2007 - 2022

Oath of Roast Beef

The naturalisation process is a strange and highly politicised one. 

I moved from Italy to Scotland seven years ago. Since then, I have become involved in a rich network of relationships that have multiplied and deepened over time, truly making me a member of the community. I always felt welcomed by the people of the UK, plus I am fully aware of my privileged status as a citizen of an EU country.

On the other hand, politics over recent years has fuelled, and tried to capitalise on, suspicion against migrants so much that the state-sponsored hostility against migrants became an official government policy (aka the ‘hostile environment’). During the campaign for the Brexit referendum, a centre right and far right ‘debate’ over immigration dominated the political and media agenda. Then, with Brexit, a feeling of uncertainty started to spread among the UK’s migrant communities with frenzied mixed messages of reassurance and aggression towards EU immigrants. At this point, my family and I had been in the UK long enough to apply for citizenship which should be a right granted to all immigrants, no matter where they have come from. However, this process is poisoned by injustice and toxic identity politics.

Firstly, the application for naturalisation costs £1,349 per family member. This is a lot of money, considering that the average monthly salary in the UK is approximately £1,600 and that immigrants have fewer opportunities for saving than non-immigrants (for instance, in the course of migration, wealth in the form of properties or family savings may have been lost). As a direct consequence of this fee, immigrants with lower incomes may simply be excluded from entry into the naturalisation process, and hence from the right to have a say in how their community is governed and run (despite, at the very same time, being subjected to laws and social norms created without their input). Surely almost nobody today would defend the idea of citizens needing to own property or earn a certain amount of money in order to vote so why are these thresholds accepted as a deciding factor in the UK citizenship application process?

Secondly, the compulsory British citizenship test, the so-called ‘civic competence’ test, presents a further barrier for migrants. The test quizzes the applicant on British history, society, and institutions from a reductive, highly nationalistic, and uncritical perspective. Some would argue that this knowledge is necessary to orientate and fully participate as a member of the UK community. However, although I would agree that some knowledge about contemporary history or law may be desirable for those seeking to make a home in the UK, surely it should not be an absolute requirement for citizenship. Indeed, many people born into British citizenship would not pass the test themselves.

Some sample questions include: ‘What Palace was a cast-iron and plate-glass building originally erected in Hyde Park, London, England, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851?’ and ‘When did the first Christian communities appear in Britain?’ and ‘Roast beef is a traditional food of which country?’. It’s unclear how being able to answer these questions would actually make an immigrant more able to participate in British life, especially given that such information is not necessarily promoted in schools or on academic curricula. In fact, when immigrants are applying for citizenship, they have lived in the UK for a minimum of five years, so at that point can we not assume that they are already integrated into British society to a significant degree? Is that not enough?

Some will argue that this is about identity, British identity. However, national identity, with its epics and myths, is a political construct. Such narratives often bend and oversimplify national history, celebrating some events and actors, while hiding others (in particular, ethnic minorities and oppressed groups). Just one example of this British approach to constructing history and national identity is the celebration of Winston Churchill, the Conservative prime minister who was most famously in power during the Second World War. Churchill held, broadcast, and enacted very harmful views on race, not to mention violent colonial policies. However, the preparation handbook states that ‘Winston Churchill remains a much-admired figure to this day, and in 2002 was voted the greatest Briton of all time by the public’, implying the idea that the applicant is required to admire him uncritically.

Yet, if the civic competence test actually aims to improve the civic capacities of those who prepare for it, and so enhance the overall quality of democratic participation in the UK today, then why not present the complexity of a national history as still a matter for debate? And this promotion of British nationalism perpetuates throughout the citizenship test. More than once the preparation guide states that ‘the British people believed the empire was a force for good in the world’ but without any contextualisation or condemnation of this history of domination and abuse around the globe, instead implicitly presenting it as a pinnacle of human achievement.

Of course, it is difficult to condense 10,000 years of history into only 51 pages. However, the preparation guide found the space for notions of doubtful usefulness for actual civic competence, such as the story of the supersonic airliner, Concorde, right down to details such as its first flight (1969), first flight carrying passengers (1979), and its retirement from service (2003). When so much essential history and critical perspectives are missing, I wonder why immigrants are expected to celebrate a project that benefited such a small portion of the British population.

Lastly, for those who manage to pay the fee, pass the test, and have their application accepted, there is the citizenship ceremony with the Oath (or Affirmation) of Allegiance and Pledge of Loyalty, where new citizens must declare allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors. However, surely asking for allegiance to the monarch fundamentally contradicts the principles and values of British life, such as ‘democracy’ and ‘tolerance of those with different faith and beliefs’, that immigrants are required to uphold as part of the naturalisation process. Indeed, given that the royal family and their hereditary privileges are based on the ‘divine right of the king’, any allegiance to the Queen and her successors is a matter of faith and beliefs, and yet allegiance to them is demanded as compulsory, despite their lack of democratic legitimation and accountability.

Moreover, the Queen is the head of a faith institution: the Church of England. Does her position honestly reflect how almost half of Britons do not identify with any faith and religion? Additionally, the royal family is presented as being politically neutral, despite the fact that members are openly political: for instance, Prince Harry serving in the army and the Queen repeatedly using her access to draft laws to lobby ministers in line with her own interests and opinions. Ultimately, making citizenship conditional upon subscribing to a particular political view, the royal family embody deeply elitist and conservative views, contradicts democracy, especially given that almost half of the UK population do not fully support the monarchy.

These are challenging times: climate change, resurgence of fascism, populist and authoritarian politics across Europe, old and new nationalisms, crisis of political participation. Today, more than ever, free and critical thinking is needed, in opposition to any toxic celebration of nationalism and status quo. We need an internationalist view. We need to recognize the complexity of our national histories in order to discuss and condemn the injustices perpetuated in our name even now. We need to challenge the illegitimate powers that keep so many of us confined to a minoritized status, hindering the necessary rethinking of reality to face the existential threats of our times. We need true citizens, those who participate as political actors. We do not need faithful subjects.

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  1. 220210 says:

    ‘These are challenging times: climate change, resurgence of fascism, populist and authoritarian politics across Europe, old and new nationalisms, crisis of political participation. Today, more than ever, free and critical thinking is needed, in opposition to any toxic celebration of nationalism and status quo. We need an internationalist view. We need to recognize the complexity of our national histories in order to discuss and condemn the injustices perpetuated in our name even now. We need to challenge the illegitimate powers that keep so many of us confined to a minoritized status, hindering the necessary rethinking of reality to face the existential threats of our times. We need true citizens, those who participate as political actors. We do not need faithful subjects.’

    Hell, yeah! I’m with ya!

  2. Squigglypen says:

    We need independence and freedom from a parasitic mob called the ‘royal ‘ family… While they live a life of entitlement their ‘subjects’ have to choose between eat or heat. We need to call time on pulling the forelock and making curtsies to this dreadful infection ..who… be in no doubt will fight tooth and claw to survive at any cost.

    An independent Scotland with fairness at its heart for all its citizens…….still waiting for that referendum..hope springs eternal..

  3. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    These kinds of hoops and hurdles have been used for centuries by ruling classes to make it difficult for outsiders to gain access to power. Price is the most common mechanism, as are the private or social class selective schools.

    The status of the ‘Classics’ , the Latin and Greek, is not down to the contribution to civilisation they undoubtedly make, but because they are a way of excluding people. This derives specifically from the Imperial Civil Service in India at the time of the British or brutish Empire. Indians provided the bulk of the civil service and many proved very competent and, often more competent than many of the British expatriates, especially the sons of wealthy families who were placed in high ranking posts. A competitive system was put in place and as increasing numbers of Indians passed the exams and tests, the sinecure ‘billets’ of the scions of the wealthy could only be guaranteed by rigging the tests. Since the English and Oxbridge ‘public’ school system was heavily Classics based, the Classics became a way of excluding the Indians and lower class UK people, because the schools they attended did not have Classics on the curriculum. And, fallacously, Classics was deemed to be THE great ‘trainer of the mind’ and, even more fallaciously, that Classicists could turn their hand to anything. This, of course, is total PISH! A broad education is desirable, but, if you want doctors, teach medicine; engineers, teach engineering, specifically in addition to the broad curriculum.

    Comprehensive schools are not about ‘one size fits all’ or ‘dumbing down’ or ‘silk purses out of pig’s ears’, etc but about giving ALL children access to the full breadth of the curriculum.

    1. 220211 says:

      The derivation of the status of ‘Classics’ goes back and extends much further than the recruitment and selection policies of the British Civil Service in India. It goes right back to the defining project of Europe’s middle ages, which was to preserve and transmit scholastically the civilisation of Europe’s antiquity and, in particular, its language and literature. From the inception of this project, scholars were enjoined to read and imitate in their own writing earlier ‘classical’ models.

      During the 20th century, this project was more or less abandoned in the UK, though it persisted longer in Scotland, where the ideal of a liberal education (the cultivation of ‘free’ human beings through the study of excellence in the arts) as distinct from vocational education (preparation for the world of work) was more stubbornly entrenched. Oxford and Cambridge universities stopped requiring students to have qualifications in Greek in 1920 and in Latin at the end of the 1950s. When the National Curriculum was introduced in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 1988, it didn’t mention Classics, but was weighted heavily instead towards vocational STEM subjects.

      Elsewhere in Europe, Classics has not declined as quickly. In Italy, France, and Greece, for example, the study of Latin language and literature is still compulsory in most secondary schools, while the study of Ancient Greek is still compulsory in Greek schools and can be studied optionally at secondary level in several other European countries.

      The exclusion of most people in Britain from a liberal education has enabled it to be used as a discriminatory tool by the establishment to preserve the existing matrix of power relations or inequalities by which it’s defined. A properly comprehensive education (one which doesn’t select its intake on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude AND offers that intake a liberal as well as a vocational education) would go a long towards disabling that situation.

      It only remains to point out that education policy in Scotland is a devolved matter and to ask what the Scottish government is doing to ensure that all our children have the opportunity to pursue a properly comprehensive education.

      1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

        Clarification – although Education is devolved to the Scottish Government and prior to 1998 had been the responsibility of the Scottish Education Department as a branch of the Scottish Office since education was made compulsory in 1872, it is a ‘national system locally delivered’. The schools are managed by the local Councils, who also employ the teachers and other staff as well as the premises and equipment. Councils must follow the curriculum and other guidelines issued by the SG, but can interpret these as they see as appropriate for their circumstances and set policies. However, Her Majesty’s Inspectors monitor these and if aspects of SG guidelines are not fulfilled they can require adjustments. Funding is by block grant from the SG for ALL local authority services, augmented by local Council Tax and Councils can decided how much to allocate to education and other services, provided various statutory conditions are met. The current curriculum guidelines are called “Curriculum for Excellence’.

        All local authority secondary schools in Scotland have since c1972 been organised as comprehensive schools. 95% of Scotland’s children attend these schools. It took some years for the ‘comprehensive ethos’ to embed itself (not least due to the resistance of some teachers and parents who wanted the selective system to remain. Issues of recruitment also delayed in some places the full introduction of the ‘broad and balanced curriculum’, which had been set out in the Munn report.

        The issue of supply of Classics teachers has been a persisting problem and has resulted in Classics being offered in very few schools, even those in the private sector. I was Head Teacher of one of the last local authority schools to have Classics as part of the curriculum. However, the two teachers left within a few months of each other – one retired and the other left on the grounds of ill health due to MS. I was unable to recruit replacements. Two members of staff, who were not qualified teachers of Classics but had studied Classics as part of their degrees kindly offered to take the children on the course through to examination. The Scottish teacher unions opposed such ‘uncertificated teaching’, but, since the two volunteers were the local representatives of the two largest unions, there was no opposition!

        However, when that group of pupils finished their courses, I had to remove Classics from the curriculum because I was unable to recruit suitably qualified staff, despite the fact that the school was in a suburban area close to Glasgow.

        The ‘Ancient’ Universities in Scotland still have course in Classics and those of us who are alumni consider ourselves to be equal to Oxbridge alumni. I did not study classics, either in school or at university. It was on the curriculum of our school, but in these distant days of selective local authority education, only a minority of us opted to do it. In the school my wife attended, also a selective school, she was simply told she had to do Classics because she had ‘proved herself bright enough’!

        1. 220211 says:

          Aye, back in the day, you were only encouraged to study Classics if you were selected and chose to go to grammar school. As you say, lack of resourcing led to the opportunity to study it in our comprehensive schools disappearing fairly quickly, like the proverbial snow off a dyke.

          In my children’s school, the two teachers who were certificated to teach Classics had to requalify to teach modern languages and computer science respectively AFTER Classics was dropped from the curriculum. I was told by the school that it had been dropped because of timetable pressures and the need to prioritise ‘more relevant’ areas of study; although the school wouldn’t elaborate on to whom or for what educational purpose those areas were ‘more relevant’.

          It would seem that, if you want your children to get a liberal education as well as a vocational one, you need to go private.

  4. Freda Satow says:

    I totally agree with you. I don’t know the answer to some, actually, a lot of these questions and I have lived all my life in Scotland and am educated to degree level.
    Does this test only apply if you are settling in England?

    1. 220210 says:

      No, it applies to anyone who wants to ‘naturalise’ as a citizen of the UK.

      The term itself is objectionable because it implies a requirement of assimilation rather than integration. Basically, it requires that you’re ‘British’ enough to be deemed so by the government. This involves passing both the ‘Life in the UK’ test and the English language requirement, as well as paying a £1,330 British citizenship fee.

      You also have to be over 18 and be capable of demonstrating (to some government official, no doubt) that you’re of both ‘sound mind’ and of ‘good character’ (as defined, presumably, by the same government official). Apparently, not being of ‘good character’ is the ground cited in the majority of citizenship refusals.

      Why participating in civic life (i.e. working as a member of the community in which you live to make that community possible and productive) isn’t enough to qualify you as a citizen is one of life’s wee mysteries on these islands. There should be a question about it in the ‘Life in the UK’ test.

  5. Julian Smith says:

    Any knowledge needed of an unsinkable transAtlantic liner that hit an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage, or a missile known as Blue Streak? Do you need to know the year England won the World Footie Cup?
    The citizenship test would be laughable if it wasn’t such a despicable attempt to prevent people wanting to come to this country.

  6. David Boldrin says:

    Thanks for all your comments om my article. I really appreciated.

    The letter aims to highlight the “democratic contradictions” and lack of legitimation of naturalization process when widely accepted democratic values are considered.

    I think that borders and states are only the expression of violence, often hidden behind claimed “democratic principles”. Politics on immigration are based on exclusion and show how states do not respect claimed democratic principles and hence lack legitimation.

    P.S., I am vegan and I found really disgusting the celebration of roast beef and horse races in preparation guide

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @David Boldrin, yet nature is full of borders without which life could not exist in ecosystems or resist invasion, from atmospheric layers to rivers, mountain ranges, shores, to your epidermis down to cell walls. Without borders and boundaries, the abundance of species today (some of which border-violating humans are wiping out in vast numbers) would not exist. In fact, invasive species are one of the living world’s greatest problems, which is only exacerbated by climate change. Borders remain essential for conservation and attempting to tackle trade in endangered species. And of course, borders (not necessarily national ones) are an essential defence against pandemics (have you ever played Plague Inc. Evolved?).
      In other words, human violation of natural borders seems the real violence done here.

      I would have been interested to see the official Italian citizenship test for comparison, and your thoughts on that.

      1. David Boldrin says:

        Thanks for the comment. First, I think it is wrong to interpret natural systems through the eye of artificial sociocultural systems, and then justify this artificial sociocultural system with our interpretation of nature. A classic example is hierarchy. Often, the social organisation of animals is interpreted using the hierarchical structure of human society (e.g., lion king, queen bee) to then justify the hierarchical structure in human society. For this point, I suggest reading the book Ecology of Freedom by Murray Bookchin. So, let’s avoid this kind of interpretation. Second, the most important steps in evolution on earth were the result of symbiosis (cooperation) between organisms. For instance, the same eucaryotic cell, that you cite, is the result of symbiosis, the opposite of borders. Other examples are mycorrhiza fungi and pollination, which support many ecosystems and all our food systems. Third, most of time invasive species are symptoms of ecosystem degradation and not causes of this. In general, invasive species do not penetrate in healthy ecosystems. Furthermore, the success of some alien species can be simply interpreted as a natural response to changes in the environment or pressures on natural ecosystems. Again, do not mistake effects with causes. About human borders and the natural environment, I suggest reading this article by George Monbiot: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/dec/15/border-walls-triggering-ecological-disaster-humanity-wildlife-habitats-extinction. Fourth, pandemics in nature are limited or slowed down by diversity, the opposite of what is promoted with national borders. National borders are not natural, and they have no rational or ethical justification. National borders are the result of historical processes such as war and colonialism. These are hence created and maintained by the monopoly of violence of state. Finally, most of the arguments on British naturalisation can be applied to naturalisation processes in other countries, including Italy. In Italy, the naturalisation process and debate are also characterised by suspicion against foreigners and racism. In particular, the application process requires a massive effort in terms of paperwork.
        A good book about citizenship and borders is The Ethics of Immigration by Joseph H. Carens.

        1. 220212 says:

          ‘[I]t is wrong to interpret natural systems through the eye of artificial sociocultural systems, and then justify this artificial sociocultural system with our interpretation of nature.’

          It is indeed. The ‘wrongness’ consists in mistaking the symbolism of a metaphor for an objective state of affairs.

          A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes an object or action in a way that isn’t literally true but helps explain an idea or make a comparison. A metaphor states that one thing is another thing. It equates those two things not because they actually are the same, but for the sake of comparison or symbolism.

          It has become a bit of a cultural cliche to liken the systems we discern in nature to our political systems and to naturalise our political systems by ascribing to their order the necessity and inevitability we discern in the order of nature. Your example of the metaphor of ‘hierarchy’ is a good example of this hermeneutic circularity. The metaphor of ‘communism’, which likes this form of social organisation to the organic behaviour of bees and ants (and vice versa) is another.

          The idea that political borders have the same objectivity or ‘truth’ that we discern in the divisions of nature depends on a basic misunderstanding of how metaphors function in the process of our world-making. (See Lakoff and Johnson: Metaphors We Live By (UCP, 2008))

        2. SleepingDog says:

          @David Boldrin, thanks for your detailed response. My reply seemed to vanish (too long, perhaps) so I have split it in two.

          I welcome fresh perspectives and criticisms on the UK and Scotland like yours, and agree that there are many aspects incomers rightly find absurd, backward and steeped in ideological culture war tropes. I certainly agree that the British Empire (which has never gone away) has a “history of domination and abuse around the globe”. I also entirely agree with your views that the British royal family are anti-democratic; I would say that they are descendants of the winning organised crime family here, as if the Medicis were currently kings and queens of Italy.

          However (although I agree roast beef and the sport of kings are alienating) I find it unfortunate that you chose to make your statement about borders in your comment a codicil to your article. My comments about natural borders were not intended as a metaphor, I do not subscribe to the view that human politics are somehow separate from the environments we and non-humans live in. So to answer your reflections on my comment:

          I made no reference to hierarchy, so I am puzzled as why you think it applies here. The successful invasions of cells that led to multi-cellular organisms (including us) happened a handful of times in the estimated 4 billion years of evolution on Planet Earth, against all the times where such invasions were harmful. You might more plausibly argue that multi-vehicle collisions are a good thing because your parents met in one.

          Then you argue that “In general, invasive species do not penetrate in healthy ecosystems”. I am not sure if you read the article I linked to, which mentions the introduction of rabbits into Australia, but I fear you are in danger of unwittingly propagating the racist trope that white settlers ‘improved’ degraded landscapes when they brought invasive species with them. In fact it was the reverse, notably grazers like rabbits and sheep which devastated healthy ecosystems. Invasive species typically thrive where they have no natural predators, diseases, and plentiful food sources, all of which can exist in healthy ecosystems; and sometimes invasive species bring diseases that they are resistant to, but indigenous species (including competitors) are vulnerable to. There is a useful summary on the National History Museum website.

          1. Sorry – there’s an issue with SPAM and moderation

        3. SleepingDog says:

          @David Boldrin, that should of course have been the “Natural” History Museum. So, part 2:

          I agree that some human borders (such hard borders are typically a relatively new phenomenon) can cause environmental harm, if they are set up in perverse places like the middle of a forest or across migration routes. That is, sometimes human national borders are irrational from the point of view of the ecosystem, and some have been drawn on mathematical segmentation lines. But that does not make national borders wrong (though sometimes ill-sited). Sometimes fences are used in conservation, like national parks, or the rabbit-proof fence in Australia, or to separate animals from deadly human contact (such as roads and rails).

          Borders do have a rational and ethical justifications. For example, they define jurisdictions and can apply regulations to achieve ethical objectives. As I mentioned, they are instrumental in detecting, deterring and obstructing various kinds of crime, like wildlife trafficking. One of most important ethical functions of a closable border is to prevent an infectious disease from leaving an area, and I am disappointed that you have ignored the necessity of borders in epidemic containment. One might make a similar point about dangerous manufactured goods.

          A recent BBC Scotland documentary on organised crime behind illegal dumping in the UK identified gangs taking waste from the north of England in lorries and dumping the waste in Wales and Scotland, often with conniving landowners. This is the kind of environmental crime where border inspections are a positive tool of law enforcement. You may have experienced something similar in Italy with Mafia-run waste crime.

    2. Wul says:

      What is the alternative to borders ? I don’t understand this idea that there should be no states and borders. How can anybody govern if the jurisdiction is not defined?

      1. Alec Lomax says:

        “Imagine there are no countries, it isn’t hard to do” Instead we’d revert to imperialism or tribalism.

        “Imagine….what a crock of shit. A pity because that guy wrote Mother and that’s such a great song.” – Lou Reed.

      2. 220213 says:

        States just are political jurisdictions, and a border is just the limits of a political jurisdiction.

        The issue isn’t about whether or not we should have states and borders; it’s about how much or little constraint there should be on the freedom of movement across borders and between political jurisdictions.

        What a lot of us would like to see is the same degree of constraint on the freedom of movement between political jurisdictions like ‘Italy’ and ‘the UK’ as there is between jurisdictions like ‘Midlothian’ (say) and ‘the Scottish Borders’.

        We’d also like to see jurisdictions like ‘Italy’, ‘the UK’, ‘Scotland’, ‘England’, etc. defined with respect to the ‘identity’ of their constituents by the same sort of non-ethnic criteria by which constituents of jurisdictions like ‘Midlothian’ and ‘the Scottish Borders’ are defined. It’s a relic of our pre-democratic past that ‘Italians’, ‘Britons’, ‘Scots’, ‘English’, etc. can still be defined in exclusionary terms based on nativity, language and/or heritage, and that some sort of ‘naturalisation’ or ‘assimilation’ is required in order for ‘others’ to qualify as ‘Italians’, ‘Britons’, ‘Scots’, or whatever.

        1. Niemand says:

          I tend to agree.

          But how do you square that with concerns expressed by some nationalists that the English will sooner or later simply ‘take over’ Scotland by moving there in sufficient numbers and thus prevent independence forever more as they tend not to support it? I am assuming you would include movement between England and Scotland (pre or post-independence) as equally as free as between Midlothian and the Borders.

          1. 220215 says:

            I don’t really give that concern the time of day.

            But isn’t it interesting how such concerns as the dilution or even the cancelling of our ‘native’ culture and self-interests by immigrants informs some of our Scottish nationalism?

          2. Alasdair Macdonald says:

            To whom are you referring when you deploy the term ‘nationalists’?

            Part of the problem in Ukraine relates to residents in some parts of the country believing themselves, to various degrees, being “Russian”. Part of Hitler’s argument for annexing Czecholslovakia and other places were that these places contained people who considered themselves German. In the former Yugoslavia, ‘ethnic cleansing’ was people who considered themselves indigenous expelling those who they considered incomers. There were similar issues in Rwanda and, in many other places throughout history. People from Lowland Scotland were ‘planted’ in the north of Ireland and we know the ramifications of that.

            So, who, actually, are ‘the nationalists’ to whom you refer?

            Prior to the American War of independence the argument by the residents was “no taxation without representation” – they had no elected representatives in the UK Parliament but were being taxed. So, eventually, they decided that it was for those who lived in America, no matter which part of the world they came from, that they should decide what happens in ‘their’ country. However, the people who have been called, amongst other things, ‘native Americans’ had little say in the matter. And, many of the people who were refusing to give the indigenous people a stake, were people, who, themselves had been ethnically and economically cleansed from their own homelands in Europe, such as people born in Scotland, Ireland, Poland, Norway, etc.

            Why should people who have moved from England (or anywhere else) to Scotland to live and work, and to contribute to the local economy and culture, necessarily want Scotland to remain part of an entity with England, when their home is in Scotland and if they can move freely across the border into other places?

          3. 220215 says:

            Nationalists are generally those who believe that the state should be congruent with the nation.

            Some nationalists fear that the integrity of their nation is threatened by immigration.

            It’s the latter to whom I was referring when responding to Nieman’s observation that some (Scottish) nationalists believe that “the English will sooner or later simply ‘take over’ Scotland by moving there in sufficient numbers and thus prevent independence forever”.

            Tom Ultuous expresses a similar belief when he predicts that an influx of Unionist refugees to Scotland from Northern Ireland, aided and abetted by the UK government, will result in a weighting of the Scottish electorate against the nationalist cause of creating a greater congruence between state and nation in Scotland.

          4. Alasdair Macdonald says:

            Thanks, for the reply. I was actually referring to Niemand’s post rather than your own. Although he did not use the word ‘Scottish’, I think he was inviting us to infer it.

            You, at least have attempted to define the term ‘nationalist’ and to give examples. Niemand did not and has not responded.

          5. Niemand says:

            I had not responded because I have only just read your reply.

            I am not really sure what you mean – are you not aware of a strain of nationalism (yes Scottish in this case), that makes this argument? But I refer specifically to the writings of Alf Baird and his idea that Scotland is not only a colony of England but that the English living in Scotland are colonial ‘occupiers’ and set to make the occupation permanent. His subsequent acolytes are online in numbers e.g. Through a Scottish Prism (Barrheadboy), Iain Lawson and others where is articles have been published to general all-round agreement (on those sites). But you don’t have to look that far – posters below the line here trot out the idea that the English vote (in Scotland) lost the 2014 referendum, that their numbers are increasing and most would vote ‘no’ in future since as ‘colonisers’ they don’t want an independent Scotland but at best a continuing Union, and at worst, a ‘greater England’. This has lead to calls by Lawson and others for a change to any future referendum franchise to be based on much longer term residency (and the like).

            It is true that is hard to gauge how wide this view is but I mention it at all because it in my view, it is very much on the rise and I mention Baird because his star has been on the rise in only the last few years in this capacity (in an obvious way anyway) and that he apparently offers academic clout (though his actual expertise has nothing to do with colonialism or nationalism and his definition of the English as occupiers, bogus).

            Having been critical of all that, the question, ‘would the English living in Scotland generally want to support the country they live in, in any future referendum?, is valid. And I admit, I cannot be sure they would. One thing is certain though, if they feel the general mood is along the lines Baird and others engender, why would they? It would be like shooting yourself in the foot.

          6. Alasdair Macdonald says:

            Thank you for taking the time to reply at length and to clarify what your original post implied.

            I have not heard of Alf Baird before, but I will look at what is available about him.

            Scotland, like anywhere else is a diverse place with a multiplicity of opinions. One of the media and unionist tropes for many years has been to take an opinion and present it as representative of the views of everyone on the pro-independence side of the debate. The most common one, is, of course, that pro-independence is based on anti-Englishness. Mr David Cameron made a point about ‘if you hate the f’n English’ during his panicky dash to Edinburgh when an opinion poll suggested YES might win.

            Of course there are people in Scotland who do, indeed, ‘hate the English’, but it is far from a majority view. There have been times – not a lot – during my 70+ years when I have received abuse in England for my accent. The most recent was about 4 years ago, in the bar at the interval during a concert at the Cadogan Hall in Chelsea, when after I had given the waiter my order, a person beside me at the bar said to his partner, “What kind of gibberish is this Jock chap speaking?”

            In the discourse there are many terms used which are ‘loaded’ and are used because of the baggage they carry with them. The foremost of these is the word ‘nationalist’. So, Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer are not ‘English nationalists’, they are ‘British patriots’.

          7. Alf was kicked off this forum for specifically this line, hardline ethno-nationalism, and anti-English racism.

          8. 220116 says:

            ‘One of the media and unionist tropes for many years has been to take an opinion and present it as representative of the views of everyone on the pro-independence side of the debate.’

            There’s been a lot of cherry-picking and faulty generalisation on both sides of the conflict over many years.

            But it remains true that ‘some’ nationalists are anglophobes, as Niemann says.

          9. Niemand says:

            Interesting Mike. You run a pretty open ship here which is great but Baird is not someone sounding off in frustration but has a very calculated approach. He actually reminds me of some of the ‘intellectual’ types who underpinned the NF years ago. There is an insidiousness to his rhetoric. I asked him (online) once whether he told English people in Scotland to their faces that they were colonial occupiers and should cease their occupation by leaving. He never replied.

          10. Yeah he refused to desist putting out the line that it was the English in Scotland that were the problem and spouting very specific pro-Trump lines. It was clearly racist stuff.

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