Scots reveal anti-English sentiment

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The Independent Online
IT MAY be regarded as the banter of friendly rivalry but the Scottish view of the English as "the auld enemy" may conceal deeper racist tendencies.

Two out of every three Scots, a new survey reveals, harbour anti-English feelings and more than four in 10 ethnic minority Scottish residents believe Scots are racist.

The survey followed comments by the comedian Billy Connolly accusing the Scottish National Party of stirring up"new racism" in Scotland.

In an interview with a Scottish newspaper, Connolly said: "It's entirely their fault [the SNP], this new racism in Scotland, this anti-Englishness. It was a music-hall joke before - you know, like Yorkshire v Lancashire or Glasgow v Edinburgh. But there's a viciousness to it now that I really loathe and it is their fault entirely."

His views seemed to be borne out by the telephone poll of 800 people from across Scotland by Scottish Opinion. The survey, for the Scottish Daily Record newspaper, found that 66 per cent of those questioned agreed with the statement: Many people in Scotland are anti-English.

The poll also found that 49 per cent of non-ethnic minority and 44 per cent of ethnic minority respondents believed Scotland has a racism problem.

Connolly, who was born and brought up in Glasgow, believes the SNP has stoked the fires of nationalism to a point that borders on racism.

The comedian, who is based in the United States but recently bought a mansion in Aberdeenshire, also denounced the Scottish Parliament, which has its opening ceremony on Thursday, as a "joke". He said: "There are a lot of people talking about things like self- determination, but they are abstracts. What you've actually got is another layer of government and they've sneaked in proportional representation, a third of whom you didn't vote for. It's an enormous joke."

But Connolly's public toe-dipping into Scottish politics brought a swift response from the SNP which rejected his allegations. A spokesman said: "Billy Connolly calls the Scottish Parliament and proportional representation 'an enormous joke'. He is undoubtedly a fine comedian but when it comes to politics, I'm afraid the joke's on him. He says in the interview that he is a stranger to Glasgow nowadays. On the basis of these off-the-wall remarks, he is also a stranger to the views of the vast majority of Scots who are enthusiastic about the Parliament and will dismiss his absurd remarks about the SNP for the nonsense they are."

However, Connolly's jibe at the Parliament highlighted what is shaping up to be a celebrity-free zone on Thursday.He is one of many famous Scots who have declined to attend the ceremony. Others include Robbie Coltrane, Sir Alex Ferguson and Craig Brown. Sean Connery, the SNP's most high-profile supporter, is expected to attend.