Scottish nationalist blogs have been a hive of activity in the last week so here is a selection of the best for your consideration.

Gerry Hassan has a lengthy article on his blog from the Summer 2011 edition of ‘Renewal: A Journal of Social Democracy’, examining the changing face of politics in Scotland. It is fascinating stuff, charting the rise of the SNP (and related decline of the British Labour Party) and what exactly the breakup of the UK could – and will – mean in the years to come. For some clear thinking on what is a complex subject and a general overview of where our sea-sundered Gaelic kin now find themselves, politically and constitutionally, you won’t do better. 

Over on Newsnet Scotland there is an interesting article on what it means to be British, both politically and culturally from a Scottish Nationalist point of view, including the contentious claim that: 

‘There can be no doubt that Ireland and the Irish are full members of and participants in what for the time being we’re calling “cultural Britishness”.  Yet Ireland, or at least most of it, is an independent state.  Given that Ireland and the Irish are equally “culturally British”, we are then forced to examine our terminology.’ 

Urrm. I think not. While a minority of the Irish people, the Anglo-Irish or Anglicised Irish, might well fall under the category of ‘culturally British’ most, including myself, feel no such affinity. You might as well say we are ‘culturally American’ or ‘Australian’. Or even, ‘European’. Yes, influences and such like, and geographical proximity, but those things go no further than that for most of us. The shared history we have in common was, and is, a colonial one. A crucial point some choose to omit. 

However, in fairness, the article by Paul Kavanagh is more thoughtful and nuanced than that and he ends with the point:

‘Like Hispania, the Classical term for the island group off the North West Atlantic coast of Europe also became the name of a powerful state which attempted to impose a single national identity upon all its inhabitants, an attempt which has ultimately proven unsuccessful.  In the case of the British Isles, this identity was firmly rooted in the language and culture of south eastern England but which was ‘rebranded and remarketed’ as British.  As a consequence, Britain and British are terms which carry strong emotional resonances.  For those of us who reject the British state, a “British” identity is also rejected. 

The only commonly accepted term to refer to the island group was co-opted by the British state and as a result it is now as toxic to many of the non-English inhabitants of the islands as the term Spanish is to the non-Castilian speaking peoples of Iberia.  Unhelpfully, the Greek term for the British Isles was essentially the same as the Latin – Nesoi Pretanniki in Greek, Insulae Britannicae in Latin.  Unlike the Iberians, there is no alternative Classical name for us to fall back on as an emotionally neutral term to refer to all the nations of this distinct geographical / cultural region of Europe. 

Geography poses an additional problem.  Iberia, Scandinavia and the Balkans are essentially single land masses with their associated islands – although a large part of Denmark is strictly speaking a geographical continuation of northern Germany.  The “British Isles” consist of two large islands and a considerable number of much smaller islands.  Inhabitants of the smaller of the two main islands take umbrage at the group being referred to by the name of its larger neighbour.  In Irish the term “British Isles” translates as Éire agus an Bhreatain Mhór, literally Ireland and Great Britain.  In Irish the island is called an Bhreatain Mhór to distinguish it from the Irish name for Wales, an Bhreatain Bheag or “Little Britain”.  (Brittany is an Bhriotáin in Irish, a relatively recent borrowing of the French name Bretagne.) 

Yet for Scottish nationalists it is imperative that we open up the “cultural Britishness” debate to include the Irish.  By including the Irish we make it plain that the deep and very real links we feel with the other nations of this island group are distinct from the British state and would continue beyond the demise of that state.  That strengthens the case for independence immeasurably.’ 

This is an argument for a Pan-Gaelic Nationalism, or at a broader level a Celtic Nationalism, an intellectual leap the author fails to make but one that has ancient roots, both politically and culturally, and is the obvious next step to many for Ireland, Scotland, Wales, etc. This progressive kind of thinking is apparent in the description preferred by Celtic Nationalists like myself for the islands of Ireland and Britain: the Celtic Isles. That answers to the many issues of ‘cultural Britishness’ are to be found outside this false and frankly colonial concept but rather in a renewed Celtic identity that can bring the surviving Celtic nations of Europe together in co-operation and community

And so, also from Newsnet, to a discussion on international law that is far from boring. In fact it is positively enlightening. 

‘This aspect of the Vienna Convention specifically itemizes the following areas as voiding treaty agreements. 

Article 49: Fraud –  If a State has been induced to conclude a treaty by the fraudulent conduct of another negotiating State, the State may invoke the fraud as invalidating its consent to be bound by the treaty. 

Article 50: Corruption of a representative of a State – If the expression of a State’s consent to be bound by a treaty has been procured through the corruption of its representative directly or indirectly by another negotiating State, the State may invoke such corruption as invalidating its consent to be bound by the treaty. 

Article 51: Coercion of a representative of a State – The expression of a State’s consent to be bound by a treaty which has been procured by the coercion of its representative through acts or threats directed against him shall be without any legal effect. 

Article 52: Coercion of a State by the threat or use of force – A treaty is void if its conclusion has been procured by the threat or use of force in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations.’ 

Did not just describe the circumstances surrounding the 1921 Irish-British Treaty? 

The Scottish nationalist blogosphere (the famous Scottish cybernats included) is some of the most vibrant in the Celtic World and is always worth watching. It is a shame that nationalists from Wales, Mann, Cornwall and Brittany don’t have a similar energetic presence on the web.

%d bloggers like this: