Monday 1 December 2003

Anthems: part 2

The other day I wrote about national anthems. Now, Allan Massie has joined in the debate and also finds himself in the unusual position of agreeing with Labour's Mike Watson. Mr Massie has this to say about the response of the "stupid party":
I said the Scottish Tory response was both ignorant and stupid. The stupidity is evident. The Tories defend the Union as a partnership between four nations. That partnership, since devolution, is taking a new form. If it is to survive, then the distinction between what is Scottish and what is British (a distinction now enshrined in the Scotland Act), what English and what British, should be made clear and unmistakable. That distinction is blurred when one of the constituent parts of the Union assumes an identity that properly belongs only to the United Kingdom; and this is what happens when England use the British national anthem as the anthem of England.
The Tory stupidity rests in their apparent inability to see that Lord Watson is making a pro-British point
Absolutely correct. It is sad to have to note that unionists in Scotland are so often their own worst enemy. These questions of national identity matter a great deal. Back to Mr Massie:
Of course it is in itself a small thing, but it is symptomatic of a larger assumption: that there is no essential difference between the United Kingdom and England, no distinction to be made between being English and being British. That assumption may seem perfectly natural to the English so great is their preponderance, but it is a source of irritation to many people in the other countries of the Union.
If Scots ever chose to go down the road to independence it will largely be the result of the stupidity of British unionists.