I find it difficult to understand why George Galloway’s upbringing as a Roman Catholic in Scotland has led him to fear Scottish independence.
Fair enough that Galloway opposes Scottish independence and fair enough if he wholeheartedly believes in Scotland’s place within the United Kingdom and everything that it entails.
But it just seems strange to me that he would want to construct an argument against independence on the strength of his perception that there are sufficient numbers of ‘loyalist sectarians’ in Scotland to present a danger to Scottish Catholicism, if located outside the framework of the Union.
Worse still that he felt it appropriate to draw the troubles recently faced by Neil Lennon into the equation.
Not that the latter’s experiences weren’t symptomatic of the type of religious and racial bigotries that spoil certain parts of Scottish society.
It is just that Galloway’s reason for making this particular reference looks more like a cynical attempt to plug his book on Neil Lennon, rather than a means of supporting a coherent and robust anti-independence argument.
And for Galloway to go on to mention that the SNP has an anti-Catholic mentality in its roots – referencing William Wolfe – is to ignore the clear and unambiguous support that Alex Salmond has previously given for faith schools in Scotland and their benefit to Scottish society:
To argue against Scotland having the autonomy to make its own decisions based on an attitude of the SNP’s Convener in the 1970’s is an absolutely pitiful attempt to divert attention away from what Scottish independence is actually about, and raise fear and consternation in the hearts and minds of Scotland’s Catholics.
Agreeing that Scotland should be an independent country is absolutely not equivalent to embracing the policies, views and attitudes of the Scottish National Party, neither currently nor historically. The SNP may not even be part of the governance of an independent Scotland. It is about embracing an opportunity to make Scotland economically stronger and socially better than it ever will be within the United Kingdom.
George Galloway has the right to express his opposition to Scottish independence. But to oppose the right of a country to regain its autonomy by stirring up fears about Scottish nationalism historically crossing over with anti-Irish Roman Catholicism is completely unfair.
Not only does it reveal his lack of faith in Scotland’s ability to build a successful, progressive and inclusive future on its own intellectual merits and using its own natural resources; it also betrays his ideological preferences for a political and economic framework that helped build the social context within which Scotland’s distinctive brand of sectarianism took root and flourished.
George Galloway warned that we should ‘be careful what we wish for’.
But perhaps he should be more forthcoming about what it is he really fears.