IF nothing else we can at least praise Neil Oliver for his consistency. He is consistently wrong. The tousle-haired one’s latest auto-embarrassment was to bewail the supposed lack of safety which our part-time Prime Minister felt in Scotland, forcing him to cut short his holiday. How terrible that Scotland isn’t a welcoming place for a right-wing English nationalist populist with a track record of racist and homophobic remarks who, amongst other things, authorised the publication of an offensively racist poem about Scottish people when he was editor of The Spectator. Excuse us while we dry our eyes. Maybe Oliver ought to stop writing articles for the Daily Mail then, they were the ones who outed Johnson.

However there is absolutely no truth in Johnson’s claim, just like there is no truth in most of the other claims that utter from the mouth of the serial liar and charlatan who occupies the position of British Prime Minister. The location of his holiday, perched on the edge of the Applecross peninsula, was revealed by a right-wing newspaper which is every bit as hostile to Scottish aspirations of self-government as Oliver is. While we are at it, we can also praise Johnson for his consistency. He goes to great lengths to hide away from Scottish people.

Meanwhile Oliver, who makes his living touting stories of Scotchery to English people, appears to swallow whole tall tales originating in Downing Street. These stories, which have Dominic Cummings’s short-sighted fingerprints all over them, have the aim of stirring up division and hatred against Scottish people among the surprisingly sizeable fan club which Johnson unfathomably still appears to enjoy in British nationalist circles.

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This time it’s Oliver defending Boris Johnson. Last time it was Oliver standing up for English historian David Starkey who has a record of making controversial remarks about race. Every time Neil Oliver trends on social media I find myself chanting “I will not go on a Neil Oliver rant, I will not go on a Neil Oliver rant”, and every time I fail. Oliver epitomises the self-righteous double standards of British nationalism. I feel unsafe from Neil Oliver.

In lieu of any positive arguments for this so-called Union, British nationalists have been reduced to claiming that the independence movement is motivated by anti-English hatred. Whenever Sean Clerkin and his wee gaggle of pals pop up with an “England out of Scotland” banner, the entire independence movement is attacked by British nationalist politicians and commentators as having anti-English racism at its core. Yet British nationalist fascist thugs can go on an actual violent rampage in the centre of Glasgow, and this is simply an aberration which has nothing whatsoever to do with mainstream opposition to Scottish independence.

British nationalism in Scotland has a deeply sectarian tinge to it, this Conservative Government is defined by its xenophobia, its demonisation of migrants and refugees, its Little Englander hatred of the EU. But in the eyes of British nationalists it’s a Scottish independence movement which campaigns against all those things which has the real problem. The abiding characteristic of British nationalism is to accuse its opponents of its own sins.

However this a path that British nationalist apologists in Scotland embark upon at their own peril. Just as their repeated claims that Scotland depends upon a financial subsidy from England have backfired, so will their baseless assertion that the movement for Scottish independence has at its core a hatred of the English.

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The claim that Scotland is an economic basket case is fundamental to British nationalists in Scotland. They never pause to wonder why it is that after more than 300 years of what they keep telling us is the greatest union of nations that history, or at least Neil Oliver, has ever seen that Scotland should be financially and economically so weak. If that is true then this Union that they are so proud of has clearly not been so great for Scotland. Although their claim about the economic weakness of Scotland is contested in Scotland, it is widely believed in England. There is now an increasing resentment in England about what people there believe to be their financial support of an ungrateful Scotland. This is one of the reasons why an increasing number of people in England, especially Conservative voters,

would cheerfully evict Scotland from the UK.

We’re hearing a lot more on social media just now about how Scots supposedly hate the English. This lying trope is being propagated by the right-wing press and has been enthusiastically taken up by the likes of Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton, who recently tweeted her support for new branch office manager Ross Douglas. Hamilton expressed the hope that Ross would rid Scotland of “SNP bigots”. Way to go to ensure that your party can appeal to the 50% of Scotland’s electorate who plan to vote SNP.

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However the real audience for such remarks is not Scottish people. They are designed to elicit sympathy for the British-nationalist cause amongst people south of the Border, by painting British nationalists in Scotland as the embattled and beleaguered defenders of English people in Scotland. Yet this crude tactic will only backfire. All that it will do will be to plant the idea in the minds of people in England that Scotland rejects them – and that will make them less enthusiastic about keeping a country which they already believe is financially dependent upon them within the UK.

As Scotland becomes ever more determined that its future is as an independent state, we are only going to hear more desperate claims from British nationalists in Scotland. When the British Government itself is creating such massive economic uncertainty with its John Bull-headed pursuit of the hardest possible Brexit, when it’s blaming migrants and refugees for the UK’s woes, apologists for the UK in Scotland will be driven to make ever more outrageous claims in order to keep asserting that an independent Scotland would be worse than the dystopia of the UK. However all that their hysteria will achieve will be to alienate even more people in Scotland and to diminish any remaining support for keeping Scotland in the UK amongst people in the rest of the UK. Some of the most effective campaigners for Scottish independence are those who are most knee-jerkingly visceral in their opposition to it. So thanks, Neil Oliver.