Totally Radical Dudes

From The Herald:

SCOTLAND has far more committed left wingers than England, new analysis has revealed amid speculation that thousands of Scots were radicalised during the independence referendum.

A detailed breakdown of political attitudes north and south of the border shows more than one in seven Scots fall in to the most radical segment of the left-right political spectrum.

That compares with fewer than one in 10 in England, despite the two countries being broadly similar across the rest of the political divide.

LeftRightSo in other words, a greater proportion of Scots are radical than English?

That’s totally radical.


We did have a Radical War, after all.


Now, the survey only deals with “left-right” issues, which is rather simplistic given that Nelson Mandela is technically more right-wing than Josef Stalin, and Hitler is more left-wing than every U.S. President of the 20th Century: the social axis is just as important as the economic left-right axis.

And given some people worry about Jeremy Corbyn stealing some of the left-wing SNP vote away, well…

Vince Mills, of the Campaign for Socialism, said: “There is a real basis for the politics that Jeremy Corbyn is arguing for in these figures.

“If Labour party uses this opportunity, it will be able to grow its membership and be able to win elections again.

“It is still fairly clear the party is quite conservative, which you can see in the election results between Neil Findlay and Jim Murphy.

The membership was two to one in favour of Mr Murphy. With Mr Corbyn showing there is another way we can approach politics, a lot more radical people will come back to Labour.”

Given how the politicos interpreted pro-independence supporters’ incredulity at Mr Murphy’s election, it seems the few socialists left in the party are still in the minority compared to the Blairites in charge. More’s the pity.

The assumption that Scotland is a left-wing country and, perhaps more importantly, more left-wing than England is one that pervades much discussion of Scottish politics.

Of course, Scottish politics has been dominated by the parties of the left since the 1980s.

And this country’s elite political discourse is arguably to the left of England’s, particularly on welfare reform and immigration.

Yet hard analysis of public opinion has consistently found there to be very little difference between Scotland and England when it comes to the left-right spectrum.

Here’s the thing about that, though: if Scotland and England (predictably poor Wales & Northern Ireland are left out in the cold again) are so similar in their political outlooks, then why did this happen?

2015 Britain Is Maggie Simpson

A party with no representation in England, Wales & Northern Ireland got 50% of the vote and 56 seats in Scotland, while a party with 14.9% of the vote and 1 seat in Scotland got 41.1% of the vote and 330 seats in England. “Very little difference!”

The actual explanation, of course, is that the left-wing electorate in Scotland actually had a party that broadly represented them to vote for – hence why 345 seats in England, Wales & Northern Ireland had more people not voting at all than voting for any of the parties, while only 7 of Scotland’s 59 regions had similar proportions of non-voters. While this study shows there isn’t a difference between England & Scotland’s population, there is clearly a substantial difference between England & Scotland’s voters.

But there’s a darker side to all this.

Note the term “thousands of Scots were radicalised.” Were radicalised. As in, radicalisation was something done to “thousands of Scots” – not that Scots chose this through their own agency and decisions. The question becomes: if Scots “were radicalised,” then what – or who – radicalised them? “Speculation,” too, suggests that this “radicalisation” has a grounding in fact – something that we, the public, should be worried about.

Not only is it thoroughly patronising, it’s a very, very dangerous path to go down. Who else does the media refer to as “radicalised”?

Radicalisation is not brainwashing. We need to rethink how we tackle it

Why would young British men go off to risk their lives fighting jihad in the Middle East, and perhaps then return home to commit atrocities here? A consensus has emerged that they have been “radicalised”. This is understood to involve a kind of brainwashing whereby impressionable young men are led astray by malicious manipulators.

Many parents unable to understand why their sons have gone to fight overseas buy into this explanation. Many have echoed the words of the father of 18-year-old Ali Kalantar from Coventry, who said: “Maybe somebody brainwashed him, because he was not like that.” Many in the media perpetuate the myth, with Evan Davis on Radio 4’s Today programme, for instance, asking how young Britons become “captured” by extremism.

This is at once both a terrifying and reassuring narrative. What is terrifying is the idea that anyone could have their free will neutralised by nefarious agents of evil. But what is reassuring is that this means these young men have not freely chosen their path, for reasons they believe to be good. This reassurance, however, is false. Radicalisation is not brainwashing and we cannot counter it if we pretend it is.

The Guardian, 24th July 2014

Radicalised young people are like child abuse victims, says charity

YOUNG people who travel to Syria and other countries to join Isis or take part in a jihad should be treated as victims, according to an abuse charity.

Ali Khan, chair of ethnic minority child abuse charity Roshni, said any British young people who left the country in such circumstances, and later chose to return should not be criminalised.

Instead, they should be allowed to share their experiences with other teenagers and young adults, he said.

Meanwhile, writing in The Herald today, Mr Khan says radicalisation should be viewed as a child protection issue, on a par with child sexual abuse.

Stephen Naysmith, The Herald, 1st April 2015

Every day in London and other big cities, there are thousands of counter-terrorism officers doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe. They have to work out who are the most vulnerable young people, who are the most susceptible – and they have to stop the infection of radicalisation before it is too late.

Boris Johnson in The Telegraph, 2nd March 2014

Radicalisation” is a term with very specific context in a UK environment: that of radicalisation into violent extremism. Most recently this has meant most of the uses of the term have been in reference to religiously-motivated terrorism, which made “radicalism” into shorthand for “radicalisation into extremist Islamic fundamentalism.” When you’ve spent hundreds of headlines and comments equating radicalism to horrendous acts of violence and tragedy, what do you think would happen when you use that same term in reference to thousands of peaceful, law-abiding individuals who seek constructive and beneficent change?

We’re used to it. The SNP are regularly compared to only the most brutal of nationalist movements, and curiously rarely compared to the vast majority of independence movements throughout history. It says something when the SNP’s moderately centre-left proposals are decried as crazed far-left socialist extremism. What says even more is that more Scots and English would feel that crazed far-left socialist extremism would represent them, compared to the actual far-right capitalist extremism which is actually in government.

4 thoughts on “Totally Radical Dudes

  1. […] Herald wasn’t that wrong: the independence debate has radicalised me something fierce. I started out mildly pro-Monarchy (come on, I was in the Scouts!), but after two […]

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