I must admit that I didn't know that the National Trust for Scotland had broken away from the original UK-wide body. But the point I was trying to get across wasn't so much concerning the origins of Scottish and British institutions but rather how they are perceived in Scotland and what the implications of that may be.
I've been reading the Scottish papers for close to forty years. In the early days the idea of Scottish independence was essentially a non-issue. But week after week, month after month, and year after year the same points were made in articles and letters to the editor. I put it like this:
This presumption of the English norm, as I have dubbed it, is intensely annoying to Scots. Being English is seen to be such a natural state of affairs that it's the exceptions to Englishness that are defined, not Englishness itself.I think that the point isn't whether or not there is a presumption of an English norm, it's that many, many folk up here deeply feel that there is. They may well be wrong, as Ken tells us in the National Trust example. But these beliefs have political consequences. I believe that they're a major cause of the rise in support for independence.
Now, most English folk aren't very interested in Scotland. Why should they be? But what I don't understand is why Scottish, Unionist politicians have been so incompetent. People like Gordon Brown.
If I'd devoted my whole life to becoming Prime Minister of the UK I'd have taken a few basic precautions to keep my fellow Scots on board. I'd have been reading all those articles and letters and would have done something about them - to take the wind out of the Nationalists' sails. I'd have renamed the Bank of England the Bank of the United Kingdom. I'd have made speeches suggesting that England-only bodies should proudly describe themselves as such. Just like in Scotland. I'd have made Scottish bank notes legal tender in England. I'd have strong words with the Foreign Secretary to sort out those buildings that proclaim that they are the "English" Embassy. I wouldn't have patronised the English (and really annoyed the Scots) by claiming that Gazza's goal was one of my favourite sporting moments. And yes, I'd produce a proper set of UK accounts that show the whole financial picture and avoid the endless rubbish that I've read over the last year or so. If Gordon Brown wants to enhance "Britishness", he doesn't have a clue about how to go about it.
But he doesn't and it's probably too late. David Cameron will no doubt serve as Prime Minister of the UK. But anyone else after him? Probably not.