Sunday, 7 July 2013

Is your identity Scottish, British or both?

I am both Scottish and British and generally glad to be both.

My identity changes depending on the situation I am in. Outside of Scotland I generally identify as Scottish. I lived in England for eight years and was fully accepted as Scottish by my English friends. I lived abroad for two years and found calling myself Scottish rather than British as generally I got a better reception. (Worldwide the films Braveheart and Highlander have done more for the Scottish reputation than almost anything else I know)

When in Scotland I identify as British.

Does this seem perverse?

Quite simply - I believe in the power of union. I believe people are stronger together; working together than we ever are apart.

We have all had different experiences. I've found that there are many people born in England and Northern Ireland that I get on with. Growing up on an island community in Scotland I was an outsider to many. Some accepted me for who I was, others did not.

Since then I have had close friends who were born in Scotland and many who were born South of the Border of across the water.

I do not exagerate when I state I would die to protect English and Northern Irish friends or that some of them have placed themselves in harms way to protect me.

A few people in Scotland seem to hold the view we would be stronger when separate - when the Scottish people control their own destiny. The reality is the Scottish people already control their own destiny, we have and have always had the power to influence and change anything we want within Scotland.

So why haven't we exercised that power?

I am for Union; I'm against independence from the UK but I perceive the debate around independence as an opportunity to challenge my fellow countrymen and women to get involved, start debating, start questioning, start acting.

If you cannot be bothered now to challenge MSPs and MPs about their decisions, there is little likelihood you will do so if we have independence.

If, on the other hand, you claim democracy now; make your voice heard now - then together we can make a difference! And if we make a difference now then we can continue to make a difference in a United Kingdom.


  1. I hear what you say, but I think you present a fairly weak argument I'm afraid. I would die in a ditch to protect my friends from the Scotland, England, Wales, Rep of Ireland, Canada and New Zealand. It doesn't matter where they're from: nationhood has nothing to do with friendship.

    The no camp's assertion that strong freindship ties mean you have to remain in political union just don't cut the mustard. There are so many examples of seperate countries working well together for shared interests, but not requiring political union to do so.

    I was born in Scotland to an English father and Scottish mother. I was educated both in England and Scotland. I have lived and worked in both. I have only ever, however, seen myself as being Scottish and, other than when it's forced upon me at immigration etc., do I ever use the tag 'British'.

    For me, Britishness means nothing. It doesn't reflect me as a person or as a Scotsman. I feel no attachment to it and never will. Westminster politics don't represent my interests any more than those in Dublin or Berlin.

    Irrespective of the outcome in 2014, I will never see myself as bring British. For me and hundreds of thousands of other Scots, that will remain the case.

    While we are all entitled to our views, I must admit that I really struggle with yours. The fact that you are happy to flip-flop between Scottish and British when it suits you, to me, is not so much best of both worlds but more akin to using and abusing. You are happy to be a Scot when its good for you, but when you feel it has served its purpose, you become British. This is at the expense of allowing Scotland to have the power it needs to follow its own political and social agenda.

    It wouldn't be so bad if you had dual nationality, where you can flip-flop all you like without holding either country back or affecting citizens in either country who don't share your chameleon mindset; but the current arrangement in the UK mean that while people like you may be content in sitting on the fence, you do so at the expeense of people like me who are not.

    With independence, we get a Scotland that can be true to itself, but you can retain your UK citizenship too, if you like. There will be no passport checks, we'll have the same phone numbers, we can watch the same telly programmes, we may even share the same currency. We will still have a shared economic area, we'll still share a whole load of things for that matter, but we'll be properly independent in the areas that matter.

    Independence. That is truly the best of both worlds...

  2. Nationhood has everything to do with friendship.

    Political unions like the UK only last as long as they do because they benefit many on both sides. While the history of the forging of the Union was dark, the last century has seen a turning from a more one sided benefit.

    The reality of Scotland's long struggles with England is a story of Scot turning against Scot just as readily as fighting for each other. I strongly believe that we as a nation need to mature to a point where we truly stand together before we will ever be ready to seek independence. But, my experience of relationships suggest that if we are able to forgive each other - we will also be able to forgive our neighbours. If we are able to work together, we also will be able to work with our neighbours.

    And, if we can forgive and work together with others in the Union, we will be stronger as a result.

    I'm unsure what you mean by independence if you state we will have the same currency, no passport checks and a shared economic are. If you hope that a massive yes vote will mean that we can negotiate a better deal for Scotland within the UK then that is maybe worth pursuing. However, how many of our fellow Scots agree with that interpretation of independence? If you are arguing for one thing and I am struggling at present to understand what you want and there are six million others all with their own ideas about what independence means... We definitely need to share more views to reach any kind of consensus.

    I have a survival instinct and would not walk through certain town centres with a Saltire draped round my back. Does that offend you? I am comfortable owning many identies. Scottish, British... I do not throw these away but recognise that in certain situations one identity may be more beneficial. In some situations I just enjoy being different.

    While I am glad to be able to call myself Scottish and British, I'm also conscious of the terrible acts committed by Scots and the British in recent and historic times. I never want to call myself proud of my heritage for fear I will forget that we owe many people an apology for the way we have treated those weaker or more unfortunate than ourselves.