Be in no doubt, Theresa May’s unveiling of the new design of the post-Brexit passport is symbolic. It’s a message that, like or loath it, Brexit is coming (report, 23/12/17). Of course, what that Brexit will look like is less than clear.
What’s interesting, however, is how Nicola Sturgeon has reacted to Theresa May’s description of the passport as being an:
“expression of our independence and sovereignty – symbolising our citizenship of a proud, great nation”.
The fact that Ms Sturgeon uses the same kind of rhetoric to describe the smallest SNP policy announcement obviously rankled her a little, so Scotland’s top nationalist responded on Twitter by saying her kind of nationalism was better than Mrs May’s:
“The open, inclusive, civic, internationalist Scottish independence movement that I’m so proud to be part of could not be further removed from this insular, inward looking, blue passport-obsessed nonsense”.
There is, of course, a number of problems with this. Not least the fact that for many years top nationalist have been using mock Scottish passports, which just happen to be blue, as props at political events because symbolism is always more important than action where the SNP is concerned. That’s why we no longer have “bus passes” for older people in Scotland, we have the “Saltire Card” – what vacuous nonsense.
Ms Sturgeon may not feel that Nationalists are inward looking, but it’s her supporters that trawl supermarkets looking for Union Jacks on food produce, boycott “disloyal” Scottish businesses and troll strangers on social media. Indeed, there is nothing more inward looking than taking a hammer to a box of tea cakes because they are deemed not to be Scottish enough.
I also question Nicola Sturgeon’s inferred position at the head of the independence movement. Many in that movement are now openly questioning her leadership and, more recently, cutting council services to fund tax cuts to people earning £50,000.
Indeed, rather than posturing on Twitter, perhaps Ms Sturgeon should get on with her day job and start supporting the large section of Scottish society who don’t own a passport because travel overseas is simply unaffordable.