Sunday 11 January 2004


Sometimes it becomes very clear why so many people support Scottish independence. What could have been better designed to help the nationalists than this incident?
A Russian student refused entry to Scotland to study English was told by Whitehall officials she would have found the Scots accent difficult to understand.

The extraordinary statement was made in documents sent to the un-named women by Foreign Office officials when they refused her entry to the UK last summer.

"You cannot satisfactorily explain why you have chosen to attend an English course in Scotland rather than your options of Oxford or Cambridge, where you should face less difficulty understanding a regional accent," officials stated.

There were other reasons for refusing entry into the UK but the Foreign Office has refused to apologise for its remarks about "regional" accents. Full marks to John Swinney for ambushing Jack McConnell in the Scottish parliament. I wonder what would have happened if the Foreign Office had still been under Robin Cook, who himself has a "regional" accent.