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Scotland first Asian MSP?

by Sunny on 3rd July, 2006 at 1:04 am    

This is a brilliant story:

The Scottish National Party says it is on course to have Scotland’s first Asian MSP sitting at Holyrood. Glasgow councillor Bashir Ahmad is among the candidates the party has listed as those it most wants elected to the Scottish Parliament next year.

Mr Ahmad, who came to Scotland from Pakistan at the age of 21, has been president of the Pakistan Welfare Association five times. In 1995 he founded Scots Asians for Independence, which has aimed to build support for the SNP among the Scottish Asian community.

Mr Ahmad said party members had “righted the wrong” of Asians having no voice in the parliament. He said: “The lack of any Asian or ethnic minority voice in the Scottish Parliament has been felt deeply in my community.”

Courtesy of Ministry of Truth, who says: “That’s what being British is all about - not one single homogeneous identity but multiple identities existing without coming into conflict, all of which add up to an individual person.“. I completely agree.

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  1. Amir — on 3rd July, 2006 at 3:43 am  


    That’s what being British is all about - not one single homogeneous identity but multiple identities existing without coming into conflict, all of which add up to an individual person.

    It is a tiresome truism to say that people have multiple identities and allegiances; they always have done (whether you’re from Scotland or Scunthorpe or Scandinavia). However multiple and hybrid their identities people still need to connect to the wider social and political entities of which they are a part.

    Societies are not [I repeat ‘not’] held together by common interest and justice alone. If they were, the sacrifices that their members make for each other including sharing resources and giving up their lives in wars and national emergencies would be inexplicable. They need emotional bonding … that in turn springs from a common sense of belonging, from the recognition of each other as members of a single community. And that requires a broadly shared sense of national identity – a sense of who they are, what binds them together and makes them members of this community rather than some other.

  2. Amir — on 3rd July, 2006 at 4:18 am  

    ‘Ministry of Truth’ (inverted commas mandatory),

    “multiple identities existing without coming into conflict, all of which add up to an individual person”

    Wow, golly gosh, jeez,… how observant of him… human beings have multiple identities? Shock; horror; shudder. I mean – for fucks sakes, you might as well write a PhD thesis on ‘Grass is green: Discuss’ or ‘Sky is blue: Discuss’ if you wanted a doctorate in Stating the Obvious. A neo-Nazi or a Peronist fascist has multiple identities; green grocers and bus drivers have multiple identities; little kids in primary schools have multiple identities of sorts… etc. For all I know, dogs and cats may display some limited forms of heterogeneity.

    It does nothing to alter the following “hard” facts: cultures clash and value-systems tug in opposite directions (in extremis… leading to a vortex of violence and hatred, vandalism, intimidation and anarchy). The exclusive pursuit of private interests and ‘unfettered identities’ erodes the network of social environments on which we all depend, and is destructive to our shared experiment in democratic self-government.

    Man is not an atomised creature.

    [Incidentally, Amartya Sen’s inadequate and rather superficial polemic on personal identity is ultimately inferior to the one by Harvard Professor Derek Parfit in Reasons and Persons.]

  3. Amir — on 3rd July, 2006 at 4:55 am  

    As Bosnia, Malaysia, Nigeria, and the Philippines go to show, human beings can’t function properly in civil society unless their co-nationalists hold the same basic values and experiences. So long as we’re a multicultural society, Great Britain will continue to become more and more racially Balkanised. Just look at the ghettoisation in Oldham, Rochdale, Bradford, Birmingham, Leicester, Tower Hamlets, Bethnal Green & Bo., etc. But, oh wait… I forgot:

    [Courtesy of ‘Ministry of Truth’]

    “Forget all this crap about the search for a ‘British identity’ - you’d be better served setting out on a Snark hunt”

    That is the joy of being a progressive, isn’t it? Whenever your views are rejected by experience, common sense and tradition, it is because you are ahead of the rest of the population, never because you are eccentric or wrong or just plain arrogant, or because they are not convinced by your arguments.


  4. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 3rd July, 2006 at 5:11 am  


    Most people are sent to war and when they are on the front lines, I doubt they are thinking about what they have in common with their neighbor, or about thier neighbor, or their wives, children, etc.

    Aww, I can see fire works outside of my window. The only cool thing about the 4th of July.

    You British people dont have economic segregation. Poor people live with other poor people and those poor people in the inner city happen to be black and brown. There arent too many whites living in South Central Los Angeles, nor are there too many blacks or living in Beverly Hills. East L.A. is where you find most of the Latinos. Even rich black folks live among other rich black folks. People are ghetto by nature.

  5. Desi Italiana — on 3rd July, 2006 at 7:35 am  

    “Even rich black folks live among other rich black folks.”

    Even the Fresh Prince of Bel Air? :)

  6. Unity — on 3rd July, 2006 at 9:48 am  


    Just because something seems self-evident to you does not mean that its not worth mentioning or even celebrating - if that story tells us one thing its that Mr Ahmad has found his sense of ‘Britishness’, and indeed Scottishness, all on his own without the for the state to try and define it for him, which is what I meant when I said:

    “Forget all this crap about the search for a ‘British identity’ - you’d be better served setting out on a Snark hunt”

    Should mention, I suppose, that Snark is capitalised as a reference to the mythical beast of Lewis Caroll’s poem and not as a reference to being ’snarky’

    I wonder if that comment has caused some confusion as to my intent - I’m certainly not suggesting in any way that British Asians should give up on the idea of finding common ground and common values with other communities or that they should forget about developing a sense of their own British identity - what I am saying clearly is that is personal journey and it for each of us to find our own sense of identity, not have that identity defined for us by the state.

    I, and many others, deeply dislike the idea of a state-sanctioned and approved version of Britishness, not least because if the state is permitted to define what it means to be British then, by extension, it can also define certain characteristics and values as being un-British. Allow that to happen and before you know it the unquiet ghost of Joe McCarthy with be stalking the corridors of power with all that that entails.

  7. sonia — on 3rd July, 2006 at 12:02 pm  

    “However multiple and hybrid their identities people still need to connect to the wider social and political entities of which they are a part”.

    “And that requires a broadly shared sense of national identity”.

    is there any reason to assume these multiple identities wouldn’t involve a ‘national’ one as well? :-)

    i could of course go a step further - taking your own argument - and say similarly despite all these multiple national identities, if these nation-states want to co-exist and not clash, then they need to subscribe to a global identity. why stop at the boundary of the nation-state? it’s hardly as if nations aren’t busy fighting each other - so surely the suggestion should then be -well in the same way people posit a national identity is needed for ‘connecting’ -why then maybe we need a global identity for ‘connecting’ nation-states.

  8. sonia — on 3rd July, 2006 at 12:06 pm  

    Of course a lot of people do stop at the boundary of the nation-state because they view national identities as mutually excluding other national identities. in much the same way as some people view some particular facet of their identity as exclusive of another facet. so there is a good reason to emphasize ‘hybrid and multiple’ as otherwise that’s precisely how such ‘clashes’ are encouraged..

  9. Sunny — on 3rd July, 2006 at 12:45 pm  

    Amir your sarcastic tone is amusingly different from the line you take when you have your traditional straw man, multi-culturalism, to hit at. During those polemics you worry about society combusting just because people have different tastes in music, life and even politics. If this guy had not been going for the MSP but some other non-governmental organisation, no doubt you’d be telling us how his decision is a direct result of obsessive multiculturalism and how Britain was going to pot etc etc. Give it a rest will you.

  10. justforfun — on 3rd July, 2006 at 1:19 pm  

    Sunny - A very interesting development.

    I’m ignoring Amirs comments when I ask you this so as not to confuse things.

    I have to get my head around what Mr Ahmad stands for. My first thoughts are - on the face of it is he saying that Asians born in Scotland should campaign for an independant Scotland? That Scots Asians will have a different and BETTER future for themselves when the British State has been consigned to history. That the severing of a British Asian identity is the unfortunate consequance of this but a price worth paying. Perhaps he is correct because there actually isn’t a British Asian identity in the first place and he is only stating something that is a pipe dream? Is it that there are English Asians, Welsh Asians, Scots Asians etc and that British Asians is just really English Asians assuming the Asians in Scotland think like them?

    Devolution is getting very layered is it not? and we will live in interesting times. An although we have discussed this before , I feel for those who have a mixed Scotish/English outlook and who will over time be forced to choose one or the other. Or am I being melodramatic?


    I am completely ambivalent but have I read the article correctly?


  11. Jai — on 3rd July, 2006 at 2:38 pm  


    =>”why stop at the boundary of the nation-state?…..why then maybe we need a global identity for ‘connecting’ nation-states.”

    One already exists — it’s called Humanity, or “Insaaniyat” (to use the desi phrase, including the various positive implications of the term).

    The fact that many people do not necessarily subscribe to this identity first and foremost (before other considerations of nationality, religion etc) is, of course, part of the problem, and a major cause of so many of the troubles the world is currently experiencing and indeed has experienced throughout human history.

    But I’m sure you knew all that already ;)

  12. Don — on 3rd July, 2006 at 4:09 pm  

    ‘maybe we need a global identity’

    Can there be an ‘us’ without a ‘them’?

    Only when our reptillian overlords reveal themselves will humanity see itself as one. And then it will be too late.

  13. Amir — on 3rd July, 2006 at 4:40 pm  

    Sunny, once again…

    “If this guy had not been going for the MSP but some other non-governmental organisation, no doubt you’d be telling us how his decision is a direct result of obsessive multiculturalism.”

    As ever, you haven’t bothered to read a single word or respond to a single point– my beef was with the “Ministry of truth”; not, as you intimate, with Mr. Ahmed. On the contrary, I am absolutely thrilled by Mr Ahmed’s recent success. Considering he is a member of the SNP, I take it he is a very proud and patriotic representative of indigenous Scots and legal migrants, Scottish traditions and close-knit communities. I can assure you Mr. Hundal, he does not share your irrational faith in multiculturalism. Whenever I read this passage in George Orwell’s ‘Notes on Nationalism’, I am reminded of you:

    (i) Anglophobia. Within the intelligentsia, a derisive and mildly hostile attitude towards Britain is more or less compulsory, but it is an unfaked emotion in many cases. During the war it was manifested in the defeatism of the intelligentsia, which persisted long after it had become clear that the Axis powers could not win. Many people were undisguisedly pleased when Singapore fell or when the British were driven out of Greece, and there was a remarkable unwillingness to believe in good news, e.g., Alamein, or the number of German planes shot down in the Battle of Britain. English left-wing intellectuals did not, of course, actually want the Germans or Japanese to win the war, but many of them could not help getting a kick out of seeing their own country humiliated, and wanted to feel that the final victory would be due to America, or perhaps America, and not to Britain.

    Now, let me re-quote a few of your own comments on the Niall Ferguson article :

    (I) Can you imagine the British being uncivilised and bloody thirsty? Surely not! I mean haven’t they had thousands of years of great enlightened culture?

    (II) Allows them to get away with this rubbish and keep going on about how great British civilisation has always been (Melanie Phillips for example) for thousands of years.

    And yet, paradoxically, you devoted an entire thread [yes, an entire thread!] to a provocative photograph of an angry Sikh radical burning an Indian flag in the streets of London during an annual protest against the 1984 Sikh pogroms. You hated it. But why so? How can you justify this reflex-emotion to flag burning? Surely, according to your own multi-cultural logic, I can just as easily say that these bullish Sikhs have multiple identities and multiple allegiances? Adopting your own line-of-argument on the Niall Ferguson thread, I could just as easily accuse you of trying to whitewash (no pun intended) the 1984 Sikh pogroms.

    The hypocrisy is shameless, nauseating and unpardonable


  14. Ravi Naik — on 3rd July, 2006 at 5:24 pm  

    “but many of them could not help getting a kick out of seeing their own country humiliated

    Have you been reading Ann Coulter’s books lately? Equating the ‘progressive left’ movement with being ‘traitors to the Nation’ is incredibly lame.

    You have a bad habit of mixing things to make a point. Surely even you can distinguish a discussion about how some are rewriting the role of the british empire and the maturity of burning the Indian flag.

    “The hypocrisy is shameless, nauseating and unpardonable”

    Another bad habit is behaving like a drama queen. :)

  15. Sunny — on 3rd July, 2006 at 5:44 pm  

    The hypocrisy is shameless, nauseating and unpardonable

    YES AN ENTIRE THREAD! OMG! The world has ended!!

    You really are Melanie Phillip’s godson aren’t you Amir. Shriek shriek shriek!!

  16. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 3rd July, 2006 at 6:52 pm  

    Desi Italiana,

    And you know they were the only one in the neighborhood of their kind. Right? Which proves my point dont it?

  17. Arif — on 3rd July, 2006 at 6:54 pm  

    Sonia, Jai,

    (Firstly thanks for kind comments to me elsewhere)

    Given that our insaaniat is always one of our potential identities, what makes others more important? I think we can’t avoid different partial identities becoming important because of events and awareness of injustices (of which there is a never-ending supply). We need them to organise campaigns against injustice, among other things.

    I would argue that the problem is more about when our identities become hostile. My interpretation is that this happens primarily when people feel in competition for resources with others. And that is what makes nationalism so dangerous as an identity where local cultures (particularly consumption) rely on resources which are not in the territory of the State. However the increasing issue for “civilisation clashers” is the fear of cultures seeking to impose themselves (particularly social rights and norms) on one another. This is also non-State issue, which is just an issue of mutual respect. For me this is a spiritual issue, but in the absence of respect, I guess it be formally instituted if insaaniat/human rights include economic, social and cultural rights.

    Anyway I think fear, rather than identity itself is the issue. The State is a structure which does build on and institutionalise some of our fears, as well as providing means for oppression. But changing structures does not seem to alter spirituality in a simple way (I am thinking of how revolutions tend to betray their ideals). Regardless of how we draw our identities, we need to work on our fears and some of our competitive habits to make insaaniat resonate with us more than our other identities.

    Easier said than done, but working on ourselves is always something we can do.

  18. jamal — on 3rd July, 2006 at 8:25 pm  

    So scotland has a bit of parlimentary Asian diversity at last. Great news. Lets hope he provides a relevant representation, and many more follow.

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