Letter: Scottish nationalism is about the English, and it isn't benign

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The Independent Online
I disagree with Neal Ascherson's interpretation of Linda Grant's Guardian article (18 May).

Grant does not assert that all Scots hate the English. She maintains that "much of the desire for self-government derives from deep-seated antipathy to the English". Would Ascherson deny that there is a strong element of "Braveheartism" in Scotland, often played on by the Scottish National Party which commands around a quarter of the vote? As worrying, the manifesto of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, the driving force behind demands for a parliament, claims "as of right" that Scots should determine their own form of government. This is the language not of a "multi-ethnic kingdom" nor pragmatic decentralisation, but of late-19th century nationalism which has led to such disastrous results in former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

Grant makes another sensible point. Labour's plan for a London-wide authority, recognising a sense of identity based on common needs, is another method of decentralisation. A Britain of cities and their regions could make an awful lot of sense for the cross-migration we inherit - 5 per cent of Ireland's population lives in London - and would fit us well for a future decentralised "city region" Europe.

Simon Partridge

London N2