Brian Wilson: What’s the collective term for backers of the union then?

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The Herald has reported that arch unionist person who supports the union, Brian Wilson, thinks that there is a deliberate attempt to sectarianise Scottish politics. This underhand project is being carried out, according to Wilson, by the labelling of those who support the union as unionists.


Mr Wilson said when Nationalists grouped supporters of the UK together as “Unionists” it “obviously mirror images Ireland, where the political divide is also about the constitution”.

He said: “One of the worrying things I see going on here is… a very deliberate attempt being made to sectarianise Scottish politics. That is very dangerous.

As a unionist supporter of the union, you would think Wilson would be happy with this phenomenon.

For if it were true, it would be a great way not to win independence as, according to the last census, Protestants outnumber Catholics by 2 to 1 in Scotland.

Instead he is filled by fake outrage as he can’t muster real outrage as he knows he made the conspiracy up. He and other unionist supporters of union are determined to spread a false perception of the ulsterisation of Scottish politics. In doing so they are the ones trying to spread division and they do so with scant evidence to support their views.

The truth is, nationalists use the term unionist because it has utility. It is the obvious choice of word to use as a collective term for those who support the union.

It is no more sectarian than calling a group of crows a murder. It is no more dangerous than calling a gang of owls a parliament and it’s a damn site safer than calling a sleuth of bears a posse.

Yet, there is probably a point or two hidden in Wilson’s comments. Unionism might not be the best term to use.

People like Wilson are nationalists not unionists as the UK is not a true union. The union aspect is just window dressing as the UK is a unitary state with some devolution. In column after column Wilson warns us of the dangers of nationalism, seemingly oblivious to the fact that as a unionists supporter of union, he is a nationalist himself.

The other point hidden in Wilson’s rant against using the word is that the word, although perfectly descriptive, is tainted by its usage in Ireland.

It is a word that has been associated with violence and oppression so to some does carry a certain stigma.

Saying that, I think even semi-cogent people understand how the English language works. Words have different meanings in different contexts and no matter how hard Wilson tries, the context in Scotland is different from the Irish one.

That said, perhaps we should be careful how we label people.

Some on both sides of the Scottish debate do use pejorative language in order to demonise their opponents. If you have ever read a Brian Wilson column you will understand what I mean.

I don’t have much time for the shorthand of Nats, Yoons, Quislings and Separatists as they are loaded terms designed to play the person and not the ball.

Perhaps we could all think twice about labelling people in the future. We all have a lot more about us than how we feel about Scottish independence.

Saying that, sometimes language requires us to use collective terms for groups of people. Despite what I have said above, I’m struggling to think of one for supporters of union, that has the utility of the word unionists.

Let us know what you feel about this in the comments. In the spirit of reconciliation, can you think of a better term for those who support the union? British nationalist seems a bit tainted. Brianwilsonists might work? 

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Bobby Hainey

Joint founder of Autonomyscotland. In my spare time I enjoy Road Cycling, Munro bagging and beer.

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11 Comments on "Brian Wilson: What’s the collective term for backers of the union then?"

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Bob Young



That’s seems reasonable.


How about alt-unionists? Or, alternatively and my personal favourite, British Nationalists.


I think British Nationalist is good from our sides point of view. I like the idea of making people aware that supporting the union is in itself nationalism. Most seem oblivious to the fact. The word nationalism has a stigma though which is why the media use it so much to describe our side of the debate.

Barbara Nairn

What does Mr. Wilson call supporters of independent Scotland? We could take a cue from that. I think British Nationalist does the job though.

Craig P

Not every unionist is a British nationalist (i.e. the UK state is a key part of their identity and preserving it an important motivator), but it might well be the best description for Brian Wilson. And there are certainly more British nationalists in Scotland than would care to admit it.


Perhaps Brian would prefer one of these options. Overruler, Dominator, Oppressor, Subjigator, Subjection supporter, Submisive Lacky, Happy Subordinate , Subservient citizen.

Ian Clark
A left wing friend of mine (an ‘internationalist’) was persuaded to accept that if I was a Scottish nationalist then he was a British nationalist. However, he was uncomfortable with the term because of its historical association with the BNP etc. We agreed – during that political conversation at least – to the term ‘UK nationalist’. I prefer the term ‘British nationalists’, but ‘UK nationalists’ is a good enough term for those currently referred to as unionists. However, for those on both sides of the political divide uncomfortable with the negative connotations of nationalism, I would suggest the relatively neutral… Read more »

I quite like Unistatist. Let’s hope it catches on.


There’s no union. Scotland is effectively a colony. They’re really just English Nationalists.