Nationalist parties tend to be authoritarian, so many of these developments may be no surprise to informed commentators.
But is this really what the people of Scotland thought they were getting when the SNP promised to fight for freedom from the United Kingdom?
It may seem inappropriate to compare the SNP with right-wing nationalist governments in Poland or Hungary. Unfortunately as the Scottish government, led by Nicola Sturgeon, heads in an ever more authoritarian direction, such comparisons are increasingly justified.
Examples of this tendency range from the trivial to the far more serious. Most recently, Donald Trump’s comments about Muslim immigrants, led to calls from the SNP for him to be banned from entering the country as a “hate preacher”. While many may agree with this, the former SNP leader Alex Salmond went one step further. He not only endorsed a ban, but said Scotland should be banning ‘all Donald Trumps’. It reminds me of a nightclub bouncer compiling a list of undesirables who aren’t allowed entry on a Saturday night. It would be interesting to see Salmond’s list of who should and shouldn’t be allowed into the country.
It’s not just differing views which the SNP are uncomfortable with, but differing lifestyles. The Scottish government are currently seeking to ban the sale of cheap alcohol in an attempt to control the behaviour of Scottish drinkers. Unlike the English or Welsh who have resisted such moves, the SNP believe we Scots can’t be trusted with cheap alcohol. The only reason it’s not in force is because the EU court raised concerns about restrictions on free trade.
A more sinister development is the SNP plan for a named person or ‘state guardian’ for every child. This will grant the state unprecedented powers over families. Proponents of the law advocate that it provides a point of contact for families. But the status quo already has various routes for families needing support. The real change is the Scottish Government having arbitrary and intrusive powers into every family in Scotland. Former chairman of Scotland’s Children Panel Advisory Group Joe Knight described it as “an erosion of parental rights and responsibilities.”
The disturbing point is not just that every child will have a named person intervening in their lives, but the SNP presumption that every child needs such a person. On this issue as on many others of personal responsibility, the SNP government is convinced it knows best.
The SNP’s super ID database is even more troubling. It’s not exactly clear how our private information would be monitored under the scheme, but filling in an innocuous form at your local NHS dentist could result in the information being circulated to 120 public bodies, including Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Privacy campaigners have called on the Scottish government to ditch the scheme, as it will allow widespread data mining and profiling. Tellingly, the proposals are not being treated as primary legislations and are being forced through without parliamentary debate. On this issue as well, the SNP are allowing little dissent.
Arguably, the most authoritarian development of all is the SNP’s passing of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act. Under this law, fans’ behaviour must be monitored in order to see whether it merits an arrest. Yet so broad is the legislation that fans can be questioned and even arrested simply for the clothes they’re wearing, or the songs they’re singing.
The SNP’s approach to Donald Trump and football fans is remarkably similar. Rather than enlighten, persuade or educate, they opt for the lazy illiberal option of simply banning them.
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