Supporters of Scottish independence should be nice to the English, a senior Scottish National Party official has said.
Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, said he had “zero tolerance” for anti-English sentiment, adding that “there is absolutely no room for it”.
Last summer Jim Sillars, who served as an SNP MP in the 1990s, claimed the party had an agenda of “grievance and fabricated grievances” against Westminster that fuels anti-English and antagonizes Unionist voters.
Mr Sillars said in a memoir: ‘I don’t think we should overstate the nuance of anti-English that exists in Scotland, but it is there and the grudge and grudge tactics of the SNP leadership play into it and keeps her alive. ”
However, in an interview with Chopper’s Politics podcast, which you can listen to using the audio player above, Mr Blackford said: ‘I would never allow anti-English sentiment to exist in any way whatever, whether it comes from anyone within the SNP or wider Scottish society.
Asked if anti-English was ‘like racism’, Mr Blackford replied: ‘Yes. But one of the things I tried to do in the last few years of Brexit [process] is to emphasize that people are welcome in Scotland.
“And I want Scotland to be a success. We need people to come and come and visit and not just visit, come and live with us north of the border as well.”
Mr Blackford said many English people had joined the SNP to support the independence movement.
He said: “The SNP is a civic nationalist party. We have a thriving branch of the SNP [on Skye], an extremely high percentage of people in the SNP were not born in Scotland.
“They may be from England, they may be from elsewhere, but this is about their future. They have chosen to live in Scotland. They are part of the history of Scotland, of the future of Scotland. There is no room for anti-English of any kind.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants to hold a referendum on Scottish independence by the end of next year.
Mr Blackford said: ‘If we can get the legislation through the Scottish Parliament’s agreement on the referendum, as we did before 2014 with the Edinburgh agreement, there is no reason why this cannot happen in 2023.”
And Mr Blackford insisted an independent Scotland could use sterling before eventually joining the European Union.
“The guarantee I can give everyone in Scotland is that the pound they have in their wallet will be the pound they have in their wallet the day after independence. That won’t change.”
He continued: “The principle that Scotland would become a member of a European Union is one which I believe has a right of support throughout the community.”
Mr Blackford even speculated that an independent Scotland could use its position as the top wind power producer would mean an independent Scotland would have to ‘make sure we keep the lights on in England’.