I’m English, and I’ll probably be called a c*** and told to **** off, but I’ve noticed a change over the last ten years. A new attitude has emerged, especially among the young. There were always people who hated ‘the English’ (often without ever having been to England). But the majority were either indifferent or had a kind of vague dislike that was slightly tongue in cheek – the kind of dislike Canadians feel for Americans, or New Zealanders feel for Australians (kind of jokey and ironic – no more than banter).
In the last few years things have changed. I even heard one Scot talk about the English ‘invading and raping my country’. Obviously no one had explained to him that political union began in 1603 when a Scottish dynasty replaced the Tudors on the English throne. Shakespeare wrote Macbeth to please the new Scottish king of England.
Maybe someone should have explained to him that the first Scottish Prime Minister of the UK, John Stuart, became PM way back in 1762. And it was a Scottish PM who led Britain during the Crimean war in the 1850s. The head of the British army in WW1 was Scottish. The founder of the SAS was Scottish. For god sake, even Gladstone was Scottish.
Of course, it suits the SNP to stir up this kind of hatred, especially among the young. They know it’s the quickest way to win support. Time and again I’ve watched SNP politicians indulge in fake outrage. Everything is twisted and distorted to fit their narrative.
They’ll be asked to comment on some new policy, or some random quote, and will then bang on about how “shocked” or “disgusted” or “outraged” they are by English arrogance. They know just which buttons to press: the English laugh at the Scottish, patronize them, look down on them, don’t care about them, etc, etc.
I remember hearing a story about the experiences of an Englishman working for an Aberdeen-based offshore company in Poland during the independence vote. Lots of Scots on the work bus after the vote shouted about being robbed and what bastards the English were.
The Englishman piped up and said that the big mistake was asking the Scots to vote. If they had asked the English to vote to get rid of the whinging Scots then they would be independent. There was a cheer from the English who were sick of it. The Scots shut up.
Many English people, particularly those on the Left actually admire the Scottish and used to think of Scotland (and to an extent Wales) as the backbone of British Socialism. On the whole, the same is true of the English Right who regard them as the backbone of the British army. There has never been any hatred or contempt.
George Orwell, for example, writes about ‘the cult of Scottishness’ that existed in the Edwardian public schools when he was a kid. According to him, boys who’d come from Scottish backgrounds had a high status and would often boast of their Highland roots.
The truth is, the vast majority of the English are not that bothered about what the Scots say about them, and understand that banging the nationalist drum has probably more of a benovelent undercurrent than many who excuse it on the basis of a more benign appeal to ‘civic nationalism’ care to admit.
Famously, Billy Connolly once said “it’s pointless the Scots hating the English; because the English simply don’t care”. If you are English, who do you care if they like the English? As an Englishman myself, I can testify to the veracity of this sense of indifference.
If I was 18, I would be too scared to go to university in Glasgow or Edinburgh. Maybe I’m overreacting, but I’d be frightened that if someone heard my accent in a bar or pub I’d get attacked.
I have heard too many stories of hatred directed against English people in Scotland to realize that this more than just banter. The SNP, who routinely whip up anti-English sentiment, portray themselves as enlightened progressives. But to me they often seem more like hate-filled bigots.
Italy and Germany weren’t unified until the late 19th century, and the USA wasn’t formed until 1776. But Britain and Britishness began in 1603. But then I am an evil English oppressor, so I should probably just shut up.