Scots nationalists are driving a political cultural renaissance claims writer Irvine Welsh

Scots nationalists are driving a political cultural renaissance claims writer Irvine Welsh

WITH the election one week away focus continues to build on Scotland’s nationalists who are hotly tipped to play a key role in the British Government. 

Trainspotting and Filth author Irvine Welsh has put forward that Ireland, as well as England and Wales, can be part of the shift.

“There is a whole cultural renaissance happening for a generation in Scotland, the politics that emerged around the independence referendum is owned by young people,” he said. 

“The UK as it stands is an elitist, imperialist state and we are in the last vestiges of it. Without the welfare state and NHS and those post-war reforms all you are left with is a device to transfer money from everybody else to the rich, so if you dissolve that state you can then operate on a more democratic basis.” 

Welsh believes that “post-United Kingdom” Ireland could feasibly become part of a “shared geographical and cultural entity”.

He added: “The people of Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales could have any kind of unity they wanted through government, trade or corporation based on the Scandinavian model.

"Norway, Sweden and Denmark don’t have the hassle of borders, they co-operate economically and socially but they still have their individual identity, it’s like having your cake and eating it rather than having this elite that absorbs everything.

"You could have new sporting and cultural arrangements with Ireland because you would have countries coming in with mutual respect rather than the weight of history.” 

The author also pointed to Ireland as a constructive example of breaking away from the undermining power of a nation state.

“On gaining independence Ireland marketed itself to the diaspora in a confident and positive way, independence puts a country on the map and gives you an identity of your own,” he said.

The 56-year-old who returns to his home city three months of the year also suggested Edinburgh’s statues are in need of a major policy renewal. 

Irish revolutionary and socialist James Connolly is honoured in Chicago (where Welsh now lives) and in his other former home of Dublin but the Scottish capital where Welsh and Connolly were born has failed to provide a fitting memorial, said the author.

“If you walk along Princes Street and around the centre you see all the unionists, imperialists and right wing apologists like Sir Walter Scott or the Duke of Wellington. It’s all about the Victorian era but what about heroes like John Maclean and James Connolly, what about Robert the Bruce and William Wallace?” he asked. 

“I’m sure in an independent Scotland there might be a James Connolly Day — you can imagine people with half their face painted in the St Andrew’s flag and the other half in the Irish tricolour where they drink 80 Shilling in the afternoon and Guinness at night.” 

The writer goes on to say that some have become “locked into a ghetto culture”.

“It’s positive to be proud of your origins and tap into that and enjoy it but not to the point you become imprisoned by a bigoted perspective and see the world through only one lens,” he added.

The Hibernian supporter looks to Belfast as an example of a positive shift despite some negative forecasts about the political culture of the North worsening with the possible collapse of the union.

"I was at George Best's funeral and it was a non-sectarian social event, you had Ulster flags, union flags, Irish tricolours and the flags of Hibs and other teams associated with Best-there was even one from San Jose Earthquakes.

"It was a incredible thing to be part of and not in a contrived way. It showed the possibilities ahead in having strong initiatives around truth and reconciliation, education and a strong economy-when these things are in place people start to lose interest in the confines of narrow identities.

"Because I support Scottish independence I get called a nationalist but it is far more internationalist in approach. The aim is to be a small non-imperialist, self sustaining nation with logical principles and a sound economy.

"We shouldn't have an economy where vast amounts of money are siphoned off to an elitist, neo-liberal and pro austerity government. An economy should be for it's people both democratically and locally," he adds.

The former Labour supporter feels some sorrow about the demise of the party but suggests they perhaps have one last gasp.

"I hope the SNP win every seat in Scotland by a massive majority, obviously I'm sad about what the Labour party has become but I've accepted that," he says.

"Tou also have to accept that this is a different era, it's a de-industrialised era- I don't think it can be reformed now, it's had its day, it's had its epoch. Their last chance is to reform and become a civic nationalist party in England, decentralised and ready to offer devolution to any region along similar lines to the SNP."

Irvine Welsh's A Decent Ride is out now on Jonathan Cape