Shetland to the Isles of Scilly – there’s more that binds us than divides us

Shetland to the Isles of Scilly – there’s more that binds us than divides us

by Jane Lax
article from Wednesday 16, September, 2020

I WROTE AN ARTICLE on ThinkScotland back in August on why I believed Scotland should stay as part of the United Kingdom around my main argument of the economic stability that pooling and sharing our resources gives Scotland.

A country’s economic situation can change of course. Who knows, maybe one day we will find we are sitting on veins of gold or have a government in power that is able to turn around the deficit we currently have.  So, let’s imagine we are in a position where Scotland has an economy that does not have a huge deficit, is able to meet its debt/borrowing repayments and may be in a position to even establish its own currency.

Would I vote the same as in 2014?  Would anything change my mind?  

Many people apparently have changed their mind, most recently Ewan McGregor, which had led to SNP activists salivating like a dog awaiting a bone.  We’ll ignore the fact the actor lives in America, hasn’t lived here for decades and is not entitled to vote here.

A YouGov poll in 2016 asked what makes a person Scottish.  Of those polled, 87 per cent replied it was being born in Scotland, 71 per cent felt it was having two Scottish parents and 69 per cent said it was having been raised in Scotland.   I am all of those; born here, raised here and have at least three Scottish generations on both sides of my parents’ families.  I can’t be any more Scottish according to that poll.  But does being and feeling Scottish mean you can’t or don’t want to be and feel British?

I lived in Germany for more than a decade, very close to the Dutch border.  Sure, there was a distinct change when you went over the border, signs in a different language and different rules of the road.  But there was also a different feel to being in the Netherlands.  The Dutch have a different attitude to life, they appear more relaxed and less reserved.  They also have a different sense of humour to the Germans.   

Do we feel that change when we go over the border near Berwick-upon-Tweed or Carlisle?  I certainly don’t and I do not view England and the English as different from us Scots. We have a common history, a common language, a common culture and share the same sense of humour.  I feel British just as much as I feel Scottish.  I grew up on CrackerjackBlue Peter and Grange Hill.  I didn’t think these were TV shows from a different country.  They were from my country.  

Would we stop watching programmes broadcast or made in England in an independent Scotland?  Would we only watch Scottish programmes such as Still GameRiver City and Shetland?   I have no affinity with River City just as some people in England may have no connection with the detective programme Vera, which is based in Northumberland.   

Would we stop getting the UK news before Reporting Scotland?  Would we really want to become such an insular society?   Is Roseanna Cunningham, the SNP Environment Secretary, the image of what we would have in an independent Scotland – someone who was furious that Holyrood was suspended during a debate due to the terror attack in Westminster?  A nation where we say what is happening in the southern part of our island is not of any importance to us?  That is not a country I would want to live in.

And that for me is the crux of the matter.  I don’t want to live in what would become an insular nation.  The airline industry, the internet and satellite TV have opened up the world to us.  And voting to become an independent country in my opinion would be closing the door on our nearest neighbour.  We can currently travel south of the border with no restrictions or with the need to carry any identification.  Living on an island means this is extremely convenient.  We don’t need to make sure we have a green card for driving in England, we know we can go to any NHS facility in England and be treated as if we were anywhere else in the UK.  

Of course, this could perhaps be possible for an independent Scotland if agreements between the two governments could be reached, but why would we want to create barriers and restrictions that need not be there?

A study by John Curtice and Ian Montagu looked at social attitudes across Great Britain and Scotland on immigration in 2017.  Interestingly, the views held south of the border reflected more or less the attitudes prevalent in Scotland.  They concluded that “what differs between Scotland and the rest of the UK is how attitudes towards migration are reflected in the ballot box.”   As much as the SNP may try to imply that they and Scots are different from the rest of Brits, that does not appear to be the case.  

For me being Scottish is part of being British.  I have as much in common with the people of Sunderland and St Ives as I do those in Stranraer and that’s the way I wish it to remain.

To read more by Jane Lax visit her blog here. 

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