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The Cult of St. Nicola

The camera shakes. A young child comes into view, the first of many, their gleaming eyes open and eager. They start talking in the coached manner of totalitarian regimes:

The children of North Korea would like to say ‘thank you’ to our Dear Leader. We are so grateful, thank you for always keeping us safe, working so hard, for being strong for us. Thank you for caring for every individual life and for always thinking about the children. Thank you, Dear Leader, thank you, thank you, thank you….

But this isn’t North Korea’s state run propaganda channel. This was, with the change of the country and its leader’s name, Scottish children, coached by their teacher to praise Nicola Sturgeon and broadcast on STV’s Twitter account.

Scottish nationalism insists that Scotland would be better off outside the UK, when all reputable economists can tell you that that would certainly not be the case. To distract from this harsh reality, Scottish Nationalist leaders have had to instil in their followers beliefs that transcend reason, into the realms of faith.

Is Scottish Nationalism a faith? In August 2018, Christopher McEleny, an SNP councillor in Inverclyde, was granted the right to sue The Ministry of Defence because, he claimed, his security clearance had been revoked because of his nationalist views. Ruling on the case, Judge Frances Eccles, said that support for Scottish independence is indeed a philosophical belief akin to a religion. 

(Although a ‘philosophical belief’ does sound like a contradiction in terms: philosophers engage in rational thought, but a ‘belief’ is not rational thought.)

Certainly, any discussion, online or off, will reveal Scottish nationalists behaving as if they are members of a religious cult: the words ‘belief’, ‘faith’, ‘hope’ figure frequently. Some even say that they ‘believe in Scotland’, and accuse their adversaries of not ‘believing in Scotland’, as if ‘Scotland’ were some sort of deity to be worshipped. 

In 2014, the Nationalists even had their own holy scripture, The White Paper. Now that even nationalists admit that it was, er, fanciful, there is no substitute. Yet holy writ descends daily from SNP headquarters in the form of propaganda distorting or denying truths, and the party faithful obediently reproduce it without, apparently, having given its meaning any thought. Many engage in leader-worship verging on idolatry. 

Nicola Sturgeon is an unlikely Messiah, but a host of image-makers and PR gurus have been hard at work burnishing her image since 2014, and the faithful have dutifully fallen into line. From her acclamation as leader, after the failed referendum, when she stilled the riotous cheers with arms raised in a messianic pose, to her now unchallenged leadership – ‘I decide’.

She is their High Priestess, leading daily prayers for the faithful: Scotland is destined for glorious success. If only Westminster/London/the UK/the Tories/the English weren’t holding us back, we could achieve our God-given potential. She could take us to a Scotland that is heaven on Earth.

Cast aside those within her own party who express doubts about the failure to press on to another referendum and about the treatment of Salmond, that latter day Lazarus. They are but minor heretics.

With an imperious gesture of dismissal, Ms Sturgeon can wave away any questions. About the Coronavirus: she had heard that England’s care home deaths (proportionately fewer than in Scotland) were ‘underreported’, or, when virus expert Professor Hugh Pennington commented on the infective level of care homes, she muttered ‘I don’t know where he got that figure’. If she doesn’t know, then the subject is of no account. Her pronouncements, unchallenged by a compliant media, are treated as gospel truth. 

And her followers lap it up. A young man posted a picture of himself with his life-size cardboard cut-out of Ms Sturgeon. ‘Robert’, only a few days ago, tweeted:

 Ma heart feels aw warm and fuzzy whenever Nicola Sturgeon is on the telly 

while another tweeted a picture of Sturgeon with a halo and the words 

This woman is so beautiful and pure I just want to cry

Then there was the woman who tweeted her gratitude: 

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Sturgeon comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, SNP, SNP. 

This is idolatry on a grand scale and certainly justifies the use of the word ‘cult’. I have only one question: whatever happened to the ‘canny Scot’?

Help us fight back

In less than a year there’s going to be a Scottish election, and there is no doubt that Nationalists will use it to sow further division and continue to agitate for a disastrous referendum.

We need to build our resources now and get more of these articles out. If you like what you read here, please drop us a monthly donation so that we can fight back against their ugly Nationalism. Click this link to go to our donation page.



Written by Jill Stephenson

Jill Stephenson is former professor of modern German history at the University of Edinburgh. She opposes breaking up the UK.

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Andy Morrison

A great read Jill!
The only thing being a Devine intervention (sic.) wasn’t able to help out this particular congregation…

alan bolton

The Scottish Government has, absolutely rightly, been granted the biggest share of media airtime during the coronavirus crisis and they have exploited that opportunity to the maximum. What is not right is that opposition parties in Scotland have not been allowed a reasonably appropriate amount of airtime to reply. The result is that our Union is now at great risk. The oratory skills of the First Minister of Scotland are very impressive and, though our opposition leaders are utterly dedicated, unfortunately they lack the charisma and oratory skill of the First Minister. Are we really to lose the unity of our island, all… Read more »

Stuart Winton

And, as Jill will probably know better than me, historians have associated the decline in organised religion in 19th century Europe with the rise in nationalist sentiment. To that extent it’s unsurprising that there are evident parallels between religion and nationalism.   Maybe the same could be said about football supporters – the chants, the emblems, the colours, and the veneration and adulation attached to its ‘gods’.   And, of course, in Scotland in particular there’s an intersection between religion and the ‘fitba’, and this has historically been associated with constitutional politics on the island of Ireland. Which, in turn,… Read more »


I don’t see any cult, I just see a competent politician which is hard to come by these days!


more utter pish – Scotland is doing a whole lot better at handling the Covid 19 epedemic than Westminster. and so proves again that it would be better off at going it alone than be tied down any longer……..

Wanted: a worthy opponent to Nicola Sturgeon (

All Under One Braincell