Thursday, April 24, 2014

No good expecting us English to beg the Scots to stay - let's make them a mixtape

I don't want Scotland to leave the union but I can see it happening. If it does you'll be able to blame England's twin traditions of superiority and reticence. Taken together these two qualities makes us incapable of pleading with anyone to stay, in any situation, ever. I'm profoundly English. This manifests itself in the fact that I would never want anyone to spend time in my company who didn't want to. I'd hate anyone to come to one of my parties (if I had parties) out of a sense of obligation. The thought of it makes my English soul shrivel. The expression "if that's the way you feel" comes to my lips all too readily. The accompanying shrug comes just as naturally to my shoulders.

There appear to be initiatives to encourage Englishers to band together to persuade the Scots not to do it. I can't see any of them getting much in the way of a following. The English are not going to campaign to persuade somebody else to do something. They're not going to make passionate declarations of their belief in the Union or their respect for the Scots. The English don't go in for big, public gestures. Instead I propose that we choose a Scottish friend who is thinking of voting "yes" and do what the English always do when called upon to express something too deep for words. Make them a mixtape.


  1. Speaking as a Scottish person living in Scotland I feel the arguments in favour have not really been made. It's all been rhetoric. Alex Salmond's approach seems to be - Campaign in Poetry ... Govern in poetry. Not sure that'll work without strong economic arguments - which haven't been clearly made.

    Scottish people are in my observation fairly conservative by nature, obviously not politically but socially. So I think most people will decide against such a major over unless it's clear what the financial pros and cons are. And these really haven't been stated in any clear objective sense at all in my view. So in the end I think we'll err on the side of caution. They won't make any rousing movies about that and I can't imagine Mel Gibson being able to turn that approach into a stirring speech. But I'd say it's the sensible thing to do, unless someone comes put with some arguments in favour that don't involve appealing to idiotic patriotism.

  2. PS: I'd say what you're describing as an English character trait is pretty common with us Scottish people too. Hundreds of years of breeding, living and working together, I'm not sure were so different as you think. Which is ok.

  3. If proof were needed that the editorial direction of the BBC's NCA department is led by newspapers and their online equivalent then it is here.

    Well done David. Even before the presenter on this morning's 'Today' had finished her pre-amble I knew that the next voice I'd hear would be yours.

    Not an altogether bad thing.

  4. Nick Stevenson4:03 pm

    I'm a Scot who lives in Shetland. I was one of the audience at your talk at Mareel along with Mark Ellen.
    A few years ago we had a young Norwegian woman at my place of work for about a year. Asking her about life in Norway and answering her questions about the UK made me aware of how Scotland is seen abroad.
    A scotland which tries to take itself down the Scandinavian route might be a Scotland that is able to make more rational foreign policy decisions ?