In this third paper taken from his book, ‘Doun-Hauden: The Socio-Political Determinants of Scottish Independence’, Professor Alfred Baird relates the critical importance of demographics, one of the last subjects deemed an unspeakable taboo by unionists desperate to narrow this debate down to whether you like English people (the trap to catch the unwary as racists), and also by some anxiety-prone self-governance nationalists who hope never to antagonise our opponents as if somehow, being terribly ‘nice’ and respectful rather than civil wins adherents to the cause of equality and liberty.
“You humiliate us to control us”, said Mahatma Gandhi to the British ambassador and his committee sitting at the other side of the negotiation table. “It is time you left.” The ambassador responded, “With respect, Mr Gandhi, without British administration, this country would be reduced to chaos.” Gandhi smiled. “I beg you to accept, there is no country on earth that would not prefer its own bad government to the good government of an alien power.” “But my dear sir, India is British, we are hardly an alien power”, came the reply. “You do not expect the English to just walk out of India?” Gandhi answered, “Yes, you will walk out of India, because 100,000 Englishmen simply cannot control 350 million Indians if those Indians refuse to co-operate. And that is precisely what we intend to achieve, peaceful, non-violent, non-co-operation resistance, until you, yourself, see the wisdom of leaving, your Excellency.”
And as soon as governance of India began to cost Britain too much, we duly upped sticks and left, making sure we agreed to a the usual disasterous partition, India and Pakistan, which begs the question, (incoming satire) will Orkney be thrown at Scotland as a separate state, as is the British government’s usual practice in the matter of leaving a colonised territory it has usurped and sucked dry.
As for the modern day tactic of reducing intellectual discourse to racial likes and dislikes, both parties in the independence debate lost this contrived, repressive argument some time ago, just as independence will be lost unless we are willing to look at the issue and solutions square-on and methodically, in a humane manner.
The colonizer is a privileged being and an illegitimately privileged one; that is, an usurper’ (Albert Memmi)
Over the last two centuries some 3-4 million Scots, mostly working class, were displaced from Scotland owing to the chronic lack of economic opportunities provided for them in their own land, and often helped to exit their country of birth by UK state ‘incentives’ (e.g. Empire Settlement Acts). During this period Scotland proportionately ‘lost’ more of its people than any other north-western European country, which suggests the exodus was planned rather than accidental.
Historic census data confirms that, over much of the same period, Scotland imported a significant element of its meritocracy and professional and managerial class from rest-UK, primarily England. Higher level posts in Scotland, even today, and as a matter of course, are advertised primarily in the London metropolitan press and are therefore aimed at the far larger labour market in rest-UK. Hence Professor Michael Hechter’s findings that Scotland (and Wales, as the ‘Celtic periphery’) exhibits ‘an ethnic division of labour’ that reflects a dominant Anglophone meritocracy as a feature of what he termed ‘the UK internal colonialism model’.
During the last thirty years since 1991, an average of around 50,000 people per annum have moved from rest-UK, mainly England, to live in Scotland, according to the census. This is considerably more than the number of people moving to Scotland from all other nations combined. In total, approximately 1.5 million people have therefore moved to Scotland from rest-UK since 1991 alone. The census notes that: ‘migration between Scotland and the rest of the UK is estimated based on GP registrations’… therefore moves which were not registered with a GP may not have been counted’. This implies that actual migration figures are likely to be even greater than stated.
In 2001, Scotland’s population was 5.0 million and by 2020 this had increased to a record high of 5.5 million, an increase of 10 per cent. An important change over the two decades is that Scotland’s annual number of deaths (63,100 in 2020) now consistently exceeds the number of births (48,700). Scotland today has the lowest fertility rates in the UK, which means there is no natural population growth and it is therefore migration that is boosting (and replacing) the Scottish population year on year. National Records of Scotland state that: ‘Migration has been adding to Scotland’s population for the last 20 years’.
During the UK union the make-up and identity of Scotland’s population has therefore been substantially altered through in-migration mainly from rest-UK, and by the very substantial historic, and largely incentivised out-migration of Scots. Migration is an important aspect of national governance over which Scotland has no control, nor policy, immigration being reserved entirely to Westminster and the UK Government. In other words, Scotland’s population remains outwith Scotland’s control, much as it has been since the UK union began. This does not mean the population of Scotland is not being ‘managed’, of course.
Significant demographic change brings with it changes in a peoples’ culture, language, politics, beliefs, values and hence also a change in ‘national identity’ and ‘sense of belonging’ of much of the population. For example, the census indicates that ongoing demographic change means there are now only 1.6 million Scots speakers left in Scotland, which implies that most of the remaining 4.0 million of the population today are Anglophone. This is important in the context of independence because we know that ‘peoples’ in self-determination conflict are linguistically divided; it is after all our (Scots) language and culture which gives us our national identity and provides the basis of our (Scottish) national consciousness and the motivation for national independence. It therefore stands to reason that people holding to other cultures, languages and identities will tend not have the same ‘Scottish’ national consciousness nor desire for independence as indigenous Scots.
This was confirmed by post-2014 referendum research findings, as people from rest-UK coming to live in Scotland mostly voted against Scottish independence, reflecting a linguistic and cultural (and hence ethnic) divide between them and the Scots. This evidence suggests independence may therefore be undermined by prevailing uncontrolled immigration from rest-UK to Scotland. In addition, the independence challenge is made more difficult through the use of an irregular local government electoral franchise for national elections and referendums in Scotland which is based on residence, not nationality.
Scotland’s in-migration differs markedly from that occurring in many other countries in that it is predominantly people from Scotland’s ‘administrative Power’ (i.e. England) who consistently comprise the largest single ethnic migrant group to Scotland, and this has been the case for the past century and more. That this movement is also oriented towards theprofessional and managerial classes further reflects a rather colonial reality for Scots. To some people migration is basically about survival, however, this is not the rationale for migration insofar as inflows from England to Scotland are concerned. The import of a largely mobile managerial and professional (middle) class from a single country of origin, the latter also wielding political control over Scotland, cannot be described as migration for survival. Conversely, the loss of 3-4 million mostly working-class Scots over the past two centuries and more, reflecting high and sustained levels of poverty, deprivation, unemployment and lack of opportunity in Scotland (relative to England), coupled with UK state incentives to leave, may more realistically be described as migration for survival.
There are clearly significant differences between Scotland’s historic out-migration, which has levelled off somewhat since 1980s deindustrialisation and 1990s Devolution (the latter giving Scots some hope for the future), and ongoing in-migration, and through this the major changes that we see in the culture, language, identity and ‘sense of belonging’ of Scotland’s s population today.
Neoliberal attitudes promoted by the SNP leadership maintains that all those living and working in Scotland are ‘Scots’ irrespective of their actual national identity, the argument being that anyone who lives here should have a national vote in a referendum on independence. A national identity, however, cannot be forced upon people who do not want it, as some two million voters, half or more holding to other national identities, demonstrated when they opted to reject and block Scottish independence (and Scottish citizenship) in 2014.
It is important to understand why such significant numbers of people from rest-UK, primarily England, move to Scotland. Scotland has an attractive natural environment and more affordable property prices than many parts of England. Scotland is also one of few countries with no controls over its immigration, which effectively means Scotland’s population may be fundamentally changed over time, as appears to have occurred, given census data. The advertising of most of Scotland’s professional and top jobs primarily in a far larger populated neighbouring country is another factor, as is the absence of any indigenous language requirement (i.e. Gaelic or Scots) for immigrants taking jobs in Scotland. The absence of any indigenous language requirement differentiates Scotland from other countries such as Iceland, Norway, Finland, Estonia etc. in that an indigenous language requirement explains why elites in these and other nations tend to mostly comprise indigenous people/speakers whereas Scotland’s mainly Anglophone meritocratic elite seems for the most part not to be comprised of indigenous Scots, as reflecting an ‘ethnic division of labour’.
There is increasing research evidence of so-called ‘white flight’ from English cities and towns where middle-class (and now also working-class), mostly white English people have sought to move away from diverse multi-cultural areas. For this group, Scotland appeals as an attractive location given the population here is still predominantly white, mainly English spoken, and with what is perceived to be a broadly similar (i.e. ‘British’) culture, values and identity. Brexit is another factor which, according to property transaction evidence, appears to have led to an acceleration in movement of people from England to Scotland; Brexit (and then Covid) closed off options for UK citizens to easily move to EU countries, notably Spain and France, and Scotland appears to be an attractive alternative. People from England also have a tendency to move to countries which already have a significant English resident population.
Other significant factors include an attractive range of differentiated (from England) public policies introduced by the Devolved Scottish Government such as free care for the elderly, free higher education, free bus travel, free prescriptions, and a general view that public services may be better resourced and maintained in Scotland than in England. Hence there are numerous reasons why a large, mobile, relatively well-off English population move to Scotland. The general motivation for this population movement, however, appears to be that, immigrants from rest-UK coming to Scotland primarily do so in order to acquire personal economic rewards and social advantage for themselves or, as Albert Memmi put it, ‘for an easy life’ that is ‘based on privilege’.
On the other side of what increasingly appears a colonial-like ‘balance sheet’, a number of concerns may be highlighted. Excessive demand for property and buyers bidding well over asking prices leads to inflated house prices and limited housing availability in Scotland. This means buying a house is beyond the means of many Scots, especially younger generations seeking to get on the property ladder, in addition to creating a shortage of housing. Significant inflows of older people/retirees increase pressure on public services, notably healthcare provision. The movement of a largely professional and managerial (middle) class from rest-UK to Scotland brings with it a desire for its offspring to partake in (free) higher education studies and this may serve to ‘crowd-out’ Scottish students from certain courses and institutions. And significant numbers of people from England taking many (perhaps most) of the best paid jobs in Scotland, and with no indigenous language requirement, means fewer higher level employment opportunities will exist for Scots.
A large and ever-increasing English population appears concentrated in specific areas of Scotland, creating ‘unionist’ enclaves as is reflected in tactical voting in favour of unionist MP’s and MSP’s. These are also the specific areas from which recent calls for ‘partition’ tend to emanate; partition is a continuing destabilising feature of British colonialism in numerous territories around the world, and in this context we know that an imperial power moving defined ethnic peoples around can create conditions for partition. In this regard the national integrity of the Scottish nation itself may be at serious risk through uncontrolled demographic change.
Limited availability of housing and restricted access to better paid jobs may also discourage and indeed prevent many young Scots from raising families. We now see a dwindling birth rate in Scotland and a population maintained and boosted primarily through immigration from rest-UK. Holyrood’s unwarranted ‘mystification’ policies in respect of GRA and school education more generally, it may be argued, also serve to confuse and in turn limit the number of young people having or intending to have families, as reflected in the reducing birth rate.
Ongoing population change clearly serves to alter the balance of indigenous peoples and their national cultures and identities, more especially when immigrants do not make an effort, or are not required to properly integrate into a community, such as learning the indigenous (Scots) language; in this instance the immigrant group is also imposing its culture and language (and hence its identity) on the indigenous community, which demonstrates a colonial reality. Communities may be fundamentally altered and indigenous peoples uprooted, eventually becoming a marginalised minority, as has now occurred in many of Scotland’s rural areas, islands, towns and in certain urban areas as well. Large scale uncontrolled migration from a much larger populated country into a smaller neighbouring country coupled with long-established Cultural/Linguistic Imperialism and Colonial domination policies runs the risk of totally altering and ultimately subsuming and even entirely removing the smaller nation and its main indigenous ethnic group. (Such an outcome may even perhaps be defined as a form of genocide, as arguably previously occurred with the Gaelic community, see: United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect).
The British State is ‘responsible’ for immigration in the UK but has no specific policy for Scotland, at least not overtly. However, it might be expected that a vehemently anti-Scottish Independence British State is more than happy to see a large and sustained influx of mostly ‘No’ voting Anglophone ‘unionists’ from rest-UK coming to live in Scotland. Whether or not there are covert policies in play to help facilitate such an influx, who knows, though some have suggested how this may be achieved (e.g. Andrew Scott’s book ‘Scotched Nation’), and there are clearly no efforts to limit movement and/or continued cultural and linguistic domination.
Given recent census trends as well as historic demographic data, it should not therefore be surprising that more than half of voters in Scotland today reject the offer of Scottish citizenship, Scottish nationality, and Scottish independence. National identity, as we have found, reflects and is determined by our culture and language and the clear evidence is that the large and increasing numbers of people moving from rest-UK (and their ‘extraction’) to live in Scotland will mostly tend to reject and vote to block Scottish independence; census and post referendum data suggests that half or more of the two million ‘No’ voters in 2014 was made up of people who do not primarily hold to a Scottish identity. This group reject Scottish identity (and hence any offer of Scottish citizenship through independence) primarily because it is not who they are or what they identify as, or wish to be, in terms of their own ethnicity; this further suggests that much of the anti-independence ‘No’ vote may be largely ethnically driven.
Independence is ultimately about a people having the power to deal with the fundamentals of their own country and this includes protecting its population, its culture and its sovereignty. No (sovereign) country would allow its population to be removed and/or boosted and replaced in such a blasé way as to threaten the existence of its own people, and their national identity, or ‘dilute’ their national sovereignty. Unrestricted colonial-driven demographic change coupled with Cultural and Linguistic Imperialism policies are well-established colonial techniques intended to undermine a people and thwart their desire for national sovereignty. Such factors inevitably influence a peoples’ culture, language, and identity and eventually call into question the very existence of their nation. In Scotland’s case, ongoing population change at current levels can only serve to seriously hinder prospects for self-determination and independence.
All independent countries have an immigration policy for good reason and Scotland within the UK union is clearly lacking in this regard, resulting in what we see: a failure to secure self-government due to the constant dilution of sovereignty (through immigration) facilitating subsumption, cultural assimilation and continued marginalisation of the Scots as an ethnic group in their own nation. A second referendum by perhaps 2024 may therefore already be a lost cause due to the inflow of another half a million mainly ‘No’ voters since 2014, as reflected in recent opinion polls showing a fall in support for independence; this suggests independence minded Scots require a different strategy.
To believe that the historic mass displacement of indigenous Scots combined with ongoing selective replacement of Scotland’s population was not somehow ‘managed’ or intended would seem a rather naïve hypothesis; countries do not displace by accident 3-4 million of their people, half or more the population, and then partially replace them through importing a meritocracy reflecting the culture, language and identity of the colonial Power itself. This ‘process’ appears to still be in full flow much as it has been over the last 150 years or more, and now seems to be accelerating, perhaps reflecting renewed efforts by the British State to finally put an end to any possibility of Scottish independence via a covert plantation policy.
National Governments naturally pay close attention to population change and there can be little doubt that the British State continues to monitor, control and indeed manipulate Scotland’s demographics, though not in the interests of Scots or Scotland, and certainly not in the interests of Scottish independence.
Demographics is therefore a key determinant of Scottish independence.
The aim of these articles – published by kind permission of ‘Yours for Scotland’ website – is to help broaden the case for independence, and also to give the curious and the already convinced information generally denied them by the agencies of the British state, the same trying to sell ‘Britishness’ as they once tried to sell ‘Buy British’.
Article 1 on ‘Culture’ can be found here: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-q2T
Article 2 on ‘Language’ can be found here: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-q4U
ALSO: ‘Does Independence Decolonise?’ can be located here: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-pNG
BOOK: ‘Doun-Hauden: The Socio-Political Determinants of Scottish Independence’, available from Amazon.co.uk: