Friday 22 December 2006

Who's like us? Not many, and we don't like it.

I noticed this post over on Serf's site:
Why is it that Scottish & Welsh nationalists are Pro EU. How can it be better to be ruled from Brussels than from Westminster. If the Welsh and Scots feel that their voice is not heard in the UK how can it be heard in the EU with 7-8 times the population?
One commenter's explanation is this:
The nationalist movements are statists and the EU represents statist nirvana.

They're not looking for a voice, they're looking for a handout.

I don't think that's it.

The estimable James Higham writes:

I think you answered your own question. Anything is better than being ruled from Westminster, according to them.
Mr Higham is correct, but why?.

Everything would be much clearer if the SNP were known as the Scottish Normalcy Party instead of the Scottish National Party. Almost all Scots, nationalist or otherwise, get extremely upset about what I call The Presumption of the English Norm. For example, there are apparently several countries in which one can look up "British Embassy" in the local phone book (and in the local language) and find no entry. It's under "English Embassy", even when the language in question has a word for "British". And given that the Bank of "England" hasn't been renamed makes me think that Gordon Brown could be an SNP agent. I don't believe that our southern friends have any idea how annoying this kind of thing is, but imagine how they would feel if the rest of the world used the word "French" to mean "English".

If you visit the country where the locals speak Japanese, the government is known as the Japanese government, and the country is called - wait for it - "Japan". The country where folk speak French is ruled by the French government and it's called "France". It's the same almost everywhere. So it follows that the country where people speak English is ruled by the English government and is called "England", does it not? Well, no, it doesn't. But most of the world, including most English people, talks as if that were so. Well then, why does this happen?

I think that it's all to do with the language of Britain - the UK actually - being called "English" rather than "British". This would be less of an issue if it weren't for the fact that English is also the language of the world's most powerful nation, of science, of business, of finance and also of the Internet. That linguistic domination continuously reminds the rest of the world of the concept "England", while millions of Scots keep shouting: "You mean Britain."

Some of us like myself put up with this while still being annoyed and just accept that the UK is a very unusual country - one that is a multinational state. (Confusingly, the US is a multi-state nation.) But for many Scots this issue is all consuming, and more than anything else in politics they want to live in a "normal" country. So what's normal?

Back when the SNP was founded "normal" meant independent, like Norway or Switzerland today. But most countries in Europe are now members of the EU - that's the new norm, however much we may dislike it. And that's why the SNP wants Scotland to join the EU. It doesn't matter to them if it all leads to a federal superstate - or worse, a non-federal superstate - as long as Scotland has the same status as everywhere else. While Scotland remains an invisible part of a country known to most of the world as "England", membership of the EU is seen as a better option by members of the SNP - the Scottish Normalcy Party.


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

I try hard always to say The Netherlands, but then people wonder why. Hey ho.
24 December 2006, 21:53:27 GMT – Like – Reply

Blognor Regis
My late Welsh granny, as opposed to my recently late Scottish one (who's father was from Blackburn mind), used to get indignant when asked by Americans if she was English. As if they should give a hoot about the finer points of the mechanics of the United Kingdom.

Incidently, I wonder if anyone getting het up about being incorrectly labelled as English has ever described Arnhem, say, as being in Holland?
24 December 2006, 16:58:16 GMT – Like – Reply

Much truth in your point, I think, but I suspect that the SNP also gives an outlet for a specifically Scottish way of objecting to the dominance of Lunnun.
James, the English belief that Culloden was somehow to do with England mistreating Scotland is just another example of English historical ignorance that sets my teeth on edge. Even when I know that you mean no offence. Don't you dare claim responsibility for the Massacre of Glencoe or I'll have to pop round to Moscow and hit you. Merry Christmas, just the same.
24 December 2006, 16:02:24 GMT – Like – Reply

Ken Adams
I have been thinking about this post since I read it yesterday; it was a surprise that anyone would call the British Embassy the English Embassy, but you can find examples of just that, one I think the Scots would not object too much about is “STONES THROWN AT THE ENGLISH EMBASSY IN TEHRAN”

The odd thing is that the English in the majority think of themselves as British and not English, of course with the recent devolution this is beginning to change but it is a change which is being forced on us rather than one we would welcome. Until very recently the English did not have a choice of English as a nationality on official British forms.

As to the Language English is a language as such it has nothing to do with nationality, sure French is spoken in France and Spanish in Spain but English is spoken in the USA Australia New Zealand and so on.

Other than that the Scots do have their own language, it has been recognised as a language under the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages and there is an increasing awareness of its cultural and social value, this is distinct from Scottish Gaelic.
The Mither Tung
The auld Scots tung, the leid at's still tae hear in the mou o mony a lad an lass frae the Shetland Isles tae the Mull o Galloway, hes a history as ferliesome as ony o the warld's leids.
Tae unnerstaun the life o ony leid, we maun ken twa things. We maun ken the makins o the leid itsel: its souns an its spellin, its gremmar, its words. An we maun ken forbye whit the leid means, an hes ment, tae the fowk at speaks it. Thare no a leid at hesna cheengit wi the passin o the years: the English o Shakespeare is no the English fowk speaks the day. A leid can cheenge sae muckle it turns tae anither thing aathegither: French, Italian, Spanish an a curnie mair o Europe's tungs wes aa the sel-an-same leid, Laitin, mony a yearhunner syne. An a leid can jist dee, leain nae smitch nor steid: the Indians o America an Canada maistlins nou hes forgotten thair mither tungs an jist speaks English; an thare mony fowk fears at gin we dinna tak tent, our ain Gaelic and Scots wull gang the same gait.
23 December 2006, 22:12:55 GMT – Like – Reply

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Wild Pegasus
Actually, America is both multi-nation and multi-state. No one can tell me that the farmlands of the Great Plains, the urban black ghettos of major cities, the vast stretches of Indian lands, Cuban Miami, and Polynesian Hawai'i all count as the same nation.

- Josh
23 December 2006, 19:06:48 GMT – Like – Reply

james higham
...the UK is a very unusual country - one that is a multinational state. (Confusingly, the US is a multi-state nation.)...

Nice distinction. I'm going to post at greater length on this tomorrow [1.22 a..m. just now over here]but I'd like to introduce another idea.

As a northerner, familiar with Lindisfarne, Newcastle, Berwick etc., I realize it's not historically obvious but I see a continuum.

I'm not explaining well. We were in the north and there were three people besides myself watching Rab C. Nesbitt. The lady from Arbroath, though not Glaswegian, understood virtually all of it.

The Geordie understood much of it. The Londoner understood none of it. I understood about half of it, being a very strange person.

There is no clear distinction between Scotland and the North and both have suffered terribly at the hands of the Southerners [Culloden and Henry VIII].

Complete separation lumps Northerners in with one country when they often have more affinity further north. I don't like to see this mutual antagonism and feel caught in the middle.
22 December 2006, 22:30:22 GMT