Tag Archives: nationalism

Nationalism even extends to fish now, apparently

Our Parliament has a reputation as being one of the oldest and best in the world. Every time I walk through the Palace of Westminster, I am reminded of who has walked these same corridors.

Shirley Wiliams, Barbara Castle, William Wilberforce talking about abolishing slavery, Lloyd George bringing forward the People’s Budget, Aneurin Bevan bringing in the legislation that set up the NHS.

All these great things, over centuries.

In 200 years time, I doubt they’ll be talking about the Day the Fish Smiled.

It was Business Questions. The SNP’s Tommy Sheppard raised the crisis in our fishing industry caused by the Government. But of course, he couldn’t just leave it there. He had to use it as a proxy to ask to have a Commons debate on Scottish independence. I mean, the industry is on its knees. One of its key players, Loch Fyne, is talking about only being able to last another week. And all because the Government first of all pursued Brexit, did so in such a cack-handed manner that the decisions were only made about how the seafood industry would operate on Christmas bloody Eve with a week to go and then didn’t get its finger out to produce the relevant paperwork. This level of incompetence is pretty much standard practice for this lot.

It’s infuriating that the SNP constantly let the Tories off the hook by turning the question to independence. Keep it on the subject. Make them own the mess that they have made. Nope.

So what should have been an exchange on a crisis of the Tories’ making ended like this.

The fishing issue was covered a moment ago by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should have tuned into that debate, rather than bringing it up at business questions, but the Government are tackling this issue and dealing with it as quickly as possible. The key is that we have our fish back: they are now British fish, and they are better and happier fish for it.

Not exactly edifying, is it?

Earlier, the grown-ups were present. Our Alistair Carmichael  took the Government’s actions to pieces in an urgent question, laying bare the damage that they had done.

Boris Johnson had hinted at compensation yesterday, and his ministers have since spent their time trying to row back from that.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 16 Comments

Trump could be a good thing

What were you doing when Donald J Trump became the 45th President of the United States?

I was walking my dog. I couldn’t bring myself to watch it live. I just don’t know enough swear words.

Tim Farron wasn’t watching it either.

He made a video, though. And it was pretty uplifting.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 25 Comments

Opinion: The regret of voting Yes

I voted Yes in the Scottish Referendum. As a card carrying member of the Liberal Democrats this was not the same choice as most of my peers. It would be easy for me to say that I got caught up in the moment and temporarily lost my mind, but I try to never make excuses for my actions. My five years of studying international relations have taught me that small nations can be successful and happy places, but also that there are alternative modes of governing. Voting yes for me was an opportunity to break down the current government structures and build fresh ones, from the ground up, to make new political structures that are inclusive and do not lock out women and minorities from participating. It was idealistic and hopeful and heavily influenced by my Masters thesis on Women’s Political Participation and a heavy dose of critical international relations theory. It was a glorious time, a time where I could transform my abstract learning into something tangible. I was hopeful. I thought we could have a society where all could participate, where all views could be accepted and valued and where we did not exclude those on the margins.

And then I came to stark realisation that underneath all the hopeful rhetoric was a large dose of Nationalism. (I probably should have realised this earlier, my bad.)  Nationalism is nasty, as I’m sure anyone who has picked up a history book will have come to realise. Nationalism is an ideology that requires the people who live within the country to attach their own identities to that of the nation, to form what could be called a homogenous national identity. For those who happily identify themselves as Scottish, this isn’t really an issue. But nationalism scorns those who do not subscribe with gusto – creating division and closing down spaces for conversation and criticism. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 38 Comments

LibLink: Sam Ghibaldan: Put people, not nations first

Sam Ghibaldan was Special Adviser to Jim Wallace and Nicol Stephen throughout the Liberal Democrats’ 8 years in coalition with Labour at Holyrood from 1999 and 2007.

He’s written an article for the Scotsman outlining the importance of liberalism in securing us the rights we hold for granted and comparing it with nationalism in the context of the Scottish independence referendum.

First he outlines what liberalism has done for us:

But at their core is the liberal belief that gradually took root during the 19th century, and was brought to fruition in response to the lives squandered during two world wars, that every individual mattered. Once that dangerous, radical idea became established, so did the concept that the state should nurture people, equipping them with education, healthcare and other support. As it turned out, these were just the things needed to promote personal liberty, which exploded into the 1960s as deference fell out of fashion and choice became an expectation instead of a luxury.

Liberalism’s contribution to human wellbeing, in the form of happiness and self-fulfilment, has been immense. We are free. Free to make our own career choices, to enjoy ourselves as we wish, to believe – or not – in whatever we want, to live comfortably regardless of our sexuality without fear of society’s censure.

Personal choice, freedom, liberty – however you describe it – is more important than nationality, religion or any tribal identity. It allows us to be who we are, and who we want to be. People may choose allegiances, identities, whether related to football teams, musical tribes, religions or nations. But in a society that allows and facilitates such diversity, the important thing is that people can do just that – choose – and the state does not define them, or their rights, by those choices. First and foremost, they are human beings, individuals and fellow citizens.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott: EU values are in stark contrast to Putin’s

European FlagLiberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Edward McMilan-Scott, who is also the European Parliament’s Vice President for Human Rights, has been writing in the Yorkshire Post about the contest between the values of the EU and those of Vladimir Putin. The EU is built on democracy and liberal values while Putin seeks to build a Eurasian alliance built on homophobia and nationalism.

To understand what is happening in the Ukraine, we have to know something of President Putin’s Eurasian dream that is steering events. This involves the

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , , and | 13 Comments
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