Fraser Stewart: If David Starkey wants to talk about dangerous Nationalism, let's talk about Ukip and the Tories

CommonSpace columnist Fraser Stewart examines the nature of Nationalism north and south of the border

THIS week, historian David Starkey rather casually drew comparison between Scottish Nationalists and the Nazis. Of course, it's not the first time such a ridiculous appraisal has been made: nor is this the first article to have been written in exacerbated defiance.

Starkey argues that Scottish Nationalists harbour a deep hatred for the English, akin to the anti-Semitic sentiments of Nazism. Not only are these comparisons tired, offensive and hysterically hyperbolic, they are founded upon a barefaced ignorance of Scottish Nationalist ethos.

Multiculturalism has long stood as a key component of the modern Nationalist movement in Scotland: lest we forget that the Scottish National Party (SNP) exists as the biggest pro-immigration/pro-refugee voice in the Commons right now.

Scottish Nationalism is an alien concept to commentators like Starkey because it unashamedly challenges the cultural and ideological uniformity typically associated with the term.

Only a fortnight ago Angus Robertson challenged David Cameron on refusing to provide asylum to Syrian refugees, which hardly seems in keeping with the autocratic insularity so nonchalantly contrived upon us by certain critics.

Scottish Nationalism has never been about supremacy or xenophobia - that anyone would suggest so only serves to demonstrate how little attention and respect they have paid to the movement.

Instead, commentators such as Starkey have stuck their fingers in their ears and taken it upon themselves to tell us what we stand for. Safe to say, we've been doing it all wrong.

Apparently, as Nationalists, we should be condemning the foreign and the poor, not embracing them. Who knew? We don't even have an enemy for goodness sakes (I nominate the democratic process - we need a something a bit more dictator-y if we're going to make our brainwashing of children a multigenerational thing).

Or we could go after the English, those imperial overlords of bastardry, with their tea and their Queen and their nineteen sixty-fucking-six. That's what we'll do: get rid of the British monarchy and instate Nicola Sturgeon as our Grand Empress instead.

Or we could continue to shake the mould and leave the pitiful narrow-mindedness to those who should know better.

Scottish Nationalism is an alien concept to commentators like Starkey because it unashamedly challenges the cultural and ideological uniformity typically associated with the term.

The love of Nationalistic tradition on the British right wing is unparalleled: their xenophobic tendencies uncanny; their habitual need to treat everything "un-British" with suspicion and contempt falters not.

Connotations of ethnic superiority or doctrinal totalitarianism simply don't apply here. Nor does Scottish Nationalism subscribe to the regressive confines of tradition.

It is a thoroughly peaceable movement built on compassion and ambition. For an example of good old-fashioned race-bashing nationalism in the United Kingdom, one has to venture a little further to the right.

Strangely enough, Ukip is very rarely looked to as an exemplar of primitive and small-minded Nationalism: or the Conservatives for that matter, regardless of the obvious traits.

The love of Nationalistic tradition on the British right wing is unparalleled: their xenophobic tendencies uncanny; their habitual need to treat everything "un-British" with suspicion and contempt falters not.

But this particular brand of Nationalism has become fashionable in recent times, south of the border at least. It is acceptable because it fits with the current mood. But it is also the illustrative antithesis of Scottish nationalism in both policy and philosophy, no matter how much some people might like to greet otherwise.

While British Nationalist parties call for tougher controls on immigration and welfare, Scottish Nationalists call for diversity and social justice.

The contrast is elementary really. While British Nationalist parties call for tougher controls on immigration and welfare, Scottish Nationalists call for diversity and social justice.

While the former preaches apprehension and distrust, the latter is fundamentally tolerant and pluralistic - neither strand is in any way secretive about what it is they believe, which makes such an analysis quite straightforward, and evaluations such as Starkey's all the more absurd.

Xenophobia, traditionalism, entitlement: the British right wing serves as a glowering beacon of the exact strain of archaic Nationalism that Starkey and others are determined to pin on a remarkably optimistic Scottish movement.

The sooner they realise the credulity of their ignorance, the better.

Picture courtesy of Geraint Rowland