Letter: Bigotry in Scotland

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The Independent Culture
Sir: While I agree with Deborah Orr's point (Review, 16 August) that it is a positive thing that there is at last some acknowledgement of the problem of racism in Scotland, I disagree with her optimism when she concludes that she is "certain" that the change needed in Scotland will come.

I recently spent eight weeks working in Aberdeen, a predominantly affluent, middle-class city with one of the highest standards of living in Britain. There I encountered more racism, bigotry and narrow-mindedness than I, from my comfortable west London background, could have imagined existed in mainstream Britain.

The bigotry I encountered was not only anti-English, it was anti-Asian, homophobic and misogynistic. More importantly, it was not the brutal, jealous bigotry of the underprivileged. It was a calm, comfortable contented bigotry born of a deeply parochial society, happy with itself and not accepting of difference of any kind.

While devolution may generally be seen as a positive move in Scotland, it appears also to encourage the rising tide of a certain negative, insular type of nationalism. And demographic movement in Scotland seems generally to be one of departure down south or abroad, making it unlikely that in the near future there will be any significant challenge to the closed attitude of many Scots towards that which is different.


Kew, Surrey