Did the Scottish cringe impact the Indyref?

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Warning, the following article may be difficult reading for many Scots.
It’s not meant to be offensive just an observation from an outsider, who loves this country but is still deeply perplexed by her native citizens.

It’s now been nearly 3 weeks since the historic Scottish independence referendum. The day, 18 September 2014, when from the hours of 7:00am-10:00pm, Scotland was a sovereign nation. The eyes of the entire world were on this small country of 5.5 million people. Would they do it? Become the next independent nation on earth?
NO?!!!

What the hell happened? I mean, why would you vote against governing yourself? Having all the decisions about what’s best for your country made here in Scotland. As an American it seemed a no brainier. I just didn’t understand.

But then I realised it was an inferiority complex at play here. Now I’m not saying every Scot holds themselves in low self esteem, but let’s take a moment to examine some of the evidence.

It was people over 65 who voted the highest percentage for a NO vote. These are folk that may still have been influenced by the idea of British Empire and the Scots lesser role to their much bigger English neighbour. Perhaps there was a certain sense of not wanting to lose the old Britannia identity. The Union Jack and the Queen. I know from living in the south side of Edinburgh most over 65s Scots don’t have a Scottish accent at all but sound like they recently moved up from the Southeast of England. Growing up they were taught to lose the Scottish twang and sound more English. I’m not sure what that must do to a person’s personal identity.

Then there are old television programs. Shows like The Bill, to Eastenders, portraying Scots as violent drunks. The character you wouldn’t want to let in your home. A person to be scorned and pitied. I can imagine if you watch your countrymen perpetually depicted in such a manner, you may start to honestly believe that’s fairly typical. ‘We are miserly, violent drunks.’ ‘What must those sophisticated English folk think of us.’

All of this is done subtly of course. But if it’s drilled into you over years or even decades imagine how it makes you feel. You’re Scottish! Well you better not sound like one or behave like one.

I am however heartened to see that changing. The younger Scots are proud and confident. They speak assuredly in their local dialect. In fact they take great pride in using specific Scottish words and phrases. I don’t think many under 25’s wish they spoke like Prince Charles. Even the Gaelic language is now taught in many schools all over Scotland. I envy them. I wish I came from a place that had it’s own distinct language.

Unfortunately the younger people and their hope and aspirations for an independent country was not enough to influence those who wanted to stay British. Okay perhaps some of those voters were afraid they would lose their pensions or that somehow their money would be worth less. But actually as I look over recent polls taken since the referendum vote, it appears as if most Scots want all financial matters made here by the Scottish government. That doesn’t quite sync with why so many people voted NO.

So I can only conclude the idea of being Scottish and being in charge of all your decisions here in Scotland was far too big of a step for many to take. There may have been a tiny voice telling them it was okay. But when they walked into that voting booth, the X went next to the NO box, as the placid sounds of God Save the Queen played silently in their minds.

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6 thoughts on “Did the Scottish cringe impact the Indyref?

  1. Holebender says:

    Big problem with your thesis that older Scots don’t speak Scots while younger Scots do; who did the younger Scots learn to speak from? Get away from Morningside and you’ll find a lot more oldies speaking Scots than young ‘uns.

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  2. Alastair McNeill says:

    Interesting observations from an outsider on the inside. I think you’re very right in saying that subtle messages from English dominated media, particularly TV, which portrays Scots negatively has affected the Scottish psyche. It is in fact propaganda albeit very subtle. It’s very curious the reaction of the English when it looked like Scotland was going to leave the union. There was panic, anger and threats. It was akin to an abused spouse in the process of leaving her abusive husband. I suspect there will be a meltdown in the economy in coming months years which could provide the catalyst for Scotland leaving the union. Sadly, I’m sure they will not let us go quietly, not least because they’re financially dependent on us and England being an essentially predator nation have an emotional need to dominate and control. They are only able to play out this fantasy through their pathetic military adventures with the USA.

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  3. Eric Morrison says:

    Nicely written article. My wife and self, both approaching 70, both yes voters, both disgusted by the stupidity/greed/ignorance/fear of our fellow +65 ers. The more we thought about it the angrier we became. Fear is not a reason to turn down the chance to govern yourself and end the cycle of poverty that has befallen our country (Scotland) For many a lack of ability to understand what was at stake and go for the status quo was a reason. Unfortunately for many greed was the reason!

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  4. Political Tourist says:

    Just found your blog via twitter.
    Fair play to you.
    Hopefully a good turnout at the Hope not Fear rally this Sunday in Glasgow.

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  5. BritishScot says:

    “Growing up they were taught to lose the Scottish twang and sound more English”

    Erm no. There was a definite pressure to learn RP, there’s no such thing as “sounding English”, they don’t sound like they are from West Yorkshire, Manchester, Cornwall, Bristol, Liverpool, Essex etc. RP was the leveler back then it was the speech (and still is to a much lesser extent) of the medic, lawyer, newscaster and so on. It’s nothing to do with wanting to sound English and everything to do with wanting to be part of the upper echelons of society.

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    • Michelle Brown says:

      Well played on an incredibly patronising article. I am English but married to a Scot and living in Scotland for many years and short of actually telling them they’re all stupid it’s hard to see how your article could be any more offensive. We voted against independence because we knew Scotland can’t afford it, even before oil prices slumped, and this has been brought to fruition by the proposed full fiscal autonomy plan which independent experts have proven will leave a £7.6bn hole in Scottish finances. So much for pensions then! Suggest you do your research a little more carefully in future and stop making generalisations about people.

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