Dear Alan

(This post is response to Alan Bissett’s answer to my last blog, here)

I’m pleasantly surprised and shocked by your response, and here’s why: 1.) I’m new to this  Wordpress thing. I knew there was a chance you’d see what I’d written, but I had no idea my post would show up on your site as a response. 2.) You’ve actually taken the time to write out an extended, informative, and well thought-out reply to my silly wee blog.

And yes, I’m one of those Scots who have been sitting on the fence regarding Scotland’s independence. I just haven’t felt the passion that so many of us are showing towards the SNP’s overall goal to fight for what they call “a better Scotland”. I don’t feel resentment as such, but I could still relate to the angry parts of your poem, and it stirred something in me. I’ve always admired you as a very evocative and powerful writer, and you have that ability to really strike a chord.

But I like being part of the ‘United Kingdom’. I don’t personally have a problem with it, and I don’t feel like I’m going about my daily life holding back any resentment towards the English about the way things are. I do resent the attitudes in your poem, but those just aren’t in my mindset when I think about the future of this country. Maybe what I’m trying to say is, I don’t see why we can’t all just get along. But maybe that’s just me – maybe I should be more offended by some people’s negative attitudes and reactions towards us, because sometimes I feel like we just can’t win.

I’m seeing two particularly disturbing attitudes at the moment; one you’ve already mentioned – “We’re being hard done by, we’re subsidising you Scotch and what do we get?” and also – “You want to be independent now? Well, f*** you. F*** off back to your own country.” (A friend of mine got that last response recently, when visiting an area of Kent)

You’re right; there’s nothing wrong with anger. Anger prompts us to take action and change the way things are for the better. Anger is constructive. But hate is destructive. I’m worried about the latter.

Maybe my whole “don’t want to rock the boat” attitude is one of the things holding us back, and maybe I should get angry. An ex-colleague of mine seems to think that us becoming an independent country will remove any animosity between Scotland and the rest of the UK, so that we can all “stand side-by-side on these isles as friends and neighbours” (her words). That seems fairly idyllic to me. And if all this goes forward, I just hope she’s right.



7 thoughts on “Dear Alan

  1. I think that a lot of the animosity emerging from this debate is a reaction from the English as to why something they largely hold dear (Great Britain etc.) could be questioned by the Scots. I think it is telling that the SNP have grown in popularity as the British Empire has come to an end. The English seem to consider themselves as the most important voice within the UK and Westminster has treated Scotland as a colony it is reluctantly giving powers to. The political debate surrounding independence has moved on in Scotland and the English have not caught up with this yet.
    I say English because this debate has been grasped by an element within the media that has taken the hump against independence and see it as an insult to their identity. This is where the problem lies as English people see their British identity as a wider English identity (hence the use of the union jack as the English flag at an England v Scotland game). This is also borne out in that it is seen as a break with England (rather than the Westminster Parliament). What I largely see is a level of debate that seems wilfully misinformed and that panders to English feelings of resentment that their British values and identity (replace British for ruling English) are being rejected.
    I do feel hard done by in that Scotland has had information concerning oil kept secret from its people(see mcCrone report) and has Moore (within an unelected position) saying when we can hold a referendum despite having this as a question within his consultancy document that isn’t over yet.
    Under devolution there were bound to be some areas where Scotland would now govern itself differently. Scotland’s health, university education and prescription charges are decisions that are actively attacked by the UK media as something which the English pay for. This is not true and is an example of where any positive policy adopted in Scotland will be made out to be either an attack on England, or paid by England.
    This is a relationship where the UK media has to catch up and become more mature.
    It is important to get on with other people and nations but this should be on an equal basis where it isn’t English politics, versions of history and perceptions of an inflated position in the world that are encouraged through the school curriculum and media to keep Scotland quiet and peripheral. The debate will be very one sided regarding this referendum (towards the unionists) and pointing out how stereotypes are used as propaganda is an important thing to do given the ill informed and emotional elements newly brought to the table.

    • This is a great post. You’re absolutely right, people within the UK need to become more educated about what’s really going on. It’s this English attitude that I think, is one of the reasons a lot of Scots are gunning for Independence, and I think that’s really sad and says a lot about our society and the sorry state of our country. For the most part, it’s the attitudes that we have to fix, not our policies.


  2. As a Scotsman I agree with you post , I also do not get tremendously excited or offended by anything Scottish . Just happy to work pay tax and do my bit for society .
    I Don’t like this self pitying attitude some Scots have , where there problems would all be solved if they were to wave a wand .everything would be OK ..
    Surely everybody has the opportunity to change their lives for the better ? And Scotlands problems of Drink , Drugs , Obesity etc can surely be solved by making lifestyle choices .
    The fact that a Windfall of Oil wealth is going to be make everything better seems like the easy option to me .
    I mean if Independence was important people would be wanting it at any price and taking to the Streets like they did in Egypt etc , not comparing notes on different websites , as to how much better off they are going to be .

    But I am cynical 😉

    • Stuart, I agree with you – I don’t see anyone getting overly worked up about the whole Independence thing. Everyone’s so calm about it, and there just doesn’t feel like a real need for it. I rather like being part of the ‘United Kingdom’, and I like living in Scotland. I like the way we do things here, it seems like we’re better off than we would be living in say, England; can’t we just be satisfied with that? Hasn’t David Cameron suggested giving us more devolved power instead of just becoming Independent? I think that’s what I’d prefer. It’s almost as if we’re taking it a bit too personally. Although, Mr Bissett does have a point, too, I just don’t feel the same passion towards the whole thing; I’m looking at what we have now, and that seems to work – why fix it if it ain’t broke, and break up the UK in the process? There’s no real need for it, and don’t understand why some of us are so determined to get our Independence.

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