Tag Archive | Scottish Nationalism

Tartan Sheep 

Hey Readers Though primarily about the speeches made by Sadiq Khan and  Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour Party’s Scottish conference, this poem could be about the attitude of any British Government Minister or potential  candidate for that job  in my lifetime. 

Whether Labour or Tory it makes no difference to me, the attitude these people have to Scotland  is at best insulting and at worst a damnable disgrace and before you ask does that include the Scottish ones, let me tell you it most certainly does.  Indeed, I suggest that it is even more relevant to them than it is to Jeremy Corbyn, as all Corbyn did by not chastening the mayor of London for his ill informed remarks about the SNP was give me the opportunity to write it. 

Trust me that was like giving Henrik Larsson an open goal and like Henrik I wasn’t going to miss. I have given this poem the title Tartan Sheep as that is how the Labour Party treated their Scottish vote for years and before the rise of the SNP it was how the Tory Party treated the entire Scottish electorate. I have a funny feeling that this will not be an easy read for pro unionist friends with the possible exception of the Liberal Democrats but if you voted yes in the last independence referendum or have moved across to that view since I think you’ll  a much more enjoyable read. 

Tartan Sheep 

This is the voice of your colonial master 

I’m visiting you to pretend I care 

and to tell you that those who love their country 

would never seek to divide it

we are a united kingdom and that is how it will stay 

I won’t let little things 

like pretending to be a socialist 
get in the way of patronising you 

for the red white and blue 

look  I came up all the way from Westminster

to give you this lecture 

this makes me a very important person 

in the United Kingdom

which I will fight to make sure you are kept in 

whether you like it or not 

after all your only Scots 

so don’t get ideas above your station 

which by the way 

is wherever Westminster tells you it should be 

listen to me you don’t need the SNP 

you are tartan sheep who need to come my pen

otherwise I’ll never make number 10 

and become prime minister 

I mean you don’t want to be branded racists or fascists  

why would you vote nationalist 

when you can have me 

and my friends to tell you 

what to do

we know what’s best for your little land 

what part of that do you not understand ?

I repeat why vote nationalist 

when you can have me 

now I don’t know but to me at least 

the answer was clear 

I prefer the politics of hope 

to those of fearing others

and I don’t like being patronised 

by those who believe 

they can place limits on what I am capable of achieving 

I believe in myself and in abilities 

to get things done 

and will never settle for poverty 

I don’t want to be an outpost 

a distant colony only visited for votes 

when those who claim to be our masters 

think there is something in it for them 

the only number 10 I want to know about is a bus 

trust me this union disgusts me  

with it’s titles, gongs , and privilege

  used as bait to trap the gullible 

 as far as I’m concerned 

the Labour and Conservative parties

are and have always been

 two checks of the same backside 

how can you have pride in a land 

whose head of state is an unelected monarch

who knows nothing of the real world 

this is not something I can be proud of

if anything it makes me feel shame 

I want Scotland to be an independent  nation 

for egalitarian reasons 

you see I’m not dividing my country 

I’m reclaiming it 

the Britain the unionists talk about 

doesn’t exist 

it is no more than a colonial myth 

their establishment have rammed down our throats 
to suit their Westminster agenda 

with the no surrender brigade 

used as Britannia’s little helpers 

with orange flutes and Nazi salutes 

encouraged by unionists 

in the name of being better together

we saw their behaviour in George Square 

yet these are the people who claim to care

and have the nerve to say 

 that no-one who loves their country 

would seek to divide it 

but the problem with that argument

which the flat earth society 

refuse to see 

is that the united kingdom 

is a not a country it is a union of nations 

so you cannot divide what doesn’t exist 

meanwhile Westminster like a modern day Oliver Twist 

begs Scotland saying please 

can we have some more of your assests 

well if you don’t give us what we want 

we’ll call you racists and fascists 

only this time their threats fall on deaf ears

as nobody wants to listen 

we have our own ambitions and priorities 

and at the dawn of a new democracy 

our voice is getting stronger 

we are tartan sheep no longer 

we are moving on to build 

a better country 

the journey is already underway 

@ Gayle Smith 2017 


The Tale Of Three Scotland’s (The Civic The Radical And The Missing) Part 1 Of A Review Of Caladonian Dreaming, The Quest For A Different Scotland By Gerry Hassan

Hey everyone One of the legacies of the independence referendum apart from the birth and growth of this blog is the fact that it has introduced me to many voices whose writings I may not have had the chance to explore had this event not taken place. One such voice is the political commentator Gerry Hassan whose columns on the way forward for Scotland for both Bella Caledonia, and Scottish Review I have found and enlightening and entertaining. Hassan writes with a clarity which makes his work both intellectually rigorous and easy to understand and by doing so articulates a message with which his readership can connect. In this first part of my review of his book Caladonian Dreaming The Quest For A Different Scotland I will seek to explain why I believe the thoughts and arguments contained within these pages will be of value to supporters of an independent Scotland at the time of next referendum whenever it may be. It is at this stage I would like to thank Gerry Hassan for his generosity in sending me a complimentary copy of this book.

Right from the first page this is a book that challenges the reader to think big. It makes you ask questions about our nations past, about where we want Scotland go in the future and most importantly it asks us to consider where we are today and what has brought about the circumstances which make this such an exciting time to be Scottish.

In the opening chapter of the book Gerry Hassan argues that Scotland is a nation in a state of flux. the old certainties of our past are not as relevant to our lives as once was the case. Yet despite this the socially conservative forces of unionist Scotland tries to camouflage any evidence of it by claiming that events such as the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland and Rangers Football Club were one offs which were due to individual weaknesses at the top of the house rather than viewing them as the result of greater cultural forces. This as Hassan states is ‘a culture of restoration the kind of keep calm and carry on approach so favoured by David Cameron and the Conservative British establishment. This is an establishment favoured by all parties of the union and their friends in the press and media an establishment they will do whatever they must to protect.

This I would argue includes the demonisation through the press and media of both the Scottish National Party and their allies in the independence movement. This was quite clearly seen in the way the independence debate was viewed by those with vested interests in preserving the union. As Hassan states ‘It was presented ‘as a set of narrow set of constitutional changes unrelated to the kind of society we want to live in. This was in my both disingenuous and indeed fraudulent as to me as a yes supporter that was exactly what the debate was about that and nothing else. To claim otherwise was a deliberate distortion of the truth and the unionists know it all too clearly.

As if to prove my point Hassan questions how unionists can disassociate the circumstances which brought about the referendum and pretend that everything is still the same as it ever was. To be honest many of them know this can’t continue and there are harsh realities which need to be faced if the union is to survive in the long term. One of those realities is that they need to realise that many of their supporters were primarily responsible for the negative tone of the debate. Indeed far from the bullying cybernats that the unionist political class would have you believe were the main culprits in this, Hassan provides evidence of that they themselves are far from perfect. Citing the words of Gordon Brown, Alastair Darling and Ian Davidson not to mention the reckless threats from the late Tory grandee Lord Fraser he illustrates that career unionists were no angels in the debate. Indeed I would go as far as to suggest that given their prominent positions in Scottish society they were actually by far the greater aggressors.

The author also says that one of the key reasons for this combative behaviour was the lack of women in the discussion. As a member of women for independence I have to say I agree with this assessment. One only needs to look at the TV debates not just on independence but on other more civic matters to see that what Hassan refers to as ‘Male Only Scotland is still very much alive and well and this institutionalised sexism needs to be tackled now to create a more creative political dynamic. Hopefully the fact we now have a woman First Minister in SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and women leaders of both main opposition parties Kezia Dugdale (Labour) and Ruth Davidson (Conservative) and there are a significant number of woman amongst the newly elected SNP MP’s such as Mhairi Black, Anne McLaughlin, Alison Thewliss, Angela Crawley, Carol Monaghan, Kirsteen Oswald, and my own MP Natalie McGarry, this will help to change this ingrained macho attitude.Hassan however argues that until we tackle the six myths of modern Scotland creating this dynamic will be almost impossible.

The six myths which Hassan wants us to examine have been embedded in to the fabric of our national culture for so long that challenging them will not be easy. It will be no doubt seen by some on all sides of the political debate as an attack on our national identity but tackling the idea that Scotland is a democratic egalitarian land where we all enjoy access to educational opportunity where we hold authority to account have a social democratic tradition and live in an open society is essential if we want to bring about a better more equal nation so many of us claim we’d like to see. To do this Gerry Hassan argues that we need rid ourselves of this cosy comforting image of ourselves and face some uncomfortable truths about our past and indeed our present.

One such fact is the our country has been throughout our history has been run by elites and that for all the claims to contrary our people are not active citizens in the public realm of our nation. I back up with my own personal experience as an active political campaigner for the SNP and various equality based causes over the years. No matter how I’ve tried to explain the importance of involvement at personal, community, and national level I have more often than not been met with a leave it to others mentality in what was until the referendum this passive land I call home. Too often I heard the mind numbing refrain it’s not for the likes for us and it makes no difference to me or the even worse there only in it for themselves kind of argument which I quite frankly find distasteful to all of us on all sides of the political debate. As I said to a woman earlier this year I always attend my party meetings because without the likes of me and others like me none of those you call them would ever be elected to office.

The fact I am educated to honours degree level and my joint honours degree is in Geography and Politics is I find often used against me by small minded people who no doubt wish to live in the comfort of the cosy myths Gerry Hassan correctly identifies as holding Scotland back from realising our potential. This is unfair not only to me but to many others like me who came from working class families like mine and indeed our author’s who put a value on education and lifelong learning long before it was a buzz phrase for governments and the civil servants who work for them.

In the next chapter Gerry Hassan having set out some of his core arguments as to the challenges we face and the changes we need to make to build a different Scotland fills the reader in on his own background and the circumstances that shaped him. Born to educated, well read working class parents the young Gerry grew up in Dundee with a dad who though a communist by inclination was more of an armchair activist than an active campaigner and a mother who had read the works of authors such as Orwell and Greene. Hassen says his parents believed in Britain and saw Scottishness as old fashioned. Again this chimes at least partly with my own upbringing as these were similar sentiments to those expressed by my mother and some of my aunts and uncles.

My dad however had a very different view shaped by his Dundonian-Irish ancestry he believed not that Scotland should be free but that it had to be if we were ever to change the view of other countries that Scotland was inward looking colonial backwater unfit for proper nationhood. These differences in how Scotland was perceived in the years of my youth and indeed has been viewed ever since both have powerful narratives and to understand them one has to look what the United Kingdom was and what it has become.

One of the reasons why the idea of the United Kingdom still attracts a certain kind of socially and culturally conservative Scot is due to the way its image is presented by the British establishment. Hassan supports this by stating that ‘it likes to stress its unparalleled degree of continuity’. This he says is only one view of the UK but it is a view which many people have bought in to over the years. This demographic which tends to be but is not exclusively older has doubts that Scotland could provide them with the same safety and security as mother Britain even though many will admit not having looked in to the idea. This group tend not to like what they see as change for change’s sake and may ignore their own country’s history and traditions in favour of a more anglo-centric version of events.

Changing this mindset is a challenge for those of us who want to embrace change especially when the elites whose views these people accept almost as if they were tablets of stone have such an unshakeable belief in their own superiority. This has made the road to democracy a much slower one than we would want to walk and in many ways a journey we are still a long way from completing. The fact that the UK finally gave the working class and eventually women the right to vote does not give Britain the right to call itself a democracy. The elites Hassan argues, were in charge at every stage of the political process, and that it is just the way they like it.

The implications of this for Scotland were and still remain a very significant factor in how Scotland is perceived not only by others but more importantly by ourselves. It has long been the establishment view that a good Scottish or Brit-Scot cringe as I prefer to call it is essential if you want to serve both colony and yourself at the Westminster table of imperialism. It is I think no accident that demand for independence or at very least a much stronger home rule than devolution can provide has grown significantly in the last three decades as Britain has shifted further and further to the right. We may not as the author has already pointed out be the egalitarian social democrats we like to believe we are but the fact that we believe our own self made myth has to some degree pushed this agenda forward.

The United Kingdom is however a country shaped by its past and the story of that past no matter how mythical it may be has over time had a huge impact on how we as a nation see ourselves and how we view our relationship with Britain. Not for nothing does the too wee, too poor, too stupid mantra resonate so readily with so many of our country folk. Britain we are told used to have an empire, like we didn’t know that already. For me, the key words in the sentence are used to It doesn’t anymore. The union in my opinion is an economic arrangement which has outlived its usefulness but the British elites and most especially the political classes perhaps not surprisingly do not share that view. Indeed as Gerry Hassan correctly points out they use the past as a powerful political weapon and the fact they use the monarchy in the same way is no accident. The past, the empire, the monarchy and other establishment organisations such as the press and media and armed forces are in many ways most of them subliminal are the mythical and mystic ties which bind Britain together. The fact that Scotland is not despite what we are told a fully fledged democratic state helps to maintain this status quo and makes it more difficult to challenge.

Hassan states that the myth of popular sovereignty in the sense of power lying with the people is exactly that and had it existed Scotland would have been able to stop the poll tax and other measures not to its liking. Hassen argues that had the concept existed in reality rather than just at the level and mythology Scotland would not have dominated by The Labour Party or indeed the Liberals for before them for anywhere near as was the case. The author goes on to say that Scotland has never used the idea of popular sovereignty to democratise and empower people or develop a vision of society which is in any way radically different from the status quo. Hassan says that whilst we may have the trappings of democracy such as free elections and multi party participation the fact that there is a missing Scotland which is predominately located in the poorer less affluent parts of our nation tells us much about our real democratic deficit.

This is a deficit you will seldom hear mentioned at elections where parties tend to focus on the core votes they know will turn out to support them and the floating voters who will definitely vote at elections but whose votes may be up for grabs and that makes them key voters meanwhile the voice of missing Scotland of low electoral turnouts voter apathy and political disconnection remains ignored and unheard.

Indeed as Gerry Hassan points out there is a culture of learned helplessness in Scotland and this means that people don’t see themselves in the political discussions of our nation and any conventional methods used to reach them fail. This is much to our nation’s detriment and is something which needs to be improved before people even begin to believe in the notion of Scotland ever becoming a real democracy fit for the purpose of serving our people.

To further enhance this argument let’s look at as the author does at Civic Scotland. This was a term which Gerry Hassan points out which was closely identified with the fight for devolution it was also one I never liked. Civic Scotland may have identified that Scotland is different from England one has to ask as our author does, was it too polite to fight on those matters which could and still can really change our country for the better and on many issues the answer appears have been yes.

If I had to sum up Civic Scotland in a sentence or a paragraph I would say that in many ways it would be the political equivalent of my mother. Those involved would talk about the things that shocked them, angered them, or even outraged them but just like my mother it wouldn’t do too much about them for fear of holding themselves up to the light and finding they may not be as perfect as first thought. In fairness Civic Scotland did some good raising awareness amongst those of us who were already or were always going to be part of active Scotland but it did nothing to engage disaffected voters in areas of low voters it did nothing too engage apathetic Scotland, the neglected Scotland the Scotland forgotten by the political elites. It may have talked about the decimation of mining communities and other industrial areas or the impact of the poll tax but it didn’t live in those areas. Civic Scotland and what remains of it was and still is a child of Bearsden rather than Baillieston of Morningside more than Muirhouse. That to me was and remains its most fundamental problem there is a disconnection to those who don’t live in the comfort zones but who are far more in need of empowering than those who do.

From Civic Scotland Gerry Hassan moves on to the Stories of Radical Scotland. This is a story with I closely identify having learned of the radical tradition from my maternal grandmother who was a keen supporter of the Independent Labour Party and in particular of John MacLean the man who was the public face of what become known as Red Clydeside. Indeed my first political hero as a child was Jimmy Reid who I saw as a hero for fighting for people’s right to work. Jimmy Reid was if you like my own political version of Superman.

This opinion was probably formed because as Gerry Hassan states at the beginning of this chapter socialism and centre left politics have been the defining feature of Scottish politics in the last century. However as he goes on to inform us radical Scotland pre dates Socialism in Scotland and the Liberals were the dominant party for much indeed most of the 19th century but as the Liberal influence became diluted it was the Labour Party who became the new home for Scotland’s voters. Hassan however also reminds us that Scotland had a strong communist tradition particularly in mining areas which has only died out in the last 30 years or so. This evaporation of communist support parallels with the rise not only with the decline of mining and the other traditional industries such as coal, and steel, on which much of Scotland depended but also with the rise of Thatcherism and the culture of individualism which has whether we like it or not become a part of the fabric of our contemporary Scotland.

This development surely implies that Scotland is moving away from its radical roots or at least it does if you listen to unionists. I however do not pay much attention to the negative mutterings of the pro British political establishment, my grandmother’s stories captured my heart and imagination in a way no unionist has ever managed or for that matter come close to managing. The Thatcher years in which Scotland was vandalised and the Blair years in which we were patronised only served first to develop my interest in the idea of Scottish independence and then to support it by voting for and then after my gender transition eventually joining the only party I have consistently campaigned for.

Of the two most influential Prime Ministers of my lifetime it is fair to say I probably loathe Blair to a far greater degree than Thatcher and I never thought I could be detest anyone more than her. How wrong I was, you see to quote my late and very left wing granny the Tories may have hearts of darkness but at least you will know what your going to get if they get elected, they will promise you nothing and deliver exactly that. Labour on the on the other hand will patronise you with false words smiles and flattery before putting on their masks to rob you. Labour are not a radical party she once told me they are the party who want to keep the radicals in line. Remembering those words I would say that my personal radicalism is viewed through the lens of wanting to make Scotland not only a restored nation but also for the first time in our history a real democracy with genuine citizen participation.

There is however a slight stepping stone which I think with the benefit of hindsight which is always a wonderful gift to have perhaps cost yes victory in last year’s referendum. This is picked up by Hassan who says that ‘there seems to be an abiding faith among those of a pro yes persuasion Scotland could become the first democratic socialist country in the world’

This image of a socialist utopia in my view at least turned off almost as many voters as it attracted and I for one found it a problem on the doorsteps or in discussions with friends or acquaintances. The missing Scotland is it would seem not just on left

The rise of Scottish identity as a left wing identity especially from the 1980’s onwards was also important in creating among many a shared sense of Scottishness. This was partly due the rise of Thatcherism in the rest of the UK but it was also because Scotland had different core beliefs to the rest of the UK or at least that’s what as a nation we collectively began to believe. Gerry Hassan is in my view right when he says that Thatcher and Thatcherism were symptoms of the of the collapse of British post war consensus rather than the cause of it but to many Scots that didn’t matter, what mattered was the fact she and her government did not share our views, our values, or our visions either individually or collectively. To many of our people Thatcher’s Britain could never be our Britain her Scotland could never be our Scotland.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X

When It Comes To National Identity A Badge Of Britishness Will Never Be My Choice

Hey everyone Whilst watching a recent episode of loose women
I was intrigued to hear a discussion on what it meant to be British. The reason for the discussion was because the British Social Attitudes Survey claimed there was a decline in people who said that British was their primary identification.

This decline has been an ongoing factor in Scotland for a number of decades and has played a significant part in the rise of a distinct Scottish identity. Some would say it has been responsible for the rise in Scottish Nationalism and whilst it has certainly played a role in its development I would be reluctant to say it is the only factor at play as there are and have been other forces which have helped its political development. I cite for example the decline of the UK as an international power. This can be illustrated the fact far from being an important actor on the global stage the UK is now seen to be a junior partner in the European Union behind France and Germany. It can also be said that the discovery of North Sea Oil and the development of a unique Scottish cultural identity have also played their part in this decline, but now what used to be a decline which was the preserve of the Celtic fringes, that’s the rather patronising term the Westminster elites use for anything which isn’t Anglo-Centric appears to have hit the home counties.

During the discussion it was Jamelia who said kicked things off by saying that she didn’t feel particularly British due to the way Britain sells itself. The pop star, one of two on yesterday’s panel the other being Mylene Klass said that the problem is all about how Britain sells itself to the world.

Jamelia went on to validate her point by saying that to her Britain is all about William and Kate, David Cameron, The Queen, and Corgis and working class people are never going to be part of that Britain. I have to say I agree with her 100 percent. This picture is of a land is of hope and glory and a green and pleasant land only for those who can afford it and it very much excludes those who can’t. To me this Britain is a Britain of wealth and riches, it is a Britain taken from the pomposity and privilege our rulers learn on the playing fields of Eton. Indeed Jamelia said that If she had choose a cultural identity she would choose Jamaican as that was where she felt most included and had a greater sense of fitting in.

Of course when Janet Street-Porter is on any loose women panel and this topic comes up you can be guaranteed that will put up a staunch defence of Britishness and yesterday was no exception. I have to say however that though Janet talks a good game I’m not sure she knows the difference between Britishness and Englishness, as just as in previous conversations on this topic, she has tended to talk about England rather than Britain thus giving me the impression that she takes little if any notice of Scotland, Wales, or the six counties of Ulster. I support this claim by stating that she referred to the queen as the queen of England. Now pardon me for interfering but I have some advice for Janet and she would be well to listen to the point I raise. I say to her, if you truly believed in Britain and are as proud to be British as you say you are then you would value the fact that the queen is the monarch of our all four nations within it and not the exclusive property of one.

Janet also made another telling remark which shows me that doesn’t quite get the idea that Britain and England are not interchangeable terms and to believe that they are is a gross insult to the other three nations in the UK. This highly articulate and intelligent woman said that when she tells people she is from England when she should have said Britain. This to me very clearly a lack of cultural awareness or indeed cultural sensitivity especially at a time when one of the member states of the United Kingdom has a referendum to decide whether or not it wishes to remain a part of that United Kingdom.

It was Mylene Klass however who said that for the British public to be proud be British then the British government have to lead. Mylene who revealed that she was the child of a dad from Austria and a mum from Philippines said that it was ridiculous that you could book a driving lesson in 73 languages and that people who live in the UK should have to learn English just as her mum and dad had to do on their arrivals.

This attitude whilst to a certain degree understandable raises a few concerns amongst those of us like myself who are culturally liberal on such issues as we are descended from groups whose ancestors did not have English as their first language. Indeed on arriving in the central belt my maternal ancestors who came from the Western Isles of Scotland could not speak a single word of English and my granny often reminded me of this fact so that I would not judge harshly people who were according to some not the same as us.

This was I have to say good teaching from a woman who fought against prejudice all of her life. However I was recently told by someone who is and I will phrase this as kindly as I can considerably less educated than I am and shows an astonishing degree of cultural ignorance that this was not possible as people in Glasgow don’t speak Gaelic and never have. This is nonsense and I let the person concerned know in no uncertain terms that she needed to know more of Glasgow’s history than she does and avoid making sweeping and ridiculous generations.

Getting back to Mylene Klass she then made a point which I don’t think would gone too well with the staunchest supporters of Britishness in both Scotland and the six counties of Ulster. Her argument that ‘we’ are in danger of being over sensitive to other cultures and abandoning traditional celebrations such as Christmas and Easter. She then went on to state that Britain is a Christian Catholic country. Personally I don’t think that the last part of that statement will go down too well with the Loyal Orange Order who in both Scotland and Ulster are the largest core group of supporters Britain actually has.

These people do not feel pride in the idea of an inclusive Britain the very idea of it terrifies them. This organisation supports the union not for equality and fairness but for so called religious reasons which have nothing to do with faith or christianity.

Maybe it is because nobody actually knows what Britishness is why it feels so weak as a national identity. I have never believed in what I consider to be a make believe nation founded by the rich for the rich. It has served them well but it has served no one else. I mean what it actually achieved in its not so not glorious history. It had an empire. Big deal so did Egypt, Rome, China, Persia, (now Iran) Turkey, Austria-Hungary, Greece Spain, France, Russia, the Soviet Union and many other nations. Empires come and go throughout history and they have one thing in common they do not serve the poor.

It has a monarchy. Yes but it is not the only country to have this form of head of state. Norway Sweden Denmark Belgium The Netherlands and Spain also have a sovereign. Bizarrely however, the British monarchy is the only one that America sees fit to turn in to a panto and refers to as quaint. In plain language, this really means America thinks we are stupid for holding on to this system and I happen to agree with them.

The next fairytale is the we defeated Napoleon and won two world wars by sticking together. This is a load of arrogant tosh. It is no more than a myth to say that Britain managed these victories on our own but then as you may have noticed the British establishment are rather good at presenting fairytales as fact.

History however tells us a rather different story from Westminster’s and that is because historians tend to rely on something our unionists tend to neglect it’s called Evidence. Whilst no one can deny that Britain played a prominent role in these conflicts and was certainly a significant player in these victories it was not the only one and to deny the sacrifices made by those from other countries is to disrespect every member of the armed services whose ever fallen in battle.

Some people will say we are a fair nation and have achieved much in the name of equality. Yes we may have passed many equality laws in recent years, however this ignores the fact that we came late to the party on votes for women in which we lagged behind countries such as Finland, France, and New Zealand. We were also late in delivering full equality to our LGBT community and disabled people, so Britain may not be quite be the beacon of fairness which some of its supporters would like to think. This is hardly surprising however when you think that the social stratification of the country ensures that Britannia will always be ruled by those educated at private schools where people learn more about social etiquette than they do about economics or equality. Therefore the land of fairness equality and opportunity argument is a myth which does not stand up to closer scrutiny.

There is another school of thought which is even more deluded, namely that to be British you have to hate foreigners and regard them with suspicion. This is not something I agree but it is out there and we can’t deny it exists. The popularity of UKIP in certain parts of England did not happen by accident. This right wing xenophobia has always been an unfortunate hangover from colonial days and stubbornly refuses to go away. The notion of nation means different things to different people and UKIP’s idea of nation is white anglo-saxon and Anglican with no place for anyone who doesn’t fit the desired national image.

Contrast this if you will with my notion of nation as inclusive all embracing and open. A diverse society which does need to tell itself it is multi-cultural because it’s acceptance of all who make the choice to live in it will speak louder than any words. This is my vision for the country I want to live in but that country is not Britain that country is Scotland.

I have never felt Britain was my country probably due to the images of Britishness I was presented with as a teenager. I did not see Britain as all embracing society which was willing to accept diversity and no amount of TV shows with Britain in the title or memories of the London Olympics could ever change my view. The images of Britishness I grew up with were exclusive rather than inclusive. Union flags were associated with Rangers Football club, The Loyal Orange Order and the far right of the political spectrum who thrived on racism. Not for nothing did my dad and my maternal grandmother a far greater radical than her socially and culturally conservative daughter refer to
this symbol of British identity as the Butcher’s Apron.

The Union flag was not a feel good flag of which people could be proud of but rather a nasty banner which in my eyes was tainted with hate. I found it hard to accept that a football club could openly operate a sectarian signing policy without even being questioned and that a bunch of anti-catholic bigots were allowed to march on the streets of my city and poison the air with their bile ridden tunes every july and the stain the summer skies with their vitriolic viciousness.

I found this particularly difficult to deal with as I come from an inter faith marriage. This means I benefited from understanding and valuing two differing traditions, dad was catholic and mum was kirk that’s Church of Scotland for those who may not know. To be fair neither really bothered too much with the faith they had been baptised in though mum’s prejudices tended to come out during the marching season when she expressed pro orange and pro unionist sentiments even if she didn’t give a damn about either for the rest of the year. My dad who was far more politically astute than my mum was a left wing republican socialist who voted SNP to gain independence and kick the union the bigots who supported it where it hurt.

Though brought up in the kirk which I attend far more regularly than any of my unionist relatives I am very much a daddy’s girl in the sense that whilst I may have got mum’s religion I got my football team the glorious Glasgow Celtic his politics SNP and his culture Irish-Scots. It is for those reasons and too many others to list that I had an interest in this debate and why when it comes to national identity a badge of Britishness can never be my choice

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X