Friday, 20 August 2004

In Charlotte Square

I have been to quite a few events at the Book Festival this week. This morning there was an excellent presentation by the photographer Craig McMaster who showed some of his superb black and white photos of the Scottish countryside.

One of Tuesday's highlights was a talk given by Murray Watson on his new book Being English in Scotland. Watson carried out research that included oral contributions from many English people who had moved to Scotland. He concludes:

Generally, throughout the period under review, the media painted a picture of a climate of anti-English feeling. This was not the general experience of the contributors, nor was it evident from other sources. Studies from a number of social scientists, albeit they were mostly restricted to peripheral areas, essentially corroborated the findings of this study. That was not to say that tensions did not exist. There were low levels of anti-English feeling and exceptional extremist activity, but the latter was largely directed against England, the state (sic), and not English people. Compared with prejudicial reactions to other migrant communities, the English were largely welcomed into Scottish society, and this is certainly borne out by the constant growth of English migrants settling in Scotland.
I may write a bit more about the book once I have read it in full. Tuesday's audience liked this anecdote from an English-born teacher now residing in Edinburgh:
I had a dreadful (West Riding – Yorkshire) accent and nobody would ever understand me. My first teaching-practice (in Edinburgh) the kids that I had said: “You’re foreign aren’t you?” And I said: “Yes” … they said to me: “Where are you from?” And I said: “Well where do you think I’m from?” “Well you’re not from round here.” And this went on … at great length. “It must be from a very long way away ‘cos you are definitely foreign. You talk funny.” So they decided that I was from Glasgow because that was the furthest place they could think of that was far away you know.


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Stuart Dickson
Good morning Verity 
What a pleasure to see your cheery visage. May I be the first to welcome you back to the strand. 
I do love to see your cheeky-chops. 
When are you going to submit your anthropology homework? Your contributions to the field become ever more startling?

24 August 2004, 08:05:39 GMT+01:00
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Alastair, very witty comment. The late Lord Longford was certainly a very effective deterrent for any cause he espoused. 
Stuart seems to be confused between race and religion. Colour of skin, quoted over and over again with lofty dismissiveness is, I'll bet, of little interest to anyone, despite Stuart's thrashing around in search of a straw man.

24 August 2004, 02:43:34 GMT+01:00
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David Malloch
"According to Dr Watson one of the most surprising things that emerged from his research was the way that most English settlers worked hard to integrate into Scottish society.... he found that more than half of the new settlers considered themselves new Scots, or a combination of Scots/English or British. Less than one in ten considered themselves wholly English." 
Now that is interesting, because with Scots who immigrate to England its a different story. For they - usually -say something along the lines of "I live in England, I prefer it here, BUT I am still a Scot/My heart remains in Scotland etc". 
I have NEVER heard a Scot domiciled in England claim he now sees himself as a 'New Englishman' or an English Scot, regardless of how long the bugger has lived there.

22 August 2004, 16:27:06 GMT+01:00
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Squander Two
And it is a fact that, while some Scots Asian girls wander round town looking unbelievably stylish and chatting on their mobiles in broad Weegie accents, some immigrant Muslim women are kept in the house and not allowed to learn English. I think that's wrong, not because of the colour of their husbands' or fathers' skin, but because I support women's suffrage.  
That's why I don't think we need immigrants. What we need is good citizens, whether they're immigrants or natives. So what we want, if we're going to have immigrants, is the right sort of immigrants: people who are willing to become part of the country. Some people are incompatible with Scotland.

22 August 2004, 12:30:41 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer said...

Squander Two
Having got my glib comment out of the way, I'll be serious. 
Firstly, why would I say that Alistair was making a joke? He clearly wasn't.  
Secondly, there is a difference between opposing immigration and being racist. As Stuart points out himself, immigration is, among other things, an economic issue. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to oppose immigration on economic grounds. The immigration debate in Britain has been done a lot of damage by those who shout "Racist!" at anyone who thinks there should even be a debate. 
Thirdly, Stuart says first "We need more immigrants," then "I welcome immigrants". Nothing wrong with either of those opinions, but it should be made clear that they are two different opinions. I, for instance, welcome immigrants but don't think we need them. Alastair said that we don't need immigrants. There's nothing racist about that. He also implied that most of Scotland's immigrants come from the third world, which is true enough, and not racist.  
> This issue of the immigrants being younger than the general population is one of the reasons that economic immigration is so vital for the country's economy. 
I'd disagree with that. If you want to keep hold of a welfare state syatem that is based on out-of-date demographic models, then yes, you need young immigrants. However, I think all that really achieves is being able to delay the necessary reforms: as young immigrants get older and their subsequent generations begin to adopt the lifestyles and family sizes of the host country, you eventually end up with exactly the same problem. What is really vital for the country's economy is to scrap a system that is based on the assumption that there will always be enough young taxpayers to pay for the state pensions of the elderly -- an assumption that is already untrue.  
My experience of Glasgow tallies with Stuart's opinion: most immigrants assimilate. But not all of them. Who can forget the two Glaswegian girls with a Pakistani father, who were kidnapped by members of their own family and forced into arranged marriages in Pakistan? Mohammed Sarwar flew out there (at his own expense, if I remember correctly) and got them back. The issue polarised Glasgow's Asian community: Sarwar was sufficiently popular to have massive Asian support in the '97 election, but there is a sizable chunk of the population that opposed what he did, who believe that the girls's father was entirely within his rights to do whatever the hell he wanted with his daughters (after all, they were his property), and who firmly believe that the remit of the UK government to protect its citizens doesn't apply in this sort of case. In short, they believe that, while living in Scotland, there's no reason they should observe Scots law. And it is a fact that, while some Scots Asian girls wander round town looking unbelievably stylish and chatting on their mobiles in broad Weegie accents, some immigrant Mus

22 August 2004, 12:29:45 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer said...

Stuart Dickson
-Around 1 in 8 of the MSPs in the first Scottish Parliament were born in England  
-The only Morris dancing team in Scotland doubles up as a ceilidh band!  
-The SNP has a group of English activists called New Scots for Independence  
-The largest number of English migrants (more than a quarter of a million) live in the Central Belt  
The largest proportion of English migrants live in Argyll and Bute (17.04%), the Borders (16.84%), Moray (16.22%) and Dumfries and Galloway (15.64%).  
The English in Scotland are not all middle class. They reflect the socio-economic makeup of the native Scots-born population  
-Many English-born residents commented that they resented the way the media (in England and Scotland) exaggerated tensions and differences between the English and Scots  
-Dr Murray Watson ... is a Scot who spent forty years of his life living and working in England returning to his native Borders with his English-born wife in 1998.  
He was teased about his Scottish accent by his schoolmates at Pocklington School York and now regrets he cannot shake off his English accent. He was awarded his PhD for his thesis "The Invisible Diaspora - The English in Scotland 1945-2000" in July 2003" 
My comments: 
This issue of the immigrants being younger than the general population is one of the reasons that economic immigration is so vital for the country's economy. 
I know myself, from the experience of living abroad, that integration is hard work, but the investment of time and effort always pays rich dividends. 
The only way to reduce existing "violence, harassment and discrimination" against all ethnic minority immigrant groups is to vociferously oppose anti-immigrants like Alastair Ross. 
Indeed these people are proud New Scots! What a wonderful strengthening of our national fabric.

22 August 2004, 08:15:57 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer said...

Stuart Dickson
This sounds like a wonderful addition to our understanding of Scotland's immigrant groups. I may get hold of a copy once I have finished my current tome "Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure". 
Consider the following extracts from the University of Dundee blurb: 
"Surprising findings about the English in Scotland - myth after myth dispelled 
Publication of the latest research reveals a number of surprising findings about Scotland's largest ethnic minority group, the English. 
Professor Tom Devine, author of The Scottish Nation, said: "For the first time we have a thorough examination of English migrants' place in modern Scottish society...". 
Until now most people have considered the Irish to be Scotland's largest minority group. Watson's work shows that over the last two hundred years more than a million English people have come to live and work in Scotland and that they overtook the Irish as long ago as 1921. At the last count in 2001 there were over 408,000 English people living all over Scotland. At their height the Irish-born only numbered 218,745 in 1881 and at the last Census in 2001 there were a mere 21,774. 
One of the common myths about the English is that they are largely middle class white settlers exchanging expensive Home Counties property for a Highland retreat or retired people seeking free personal care for the elderly. Watson's research proves this to be profoundly misleading. Most English people live in the Central Belt. Most come to work, and their social composition essentially matches that of the Scots. And with English migrants being younger than the population as a whole, the research disabuses the idea that the English in Scotland are elderly. 
Another myth to bite the dust was that anti-Englishness was a serious and increasing problem. Nine out of ten English migrants claimed they had not experienced anti-Englishness, other than in the form of teasing and banter, which occurred especially when Scotland played England at rugby or football. Watson commented, "there were plenty, indeed too many, recorded incidents of unpleasantness, but we have to remember much of Scots' ire is directed against England the state and not English people. Furthermore compared with other ethnic groups in Scotland, the English, who outnumber them by almost two to one, are at the receiving end of considerably less violence, harassment and discrimination". 
According to Dr Watson one of the most surprising things that emerged from his research was the way that most English settlers worked hard to integrate into Scottish society and how many came to prefer living north of the Border. In his analysis of how these migrants reconstructed their national identity he found that more than half of the new settlers considered themselves new Scots, or a combination of Scots/English or British. Less than one in ten considered themselves wholly English. 
-Around 1 in

22 August 2004, 08:13:27 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer said...

Alastair Ross
The thought of being welcomed by Mr Dickson should have the same salutary effect on prospective immigrants as a prison visit from the late Lord Longford had on diehard recidivists. The old lags vowed to go straight and pledged,on pain of a subsequent meeting, to avoid HM prisons forever.

22 August 2004, 01:27:44 GMT+01:00
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Stuart Dickson
I welcome all immigrants to Scotland whether from rich countries like England or developing ones like Pakistan. The colour of immigrants skin or their mother tongue is of no relevence to me, in fact the greater varity of skills and backgrounds the better. 
I do not discriminate against people on the basis of the colour of their skin. Mr Ross does because he is a racist. 
When they move to Scotland most people integrate and become Scots: Pakistani-Scots, Italian-Scots and English-Scots.

21 August 2004, 15:53:42 GMT+01:00
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Squander Two
It's Pavlovian.

21 August 2004, 14:26:45 GMT+01:00
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As ever.

21 August 2004, 13:44:47 GMT+01:00
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Alastair Ross
Mr Dickson displays his usual talent to amuse.

21 August 2004, 10:31:15 GMT+01:00
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Stuart Dickson
Squander Two 
If you run true to form, you are about to tell me that Alastair Ross is not a nasty little rascist. In fact you are about to tell me that he is making a joke. 
Well, you are wrong: Alastair Ross is a nasty little rascist. 
Correct, it is throwing an insult. But throwing insults is not always unwarranted because experience tells us that there are lots of nasty little rascists like Mr Ross in the world, and if they are allowed to disseminate mindless hatred then we will all suffer the serious consequences. 
I will be informing Mr Ross' service provider "" that he is disseminating race hate material via his email account.

21 August 2004, 10:00:19 GMT+01:00
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Alastair Ross
We do not need immigrants from all sorts of countries unless you believe that there are too many Scots in Scotland or you subscribe to the self destructive view that Scotland should be an adjunct of the Third World.

21 August 2004, 09:19:06 GMT+01:00
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Stuart Dickson
Very good. Sounds like a good complement to "The New Scots" published several years ago regarding Pakistani-Scots contribution to their new country (can't remember author: Bashir Ahmed?). 
Mr Watsons findings back up some academic research a couple of years ago: anti-Englishness is largely low level chatter (Glasgow University?). Most Scots recognise the huge contibution immigrants are making to our society. 
We need more immigrants, from all sorts of countries. And a little domestic procreation wouldn't go amiss either.

20 August 2004, 20:50:51 GMT+01:00