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3.0 out of 5 stars
14
3.0 out of 5 stars
The Illusion of Freedom: Scotland Under Nationalism
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on 14 March 2016
An excellent book - detailing the nastiness of nationalism and the thinly viled bigotry of the SNP. Written before the referendum it serves as a warning about political nationalism and the poision fruit it creates.
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on 6 May 2016
The abusive one-star reviews of this book are from “cybernats”, Scottish nationalists who defame and denounce their critics, Internet trolls who spew online vitriol. Prof. Gallagher discusses this, and other ways in which Scottish nationalists seek to close down debate, in this well-argued and prescient book.

The book begins with an overview of modern Scottish history, which stresses the differences between Scottish and English political culture. Prof. Gallagher then engages in an unsparing critique of the major political parties. He has little time for how they have dealt with the people of Scotland. Although Prof. Gallagher has voted for the Scottish National Party (SNP), including during the 2007 election which brought the party to power, he does not allow this to skew his perspective. Instead, he traces the decline of the Conservatives and Labour, contrasting this with the rise of the SNP. He discusses the folly of leading Conservatives, such as Malcolm Rifkind and Michael Forsyth, who initially favoured devolution but then abandoned it to support Margaret Thatcher’s centralism. Prof. Gallagher also describes in detail the patronage politics of Labour and how the party repeatedly took its working class base for granted, failing to rescue Scottish workers from the decline of traditional industries.

With a deep commitment to more participatory politics and for social justice, Prof. Gallagher cautions against the conformist thinking so common in nationalist-dominated Scotland and the tilt away from civic nationalism to one based on territory and lineage. Prof. Gallagher is immensely fair to Alex Salmond, the former leader of the SNP, repeatedly praising his abilities as a politician. Had Alex Salmond studied this book closely, he would have addressed the failings that Prof. Gallagher describes in detail, and would have had a better chance of winning the September 2014 independence referendum. Instead, Salmond’s response to this book was to term Gallagher a “nutty professor.” Such an unwillingness to listen to criticism and the vilification of opposing voices are among the unattractive features of Scottish nationalism that Prof. Gallagher identifies. Salmond lost the vote and the next day resigned as head of the Scottish executive.
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on 24 March 2015
No surprise to see closed minded Cybernats denigrate an excellent academic study. A sure sign he has touched a nerve or two among the unquestioning faithful.

Gallagher presents a pithy history of Scottish politics in a most engaging manner. He is clear on the miserable failure of Labour to do anything other than take their dominant position in Scotland for granted; a failure that has opened the door to the simplistic, economically illiterate and persona led dogma of Nationalism.

A core message is that successive and current Scottish Govts have failed to address the very real but politically toxic problems that blight people in Scotland. Salmond and the SNP have chosen typically populist and patronising tactics (pageantry, grievance based history, centralisation and blind assertion) ahead of collaborative, bottom up redistributive policies that can make a difference to the lives of those most at risk.

Scotland is at a crossroads and Tom Gallagher's erudite book points the way to a future more akin to Germany than Yugoslavia. I hope you read it.
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on 30 September 2014
This is a fairly predictable book by an academic/talking head who has made a career attacking the SNP and writes often extremely bad articles on newspaper websites about how the SNP are basically negative nationalists etc. The fact that we may be governed at Westminster by people who complain about immigration, who talk up 'British values' as if the UK invented freedom of speech etc is of no consequence to this professor, who blithely pontificates about how the Scottish political elite is anti-English, tight-knit etc.
Meanwhile, we're run by a bunch of people who went toe the same public school in London, but that's apparently 'internationalist' and open to the world.
Prof Gallagher is Godwin's Law with a PhD, and while I've read his books on Romania and found them ok, this is extremely biased, slanted and often unsustainable stuff.
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on 20 March 2014
Assuming the content of Mr Gallagher book is well researched and factual it confirms the view that I have had for many years - our MSPs (in all parties) are certainly no better, mostly worse, than the MPs sitting in Westminster.

The overall behavior and competence of the SNP and it’s leaders is certainly a concern – a must read for all us Scots before the 18th September 2014, at least that way we know what we could be letting ourselves in for, and certainly can't say we weren't warned!!!!!!
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on 27 October 2014
An excellent work. Manages to highlight the many flaws the independence argument had, and what it still sees fit to use today.
Thankfully the "no" vote was enough to end that argument for at least another decade. By then, who knows what will be presented as an opposition?
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on 10 February 2014
The many chips on the author's shoulder are evident. It seems as if the SNP are both fools and amateurs and yet so sophisticated that Salmond is turning Scotland into North Korea without us knowing it! This despite the huge democratic landlside victory of the SNP!

Alex Massie of the Spectator called the authour 'raving' and 'paranoid' and pointed out that his contradictions make no sense whatsoever. Leave this well alone.
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on 13 April 2012
A truly woeful read, hacked out by the author - who draws one astonishingly negative assumption after the other about the SNP Goverrnment's progressive work since coming into power some five years ago. For example, the SNP are light on policy, and heavy on identity. Anyone who has lived in Scotland, or paid even scant attention to the Scottish political scene these past years (especially when compared to the appalling Lab-lib coaliton) can nevertheless find adequate use for the text as a convenient doorstop. Hamster owners can also enjoy several years worth of cage lino. A disappointing read, leaving one with the impression that the author doesn't merely struggle with political fact, but that he also fundamentally fails to understand the opportunities at hand for Scotland itself. When oh when will the unfounded scaremongering end from the British Nationalists? - who seem ill at ease, and certainly ill equipped with fact nor reason, to confidently join the referendum debate. Loathsome stuff from a frustrated Brit-nat.
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on 23 May 2012
After the earlier negative reviews, it wouldn't harm to make the following points:
The author is frank about why the British connection in Scotland has been eroded. He makes no last-ditch defence of Britishness in this book. Gallagher argues instead that the SNP brand of nationism is very sub-standard with separatism offering no effective substitute for the extensive autonomy currently available to Scotland. He suggests that in our consumerist, post-religious age, the SNP has promoted a sense of victimhood among the Scots, especially those in younger age-groups. He faults the SNP for failing to offer much more than a "Lets Bash London" level of politics with little to indicate what practical vision the party has for an independent Scotland. The author has the measure of Alex Salmond who presents himself as a latter day Louis XIV, believing himself to be a ruler who is Scotland incarnate. The book manages to combine an accessible writing style with serious analysis and it deals with questions about contemporary Scotland which the Scottish media usually sidesteps. When published in late 2009, it predicted that Scotland would move in an increasingly populist direction, with Salmond dominating the scene; so far the author doesn't seem to have been proven very wrong.
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on 25 May 2010
This book is clearly Bias Against Nationalism from the foreword.
The Writer assumes that an independent scotland would be ruled by nationalism
until judgement day-I disagree with this book and the publisher.
Is there a nation that isn't dominated by capitalists and the rich and powerful.
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