'Leave a light on for Scotland’; examining cosmopolitan Nationalism in Scotland

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In this chapter I examine the relationship between Scottish nationalism and Europeanness. In particular, I investigate pro-European rhetoric as used by the Scottish National Party (SNP) in public discourse. I then contrast the message of this discourse with survey evidence which shows that the Scottish public retain attitudes to outsiders that are not sharply different from those of other UK nations, including England. Scottish nationalism is often referred to as a politics which is civic, pro-European, and progressive in nature (Davidson et al. 2018). However, through this Scottish case study it is revealed that Scottish pro-Europeanness and other commonly-accepted traits of Scottishness have been contested in public debate over the last decades. Today Scottish nationalism, and support for the European Union, remains more nuanced than many outside observers may conclude. This conclusion is based on three main findings from the case study. The first point of note is that a hyperactive politicised Europeanness in macro-level politics has only marginal everyday reflection for the wider Scottish public, once we depart from the familiar measure of attitudes to the EU as being synonymous with openness to outsiders. The second is that Europeanness and nationalist identity are not inconsistent, and part of the explanation for Scotland’s anti-Brexit stance is that it reflects the energies of the independence campaign. Lastly, Scotland’s mainstream political framing of immigration has been employed to justify Scottish distinctiveness, and garner support for an independent Scotland in Europe. This case study exposes the clear links between Scottish nationalism and pro-European politics, highlighting that the two are not oppositional forces.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContesting Cosmopolitan Europe: Euroscepticism, Crisis and Borders
EditorsJames Foley, Umut Korkut
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
ISBN (Print)9789463727259
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022

Publication series

NameProtest and Social Movements
PublisherAmsterdam University Press


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