Rhiannon Spear: How Scotland is changing global minds about the nature of nationalism

CommonSpace columnist and SNP Youth co-convener Rhiannon Spear explains why the eyes of the world remain fixed on Scotland's independence question

WHILE we are all firmly focused on honing our arguments and changing the minds of historic No voters in the run up to the next independence referendum in what seems to be a constant cycle of political campaigning, it is easy to forget we are far from alone in our struggle for self determination. 

There are others across Europe, and as far away as California, who are also seeking independence. At the end of January, the SNP Youth hosted members of the European Free Alliance Youth in Glasgow for a training weekend. 

We welcomed delegates from Catalonia, the Basque Country, Galicia, Brittany, Veneto, the Faroe Islands, Wales and Cornwall. We shared our stories and struggles, and formed friendships with people who share a desire to move decision making closer to home, and most importantly, to be able to participate as an equal on the world stage.

Every movement I have spoken to has problems with the mainstream media’s interpretations of nationalism and independentist movements. There is a general assumption that we are all right wing.

It reminded me that many people throughout the world currently have their eyes firmly fixed on Scotland, willing us to succeed in the hope that it will strengthen support for their own independence movements at home. 

It can be hard to see it when we are consumed by domestic debate but if we are successful in achieving independence despite the might of the British Empire and the establishment against us, we will have secured success for a nationalism that promotes freedom, tolerance and equality. 

Every movement I have spoken to has problems with the mainstream media’s interpretations of nationalism and independentist movements. There is a general assumption that we are all right wing and we all know the common presumptive looks of trepidation and scepticism when you explain you are from a nationalist party. 

The SNP Youth hosted members of the European Free Alliance Youth in Glasgow for a training weekend in January

This is exactly why the Scottish question holds so much weight. We are changing common interpretations of independence movements, and acting as a trailblazer for others in equally as progressive movements throughout the world.

The simplistic interpretation of independence movements is becoming increasingly problematic for the mainstream media, especially in the UK as the proliferation of British Conservative nationalism takes hold post-Brexit. 

This is exactly why the Scottish question holds so much weight. We are changing common interpretations of independence movements, and acting as a trailblazer for others in equally as progressive movements throughout the world.

Juxtapose this with the civic, egalitarian nationalism promoted by the SNP through policies such as baby boxes, free education, and preserving the National Health Service. When it comes to scary nationalism it is easy to see May is coming out top Trumps. 

Continually combating this negative portrayal of Scottish nationalism in a mainstream media that resists engaging with our debates has rapidly matured our arguments. We know we are not fighting for independence for independence's sake but for the ability to radically improve the lives of those we share society with and we have learned through necessity how to effectively articulate this. 

As a direct result of this we are giving similar movements hope. We have carved our own narrative under the restrictive banner of nationalism which has meant independence in Scotland is no longer a minority issue. Whether you are for or against it, everyone is talking about it

The independence movements across Europe and further afield are intrinsically linked. Once homogenised as groups against oppression and the need for self-preservation, we have molded into a mass movement for self determination, primarily campaigning for the ability to make our own socio-economic decisions that benefit the many and not the few. 

We know the benefits of migrants and being inclusive of every culture. We find commonalities in opening our borders, welcoming those in need, making our countries home for anyone who wishes to live here. 

If we are successful in achieving independence despite the might of the British Empire and the establishment against us, we will have secured success for a nationalism that promotes freedom, tolerance and equality. 

We have witnessed the mass exploitation and extraction of our natural resources and know the value of our land. We want to create fact-based economic policy that rejects the ideological politics of austerity. 

While we know we all have our individualist reasons for independence we can find threads of similarities that bind us together, interweaving to create an international movement resisting the oppressive rightwing administrations we are rallying against. 

So while we continue to be entrenched in our arguments at home, it is good for the soul to look up once and awhile to see how many people are standing with us. 

Picture: CommonSpace

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