THERE has hardly been a murmur of public complaint from the SNP, or indeed from those of a nationalist persuasion, that English people resident in Scotland, the country's largest migrant group by far, voted overwhelmingly against independence in 2014 in what became a closer contest than had been expected. That is convincing evidence of the influence of civic nationalism in practice.

Ethnic nationalists would not have been slow to condemn those of non-Scottish birth as the leader of the Parti Quebecois attacked non-French Canadians for the narrow loss of the independence referendum in Que in 1995. What matters in civic nationalism is not the bloodline or national ancestry of voters but whether their home is in Scotland or not.

Civic nationalism has helped stereo Scotland away from much of the Anglophobia which sometimes surfaced in the later decades of last century. In this scenario it is the politics of Westminster which is opposed not English people

They are trying to hold the line about being a modern kind of nationalist party. To veer from this would be very dangerous for the SNP. There is definitely evidence of Anglophobia in Scotland and we saw some of this towards the end of the last century but there has been hardly any since then.

The Conservative MSP and academic Adam Tomkins in one blog revealed that during his sixteen years in Scotland he had rarely been attacked for his Englishness but only for his unionist politicise his 15 or so years in Scotland because of his English ethnicity.

By keeping to its identity of civic nationalism the SNP has helped at least to contain the emergence of xenophobia which could raise its ugly head again in what would be a bitterly fought second independence referendum. As the recent if partial Conservative resurgence has shown unionism has become more robust while nationalists will see another referendum as the last chance in a lifetime to achieve independence. The polls are also currently split 50/50 on the question. There can be little doubt that next time the contest will be fought on both sides with even greater passion and commitment than in 2014.

Over the past thirty years, but especially since the 1990s, the SNP has reinvented itself by rejecting the politics of ethnic nationalism. That, in my view, has been a key reason for its electoral successes and its capacity to appeal to those who were formerly actively hostile to the party.

Scottish nationalism is also distinctive in a European context. In France, Germany and Scandinavia 'blood and soil' right wing nationalism is the dominant nationalism. It is normally racially exclusive, vociferously opposed to immigration and places those born in the country in a position of superiority over all other citizens. On the other hand, far from hating immigration, the Scottish Government sees it as a core policy to grow it to even higher levels, wishes to see it increase to even greater levels as an important aspect of policy, is not opposed to immigration but is enthusiastically supportive of it.

Of course, no nationalist party can be entirely devoid of ethnic roots. The SNP is after all committed to one nation, Scotland, whose identity has been shaped over the centuries by the markers of history, religion, memory and myth. The key point is that the modern nationalist party pursues a policy of national self- determination in order to achieve social democratic and economic goals which it believes cannot be obtained within the UK state.