In This Review

Scotland Now: A Warning to the World
Scotland Now: A Warning to the World
By Tom Gallagher
Scotview Publications, 2015, 356 pp.

The recent rise of Scottish nationalism has exposed the ideological contradictions of British conservatism. Among British Conservatives are Burkean nationalists who reject Scottish nationalism, Thatcherites who warn Scots not to trim their public sector, extremists who criticize the pro-independence Scottish National Party (for being extremist, naturally), and believers in “one nation” conservatism in theory who are dividing the United Kingdom in practice by striking a cozy electoral bargain with Scottish nationalists. In politics, when partisans contemplate such contradictions, they tend to fulminate, and Gallagher is no exception: his book is twice as long as it need be, not least because it is bloated with sarcastic asides, accusations of cynical motives, and the persistent use of quotation marks to indicate irony. Gallagher manages to see everything except the one thing he cannot: the central role the Conservative Party has played in leading so many modern Scots to despise being part of the United Kingdom. Yet he adds something to the conventional view of the Scottish issue as merely an unfortunate disagreement between two well-meaning groups, idealistic nationalists and sensible unionists. He highlights that even without the independence movement, Scotland is becoming a populist one-party state. Governments in such places, he rightly warns, tend to be insular, intolerant, interventionist, and corrupt.