WHEN my daughter sent me a link to an article about “wokeness”, I didn’t know if I was being scolded or applauded. Not even the most indulgent of my friends would go so far as to describe me as woke, so I assumed she was gently chiding me. The article was one of several that have appeared recently, defending the woke (am I using the term correctly here?), some of which have been written in response to the treatment of Meghan Markle by the British media.

The word itself sounds faintly sinister, indicative of something cultish and hooded. Yet, it’s actually an African-American locution indicating an awareness of political issues associated with race, gender and inclusion. Like its predecessor, political correctness, it stands for something positive and decent. When this has been applied overzealously, it has attracted the opprobrium of those who feel most threatened by its implications. Yet, I’d always rather that you erred too much in your desire not to offend than deliberately to antagonise. If I may be permitted to borrow from the idiom of the millennials, you might even say I was a wokeish gammon on a journey.

On those occasions when it has sought to condemn that which is merely clumsy and inoffensive, I can understand why it drives people round the twist. At its most benign though, which I think is most of the time, it merely asks us to be mindful about our use of language and to spare a thought for its impact on those around us. Those who adopt a position of perma-rage when faced by nothing more than thoughtlessness are not necessarily woke but “fud”.

READ MORE: Mocking 'woke' is just a way to silence the marginalised

In the same way that woke has been weaponised by those whom it threatens, so “nationalism” in the context of Scottish politics has been deliberately contaminated to suggest something dark and objectionable, principally by those who fear its ultimate victory. We saw this in the first referendum on Scottish independence when nationalism was regarded as something essentially nasty and divisive.

It was nothing of the sort, of course; indeed the Electoral Reform Society described the entire campaign as delivering a gold standard in how intense political debate ought to be conducted. No matter: Ruth Davidson and her unwitting allies in Scottish Labour have clung to this falsehood, citing sporadic instances of beastliness and unpleasantness as being indicative of an entire movement.

It has also been used (and continues to be) to suggest the extreme-right agendas of assorted political parties in Europe which rely almost exclusively on racism and xenophobia for their popular support. There is a simple formula to differentiate between benign nationalism and something more malevolent: be wary of nationalist movements in countries which are already independent.

Curiously, those who ignorantly make this association seem to have no problem with Boris Johnson’s new government seeking closer ties with Hungary and its prime minister Victor Orban, whose administration openly embraces racism and homophobia.

The National:

My natural political home is a Labour Party which unequivocally pursues a socialist agenda by opening up economic opportunities to the many who have been deliberately excluded from sharing in the world’s riches. Those who find themselves on the wrong side of inequality are not divided by nationality or race, and the struggle to provide them with the means to lift themselves out of poverty is more important than any national movement for independence.

When your nation chooses, though, to entrust its long-term future to a group which regards inherited privilege as normal and ideas about the superiority of Britishness as desirable, then it’s only natural that a socialist would look for a way of leaving this. There’s merit in standing your ground and fighting, but when socialism has been so successfully demonised that former Labour leaders and their acolytes want to turn their party into little more than Liberal Democrats 2:0, then you know the game is up.

In this scenario it’s reasonable to see, in an independent Scotland, the opportunity to get back to the basics of building something more honest, fair and outward-looking than the society currently being waved through in England. Scotland was happily independent, dealing with its own disputes and finding its place in the world for much longer than it’s been part of the UK.

And that only happened when a few dozen of the richest and most powerful people in the land decided that their influence and affluence could be increased by using Scotland as a bargaining chip. It’s not as if there was an election or anything. Scottish independence then is normal and reasonable and the forces driving British culture and politics now and for the foreseeable future can reasonably be deemed not to be.

NICOLA Sturgeon’s message this week to immigrants on behalf of all Scots can also be considered not merely decent but normal too. Speaking in Edinburgh at a Robert Burns event, the First Minister told European citizens that Scotland was as much their home as it was hers and implored them to remain in the county after Brexit. She also announced further funding for the Stay In Scotland campaign which, since its launch in 2018, has supported more than 4000 EU nationals, who currently rely on the whim of the UK Government, with their settled status applications.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon to EU citizens: ‘Scotland is your home'

It hardly requires repeating that this message extends also to the 400,000 English people who stay here and whose votes as full Scottish citizens played a significant part in the victory of Better Together in the 2014 referendum. Much still requires to be fixed in Scotland but this is what a confident and civilised country – at ease with itself and others – ought to look like.

The National:

The First Minister’s message is a rebuke to the currents that swept Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings into power and the UK out of Europe.

No matter how vindictive and insular the UK becomes, Gordon Brown and those Labour grandees who thrill to the brush of ermine say they will always prefer it to an independent Scotland. That is their right and they must remain free to espouse it.

Yet, to justify this position they strive to portray Scottish self-determination as something repugnant. It’s pathetic and dishonest. I’d have more respect for them if they simply said they preferred a Union which has brought them wealth and status without spinning fictions about the nature of Scottish independence.