Letter: Why Scots hate the English

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The Independent Online
I WRITE as an Englishman who has been domiciled - ie, resident and intending to remain so - in Scotland for some 22 years. Neal Ascherson's article 'Scotland's patient nationalism could turn nasty' embodies views I have been developing over the past decade.

It is unfortunate that history, particularly English history, is littered with examples of people, or groups of people, who feel they have genuine grievances but are ignored by the government of the day until they have exhausted all legitimate means of bringing their grievances to notice and the men of violence come to the top.

Scotland and its inhabitants do have grievances. We have distinctive legal and educational systems, both of which we happen to think are preferable to those south of the border. But their distinctiveness is increasingly ignored by our masters in Westminster.

We have the Trident refit given to Plymouth to save Tory votes in south-west England after it was promised to Rosyth, leaving us with the nuclear ordure and danger to no benefit. We have Ravenscraig shut to save jobs in England. We have Scottish mountains prospected for nuclear dumps when blue marl clay is the most impermeable rock and has the advantage of self-sealing after any geological event; could it be that it was not considered because it was under south-east England?

The worry is that ''the English' rather than the English establishment are being blamed by the Scots. This tendency is exacerbated by the innocent but ignorant and ill-mannered assumption of incoming English people that Scottish culture and custom is identical to their own: the English family who tries to prevent locals using a footpath because it passes through their garden; the English employer who asks job applicants how many A-levels they have (Scotland has Highers); the failure to understand crofting law when a holiday home is purchased; the failure to accept open access to the hills for pleasure walking, to quote a few examples.

My fear is that many of us who have taken the trouble to learn and partake of the Scottish culture, and who may even support independence, will wake up one morning to slogans painted on our walls, or worse, as the persons of violence inevitably rise to the top.

J C Ballard

Uphall, West Lothian