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Letters / Troubling indeed

UKIP Scotland’s chairman Mike Scott-Hayward’s letter (Like modern football; SN 1/5/13), has helped clarify why racism in football and xenophobic politics are so objectionable.

Scott-Hayward appears to be suggesting that candidates for the Scottish Parliament should only be drawn from those born in Scotland, presumably only to “true Scottish” parents.

His idea of a “good Scot” is questionable indeed. I shudder to think what kind of future UKIP would drag people back to.

What is so wrong with the idea of people who were born outside Scotland making a contribution to public life?

Here in Germany the politician tipped to be the next leader of the ruling Christian Democratic Union, one David McAllister, speaks English with a clear Scottish accent, yet his mother is German. Ought only one half of his brain contribute to German politics?

Looking across the pond, the constitution of the United States of America was largely drafted by those of British descent. Indeed one of their founding fathers, the West Indies born Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, once thought he himself might make a dandy American king.

Does Mr Scott-Hayward genuinely think the founding fathers shouldn’t have taken their notions beyond their forefathers’ shores? UKIP’s proposals for foreigners is one Scottish forefathers would have struggled to accept.

People and ideas need to be free to move. What would Shetland have been like now had that never been the case?

Medicine would never even have got to, let alone beyond, the point of Johnny Notion’s notions.

Try finding a Shetland family in which no one ever ventured forth for better prospects in hard times. Ought perhaps the whalers have stuck to inshore waters?

The folk festival would be a sorry affair were no musicians south of Fair Isle allowed to participate.

Any glimpse at history tells us it is our interdependence, not the accident of birth in one supposedly sovereign nation or another, that makes us both human and humane. The independence humans need is that which allows us to think for ourselves, beyond the limited boundaries of national self interest.

If UKIP’s Scottish leader’s point instead was that football would be the better were local clubs only to use local players he may be missing something about the purpose and spirit of the modern game. Few developments in British culture can be as welcome as the determination to clear racism and white-on-white racist sectarianism off the pitch and the terraces and out of the supporter’s club, the changing room and the board room.

Surely, across Europe and the world, in sport, culture and in politics, we want to be bringing people together and valuing them for their deeds and inherent decency, not for their bloodlines or what it says in their passports or identity papers.

If not, then for what reason did so many lay down their lives between 1939 and 1945?

I trust most readers have the good sense to reject the cold logic and poisonous medicine of selfish, inward looking nationalism, whether offered by the well-cloaked Tartan Tories in today’s SNP or that touted by the significantly more objectionable UKIP. Their selfish logic does not provide firm foundations needed for any future worth having.

Internationalism, based as it is on long established liberal goals of how we ought to treat each other in a world we share, remains the best basis for the future of humankind.

It would be refreshing indeed to hear Liberal Democrats once again champion internationalism. They might first need to escape David Cameron’s suffocating embrace.

Viewed from Germany, large chunks of the British electorate are lurching to the right. Both Liberal Democrat silence, and the related revival of nationalism and xenophobia in British politics their silence supports, are troubling indeed.

In response to UKIP’s recent electoral performance David Cameron is clearly now intending to drag the coalition government further towards UKIP’s policies.

If he is the decent man and independent thinker folk thought, how much longer will Alistair Carmichael MP live with that worse than austere prospect?

Peter Hamilton
Berlin

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