The Dark Heart of Union

We must focus on the positive and ignore the doomsayers is the Yes mantra, although it’s never really been true. It’s what we tell ourselves but you can’t debate without pointing to the other’s weaknesses, so we’ve done that while inculcating a perception of relentless optimism.


I think it’s working but there are times when a positive can be unearthed inside a negative and here is one such example. One of the ethereal themes is the nature of our political culture and how we feel it to be our own, distinctive enough from the prevailing attitude in much of the rest of Britain – but by no means uniquely so. We narrow our eyes mostly at the home of the ruling elite, the centre of the British state, in Whitehall and the billowing blue swathe of seats reaching from the Wash down into the Home Counties where the nature of governments is decided. We judge that their collective me-first mentality and rejection of communal values does not correspond to our own (higher-minded, don’t you know) egalitarianism.

You can knock that about as much as you like because it can come apart in your hands if you talk immigration, benefits cheats, private schooling and mortgages in many a social gathering in the Socialist Republic of Scotia.

There is a Unionist response to all of this which can be paraphrased from the mouth of Boris Johnson – it’s a pile of piffle. This riposte insists that we are no different, we just like to kid ourselves that we are and therefore stand accused of self-delusion and hypocrisy. And that’s no foundation for a nascent state. Personally, I’m open to this debate because it has a basis in truth and cannot be dismissed as ranting by outflanked blimps lashing out blindly.

However, there is an article by Rory Stewart MP in Time magazine which takes this to new depths and carries an alarming advisory for all whose inclination is, despite it all, to retain faith – and their vote – in the British state.

Rory is regarded in this house as a thoughtful and principled Tory who used Eton and Oxford as a route to public office rather than a slot at the money trough.

His CV is eclectic and run through with public service in Army, cultural work in Afghanistan, charity and parliament. We indulged his enjoyable if quaint concept of Middleland as representing Border history.

But if you read the Time piece you hear the voice of man unravelling as the folds of moderation and wit fall away to reveal a desperate and belittling figure verging on the edges of bigotry.

For, you see, Scottish Nationalists only pretend to be egalitarian, open to immigration, non-acquisitive and reasonable in order to hide our true identity as small-minded protectionists and reactionaries. Rory has worked us out.

“…like all nationalisms, it has a reactionary core. It assumes that one people – the Scots – are somehow, although they would never state it, intrinsically separate and superior and that the answer to their problems is to cut off a group of fellow citizens and treat them…as foreigners.”

Let’s set aside the first glaring irony. A Tory MP is calling US reactionary…he is a member of the most right wing government in modern British history whose bedrock policy is slashing public spending to 1948 levels by targeting the poor and the disabled. Depends on your definition of reactionary…


If Rory is right, does his description apply to Britain? Is flag-waving Olympia-mania not nationalism? Is ‘standing up for Britain in Brussels’ against every other EU country not nationalism? Is fighting in the Black Watch for Queen and country as Rory did, not nationalism? When he asks (and fails) to get 100,000 to link arms along the Border to declare their love of country – the UK – is that not nationalism?

Are the Norwegians who voted by over 90 per cent for their independence, not nationalists too…those same Norwegians not too intrinsically separate and superior to have open, friendly cross border relations with the rest of Scandinavia?

What about every country which gained its independence from Britain because its people wanted to go their own way (Rory was born in Hong Kong, lived in Malaysia etc)? Are they also superior in their own mind because their love of country – their nationalism – drove them to seek self-determination?

It goes on. The French are unashamedly nationalistic and make little allowance for others’ opinions yet joined with Germany to form the original EU. Where do they fit in Rory’s political atlas? Or indeed the Americans he was writing for? Is there a more nationalistic nation on earth than the star-spangled, war-mongering Americans?

He trots out the weary line that opinion polling shows our views aren’t really different at all and no less xenophobic, reactionary and right wing than the English population so what are we talking about? Well, if that’s true why does Rory’s party have only one MP here?

If it’s true, why do we vote for a party which provides universal benefits, free university education, no prescriptions, a living wage, no redundancies in the public sector, no PFI, for immigration, for keeping foreign students here, for the EU, against illegal wars, against nuclear weapons…? I think even Rory on reflection would concede there are one or two small differences with his Tory-led government’s policies, no?

It is also an aspiration. We dream of being better. We have ambition to prove ourselves. We feel pride at the idea of solidarity with neighbours, of an internationalist outlook, of arguing for peace without nuclear weapons. What’s wrong with aspiration? Isn’t that exactly what the No side lacks?

He tells us that we apparently believe that political attitudes are permanent, fixed aspects of national character. Do we? I think I believe that in today’s Scotland there is a broad left of centre consensus and that as late as the 1960’s we had a Protestant Unionist hegemony and that the Labour decades of the last 30 years are giving way to a more home-grown proudly Scottish philosophy which all the parties now embrace – Tories, Labour, Lib Dem, Greens and Socialists, not just Nationalists. Permanent and fixed it ain’t, if you simply check the history.

Then he writes: Their solution therefore is to simply exclude the ‘English’ (his apostrophes) whom they perceive as a fixed bloc of right wing voters, from voting by changing the electoral boundaries…

How could a peacemaker in Afghanistan fail to understand self-determination and what it means to people who identify with their home? Just how we exclude English voters needs too long to unpack.

We don’t have an English problem, we know they don’t all vote Tory, all English people are welcomed to live, work, vote and take nationality or otherwise. There is a nasty undercurrent here that he doesn’t have the evidence or the guts to flesh out but he does say we just blame London. Perhaps he should have a quiet word with his own voters in the North East about their views of London and its taxpayer funded featherbedding. He might get a surprise.

We desire, he says, to treat the English as foreigners. This is always a giveaway. Never in my life have I heard Scottish Nationalists refer to other UK nationals as foreigners. It isn’t SNP policy and nor is it the voters’ instinct. It comes only and alone from the Unionists who regard it as pejorative because they believe British people hate foreigners. Rory trips out the sly old lie.

But his killer point is that we are selfish for wanting to deny our natural resources to the rest of Britain and that we should be big enough to share. That’s right…the country that could have voted to be independent in the early 70’s and taken all of the oil and much of the gas to become, as the government’s own adviser wrote ‘as rich as Switzerland’, wants to scapegoat the English and punish them by keeping hold of what’s left. We really are an ungrateful bunch.

Aside from the obvious point that surely the ‘oil is dwindling and volatile’ and therefore virtually worthless (get on message, Rory), you’d think contributing £300 billion to London and paying in more than we get out over the last 30 years – plus bankrolling Thatcher’s Tory policies – would merit even a cursory thank you from the principled one.

Taken together, this inaccurate and prejudiced diatribe from a Member of the British Parliament gives us a glimpse into the barren interior of our country and how even the most intelligent and sensitive simply fail to comprehend that Scotland is our home and we want to run it our own way – among the most basic of all human instincts – not to be separate or superior but to be equal with others, sharing our resources and our people. It is Rory who concentrates on the frontier that is the Border. We have said there will be none.


But like nationalism, he his blind to it, except his own. He imagines anything up to half the Scottish population is essentially racist, no doubt hypnotised by the demotic Salmond. I don’t object remotely to Unionists explaining their beliefs and standing by them but I do resent being characterised as selfish, inward-looking and quasi-racist for wanting what every other country has.

And yet again this message of denigration and hostility is beamed by a Scot across the world through an international magazine while he claims to be interested in goodwill and harmony. Go and build your cairn, Rory and don’t insult our intelligence.

For me, the article marks the end of respect for Rory the Tory but thanks to him for reminding us all why we must vote Yes in order to regain our self respect and national dignity which so many care so little about. That’s the real positive…to know that even those who pretend love-bombing have the same dark heart that just can’t accept Scotland and Scots for what we truly are – a modern, multi-cultural, open nation on the cusp of statehood.

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74 thoughts on “The Dark Heart of Union

  1. Derek, why don’t you send your article to the Time Magazine? I know you would not get it printed in the UK, but surely the “Land of the free” would give your thoughts an airing.

    • Squirrel Towers

      I agree, Derek you should submit it to Time. I have been thinking about this very thing the last few weeks, why don’t people castigate the Danes/Icelanders/Swiss/Italians etc etc for wanting to be themselves? Its seen by the chattering classes in the rUK as an aspiration to experience the ‘real’ culture of a place when there. Somehow Scotland being ‘itself’ is wrong/nasty/dangerous. I have been pondering on the implication of not teaching people their own history, my other half learnt about the Tudors at school in Oban in the 80s but nothing about Scotland’s history. His farther on Islay was beaten in school the early 60’s to stop speaking Gaelic, which worked to the extent that my hubby didn’t realise his dad spoke it. By the way, feel I should add that I am English (voting Yes) and have lived here for 20 years but have only as part of this campaign started questioning these things (so sorry to everyone who ‘gets’ this already). Obviously Scottish culture/language/history was still just too dangerous in the late 20th century. I hope we generally look to the future if its a Yes (one of the attractions of a Yes is escaping the rUK obsession with always looking back with endless anniversaries)….but I suspect there will be a much fuller examination of Scottish identity as part of being an independent nation again. I am profoundly looking forward to that time!

      • “…I suspect there will be a much fuller examination of Scottish identity as part of being an independent nation again”.

        Squirrel Towers I absolutely agree with you on this point; it is most important to those of us who have worked in the Culture sector. Under the Union our culture has no future whatsoever, with the BBC being a major part of the problem.

        BTW I believe that the distinguished and honourable contribution of so many English Scots like yourself will never be forgotten.

    • Derek,
      I don’t think you have to worry too much about Rory mis-representing this country to the rest of the world. With an accent like that, who could believe he was from this country? Incidentally, why do so many (so called) Scots have that English accent?
      It must be confusing for our global friends to decipher.

      Subject for a future blog?

  2. Interesting. I have heard this man speak on a number of subjects. I first heard him talking on Newsnight about his experiences in Iraq as an administrator. He sounded eminently sensible and far removed from being on the same page as the blundering, blustering and lying Government. I admired his ability to sum things up with real clarity. Now he is a Tory MP.

  3. Excellent article Derek.

  4. What a deluded wee soul Rory is. His nationalism good anyone else’s bad, is that about right? Blind to both irony and evidence. That’s quite some feat, even for a Tory. 😀

    Great post Derek.

    • For my sins, I am a hopeless Harness Racing addict. A sport that is massive in US, Australia, New Zealand, France and the Scandinavian countries but thanks to the Westminster like ruling body the BHRC is being torn apart by the incompetence and lack of vision of the governing body.
      Again for my sins I write the results and analysis for my local meeting for the Harness Racing Forum (400+members spread throughout the UK. Ireland and a couple in NZ and US.
      After today’s meeting I thought I’d indulge in some mickey-taking. See below

      As you can see the post got 6 likes, 3 of them were from English members and, although it’s early days, no abusive remarks. Touch Wood.
      The criticism I did get was justified as I stupidly said river instead of burn…OUCH.
      Anyway just thought I’d share it.

      • Neatly done Andy. 😀 LOL

      • Ah yes, when in NZ if someone says they are ‘going to the trots’ it doesn’t mean they are off to the smallest room with a digestive complaint. They are off to the harness racing which is run as a separate sport from horse racing with jockeys and often on a different, dedicated racecourse. Most horse racecourses are too soft and lumpy for trotting. The trots are often a weekday evening event under lights as well so you can follow both codes if you are so inclined.

        Having grown up there I have an image of horses and racing traps flying around a cinder track under lights and despite not being an aficionado, it looks fantastic as a spectacle and is much easier on the ears than the stock cars.

        • You should come to our two day event at Corbiewood Stadium near Bannockburn on 13th and 14th of this month. Dubbed the ‘Murdock Weekend’ in honour of the father of Irish Harness Racing, who loved Corbie so much he regarded it as his second home The meeting is sponsored by our Irish Friends and is the highlight of our season with two days of action, friends from all four home nations and fabulous entertainment and ‘craic’ afterwards.
          Alas because of the Westminster style arrogance and incompetence of our ruling body we are skint and this is reflected in the decaying state of Corbiewood (the toilets are disgusting) but all visitors wherever they hail from grin and bear it because they all state that the welcome, atmosphere and excitement more than makes up for it.

  5. Hi Derek, Thanks for the article.

    It’s sad that Rory Stewart is at it, poisoning relations between our countries. If it makes it any easier to deal with this kind of nonsense, I see him as trapped in the cult of the British imperial identity. As with many cult members, they can be quite sane in many areas of life, but once you get them on their cultish specialist topic, the eyes glaze over and they try to draw you into their web of pointless, prejudiced meanderings, based on axioms that can’t be challenged.

    In my opinion, there are two good ways of dealing with it: 1 – stay well away and keep focused on the positive – maybe one day the scales will fall from their eyes and they will join you. The Yes Scots have the positivity and self-belief that hopefully many of us down south will come to see.

    Or 2- love them as they are, again without getting drawn in. This is a noble task suited to only a few people, in my opinion. In time, the love sinks in and penetrates the nonsense.

    If they make you angry, no. 1 is the better option. I don’t blame you for being angry though. All the best

    • For folk like Rory, there will be no reasoned argument which will prevail against their world view. The well has been well and truly poisoned by the establishment and media narrative. There will only ever be one way to pull that veil from their eyes and that is by example. We achieve our independence and be seen to work toward a fair, socially just and progressive society.

      Actions always speak louder than words. 🙂

    • There must be something profoundly insecure in his sense of identity that he cannot except that ours exists, that Scotland exists.

    • my neighbour – thanks for that excellent advice. I now know how I’ll try to deal with cult members here in Edinburgh.

  6. Aye, Rory very well dissected there Mr Bateman.

    You’re doing some great work, sir. Really enjoying it all.

  7. Excellent rebuttal, Derek. I agree – submit it to Time mag.

    The trouble with Rory is that he’s built up this image of a thoughtful, principled Tory politician and then uses the cover of that veneer to deliver an argument that shows the cracks in that veneer. It’s not that he says things that I simply disagree with – that would be fine – it’s his denigration of over half of Scotland’s population that reveals his true self.

  8. The problem that Rory can’t seem to get his head around is not that we are ‘nationalists’ in the derogatory and negative sense that he means nationalist to be, but that Scotland is simply a nation.

    Since Scotland is a nation – and always has been, even after 1707 – it naturally follows that there are groups of concerned citizens living in the land of Scotland who wish it to prosper as a nation.

    Why does he have trouble accepting this simple fact?

    Why is Scotland being a nation such an existential threat to him?

    • “Why is Scotland being a nation such an existential threat to him?”

      He fought in the Black Watch and has a ‘Scottish’ name. That regiment will after March 2016 be part of the army of a country that is not Britain. We are taking away part of his identity, of his sense of self.

      Canvassing last week we met a very old gent, former trade unionist deep in Labour Party of the past, firm No voter. We will do the same to him. Afterwards sitting outside the pub I was introduced to a young guy, mental health nurse, done it in Iraq. He was deep within a British military mindset like Rory. Trident and its dangers and uselessness bothered him not at all. We will do the same to him when we vote Yes as a nation.

      We need to be cognisant of what we do to people like that. It shouldn’t stop us doing it, but there will be psychic casualties of it and we should not belittle them and a bit of empathy for them is I think in order.

  9. The fact is that when Brit Nats talk about Britain/UK they really mean England.
    The politics of the UK are the politics of England and hence the government of the UK is the government elected by England.
    Scotland is only considered when we threaten to remove resources from England and it’s preceived importance in the world order.
    Being better together in a political Union only applies when England is in charge which is why,if Cameron is stupid enough,they will withdraw from the European Union where they have become a bit player.
    The referendum is about Scotland throwing off the shackles of English domination and taking our own place in the world of independent nation states.
    I don’t mean this in any sort of racist way but in only political and democratic terms.
    Thanks Derek.

  10. Identity is a funny old thing. The what, the who, the why. In my simplistic view I just happen to believe we live in a country called Scotland and that the people who live here shouldn’t have to share their sovereignty with anyone if they don’t wish to. I believe that we are party to an international treaty where some bods in the distant past chose to (mistakenly) give away a large part of that sovereignty and that over the past sixty or so years especially that lack of total sovereignty has served our electorate very poorly indeed against the authority of an entrenched, self interested, corrupt, elitist establishment. I believe that no one, anywhere else on this planet will make better or more informed decisions on the governance of Scotland than the people who live here. That no one will make better use of our resources and talents than we will and more importantly that no one else should.

    Its called independence and whether that’s on a personal or collective basis, its the most natural thing in the world. To stand on your own two feet, make the best of yourself that you can and hold own amongst your peers in an interdependent world.

    S’no that hard to understand Mr Stewart. Scotland is a country, not a region and it belongs to no parliament, no crown and no individual. Scotland belongs to its people and the people are the sovereign power.

    • Elizabeth Buist

      Macart703 – I hope you don’t mind if I ditto your comment as it sums up exactly how I feel! Derek great reply please send it to the Times!

      • Not at all and just Mac is fine. 🙂

        • Mac, ditto from me as well and I too would like to see this article sent to Time. Spent a delightful two weeks in the company of those who will read said article and have enlightened a few as to the truth of the Campaign for YES which they have been totally misled by the UK Government and their fellow travellers, Oh and just answered the door to the BT lot, came back in giggling.

          • Like I said above, some people will just never be convinced. Its too much for them to take in. Their entire world view would have to change. The only way to convince them will be through time alone.

            Rory is one of those people.

            I’m almost afraid to ask what you said to your BT canvassers. 😀

  11. smiling vulture


  12. Excellent stuff Derek and I echo Seanair’s suggestion about submitting this to Time mag.
    The Yanks certainly don’t have a negative view of nationalism. It seems to me the only countries castigated for ‘nationalism’ are those ‘colonised’ by others. And yes I do mean ‘colonised’ as it comes in various forms.
    On these Islands only the English are allowed it?
    Also I believe Rory represents a group of people a friend of mine calls the ‘MacEnglish’. They honestly can’t cope with Scots being Scottish! Earlier today I saw a video clip of a Scot shouting ‘Scottish bastards’ at a group of Yes campaigners at Haymarket. Can you imagine any other country where this would happen?

    • Can you imagine a Frenchman saying to another “you French bastard”!? That video clip left me speechless, what is wrong with these people and their hatred of being Scottish? We desperately need a Yes on the 18th so we can begin to rebuild our national pride and self respect.

    • Actually, there is one such country. It’s called England. If you go around some places wearing or saying anything that identifies you as English, rather than British, you risk verbal abuse, and even physical violence from thugs such as UAF. They rail against other people’s intolerance, but play the three wise monkeys about the intolerance and bigotry in their own ranks.

    • It can only happen here, boy haven’t they done a great job on some folk here in Scotland. I find we still have some complacent middle class folk who have done nothing about being informed, no chance with them now.

  13. cynicalHighlander

    They really are frightened that England/Britain will lose its control of influencing world events militarily as they have done for decades and concentrate on more domestic issues, scary.

  14. Bugger (the Panda)

    I can’t help but think that the face that Rory is showing is the real one and everything else has been his costruct?

    I’d expand some more but am outside in the street pigybacking on a wifi signal using my iPad.

  15. You were far too charitable to Rory Stewart. He is a risible poseur. Florence of Arabia I think they call him.

  16. Superb Derek.

    Pop that off to the Times please . A brilliant repost to a doddery Auld fart still dreaming of Empire.

    How can a “Scot” fail to recognise we are a country in our own right.

    You really do write well.


  17. Steve Asaneilean

    You kind of expect it from Tories really – full of the self-certainty that they are right and blind to the fact that, in Scotland at least, the majority do not agree.
    What saddens me more is the in house denigration of the desire for change from our own elected MPs and MSPs which leads, for example, to one of them in this week’s WHFP calling those who raise legitimate concerns about the future of the NHS in the event of a No vote liars

  18. The strangest part of this is that I have followed up some of the “background” on Rory the Tory and I was astonished. He is always represented by the BBC as former United Kinged Armed Services personnel. Yet it appears he was never more than a cadet during his school days. Am I the only one to believe this lie based on the BBC mis-representation or am I completely mistaken in how he is represented.

  19. dennis mclaughlin

    Poor wee Rory hasn’t realised that the sun set on his British Empire decades ago,he really is stuck in his own time-warp.

    • It’s one thing to be nostalgic for something you’re old enough to remember, especially if you took part in it, but nostalgia for something that happened before you were born is just ridiculous. Wee Rory is 41, not 91.

      Another thing I’ve just read (admittedly on Wikipedia) is that his family seat is some pile near Crieff, Perthshire, so he probably fears Scottish independence for the same reason as Cameron and his family.

  20. The nationalism term is much abused by those who should know better. We had the greatest example of nationalism right on our own doorstep recently in Glasgow, from the participating countries of the Commonwealth, with each group enthusiastically cheering on their own. It was only what every sane person would expect to happen.

  21. Since I moved to London a few years ago, months after the SNP formed their first government, I have had conversations with people who live in the SE Bubble who have unbelievable views about Scotland. It all begins nice enough, middle-class English reserve and all that, then you scratch the surface …

    I can understand where Rory the Tory comes from these days, what he represents is the kind, caring Victorian master of yesteryear, he lives in the past. When he looks over the Scottish landscape he genuinely sees pride because Scotland is, physically, a part of Britain, so Scotland is part of him. Where he struggles is comprehending the nature of the people.

    This leads me to some of the questions I’ve faced since living in the SE Bubble. ‘Why can’t you Scots be more like us?’ is a favourite, it turns out Scottish people should just be like middle-class English people, it’s the only way they’ll take us (and anyone else really). I even had an ex-colleague say to me once ‘Are you putting your accent on?’ Apparently I don’t sound Glaswegian (I’m from the Galloway area) so something must be wrong.

    Anyway the conclusion of my findings over the past six years or so is that Scotland is a possession, it is also a region about the size of Yorkshire, it has three cities and a couple of other places that names always escapes them. Scotland is also an invention of the Union, it really didn’t exist before 1707 and we didn’t have a language, culture, art, invention or anything until the Union sorted that out for us.

    Everything Scottish was an invention of the Victorians and therefore part of the possessive attitude. We’re subsidised of course and in return of the kind generosity (for which we’re so ungrateful for) they get the landscape, whisky, golf and the odd entertainer. The oil is not ours it’s ‘British’. The Scots in London is the Scots they want, presumably because they’re educated and educated Scots head South, those who stay in Scotland are not wanted and the Scots in London must denigrate those left behind to be fully accepted into the suburbs Surbiton and Uxbridge.

    You see, these people, the Rory Tories of this world believe they nourish us, cultivate and take care of us, allow us to grow by their kind hand. They see the referendum as something they are offended by, it’s a sign of ungratefulness and with that comes a reaction. Many do feel hurt that Scotland may leave them because of that possessive element.

    I conducted an experiment recently, I said to five English people to draw me an outline of England without looking at a reference. Four of them drew the British Isles and one attempted to draw England and Wales together. They are not psychologically tuned to see England on its own, that shape is alien to them, and what they will see as a rump UK will be an almighty shock, they can’t bear to think of a map without the Scotland part in it (or worse minus Wales too).

    When I worked in a campaigns and communications department of a New Labour Inner London Authority, I worked with people who were university educated and pretty switched on when it came to Westminster politics. When I explained that Scotland is now run by the SNP many people in the office assumed it was a Scottish branch of the BNP! They just didn’t know anything about Scottish politics at all.

    Now they are being informed, every single day the people of the Bubble is having Scotland shoved down their throats, courtesy of the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Telegraph, Independent, Gruardian, New Statesman, Spectator, Times of London, London Evening Standard and the Rory Tories of this world, well you get the picture and it’s not pretty.

    • Spot on! I worked in Manchester for 21 years and while attitudes there are not so visceral as down south, there was still the attitude that Scotland was a county of England with funny accents. Hardly anybody had ever been over the border.

      As an experiment I once asked a number of colleagues’ “Scots are Jocks, Welsh are Taffys, Irish are Paddy’s or Micks but there’s no word for an English person. Why is that?'”

      None of them could could see what my point was, far less give the answer which was that the characterisations were invented by the English hence there was no need to have a word for an English person.

    • I’m English and have lived most of my life in SE England. Though I also lived in Glasgow for 3 years in my 20s and come from a Scottish family. As my family were post-war British Scots, I never grew up with any inkling of the independence movement which was to come. So even I inherited a casual, ignorant and misty-eyed outlook on Scotland.

      When I was in Glasgow in the mid 1990s, there was no talk of independence or even of devolution, among the people I knew. Though being there did teach me the reality that Scots feel themselves to be a separate country. I hadn’t quite got this before.

      Back in England, Scotland faded from my horizon over the years. So I have only recently educated myself on the massive political changes in Scotland that have taken place over the last 15 years. If I am honest, I may not have bothered had I not had Scottish connections myself and the referendum hadn’t come up. Reading up on the internet over a sustained period of time was all it took for me to understand (to some degree) the issues.

      I think it takes me back to a point I bang on about : the British identity cult. For many English, being British doesn’t have anything to do with the people of Scotland – they are an essential condition but not one which deserves any special attention. It is a colonial mentality which regards people of other countries as “less than”. So the Scots had the great fortune of being considered an exotic form of English, Now you don’t seem to want that any more, we’re either hurt or not interested.

      It’s going to take quite a lot longer for us English to come out of this bubble – we may need to hit the economic rocks and have our international “influence” taken away from us first. In the meantime, Scots have to do what’s best for them and not let us drag you down. It will actually help us in the long run.

    • Fairly universal attitude. We live in Milton Keynes for a while. The neighbours were nice enough and did the usual middle class sounding out. They knew we were from Edinburgh. They said that they knew the Fergusons who lived in Scotland. The Fergusons had a farm in Ayrshire and “did we know them?”

      • Antoine, I had a workmate whose sister lived and worked in Southampton who was asked to hand in a letter to a colleague in Aberdeen on the way past while travelling up to Edinburgh. To this day and it wasn’t yesterday, we have a good laugh at that.

    • May I say given our experiences both in the past and recently with the Anti Scots English you have painted for us an exact picture of what we have taken from them. Most of the time they never get beyond their own boundaries but if they are they do not care for it. I can only imagine the coverage of this Referendum and the programmes the BBC are trying to placate the Scots with are driving them mad.
      Last week we overheard a Yorkshire man inform an American about the Referendum, love us, aye right, but subsidise us. Want us to stay, on their terms and I somehow do not think we will like them.

  22. Well done Derek. What really struck me was that paragraph the Unionist attitude to foreign. It crystallized into words something that had been an unformed feeling that I had for a long time.

    Thank you.

  23. O/T but here’s a word of encouragement from tiny Malta (population 450,000) which will be shortly celebrating 50 years of proud independence:

  24. Andygm1
    There is a name for English people, but not here. I spent some time in Australia and the derogatory nickname of POMS was rampant, often used by people of English extraction who had been in Australia for generations.
    The phrase “whining POMS” was also used because of their attitudes to their new country not being English. Scottish, Welsh and Irish were not included in this category.
    Don’t know if the situation has changed in recent years.

    • Some Australian nearly got his face filled in by my Auntie, a good Edinburgh woman for calling her a POM. She was there nearly forty years and actually died there but you knew where she came from. My Husband’s Aunt sounded like she had never left Scotland, she certainly still had the accent before she died in the spring this year.

  25. ‘Scotland and what we are’
    Unfortunately, where I live, no one follows me around playing a haunting penny whistle, while the Scotch mist , rolling over Longannet exposes the vistas and flame of Grangemouth.
    Rory a man who would rather give us a cairn , when I’m sure 4G would be more helpful.
    To me that’s the image the Rory’s have of Scotland and are trying their best to hold onto.
    A Scotland you visit but don’t really see .
    Unfortunately for the Rory’s though, the living , breathing Scotland is now forcing itself to the forefront.
    The modern , real Scotland can interact with the tourists and talk of the Loch Ness monster or the castles as well as see the benefits of better working conditions, better use of government spending, the atrocity of Trident , while wearing oor Hunter wellies as a fashion accessory rather than for a days haggis shooting.
    Scotland is different to England in the same way England is different to Scotland or why else would we choose to live where we do or so many tourists visit either country?
    Rory in his comment talks about ‘ aspects of our national character ‘ and excluding the ‘ English’ is it just me or is Rory making the assumption that we’re all white , C of S or C of E , monarchists or is this people of Scotland and England another fictitious image too?

  26. I feel it’s a mistake to believe that the Scots have some kind of morally superior view of politics. You may be right: I’ve just read Iain MacWhirter in the Herald on Sunday about this very matter. I agree with what he said about us having the tendency to throw the money changers out of the temple. That’s because of our historic version of Christianity, which is a different historic version than south of the border, so from that angle we do look at it differently.
    I like Rory. He’s an interesting man, but he’s not the only one who holds that view of his own people. It stems from shame.
    The Brit Nats are unaware that their brand of nationalism is just that: nationalism. They see it as the right thing to do.
    If you saw Brendan O’Carroll’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ the other night, you’d be in no doubt about the face of British Nationalism and the effect it has had on the countries unfortunate enough to feel the sting of its lash.
    Finally, no, there is no more nationalistic nation than the US. There is no Special Relationship apart from the one where they call the shots and we follow.

  27. Steve Asaneilean

    It’s clear to anyone with even half an eye to see that at the heart of the positive, hopeful, aspirational message of Yes is the quest for equality, egality, fairness and honesty. On September 18th we will find out if that’s the political view of the majority of Scots. If it is then perhaps we can say with some justification that we have a more moral view of politics (though, of course, time will tell…)

  28. Rosa Alba Macdonald

    Fundamental difference in the Scottish identity?

    I think there is the aft-trotted oot “we’re a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns” and as Hamilton says, the inculcated principal of looking after our neignbour.

    Origins in history but due, perhaps, to the long, long, long standing principle of free public education and bursaries for the College or Varsity, back to the 1500s. Education has always been a leveller here, unlike so many other nations where finance was the key.

    Cursory and superficial analysis: mea culpa – Sunday night and I have school tomorrow (yay) as does my boy (double yay after a year of exclusions).

    • No mention in Wikipedia of the original failed project, Hands Across etc. – only the cairn building plan. Also, surprisingly, in his teens he was a member of the Labour Party.

      He’s a typical Scot with the Scottish stuffing knocked out of him at school and replaced with a determined desire to please his so-called superiors. Poor fellow will just have to accept that we’re not all as unfortunate as he is. We can be friends with people of any nation – but on an equal footing.

    • Free education in Scotland (for male members) thanks to the much maligned John Knox.
      Strange, it was the fashion at one time among young people to blame him for almost everything that was wrong in Scotland!

      • Actually Jan, Knox was a spy for Elizabeth so we do have a history of people who have often worked against our interests, and we still do. Rory has the look of an upper class twit who unfortunately has some Scots blood in him. Has he even lived amongst us? I just cannot be bothered to find out.

        • Yes. All connected to the Reformation and his hatred for Mary Queen of Scots. ( Have to say I’m not a follower of any particular faith. Just an interest in the history of Scotland. )

  29. Looked at the comments on that Malta piece – totally dispiriting that the Britnats rule there too.

    As to wee Rory, I like him as a person. I am sure he is reasonable in most areas of his life, but as an Eton and Oxford type it is only to be expected that he would adopt the kitsch Scottish profile.

    Scotland has had this problem of seeing itself and its people only being measured against the elephant in the room. When the Highland chiefs effectively stole the land from under the people in the 18th century, they then felt they had to keep up with Jones’s in the English aristocracy. What followed by way of the Clearances was an inevitable consequence. Rory is a product of said system.

    • They dominate the comments section on every foreign media I have read, putting out their poisonous misinformation. Especially in America. I have tried to correct this where I could.

      Suggest that others do too, because if there is a Yes vote it will be absolutely vital to negotiations’ successful outcome to get our view across since recognition by foreign states is what counts in international law. If outsiders are apt to see us as ‘separatists’ then separatists we are and as such will be negotiating from a position of weakness as regards the UK’s assets.

      But if outsiders accept our view of ourselves that we are a nation reclaiming our sovereignty in a union we entered voluntarily but now wish to end, then we are in a stronger position.

      This is why Cameron has been going about getting international allies and partners to pour scorn on Scottish independence.

  30. jamie macdonald

    brilliant piece Derek, I needed that thanks,….. Enjoyed the comments too.

  31. What is at work here is simple anger. Anger that he couldn’t get enough English people to back him and his projects to reach out to Scots. Anger that Britishness is just way too banal for its own good. Anger that the union isn’t all that well regarded in England. Rather than admit there is a problem with Britain, that there has been a huge disservice done to Scotland and its reputation. He simply projects Britain’s failure onto Scotland. We’re not morally superior because we don’t vote Tory, but the majority of Scots find the Tories to be amoral and therefore not worthy of our trust or our votes. This is the failing of the conservatives, not the failing of Scotland. Rather than address that, the Tories have spent the last 40 yrs projecting their failure on to us. We are very different when it comes to concepts of social justice in Scotland, and we are endlessly mocked for it by the conservatives. But so desperate have the main parties been to defend the union at all costs, they have chosen to use the conservatives hoary bromides concerning their continued non relevance in Scotland. In that very same process of blaming Scotland, they are destroying Scotland’s importance to the union, reducing our nation to one of dependency. They couldn’t make us proud to be part of Britain, so they decided to make us ashamed of being Scottish. This is unpardonable folly that, imho ensures that regardless of how the vote plays out, the Union and Britain loses Scotland.

    • Agree, Britain in the sense that he understands it, is simply a chimera. For most English people it just means ‘England’ and is interchangeable with it. ‘Britain’ or ‘UK’ is often preferred to ‘England’ as a term because it sounds bigger and more important. A Greater England, if you will. But to most English people it does not mean a noble and enlightened partnership between nations, a Pax Britannica extending its goodwill across the globe. That’s the old Liberal Imperialist notion that was put forward by elite Scots like Lord Rosebery in the late 19th century, and here we find Rory still clinging to that romantic idea. It was a nice thought – it just never happened.

  32. I think Rory is a bit misguided – the real Heart of Darkness is Jim Murphy stirring up trouble every time he opens his gob.

  33. Katrine Paterson

    I think Rory is living in his own little world, despite his varied career across the word. It’s not the world I know. He’s like no Scot I’ve ever met.
    I lived too long on the Tory heartlands of Berkshire, Sussex Kent and Middlesex to believe the people there would ever understand the Scots. We are the butt of every ‘see you Jimmy’ ‘Och eye the noo’ etc.etc jokes. We are a novelty, not to be taken seriously.
    A very old friend, probably110 years old, is going to be very upset on the 19th Sept. if there is a yes vote. I haven’t the heart to tell her I’ll be voting yes. She has been asking for years what I would vote.

  34. Well, interestingly it seems some in Berwick are seeking union with an independent Scotland! Not to mention that half of England would like to bail out if they could. I predict further devolution around the UK whether independence happens or not, in fact there are several plans underway, in councils in the Midlands for example who are exploring three-tiered devolution. And I ‘m sure you’ve seen the vid made by Craig Murray, member of England for Yes

    I saw the irritating series by Rory, googled to discover he was a Tory, and it was just so annoying that he’d present this case about the borders. It doesn’t surprise me to see he’s adding to the ridiculous misconceptions about the indyref

    Westminster is crumbling, whether it’s a yes or no. This indyref has been our first taste of change and hope for a lo-o-ng time!

  35. Cag-does-thinking

    I haven’t paid much attention to Rory but it certainly isn’t that he hasn’t enough connections to be that exactly typical Tory MP. His Wiki page reads like Young Churchill without the tiresome journalism part. And that’s probably who he thinks he is. There is a type of person who buys the British Empire thing hook line and sinker and Rory seems to be it partly because he’s a born in a colony ot the silver spoon set. His family seat means that if he could have voted in days gone by he might have been one of the few who could. Ultimately he wishes we were all Brigadoon Scots with his world view.

    The irony in all this is he is a diplomat really, a UK political diplomat and most likely to be the kind of person who would negotiate with other countries and perhaps even with the Scots after independence. Their world view is that it is theirs, everybody else is foreign and therefore to be exploited or pitied. That political class have as their biggest worry a lack of status in the world they used to own. Their britain is a great one of 19th century that is long gone. They face losing one of the last of their playgrounds where they can lord it over the locals. We know our place. It’s at the polling station on September 18th. Rory will get over it shooting with some Royals in Norfolk bemoaning that he was misunderstood but that incomprehending edge is deep within his education and his values. I don’t really expect him to get it.

  36. I’m a little disappointed you didn’t publish my comment yesterday. It wasn’t negative and wasn’t a criticism – just an explanation as I see it of why the Scottish political discourse is a bit more left than Scots’ social attitudes as recorded in research appear. It was directly related to what you wrote. And my solution to the problem is independence. Maybe I’ve missed something but I feel a bit hurt! Perhaps you could just email me a brief explanation?

  37. Those who are unaware of Rory’s original project should gain a little insight from the link below. It obviously escaped his attention that Hadrian’s Wall is not actually the Scottish border, and he didn’t do too well on risk assessment either, having failed to factor in a fleet of ambulances for those joining hands across the A1 and the M6.

  38. I once spoke fluent Latin and even won a prize. But not a single phrase from this classic lexicon can trump “fuck off Rory”.

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