19 September 2014

mir

On May 23rd 1976 when I was at university in Scotland, I was sitting in a campus  television room with about twenty male Scottish students watching a Bicentennial Trophy game between Brazil and England - beamed live from Los Angeles. It was a keenly fought match but no goals were scored until the very end when Roberto Dinamite cracked in a wonderful winning goal for the Brazilians.

Roberto Dinamite (Brazil)
It was at that point that the Scottish students - almost without thinking - revealed their deep-seated antipathy towards the English. They cheered and punched the air and one or two of them even leapt out of their seats. They had perhaps forgotten that a proud Yorkshireman ( and therefore Englishman) was sitting in their midst.

I got up, walked to the front, and standing in front of the television screen yelled "You're a bunch of Scottish bastards!" before exiting left. 

Though I lived in Scotland for four and a half years and enjoyed the company of numerous Scots - male and female, I never forgot that moment in the television room. If English students had been watching Scotland play Brazil in a parallel university south of the border they would undoubtedly have been rooting  for "the auld enemy" - Scotland.

Yesterday the Scots held their long-awaited referendum and this morning the result is very clear. 55% have said "No" to independence so the so-called United Kingdom will continue and the SNP political  fishmongers - Salmond and Sturgeon can retreat to their respective crofts to watch endless replays of "The White Heather Show" while chowing down on raw haggis and neaps.

In many ways this vote is a huge relief simply because the disentanglement of Scotland from the union would have been costly and disruptive to the English, Welsh and Northern Irish. We would have been paying a heavy price for their Braveheart fantasy. The tail would have been very much wagging the dog.

I thought that Cameron, Milliband and Gordon Brown arrived at the party far too late. They should have been making out the case for "No" much earlier and not just in economic terms. There is surely more to national unity than fiscal matters. What about shared history and identity? What about sport and entertainment, language and humour and what about the fact that many thousands of people of Scottish heritage live in England and vice versa? It's not all about the money.

Leading the "Better Together" campaign we saw the uninspirational London-born lawyer Alistair Darling caught in the headlights and out of his depth. Why was he chosen to lead the "No" campaign? It could have proved to be an extremely costly mistake.

In some ways I wouldn't have minded if Scotland had gone independent. It would have been interesting to see them struggling - no longer being handsomely underwritten by England. There were so many crucial questions left hanging in the air and Salmond and Sturgeon simply couldn't answer them. But I have got some basic questions of my own about Scotland.

How come our daughter Frances has a university tuition fees debt of £32,000 to pay back to the government when Scottish students pay nothing? How come, at the age of sixty, I  am not entitled to free bus travel but Scottish sixty year olds can claim free bus passes? How come members of my family have to pay doctors' prescription fees when poorly Scots pay nothing? These inequities make me feel some resentment towards Scotland. They are getting a damned good deal as far as I can see and even though the referendum vote has gone against the nationalists, they are likely to get yet more sweeteners from Westminster.

If there was a referendum in Yorkshire - "Should Yorkshire be an independent country?" then I have no doubt that the "Yes" vote would be overwhelming and I would then happily volunteer to be a border guard - keeping out jealous asylum seekers from Derbyshire and Lancashire. We'd also have to search trains passing through our socialist republic. Maybe I'd rip pearls from the necks of Scottish ladies and remove banknotes from their gentlemen's sporrans. These funds would help to pay for our border guards' smart khaki uniforms and machine guns from Catalonia or Chechnya... "White Rose of Yorkshire! When will we see your like again?"

38 comments:

  1. At first I couldn't give a stuff if Bonnie Scotland's had gone it alone
    But on reflection I think it was the best choice.
    If Wales ever suggested it
    I would laugh in everyone's faces

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    1. What, even the Welsh rugby team? They'd toss you in the bath!

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  2. A Scottish friend sent me this. I thought it summed it all up rather well :

    "Historian and star of the amazing BBC series Coast has written an open letter to the people of Scotland. It is just brilliant:

    I will lay my cards on the table from the start: I will be voting No.
    I have no economic argument to make. Frankly, I am sick and tired of hearing people argue the toss about the pound, pensions and the rest. I am voting No because for me, the offering by the Yes camp lacks nobility and humanity. Even more importantly, it lacks class, far less any kind of panache.

    Having spent years working on the television series Coast, I think it’s fair to say I’ve seen as much of this United Kingdom of ours as anyone else living here. It’s a project that has changed my life in several ways. It has certainly caused me to fall in love with the place – the whole place. Circumnavigate these islands as I have, as often as I have, and one thing above all becomes clear: the national boundaries within are invisible and therefore meaningless.

    People living in a fishing town in Cornwall have more in common with the inhabitants of a fishing town in Fife than either population has with the folk of a town in the Midlands. They have a shared experience and a common history of coping with lives shaped by the sea. The coast is another country – the fifth country – and it unites us and binds us like the hem of a garment.

    The differences that are discernible as you travel around Britain are regional ones – made of accents and architecture, geology and geography. I am all in favour of people having the power to make decisions about their own patch: but I am utterly opposed to the idea of breaking centuries old bonds in order to make that happen."


    Let's hope it all settles down and there is not a huge divide in Scotland now. It's history and they need to get over it . Your story about the football game is a great illustration. My English relatives bring up similar points as yours regarding benefits given to residents of Scotland which I find very difficult to understand.

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    1. The quote must be from Neil Oliver. Thanks for sharing it. There was too little argument like this. Politicians seemed to be totally focussed on the economy and jobs.

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  3. Westminster needed a good shake and they got one. Perhaps now the English will benefit from some socialist and just adjustments.
    Don't be envious of the Scots. Push for their lifestyle. Hold your MP accountable for all the lies and false promises.
    A great day for democracy.

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    1. Hold my MP accountable for all the lies and false promises? You must be kidding! It's Nicholas Clegg. He's hardly ever in his constituency and he could lie his way out of Vladimir Putin's walk-in wardrobe wearing only a pink tutu.

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  4. I never "got" the English-hating attitude and I find the football thing really childish - they still do that. As for the free university places, it doesn't always work out as you may think. My sister knows a lovely big Scottish lad who has wanted to be a doctor all his life. He studied really hard, got A grades in everything and even got work experience in hospitals in the summer holidays. He applied to every university in Scotland and was turned down by them all. The reason, I think, is that the universities want the higher fee paying foreign and English students. I know where you are coming from though YP - it should be free for all, not just in one part of the country.

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    1. As I am sure you are aware, very intelligent English kids often struggle to get on to medical courses in our universities. The main qualification they are usually missing is having parents who are doctors!

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    2. I actually didn't realise it was quite that bad in the 21st century. I know of a surgeon and a couple of other doctors in our area whose parents weren't doctors - maybe they had plenty of spondooliks.

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    3. Sorry YP. This isn't really about your subject but it was bugging me. I remembered when I was lying in bed last night that at least 2 or 3 people from each year in our school went on to study medicine. It was a normal comprehensive secondary school in East Kilbride, near Glasgow with 1500 pupils of all backgrounds - very few wealthy and very few, if any, with doctors for parents. Liam Fox MP was 3 years above me and he studied medicine - his dad was head of a Modern Languages Dept in another school. Maybe it was different in those days (my secondary school years were '75-'81) but I know it was still really tough to get a place at a good university to study medicine. I do
      still believe that the Scottish Universities are cherry picking the high fee paying students.

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  5. Echoing Frances's echo of Adrian, "Hear! Hear!

    I also have written of the Scottish Referendum today.

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    1. Bob, I know, I've just wrote back to you.

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  6. ........and if my memory serves me right only London taxpayers had to pay for the privilage of hosting the Olympic games here in London. I don't think that the Scots have it too bad at all.

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    1. It didn't serve you right. We all paid for London and continue to do so.

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    2. Yes Adrian. It certainly was the British taxpayer who paid for those games - not just Londoners. Sorry you have been misinformed on this matter Simone.

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    3. I stand corrected. I must have been getting confused with this from the Telegraph 'London taxpayers are facing a financial black hole of £229 million after the Government failed to commit funds to repay outstanding land costs of the Olympic Park.' (17 Nov 2011)

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    4. Simone - in 2012 "The Guardian" reported that the government (ie The British taxpayer) would be putting a minimum of £9 billion into those games. That makes the £229 million look like chicken feed.

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    5. Thank you for the update :)

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  7. Wow, Mr. Pudding. Why don't you tell us how you REALLY feel???

    Nationalistic pride will always be present even if Scotland is a part of the UK for thousands of years. And, I don't see anything wrong with that. (But then what do I know sitting here across the damn pond!) As an anthropologist, I think it is important for those people to keep aware of their own culture and celebrate that as well as be a proud part of the Kingdom as a whole.

    As for those people being rewarded (for whatever reason....maybe the nukes, maybe the oil....maybe who knows) and compensated more than others in the UK, well that is up to you guys to get that to change. You can't blame the Scots for that just as we cannot blame illegal immigration on those immigrants. They just want the best for themselves and their families. It is the rest of us that lets that happen.

    By the way, all education through college and medical expenses for all citizens of Iraq and Afganistan is paid for by the US taxpayer while our own children and working class either go without education or are saddled with enormous debt for years and years.

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    1. PTGWS. Brits are renown for giving grief to each other. If I watch rugby in a pub in Wales or Scotland and neither of the home teams are playing and England are then they would cheer Outer Mongolia or a team of rabbits. It's just craich. YP is from Hull or that way and they are sensitive souls. Good with words but not with Cod. I expect you noticed his inbuilt fishiness. They can't help it. A Salmond is what you would call a Salmon. It's all the same to folk in the east ridings. It's a miss spelt fish.

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    2. Spelt is a fish. Hoisted by my own petard.

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    3. Mountain Thyme - I have no issue with Scots being Scottish or the Cornish being proud of their Cornishness. I only get to vote once every five years and feel powerless to change the inequalities I see in Scottish provision at the direct expense of English, and Welsh regions. I see no argument whatsoever that they deserve preferential funding. They are always banging on about oil but the oil wells lie in international waters or close to The Shetland Isles and they are happy to access Yorkshire gas and indeed Yorkshire puddings.

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    4. My point was, Mr. Pudding, inarticulate tho it was, is that it is not the fault of the Scottish people that they get more perks than the Welsh or English. So, put the blame for that where it belongs. With your own leaders and/or the apathetic populace.

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  8. This was very, very interesting for me from an outsider's perspective; both your post, YP, and the comments. I really liked what Helsie posted about the coasts.

    By the way, on the 23rd of May in 1976, I was 8 years, two months and one day old and attended Year 2 of one of Ludwigsburg's elementary schools. I was already wearing specs and the librarian-in-the-making was becoming more and more obvious every day.

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    1. Good job I didn't blog with you then or I would have been arrested!

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  9. Whenever the 1% want to sidetrack the rest of us, they come up with nationalistic issues that set the rest of us against each other. The outcome doesn't matter to them, only that our attention is diverted for a while so they can continue to suck us dry.

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    1. That seems to have been the upshot of the Scottish "No" vote. Ironically they are going to get more powers and more money while ragged Yorkshire kids run barefoot through our cobbled streets clutching crusts of stale bread!

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  10. I can see both sides of the coin, and don't really have enough info to know what was for the best; neither do I know enough Scottish people to know how they really feel. But, I can add my tuppence to your comments with the Catalonia point of view. About 75% of MPs were voted into the Catalan Parliament here on the promise of holding a referendum. Over 80% of Catalans believe that a referendum should be held, independently (excuse the pun) of how they'd vote. Annual pro-independence demonstrations get 15-20% of the population out on the streets. And still Madrid (Spain) says there will be no vote. They threaten the Catalan president with jail if he calls one, and the suspension of all Catalonia's autonomous powers.
    So, the only thing I can express is ENVY! For whatever reasons he had, Cameron agreed to let the Scots have a vote, once they'd chosen a govt which promised one. It's called democracy, and is in short supply in Spain - Franco's ghost is still in the house as they say.

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    1. (expect a baby boom of little Camerons in 9 months in Catalonia!)

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    2. I have met your two lovely children Brian - why on earth would you want a little Cameron too? Call him Arthur Scargill instead!

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  11. Nationalism is a sickness, a malaise but Yorkshire Nationalism is just daft crap.

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    1. Right William - we will have to ship you to New Holland and you can look across The Humber regretting that comment as we build our Yorkshire Republic.

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  12. None of these issues are black and white. They are incredibly complicated. In this issue they tried to make thinks look simple. Not so fast!

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    1. Thinks ain't simple Red - it's true. Thinks ain't things.

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  13. I've been in the garden all afternoon and spent much of that time thinking about your post and the comments. If what you say is correct I can't help wondering why on earth so many people seemed so keen to keep Scotland in the Union. Certainly most of my friends who are pro (both those living here and those not living here) are from the South of England. You did comment on my post which made a reference to that.

    A few things I would say is that Scotland is a country and a nation without sovereignty (as is Wales). I've never heard a Scot call himself British even if he is a Unionist. The same goes for most Welshman. Northern Ireland is a separate case. The English on the other hand in my experience invariably refer to themselves as British. The United Kingdom is, however a sovereign state without a country. I should be surprised if there are any Scots (sic) in the British National Party.

    The 'shared history' between Scotland and the rest of the UK only goes back to a reluctant union in 1707. 300 years is a blip in the social and political history of the British Isles.

    Yorkshire is simply a region of England and has been part of England's history for even longer than I can remember.

    Your comment on oil being in international waters puzzled me. The UK is happy to collect the tax revenue from 'its' share.

    I have often posted on my detestation of the two evils of this world which have caused more wars in the last millennia (and over 100 million deaths in the last century alone) than anything else: nationalism and religion. I cannot even now get the image of a person in Serbia or Croatia being crucified on his own front door by his neighbours. And this happened in recent times with a helpless British peacekeeper looking on.

    I am essentially an optimistic and positive person but discussions like this make me pleased that I am not a young person coming into the world today.

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  14. 'Tis not the time to be separated - independent to my way of thought. United we should all stand. There are more dangerous enemies at the gate...actually, they've already gone through the gate!

    That's just my humble opinion....

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.