This week Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party and unexpected media star of the UK's recent general election is on a 'charm offensive' tour in the US. The amity of Americans and Scots is natural and well documented; from their shared egalitarian culture, the large numbers of 19th century immigrants to America and the genuine charm tourists experience north of the Border, not just in scenery but in person.
But of course having a lot of time for Scotland is not the same as agreeing with the SNP. For at the center of contemporary Scots nationalism is an anti-English sentiment that overshadows its pro-Scottish credentials, and merges with the anti-Americanism of the far left everywhere. Honestly, these guys make Bernie Sanders look like Rand Paul and Barack Obama look like Ronald Reagan.
Take away the media savvy and cheeky persona and you will uncover SNP hostility to anyone that has the temerity to question their proposals. It is true of the torrent of online hate the famed 'Cybernats' directed at critics of independence like J.K. Rowling or recently departed (and hounded) Scottish Liberal Democrat Charles Kennedy. It is true of their bullying disregard of centuries old protocol in the legislature. It is seen in double-talking reminiscent of Orwell; Nicola Sturgeon reassured an SNP vote in the general election was not one for Scots Independence... right until the 'dramatic' morning after the vote.
Seeing as Sturgeon is in the US, it is topical to underscore the SNP's anti-Americanism, which has made an unlikely return to UK politics by way of Hadrian's Wall (Labour Party spin doctors sensibly eradicated most of this stuff from the British left in the 1980s). The Scottish First Minister is in the US ostensibly to promote links but wants exemptions north of the border to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that would otherwise bind America and European countries closer together.
From their rhetoric on public spending you would think that government is the fountainhead of all that is good, because that is what the far left believes. The rest of us are lucky they let us make the money they spend. Their statist vision for an independent Scotland is the exact opposite of the laissez-faire values that made the US the powerhouse it is, rooted in commerce. Put simply, SNP stalwarts loathe capitalism and its champions.
But it is on the question of defence that this all becomes rather more serious. An independent Scotland would oppose American foreign policy and prevent some of the best units in the British Army from joining their brothers in arms. It's sad enough that Obama's terms have led, paradoxically, to the possible necessity of stationing US cruise missiles in Britain again (and don't worry, we will welcome them). To make matters worse, it has always been the mission of the SNP to disarm Britain of its own Trident submarine system, with targets agreed by the Pentagon and permanently ensconced in the side of Scotland. Vladimir Putin can only be delighted this has come at a time when Finland has put 900,000 reservists on notice and the Poles are breaking out the brick-bats in fear of invasion.
Yet it is this very talk of independence that is most calculated to tug at the heart strings of Americans (and prompted the SNP's Alex Salmond to cry hypocrisy when even Barack came out in favour of the Union). Any analogy with the American experience is false. English soldiers last pacified the Highlands hundreds of years before the Union Army settled the West and a Scot inherited the English throne to unite the kingdoms 150 years before the United States. The Smith commission agreed devolution of powers to Scotland last year that exceeds the federal freedom the Constitution gives States (and which the American left would deny them). And by American standards, the Scottish Government is an elective dictatorship because (McFly, hello!) there is no separation of powers. At least Westminster has the poor old Lords as a check on executive largesse.
In fact, the top-down Jacobite tendency of Scottish politics the SNP represents is a form of frustrated imperialism common to nationalists movements all across Europe, still seething they never became the power Britain did in the 19th century or the US did in the 20th. When Scottish autocracy failed in Nova Scotia, or to make it down to London in 1715 and 1745, they were at the forefront of the oppression of Whig colonists in America a few decades later. And now they are coming again!
So, sure, John Stewart and the NGO crowd should welcome Nicola Sturgeon, share a dram, recognise what a talented politician she is. But that is all she is, and she should leave the hate and the crazy stuff alone at home as much as on her best behaviour stateside.