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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

How the English see Scotland’s independence–and their own …

When the first reports of the poll conducted on how the English perceive independence – Scotland’s and their own – I expected the haggis to hit the fan, with instant attempts by unionists to spin the result. The first BBC News report I saw confirmed my fears. Here is the clip, brief, but very much to the point – the unionist point, that is …

Since we can safely assume that neither Laura Bicker nor Catriona Shearer – the epitome of a sonsy Scottish lassie – wrote their own scripts, someone behind the scenes in the Beeb had put a quick, superficial spin on a result that, by any criteria, should have given unionists concern, not comfort. But unionists have not been able to face reality for some time now, and are in the deep denial that grips all of the unionist political parties and the British Establishment.

Catriona launches in briskly and selectively on the poll results. “ … suggest that fewer than 1 in 5 English people think England would be better off without Scotland, and just about a third of them want to see an independent England.

Q1 Should Scotland be independent?

YES 36%, NO 48%, DON’T KNOW 15%

The comment options now facing Laura Bicker, or more probably the news editor were

a) Let the figures speak for themselves

b) Offer the pro and anti independence possible interpretations


c) Select a single perspective and present it as fact

The BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation, in its Scottish incarnation, chose the last one. Bias? Probably not, except subliminally …

Here are the two perspectives as I see them -


A minority of English people, about a third, want Scottish independence.

Almost half are against it.

About one in seven don’t know.


Over one third of English people want Scotland to be independent.

A little under half don’t want Scotland to be independent.

More than one in seven are undecided.

These figures are about the same as Scots polled on the same question.

Reporting on this, Laura Bicker is impeccably neutral, and her comments would fit either perspective. Then comes the next question -

Q2 Should England be independent?

YES 36% NO 57% DON’T KNOW 7%

Laura sees this as “ … a more resounding result.” Well, yes – half of the don’t knows have moved to NO.

So far, so good. But then Laura decides to tell us “What this poll teaches us …” and here the BBC moves straight into unionist high gear.

What this poll teaches us is that the myth, that the English simply want rid of us – that they the want to cut a line at Hadrian’s Wall and let us float off into our own future, simply isn’t true.”

The poll teaches us nothing of the kind, Laura - there is no such myth, except the one created by the unionist establishment mindset, formed partly out of paranoia about just that eventuality, but mainly to set up a straw man of an imagined nationalist position just so it could be knocked down.

What I believe, and what I think most nationalist believe, is that the English people, unlike the UK Establishment and the UK unionist parties, are wakening from a long, complacent sleep, in the face of the disintegrating UK democracy, the corruption of UK Government, and what has been done to them by thirteen years of carpetbagging Scottish Labour politicians of the Blair, Brown, Darling, Douglas Alexander mould, the Jim Murphy, Danny Alexander and Michael Moore new breed, and the suicidal, doctrinaire and destructive policies of the rich men of the ConLib Coalition – Cameron, Moore, Haig, Lansley, Osborne, etc.

They are not yet all awake, but 36% are, and 15% are rubbing the sleep from their eyes and considering the new world they find themselves in. That 36% has grown from only 16% not too long ago, and that is the significance of this poll: that the English people are progressively moving in the same direction as the Scots – towards independence.

It’s called a trend, stupid! I call it an inevitable historical process, the Zeitgeist – the spirit of the age, the age of power to the people.


However, BBC Scotland may have got it wrong in a brief, one-minute news item, but an extended edition of Newsnight gave a reasonably full and objective coverage of the poll, the issues it raises, and the real dimensions and implications of Scottish and English nationalism.

It was reasonably well-structured, and Paxman more or less behaved himself, but found it hard to conceal his real sympathies, not to mention his hostility – thinly - disguised, to Joan McAlpine’s calm, reasoned, highly relevant and courteous contributions, especially when she tried to place events in a historical context. In contrast he allowed complete licence to the ramblings of Rory Stewart and Michael Portillo about ‘British’ tolerance and ‘British’ opposition to fanaticism, which in their minds equates to people power and nationalism.

The analytical sections of this Newsnight special were excellent, mainly because they were a Paxman-free zone. However, it is odd that Newsnight Scotland had to be sacrificed to permit this extended edition of Newsnight to be scheduled – they could easily have dumped the Michael Caine documentary that followed, a re-hash of stuff that has been covered endlessly and tediously before.


The facts are that a growing percentage of the Scottish and English populations now want independence, and the 36% or so, when looked at in the context of the undecided – the don’t knows – is highly significant for the survival of the UK, for Scotland and England. Why?

Because this is a committed, vocal and politically active and very substantial minority, in tune with the great global movements towards people power, and the overthrow of old hegemonies and the dictatorship of money, militarism and privileged elites. In contrast, the majority are representative of a complacent status quo, not as politically and intellectually active.

The Force is with the nationalists – the wind of change blows and is unstoppable.

Saor Alba!


  1. You really are far too kind to BBC Scotland by starting from a position of their being unbiased. Increasingly, I begin from the perspective that they are institutionally biased and have yet to be disappointed.
    I do enjoy your blog and feel it is time for an expose of BBC Scotland.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. I so often feel a sense of relief when I read your view of such Brit nat spin, it's so easy t be alarmed by the MSM and its pro unionist view.

    It's going to be an ugly political war I expect.

    Thanks for your insight.

  3. I am pro BBC, David, in spite of occasional frustrations. The nationalist cause would have virtually no media coverage if it wasn't for the BBC, nor - topically - would the appalling phone hacking story and the latest shameful - and criminal - Milly Dowler revelations.

    Today, Andrew Neil did a well-deserved demolition job on the Baroness(!) who heads up the supine and ineffective Press Compliants Commission.

    Be in no doubt, when I call the BBC - and BBC Scotland - to account occasionally, I am remonstrating with a valued and mainly trusted friend that has been the voice of reason through the darkest times in my now rather long perspective of history, having been alive in eight of the most turbulent decades of the 20th/21st centuries, and politically-aware for seven of them.

    In the Murdoch organisation, from its print empire to the appalling - and terrifying - Fox News, you are looking at the stark alternative.

  4. TBH, I thought the poll was disappointing for Nationalists.

    It showed that the majority of the English are just as immune to appeals to separatism as the Scots.

    as the Herald reported today,

    "..Just over one in three support a separate Scotland, almost the same percentage as Scots who were questioned in for a survey for The Herald last month....On Scottish independence nearly half (48%) also oppose the idea of a separate Scotland, almost half as many again as the 36% who support it. "

    "The poll also showed only moderate support for an independent England, ....."

    So despite all the goading of the English by Nationalist politicians, they haven't risen to the bait.

    And the Scottish people and the English People are against Scottish "independence" in roughly equal numbers. Public opinion is the same wherever in the UK you test it, (which itself shows unity) and that opinion is hostile to "independence"

    I don't see how that can be good news for Nats unless you think the fewer that support "independence" the better!!??.

  5. I know you can't see it, braveheart, and that you neither share nor understand my analysis or argument.

    Shouldn't you consider another identity pseudonym - maybe braveunionistheart? Braveheart has connotations of Scots standing up for their rights and their country - that's Scotland, by the way.

  6. I thought the studio debate had Joan as the clear winner. Every point made was backed up by hard fact; the young Tory guy had no defense except sentimental warblings which eerily echoed the "My Dad voted Labour, so I will" rhetoric we're so used to by invoking his father as the source of his views; and the English Democrat seemed to be arguing from the Saxon equivalent of the "Celtic miasma", proffering a series of unsubstantiated assertions that really made one wonder about his grip on reality. The audience weren't much better - especially that young fella who thought England should have a say in any Independence referendum until Paxman, of all people, indicated how problematic that stance would be if Scotland were to vote "Yes" and England "No" - at which point the twit was reduced to spluttering confusion. The big surprise for me was the extent to which EVERYONE pulled back from the usual condescending insults about our finances (there was little real comment on this compared to the BBC norm)and seemed to accept that the issue was more about the idea of Independence versus a sentimental attachment to a Union (which has long outstayed its welcome, in my opinion).
    I totally agree with you that all the momentum is with the Independentistas (I live in fear that'll end up shortened to "'dentistas") who know the opposition arguments inside out, as the opposition have been intellectually moribund for decades now.

  7. M, it's not personal, y'know. I understand what I understand and you can respond as you like.

    I could be right, I could be wrong, but that's what exchanging political opionions is about, is it not? It's always better if the response addresses the actual points made, but that's up to you.

    Thanks for the advice on my nom de blog, but, as I'm not a unionist, I'm afraid it wouldn't be right for me.

  8. Thank you not only for your philosophical commentaries, but, also, for the YouTube postings: Saved for a "bean-feast" of watching on a Sunday morning in Asia (you would be surprised - or maybe not - at the curiosity levels amongst young students on the academic-English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programme I teach on regarding the unfolding constitutional story in the "UK"; not only them, but, also, government functionaries and officials).

    Please keep up the good work.

    Slan leat

  9. Thanks, David.

    The 'Britishness' argument continues to be deployed, and Kenny Farquarson has something to say about it in Scotland on Sunday today. I hope to make some comment on this later this morning.

    Currently looking at my souvenir copy of the last 'News of the World', still astonished at the speed of its fall. Fighting down schadenfreude and trying to summon up pity for a lot of good people thrown on the dole by the gross dereliction of their bosses.