please…somebody stop me….

If you are looking for the kind of insidious, nasty nationalism Johann ascribes to the Scots, try Simon Heffer in the Daily Mail. I hesitate to put up a link as there is something repellent about it but he contrives to make a case for all the myths about Scotland that have shored up the London elite’s scorn since the Thatcher years.

You know, subsidised by English taxpayers – happily for them, not the Welsh nor the Irish – being ungrateful feckless junkies living in a dump with workshy unhealthy shirkers who are so stupid they want to leave the mothership until their oil runs out and then they’ll be back with the begging bowl. Nice, eh? To say this is wrong on so many levels, even hardened Unionists would agree. The subsidy part is disproved systematically by the official figures. The irony here is that the subsidy junkie myth originated in the late 80’s when Scotland’s oil was flowing at its fullest, gushing cash into the London coffers and paying Mrs Thatcher’s unemployment bill. Self- awareness isn’t a strength of the British elite.

The piece is not so much journalism as an incitement to hate. I try to test this sometimes by substituting, so that Scot is removed and replaced with Black, Jew or Woman. It can be revealing as to the author’s real intent. I’m not sure that legally you can be racist towards Scots if you are English and vice versa although it is an aggravating factor in a case of criminal violence. At any rate, this article smelled like anti Scottish racism to me, designed to be gratuitously and viciously offensive.

Similarly, Andrew Gilligan, for whom many of us in the BBC were ready to go to the barricades years ago, works very hard in the Telegraph – headline: Hatred at the heart of Scotland’s struggle to be free – to link the Yes Campaign to European neo-fascists and anglophobia, picking up on the somewhat discredited Vicky Featherstone claims that her professional problems were down to discrimination and then applying the same tag to Alasdair Gray’s call for arts administrators to understand the Scottish tradition before taking influential appointments. (Jonathan Mills, anyone?)

Even the Observer had Catherine Bennett saying she was in favour of independence but warning Scots not to descend into tartan, Bannockburn and anglophobia.

Is there a common trend here?

Well, there is one I can detect. It is an irresistible temptation to English-based writers to think the independence movement is all about them. In trying to write for a largely English audience they frame the discussion around themselves, rather than the Scots. So independence is a rejection of the English. It is a snub, a slight against well-intentioned Unionists who have agreed to share their wealth and allow Scots into the upper reaches of their society. It seems to be the only way they can interpret what is happening. We are essentially irrational quasi racists. So that explains it then. Is it asking too much that our neighbours give us credit for independent thought, for having a separate history and cultural tradition, distinctive politics, and ambition? Why on earth is self-determination – part of the preamble to the United Nations charter – only comprehensible if it’s seen as rejection of someone else? Rather stunted, petty nationalistic thinking, wouldn’t you say?

Which brings up another point, best represented by Heffer. (I know you can dismiss his rantings as bigotry best ignored but if you add the circulations of the Mail, the Telegraph and Observer you have a few million readers.) It is this. He writes with such sadistic relish in trashing the Scots – and it is all Scots by the way, not just Nats…no escape here for Unionists – that he reveals what I think is a deeper truth. I think Heffer and his tribe actually enjoy the idea of subsidising the Scots. They derive real satisfaction from feeling they lord it over us and brush crumbs from their table. A characteristic of the self-selecting British elite is an effortless assumption of superiority and an epic sense of entitlement, so that even when Britain is mired in one of the world’s worst debt crises – public and private – even when it is deeply uncompetitive, hopelessly unequal, dependent on one main income source, with a medieval parliament, they still believe – utterly – that they know best. Anything else is to be disparaged and derided and if you can add in a dash of ethnic inferiority you further bolster their self-esteem as the Chosen Ones.

Here’s a thought. Why do Scottish Unionists never stand up and condemn this kind of anti-Scottish and indeed, anti-Union, ranting? Douglas Alexander is in the papers warning of the dangers of nationalism. I know. He means Scottish nationalism but is it acceptable for those like Douglas who present themselves as thinkers and leaders to stay silent when those who pretend to be on his side damage his cause and insult his constituents with their British nationalism? Wouldn’t it do him a lot of good in the eyes of all Scots to condemn anyone who writes off his nation and accuses a movement which contains a fair number of his own natural supporters of being racists? Where are you, Douglas? Do you agree with Heffer and Gilligan?

One of the unreported moments from our day on the hill was the speaker who said explicitly that anyone of any nationality was one of us, a fellow Scot, that all were welcome. It got one of the biggest cheers of the day.

Here’s a challenge, Douglas. Could you stand up at the Labour conference and say the same. Could you say people of all backgrounds are welcome in our country – Britain – as equals with equal rights? Would delegates cheer as they did on the hill or would you be met by silence, then whispering from the advisers and hysterical, racist headlines followed by demotion?

The rise of UKIP and a glance at the rapidly developing anti immigrant agenda of the Coalition and Labour points an accusing finger at the real petty nationalists and quasi racists in modern Britain.

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16 thoughts on “please…somebody stop me….

  1. Eradication of our Scottish identity is at the heart of the No Scotland campaign (especially from the British Labour party).Should we vote no,we will be homogenised as the Great British nation.
    Scotland No more.

  2. Very succinctly and eloquently put. My English friends are very badly served by such “journalism”. Someone with sufficient authority should confront “Project Fear” with his rantings and ask if they have an opinion on such guff.

  3. The problem is that this failure of journalism is leaving the rest of the UK in complete ignorance of the debate here. However, since this is the approach they take to everything outwith the M25, there’s nothing new here.

    Significantly, the journalists who actually think about and experience what they’re writing about: Kevin McKenna, Joyce McMillan, Iain MacWhirter all come to mind, have been highly critical of the No campaign, though I think only Ms McMillan has publicly decided to vote Yes.

  4. The mix of subsidy junky and ungrateful louses feeding on English largesse was painfully made manifest on the awful ‘I love my country’ last Saturday when Gabby Logan made an outrageous remark, directed at a Scots presenter, full of mock hurt that ‘you’ were leaving ‘us’ inspite of England rescuing Scotland’s bust banks. The Scot, writhing with embarrassment and proudly proclaiming the Scots Cringe beloved by unionists, meekly mouthed a strangulated ‘never’. Haud me back, is this really the best Scotland can aspire to?
    Thankfully the Yes movement is attracting not only a wide range of people from all manner of backgrounds, but young, articulate and positive people out to remake our ancient nation. Never has voting YES on 18 September been more vital.

  5. Nope … we’re not stopping you…. we’re encouraging you x

  6. Maybe the BBC could televise Jeremy Paxman and Simon Heffer having a chat so we can share their warmth and knowledge.

    As Jeremy wrote – “If I had to list those qualities of the English which most impress me – a quizzical detachment, tolerance, common sense, bloody mindedness, willingness to compromise, their deeply political sense of themselves – I think I should praise this sense of ‘I know my rights’. The attachment to certain hard-earned freedoms lies deep.”

    Their perceived right to govern and preach to the World seems to know no bounds. Is it genetic or nurture?

  7. I am afraid to say that Simon Heffer is beyond help. Catherine Bennett’s article in the Observer was horrendous as well. There was no thought, no ideas in it, or facts, just the same tired old cliches and stereotypes about Scotland, and its politics. I have not read Gilligan’s piece, but after reading Bennett’s article I do not have the motivation. To me the media in the UK do not tend to question the British state at all. These people almost invariably never write articles that properly articulates the real Scotland either. They fail dismally to capture the atmosphere, the humour, the political mood, and the culture of our nation. Reading these articles I always feel an acute disconnect between the Scotland that I know, and the Scotland they imagine exists. This disconnect seems to be growing. Ironically, at the rally on Saturday the person who captured this the best was not a Scottish politician. It was Alan Bissett. Instead of writing their nonsense about Scotland, the likes of Heffer, Bennett, and Gilligan would be well advised to read ‘Vote Britain’, and then reflect on it, before writing their articles.

  8. Quick the suns oot

    They dont condemn anti-Scottishness but then they also dont seem to mind themselves being portrayed as vicious, hostile and vindictive (disrupting cross border trade and travel, we wont let you use the £, we’ll even take your pandas etc etc). The rest of the world must look on in astonishment.

  9. Very eloquently put Derek… Great article….

  10. Absolutely spot-on. I’m working on a gas platform in the north sea at this very minute and the only thing the English lads have to say on the independence referendum is “You all hate England”. On account of what they read in the paper, no less.

    Just last night, I erupted in indignation at this exact remark, decrying each and every one of them (4 on the shift) as being arrogant, narcissistic wankers if they truly believed that rubbish. I tore strips off of each & every one of them for blithely espousing the shite they read in the UK media before considering that in the 15/20 years they’ve worked out of Aberdeen, not a single Scotsman they’ve encountered has made them feel unwelcome. Cue 4 sheepish faces and a very quiet night-shift.

    4 down, 51,999,996 to go.

  11. I worked for the Beeb for 3 years in Bristol, and after a 3 year gap, another 6 for the Beeb in Glasgow. In Bristol I was proud to work for the Corporation, but after 6 years in Glasgow I eventually walked away in disgust in 2006 with voluntary redundancy – the reason being that Glasgow was so totally subservient to London, and there was only so much I could watch us scrapping for the commissioning crumbs off Auntie’s table. Seven years on (and thankfully no longer at work in the media), I am completely and utterly ashamed of BBC Scotland’s coverage of the referendum, and of the fact that I ever worked for them. It is the BBC in Scotland, not of Scotland – a Biased British Corporation that does not understand independence because it is so trapped in its own world of dependence and its next fix from London. Sadly it’s not alone in the British and Scottish media.

    Never mind the Heffers and Gilligans of the printed press – all power to your own pen Derek. It’s one of the few that actually makes sense these days.

  12. The thing is you are preaching to the converted here – we all know that the “Establishment” will use every tool in its wide and deep colonial box to divide and conquer. They have done it so many times before – they wrote the playbook.

    The real message has to be got out to places like the USA, Europe, Japan, China, et al – that Scotland can and will survive nae flourish of its own accord once it is an independent nation. You have to get published in places like Japan Times, Shanghai Daily, Straits Times – Singapore, Huffington Post US – it is easy because they don’t pay and need content and it has a lot of subscribers.

    Try your best to get the message on to these forums/platforms and stop wasting your time with Heffer etc – that is what they want they want to divert delay obstruct – but ignore them get the message out get the truth out around the world.

  13. Late but just reading the back copy so here goes

    The French want no-one to be their superior. The English want inferiors. The Frenchman constantly raises his eyes above him with anxiety. The Englishman lowers his beneath him with satisfaction.

    Alexis de Tocqueville
    Died in 1859.

    Plus ca change

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