#IndyRef: “Nationalism breaks things and they are things not easy to fix.”

On the subject of Scotland and the clear failings of the No campaign (such as it is) Hugo Riftkind’s column in yesterday’s London Times is worth looking at (if you have a subscription).

He deals with the impossibility clause currently being pushed by Labour, up front…

…as we all know really, an independent Scotland, would be mostly fine. Poorer than now, perhaps, both culturally and economically, but no great disaster. But more damaging than its prospect, for all of us, is the fact that so many want it.

Say the polls ossify roughly where they are now and independence loses buy a ten per cent margin. That’s still more than 4 out of every 10 in Britain’s largest minority the wanted out. What sort of victory is that?

In something of a reprise of Burke in Reflections on the Revolution in France mode, he concludes…

Nationalism is a dangerous affair. It breaks things and they are things not easy to fix. What the referendum has broken already is a consensus that was utterly and vitally British. It was both a product of three centuries of union and its cause.

It gave us the multiculturalism that has forged our post Empire identity an is the faith on which the United Kingdom was buitt. It is the core idea that people who want different things can still get along.

But he’s most interesting towards the end whilst assaying what he thinks will be lost if Britain were to lose its status as a country:

Britain without Scotland becomes a country in which multiculturalism has failed. It would become England with Welsh and Irish afterthoughts. The umbrella of Britishness – which allows us all to be British-thisish or British-thatish – would be lost.

We would become country not only with the majority White-English identity (which we are at the moment) but with a dominant one. And if you don’t see the distinction maybe that’s because for you it wouldn’t make much difference.

It would for me. These past years I have found the looming possibility of Scottish independence affecting my politics in the most unexpected of ways. Perhaps it’s the ancestral rootless Jew in me, but I find myself struggling how to curb the faint stirrings of a Ralph Milibandesque dislike of the concept of the nation state all together.

Being unable to square my unionism with even mild euro scepticism, I have also found, almost without thinking about it, that I’ve stopped being Eurosceptic at all.

Most of all, I find that I have become newly appreciative of the scrambled, multi-ethnic, multilingual, hotch-potch that is my new home in the British capital. London like britishness itself, is a messi, porous and cacophonous affair, with a little interest in keeping people out.

As a mere English capital, the city would be adrift. How baffling I find it when those in Scotland – a land with almost no ethnic minorities at all – champion independence on the smug and entirely untested basis that it would make their small Utopia the antithesis of Nigel Farage’s Little England. As far as i’m concerned, that’s what my London is already.

The Scottish no campaign has rightly been derided for its negativity, and on surprisingly, because alistair darling is not a man how to make you whoop. Ultimately though it is Scottish nationalism that is the far more negative creed.

Scots are not today subjective or oppressed. Post devolution, they are not even overlooked. In no sense at all can the campaign for scottish independence be defended as the urge to put right any great wrong.

Instead it is the campaign to stop talking; to ditch the obligation to engage with the folks next door. In the end, obviously, I hope it fails. From a British perspective, it’s a terrible failure that it even began.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty