X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Features

Scots and English are the same people, with different accents. Why pretend otherwise?

Why are unionists so scared to talk about what unites us?

12 April 2014

9:00 AM

12 April 2014

9:00 AM

Sometimes it is easy to understand why countries break up. Some founder on the rocks of their internal contradictions. Others are historical conveniences that have simply run their course. Czechoslovakia was an artificial construct, a country with two languages and cultures, which split soon after the Iron Curtain fell. The division of Cyprus in 1974 marked the end of the fraternity between the island’s Turks and Greeks. The partition of India was driven by trouble between its Hindus and Muslims. It’s a constant, often tragic theme in history — people decide that what divides them is stronger than what unites them. So they split, often at great cost.

Until recently, the United Kingdom would have been seen as a safe bet for the long haul: a wealthy, law-based, highly integrated, mature democracy, the kind of country others aspire to be. Our component nations share the planet’s most influential language and its dominant culture, and provided the intellectual soil out of which the enlightened West grew.

Yet in a referendum on 18 September, Britain’s northern quarter may decide that its differences with the south have become irreconcilable, and choose to walk away. The days of double-digit opinion poll leads for the ‘Better Together’ campaign are long gone, and Alex Salmond has enough momentum to further close the gap. Those seeking to save the UK have spent too much time pointing out the pitfalls of independence, and not enough creating a compelling, optimistic case for staying in the Union. As a result, they now stand a very real chance of losing the argument.

The Scottish National Party has been in government in Edinburgh for the past seven years and, in that time, has used every lever at its disposal to emphasise the difference between Scotland and England — real or imagined. The strategy, while morally reprehensible, has been quite effective. An ever-growing range of services, such as prescriptions and university tuition, have been made ‘free’. Council tax has been frozen. Private-sector involvement in public services is denounced as the agenda of the profit-driven south. Education and welfare reforms are used as a stick with which to beat Westminster. All of it is intended to drive home a subliminal message: that Scotland simply cares more than England.

[Alt-Text]


The Nats are aided by useful idiots in the Scottish media and cultural elite. From comfortable middle-class pads in the less affordable parts of Glasgow and Edinburgh, these socialist tub-thumpers promise that a left-wing tartan utopia is within grasp, and that a ‘yes’ vote can save the grimy-faced, honest-as-the-day-is-long Scots toiler from exploitation by effete Tory thieves in London. They advance the idea of Scots as being nicer, fairer, more attached to the brotherhood of man.

The SNP and its allies are playing a game that is still not properly understood in London: to them, the coming referendum is not really about oil, the pound or Brussels. It is cast as a battle of values — the caring vs the selfish. Quite some accomplishment, given that all this has as much basis in reality as does Brigadoon.

There is, in fact, almost no difference between the views of the average Scot and the average English person — as the research proves. Take the latest Scottish Social Attitudes survey, the single most authoritative survey of opinion on politics and policy. It found that 60 per cent of Scots want Britain either to leave the EU or at least to reduce its powers — up from 40 per cent ten years ago. So much for the myth of Scottish Europhilia.

Or what about the idea that Scots regard Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms as unduly harsh? In reality, just 21 per cent want more spending on benefits for unemployed people, while 43 per cent want to see it reduced. Hardly a world apart from England, where a similar poll found 52 per cent believe benefits to be so high that they discourage work.

And the notion that Scotland is more welcoming to newcomers than the xenophobic Little Englanders? More dewy-eyed nonsense. Some 47 per cent worry that the nation would begin to lose its identity ‘if more people from Eastern Europe came to live in Scotland’, and 49 per cent say the same about more Muslims. In England, 44 per cent believe that Britain’s cultural life is undermined by immigrants.

It’s certainly true that support for Ukip is far lower in Scotland — but it’s hard to argue that this is because Scots are mad keen on Europe, or relaxed about mass immigration. It might be because Scots have their own separatist party — which is rather good at playing the outsider and denigrating near-neighbours (all in the name of compassion and diversity, of course).

What little divergence there is comes down to a mix of rather obvious things — the cultural hangover of anti-Thatcherism, which keeps the Tories at a low ebb north of the border; a political culture that, since devolution, has become inward-looking and self-obsessed to an unsettling degree; an elite that relentlessly claims Scots are more compassionate, more egalitarian, less racist and kinder to babies than the English.

It has been a major failing of the Unionist campaign that this idea has gone largely unchallenged. At heart, Britain is not about the Barnett Formula or an optimal currency area; we inhabitants of these islands are the same people. It’s there in our culture and in our language — with its shared phrases and idioms and slang, and the ideals that they frame and shape. In the five months left until polling day, let’s remind Scots that we’re a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns — even the English.

Chris Deerin is a columnist for the Scottish Daily Mail.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close