Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Scotland set for first Asian MSP

For the Scottish Nationalist Party, apparently. Since Mr Ahmed's election is being treated as a foregone conclusion by everyone concerned, I'm assuming he's being selected as a list MSP.

The SNP's leader in Holyrood (Alex Salmond loves Scotland so much he has a Westminster seat) Nicola Sturgeon was reported as saying, "I'm over the moon that Bashir Ahmad is on course to be Scotland's first Asian MSP", which makes me think the journalist made this up in the pub. I mean, do you hear people saying they're 'over the moon' when they're happy about something very often? Neither do I. But in journo-land this happens all the time. That and people SLAMMING things - what's that all about?

I digress. The SNP will want to use this to portray themselves as an open, diverse party that believes in civic nationalism. The problem seems to be that the rank and file don't seem to take quite the same attitude.

Not towards Asian Muslims, I hasten to add. Research carried out by Bill Miller and Asifa Hussain of Glasgow University found that while Islamophobia certainly exists, it is not apparently at all sensitive to Scottish nationalism - unlike in England.* Rather, what the research did reveal, and which some of us have been aware of for some time, is that hostility to the English is very sensitive to nationalism:
"[The] anti-English view increased depending on the sense of Scottish nationalism of the respondent. A total of 46 per cent of Scottish nationalists had a negative view of the English and 8 per cent actually said they would be unhappy to have an English relative.

The results were almost as stark when voting patterns were taken into account.

Researchers found Anglophobia was highest among SNP voters and Islamophobia was highest among Conservative voters. Labour voters were in the middle while Liberal Democrats were the most tolerant, with levels of Anglophobia and Islamophobia low among their supporters."
Note this is nationalism, boys and girls - not football. I could point out that I'm not a nationalist and am "over the moon" to have English relatives but I'm sensing y'all are a bit sensitive after Rooney went and kicked the wrong balls and all that. For what it's worth, I too am very disappointed at England's exit from the World Cup. I'd hoped they might stay in long enough to be beaten by Germans in a penalty shoot out.

Self-loathing Scots and insecure English to the comments for some therapy, if you must. All this anxiety about identity - quintessentially British, if you ask me.

*Correction from previous version: I hadn't been comparing like with like, silly me. Amongst the findings of the Miller report was that, "Islamophobia is greater in England than Scotland, and more closely tied to English nationalism in England than to Scottish nationalism in Scotland." Thanks KW.

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