Readers who protested against the government’s bigoted, craven action to leave Europe and follow UKip to cast non-UK nationals out of English society, you have my respect. It gave in to the worst of England’s nature, a dislike of ‘Johnny Foreigner’. Some fools crowed it was the start of ‘Empire 2’. They’ll find neither seeds nor sustenance in that furrow, not in Scotland.
To those thinking of responding to Nicola Sturgeon’s clarion call to join us here in Scotland, I’m sure you’ll make a good choice for the best of reasons.
If you see Scotland with all its faults as I do, and still a place of honest, decent, sane values, you attracted by our progressive ideals, I have some profound advice.
Please leave your political baggage in England. Our landfill tips are full of it.
TWELVE STEPS TO HAPPY INTEGRATION
Don’t come to Scotland because England isn’t to your liking anymore. You once ruled almost all of the green earth, and the seas too. Your nation grew rich on its resources, and off the backs of indigenous people that you ruled. You told those people they were British. But you didn’t mean British like you. Now riddled with vast debts and a corrupt parliament, you’re first obligation is to make your own nation a better place, to fight against xenophobia, neo-imperialism, corporate greed, and the unreason England has embraced. Granted, it’s a difficult task, but not impossible. Youth will drive change if you can’t. They will rebel.
Don’t come to Scotland thinking no world is better than an English world. If you think England the greatest nation on the planet, that’s where you belong. Don’t search for a Little England enclave where you can play cricket on the green, read the Times in an all-English pub decorated with Union Jacks, and talk warmly of Thatcher. The Tory party in Scotland is small and anti-life, Labour a wishy-washy copy. Tory MSPs were rejected at the ballot box, only our cockamamie electoral system gave them a free ride. And don’t look for a substitute Tory in UKip. We want none here.
Don’t come to Scotland looking for an idyllic, remote cottage in the Highlands to closet yourself away from the rest of us, or pretend you are English landed gentry, all tweeds and Barber outfits, and then send photographs to relatives of wonderful sunsets over a loch lying at the end of your ‘estate’. It might assist our tourist board, but it does nothing for Scotland’s democratic progress. Incidentally, loch is not pronounced ‘lock’. Try and get it right. And we have burns here not brooks, and glens not dales.
Don’t come to Scotland to promote English cultural mores. That’s patronising. We need no colonials. Come to learn about Scotland’s history and culture, to get involved in it, Gaeldom too. Do not attempt to subjugate it, or portray it as inferior to your own heritage. Scots admire, indeed were educated on English culture and heroes. Please return the compliment.
Don’t come to Scotland hoping to mould our structures and institutions in the image of England. That way lies conformity and resentment. We’ve managed, just about, to resist invasion by stealth and still be a separate country. You’re here because you acknowledge we are different, England’s systems and politics pernicious and dysfunctional, at least ‘for a generation’ – if I can use that maligned phrase. And remember, until you vote for self-governance to be reinstated your taxes go south to be spent south.
Don’t come to Scotland thinking you must become Scottish. We don’t ask that of you. In time your children will be, and their children too. Be your self, but remember you’re in another’s country. Treat us as you would wish to be treated. You will soon find many things different from your homeland, and done differently. Delight in the differences.
Don’t come to Scotland hoping to avoid Italian, Polish, Chinese, Indian, or Irish communities. They’ve been here for generations, Polish from as early as 1850. Those good people have contributed to Scotland’s intellectual thought and its economy in way we can never fully repay. We have an international outlook and proud of it.
Don’t come to Scotland thinking the standards of southern England are the standards by which all things must be judged. That really gets up our nose. London-centric is for Londoners, or wealthy Saudi Arabians and Russians buying gazillion pound properties with massive tax and rates exemptions. We judge our creative output by international standards, yes, even by French and German aesthetics – not what London critics, and the artistic hierarchy feel is today’s commercial value.
Don’t treat Scotland as a dominion of England’s aristocracy. Dukes and lairds are not to be envied. You were schooled as an unequal person by a rigid class system. The duke’s great grandfather probably got a chunk of Scotland over a game of cards ‘validated’ by fake property deeds written by an alcoholic lawyer. Some here still like the Royal family, some put up with them, some wish they would get a real job. Yes, we have pecking orders in Scotland, but we detest the English class system and all its stands for.
Don’t come to Scotland to use its great glens and mountains as an adult play park for hunting, shooting, fishing and climbing, or to admire the scenery while littering the place with garbage, caravans, and fag ends. Don’t clogs our roads with metal, and our mountains with old trainers and plastic bottles.
Don’t come to Scotland to buy Highland property to make a quick killing and go south again. And don’t buy land and fence it off. Everywhere is a right of way except your home. Ultimately, we want the land back in the ownership of the state – us.
Don’t come to Scotland to tell us self-governance is a risky business. You plan to leave a nation that governs itself and has done for over three hundred years, though it has denied us and other nations that right in past times. Scotland wants interdependence with England to continue but on a healthier basis, on equal terms.
Come to Scotland ready and willing to help build a happy, thriving, exalted society that will endure. Scots see themselves first as a human being, then a Scot, and a citizen of the world. Know the grass roots momentum that is termed Scottish nationalism expresses those humane values. Come prepared to elevate what is good in human nature. Exercise an open mind; be curious and wise, able to contribute to our society in joyous, positive ways. Jettison the habit of comparison. Suppress envy, and train anger to right injustice, not to demoralise your neighbour. Be compassionate, good humoured, happy to be part of a new era in civic camaraderie and open government.
Let your affection have free play.
Come to Scotland released of fear, celebrate the vigour of our new Enlightenment.