ONE of the things that strikes you when you take a break from Scottish politics is how brain-numbingly petty and small-minded British nationalism really is here in our country.

We have the Labour Party in Scotland turning up to protest against itself, while blaming the SNP for the things Labour did while in office. That’s risible enough, but during my recent absence the green ink wing of the doughty defenders of the red, white and blue managed to find the SNP-bad story to end all SNP-baddery, criticising Nicola Sturgeon over her official trip to Poland to visit Auschwitz, honouring those murdered in the Holocaust.

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We are dealing here with folk who, if the Scottish Government managed to find a cure and prevention for cancer, would embark on a letter-writing campaign complaining about the blow to Scottish health services as oncology units all over the country were closed down.

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Having been across the Pond for the past couple of weeks, getting better together in a personal union of my own, it was noticeable that the right-wing media over there were trying to distract attention from the mounting crises surrounding Donald Trump by focusing on the entirely imaginary threat represented by a caravan of desperate migrants which is currently walking through Mexico.

The National:

People whom you might think possessed some functioning neurones have claimed on national TV that it’s possible that this column of desperate and dispossessed Latin Americans fleeing gang violence – violence which has been produced in no small measure by the USA’s war on drugs – might occupy holiday cottages in Minnesota while their rightful owners are away, or that the caravan might contain Daesh terrorists. Trump’s administration has gone on record to state that there’s no evidence that the caravan doesn’t contain Daesh terrorists.

Equally, there’s no evidence that it doesn’t contain the Predator alien from the movie who hunted down Arnold Schwarzenegger in the jungles of Central America, but for some reason they’ve forgotten to mention that on Fox News.

While the right-wing US news media are desperately trying to hype something harmless up into a major disaster, the British nationalist media in Scotland is engaged in the exact opposite – desperately trying to ignore the major disaster that is what passes for Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations in case drawing attention to it stirs up support for independence.

When you get a bit of distance from it, what really stands out about British nationalism in Scotland is how miserable it is, how bereft of vision, hope, or dreams it is, how it has the imaginative capacity of a tapeworm. It’s the political equivalent of being a teenager who’s dragged off on a holiday to a wet and dismal seaside town that’s seen better days as your maw screams “you’ll bloody well enjoy yourself” at you. It’s even worse than a holiday cottage in Minnesota occupied by that alien from the Predator movie. All the while you know your pals are off sunning themselves on an exotic beach in furren pairts.

The absolute nadir of this imaginative failure is represented by the misleadingly named Scotland in Union. They really ought to name themselves more accurately. They’re the people who say they want Scotland to stop and think, and to forget to start again. It is not an organisation which promotes the ideal of a better Scotland within the UK, possibly because a Scotland within the UK has no option but to put up with whatever the rest of the UK inflicts on it. You can’t really promote a union which doesn’t exist in the real world.

After all, if Scotland really was a valued partner in a family of nations, we might have had a modicum of influence on the two-year long car crash that is Brexit. But we don’t, because Scotland isn’t a constituent member of a union, it’s a subordinate and minority part of a unitary state with devolved bits. Describing that as a union is a bit like describing a chain gang as a conga line. It’s like describing orange juice as a solid meal because it’s got some unpleasant and unidentifiable floaty bits in it, and to be fair, British nationalists in Scotland do know a lot about orange bits floating about where they’re not really wanted.

Scotland as Hostage to Fortune of the Interests of a Political Establishment Which Doesn’t Really Give a Toss About Us and Won’t Listen To Us Anyway would be a considerably more accurate name for an organisation dedicated to maintaining Scotland as a part of the UK, but it’s not really a snappy title, and is an admission that what the group is up to was always going to be a difficult sell. However, these are the kind of people who would win the EuroMillions lottery and complain that their Auntie Jeanie would expect them to pay for her to have a weekend in Blackpool. Joy and hope aren’t exactly their strong points. It’s a campaign based on fear and negativity and, all too often, on a disdain for anything foreign or different.

It’s joy and hope that characterise the Scottish independence movement because, unlike Britishism and its goal of maintaining an inadequate and dreich status quo, the Scottish independence movement looks forward to something better.

In my many travels the length and breadth of this country, meeting with independence groups and supporters, not once have I met a single person who wants independence because they’re afraid. Not once have I met anyone who wants independence because they hate somebody, and certainly not our English family, friends, and neighbours.

Above all, the Scottish independence movement is based in the belief that this country is being sold short by a Westminster government and the people of Scotland deserve better, are capable of better, and can achieve so much more.

Fundamentally, Britishness in Scotland is about looking to the past. Scottish independence is about looking to the future. And that’s why, even though my new husband remains, for the time being, on the opposite side of the ocean, I’m not depressed or downhearted. It’s because I know that the future belongs to us, and one day, one day soon, I’ll be able to give him the greatest wedding gift of all, the gift of a Scottish passport.