The English can never truly understand Scottish nationalism

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Sunday 19 March 2017 16:33
Nicola Sturgeon has called for a second independence referendum
Nicola Sturgeon has called for a second independence referendum

Patrick Cockburn's piece is one of the best analyses I have ever read about English perceptions and delusions about our relations with Scotland and indeed with the rest of the world.

I was a student at Edinburgh University in the 1960s and worked in Edinburgh in the 1980s. I learnt how to handle the constant drip drip of anti-English sentiment, not only in the media but in daily social intercourse; but I also came to understand the deep-seated irritation of many Scots at English arrogance, sometimes imagined but more often than not all too real, which is always perceived as patronising by the Scots and is rarely if ever acknowledged or understood by the English. The roots of Scotland's hurt lie deep in history, but the perceived slights have persisted in modern times, with successive Westminster governments failing to engage with or to understand Scottish attitudes and concerns and entirely worthy national self-image. It is to the shame of many leading Scots politicians in London that they have been more interested in their careers than in helping to change Westminster perceptions about their nation. The tin ear that Patrick Cockburn refers to has in recent years destroyed both the Tory and Labour parties in Scotland.

But as Cockburn rightly points out, this is just one expression of a much wider and longer term problem of England's lack of self-knowledge. One could argue that our curious blend of arrogance and self-deprecation is part of our charm; but our often complete failure to understand or care how the rest of the world perceives us might in the end prove fatal to our holding our own in this post imperial world.

We missed our opportunity to take a lead in the EU and to promote subsidiarity and curb the political ambitions of the Brussels bureaucracy. We have been content to abuse Europe and its politicians from the sidelines, leaving others to set the agendas. We still cherish the absurd delusion of a Special Relationship with the United States, with whom our distant cultural ties have never been as important as our trading relationships with our close neighbours in Europe. Throughout the years of Empire we exploited subject peoples and their resources and belittled their cultures and, to be blunt, treated them like inferior beings; yet we are surprised and hurt when even second or third generation immigrants don't always buy into our vision of Englishness with great enthusiasm. And we may yet find ourselves surprised that few of our former colonial possessions will be falling over themselves to offer us great trade deals, if and when we find our trade with Europe dramatically reduced.

Theresa May and the three Brexiteers are playing shamelessly to some of England's most deep-seated prejudices and delusions about itself. Those of us who still love England, and have a quiet but not jingoistic pride in its traditions and its many cultural achievements, find all this extremely depressing.

Gavin Turner

The English should move to Scotland

At the SNP conference, Nicola Sturgeon invites the English to move to Scotland.

Were Scotland, with its 10 per cent deficit, to become independent and try to join the EU, English workers would indeed be welcome. Ms Sturgeon could then inflict upon them the massive tax rises and swingeing cuts to public services that Scots would be enduring. This will be necessary to reduce Scotland's deficit to three per cent, as mandated by EU entry rules.

Excellent wheeze, Nicola.

Martin Redfern

We should be happy when politicians U-turn on bad policies

Am I alone in being sick of the shrieks of glee which ridicule every political so-called U-turn?

God save us from politicians who walk on water and never admit to making mistakes. Every one of us makes U-turns of one kind or another, every week of the year.

I hold no brief for this despicable Government, but at least May didn't repeat Thatcher's obduracy over the Poll Tax. In the Brexit mine-studded morass into which she's hell-bent on rushing us, may there be many more U-turns for which we'll be truly thankful.

Richard Humble

An open letter to Theresa May

I am writing to congratulate you on your single mindedness, dogmatic stance and arrogant attitude.

I would like to inform you that I am one of the 48 per cent who do not want to leave the EU. Furthermore I am one of your pawns. I retired to France in 2006 and have lived here happily for the last 11 years. I visit my family and friends in the UK on a regular basis. My husband continues to pay UK tax on his government pension albeit more expensive than French tax would be, but he has no choice in this. We were able to vote in the referendum as we were not caught, as were so many, by the 15 year rule. Another one of your broken manifesto pledges.

So to date you have ignored the majority of the population, the collapsing economy (manufacturing down, retail sales down, construction down, a crashed pound), the enormous increase in both the national and personal debt, the vast increase in bankruptcy and IVA's, the huge hike in racial violence, the collapsing NHS now more than ever under staffing difficulties because of your refusal to guarantee the status of EU medical staff (more pawns). You have ignored the warning from the financial institutions, many of whom are actively looking to other EU cities in which to operate.

So, where are you going now? You have “ticked off” most of Europe who quite frankly are viewing you with suspicion and I would guess distaste. You have certainly “ticked off” the Scots. Nicola Sturgeon being the voice of sound reason and out manoeuvering you on every level. The Irish are very concerned about the border and a possible rise in violence as a result of a brexit which N. Ireland does not want. The old Commonwealth doesn't really want to know and are more interested the the EU market. Canada already has its in on that score. I understand the UK is a member of the WTO through the EU so you will have to start from scratch on that one. Your buddy Trump across the Atlantic is completely unreliable and is only interested in America. This is not a departure from America's attitude to trading partners it has always been so.

So to end I suggest you stop, draw breath and take a good look around you, abandon your silly “Brexit means Brexit” comment before you go down in history as succeeding where others failed in bringing the UK to it's knees.

Carol Fraser
Address supplied

A federated system with Scotland won't work

Can I suggest that Clive Lewis takes a long hard look at his proposal of a "federated" system for the Labour Party to save the Union. Take for example the issue of Trident. The Scottish branch of the Labour Party voted overwhelming not to support the renewal of Trident. However, the Westminster Labour party supported the Tory spending plans virtually unchallenged. So Trident will be renewed and based, despite the SLP vote, in Scotland.

In his new federated system who's view will prevail? For the system to work each part of the Federation must be respected. If one part can out vote the others every time to impose it's wishes, a federation is pointless, and that is why the Union, with a federal Labour Party or otherwise, is unlikely to be saved.

Iona Easton

Gordon Brown should stay out of Indyref2

As Gordon Brown weighs in on Indyref2, it is clear that, like many politicians, he thinks the electorate have no memories.

Does Gordon not realise he's still not been forgiven up here for his bull-in-a-china shop interference in the dying days of the first Indyref?

Gordon took to the media to scare the pants off everyone, claiming the economic bogey man would eat us all if we voted YES. (Oh, and the only way to stay in Europe was to vote NO!!)

Well, I remember...

Amanda Baker

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