Saturday, 6 October 2012

How the SNP uses Anglophobia to split the union

Imagine if the English national anthem were about Flodden, the battle which took place in 1513, when James IV's army invaded England, while Henry VIII was away fighting in France. It could go something like this:

Oh flower of England,
When will we see
your like again,
that fought and died for
your field at fair Flodden
and stood against him
proud James' army
and sent him homeward
in his own coffin.

Can you imagine how the SNP would react if such a song were sung at rugby matches? Can you imagine how they would cry about bias if the anniversary of Flodden were to be used for political purposes 400 years later? Yet they wish to do exactly this with regard to the anniversary of a battle which took place in 1314.

Any Scot, who is not in self denial, knows that there is widespread anti-Englishness in our country. If someone were to go into a Scottish pub, when England were playing football, wearing an England shirt, he would at the very least receive unpleasant comments, assuming he could hear them over and above the abuse directed at the television screen.

Ordinary kind, decent Scots, including nearly all of us at one time or another, unthinkingly say things things about England and the English that we simply would not dream of saying about any other country or people. At times this is just banter and is the sort of humour that everyone enjoys including the English, who equally crack jokes about the French, while remaining very Francophile. But we Scots know of many instances when anti-English comments are not just banter, when such comments and actions really have the power to wound and hurt, when someone is made to feel unwelcome and insulted because of his accent and the place he comes from.

The one thing that this is not, of course, is racism. White English people are the same race as white Scottish people. The experience of racism, which black and Asian people feel in both England and Scotland is qualitatively different from Anglophobia and far more severe. Few Scots would be unwilling to be friends with, or fall in love with, someone from England. English people are not discriminated against in employment. But many English people do find the common, everyday instances of anti-Englishness, which occur in Scotland, unpleasant and distasteful. Even if these experiences should not be confused with racism, they make the English person feel as if he does not belong.

Let's look at an English person in Scotland. Can someone born in England, of English parents and with an English accent, can such a person be a Scot? I would contend that the vast majority of Scots make it quite clear that such a person can not be a Scot, no matter how long he has lived here. What counts as being a Scot is that you are born and bred here and that your accent fits. The key criteria looks very much like family lineage and this is confirmed when we come to that piece of Scottish national dress called  the kilt.

Until recently almost no one in Scotland wore a kilt apart from soldiers and deer stalkers, but now at weddings they are becoming universal. Many Scots don't have a particularly Scottish name. Such Scots might pick a kilt they like and wear it with pride, but there's always someone who wants to ask what clan are you from, and are you entitled to wear that kilt. It's as if, unless you can trace your lineage to Culloden, you're not quite entitled to be a Scot at all. But if someone with a name like Walker or Robinson is not entitled, how is someone with a name like Khan or a name like Kowalski going to gain his entitlement?

To their credit the SNP maintain that they are civic nationalists and not ethnic nationalists. Therefore if asked can someone born in Pakistan, India or Jamaica be a Scot, they would answer yes. But does anyone really believe this? If the English can't be Scots how can the Poles or the Pakistanis? The SNP's civic nationalism is founded on their ethnic nationalism and would collapse without the ethnic nationalism. But this is really the case with all nationalisms. Why do many people in Quebec want independence? Because they speak French, have French names and are descended from people who came from France. Quebec nationalism is almost exclusively felt by these people. Those people living in Quebec who speak English or who are descended from places other than France do not want independence. They want to be Canadians. Quebec nationalists are also civic nationalists, but the foundation of their nationalism like all nationalisms including Scottish nationalism is ethnic nationalism. It is based on membership of a clan, opposed to those who do not belong to the clan.
Of course anti-Englishness is not exclusive to nationalists. Many unionists, unconscious of the contradiction, will express anti-English sentiments such as the commonly expressed idea that when I go on holiday the French or Germans or Italians don't much like the British, but when I point out that I'm Scottish, they are much more pleasant. Anyone who thinks like this, who is willing to drop their Britishness when it is convenient, should be voting for Alex Salmond. The strength of the union is that we are all in it together, that no matter where we come from we're all fundamentally the same. We're all British. Without that feeling, the union begins to creak and will inevitably fall apart. When Scots express Anglophobia they are saying that those people are not the same as me, they are foreigners.  Furthermore this gives rise to ever increasing levels of anti-Scottish sentiments among the English, and so in turn with the Welsh and the Northern Irish. It is for this reason that Mr Salmond seeks to subtly stir up anti-Englishness by continually complaining about rule from London, code for England, saying such people have no right to have a say about what goes on in Scotland. He is saying that such people are not us, they are foreign. When every country in the union hates those who live in every other country, there will no longer be a union, there will just be a small island full of enmity. And that will be a fine legacy for Mr Salmond.

The great thing about Britain is that it enables us to be both Scottish and British. Britishness is inclusive and it is something anyone can feel no matter where their parents came from. It is for this reason that people in Scotland, who were not born and bred here, overwhelmingly support the union. They know that in an independent Scotland, they will not be Scots, not really and neither will they be British. Civic nationalism will allow them to remain, will give them a passport, but the ethnic nationalism which underpins that civic nationalism, will mean that incomers will forever feel like foreigners in their own country. They will live here, but without an identity. They will not really be Scots, they will not quite be entitled. They'll not get to wear the kilt as they have no clan.

Anglophobia is not a nationalist ideology, but it is the foundation of nationalism. Why else choose an anti-English song as an anthem? Why else go on and on about how the English did this and that to us, about how the English oppressed us, how the English say British when we win, Scottish when we lose? Why the chip on our shoulder about the English going on about 1966 when we go on about 1314? In the end the reason that nationalists want to reject Britain is because they can't bear to be associated with the English. The reason they hate the Union Jack is because it contains the cross of Saint George.

Naturally nationalists frequently claim never to have met an SNP member, who is anti-English, but this is like claiming never to have met anti-Englishness in Scotland. A case of self-denial.  The virulence and hatred of the cybernats, resembles very closely that Anglophobia, which many English people, to our shame, meet in Scotland, for it springs from the same source. Scots who are willing to abuse someone because of his accent or his parentage, are just as liable to abuse someone who is opposed to the one thing the cybernat wants above all others an independent Scotland free from England, a Scotland where the English have been sent homeward to think again.
Without anti-Englishness, Scottish nationalism would wither. We Scottish unionists should therefore think carefully when we express anti-English sentiments, as really we are undermining the union and helping to develop the narrow ethnic nationalism, which Mr Salmond needs to win his cause.


  1. Firstly, lets call a spade a spade. This is no more or less than a bitter and twisted attempt to smear the SNP, a Party which has always advocated civic nationalism, the commonweal if you like of the people who happen and choose to live and work in Scotland.

    It is a political concept fundamentally opposed to the sort of ethnic considerations expressed in Effiedeans blog.

    This is not to deny that anti-English sentiment occurs, patently it does in all walks of life. I can recall the former Conservative Minister Iain Lang complaining bitterly of the "English b******s" with whom he was forced to work in the UK Government.

    In short, EffieDeans could have looked closer to home among ScotsUnionists to find examples of exactly the kind of sectarianism complained of.

    I would challenge the blog writer to provide a single example of anti-English sentiment from the SNP leadership.

    Frankly this piece is ill-informed and illiterate, but more than that it is a deliberate slur and smear attempting to portray the SNP (and those who support its aims)as extremist and xenophobic.

    To that extent it forms part of what is fast becoming a dangerous and divisive narrative from the Unionist No/Better Campaign. It is a disgrace, the author should be ashamed for peddling such drivel.

  2. "The great thing about Britain is that it enables us to be both Scottish and British. Britishness is inclusive and it is something anyone can feel no matter where their parents came from. It is for this reason that people in Scotland, who were not born and bred here, overwhelmingly support the union. They know that in an independent Scotland, they will not be Scots, not really and neither will they be British. Civic nationalism will allow them to remain, will give them a passport, but the ethnic nationalism which underpins that civic nationalism, will mean that incomers will forever feel like foreigners in their own country. They will live here, but without an identity. They will not really be Scots, they will not quite be entitled. They'll not get to wear the kilt as they have no clan."

    That might be the most offensively idiotic rubbish I've ever heard from a Unionist. You make me ashamed of my nation.

  3. About twenty years ago i was British. Despite being born in England with an English lineage that i personally traced back to the turn of the 19th century. Yup! English from the top of me old noggin to the tip of me toes.
    But my government was British, my passport says British. My father fought in WW2 with the British army. My grandfather died in WW1 with the British army. We who lived on this island were British.
    Then came Blair. Who decided to 'stop Scottish nationalism in it's tracks' by giving Scotland a devolved Assembly/Parliament/Government. This was extended to Wales and to N.Ireland. But wait, isn't something missing? What happened to England in all of this?
    I'll tell you. We were forgotten, ignored. They attempted to chop us into nine Euro regions and thankfully failed at the first hurdle.
    To this day, politically England doesn't exist. Westminster politicians resolutely avoid saying 'England' or 'English' Even when discussing purely English affairs. The Celtic nations still vote on English affairs when reciprocation is not allowed.
    It's only the English who are now required to be British. The rest can choose.
    If you want your Britain back. You need to scrap devolution and return to unified British governence.
    Personally i think it's all gone too far now. Whether Scotland votes for succesion in 2014 or nor, Britain is heading for separation. Bring it on! I want my England back.

    1. Secession not 'succession', which they think occurred in 1603. That notwithstanding, they can't secede; the kingdom can only be dissolved by an act of the British parliament, which requires a majority of English votes. Their independence is in our gift, and, when we have brought our masters to heel, independence is what we will give them, whether they want it or not.

  4. The American National Anthem written about a victory over the British in 1812.

    O say can you see by the dawn's early light,
    What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
    Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
    O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
    And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
    O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

    Do British people feel offended by these words? Almost certainly not.

    Personally, I think National Anthems are stupid things, but if you were to scour the national anthems of the world and cleanse them of all references to nasty events of the past, you would be left with a load of platitudes and politically correct soundbites.

    1. I dislike national anthems (I certainly don't want an English one) and hate flags, the union flag in particular, but I must confess to an almost unmanly liking for the CoSG.

  5. As an Englishman who worked in Scotland for two years, and my wife intermittently for considerably longer, I can confidently say that Anglophobia seems coded in the Scotch DNA and while not all Scots are Anglophobic, I am convinced that no Scot is untouched by the disease, which, despite your use of a narrow and restrictive modern definition is racism (Bede wrote of the races of Britain and Northern Europe in ways that modern diversity commissars will not understand).

    Whenever I make remarks that Scots dislike, remarks that reflect the remarks made to me in Scotland, I am accused by them of some sort of racism, and, in truth, it is racism, if race is thought of as Bede used it, for racism is the basis of nationalism, and the nation state, based on a foundation of people who know themselves to have common origins and a common identity and to have suffered because of that, and to have a common future which they intend to pass on to their children. Without that a culture, and the society it sustains, falls apart and everyone, even the 'incomers' you allude to, suffers. Having seen and experienced Scotch racism towards the English I have no desire to live there but I know that those English people who do, and live there happily, will not feel that they lack an identity after the dissolution of the union.

    I don't care whether or not the Scotch identity is based on a hatred of the English, and one of the first acts of the Scotch parliament was to commission a study into that aspect of Scotch culture, and I don't care whether the Scotch vote for independence or not; I care only that the people of England, whether English or not, are freed from the burden that is Scotland. I can understand the antipathy towards me of Scotch nationalists, and as an English nationalist I welcome it. However, Britishness is now meaningless (What interests do I hold in common with a Mohammedan rabble rouser and hate monger who screams for my destruction and whom judges and bureaucrats from countries my forefathers fought to preserve me from have forbidden us to remove even when we believe they present a threat to our safety?) and I cannot understand the spurious concerns of unionists of any colour, except by believing that they see their long-term interests best served by my permanent disadvantage.

    Scotch nationalists are racists, by which I mean that they rightly put the interests of their race/nation before those of any other. What they are not, regardless of often disgustingly unflattering comments in Scotch pubs every four years, are genocidal Anglophobes, unlike British unionists, who seek to annihilate all that is vigorous not just in England but in Scotland as well.

    I long for the dissolution of a 'union' that disadvantages England for the benefit of people who eat from the English table and insult me and my compatriots while doing so but I will not suffer the preaching of a unionist that my disadvantage must be prolonged ostensibly in order that those of my kind who have left my country are not alienated north of our northern border.

    That simply won't wash, as we say in England.