As others see us

Last night BBC 2’s Newsnight programme concluded its four part look at how Brexit and this election is affecting the unitary state which it pleases opponents of independence to call the Union. Last night it was England’s turn, and the reporter went to Grantham in Lincolnshire, a strongly pro-Brexit constituency in the East of England and the home town of Margaret Thatcher, to ask local voters about their views on Scotland and the other nations in the UK.

The segment started with the reporter, Elizabeth Glinka, asking a group of youth footballers how many of them regarded themselves as English. A large majority raised their hands, although it was noticeable that the three or four Black and Minority Ethnic kids did not. The message was clear, English nationalism is on the rise, yet it seems to be exclusive and based in a sense of ethnic identity which is not so dominant in Scotland.

There were voices who spoke of their regret that Scotland was being pushed away, but the dominant attitudes on display were pretty much what we’ve come to expect, a mixture of patronising arrogance, ignorance, and entitlement all viewed through the prism of the unshakeable belief that Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are possessions of Greater England. One person speaking proclaimed that Britain conquered half the world, so Scotland couldn’t possibly become independent. The other nations of the UK, another man stated, can’t go because they can’t finance themselves. They are just a “little bits of Britain”, far away and insignificant. Another man stated that if the UK finished, the world would be finished. A third speaker said that the typical attitude locally – one which he stressed that he did not share himself – was that Scotland could go to hell.

What was clear from the Newsnight report was that there is no appetite or interest in England for compromising on Brexit in order to keep Scotland within the UK.  It was also clear that there’s a huge amount of resentment against Scotland for daring to be different, a resentment founded upon a lack of understanding. England doesn’t know Scotland, and doesn’t understand Scotland’s point of view. So it’s only natural that they view Scotland through a prism of English resentments and we get told that we only want independence because we hate the English. People in England have no other information to go on, so it’s hardly surprising that they attempt to make sense of Scotland based upon their prejudices and misunderstandings. The UK media doesn’t attempt to explain Scotland to them – it makes no attempt to explain Scotland to Scotland never mind the rest of the UK. Where there’s a vacuum of knowledge, ignorance rushes in to fill the gap.

Similar attitudes were also to be seen in a video which was shared on social media by, amongst others, the Conservative commentator Toby Young, the guy who vies with Piers Morgan for the title of the UK’s most odious man. The nature of the video ought to have been clear even before you saw it all, as it bore the stamp Darren is the pro-Brexit activist who was at the centre of allegations about misspending by the Leave EU campaign. Darren now runs the digital media operation for the Institute of Economic Affairs, which calls itself a think tank, but which is more accurately described as a lobbying organisation for corporate, right wing, and pro-Brexit interests. The accountability group Transparify, which rates so-called think tanks according to the transparency of their funding, classes the IEA as “highly opaque”.

The video which Darren produced was a warning about what right wing English nationalists would like us to think would happen if Jeremy Corbyn got into power and agreed to a Scottish independence referendum. “Vote Corbyn, lose Scotland”, announced the video. Note the perspective there. Scotland is a possession for English nationalists to lose or retain, not another nation which has a right to decide for itself where its future lies. The video itself was a farrago of factual inaccuracies. Which is pretty much what we’ve come to expect from proponents of Brexit. The video was so far removed from any recognisable truth that it passed through the irritation barrier and became amusing instead. It’s the Patronising Better Together Woman of this election campaign.

The video treated us to a trot through the Better Together campaign’s greatest hits. Scotland wouldn’t be able to buy the NHS. Because apparently it would still belong to the rest of the UK. Scotland isn’t entitled to any publicly owned assets, not even those in Scotland. The Royal Bank of Scotland would leave. UK military bases would close down. BBC Scotland would cease broadcasting – and we were told that like it was a bad thing. We even got the Spanish veto warning which has been debunked more often than Piltdown Man. So there’s Darren, a guy who has spent the last few years making sure that the UK is taken out of the EU, actually trying to threaten us with a scare story saying that an independent Scotland wouldn’t be allowed into the EU.

Rabbie Burns once expressed the wish that the pouers wad gie us the gift tae see oorsels as ithers see us. In modern Scotland we have that all the time, but it’s not a gift it’s a curse. The only reflections that the British media shows of Scotland are those viewed through the distorting mirror of English nationalism. So we learn that we are far away and insignificant, existing solely in order to bolster the self-esteem of English nationalists. Our country is a mere appendage, not entitled to decide its future for itself, told that it’s too weak and too poor to make it by itself. And we internalise those views, because they’re the only ones that we are taught. It is indeed a gift to see ourselves as others see us, but only if we are first grounded in a solid understanding of ourselves.

The UK media deprives Scotland of that understanding. It also deprives the rest of the UK of that understanding, and that’s one of the most important reasons why the UK is currently in the state it is, a state in its final days. The Union never really existed, we can see that every time we turn on the TV.

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23 thoughts on “As others see us

  1. Pingback: As others see us | speymouth

  2. In 2014 the BBC was an asset Better Together used as a threat, go independent and you will lose it. The boot is on the other foot now, if you don’t vote for independence then you will keep it, Imagine broadcasting where you could buy just the programmes you want and reject their news and current affairs. News and current affairs seen through a Scottish prism without the contributors having to make sure they don’t displease their masters in London (not if they want any progress in ‘the corporation’, Don Canleone will make sure they never find a Scottish BAFTA in their bed, just some rotten fish donated by the SFF).

    Of course the BBC denies this, but anyone who has worked their knows the pecking order and the penalty for being seen as rogue. BBC Scotland is the same as BBC Manchester in their eyes, not really a nation but overseen under the same group as English regions, (a bit like that Tory who voiced the same opinion regarding Scotland and a county in England).

    • The Daily Politics today is evidence enough, Jim .
      Hosted by the London centric Jo Coburn, who had a lengthy ‘apprenticeship’ under the arch right wing Uncle Tam, Andrew Neill, her guest to day were, Iain Martin, of The Times, who although born in Paisley, you would never know it from his accent. He’s a fan of Nigel Farage and thinks that this blithering fool (check out Eddy Mair’s LBC destruction of Farage) should get a peerage.

      Then Miranda Green, billed as ‘The Financial Times’, erstwhile Press Secretary of the Lib Dems as far back as the Paddy Pantsdown days, and regular on Andrew Neil’s binned This Week late night Blue Tory Fest, and, the new Director of the John Smith Institute, somebody called Kezia Dugdale, who in a previous life, before Lynnard Skynnard came along to claim her title, was the most abject failure as leader of the Northern Branch Office ever.

      You may recall that it is John Smith’s widow, and her daughter, sister of BBC Sarah Smith, who set up this Stink Tank.

      But there can be no question of nepotism of bias.

      After all, given her resounding failure as a politician and Jungle contestant, Ms Dugdale surely has the expertise and gravitas to analyse the current political situation; or perhaps no; or perhaps never in a million years.

      Yet there she sat, pocketing appearance money, and contributing almost nothing, as most of this WM bubble involved matters English

      Except a wee interview with the very capable Kirsty Blackman, who was resolute.
      The Scottish Government has always opposed any form of Brexit; it has had a mandate to call Indyref 2 already.
      If there is a hung Parliament, Corbyn only needs to pick up the phone, and agree that Indyref 2 will happen during 2020.
      No ifs, no buts.
      Coburn was visibly shaken.

      Kezia looked nice, right enough.

      The price of failure; rich rewards as long as you back England against Scotland.
      Speaking of. Tom Harris and Ruth Davidson have teamed up to back Boris and Brexit.
      Next they’ll be on Janice Forsyth Radio shortbread Arts shows reviewing movies and the latest Rolling Stones album
      Corrupt incestuous Brit Nat Better together troughers squeezing the last morsal of graft before we go independent and send them packing, including the BBC.
      I can taste steel in the air.

  3. Been a long time saying exactly this – but I have the ‘advantage’ of living in England where these views are not exactly uncommon. Unfortunately some of the most trenchant opinions against independence are from Scottish ex-pats who remain staunch unionists.

    The only thing standing in the way of Scottish independence is a minority of Scots and a handful of politicians. If indeyfef2 was a UK wide vote – we’d all be celebrating.

      • Yes, it’s very sad. I call them the Brigadoon’s. Have been playing the folk club circuit down here for a few years and it’s bizarre. Most of the English are hugely supportive of Scottish independence for all sorts of reasons – a few in resentment but mostly in support of what is written on these pages. When I hear a Scottish accent, my natural reaction is to disappear. That’s certainly been the case since the 2014 referendum – and more so since the Brexit vote. It’s embarrassing and never, ever worth the effort. When there’s a significant presence, I usually finish with ‘Parcel o’ Rogues’ – but it’s probably lost on them. Never wait to find out…

    • scottish people living in England have to be staunch unionists to survive
      They may not necessarily speak what the think
      You could lose your friends , your job , your children could be castigated and excluded
      It’s not worth the risk
      So they conform outwardly
      Been there done that

      It’s what many English people living in Scotland do too

      It’s what people all over the world do

      Fitting in it’s called

  4. No IndyRef2 in Corbyn’s “First term” apparently.

    Who in God’s name does he think he’s kidding?

    Surely no excuse now for the SNP to prop up a Labour disaster zone at Westminster?

  5. In any abusive relationship,the abuser always thinks the relationship is all about them and the
    abusee has no say in what happens.
    We have to nail the abusive idea that England subsidises Scotland and that,of course,we cannot survive without them.
    The Tories used British Labour in Scotland as the fall guys/gals during the Smith Commission to ensure that Scotland didn’t get it’s hands on any meaningful economic levers which might benefit our country.
    As for expat Scots living in England,I think they are only too aware of how they would be regarded should Scotland tell England to take a hike.
    Understandable from their point of view (expats that is) since they will have to continue living there.

  6. Bravo sir, well said indeed…
    Danny Dorling did a brilliant exposition of the manner in which education and history has deliberately mal-informed generations of kids in the UK for decades, little wonder their views on Scotland, Europe, or any other nation of the world is so tragically distorted.
    Finbar O’Toole has repeatedly invoked the ghost of Empire for all this unravelling in Society and the rise of English Nationalism, he foresaw no happy endings.
    “Vote Corbyn, lose Scotland”, vote Swinson lose Scotland, vote Mirage lose Scotland, whether it be Gravesend or Hartlepool, Scotland is gone. Aside the Teessiders cheering us all the way to Independence then requesting to be annexed, Gravesend sounds particularly well named.

  7. Neatly done Paul.

    These folk are going to believe what they’ve been spoon fed all their living days. For most, it simply won’t have occurred that the narrative was flawed, driven by political bias, self interest, or in some cases a mixture of all of the above… plus cringe. They are what they are and believe what they believe. The belief in that narrative won’t change until we make it change and the effects are seen and felt right in front of their eyes. Perhaps not even then for some (shrugs).

    Just watched LBJs speech… Oh Jinkies! He really, REALLY, doesn’t do joined up thinking.

    If anyone else catches it? Pay close attention to what he considers his ‘vision’ for union.

    • Switched it off when it just repeated the maybot’s mantra, just the same soundbites repeated over and over.
      The vehicle that he was extolling the virtues of:-
      Built by a Chinese company,
      The engine is built by Volvo,
      The electric motor is built by Siemens and
      the battery pack is of Chinese manufacture.

      Allowed to tell lies without being pulled up.
      At the piece where he said he only needed 9 more MPs to have a majority I lost interest.

      All on today’s message from CCHQ.
      An orator he is not just a rambling adolescent.

  8. Scotland’s ‘relationship’ with her abusive partner … From exactly 9 months before Indy Ref 1 (Go figure.)

    Some names will need to be changed (and the fact that Jack Union has subsequently ‘voluntarily’ removed himself from the Europa Arms, without any help from Bea Russell), but the essence remains the same. (By the way, a lot of my readers have queried, ‘Who is Beattie?”. The answer of course is, BT = Betray us Together.)

    And yes, like Mark Russell, I am in exile in England and get to hear the anti-Welsh *and* anti-Scottish sentiment of some of my neighbours.

    43. (of 60.

    Angela Alba’s having a baby

    Angela Alba lives in a small town, not so far away and she’s having a baby. Of that, there’s no doubt. All the tests in her white paper checklist have proved positive, and now, nine months down the line, she knows she’s going to give birth to a new life form. It’s all so very exciting, and Angela’s feeling pretty excited too. It will be a momentous day in her life and she knows it will change her perspectives and her ways of thinking forever. She also knows that after so many years of domestic abuse, she will finally be very happy. Angela has made a vow to herself and her unborn baby that she will do everything in her power to love him (or her) with as much mother’s love as she can. The baby will want for nothing and Angela will ensure that it gets all that it needs in support to ensure that it stands proud on its own two feet and look the world straight in the eye.

    These last few years have been a trial for Angela. Her husband, Jack Union (Angela had at least kept her dignity and her maiden name on marrying – but little else) is an abusive, boorish, uncaring man. He has often left Angela in the lurch by going on various boozy fuelled trips with his mates, in particular Sam Washington. Many is the time that Angela has heard that they’ve been involved in fights at various pubs – the latest one being a fracas in the Baghdad Arms. It came as no surprise to Angela that both Jack and Sam were no longer welcome at the Baghdad Arms – they’ve been banned from so many other pubs in town. Even the patience of the landlady of the European pub, Bea Russell, was wearing a bit thin, and she was on the verge of issuing a final warning to Jack Union, before excluding him entirely from her hostelry.

    Invariably too, Jack Union is an aggressive, selfish man. He keeps most of the money that he earns from Angela in order to maintain his boozy, self-centred lifestyle. He rarely gives anything to her. Indeed, so uncaring is he towards his partner, that Jack Union is not averse to taking her money too, leaving Angela poor and upset at home. Far too often, Angela is also the victim of domestic violence at the hands of Jack Union.

    Angela has thought of leaving her abusive husband on many occasions. In 1979, she had attempted to break free of him, but through a cunning ruse and frightening her into thinking that she couldn’t live without him, Jack Union had ‘persuaded’ Angela to stay.

    Then, in 1997, after years of neglect, Jack bought Angela a new kitchen. Doubtless, he thought he was being very magnanimous towards his wife. But Angela saw things differently. Yes, the kitchen was a boon, it was a place of her own where she could do her own thing and think her own thoughts, but in reality it only served as a place where she continued cooking and slaving for her husband. She was not truly free of his influence even then, not independent, and invariably if Angela did something wrong in the kitchen – burning Jack’s toast, for example – Jack would bawl at her for being ‘too weak, too poor, too stupid.’ She couldn’t even get such basic things right, he’d shout. He would then storm out of the house and join Sam Washington in a local bar and get drunk, all the while decrying Angela.

    Angela is by now convinced that her relationship with Jack Union has broken down irretrievably. Their partnership is no longer one of two equals – if it ever was. She wants a divorce and she wants one quickly. But she’s also sensible enough to realise that she has to insist on her fair share of the assets of their marriage. She has consulted her good friend, Nicola, a specialist in family law, and she has advised Angela how best to go about it. Although she’s now pregnant, Angela can’t see that the baby will change anything or bring both her and Jack Union together. It’s gone too far for that, and indeed, knowing her husband’s behaviour, Angela’s aware that he didn’t want this baby.

    Jack Union is associating with Beattie, who has made a name for herself as ‘the village bike.’ She takes on all-comers, though it seems that Jack Union is her favourite ‘client.’ She’s a crabby, embittered woman (not unlike her sisters, Johann and Margaret) and is jealous of the fact that Angela Alba’s pregnant. Her own son, George London, has gone south and made a name for himself as a banker someplace in the City, where he has retained many of his mother’s egotistical characteristics. He has never given the town a second thought since as he has pursued his own selfish goals – but he has retained the affections of and for his mother, Beattie. This is only to be expected, but Beattie and her son still seem to be linked by an invisible umbilical chord, years after the latter’s birth.

    Beattie will have strong words with Jack Union about Angela’s forthcoming delivery. There are those in the little town who whisper darkly that Beattie and Jack are already conspiring to ensure that Angela abort the foetus before the end of her term or that they are trying to induce her to miscarry. There must be some truth in this, as both Jack Union and Beattie are often seen leaping out of the shadows, projecting fear onto poor Angela.

    But Angela is a resilient character. And aided and counselled by her good friend and lawyer, Nicola, who along with other members of the latter’s legal partnership of Jenkins, Canavan and Salmond LLP, is helping her maintain her dignity through it all. Angela Alba will stand tall, look the bullies in the eye, give birth in nine months time to a bonny, wee baby, divorce her husband and make a new life for herself and her offspring. The rest of the little town will be so happy for her – she will truly be an independent woman, and be free of the machinations of her soon to be ex-husband, Jack Union.

    Both he and Beattie will be run out of town.

    Parables for the New Politics

  9. Your average English punter does not have clue about their countries history.
    The English have been occupied for centuries by peoples from all over Europe. Where does their bloody language come from, do they know.

    They go on about the Empire which looted half the wealth of the planet, bumped off 150 million people and enslaved a billion. And at its hieght the people of these so called great British Isles were living in abject poverty, a poverty so bad that Ghandi remarked that it was worse than what was inflicted upon the people of India during its British occupation.
    Although it has been estimated that £45 trillion disappeared from India, offshore banking anyone.
    So who is in charge today in their wonderful England, is it the German royal family or is it still the 1066 Normans, do any English people have a clue.

  10. Well said Paul….Your last paragraph sums it up succinctly.

    “The UK media deprives Scotland of that understanding. It also deprives the rest of the UK of that understanding, and that’s one of the most important reasons why the UK is currently in the state it is, a state in its final days. The Union never really existed, we can see that every time we turn on the TV.”

  11. English people just like Scottish people see through the BBC and it’s distortion of the truth
    But make no mistake about it
    They are hurt
    Hurt that Scotland wants independence
    Hurt that they now know we will get it
    So they have become resentful

    Hateful of what they believe to be
    Scotland supported financially for three hundred years by generous England and now
    biting the hand that feeds it
    Ungratefully talking of independence

    Until now they didn’t think Scotland would want independence it’s too poor
    Until now they didn’t think Scottish independence was possible
    Theresa May says NO Boris Johnson says NO

    Now they have suddenly realised Scottish independence is possible so they are saying we will get nothing and they will do everything they can to make sure we get nothing
    All our belongings tucked away in English museums and galleries and elsewhere will not be returned to us on gaining independence
    The North Sea area they stole from us will not be returned to us on independence

    Prepare to fight for what belongs to us

    England has always behaved this way

    This report highlights what I’ve always known since I lived in England for many years
    Look at the countries around the world still trying to get their belongings back from England that were stolen and shipped off to England

    It’s not the BBC to blame for how they think
    It’s the English way

    I didn’t ever believe my parents when they told me as a youngster that people in Scotland think differently to people in England about basic things in life

    But it’s true

    That old saying people across the world are the same is nonsense
    They’re not
    Sure you get good and bad equally everywhere
    But people in different countries think differently about basic ways to live their lives

    English people and Scottish people are different
    We do not think the same
    When it comes to how life should be lived

  12. They sound like the sorts who will be interviewed after Scotland is a successful independent state full of indignation that this situation is ‘allowed’ to pertain and insisting we pay for this that and everything. The resentment after the effects of Brexit are manifest will be huge and the Britnat media will be keen to find someone else to demonise and blame. The same way immigrants who contribute more and take less than native people are blamed for the greed of the rich and mismanagement of neoliberal politicians.

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