Monday 26 October 2009

Civic nationalism

From the exalted watch-tower of Bradford University, Professor Tom Gallagher has cast his beady eye at the activities of Alex Salmond and declared that Salmond is in the process of “junking civic nationalism for an emotion-laden ethnic variety”. This surely can't be the same Professor Tom Gallagher who used an article in the Washington Times in April 2008 to argue that "Mr. Salmond is mobilizing different campaigning groups and minorities and promising them multicultural rights designed to sharpen an ethno-religious rather than a civic identity", can it? Is it the same Professor Tom Gallagher who recently wrote
But in light of the Scoto-American splat that has developed over the fate of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al- Megrahi, convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, it may now be time to sell Scotland abroad on account of its cussedness. ‘Welcome to Scotland the Land with Attitude’ springs to mind. Perhaps the Highland Stag could promptly be replaced with the Porcupine as a defining national symbol.

By contrast to the US democracy with its access points for citizens, the relatives of the eleven killed in the small Scottish town over which the plane exploded, have no effective access to political power.

and into the realms of humour with
But don’t expect much investigation or analysis from a largely supine Scottish media. Not a few of the BBC’s political journalists see their job as merely a preliminary posting before they use their political connections to secure a parliamentary seat, with the SNP being the favoured choice. The Scotsman newspaper, supposedly Unionist in orientation has as its features page editor an SNP parliamentary candidate who ensures that the opinion pieces in the newspaper cause few problems for his party. Increasingly many Scottish journalists see the need to defer to the SNP because, as its grip on power tightens it might become their employer while some of their own newspapers might go out of business,

A supine Scottish media? Where, exactly? But he can enter the bizarre as well:
The 450th anniversary of the Scottish Reformation is not having a penny spent on it by Alex Salmond: it emphasises the British link.

I tried to work out how he could get to this thinking but just couldn't - the Reformation was Scotland creating its own church and, as a result, influencing other Presbyterian churches around the world.

It would seem that self-publicisation through the peddling of prejudice, mistruths and misconceptions rather than serious academic research informs the good professor's forays into the media. He appears to have some special loathing reserved for Alex Salmond, though, almost as if the First Minister used to nick his sweets in the playground.

Professor Gallagher has been answered by Iain McWhirter and by he who worries peat today and has been addressed in the past by Gerry Hassan, but it may be instructive to note how one of his peers interprets his views on democracy:
Tom Gallagher fears that unrestrained political debate could be too much for East Europeans to handle: ‘Agreement about the management of political competition is essential if nascent democracies are not to be tested beyond endurance by heavily adversarial parties’

Tom Gallagher writes that Western civil society is necessary, otherwise Eastern states are merely ‘adapting the outward forms of north Atlantic democracies’.
A wee touch of xenophobia there perhaps, or imperious snook-cocking? How can it be argued that only we have the ability to handle political debate and that others must learn from us? The vaulting vanity of that is quite breath-taking.

You'll notice in the herald piece that Professor Gallagher claims to have been sympathetic to the SNP until the 2007 election. His ardour cooled quickly. By the beginning of August he was critical of the First Minister attempting to ensure that conflict did not result from the attack on Glasgow Airport and allowed his quite clear dislike of Islam to colour his judgement on the rally which was organised by young Muslims. He also attacked Osama Saeed, but he can defend himself. The interesting bit of Professor Gallagher's piece is where he makes it clear that his personal enmity towards the SNP has lasted for at least a decade and it's difficult to see how his recent comment that he was “broadly sympathetic to the party up to its assumption of office” chimes with his 2007 comment that "The SNP is a grievance party par excellence".

Let's be charitable and assume that he just has a shockingly bad memory, shall we, rather than suggesting that he uses the truth sparingly. Either way, though, the book he's promoting with his vitriol can't be very good, can it?

Mind how you go!

1 comment:

subrosa said...

Good research Callum. The man needs to earn a crust so of course he'll write an anti-SNP book because it would sell to unionists who devour anything in print about the supporters of independence.

Can you imagine how many copies he would sell if it was anti-labour?