From the other party’s leader in Scotland:
That’s the difference between socialism and nationalism.I know that where you are born is an accident of birth, a geographical lottery.I can’t base my political vision on that.I didn’t come into politics to help those at the top of Scottish society, just because they are Scottish.Nor would I turn my cheek to a child living in poverty just because they are born on the other side of a dotted line on a map.I came into politics to make sure that where you are born doesn’t matter.I want a country where the place you are going in life isn’t determined by where you began your life.That’s what being Scottish means to me.
It’s a very narrow definition of “Scottish” which only considers those born in Scotland. If that’s what Ms Dugdale is saying the SNP are about, then it’s also a very inaccurate description of the SNP’s political vision – not least because several prominent SNP figures were, in fact, born “on the other side of a dotted line on a map.” Christian Allard, Nigel Don, Christine Grahame, Ian McKee, Shona Robison, Angus Robertson, Mike Russell, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, and Greenock & Inverclyde’s* SNP candidate Stuart McMillan were born in a different part of the world. Yet every one considers themselves Scottish – perhaps because there’s more to being Scottish than the place where you first drew breath.
This is because Scottish nationalism is not about your birthplace, or your ancestry, or your language – it’s about where you choose to make your life. The foundation myth of the Scottish people is all about an Egyptian and either a Scythian or Iberian travelling to Ireland & founding the Scoti people; our three patron saints were born in England, Ireland, and Galilee; some of our most well-known princes, scientists, architects, artists, and poets were New Scots.
Yet if the SNP truly subscribed to such a paltry, petty notion that only those born in the geographical boundaries of Scotland can consider themselves Scots, then how can Ms Dugdale explain folk like Inverclyde’s Stuart McMillan? Stuart was born in a wee town in Cumbria,* but his parents were Scots, he has lived in Inverclyde since he was a boy, went to college in Glasgow, studied at Abertay, and has represented the West of Scotland as an SNP MSP since 2007. And he plays the bagpipes. “Accident of birth” in the “geographical lottery” has hardly prevented Stuart from being accepted & championed by the political wing of the Scottish independence movement, and long may it continue to be so – because our vision of Scotland, independent or otherwise, doesn’t begin and end with a birth certificate.
Nonetheless, neither does being Scottish mean mandatory adoption of the traditional cultural symbols – the only choice that matters is residence. Politically speaking, if you reside in Scotland, you’re a Scot, no matter your accent or skin colour or name. Being Scottish means choosing for yourself what kind of Scot you want to be, wherever you happened to be born.
Stuart’s fundraiser (11 days left!)
**I suppose you could make the argument that since Cumbria used to be part of the Kingdom of Scotland, one can say he was born in what was once Scotland, if one was so inclined. And hey, after the success of “Take Us With You, Scotland,” maybe Cumbria could become Scottish again! You never know: Berwick-Upon-Tweed’s been putting out feelers…