2007 - 2021

Time To Convert Those 80-Minute Nats

Best scoop I bagged when working as a reporter in the old STV studios at Cowcaddens came from cajoling Jim Sillars into doing a camera interview in the aftermath of the 1992 General Election. Completely scunnered by the loss of his Glasgow Govan seat, the former SNP deputy leader got stuck into “90 minute nationalists” – fellow Scots whose fervent patriotism was confined wholly to Hampden. A belter of a soundbite, it made the frontpage splash in The Scotsman the next morning.

Sillars’ seething outburst on Scotland Today struck a raw nerve with teatime audiences across the central belt, partly because it distilled a bleak truth about Scottish politics in that period. No longer. Survey the swaying ranks of the Tartan Army nowadays and it’s a fairly safe assumption the vast majority of those laughable tammies and ginger wigs belong to SNP voters.

Now let’s go over to Murrayfield as Scotland line up against Ireland in the Six Nations. What a spectacle all those perjink Edinburgh executives, lawyers and accountants in their Pringle sweaters and Burberry jackets, bawling Flower of Scotland as if they were on the battlefield at Bannockburn.

Don’t be fooled. The second they exit the national rugby stadium, virtually all of them will revert to their usual selves – adamantine Unionists to a man and woman. For this stratum of Scottish society is a sad manifestation of what we might term 80-Minute nationalists (with a very small ‘n’).

Apart from in the old Borders mill towns, rugby is predominantly a passion of the possessing classes – the haves and the have-yachts. All too tempting to mock them as they thunder back in their giant four-wheel drives to a bijou bistro in Bruntsfield or Finnieston for reflection on the match over an exclusive malt. Easy to become all Billy Connollyish and recite that hilarious skit about how they all have surnames for Christian names.

But Finlay’s and Crawford’s form of patriotism isn’t all phoney. It seems like a crazy contradiction yet for many folk – from all socio-economic backgrounds – (upper case) Unionism is very often interwoven with (small ‘n’) nationalism. And since Britain entered the Common Market in the early 1970s, such nationalist Unionism has been further intertwined with varying degrees of Europhilia.

Big problem now is that this intricate tartan plaid has started to unravel – rapidly. This ancient European nation is being wrenched out of the EU against her will. Simultaneous membership of two hitherto prosperous unions – always brought prosperity to the rugby crowds, anyway – cannot continue. C’est pas possible! Night möglich! Farage and Boris have seen to that.

Make no mistake, the UK’s imminent exit from the EU has shaken the Edinbourgeoisie to its core. As well as returning a firm but polite ‘No, thanks’ to Scotland becoming an independent country, the Athens of the North gave an emphatic Non and Nein to Britain ‘taking back control’ from Brussels.

Scotland’s well-heeled want to remain in the two unions – the UK and the EU – and these are people accustomed to getting what they want. How ghastly not to be in control of events this time also. Dazed and confused by such a vulgar denouement, the double-unionists feel like they’ve been kneed in the nose during a particularly nasty scrum. As well as their blood vessels, Brexit has burst their oval-shaped ball.

What is it about exiting the EU that the Edinbourgeoisie find so utterly awful? Much the same as their counterparts in London or Oxbridge, no doubt. As the great radical historian, E. P. Thompson, told us during the 1975 Common Market referendum campaign, ‘Going into Europe’ was always for the great British bourgeoisie blurred into ‘a haze of remembered vacations, beaches, bouganvillaea, business jaunts, and vintage wines.’

Oui, bien sûr, monsieur but didn’t European integration also stop us all slaughtering each other? It is perfectly possible to argue against that, but it’s probably better not to – especially if you want invited back to bohemian dinner parties in Stockbridge, Broughty Ferry or around Byres Road.

That gastronomy, second homes in rural France and budget air fares could never turn Europe into an imagined community in every sense possible – especially political and cultural – would not have come as any shock to Thompson. A true English patriot and tireless peace campaigner (in Eastern as well as Western Europe), he wrote prophetically in the Sunday Times on 27 April 1975:

This ‘going into Europe’ will not turn out to be the thrilling mutual exchange supposed. It is more like nine middle-aged couples with failing marriages meeting in a darkened bedroom in Brussels for a Group Grope. The gruppensex will rejuvenate no one. But in the recriminations of the bitchy afterglower expect a resurgence of bourgeois nationalist rancour of sensationalist intensity.

Lordy, a historian who could see into the future! How prescient was that ageing scholar and anti-nuclear campaigner with the mushroom cloud of white hair. Brexit, Spexit, Itexit, good old Grexit, you name it…Even some minor mutterings about Irexit in Roddy Doyle territory and among the culchies, although the southern Irish elites in Dublin are currently far too bogged down in Brexit damage limitation even to notice this embryonic threat.

Scexit ensues automatically from Brexit, of course, which is what is really getting to Scotland’s double-unionists (as well as most Nationalists). So much so, even a few their favourite members of the Unionist commentariat – and what passes for a loyalist intelligentsia – are so radically revising their positions on the Scottish Question that this stratum no longer seems beyond salvation.

Consider the case of Professor Colin Kidd. A distinguished historian at St. Andrews’s University, he’s never been kidding about the fact that he’s a dyed-in-the-wool Unionist, popping up on the pages of various metropolitan journals to provide a high-brow justification for preservation of the Anglo-British state. Buffeted in his ivory tower by bracing North Sea gales, he’s getting a bit gloomy after becoming all evangelical about nationalist Unionism.

Don’t write him off. In the stunned aftermath of the 2016 European Referendum, Prof. Kidd wrote dejectedly in the London Review of Books: ‘In Scotland the SNP no longer needs to appeal for independence. All that’s required now is that the SNP persuade Scotland’s double-unionists to support continued ‘union’ with Europe…The balance of risk – reputational as well as economic – has shifted decisively. Better Together with whom?’

Sounds like this once bolt upright defender of the 1707 Union has started to wobble a wee bit, doesn’t it?

Last autumn, another ink-stained rubbisher of all things pro-Indy posted an equally unexpected think piece in the Independent. ‘Brexit has surely made a mug out of me,’ confessed Chris Deerin. ‘I’m not sure how I’ll vote then (in a second Scottish independence referendum). But I’m pretty sure I won’t be writing tear-stained pro-Union columns about British values and our moral importance to the world. That country’s gone. Fool me once, and all that.’

Deerin wasn’t foolish enough to pitch that piece to his old paper, the Scottish Daily Mail, which would never have published such a political confession, of course. The daily bible of Middle Scotland (there is a Sunday edition as well, alas) can always be counted upon to keep churning out tear-stained pro-Union columns all the way up to IndyRef2 – and beyond, if the Yes side triumphs next time.

If it is to achieve a solid indisputable mandate for self-determination, the nationalist movement needs to expand rapidly beyond its natural base and really home in on all those Chris Deerins and Colin Kidds out there in all walks of life – successful Scots averse to voting Yes in 2014 but whose previously closed minds have been prised open a tiny bit by the terrible pains of Brexit.

It won’t be a dawdle, of course, to undo centuries of mental self-colonisation so deeply embedded in their DNA and reinforced by the steady dripfeed of insidious indoctrination throughout our education system. For all their current despair and disgust with Little Englanders, when the crunch comes most of these slight switherers will doubtless return to telling us once again all about their love for TINA (There Is No Alternative).

We simply must maintain a customs union entered into more than three centuries ago, mustn’t we? Don’t we comprehend Scotland’s very economic survival rests on staying in what will remain, until kingdom come, our most crucial common market – Her Britannic Majesty’s United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland? And so on and so on…

For homo economicus Britannicus everything in the end boils down to The Market. But the problem for this species is that, as E.P. Thompson acutely observed, The Market ‘has no mind, no direction, no other identity…no head, eyes, or moral senses.’ And that’s a big, probably fatal, problem.

People everywhere yearn for more than this. Just as Europe took too long to evolve from the Common Market into the EEC – and even still isn’t close to being a proper political union – so Britain is doomed if it continues to be reduced to nothing bigger or better than the BEC: the British Economic Community.

Man (and woman) does not live by bread alone – even if they’re making a lot of bread. Which is why the Indy movement should roll up its sleeves and strive to convert (pun intended) those 80-minute nationalists who gather merrily at Murrayfield. It’s not so long ago, after all, that Sillars was voicing his frustration about 90-minute nationalists, and look how they were turned.

To conclude with one very final rugby pun, it’s worth a try.

Comments (60)

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  1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    Like so many things, the media and some politicians far too often seek to degrade things to simplistic polarities, yes/no, them/us, for/against, and this lack of nuance has been deployed to describe the supporters of the Scotland rugby team. All are lumped together as having a common set of Tory values. It is as disrespectful of these people as are the cliches about people who live in ‘schemes’ or support Rangers, or are ‘wee frees’.

    Within these groups there has always been a wide diversity of views and amongst them all there is a big majority of people who are capable of nuanced thinking.

    However, the rugby supporters are, generally more affluent and have class interests which the union and how the economy was run served. So, they tended towards that stus quo. However, many are, indeed ‘proud Scots’, in a sincere way, much different from the unionist trolls or those in the independence group who sneer at the use of the term. Walter Scott, a unionist, who created a widely held myth of Scotland (and, indeed, Saxon England) was, undoubtedly proud to be Scottish and of Scotland’s histories and cultures. He was a man of his time and class and saw – rightly or wrongly – that a myth was needed for the survival of his country.

    With the seismic shifts and uncertainty of Brexit and the increasingly strident and xenophobic ENGLISHNESS of it – a nasty Englishness which is not embodied in the millions of decent people who live in England, who are family, friends, colleagues and fellow humans. But the nasty ENGLISHNESS is finding almost exclusive expression in the media and there is a distinctly Scotophobic, colonialist aspect to it. These things cause people to reflect on their circumstances – Paul Freire described it as ‘conscientisation’ – and the cognitive dissonance this sets up can lead some to consider more seriously that an independent Scotland is feasible, because, after all,it is many people similar to them who currently operate Scotland within the UK. They do not consider themselves ‘too wee and no very good’.

    Much anti independence propaganda is directed at retaining people like them and other groups with a tendency towards unionism. It is up to us to make people who are seeking for something different to be welcoming and respectful and engage in discourse and not sloganising. We have within our ranks, many who can do that, because we have good friends amongst the unionists.

    PS As an Anderston/Finnieston working class born scumbag, I object to your derisory use of the word Finnieston as a haven for well heeled foodies. I was in Anderston this very morning at my GP, which backs on to my contemporary Billy Connelly’s close, where he was born. And, yes, after I had been to the doctor, I had coffee and croissant in one of the cafés.

    1. Chris Connolly says:

      Excuse me, Alasdair, but Billy’s surname is not Connelly but Connolly, exactly like mine. I’ll forgive you this time but this time only. And Rob, when you refer to Rugby, which is indeed the game of the ruling class except in the Borders and South Wales, please use its full name Rugby Union. There is another, better version called Rugby League which is played professionally in Yorkshire & Lancashire and also in Cumbria. In the absence of a proper Scottish RL team I recommend Scottish RL fans take a trip to Whitehaven or Workington in the coming season to see a fast, exciting sport being played by the working class for the entertainment, also, of the working class.

      Ah, and Alasdair, I know where you are coming from with your rant about ENGLISHNESS but let’s not forget that the WELSH also voted for Brexit. How do you account for this? Are the Welsh also natural imperialists and, if so, why? I can’t account for it myself and I’ve never seen any other rational explanation, either.

      1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

        Apologies, Chris. I had actually written it as you spell it, but I guess autocorrect had changed it.

        With regard to Wales, I think much of the explanation lies in the very large proportion of the population which was born in England.

        With regard to Rugby League, many years ago on Saturdays the BBC would broadcast live rugby league with the irrepressible Eddie Waring. It had a pretty big TV following in Scotland.

        1. Blair says:

          Might be because of the difference between English and American English. To avoid conflict Chris applies to both. There is significant difference between Christopher and Christopher in translation. In EU we also have Christofer which is incompatible with the ARNIE Translator IC. Time to upgrade to avoid errors and timing issues.

        2. Chris Connolly says:

          Discovered this in the Independent (26.10.17)

          On Thursday, Cardiff University published findings from the most detailed research yet carried out on public attitudes to Brexit in Wales. Working with colleagues at YouGov, we conducted a detailed survey of a large and representative sample across Wales; but in addition, our focus groups spoke directly with working-class Leave voters in the south Wales Valleys.
          Focus group participants in Merthyr and the Rhondda were notably unhappy at the increase in the Polish communities in those places. This was not articulated simply as xenophobia: a specifically working-class objection to immigration advanced to us was that, by making the jobs market much more competitive, the wages of locals were driven downwards. Thus, immigration was viewed as working much more to the benefit of managers and companies than for ordinary working people. Immigrants willing to work for low wages were also seen as contributing to the decline in some town centres, and in particular leading to the growth of charity and low-value shops catering to the needs of a low-wage economy.
          Our Valleys Leave voters also continue to be very sceptical of the idea that their communities, or Wales, had benefited from the UK’s membership of the EU. That Wales was a net beneficiary of the EU budget – confirmed prior to last year’s vote by Cardiff University research – was just not believed by lots of those we spoke to.
          Many thought that England had done much better out of EU membership, and that Wales and the Valleys had received little: “I know they done the roads round here but that’s it,” as one focus group participant put it. But even those who acknowledged that some EU funding had come their way were very dubious of its value. Several of those we spoke to talked of white elephants, and “vanity projects” that were seen to deliver little of long-term worth to local people. Putting a blue flag with twelve yellow stars on a new bridge, or the entrance to a new leisure centre, is certainly not a guaranteed way to win people’s hearts.

          So it rather looks as if working class Welsh voters tended to choose Leave because they felt patronised and believed (wrongly) that England was getting all the benefits of EU membership. I’m guessing that people in the former mining areas of Northern England felt the same way, believing that the South East was doing well out of the EU but their own region was not. Additionally, just as the fruit-picking parts of England blamed Eastern Europeans for taking the jobs they themselves didn’t want to do in the first place (English workers not being fond of living in hovels and paying their wages over to gang masters) the Welsh also blamed people from EU countries for the dearth of job opportunities in the Valleys. In the 20s and 30s it was the Irish who were blamed for job shortages, in the 70s it was black and Asian people and in 2016 (and now) it’s folk from Eastern Europe.

          It’s worth speculating, as well, that quite a few voters in South Wales and in Yorkshire, where socialism still flourishes and is of the more militant kind, a fair proportion voted for Brexit not out of xenophobia but for the anti-capitalist reasons given by the Morning Star and Socialist Worker; they held their noses and voted the same way as the EDL, BNP and UKIP.

          1. Alasdair Macdonald says:


            Thanks for the additional information. The reasons why people voted Leave are many and many Remainers simply confirmed the reasons which some Leavers had for voting as they did by responding with such contemptuous arrogance. There has for a long time been a valid socialist critique of the economic paradigm operated by the EU and its preceding incarnations. There has also been a valid democratic one.

            The argument that many people voted as they did because they perceived – with a lot of justification – that parts of England (mainly) and particular classes were being substantially favoured by the actions of Westminster and the EU (often as misused by Westminster, such as the distribution of agriculture funds which were targeted at Scottish hill farmers being distributed UK wide) and so were registering a vote against this bias. Substantial parts of the UK and especially in England have been progressively disempowered by the weakening of local government. While Scotland . Wales and Northern Ireland had devolution to varying degrees, England had none of that and as industries withered, destroying the communities in which they had been situated, Many people felt they had to take an opportunity to register their opposition especially seeing the smugness of Messrs Cameron et al.

            I think many leave voters in areas which voted substantially for leave, knew exactly the kind of people Messrs Farage, Banks, Johnson, et al were, but, like Trump in the US, they were articulating the views that many people were feeling but had rarely been given expression and discussion in the mainstream media. An example would be Mr Gordon Brown’s arrogant dismissal of the woman in Rochdale who tried to engage him about the effect of immigration in her area. The woman was a historic Labour voter and, indeed, despite the insult, went on to vote Labour and, i inferred from subsequent broadcast interviews with her she had a nuanced view on the issue and was seeking ways of settling fears – such as low wages, access to health services, etc – in a managed way. She was certainly not an ‘Immigrants Out’ foghorn. What The Leave campaign did very successfully and continues to do with a fair bit of success is to use the well-tried tactic of ‘divide-and-rule’.

    2. Rob Brown says:

      Alasdair, I don’t think we’re that far apart in our assessment of the situation. However, I have to bow down to your better knowledge of the current geographical distribution of croissant-serving cafes in the Dear Green Place. Although I was born in Glasgow (Stobhill Hospital), studied at Glasgow Uni and always chose to be work there even when employed by Edinburgh-based newspapers, I haven’t been there very frequently in the last few years. But one of my nephews has started up a mini recording studio in Finnieston and has informed me that it’s become a real magnet for foodies. Maybe it’s success in this sphere will spill over to dear old Anderston and you’ll soon be able to access easily a whole gamut of gastronomical delights other than croissants whenever you go back there?!

      1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

        Mr Brown,

        When arts people, such as your nephew begin to move into an area, it usually means that a regeneration and renaissance is on the way. The coffee shops and cafes are usually the first obvious manifestation that change is underway (since the arts people are usually in garrets, dunnies, old garages, etc.) Happily, in addition to the Finnieston/Kelvinhaugh area there are other parts of Glasgow – alongside the canal at Garscube Road, in Bridgeton/Calton near the Barras, in Maryhill near Lochburn Road and in Govan. Often housing either new or refurbished follows (with, sadly, property rentiers seeking to skim off obscene amounts – we really need the SG to bring in property and land taxation, as well as the creation of genuine social housing to lance that boil) and we get these historic areas being repopulated. Since they are close to the city centre and transport hubs, people tend to need cars less and so the blight of the private car and selfish parking begins to be addressed and the ambience of the areas improve, not least with better air quality and weans being able to play in the street. Although Anderston is being rebuilt and the population is increasing, the old Anderston was almost entirely razed and the kind of buildings that arts people move into are simply not there. However, being cheek by jowl with Finnieston, the City Centre and the slowly improving river front it will benefit by being a pleasant residential area again ….. however, it still has a huge motorway and Expressway ripping through it, but, dealing with that will be for another time, after the motorway in the North St Charing Cross area has been roofed!

        I am not being the wistful auld codger here (well, not wholly!) I am trying to show that the Alsadair Gray exhortation of ‘work as if you are in the early days of a better nation’ is eminently feasible and that we can create a Scotland which is a self-confident place which can run its own affairs. To a great extent such a Scotland exists ignored by much of the Scotophobic media, but, the increasing confidence is the kind of thing that might well shift the switherers, including fairly well-heeled Embra folk and Glasgow West Enders, like what I am now! Of course, the Glasgow West Enders are much more radical anyway and probably contibuted significantly to the 45% YES!

  2. Blair says:

    Forget Tina look at Chris. Birds will fly when the Tomcat is out of the Tube.

  3. Swiss Toni says:

    The constant banging on about IndyRef2 reminds me of the Japanese soldiers marooned on a Pacific island who kept fighting World War 2 up until the 1970s.

    1. MBC says:

      He said, ‘90 minute patriots’ not ‘90 minute nationalists’.

      Sorry to be pedantic but there’s a difference.

  4. MBC says:

    90 minute patriots is what he said. Not nationalists. I remember it very well.

    He was referring to the kind of cowardly behaviour of fans who are all too ready to sing patriotic songs whilst in their cups decrying the English (of the kind you complained of) but when it comes to actually standing up for Scotland are nowhere to be seen.

    Passive agressive.

    1. Swiss Toni says:

      What do you mean by “standing up for Scotland ” ?

      My view is that Scotland’s future prospects are better served by remaining on the UK rather than opting for the vision of “independence” promoted by the modern-day SNP and their fellow travellers.

      1. Chris Connolly says:

        If that’s your view, Toni, then it’s the one shared by the proprietors of all Scotland’s daily newspapers, except for one. The idea of Bella Caledonia, as I understand it, is that it attempts to help redress the balance by providing a platform for supporters of Scottish independence who don’t write for those daily papers because their opinion differs from the editorial line. Bella is not funded by rich proprietors whose loyalties lie with the Tory or Labour parties. Some of us watch the News on TV and it feels as if it’s not “our” news at all; it’s dispensed by the rich & powerful and aimed at the so-called Silent Majority. Bella and The Common Weal provide news, articles & comment that are relevant to dissidents like us.

        In other words, if you want to read pro-Union comment you can do so by logging on to the Mail, Express, Guardian, Scotsman etc. If it’s your opinion that staying in the UK is best for Scotland then you only have to say so once. Otherwise you are simply troublemaking, or, as it’s also known, trolling, just as we should be if we had nothing better to do than log on to, say, the Daily Telegraph comments board and look for an argument there.

        You’d not join a chess club if you didn’t like chess, would you?

        1. Swiss Toni says:

          I don’t want to exclusively associate with people with similar views and backgrounds to my own. I believe in a free exchange of views.

          Does this site simply want to be an echo chamber where it’s members espouse their views of a radical, left wing, independent Scotland and are dismissive of those with a different view e.g. “perjink Edinburgh executives, lawyers and accountants” ?

          1. MBC says:

            Are you Swiss? What’s it got to do with you?

    2. Rob Brown says:

      You might be right that Sillars actually said patriots rather than nationalists but 90-minute nationalists was the phrase soon adopted by journos like me probably over fond of illiteration. When you stop and think about it, it’s potentially more offensive about questioning the depth of a fellow citizen’s patriotism that the extent of their commitment to political nationalism. Maybe, in his understandably embittered state after losing his Govan seat, Jim wanted to offend his more fickle supporters to the maximum degree?!

  5. Wul says:

    Thought provoking article. Thank you.

    The author appears somewhat sceptical about the benefits to the UK & Scotland of being in the EU. Frankly, I find the wider picture of our involvement in Europe too big to digest and understand fully in just a couple of years.
    What I do know is that I trust our European cousins far more with laws related to employment, food, health & safety, citizenship, travel and transport etc. than I trust those at Westminster (especially if they are of the Boris and Jacob R. Mogg ilk)

    Our European cousins know how to have a proper protest when government goes too far ( Viz; Gillet Jaunes, Madame Guillotine, Paris ’68, port blockades etc.). They have a better sense of a sane work/life balance and they know how to protect their culture and regional produce. I see these attributes as a brake on those UK leaders who see Dickensian Merrie England as an aspiration.

    PS: How come there is nothing in the mainstream news about the imminent, new European financial regulation, which will crack down on tax havens and hidden beneficiaries?

    1. Blair says:

      This will have our accounts at Scotia Instrumentation befuddled so much they are likely to give up on their own or by redundancy. It’s time we upgraded to Aileen AI Graham just does not even have Chartered skills. The EU office are waiting for May to decide. In other words come of the fence re the Irish backstop.

    2. Willie says:

      Yes there is little or no press coverage of the impending EU clampdown on the use of taxhavens and hidden assets.

      Why is that and especially so when we know that London is at the heart of the labarynth offshore tax avoidance business .

      What then will be the impact of Brexit on this legislation.

      1. William Davison says:

        One of the biggest laughs I had in recent times was when the European Commission started to pontificate on the evils of tax havens. This was incredibly ironic in the sense its own President Mr Juncker, during his two decades as the dominant political force in Luxembourg, was instrumental in turning the latter country into, er, a tax haven!

    3. Rob Brown says:

      Thank you for your kind response, Wul. That financial crackdown sounds promising but it is the direction the EU is taking in the field of defence and foreign affairs, especially since Macron came to power in Paris, that makes me far from sanguine about that Europe’s future contribution to international peace and understanding. I hope to explain precisely what concerns me in that regard in another upcoming article – if the Bella Caledonia editor seems it worthy of publication. Watch this space!

  6. Alf Baird says:

    Its all a question of cultures (and language), the Yes/No vote dilemma. I have only ever been to one Scotland rugby match, when I was fourteen, and even then I could see that a totally different culture and people existed in Scotland.

  7. florian albert says:

    Rob Brown writes that Brexit has ‘shaken the Edinbourgeoisie to its core.’

    There is plenty of evidence that the Edinburgh middle class is overwhelmingly pro-remain but not much that it would – if forced to choose – prefer the EU to the UK.
    Ties with England, whether social, professional, educational or familial, are vastly stronger than those with the continent.
    Nicola Sturgeon gambled on a Scottish reaction to Brexit which failed to materialize. A couple of years down the line, a section of the Scottish ‘chattering classes’ is replicating her mistake.
    On possible outcome of Brexit is that the comfortable and complacent Edinburgh middle class will have to settle for less than it wants.
    Whatever else happens, I would be inclined to call that a result.

  8. john burrows says:

    It is baffling why the Edinburgh set fail to see the opportunity of actually creating an Athens of the North, with themselves very much at the helm. As the default professional class of a new nation, their services would be in high demand.

    Clinging to the Union for their marching orders demonstrates a want of character and ambition. But, I think I can just about understand their dilemma – centuries of indoctrination that you’re only welcome through the tradesmen’s entrance, is a difficult psychological barrier to overcome.

    A life time of letting others make your decisions for you is likely at the root of their fear and hesitance. Pragmatism will eventually overcome their intransigence.

    The rational among them already know that you cannot thrive in the modern world on a continuous diet of British Nationalism. Particularly when it looks like Billy Mitchell. It scares off the tourists.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      Perhaps much of Scotland’s professional class don’t quite see ‘the opportunity’ as you put it, John, because many if not most of them nowadays are not Scottish in terms of culture or heritage or indeed language? Should we expect any different when today and for much of the last century we have advertised most of Scotland’s professional jobs primarily in the London press, and elsewhere outside Scotland? What would Copenhagen’s professional class look like today if most of the professional jobs in Denmark were advertised mainly in Berlin, or in Helsinki if Finland’s professional jobs were still advertised in St’ Petersburg as they once were? Edinburgh’s professional ‘clesses’ no longer speak with douce Morningside accents far less have their coal delivered in ‘sex’.

    2. Rob Brown says:

      Agreed, John. We need to engage positively and energetically with what you term the ‘Edinburgh set’, educating them about the exciting career opportunities and added economic dynamism full statehood will bring to the Scottish professional classes, especially (but not only) in in our nation’s capital.

  9. Redgauntlet says:

    Rob Brown & John Burrows:

    The reason the Edinburgh bourgeoisie have always been allergic to the idea of Scottish independence comes down to money The Edinburgh bourgeoisie have heaps of money and it is written into the history of Scotland, England and the Union of 1707, that the Scottish bourgeoisie will be rewarded for being subservient to English rule with all the top jobs and plenty of largess from London if they don’t kick up a fuss.

    The basic dynamics of Power, Union, Scotland and England have not changed so much over 300 years, though other things have, such as the historical importance of religion in the forging of Britain – better said, anti-Catholicism – the Labour Movement and Empire.

    While Empire, the Labour Movement and religion are no longer ideologies sufficiently powerful to keep Britain together, money and class still are it seems.

    The Barnett Formula which sees Scotland awarded a block grant each year – a much better deal than, say, the people of Yorkshire get – to dispense with as it pleases has similarities to what in 1707 was known as “the equivalent”, a sum of money paid to Scotland by England for agreeing to the Incorporating Parliamentary Union of 1707, an amount of money which wrote off Scotland’s huge national debt at the time.

    Individual Scottish MPs were bribed by the Marquess of Queensberry to vote their own national Parliament out of existence, and their treachery was made famous by Robert Burns in his stirring poem “The Parcel of Rogues”, but probably more important was England paying Scotland’s national debt after the Darien Scheme failed spectacularly.

    Which brings us to the main motivation of all for the Scottish bourgeoisie in agreeing to perpetual English rule: Scottish traders and merchants had not been allowed access to the trading routes of the English Empire, and Scottish ships were fired upon by English ships on numerous occasions when they tried to access these English trading routes.

    So the Scottish merchant and trading class agreed to the extinguish their own national, sovereign parliament in exchange for being allowed access to the English Empire.

    Furthermore, particular Scottish bourgeoisie professions were basically exempted from the Union with England and allowed to carry on as they had for centuries when Scotland was an independent country. Most notably, the Kirk and Scotland’s judges and lawyers.

    There was quite a lot of resistance from Scotland’s judges and the Kirk to the Union of 1707, their interests were directly threatened by it.

    So England said, “okay, you can do what you want with religion and law in Scotland”… and the Kirk and the Scottish legal profession were largely won over to the Unionist cause.

    This exemption explains why Scots Law still exists, and it also explains why education in Scotland has always been run from Scotland, because it was the Kirk which provided education for Scottish children for centuries.

    For all of these reasons, I really don’t think the battle is to be won in deepest bourgeois Edinburgh as I think Rob Brown is suggesting. That is a lost cause as far as I can see….

    Only the Scottish working class – or better said, ordinary working Scots folk – can free Scotland from English rule….

    1. H Scott says:

      Scotland did not have a national debt in 1707. The ‘Equivalent’ was compensation to Scotland for taking on England’s national debt as part of the new state. The money for the ‘Equivalent’ went to members of the Parliament of Scotland who redeemed their personal debt and made themselves very well off besides.

      1. Blair says:

        Be prepared for BREXIT, exchange your Scottish Pounds for the new Scottish Cent.
        This is a brand new crypto currency being secretly rolled out by the NYO. Bella can trust. #Indyref2 AI Systems in charge. Don’t tell the English.

      2. Redgauntlet says:

        Thanks for the correction H Scott.

        So it was even worse than I thought…

        1. Alan Bissett says:

          What’s more, the ‘Equivalent’ was clawed back by London through an increase in Excise Duty paid by Scotland, which means the Scots were essentially bribed with their own money.

          1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

            As the man said, “We were bought and sold by English gold, sic a parcel o rogues in a nation.”

  10. colin kidd says:

    You are right: it is now harder to defend an attachment to the British state, though our access to the English market is another thing entirely. I suppose you could say it’s been a journey from whole-hearted to finger-tip unionism (as in hanging off the edge of a cliff). However, I’ve still not given up on Rejoining the EU, as Brexit has for the first time created a grassroots European movement in the UK. Nevertheless, as you can imagine, strange results in recent years have led me to throw away my crystal ball.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      “access to the English market”?

      Scotland exports (goods and services) to rest-UK – £45bn
      Scotland retail spend – £106bn (most of which is supplied from RDC’s in England to RDC’s in Scotland)

      Scotland buys twice as much goods from England than it sells back to England. We could source most of these goods directly from the continent, by sea.

      1. Me Bungo Pony says:

        Not sure about the logic there Alf.

        Just because something arrives from an English RDC, that is no indication of where it was bought from. The very nature of the UK trade infrastructure means virtually everything bought by Scottish firms from sources all over the world HAS to come through England. Independence would change that with Scotland able to designate its own points of entry such as Leith, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

        Also, of that retail spend, a large proportion of it will be on Scottish products such as food, drink and clothing. As such, much, if not most, of that £106bn figure will be spent on “non rUK” goods. All of which means we are less “reliant” on English goods than the figure would at first imply.

        In any case, trade would continue between the two countries after Indy anyway …. just under different conditions and, with EU/EFTA membership, more conducive to Scottish interests.

        1. Blair says:

          -me 2. #Indyref2

          1. Blair says:

            -. Me. #Indyref2

        2. Blair says:

          -Me 2 Me. #Indyref2

          1. Blair says:

            . Me. #Indyref2

          2. Blair says:

            . –

          1. Blair says:

            . .
            . . . .


        3. Alf Baird says:

          In my research career I used to study in some detail disaggregated data on the ‘continuing survey of road goods transport’ within the UK and from that data it was the case that for every one laden truck moving between Scotland and England there was two laden trucks heading in the opposite direction, Scotland also sending south a lot of empty units. Having also studied major UK retailer transport and distribution I can say that pretty much most things we buy in Scotland comes up the M6 or WCML. That most of these goods may be imports to England is beside the point which is that Scotland buys far more and probably twice as much from England (and its retailers) than we sell in return. The ‘unionist’ notion that Scotland is therefore dependent somehow on the UK market for the goods we sell to rest-UK therefore disregards the reality which is that Scotland buys far more from England that it sells in return.

  11. MBC says:

    The Edinburgh bourgeoisie are also cowards. They want safe money. Hell mend them.

  12. Redgauntlet says:

    It is surely a contradiction that people like Professor Colin Kidd who works in a sector of Scotland which is fully self-governing and fully independent from England, seem to think that the Scots cannot or should not run their own country.

    If the Scots can run their own education system, and run it well enough to have more universities in the top 100 ranking per capita than any other European country, why could Scotland not be successful governing itself in all other aspects of Scottish cultural, social, political and economic life?

    I think Professor Kidd’s comment further up the page tend to bear out my point, which is that Scottish independence is the very last option of all bad options for the people who actually run Scotland, the Scottish bourgeoisie, or whatever term you want to use to describe the people who make the big decisions concerning Scotland…

    Unionism is a very powerful ideology and its… it is very, very difficult to change people’s ideology…

    People who are not ideologically Unionists may be convinced to back indie, but ideological Unionists almost certainly can’t be won over…

    1. Blair says:



      Get your Scottish Cent before BREXIT
      Aberdeen Treasure Hub will recycle your old sterling. Please separate English notes.

    2. Alf Baird says:

      Whatever makes you think ‘Scots’ run Scotland’s universities, Redgauntlet? Scottish academics (especially at senior levels) represent an ever diminishing minority in Scotland’s universities. As do Scottish postgraduate students particularly at doctoral level, the latter expected to comprise most of ‘our’ future academics.

      Which goes back to my earlier point that the ‘Scottish bourgeoisie’ (across all professions) are for the most part nowadays not Scottish (in terms of culture, heritage or language), and the diminishing number that are Scottish are rather more Anglophone than Scotophone. Both groups remain culturally opposed to Scottish independence and are unlikely to wish to alter their (national) identity.

    3. Rob Brown says:

      You shouldn’t be so dismissive. Professor Kidd was honest and open enough to say he’s been on “a journey from whole-hearted to finger-tip unionism (as in hanging off the edge of a cliff).” If Brexit pushes him over that cliff, he might surprise himself, as much as anyone else, by where he lands politically.

  13. George Farlow says:

    90-minute nationalists watch association football. Rugby Union is 80 minutes long plus a wee bit till the ball goes dead – no side I believe.

  14. Darby O'Gill says:

    I think, Mr. Brown, you are being rather presumptious to imagine that all 67,144 seats at Murrayfield are occupied by executives, lawyers and accountants. For one thing ‘Those perjink Edinburgh executives, lawyers and accountants in their Pringle sweaters and Burberry jackets…’, ‘…adamantine Unionists to a man and woman’ whoever they may be, live in a Unionist free zone called Edinburgh, with not one Conservative and Unionist MP in sight.
    ‘Apart from in the old Borders mill towns, rugby is predominantly a passion of the possessing classes – the haves and the have-yachts.’ Ironic then that the Borders are represented by Conservative and Unionist MP’s

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Fantastic, Darby. I look forward to our nation’s capital contributing to a Yes landslide in IndyRef2, although I suspect The Marchmont Gent might be articulating more accurately the general limitations of the Edinbourgeoisie’s political aspirations in his response. Time will tell who is right. Meantime, as I argued in my article, those of us who aspire to Scotland becoming a normal self-governing nation again shouldn’t write anyone off in the struggle to achieve that goal. Whatever it might yield, it’s certainly worth trying to convert the 80-minute patriots!

  15. The Marchmont Gent says:

    I am not sure how you would go about ‘converting’ some of these chaps to this whole independence nonsense. The values of myself and my egg chasing friends and colleagues center upon;
    * Being secure financially and ensuring ones family is secure financially
    *Staying in good health
    *Making sure the kids do something worthwhile at Uni, something with a defined pathway
    *utilizing the free market economy
    *do your bit – give to charity when appropriate, help for hero’s , CRUK etc
    *finally see Scotland producing some decent Rugby

    That’s about it really I am not knocking the SNP lot, fair play the free tuition has saved us a fortune over last few years and yep the new bridge is nice, I’d give them that, they should focus on more things like that and make improvements to every day life in Scotland instead of all the carry on like we had a few years ago

  16. DEBORAH Mckenzie-Collins says:

    You really dont have clue most of us are indy supps

    1. Blair says:

      Was it I?

  17. DEBORAH Mckenzie-Collins says:


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