Nicola Sturgeon just can’t help herself. Whatever the issue, whatever the event, her response, or as she prefers to term it, Scotland’s response is filtered through the distorting, divisive prism of nationalism.
So the horrific bombing in Manchester has elicited gestures of solidarity from countries as far apart as France and Dubai which projected the Union Jack on to landmark buildings. Just over a year ago, the SNP projected the Belgian flag on to Edinburgh Castle as a tribute to the dozens of people murdered by terrorists in Brussels. Why didn’t the Scottish Government consider Manchester’s victims to be worthy of the same public gesture?
Then there was Nicola Sturgeon’s decision not to call in the army to bolster and relieve the police in Scotland during last week’s designation of the UK threat level to critical. Several reasons were advanced for the decision not to follow the rest of the UK: Scotland’s superior police force and there being no “specific” threat in Scotland. Both these arguments have been disputed by security experts. They believe that Scottish cities like Glasgow are no less terrorist targets than Manchester.
Whatever the truth of the matter, which we will likely never know, Nicola Sturgeon’s decision projects the exceptionalist myth that Scotland is somehow different and better than the rest of the UK. And it enhances the image of the First Minister as someone who is, or should be, the head of a separate state. Such delusions make Scotland more, not less, vulnerable to terrorist attacks.