ONE of the prevailing narratives of UK politics in the four years that have elapsed since the referendum on independence is how Scotland and England seem to have chosen to follow different paths in almost every facet of governance.

Unsurprisingly, this is cited more often by Scottish nationalists, who point to an outbreak of Little Englander obsessions to illustrate the point. This has led to several cultural and social anomalies. Scottish politics is now dominated by the main party of nationalism and independence yet seeks to embrace racial diversity and is keen to attract peoples of other lands and accommodate their cultural treasures. England, whose empire once covered more than half the Earth, now seeks to retreat into itself. It feels it will thrive because it won’t be disfigured by foreign influences; these being, of course, inferior to sturdy British instincts.

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Its decision to leave the European Union was carried on an unpleasant wave of xenophobia and suspicion of immigrants. Some parts of England’s neglected north-east and north-west working-class communities have swallowed the lie that there are too many immigrants; that they are taking jobs or at least causing them to be devalued and that they are responsible for bringing the NHS to breaking point.

They won’t be dislodged from this position even when you point out to them that it wasn’t immigrants who collapsed their traditional industries and left their communities to wither in the absence of investment.

Nor do they seem to acknowledge that it wasn’t immigrants who sold off great shared assets such as rail, water, energy and telecommunications and watched as an anointed cadre of speculators drank deeply and spirited the gargantuan profits away from England and into the treasuries of other countries.

In Scotland, our far-flung and scattered communities require a more complex service infrastructure which increasingly will come to rest on how many extra migrant workers we can attract to live, love and stay here. Failure to attract them in sufficient numbers will lead to a top-heavy society placing increasing pressure on our NHS and the finances to ease most of us smoothly into a healthy and productive old age.

In England, an assortment of political grotesques such as Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson have captured large segments of the public imagination, while Boris Johnson, when serving as a senior Government minister, was soliciting advice from Steve Bannon, former adviser to Donald Trump. Bannon is a man who views working-class people as useful only insofar as they can be incited to attack liberal elites. Like his old boss, he has no problem with the concept of elites running the government just so long as they are the right sort of elites.

And yet the widening gulf that seems to have opened up between Scotland and England in so many of their social and cultural attitudes still has ground to make up if it’s to match the one that now divides Trump’s America and Canada.

You always gained the impression that Canada was just America without the guns and the southern Baptists; its happy hour if you like. On my most recent visit to Canada the contrast between these two neighbouring countries couldn’t have been greater. This occurred in the same week as Canada was preparing to legalise cannabis. Yet it seemed obvious to me that even if it hadn’t previously occurred to it to do this, it quickly became inevitable as soon as Trump took office. If Trump had banned pornography, Canada would have provided it free as part of its healthcare programme. While Trump remains in office, so will any existing Canadian premier. Justin Trudeau seems to be a decent and well-motivated chiel even if he does have a predilection for wanting to be exceedingly well-liked by the world’s other great civilisations to the extent that he acts like Mr Benn, the television cartoon costume fetishist.

But while Trump is in the White House even Yogi Bear would have thrived in Canada’s big house. The prospect of another four years of Donald Trump as president, taking us up to 2024, may fill every decent liberal with dread. The upside, though, is that Canada seems to be re-inventing itself as a nation called Notamerica and we have six years to visit and experience what extreme liberalism and toxic tolerance means. Who knows what the country has up its sleeve for the purposes of tweaking Trump’s black, reactionary tail?

The National:

Scotland's Irish question

WITH some justification, Scotland can pride itself on its cultural diversity and its desire to wear its coat of many colours at every opportunity.

Our nation can derive a significant degree of pride from supporting – and indeed participating – in festivals celebrating the cultures of Muslims and Sikhs; Hindus and Jews. The celebration of cultural and social diversity has seen our annual Pride marches become colourful and life-affirming fixtures in the civic calendars of our largest towns and cities.

Curiously, though, we still have a bit of a problem when it comes to any celebration of Irish culture and identity. No other nation has made a bigger impact on Scotland’s cultural, economic and civic infrastructure, and yet we don’t half get ourselves into all sorts of contortions to avoid recognising this fact.

In every other country where the Irish settled in numbers there is a St Patrick’s Day parade, but not in Scotland. Memorials to the Great Famine, which impacted greatly on Scotland, are a common feature of the other great cities where the refugees settled.

Yet when Glasgow had the opportunity to erect one, it chose instead to reject it and plumped instead for a joint memorial that also commemorated the effects of famine in the Scottish Highlands.

Last week Neil Lennon, the manager of Hibernian FC, was physically assaulted for the umpteenth time during his 16-year stay in Scotland.

In almost all of these incidents either his faith or his Northern Irish ethnicity was a factor. He has also been the target of a bomb plot and is routinely issued with death threats.

During 14 or so years in England, Lennon was not assaulted once. I haven’t yet decided if those who continue to say that he brings this on himself in progressive, enlightened and diverse Scotland are simply stupid or guilty of something more sinister.

Lennon it seems, having endured 90 minutes of abuse last week, was condemned for daring to turn round and defying the hatred pouring down from the stands during an Edinburgh derby match against Hearts.

He is the bravest man in Scotland.

This nation meanwhile, which is so good at reaching out to so many other races and creeds, might have to take a long, hard look at its attitudes to some of its ethnic Irish.