Having a great email discussion with Scottish Unionist at the moment (which will, I think, make its way into the public domain shortly) regarding the nationalist-unionist debate. But it got me thinking about something. Political parties in Britain to be precise.
On the debate we are having (whether Scotland should be independent or not) I clearly define myself as a nationalist. I want Scotland to be independent from the UK. I think that the people of Scotland should be sovereign, I believe in the principle of national self-determination and I guess to all intents and purposes I'm a civic or cultural nationalist (its not about ethnicity).
So that's fairly clear, right?
But I also believe in small government (which in the States would make me a Republican) and in small step change - which is a Conservative doctrine I think. Despite considering abortion wholly distasteful I'd consider myself pro-choice (it is not government's place to decide) and I accept John Stuart Mill's "Harm Principle" - a principle tied very closely to Liberalism. And I very much agree with the principle of Bevan's National Health Service, that it should be free at the point of us. And Bevan himself described a free health service as "pure Socialism".
Apart from pointing out how mixed up my political views are, there was a point to that. As a nationalist, or, at least for me, it is easy enough to reconcile those views. But presumably there are other students of politics, activists, even perhaps MPs or MSPs who have similarly hodge-podge political views. What I mean is, they don't fit neatly into the Conservative, Liberal or Socialist boxes that politics in Britain was meant to be about.
I use the past tense there for a reason. Today's Conservatives are pro-and-anti Europe, the Liberals are for and against freedom of expression and Labour are for and against privatisation.
What's my point? Simply this. It doesn't really matter what your politics are. In the contemporary world, political parties will tailor their views to your own. They've taken Kirchheimer's idea of a "catch-all" party and moved it to extremes. Political parties no longer represent political ideologies. "Conservative", "Liberal" and "Socialist" have become obsolete terms because they only tell part of your - and their story. Politics isn't what it once was, a debate between two unshakeable and unbreakable principles. It is about compromise, about saying and doing things that will appeal to everyone, about doing what is good for the country in the eyes of as many as possible.
Hang on a minute though - isn't that what nationalism is about?