Home > General, Politics > QJ in the lion’s den

QJ in the lion’s den

At the weekend I was a guest at a private function in England, and found myself at a table with some very nice people, none of whom I’d ever met before. It seems that you can’t be Scottish in England just now without the referendum question coming up. My mind has been made up since I was 17 years old, and I never apologise for my stance. Yet I was surprised to realise, if my lunch companions were an accurate reflection of the broader view down south, as I believe they are, that there is a strong feeling of disquiet about the 2014 vote, and about the fact that it’s happening at all. I’m not sure what’s behind it. They know nothing of our history or the issues, so why the negativity?  Is it resentment that we should even consider leaving Westminster and resuming the full nation status that we had before the Union of the Parliaments in 1707, (one highly intelligent professional man on Saturday had never heard of that event) or is it fear of the consequences for England? One thing it is not based on, and that is any love of the Scots. One of my companions remarked . . . pleasantly I must say . . .  ‘If they asked the English to vote on it we’d all say Yes’, and I don’t doubt that is the truth . . . one that will have been underlined, I suspect, by Alex Salmond waving the Saltire in the Royal Box at Wimbledon yesterday.

I was asked how I thought the referendum will turn out. I said I believe that if it was held tomorrow there would be a No vote, but that next year, I expect the position to have changed.

My resolve hasn’t been weakened by Saturday’s civilised discussion; in fact it has been strengthened. As I’m coming to see it, the majority would probably be happy to kick us out of the Union, but they don’t want us to take that decision for ourselves. I  believe that the more that English sentiment is known the stronger the Yes camp will become.


Categories: General, Politics
  1. Gillian
    July 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Explain if you would why you think the vote will change next year, interested to hear your views. I understand that if Scotland were to leave that we would have to wait a little longer for a victory at Wimbledon in the men’s single’s, well we’ve waited this long, I’m sure we can wait a little longer… as for Alex Salmond, and a Knighthood for Andy Murray, what ever next…..
    Kindest Regards

    • Gillian
      July 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm

      Hello, If Scotland were to leave, we will have no choice but to carry on… I’m sorry perhaps I miss understood, I really would be interested to hear why you personally think the vote may change next year. The problem I think is that its always difficult to find out the facts, i.e for and against….when it comes to a referendum, that’s why its always interesting to hear your views, I may not always agree, but I always learn something…………

      • July 8, 2013 at 4:00 pm

        I’m listening to the voices in my head. They’re saying that the No camp is full of people telling Scots that they’re chronic under-achievers who could never cut it as an independent nation, and that in doing so they are driving Yes votes to the ballot box.

  2. July 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    As you say, Gillian, I’m sure you’ll get by without us. So let’s just see what happens, and how many of us vote with our hearts, not out of fear of the naysayers’ propaganda.

  3. Joy
    July 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Perhaps then it is the English living in Scotland, who will also have a vote, who wish the Union to remain firmly in tact. Or is it just us Borderers, both English and Scots, who appreciate the need to be able to work together on both sides of the Border. I do find it surprising that several highly intelligent Scots (including, of course, your good self) are going to vote with their hearts rather than their heads. We English can all go far enough back in our histories to find reasons why the unions within England should be broken up, but for good or bad, I prefer to be British and perhaps that’s why I came back to these lands, rather than living in foreign parts.

  4. July 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Why should it be surprising? Ever heard of patriotism? As for foreign parts, I spend part of my life there because I can and my experience is that I am treated with greater courtesy there as soon as people know I am Scottish. As for England, you’re right, Joy, it’s a divided country that’s never really got over the Wars of the Roses.

  5. Joy
    July 8, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Yes, the Scots’ patriotism and enthusiasm for their local traditions is one of the reasons I love living here. One of the problems for some English folk living abroad is that many are tarred with the same brush as the lager louts. But for me, I simply want to live in Britain, whether it be Scotland or Northern England because it is, without doubt, the place I love, particularly when we have weather like this and can really make the most of our beautiful country/ies. As for the patriotism – yes I do know what it means. I still support Blackpool FC, my home town’s club, because one day they will be back in the Championship League and may win the FA Cup and that’s my heart ruling. But my head tells me that the town itself is such a disgrace (probably those lager louts to blame again) that I could never live there again.

  6. Simon Reid
    July 8, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I popped into your website today to raise that very point about Alex Salmond.
    He did make me laugh when, just as the cameras cut to capture David Cameron’s reaction, there’s Salmond, waving his flag about the PM’s head, in an actions speak louder than words kind of way.

    You already know my position on the Scottish Question. I was raised within the Union, and see no reason for a change.
    To follow on from Andy Murray’s thinking: votes should be cast in the best interests of Scotland. I find myself asking why it is Scotland is any different to any other place when it comes to complaining about the amount of government money and individual power they have at their disposal.
    The UK is not happy with the deal it gets from Brussels. Within England – with perhaps the exception of Surrey – political leaders, council or otherwise, will say they are getting a bad deal from central government. Even if Scotland was to become independent, all districts and regions – with perhaps the exception of Edinburgh – will declare their share to be insufficient. That’s not to compare Scotland as a mere part of England; those with the intelligence to know understand the differences in the national identities.
    Andy Murray’s commercially-savvy response is correct: it’s not about nationalism, it’s about politics and economics.
    On that point, Scotland is in need of a peaceful revolution. The defeatism from the current crop of politicians is alarming. It seems there is not a single man or woman north of the border who has within themselves the guile to get the best deal for their country. They are not, then, of sufficient ability to manage the affairs of a truly independent nation, in these turbulent economic times.
    It will be in the best interests of Scotland to put the vote on hold for at least a decade, and focus in the meantime on producing politicians who are not so easily ignored. (There’s a plot in there for Dan Brown.)

    As for how the English feel about it all, well, that depends on how the question is put to them. It’s not exactly a burning issue down here but when it does come up, if it’s framed as all Scots, or at least the majority of Scots, want the separation, then what would one say other than, ‘Feel free to go’. But when put into the context of a debate involving an undecided populace, then – from what people have said to me – it’s more a case of: Feel free to go. Or stay. Do what you like. We’ll battle on either with or without you.

  7. Colin Mackenzie
    July 23, 2013 at 12:30 am

    I am 100% Scottish and intensely proud to be so. I lived in Scotland for the first 24 years of my life before coming to England because Scotland could not offer me employment and I have lived south of the border ever since .Never at any time have I experienced any anti Scottish sentiment. In fact it has been an advantage to be Scottish in England. Sadly one hears stories all too frequently of English families being made not welcome in Scotland especially in the Glasgow area.
    The first thing that struck me in England was to find that many of the great Scottish virtues-thrift, diligence,dependibility & loyalty were present in great abundance in England just as much as in Scotland.. The English educational system also to my surprise was in some ways superior to that of Scotland —certainly the grammar school gave my own children probably a better education than I received at Dumfries Acadamy
    I have regularly travelled north during the 59 years and have become more and more alarmed at the intense and extreme parochialism of the Scottish media-radio,press & TV.

    Histoically I must admit I do not know the small print of the 1707 Act of Union . I do know it was forced upon Scotland because it was a bankrupt and divided nation. I dont know even today if Glaswegians would be happy to be ruled from Edinburgh or vice versa..I do know that together we saw off Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler. Do you think that if Scotland had been independant in 1939 that the Scots would have adopted the same stance as Eire, which would most certainly have altered the course of history I am sure not for the better.
    England without Scotland would be poorer ; though it is felt that here in the NE of England we would benefit greatly due to the oil barons moving from Aberdeen to Newcastle. As in Canada at the time of possible separation of Quebec there was a massive movement of multinationals away from Quebec to the rest of Canada. And would the EU welcome an independant Scotland. I doubt it. Bretons Basques Catalonians and goodness knows how many others will be knocking at the door. Scotland without England ,this great land of opportunity would be very much poorer. It should be regarded as the jewel in the Scottish Empire which Scotland must not throw away. I feel that Salmon –an astute polititian- is a man on an ego trip who is trying to take his country on a disastrous path for personal gratification. I dont think he will succeed but sadly is creating a legacy of bitterness which is to no ones benefit .We already see that with the spiteful allocation of University fees where Scottish students pay no exam fees and English students pay more than French or German students. This plus the West Lothian question and possibly a plethora of very militant Scottish trade union bosses and of course the Scottish Nats does make people south of the border say’ lets get shot of them’ but really this is tongue in cheek .and I am glad to say the Scots are still held in high regard. –look at the reception given to Andy Murray & if Scotland WERE ever to reach a world cup final the English would wholeheartedly support them.

    • July 23, 2013 at 11:59 am

      Fair enough, Colin, but my mind’s been made up for fifty years now, and I’m not going to change. Truthfully, I do not expect that the referendum will result in a ‘Yes’ vote, but I live in hope. One thing’s for sure: the harder Cameron campaigns against, the more the independence camp will benefit. England without Scotland would be poorer, you say. Surely that indicates that Scotland without England would be richer? Where would an independent Scotland have stood in 1939? Against Germany; I am sure of that.

      The Catalans are already knocking at the door of Europe. They will also stage a referendum next year on separation from Spain, and have had informal discussions with Brussels. Should Scotland ever seek EU membership . . . and I am not convinced that will be necessary . . . if the post-Soviet, post Yugoslav-states are welcome, then we will be also. As for your Quebec analogy, I cannot think of a multi-national with a significant presence in Scotland, but I can point to a number of corporate headquarters that have gone south, with the demutualisation of most of the insurance companies that were once a pillar of the Scottish economy.

      • Colin Mackenzie
        July 24, 2013 at 10:55 am

        Sorry Quintin Your logic puzzles me.You say you would have fought the Germans in 1939 but want to be ruled by them now with the absolute minimum of influence in Europe rather than Westminster where you have a huge influence.At the moment because you are in Uk you have clout way beyond the average. Also you may have lost some insurance but who is bailing out Royal Bank of Scotland To me the real issue is the awful divisiveness that is being created that is in no ones interest and which Salmond is doing his best to promote for his own blinkered ends. Colin

  8. July 24, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Sorry Colin, but I can’t let you make the quantum leap from a hypothetical question about the position of an independent Scotland re WWII, to its participation in the post 2014 EU.

    You speak of divisiveness, yet the Westminster government which you support has been a divisive force within Europe from the early days of its membership. When De Gaulle initially vetoed British membership of the old Common Market, he knew what he was doing. Freed from the Westminster association, we might do rather well as a member. There has been much speculation over in independent Scotland’s right to membership, but none over that of an independent England.

    And what’s this about ‘huge influence’ in Westminster? Scotland has a separate legal system and an entirely different local government set-up from the rest of the UK, yet before the re-establishment of the Holyrood Parliament, these were hampered by our inability to secure parliamentary time for necessary legislation. We may have seen a couple of Scots Prime Ministers, but don’t mistake that for influence.

    The RBS argument doesn’t hold water either. Yes, it was bailed out by the UK taxpayer, as was the lloyds banking group, but the whole sorry mess came about because of the failure of a regulatory system that was put in place by Westminster and possibly also because the Bank of England was asleep at the wheel or in the huff because its regulatory role had been removed.

    As you say, you’ve lived outside Scotland for over fifty years. I don’t see ‘awful divisiveness’ here. I see a healthy debate that was begun when Scotland gave the SNP a healthy majority in Holyrood, on a platform that included an independence referendum. Kim Jong-Eck pursuing his own blinkered ends? No, he’s doing what the Scottish people elected him to do. When those people speak, their view will be respected and we will move on to the next stage, whatever that is.

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