Monday, July 9, 2012

Would you like to "upgrade" from Scot to Brit, sir?

This unwittingly revealing contribution from a Scottish Tory stalwart on Political Betting raised a smile in the early hours of this morning -

"Never mind poor Andy, well done Andy Murray for being first Brit to make it to the Wimbledon men's final in 74 years! Who said this guy was a dour Scot who didn't have any charisma, he really wanted to win this today, and for all the right reasons. And that was clear in the emotion he and family showed at the end when he lost. A Brit didn't win Wimbledon today, but Murray very clearly upgraded himself from that dour Scotsman to a true Brit as the loser on the day."

Note the effortless assumptions that Scottishness is a negative, that "Britishness" is a virtue, and that going from Scot to "Brit" constitutes an "upgrade". Pretty much the Tory mindset in a nutshell. When this was pointed out to her, she hastily redefined what she meant -

"Dour unsuccessful Scotsman = negative
But a fully committed if unsuccessful Scotsman and Brit = positive"

So adherence to the Tory version of "Britishness" is now merely an essential prerequisite for a Scot to be happy and "fully committed". Well, that's progress, I suppose.

As I touched on in my previous post, the spectacle of the last few days is a textbook example of how what the London media call "Britishness" is in reality Greater Englishness. How else can we explain the assumption that Andy Murray's success was somehow part of the same sporting canon as the English World Cup victory in 1966, and the English Rugby World Cup victory in 2003? A few weeks ago, Ed Miliband claimed that "it stands to reason" that Scots could no longer be British in an independent Scotland. The obvious inference to draw is that he takes it as read that "Britain" is whatever country London happens to be capital city of. Hardly surprising - many do.

In many ways, then, the independence referendum will be more about reclaiming Britishness than about reclaiming Scottishness. It'll be about decoupling Britishness from "state that London is capital city of" nationalism, and insisting that Britain belongs to all Britons. It isn't a London brand name - an independent state with its capital in Edinburgh will be every bit as much a British nation as an independent state with its capital in London. Norway didn't cease to be a Scandinavian nation when it declared independence from Stockholm.


  1. The tears at the end were the metaphorical bloodletting that middle England has demanded ever since he made the error of thinking people were grown up enough to understand "anyone but England". It would have been one thing to win, but far better to lose the way a proper Eng... sorry, Brit would do.


    Unless he's from Scotchland, in which case hide those saltire sweatbands and doff your head in deference. We'll claim your glory as our own, but don't ask us to consider you to be a fully-fledged Eng... sorry, British citizen. Hmmm, sounds a bit like colonialism...

    It's pathetic. Andy, you'll always be a Scotsman, and we'll never ask you to prove it. Just make sure you unravel a "YES SCOTLAND" saltire when you win Wimbledon in 2014...

  2. Even this woman's corrected version implies that you cannot be dour and British...

    ...Which is pretty unbelievable for anyone who's ever been in England.

    But I completely understand the typical English conflation of English and British.

    We are but a small and relatively unimportant part of the UK, which is one of the reasons, surely, of wanting independence. So that we can cease being a small and unimportant part of someone else's country and be a big and important part of our own country.

    And I agree with you. We won't stop being British or European. These are non-negotiable geographical facts, just as the Norwegians didn't stop being Scandinavians when they got independence from Sweden. They just stopped being Swedish.