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From the archives: Andrew Wilson on the SNP and Britishness

KENNY FARQUHARSON WRITES: One of the most fascinating developments in SNP strategy in recent months has been its embrace of Britishness – the Queen, the pound, shared embassies, shared central bank, shared military capability and – most of all – the strength of the social union.

It took a long time for the SNP to get here – it isn’t long ago that John Swinney was urging his party in a conference speech to “tell the Brits to get off”. But way back in 1999, a young SNP MSP was exploring this territory, at some considerable risk to himself.

Andrew Wilson MSP did a lecture at a fringe meeting at SNP conference, which I chaired. In it, he posited a kind of Scottish nationalism that was compatible with a British identity. It was, to say the least, controversial, and Wilson was roundly condemned by many fellow Nationalists.

And yet his comments were prescient in many ways, and still make instructive reading now, 13 years on. The section on Britishness comes towards the end of the lecture. The comments at the beginning, criticising the media, are a response to the furore caused by press reports that flagged up the content of the speech the Sunday before the conference.

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