, Scottish Nationalists have had to conjure up for Scotland an alternative “imagined community” through the invention of an imagined “other” (i.e. the invention of England as another people whose psychological/moral profile is different). Without this “other”, their political action, which is inexorably based on collective self-assertion so that a clear sense of “who we are” can emerge, would have been/would be more or less nullified.116 Indeed,

  • 117 Brown et altri, 1996, p. 36.

Nationalism is not the expression of objective differences, but the mobilisation of those differences which actors believe to be salient. The ‘”nation”, then, is not a primordial form of social organisation, but an idea, an aspiration. It should be considered not so much as “place” but as ‘”process”.117

87Put differently, it is not so much the reality of the “imagined community” that matters, but rather what the belief in its existence enables its promoters to do.

  • 118 Poutignat, P. & Streiff-Fenart, J., 1995, p. 57 (see also 46, 57-58, 77 & 105).

88Inevitably though, this leads to the naturalisation/ethnicising of a number of features – whatever their nature – which ultimately play, and are meant to play, exactly the same kind of role as purely ethnic traits. There can indeed never be a demarcation line between two groups without the relevant markers in place. Some are doubtless far more commonly used than others (e.g. language or history), but in fact anything may go so long as it serves its purpose. Thus, ethnicity is not necessarily always pre-given; it can simply be context-dependent. And, as is the case with Scottish nationalism, ethnicity, therefore, which has apparently gone out the door is coming back in through the window.118

  • 119 Davidson, “Neoliberal Politics in a Devolved Scotland”, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 340.

89Importantly, too, the naturalisation of Scotland has had repercussions in terms of the politics of Scotland because nationalism has to appeal to the whole of the Scottish population, not just particular class interests, if it is to achieve its ultimate goal, which is its raison d’être: independence. Nationalist parties, almost by definition, have to occupy the so-called “middle ground”.119 This is probably the other reason which accounts for the discrepancy (as seen above in part 2) between discourse and policy, or, rather, the very delicate, yet clever, balancing act performed by the SNP :

  • 120 Harvey, M., “The political economy of Scotland”, in Scotland alone?, 2014, p. 7. Or, as Kenny Farqu (...)

Thus, the evidence […] suggests that Scottish independence would follow something of a hybrid model between the social investment and market competition strategies. This is familiar territory for the SNP, which has long situated itself delicately, balancing the more conservative-minded backing of its heartlands (farmers and fishermen) in the north-east with the need to appeal to a more social democratic (and historically Labour-supporting) electorate in the central belt.120

  • 121 See Jamieson, B., “Wealthiest Scots behind SNP surge”, The Scotsman, 4 February 2015.
  • 122 Gallagher, T., 2009, p. 186.

The very nature of the SNP’s membership reflects this situation. According to an early 2015 poll by YouGov, the recent surge in support for the SNP is not confined to disaffected traditional Labour voters. Voters in the ABC1 socio-economic category were actually some two and a half times more likely to vote for the party in the 2015 General Election than for Labour. The same applied to a lesser extent to voters aged 60 and over. But the most interesting finding by far was that, while, in Labour-held seats, only 38 percent said they were dissatisfied with David Cameron, just 49 percent of Labour-SNP switchers said they would prefer Ed Miliband to David Cameron as Prime Minister.121 Meanwhile, SNP MSPs have for some time now been dominated by political activists, ex-councillors, solicitors, and marketing, media and management figures.122

Conclusion

90What I am about to do now, by way of conclusion, will definitely sound most unacademic, but, I suppose, just the once will not hurt. I am indeed going to quote at length from a March 2015 article by Polly Toynbee and then ask two simple, but vital questions.

91So first, the quote :

  • 123 On the ground, things are far less straightforward. In early 2015, a YouGov survey showed that 49 p (...)
  • 124 If “Other white” categories are excluded, ethnic minorities in Scotland account for over 200,000, o (...)
  • 125 Toynbee, P., “No wonder the SNP are confident – the Tories behave as if they want Scotland gone”, T (...)

Burning with energy, blessed with an enviably able new leader, the SNP feels like the party of most Labour activists’ secret dreams. On the day Labour started selling £ 5 red mugs emblazoned with “controls on immigration – I’m voting Labour 7 May”, the SNP voted against “discriminatory” immigration laws that “rip families apart”, wanting a welcoming Scottish policy “driven by compassion and common sense”. With motions on more generous benefits, land reform, no fracking, no austerity, no Trident [123], when Nicola Sturgeon says SNP support would give Labour “backbone and guts”, a good many English Labour party members might nod in agreement. (And yet) The SNP is often running to catch up with Labour, only now agreeing with Labour’s 50p top tax rate and dropping a beggar-thy-neighbour cut in corporation tax, while boasting of an SNP freeze in council tax since 2008. Nor has the SNP ever dared use the 3p leeway it has to raise income tax. Why not ? Because, though the Scots like their closeness to Scandinavia, they are no keener on Swedish taxes than the rest of the UK. That’s the great quandary. The SNP asserts an elemental Scottish difference in political psyche – more collectivist, more egalitarian. More Scots have a cultural detestation of Tories, but attitudes don’t turn red on crossing the border. Right after that immigration debate, I had a Glasgow taxi driver launching unprompted into a tirade against immigrants stealing Scottish jobs and homes, living on benefits. “It’s not our country any more,” he said. Out canvassing in Glasgow North with Ann McKechin, a good Labour MP hanging by a thread, the first man we talked to, a lifelong Labour voter, said his son couldn’t find work because of the Poles – though Scotland has fewer migrants than England.[124] Will some day of reckoning come when the SNP finds that Scots are quite British after all? Or can the SNP show Labour that leading boldly from the front, instead of following focus groups, can sway voters leftwards? British Social Attitudes last week found 47.7 % of Scots want tax and spend to stay the same, much like 52% of the English and Welsh. Just 7% more Scots are willing to see tax and spending rise. Oddly, in no-fees Scotland, a majority think some or all students should pay tuition fees. Scottish distribution of income is much the same as south of the border.125

  • 126 She works with the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, a think-tank focusing on working rights an (...)
  • 127 See O’Hagan, E. M., “A little more nationalism might be just what the Welsh need”, The Guardian, 15 (...)
  • 128 Torrance, 2015 (see footnote 44 above).

The gist of the quote is the reason why, ultimately, I feel justified in asking, to paraphrase the writing of another Guardian columnist, Ellie Mae O’Hagan126: what if the pro-independence movement’s social justice and anti-austerity credentials (and in particular those of the SNP) were to a large extent little more than a Trojan horse for independence?127 Better still, what if the SNP were, as yet another commentator, right-of-centre David Torrance, has put it, “beyond any shadow of a doubt the best storytellers”?128

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Ajockalypse now”, The Economist, 9 May 2015.

Barnes, E., “Interview: Journalist Blair Jenkins on why he backs the Yes Campaign” – Scotland on Sunday, 21 October 2012; “SNP ‘not offering’ full Scottish independence”, The Scotsman, 29 May 2013.

Booth, R., “Apathy central: the place with the lowest voter turnout in Britain”, The Guardian, 16 April 2015.

Brooks, L., “SNP will be a ‘progressive ally’ to rest of the UK, says party leader”, The Guardian, 27 March 2015.

Canavan, D., “Only way to escape austerity that punishes the poor”, The Scotsman, 4 May 2013.

Crawford, E., “Why the SNP is a party to be reckoned with”, The Guardian, 4 February 2015.

Curtice, J., “Finance key in independence debate”, The Scotsman, 21 January 2014.

Edwards, R., “Bitter row between Joan McAlpine, Fergus Ewing over shale gas sparks complaint to Sturgeon”, The Sunday Herald, 25 January 2015.

Employment in Scotland rises by 3,000”, The Scotsman, 17 April 2015.

Farquharson, K.,To be a Nat, or not to be a Nat”, The Scotsman, 5 March 2015.

Ford, R., “Where the votes switched – and why: the key lessons for the parties”, The Observer, 10 May 2015.

Freedland, J., “Ukip looks hilarious. But soon we won’t be laughing”, The Guardian, 16 May 2015.

Gall, G., “Debate must focus on individuals”, The Scotsman, 15 October 2013.

Gani, A., “Muslim population in England and Wales nearly doubles in 10 years”, The Guardian, 11 February 2015.

Hassan, G., “Our differences and commonalities”, The Scotsman, 7 September 2013

In praise of Alex Salmond”, The Economist, 26 March 2015

Jamieson, B., “Beware independence blank cheque” – The Scotsman, 29 August 2013 ; “Wealthiest Scots behind SNP surge”, The Scotsman, 4 February 2015 ; “What does Scotland really think?”, The Scotsman, 12 March 2015.

Jenkins, B., “Scotland’s chance for equal society”, Scotland on Sunday, 31 March 2013; “Scots prepared for independence”, The Scotsman, 11 July 2013.

Jones, O., “Low pay and high rent: is work really the route out of poverty in Tory Britain?”, The Guardian, 7 May 2015.

Kane, P., “A ‘Yes’ vote is not just for independence, it can let us find our own direction”, Scotland on Sunday, 8 July 2012.

Macnab, S., “Scots could see second referendum, says ex-SNP leader”, The Scotsman, 5 March 2013; “Immigration: Scots ‘no more tolerant than English’”, The Scotsman, 10 March 2015; “SNP backs calls for oil jobs to move to Scotland”, The Scotsman, 10 March 2015; “Independence back up the agenda?”, The Scotsman, 6 May 2015.

Maddox, D., “82% of jobs created in Scotland post-2010 low-paid”, The Scotsman, 25 February 2015; “Ed Miliband unveils offensive linking SNP to Tories”, The Scotsman, 21 March 2015 ; “IFS thinktank : SNP plans would prolong austerity”, The Scotsman, 23 April 2015.

McKenna, K., “The union is once again at risk – thanks to Labour”, The Guardian, 7 March 2015.

McMillan, J., “Why ‘new powers’ won’t be enough”, The Scotsman, 23 January 2015.

O’Hagan, E. M., “A little more nationalism might be just what the Welsh need”, The Guardian, 15 April 2015.

Peterkin, T., “Scots voters support student tuition fees”, The Scotsman, 21 April 2011; “SNP party conference: ‘We’re ruled by a bunch of Snootys,’ says Alex Salmond”, Scotland on Sunday, 21 October 2012; “Sturgeon vows to tackle inequality and poverty”, The Scotsman, 15 November 2014; “John Swinney will cut property tax for middle-class”, The Scotsman, 21 January 2015.

Phipps, C. & Sparrow, A., “Election 2015: who won the TV leaders’ debate?”, The Guardian, 3 April 2015 (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2015/apr/03/election-2015-cameron-miliband-who-won-leaders-debate-live).

Polwart, K., “Why I’ll vote Yes despite the SNP”, The Scotsman, 16 February 2013.

Rawnsley, A., “The real reason David Cameron is sitting on a Commons majority”, The Observer, 31 May 2015.

Robertson, G., “General Election 2015: SNP landslide is NOT a vote for Scottish Independence, insist union bosses”, The Daily Record, 8 May 2015.

Scotland’s Road to Socialism”, The Scotsman, 29 May 2013.

Sillars, J., “Market forcing the independence issue” , The Scotsman, 26 October 2012; “You can’t be serious, SNP…”, The Scotsman, 13 December 2012.

Stanford, P., “Norwich: capital of the church’s radical campaign for country with a conscience”, The Observer, 22 February 2015.

Sturgeon to attack Westminster economic policy”, The Scotsman, 11 February 2015.

Sturgeon, N., “No more ‘what ifs’”, Scotland on Sunday, 27 January 2013.

Torrance, D., “The reinvention of the SNP”, The Guardian, 21 May 2015.

Toynbee, P., “No wonder the SNP are confident – the Tories behave as if they want Scotland gone”, The Guardian, 30 March 2015.

UKIP or Green : can you spot the difference ?” – The Economist, 15 April 2015.

Whitaker, A., “No child poverty in independent Scotland – Sturgeon”, The Scotsman, 8 March 2013; “Harvie ‘radical vision’ claim”, The Scotsman, 5 October 2013; “SNP signs no-strike deal with Scots prison staff”, The Scotsman, 22 February 2015 ; “John Swinney launches SNP business manifesto”, The Scotsman, 16 April 2015

White, M., “Ukip’s Dad’s Army marches on a ration of nostalgia and grievance”, The Guardian, 28 February 2015.

Williamson, D., “Welsh Ukip candidate will make bid for the support of Scotland’s blue-collar workers”, WalesOnline, 21 February 2015.

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Notes

1 See Understanding Scotland: the Sociology of a Stateless Nation London: Routledge, 1992, pp. 125, 138 & 142, quoted by D. Miller, “Who Rules Scotland? Neoliberalism, the Scottish Ruling Class and its Intellectuals”, in Davidson, N. et altri, (eds.), 2010, pp. 98-99

2 See Ferguson, I., “An Attitude Problem? Confidence and Well-being in Scotland”, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, pp. 295 & 300.

3 Hassan, G., “Our differences and commonalities”, The Scotsman, 7 September 2013.

4 Polwart, K., “Why I’ll vote Yes despite the SNP”, The Scotsman, 16 February 2013.

5 Dorling, D., 2011, p. 179.

6 See e.g. McKenna, K., “The union is once again at risk – thanks to Labour”,The Guardian, 7 March 2015.

7 Lee, C. H., 1995, p. 117.

8 Danson, M., Lloyd, M. G. & Newlands, D., “Scotland”, in R. Martin & P. Townroe (eds.), 1992, pp. 108-109 & 112-115; Brown, A. et altri, 1996, p. 42.

9 Callinicos, A., 2001, p. 53.

10 Dorling, 2011, p. 327.

11 It was a loan (introduced in 2001) which graduates were required to pay back. It was abolished in April 2008.

12 Perryman, M., “A jigsaw state”, in M. Perryman, (ed.), 2009, p. 23.

13 Hepburn, E., “Independence and the immigration debate in Scotland”, in Scotland alone? Awaiting the independence referendum, 2014, p. 11.

14 Crawford, E., “Why the SNP is a party to be reckoned with”, The Guardian, 4 February 2015.

15 Quoted by Robertson, G., “General Election 2015: SNP landslide is NOT a vote for Scottish Independence, insist union bosses”, The Daily Record, 8 May 2015.

16 Quoted by Peterkin, T., “SNP party conference: ‘We’re ruled by a bunch of Snootys,’ says Alex Salmond”, Scotland on Sunday, 21 October 2012.

17 Scotland’s Future – Your Guide to an Independent Scotland, 2013, e.g. pp. 43-44 & 608.

18 Sturgeon, N., “No more ‘what ifs’”, Scotland on Sunday, 27 January 2013.

19 See Whitaker, A., “No child poverty in independent Scotland – Sturgeon”,The Scotsman, 8 March 2013.

20 Quoted by Whitaker, A., “Harvie ‘radical vision’ claim”, The Scotsman, 5 October 2013.

21 Kane, P., “A ‘Yes’ vote is not just for independence, it can let us find our own direction”, Scotland on Sunday, 8 July 2012.

22 Yes Scotland was the organisation launched in May 2012 to promote the cause of independence; it comprised the Scottish National Party, the Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party. Labour for Independence, Women for Independence and National Collective were other movements advocating independence, but they were all far smaller organisations in terms of membership/volunteers.

23 Quoted in “Scotland’s Road to Socialism”,The Scotsman, 29 May 2013.

24 Canavan, D., “Only way to escape austerity that punishes the poor”, The Scotsman, 4 May 2013.

25 Quoted in “Sturgeon to attack Westminster economic policy”, The Scotsman, 11 February 2015.

26 See Whitaker, Andrew, “John Swinney launches SNP business manifesto”,The Scotsman, 16 April 2015.

27 See Peterkin, T., “Sturgeon vows to tackle inequality and poverty”, The Scotsman, 15 November 2014.

28 Jenkins, B., “Scots prepared for independence”, The Scotsman, 11 July 2013. To Blair Jenkins, there exists a definable set of “Scottish values”, “distinct from values elsewhere in the UK”. He sees the difference as the basic reason why Scotland must leave the UK. (Quoted by Barnes, E., “Interview: Journalist Blair Jenkins on why he backs the Yes Campaign”, Scotland on Sunday, 21 October 2012) To him, an independent Scotland, with its values, voting patterns and the like, can only “provide a more supportive and caring environment for the vulnerable and the disenfranchised”. (Jenkins, B., “Scotland’s chance for equal society”, Scotland on Sunday, 31 March 2013)

29 McMillan, J., “Why ‘new powers’ won’t be enough”, The Scotsman, 23 January 2015

30 i.e. the development and operation (in the Firth of Clyde) of the UK’s nuclear warheads.

31 Quoted by Brooks, L., “SNP will be a ‘progressive ally’ to rest of the UK, says party leader”, The Guardian, 27 March 2015.

32 Around 2010, the radical left, for example, consisted of about one thousand members. See Davidson, N., “Neoliberal Politics in a Devolved Scotland”, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 365.

33 McCafferty, P. & Mooney, G., “Resisting the Neoliberal ’Modernisation’ of Public Services in Contemporary Scotland: The Case of Public Sector Workers”, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, pp. 176-177.

34 Scandrett, E., “Environmental Justice in Scotland: Incorporation and Conflict”, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 200.

35 Wiltshire, S., “Criminal Justice: A Test of Scottish Distinctiveness”, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 289.

36 Davidson, “Neoliberal Politics in a Devolved Scotland”, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 340.

37 McCafferty & Mooney, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 179.

38 See Monteith, B., “Mad not to use existing powers”, The Scotsman, 1 April 2013.

39 McCafferty & Mooney, in Davidson et altri (eds.), 2010, pp. 175-176.

40 See Maddox, D., “Ed Miliband unveils offensive linking SNP to Tories”, The Scotsman, 21 March 2015. The same is more or less true (or even more true) of Labour for the 2010-2015 period.

41 Macdonell, H., 2009, pp. 173-175.

42 See Gall, G., “Debate must focus on individuals”, The Scotsman, 15 October 2013. The SNP had fought the 1999 Scottish election on the basis of raising the basic rate of income tax.

43 Young, D., 1971, pp. X-xi.

44 See Torrance, D., “The reinvention of the SNP”, The Guardian, 21 May 2015.

45 Speaking on the BBC News at 10 programme on 20 April 2015.

46 Quoted by Macnab, S., “SNP backs calls for oil jobs to move to Scotland”, The Scotsman, 10 March 2015.

47 See Whitaker, A., “SNP signs no-strike deal with Scots prison staff”, The Scotsman, 22 February 2015.

48 See “Employment in Scotland rises by 3,000”, The Scotsman, 17 April 2015.

49 See Maddox, D., “82% of jobs created in Scotland post-2010 low-paid”, The Scotsman, 25 February 2015.

50 See “Labour Market” – Scottish Economy Watch, 2015 (unpaged).

51 Page 7 of the SNP’s 2013 Scotland’s Economy: the case for independence reads: “A competitive economy and a fairer society: two sides of the same coin” while the first sentence on the page explains: “We believe our economy must be both more competitive and fairer.” See Scotland’s Economy: the case for independence, 2013, p. 7.

52 Davidson, N., “What was Neoliberalism?”, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 51.

53 Quoted in “Sturgeon to attack Westminster economic policy”, The Scotsman, 11 February 2015.

54 Quoted by Barnes, E., “SNP ‘not offering’ full Scottish independence” – The Scotsman, 29 May 2013.

55 Edwards, R., “Bitter row between Joan McAlpine, Fergus Ewing over shale gas sparks complaint to Sturgeon”, The Sunday Herald, 25 January 2015.

56 McCafferty & Mooney, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 178.

57 Davidson, “What was Neoliberalism”, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 53.

58 Peterkin, T., “John Swinney will cut property tax for middle-class”, The Scotsman, 21 January 2015.

59 See Maddox, D., “IFS thinktank: SNP plans would prolong austerity”, The Scotsman, 23 April 2015.

60 Keating, M., 2009, pp. 55 & 69.

61 Curtice, J., “Brought Together or Driven Apart?”, in W. M. Miller, (ed.), 2005, pp. 162-165.

62 Curtice, J. & Ormston, R., 2011, pp. 1, 4 & 2. The report was based on surveys conducted between June and October 2010 (sample sizes: 1,495 in Scotland and 2,795 in England).

63 See Peterkin, T., “Scots voters support student tuition fees”, The Scotsman, 21 April 2011. For comparable results for England, see “British Social Attitudes: The Verdict on Five Years of Coalition Government”, 2015 (unpaged).

64 Curtice & Ormston, 2011, p. 4.

65 YouGov/Sunday Times Survey, 2013, p. 7.

66 YouGov survey on income tax, 2014, pp. 1 & 2.

67 YouGov survey about the trickle-down theory in economics, 2015, p. 1.

68 YouGov Survey, 2014, p. 3.

69 YouGov survey on what makes a good employer, 2011, p. 1.

70 YouGov/Chatham House Survey, 2012, pp. 8 & 12.

71 See Stanford, P., “Norwich: capital of the church’s radical campaign for country with a conscience”, The Observer, 22 February 2015.

72 See Phipps, C. & Sparrow, A., “Election 2015: who won the TV leaders’ debate?, The Guardian, 3 April 2015 (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2015/apr/03/election-2015-cameron-miliband-who-won-leaders-debate-live). The survey was based on 420,000 tweets.

73 See Jones, O., “Low pay and high rent: is work really the route out of poverty in Tory Britain?”, The Guardian, 7 May 2015.

74 McCrone, D., 1998, p. 150, and Curtice, J., 1992, p. 18.

75 Lijphart, A., 2008, pp. 118-119.

76 Lijphart, A., 1999, p. 290.

77 Lijphart, 2008, p. 48.

78 In the summer of 2014, the Electoral Commission said not only that 7.5 million eligible voters were not registered, but also that the poor, the black and the young were least likely to be on the electoral register. The Hansard Society’s audit actually revealed that registration among black and ethnic minority voters had declined from 77 percent to 58 percent while older people and those in the higher social grades ABC1 said they were far more interested in politics than those in C2DE groups. See Booth, R., “Apathy central: the place with the lowest voter turnout in Britain”, The Guardian, 16 April 2015. According to a GfK NOP audit based on a representative quota sample of 1,123 GB adults interviewed between 20 November and 5 December 2014, although C2DEs were more likely than ABC1s to think the system needed a great deal of improvement (34 percent versus 21 percent), in particular because they believed it did not address their interests, 74 percent of those supporting the Conservatives and 75 percent of UKIP voters said they were certain to vote compared to 64 percent of Lib Dem and 52 percent of Labour supporters. See Audit of Political Engagement 12, 2015, pp. 10, 52, 34, 6 & 14

79 Jones, Owen, 2012, pp. 69-70.

80 Rawnsley, A., “The real reason David Cameron is sitting on a Commons majority”, The Observer, 31 May 2015.

81 “In praise of Alex Salmond”, The Economist, 26 March 2015.

82 YouGov/Times Survey, 2013, p. 1.

83 YouGov/Sun on Sunday Survey, 2014, pp. 8 & 9.

84 YouGov/Cambridge Survey on immigration, 2011, pp. 1, 2, 4 & 5.

85 YouGov/The Times Survey on immigration, 2015, pp. 1, 3 & 2. For more or less comparable results, see YouGov/Prospect Survey, 2013, pp. 1 & 2; YouGov/Times Survey, 2013, p. 4; and Hepburn, in Scotland alone?, 2014, pp. 11-12 (on research carried out by the Oxford Migration Observatory).

86 Quoted by Macnab, S., “Immigration: Scots ‘no more tolerant than English’”, The Scotsman, 10 March 2015.

87 Stronger for Scotland (SNP Manifesto 2015), 2015, p. 9.

88 Manifesto for a Stronger Scotland, 2015, p. 11.

89 Quoted in Macnab, S., “Immigration: Scots ‘no more tolerant than English’”, The Scotsman, 10 March 2015.

90 Jamieson, B., “What does Scotland really think?”, The Scotsman, 12 March 2015.

91 Hepburn, in Scotland alone?, pp. 10 & 11.

92 Believe in Britain (UKIP Manifesto 2015), 2015, p. 11.

93 YouGov/Times RedBox Survey, 2014, pp. 2 & 3.

94 Jordan, W., “UKIP voters now put themselves to the left of Tories”, 2014.

95 YouGov/Sun on Sunday Survey, 2014, p. 9.

96 YouGov/Sunday Times Survey, 2015, p. 7. For similar figures and answers, see YouGov Survey, 2014.

97 “British Social Attitudes”, 2015 (unpaged).

98 See Freedland, J., “Ukip looks hilarious. But soon we won’t be laughing”, The Guardian, 16 May 2015, and Ford, R. (senior lecturer in politics at the University of Manchester), “Where the votes switched – and why: the key lessons for the parties”, The Observer, 10 May 2015.

99 One of Wales’ most prominent UKIP campaigners, he is the 61-year-old great-grandson of Scottish Labour Party co-founder Robert Smillie.

100 See Williamson, D., “Welsh Ukip candidate will make bid for the support of Scotland’s blue-collar workers”, WalesOnline, 21 February 2015.

101 Officially known as the “under-occupancy charge”, it was introduced in April 2013; it restricts the amount of housing benefit which a housing association or council tenant can claim if he or she has a spare bedroom.

102 See “UKIP or Green: can you spot the difference?”, The Economist, 15 April 2015.

103 “British Social Attitudes”, 2015 (unpaged).

104 White, M., “Ukip’s Dad’s Army marches on a ration of nostalgia and grievance”, The Guardian, 28 February 2015.

105 YouGov Survey on EU referendum and immigration, 2014, p. 1.

106 Scotland’s Economy: the case for independence, 2013, p. 42.

107 Dardanelli, P., 2005, pp. 152-154.

108 Dodds, A. & Seawright, D., “The politics of identity: Scottish nationalism”, in M. O’Neill, (ed.), 2004, pp. 104-105.

109 See e.g. Jamieson, B., “Beware independence blank cheque”, The Scotsman, 29 August 2013.

110 See Macnab, S., “Scots could see second referendum, says ex-SNP leader”, The Scotsman, 5 March 2013.

111 See Revest, D., 2014, p. 63.

112 Sillars, J., “Market forcing the independence issue” – The Scotsman, 26 October 2012.

113 Sillars, J., “You can’t be serious, SNP…”, The Scotsman, 13 December 2012.

114 See Curtice, J., “Finance key in independence debate”, The Scotsman, 21 January 2014.

115 Miller, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2014, pp. 101-102.

116 “From the moment that a nation makes the turn to nationalism, the idea of a political nation is supplemented by the concept of the people as a substantial unity, a quasi-metaphysical reality, and a subject characterized by a unique and particular essence.” See Van de Putte, A., “Democracy and nationalism”, in J. Couture, K. Nielsen & M. Seymour, (eds.), 2000, pp. 187-188.

117 Brown et altri, 1996, p. 36.

118 Poutignat, P. & Streiff-Fenart, J., 1995, p. 57 (see also 46, 57-58, 77 & 105).

119 Davidson, “Neoliberal Politics in a Devolved Scotland”, in Davidson et altri, (eds.), 2010, p. 340.

120 Harvey, M., “The political economy of Scotland”, in Scotland alone?, 2014, p. 7. Or, as Kenny Farquharson has written (see “To be a Nat, or not to be a Nat”, The Scotsman, 5 March 2015): “The SNP in particular has always contained apparently incompatible positions, and it hasn’t seemed to do the party much harm. Generations of Labour activists have been deeply frustrated at the way the SNP could present itself as a party of the left in the urban West of Scotland and as the natural home of social and fiscal conservatism in rural Tayside, Angus and Moray.”

121 See Jamieson, B., “Wealthiest Scots behind SNP surge”, The Scotsman, 4 February 2015.

122 Gallagher, T., 2009, p. 186.

123 On the ground, things are far less straightforward. In early 2015, a YouGov survey showed that 49 percent of Scots favoured replacing Trident with the same system or with a less powerful one. See YouGov/Sunday Times Survey, 2015, p. 8. For more on polling evidence suggesting that Scottish public opinion is more or less evenly split on the issue, see Macnab, S., “Independence back up the agenda?”, The Scotsman, 6 May 2015.

124 If “Other white” categories are excluded, ethnic minorities in Scotland account for over 200,000, or some 4 percent of the population. But the ethnic diversity that characterises Glasgow and Edinburgh is roughly similar to London’s, while some groups have literally mushroomed (e.g. there was a 479 percent increase over 2001-2011 in the African population). See How has ethnic diversity changed in Scotland?, 2014, pp. 1 & 4. There are however significant differences with the rest of the country, England in particular. For instance, by 2011, the « Non-White » population of England and Wales represented some 8 million people, i.e. 14 percent. See How has ethnic diversity grown 1991-2001-2011?, 2012, p. 1. By 2011 too, 2.71 million Muslims lived in England and Wales (compared with 1.55 million ten years before), with 80 percent of them living in the inner-city areas of Greater London, the West Midlands, the north-west and Yorkshire and the Humber. The figure for Scotland was 77,000. See Gani, A., “Muslim population in England and Wales nearly doubles in 10 years”, The Guardian, 11 February 2015.

125 Toynbee, P., “No wonder the SNP are confident – the Tories behave as if they want Scotland gone”, The Guardian, 30 March 2015. See also “Ajockalypse now”, The Economist, 9 May 2015.

126 She works with the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, a think-tank focusing on working rights and inequality.

127 See O’Hagan, E. M., “A little more nationalism might be just what the Welsh need”, The Guardian, 15 April 2015.

128 Torrance, 2015 (see footnote 44 above).

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References

Bibliographical reference

Didier Revest, « Are the commitment to Scottish independence and the Scottish National Party’s surge evidence of a clash of values between Scotland and England ? », Observatoire de la société britannique, 18 | 2016, 37-75.

Electronic reference

Didier Revest, « Are the commitment to Scottish independence and the Scottish National Party’s surge evidence of a clash of values between Scotland and England ? », Observatoire de la société britannique [Online], 18 | 2016, Online since 01 October 2016, connection on 28 April 2017. URL : http://osb.revues.org/1807 ; DOI : 10.4000/osb.1807

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About the author

Didier Revest

Maître de Conférences HDR en civilisation britannique à l’Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis

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Copyright

Observatoire de la société britannique

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