With TV attacking the Englishing of
Scotland, Robert Dawson Scott confesses to an English birth, but does that make him less of 3 Scot?
I don’t know if you saw (ieorgc Rosie's programme on the Linglishing ofSeotland last Monday. but even if you missed it you can hardly have escaped the editorialising and letter-writing which has surrounded it. The gist was that Scotland’s culture is being enfeebled and eroded because many nationalinstitutions universities. at'tsorganisationsandsoforth are run by l'ttgllslt people.
’l‘he programme was careful to pay tribute to a number of incoiners who have contributed mightily to Scottiin life and it was not able to explain in what way the various principals of universities. theatre directors etc had diminished Scottish cultural life apart from a generalised claim that the English tended to employ other English people.
Its most telling argument concerned the number of incoming students at Scottish universities which it is thought threatens the traditionally broad based Scottish curriculum. Interestingly. though.
. . . l the most persuasive apologist for the |
Scottisheducationsystem in the programme was Sir ( irahain l lills. principal of Strathclyde l'niversity and an linglishman.
What made the student example work was that the students. with only a limited time to spend in Scotland. make no attempt to learn about Scottish culture and history . The active decision ofan adult to come and live here permanently is surely quite a different matter.
I have to declare an interest here. By any standard yardstick I am linglish; l was born there and so were both my parents. I came here in NM and have since. I am proud to say. married a Scottish woman. Although I was sympathetically disposed to the idea of Scotland as a separate nation. I confess that I was still staggered by just how dilferent it was w hen I got here. One ofthe first things l had to do was go out and relearn history ; if you want to take part in halfthe conversations that go on in Scotland. you have to.
I could go on for pages about why I now choose to live here and have no . desire to go back to the south east of lingland. 'I‘lie /eal of the com ert knows no boundaries. lndeedl would pledge my allegiance to Scotland rather than l‘ngland il there w as any mechanism for doing
so. I do sometimes wonder how many Scots would do the same if push came to shove. I still find the 197‘) devolution vote fiasco hard to understand. I also often find the Scots attitude to those who wish to embrace their culture condescending if not hostile. It’s as if you’re not allowed to play the game unless you're in the club but you can’t join. What makes it even more perplexing is that not many Scots want to join the club either. The self-appointed guardian of Scottish culture. the Saltire Society. has the devil ofa job to recruit members. because there's a whole other bunch of Scots for whom Scottish culture has nothing to do with Burns night and St Andrew's Day. Anyway. is an accident of birth enough to make someone a Scot or not a S’cot‘.’ What about all those who were born here and then were whisked off to Nairobi or Brisbane when they were two‘.’ 'l‘he linglish countryside is peppered
with people born north ofthe Border
whose only contribution to and interest in Scotland is to cheer for the Scots in the rugby internationals but w ho would no sooner bring their skills and their capital back to Scotland than ﬂy over the moon. lean see that there has been a watering down of nationality ever since .lames \'I hightailed it for the
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bright lights of London as soon as he could in 1603. He was the one. King of Scots notwithstanding. who happily announced ‘I lere I sit and govern it (Scotland) with my pen.‘ What that started. and the Parliamentary l'nion exacerbated. was a link between the educated ruling class north and south of the border. 'l'hey go to the same sort of schools. the same universities and they give each other jobs. But this is not nationality. it is class— admittedly an linglish notion but just as resented in the north of England as in Scotland where arrogant insensitive white settlers from the south east use their financial muscle to impose their will.
'l'he people who head tip the big institutions should be the least ofthe worries of those concerned with Scottish culture. For the most part they are sensible. able people sensitive to Scottish identity. More to the point. their positions are extremelyexposed. lfthey'ever do something not in the Scottish interest the excellent Scottish media are down on them like a ton of bricks. Much more serious a threat are the people who buy a castle in Argy'll for the price of a broom cupboard in London and then insist that the corner shop in lnverary carries Time Out.
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