With less than a hundred days before Scotland votes on whether to leave the United Kingdom, Alex Salmond’s SNP has started to lose momentum, writes Philip Stephens in the Financial Times. And with the loss of momentum, we’re seeing the seedy underbelly of nationalism emerge into daylight:
The nationalist mask, though, is slipping. The Yes campaign now carries an air of menace. Mr Salmond, as Scotland’s first minister, holds the public purse strings. Potential opponents have been left in no doubt about that fact. Academics and artists who value the bonds with the rest of the UK say they worry about losing funding if they voice pro-union views. Business leaders speak of barely disguised hints about how they should best safeguard their commercial interests. […]Mr Salmond stands aloof from personal attacks but has done little to counter them. Only the other day one of his senior advisers orchestrated an attempt to discredit the mother of a disabled child who had dared campaign against separation. Those who meet the first minister say a nod here and a raised eyebrow here perfectly convey an implicit warning.
J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books and longtime resident of Edinburgh, has waded in to the debate, donating £1 million to the Unionist cause and penning an open letter outlining her reservations about Scotland sundering its ties. She had particularly sharp words for the bullying types in the SNP ranks:
In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I am friendly with individuals involved with both the Better Together Campaign and the Yes Campaign, so I know that there are intelligent, thoughtful people on both sides of this question. Indeed, I believe that intelligent, thoughtful people predominate.
However, I also know that there is a fringe of nationalists who like to demonise anyone who is not blindly and unquestionably pro-independence and I suspect, notwithstanding the fact that I’ve lived in Scotland for twenty-one years and plan to remain here for the rest of my life, that they might judge me ‘insufficiently Scottish’ to have a valid view. It is true that I was born in the West Country and grew up on the Welsh border and while I have Scottish blood on my mother’s side, I also have English, French and Flemish ancestry. However, when people try to make this debate about the purity of your lineage, things start getting a little Death Eaterish for my taste. By residence, marriage, and out of gratitude for what this country has given me, my allegiance is wholly to Scotland and it is in that spirit that I have been listening to the months of arguments and counter-arguments.
Hogwarts voting for Union? This is going to be an interesting fight.