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Modern formal Highland black tie, including kilt and Prince Charlie jacket. Throughout the world, the kilt is recognised as distinctly Scottish.

Scottish national identity is a term referring to the sense of national identity and common culture of Scottish people and is shared by a considerable majority of the people of Scotland.

Scottish national identity is largely free from ethnic distinction, and it has been noted (Sunday Herald 4 September 2005) that many of "immigrant" descent see themselves (and are seen as), for example, Pakistani and Scottish: Asian-Scots. Identification of others as Scottish is generally a matter of accent, and though the various dialects of the Scots language and Scottish English (or the accents of Gaelic speakers) are distinctive, people associate them all together as Scottish with a shared identity, as well as a regional or local identity. Some parts of Scotland, like Glasgow, the Outer Hebrides and the north east of Scotland retain a strong sense of regional identity, alongside the idea of a Scottish national identity.[1] Some residents of Orkney and Shetland also express a distinct regional identity, influenced by their Norse heritage.

Contents

History

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Pre-Union

The history of Scotland as a nation state starts in the later period of the so-called Dark Age. By the 12th century, the geographical area consisting modern Scotland contained the Goidelic "Scots" kingdom of Dál Riata, Galloway, the Brythonic Kingdom of Strathclyde, the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Bernicia and the Pictish Kingdom, the latter's origin being highly contentious. The disparate cultures of Scotland were cemented together firstly by the Viking threat, and latterly in the High Middle Ages by aggression from the neighbouring Kingdom of England.

Following the Glorious Revolution in 1688, in which the Whigs and Tories of England had agreed to the dethronement of the Catholic King James II (VII in Scotland), the throne of England was offered to the Protestant William of Orange. When William landed in England with his army, James II fled to France. In 1689, William ascended the throne, and the Scottish government accepted his sovereignty too.[2] However, this acceptance was not universal throughout Scotland - Scotland was divided into a Protestant and a Catholic population. Generally speaking, the Protestants were the Lowlanders and the Catholics the Highlanders. The Highlanders, of course, wished for a Catholic King, and so wanted James VII to be back on the throne. "Jacobus" was the Latin name for "James", and therefore his supporters called themselves "Jacobites".

During the following years, William proposed a complete union to the Parliament of Scotland twice - in 1700 and 1702. However, it was not until a severe economic crisis, on account of harvest failure and the economic adventure in Panama where the Scots tried to establish a colony (an attempt which failed utterly due to fever, hostile natives and lacking English co-operation), that the Scottish Parliament did agree to a union of Parliaments.[3]

This was not a particularly popular decision amongst the Scottish population - there was an overwhelming feeling of anti-English bitterness. Queen Anne (1702-1714) had many spies in Scotland, and one of them reported[4]:

"In Edinburgh and to northwards especially, they cry so bitterly against the Union, cursing those great men of theirs that gave consent to it, that one may see fifty men before one that is for the Union, in South or North."

Despite this unpopular decision by the ruling classes of both Scotland and England, the union was nonetheless tolerated by the majority of the population of both countries. This was primarily due to the benefits it brought for each country: Scotland benefitted economically by gaining access to trade with English colonies, and England benefitted since union with Scotland prevented European adversaries from using Scotland as a base of attack against England. Moreover, it secured England's northern border.

The ruling class of Scotland were, however, careful enough to allow many Scottish institutions to be preserved within the union. The Scots kept their own Kirk, law and education. Conserving these helped keep some form of Scottish identity alive during the following period.

Early Union (1707-1832)

Jacobite Risings

At the beginning of the 18th century, following the Union of 1707, there were two major Jacobite Risings - one in 1715 and one in 1745. Originally the Jacobites were the people who supported James VII, but later on Jacobites became identified with rebels fighting against the Union. The first rising took place after Queen Anne's death in 1714. George I of Hanover succeeded to the throne, but in Scotland James VIII, son of James VII, was proclaimed king in September, 1715. James VIII was in France, but he sailed off for Scotland. He arrived at the end of the year, delayed by illness, bad weather and poor communications. James VIII turned out to be a rather incompetent leader, and he was not supported by the French King, as he had expected, since Louis XIV had just died, and Louis XV was not inclined to help him. The Jacobite Rising was led by the eleventh Earl of Mar, a former Unionist and Tory, but since George I had deprived him of his privileges, he had changed side and was now in charge of the Jacobite army.

The Jacobite risings highlighted the social and cultural schism within Scotland - the predominantly Protestant Lowlanders (and thus more inclined to be pro-Union, given more social and cultural similarities with the English) and the predominantly Catholic Highlanders. The fighting also created some deal of contention between the Lowlanders (as well as the English) and the Highlanders.

Following the last Jacobite rising, in order to crush the Highland culture (note: not Scottish culture), the Dress Act of 1746 was introduced. The Act prohibited any use of Highland Dress, and if you committed that crime, the punishment would be harsh: six month's imprisonment - for a second offence possibly transportation "to any of His Majesty's Plantations beyond the Seas, there to remain for the space of Seven Years". This Act of Parliament was not repealed until 1782. Samuel Johnson ("Dr. Johnson"), one of the most outstanding members of English intellectual life, travelled in the Highlands in 1773, and there he found that the Dress Act had been "universally obeyed".

The Highlander Regiments

The use of Highland Dress was only legitimate in the Highland Regiments, which were raised and incorporated in the British Army in large numbers during the eighteenth century. The Highland culture was male and martial - many clansmen had no other profession than one of arms, and to them the Highland Regiments were a possibility to continue their way of life; here they could still be warriors, and still wear the kilt. Indeed the formation of these regiments helped to unite the Highlanders and Lowlanders, and give them a shared sense of "Scottishness", by changing the image of Highlanders from being backward and savage, to being "the very embodiment of Scotland" (which became clearly evident during the Romanticist period in Scotland).

The Ossian Cult

Between 1760 and 1763, James MacPherson published three prose works, which he claimed were the works of Ossian, a Gaelic bard from the third century AD. The works were tales of love and heroes, much like the tales of Virgil and Homer. They created sensation in Scotland, in England and in all of Europe. They inspired artists everywhere and encouraged people in Germany and Scandinavia to seek their Nordic past; Nordic, but just as proud and heroic as the Latin/Greek past. Ossian enthralled Napoleon Bonaparte, who even brought the book with him on campaigns and on St. Helena. The cult of Ossian lasted 60 years on the continent, but in England and Scotland the excitement faded, when prominent persons doubted its authenticity. MacPherson had no clear proof to show, but persisted that he had reproduced an old, Gaelic text, written down after centuries of oral tradition. Samuel Johnson went to the Western Isles, where he discovered that the population were almost completely illiterate, but that they in fact had a strong oral tradition. Thus, he concluded that MacPherson had created Ossian from old songs, blending its with his own imagination. Authentic or not, one cannot disregard the great impact Ossian had on the forming of the Romanticism.

Walter Scott

Walter Scott wrote historical novels, i.e., novels originating in historical events, which would serve as a colourful background for the fiction of his imaginative stories. Usually, Scott is thought of as a Romantic novelist. However, he in fact emphasised that the past was dead and had better be left that way, however glorious it may have been. Moreover, Scott tried to emphasise that despite an emotional connection to, say, the Jacobite cause, one should acknowledge the benefits of the Union. In addition, one should not make emotional actions, but instead rational actions (i.e., the Union of England and Scotland would be the rational choice to support, since it's beneficial to all parties concerned, even if you were emotionally attached to a different cause).

He was a Jacobite and a Unionist, and apparently he did not see any contradictions in this constellation. He loved the Scottish - and the English - history; he found grandeur and pride in both. The Union was more than a hundred years old; Scotland had prospered, taken a gigantic step forward, culturally, economically and socially, there had been a great, mutual influence between the Scottish and the English peoples.

In 1822, Scott was asked to stage King George IV's state visit in Scotland. Scott made it a pageant, which should be a reconciliation between Scotland and England, more than anything else. In 1745 Highlanders had invaded Edinburgh and in 1822 Highlanders were to parade in Edinburgh in honour of George IV. Highland dress was worn - not as a sign of resistance, now, but as a part of a splendid show, which should consolidate the Union and the Hanoverian royal power. George IV repaid by wearing Highland dress at the Levee (even though some thought that the King was too corpulent to wear the kilt!).[5] The state visit was a great success, and Edinburgh was swarming with people, dressed in kilts, produced for the very occasion.

This leads to two interesting aspects: the dual identity of the Scots, and the fact that the Scottish national identity from now on was strongly influenced by Highland culture. Michael Lynch claims that by 1750 most of the Scots were prepared to think of themselves as both Scots and Britons. To understand this, you might think of Scotland as North Britain rather than Scotland - the difference between the Lowland culture (undeniably the culture of approximately 90% of all Scots) and the culture of the northern part of England is minimal. The real cultural difference is between the Lowland and the Highland, which is hardly surprising, considering the very different conditions of living. In spite of this difference, the Lowland gentry and bourgeoisie grabbed the chance of "reviving" a culture they had never had. The cult of Ossian had started a "Celtic Revival", but the real ignition was the novel, Waverly, written by Walter Scott and published in 1814. This cultural explosion peaked at the royal state-visit in 1822.

Walter Scott - supported by the rest of the Scottish intelligentsia - invented what is commonly known as "Tartanry", i.e., "the myth, which contains the idea of a glorious, romantic past in the wild Scottish Highland".[6]

The Victorian Era (1832-1914)

The era immediately preceding the reign of Queen Victoria until the outbreak of the First World War is considered to be a high point of British Unionism. Indeed the reasoning why no significant Scottish nationalist movement arose during this period was partly due to the good fortunes which the empire brought to Scotland, as well as the United Kingdom as a whole, but also partly due to the differences in Scottish society at the time.

The Reform Act of 1832

The Reform Act of 1832 marked a milestone in Scottish history due to the expansion of the electorate, which subsequently allowed more Scots the opportunity to make their opinion matter. However, though more people were allowed to vote, many tenants were forced to do so by the owners of the land which they cultivated, so despite it being a free choice whether one would vote or not, the subdued farmers were facing use of excessive force from the landowners to whom they belonged. The conditions of the tenants are described sufficiently by Michael Lynch, in his book "Scotland - A New History":

"Without the security of a secret ballot, tenants, it was complained in 1835, were driven to the polls by landowners like 'a heard of vassals'".[7]

In retrospect this involuntary way of voting was seen as wrong. When it mattered, no-one took notice, and the results of the elections held were valid. Lynch comments on this:

"The consequences of the First Reform Act were born of miscalculation and muddle as much as a calculated extension of the franchise to the 'respectable' classes."

This highlights that there was a clear division between the social classes in Scotland; a division which would prove to grow larger in time. Due to the differences in the Scottish society, it became unlikely that the Scottish people would unite in great national matters, since there was no solidarity among the different social layers. This, and the fact that the Union with Britain was not an entirely bad deal for Scotland, apparently made no national tendencies emerge in Scotland at the time.

Additionally, the voting system was not the only change forged by the Reform Act; the fact that Scotland was a British state was now generally accepted, and hereby a sense of belonging to Great Britain emerged and created the notion of "Britishness". That is, Scottish people were generally proud to identify as "British" as well as "Scottish", least not the social elite. Lynch comments on this also[8]:

"Bourgeois respectability linked arms with the new British state, which had emerged after the Reform Act of 1832. [...] The concentric loyalties of Victorian Scotland - a new Scottishness, a new Britishness and a revised sense of local pride - were held together by a phenomenon bigger than all of them - a Greater Britain whose stability rested on the Empire."

The Industrial Revolution

In 1837, as the industrial revolution was well on its way in the cotton industry, a trade union called the "Spinners Association", which up until then had prevented the introduction of new labour-saving machinery, had had enough power to influence the factory owners' decisions. After a strike in 1837, the trade union's power deteriorated, and industrial progress could be introduced throughout Scotland's cotton industry.[9]

Once the machines were running, a factory owner could depend on very few skilled workers to keep these machines going, and the rest of the work could be performed by unskilled labour. What the various trade unions sought to prevent by keeping the human workforce in the factories, was the inevitable outcome of the industrialisation; namely huge unemployment among the skilled workforce, because of the higher wages they had to be paid, as opposed to the unskilled labour. Unskilled labour could be paid less wages and thereby keep the expenses down, not unlike the production philosophies we know today, when companies move their production from their homeland to a foreign country where labour is cheap, and trade unions do not exist or lack power to get their demands through.

Without the trade unions to exercise the power held by them, the industry had no problems introducing technology and cheaper labour - this meant more profit and a faster production to the owners of the cotton mills, but the consequences for the main parts of the workforce was unemployment and a life at no more than subsistence level. This was a life without any kind of sufficient social support, as was seen with the disruption of 1843.

The industrialisation resulted, at first, in employment for just about anybody. The fact that the "rush" of the cotton mills passed, and technology/machinery replaced lots of working people, combined with the large urbanisation, resulted in an inevitable outcome: massive unemployment, with depression and frustration in its wake. This was what characterised the poor districts of the urbanised areas.

The Disruption of 1843

The Scottish Educational System

In Scotland there was a school in almost every parish, and the parishes were controlled by the Church of Scotland (until the Disruption of 1843). As there were no regulations dictating how pupils should be taught, and no "road maps" regarding education as such, it would be fairly easy for the New Church to establish an educational system of their own, without compromising any written conventions agreed by the Scottish government. This was also the case with other branches of the religious life in Scotland; in theory just about anybody could start a school, this would "only" take an interested crowd of people, who would make their children attend. Of course, this is very roughly put, but nonetheless this was to a wide extent what the Scottish educational system consisted of before the 1872 Education (Scotland) Act, in which all schools were brought under state control.[10]

The change from Church to state control following the 1872 Education (Scotland) Act meant an organisation of school boards, which were controlled from the Scotch Education Department (SED) which was based in London. The formation of a national, state-controlled schooling system would aid in the formation of a Scottish identity distinct from other Britons - afterall, the education that children receive will, in one way or the other, mirror some sort of cultural influence.

Social conditions in Scotland

The duality that emerged with the separation of the Church did not only raise problems concerning education; there were also a large number of poor people to take into consideration. The national Church had lost its authority concerning the parishes which had taken care of the poor, and seen to their well-being. The Free Church had to build up an entirely new organisation, in order to avoid leaving the poor to themselves and their fate. It was the church itself that took care of the poor people of Scotland; no governmental aids were provided, so the small-time business of hiring out coffin covers at funerals, together with private donations at Kirk-sessions, did not fulfil the needs of the poor at all.

For a time, the Free Church was in fact a sanctuary for the crofters and other low-paid parts of society, but eventually this was a short-term relief from the upper-middle classes, who were fast in taking over the important posts of the new church. The Free Church consisted mainly of younger people, allowing the better economic founded classes to move in on the new "territory" and take control.

This "take over" of the Free Church by the better classes resulted in a further secularisation of the social layers of Scotland. What had begun - or at least become, as the church attended mainly by the workers of the nation - was soon to be set apart from these people. It is peculiar how this diversion between the different civic groups in Scotland was manifested; even though most of the people fulfilled, or had fulfilled, a place in society.

Besides the problems in the more-urbanised areas of Scotland, the Highlands had problems of their own to handle. The Disruption had a great impact on the highlanders; they saw it as an opportunity to dissociate from the landowners and their kind - a class diversion in which the peasantry of the rural areas of Scotland found a haven free from their "superiors".

It was in wake of these massive changes in Scotland at the time that Scottish society remained detached from a sense of Scottish national identity. Moreover, Scottish society remained fragmented, though this was chiefly along class lines more so than the historic Highland/Lowland divide of the past.

World Wars (1914-1960)

In the years leading up to the first World War, several factors interacted in a way which meant that Scotland found herself on the verge of devolution. The Liberals were in power at Whitehall, largely confirmed by the Scots, and they were about to legislate on Irish Home Rule. Gaelic culture was on the rise, and long lasting disputes within the Church had finally been settled.

The economic situation from 1914-1922

Between 1906 and 1908 the Clyde shipbuilding industry had suffered a decline in output in 50% compared to 1905.[11] Also, the almost equally important steel and engineering industries were ailing. These were ominous signs for an economy that was based on eight staple industries - in order of numbers employed: agriculture, coal mining, shipbuilding and engineering, textiles, building, steel and fishing. These eight counted for 60% of the country's industrial output. With a 12.5% output of the UK production compared with the 10.5% of the population, the Scottish economy was by all means a comparatively significant factor in the British economy. Despite a bleak economic outlook, Scotland did not hesitate in throwing her sons into World War I, which broke out on 4 August 1914. Though seemingly enthusiastic about the War engagement (if this is possible), seen by the fact that Scotland mobilised 22 out of the 157 battalions that made up the British Expeditionary Force, the wartime threat to an exporting economy soon came to be a fore. Panic spread because of the fear that the War would lead to disastrous conditions for a number of industrial areas, and unemployment would, subsequently, rise. This panic soon abated, though, as the German offensive on the Western front came to a halt. In the Glasgow Herald, the MP Sir William Raeburn stated:

"The War has falsified almost every prophesy. Food was to be an enormous price [sic] unemployment rife [...] revolution was to be feared. What are the facts? The freight market [...] is now active and prosperous [...] prices of food have risen very little, and the difficulty at present is to get sufficient labour, skilled and unskilled. We have not only maintained our own trades, but have been busy capturing our enemies'."

However, this statement turned out to be somewhat pre-emptive since the textile industry was immediately hit by the rising of charges in freight and insurances by 30-40%. The coal mining was also affected instantaneously as the German market - which had consisted of 2.9 million tons - disappeared in the post-war period, and along with it the Baltic market. Also, enlistment resulted in a grave decline of efficiency due to the condition of the remaining miners who were either less skilled, too old or in poor physical shape. The fishing industry was struck, again because its main importers of herring were Germany and Russia. The War's affection on fishing resulted in an enormous flow of fishermen into the Royal Naval Reserve.

Industries that gained from the War appeared to be the shipbuilding and the munitions industry in general. But while these industries had a positive effect on the employment situation, they dealt with a production of a limited future, and when the War ended in 1918 so did the orders that had kept the Clyde Yards busy. It was soon to become evident that the War would leave the Scottish economy scarred for many years to come.

The War had seen an enormous sacrifice from the Scots with an estimated loss of around a 100,000 men, according to the National War Memorial White Paper. At 5% of the male population this nearly doubled the British average. The capital from the expanded munitions industry had moved south, and likewise the control of much of the Scottish business. English banks had taken over several Scottish banks, and those that were not overtaken had switched much of their investment into government stocks, or down south to more profitable commercial concerns. This made the Glasgow Herald, who was usually no friend to nationalism, state: "That ere long the commercial community will be sighing for a banking William Wallace to free them from southern oppression."

The War had also brought a new desolation to the Highlands. The forests were chopped down and death and migration had put an end to several industries. Schemes were made to restore the area: plantation of new forests, building of railways and an industrialisation of the islands after a Scandinavian pattern, constructed around deep sea fishery. But the carrying out of these plans was dependant on a continuing British economic prosperity.

The plans for a reorganisation of the railways were of critical importance. The newly created Minister of Transport suggested a nationalisation of the railways, with a separate Scottish region that was supposed to be autonomous. But as this scheme would put an extraordinary strain on the Scottish railways, as already seen during the War, when there was national control. This lead to an upgrade in maintenance and wages with resulting rise in expenses. A separate Scottish company would be forced to uphold these standards, even though it was only carrying a little more than half the tons of traffic, compared with the English railway. This would, all in all, make the Scottish system uneconomical. The result of this schism was a campaign headed by a coalition of Scottish MPs from both the Labour, the Liberal and the Conservative parties in which the "rhetoric of nationalism" was used to secure an amalgamation of Scottish and English railways.

It is interesting that nationalism seemed to have been used in the debate over the amalgamation of English and Scottish railways. This indicates that nationalism was considered a political weapon, and that it was also being used; and what is perhaps equally important, it appeared to be an effective weapon.

It could be interesting to go further on from here, and try to look at the economy as a factor connected with nationalism; especially as it has been indicated previously that the content of the Scottish people seems to be closely related to the economic situation. Symptoms of an economic problem in Scotland is often judged - by both contemporaries and historians - by means of comparing Scotland with other parts of the United Kingdom. The differences in achievement (that is, if the differences were negative from a Scottish point of view) would be a fine parameter for discontent. Nationalism could then be seen as a political response to the persistence of regional inequality. The political remedies to deal with these inequalities would call for active intervention by either a devolved or independent administration.[12]

Scotland had been close to a vote on devolution prior to the outbreak of the First World War, but though economic problems were not by all means a novelty, they had not been a case for nationalism before 1914. Until then, governmental interventions had been of a social character, as displayed in the 1832-1914 period, where the major issues were social welfare and the educational system. With this in mind, it would be fair to assert that actions concerning the economy were not considered functions of the government before 1914. It was only incidentally that economic issues appeared in nationalist political forms.

There are hardly any indications that the Scots were not pro Union. The Scottish electorate had risen from 779,012 at the 1910 election to 2,205,383 in 1918, due to the Representation of the People Act 1918, which entitled women over 30 to vote, plus added male voters by a full 50%.[13] But even though Labour had Home Rule on its program, and supported it with two distinctively Scottish planks: "The Self-Determination of the Scottish People" and "The Complete Restoration of the Land of Scotland to the Scottish People", it was the Unionists who prevailed with 32 seats in the Commons, as opposed to only seven in 1910. What the Scots did not know yet, was that the period following the War would be a time of an unprecedented depression; and they obviously had paid no heed to the ominous signs of the War's influence on the economy, which the consensus of the 1918 election was clearly a proof of.

The economic situation from 1922-1960

The Scottish economy was heavily dependent on international trade. A decline in the trade would mean over capacity in shipping and a fall in owner's profit. This again would lead to a reduced number of orders for new ships, and this slump would then spread to the other heavy industries. In 1921 the shipbuilding industry had been hit by the combination of a vanishing naval market, the surplus of products of American shipyards, and confiscated enemy ships.

The interesting thing is what was done in order to try to change the economic downfall. Scotland needed to plan her way out of trouble. In 1930 the Labour government had, though it was considered a purely cosmetic move, encouraged regional industrial development groups, which led to the forming of the Scottish National Development Council (SNDC). The forming of the SNDC later led to the set up of the Scottish Economy Committee (SEC). Neither of these bodies sought a cure for Scotland's ills by nationalist political solutions, and many of those who were actively involved in them joined in a comprehensive condemnation of any form of home rule.[14] However, at the same time the secretary of the committee justified its existence by stating: "It is undoubtedly true that Scotland's national economy tends to pass unnoticed in the hands of the Ministry of Labour and the Board of Trade". Because increasing legislation required more Scottish statutes, the importance of the legal and the administrative in the years between the wars grew. The move of the administration to St. Andrew's House was considered an important act, but while welcoming the move in 1937, Walter Elliot — the Secretary of State then — feared the changes:

"[...] will not in themselves dispose of the problems whose solution a general improvement in Scottish social and economic conditions depends [...] it is the consciousness of their existence which is reflected in, not in the small and unimportant Nationalist Party, but in the dissatisfaction and uneasiness amongst moderate and reasonable people of every view or rank - a dissatisfaction expressed in every book published about Scotland now for several years".

As government began to play an increasingly interventionist role in the economy, it became easy to advocate a nationalist remedy to ensure that it was in what ever was deemed Scotland's interest. As before 1914, the easy conditions of world trade after 1945 made Scottish industry prosper, and any need for drastic political interventions were postponed until the late 1950s, when the economic progress of Scotland started to deteriorate, and some of the giants in shipbuilding and engineering were forced to shut down. But even if the decline in the late 1950s meant an increasing degree of intervention from the government, there was no evidence of any other political change. Even the Scottish Council's inquiry into the Scottish economy in 1960 was specific: "The proposal for a Scottish Parliament [...] implies constitutional changes of a kind that place it beyond our remit although it is fair to say that we do not regard it as a solution".

The literary renaissance

While the post 1914 period appears to have been devoted to the economic questions and problems of Scotland, it also saw the birth of a Scottish literary renaissance in the 1924-1934 decade.

In the late 18th and 19th century, industrialisation had swept across Scotland with great speed. Such was the rate of industrialisation that the Scottish society had failed to adequately adapt to the massive changes which industrialisation had brought. The Scottish intelligentsia was overwhelmed by the growth of the Scottish industrial revolution, and the new entrepreneurial bourgeoisie linked to it. It was "deprived of its typical nationalist role. [...] There was no call for its usual services".[15] These 'services' would normally lead the nation to the threshold of political independence. So the, indeed, very well known intelligentsia of Scotland was operating on an entirely different stage, though it was not really Scottish at all. As a contrast, or perhaps a reaction to this, an entirely different literary "school" erupted in the late 19th century: the Kailyard.

Along with Tartanry, Kailyard has come to represent a "cultural sub-nationalism". One can say the Kailyard literature, and the garish symbols of Tartanry, fortified each other and became a sort of substitute for nationalism. The parochialism of the Kailyard, and the myths of an irreversible past of the Tartanry, came to represent a politically impotent nationalism.

One of the first to recognise this "lack of teeth" was the poet Christopher Murray Grieve, synonymous with Hugh MacDiarmid. MacDiarmid, both a nationalist and a socialist, saw the parochialism of the Scottish literature as a sign of English hegemony, hence it had to be destroyed. He tried to do this through his poetry, and used his own reworking of old Scots or "Lallans" (Lowland Scots) in the tradition of Robert Burns instead of Scots Gaelic or standard English.[16] MacDiarmid's "crusade" brought along other writers and poets, like Lewis Grassic Gibbon and Edwin Muir; but this literary renaissance lasted only for about ten years.

Modern Times (1960-Present Day)

The Sleeping Political Giant

Scotland had come to rely firmly on the presence of heavy industry, and the majority of common Scots shared a working-class identity underneath - or perhaps even above, as could be seen in the later (during the 1980s) attempt to create a new Scottish identity out of the common history of working-class struggle; e.g. Red Clydeside - the dual Scottish/British identity.[17] With such a large part of Scottish livelihood depending on the success of the country's industrial capacities, it is clear that a notable political force inevitably became linked with this social class; a working-class uprising would be a Scottish uprising - nationalism throughout the working-class would be Scottish nationalism in its full potential.

However, nationalism flourished only in small intellectual circles. Indeed the intelligentsia repeatedly admonished the working-class for not appreciating the fact that dissociation from Britain was, according to them, the only way to improve the situation in Scotland.[18]

The essential industry had been in great demand during the post-war period, but as Europe slowly recovered from the lingering impacts of war, old competitors became active again, while the need for heavy industry continued to diminish. Scottish industry had failed to reorientate, hence unemployment rose steadily, having doubled the number of jobless labourers by the beginning of the 1960s - a tendency which continued in spite of attempts to bring new industry to Scotland[19]

As the rest of Britain also suffered from economic recession, and thus needed to review every expense, the infrastructure of Scotland became somewhat neglected. Unprofitable railroad lines were subsequently shut down throughout the UK in order to minimise maintenance costs.

This development left an increasing number of Scots with little more than a sense of isolation and being disregarded. Dissatisfaction, not surprisingly, started growing, as the social and economical decline wore on - to somes Scots it could only appear as if central England were rebuilding its strength on behalf of its conceived provinces.

Discontent has always provided fertile soil for most forms of radicalism, including nationalism. In an economical context, this tendency for discontent to create opposition is called the "feelgood factor", and John Curtice, Senior Lecturer in Politics at Strathclyde University, has described its principal workings in the following words:

"The key to the outcome of elections is the state of the economy. If voters have plenty of money in their pockets, they feel good about the economy and will support the government. If they have less money in their pockets, they lose confidence in the economy, and will vote the government out."

Though a desire for change did begin to emerge - an inclination also demonstrated by the fact that the Scottish National Party (SNP) received wider support from the working-class through the 1960s - the Scots could hardly be said to even attempt to vote out the government (during the 1960s there were only minor fluctuations in the support for the established parties).[20] This was likely due to the unease of the prospect of confronting the central British government. A status quo appears to have been preferred to the uncertainties any changes would bring.

The reason for the apparent lack of political influence by the "feelgood factor" could probably be explained by this general absence of faith in the future, there not being any obvious ways out of the decline. There was no guarantee that the working people's standard and quality of living was not to deteriorate any further, if they sought to break up with Britain. Talk of a devolved parliament might chafe Westminster unnecessarily, potentially cutting Scotland off from vital UK subsidiaries. As for the case of independence - what was Scotland, still relying greatly on obsolete heavy industry, to live on? Total independence could pledge no promises of improved conditions, but would inevitably mean a number of new expenses, like the need for the establishment of costly institutions as military and defence.

It appears that the people at this point felt no particular ideological need for a higher degree of political independence. What they wanted was just better social and employment conditions, preferably without too much of the insecurity and responsibility that would inevitably follow the possible channelling of their discontent into a political momentum.

In 1970, however, something happened that provided a possible solution to the very real economical problems facing a potentially independent Scotland. Large quantities of oil were discovered in what would be Scotland's own territorial waters, had she not been a part of the UK. The Scots felt, more than ever, exploited by central Britain, as they saw little of the oil revenues (which primarily went to Britain), and the economic recession continued.[21] The conviction that the new oil industry might be able to support an independent Scottish nation was the cue for advocates of autonomy to launch into one of the first rather successful nationalistic campaigns. The SNP proclaimed "It's Scotland's Oil", campaigning for total independence, and their public support soared to no less than 30% of the Scottish electorate in the 1974 October election (a mere 6.4% behind the established Labour party), giving them 11 MPs in Westminster.[22] It seemed that Scottish nationalism had finally had its breakthrough, and that the newly discovered economical foundation would allow the discontent caused largely by the "feelgood factor" to play its part, making Scotland actively oppose the established government.

In the following years the nationalistic tendencies were so pronounced that, in 1979, a Scottish/Welsh devolution referendum took place.[23] With such a large number of Scots supporting the SNP, the other parties could simply not afford to ignore the issue, if they were to keep their voters. However, it again became apparent that the Scots were truly a divided people, and that there was, evidently, a rather significant difference between what the common Scotsman said and what he actually did (a Scottish national covenant demanding an intra-UK parliament in Scotland had received over two million signatures). Forced to make the choice between stability and risk, only a very narrow majority of 52% of the voters voted pro-devolution, but only 32.9% of the entire Scottish electorate turned out, and Westminster required this figure to be at least 40% for the election outcome to be valid.[24] Nationalists were shocked at the displayed magnitude of political indifference among the common voters; they had apparently failed to reach and motivate the people - whose support was all it would have taken, after all.

The poll was not as large as might be expected, and the voters were clearly torn between the two options. Hence, the possible explanation of Scottish nationalism having been kept in check largely by economical worries becomes improbable.

The outcome indicated that there was no simple, unified "struggle for freedom", and support lent to the active nationalists was gone as quickly as it had appeared. The number of SNP MPs dropped from 11 to only 2 at the following election, as the party had been left somewhat discredited after the referendum.[25] Ever since, through the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, the support for the nationalists remained low; in fact the SNP never got more than 3 MPs since that fatal election,[20] apart from the general election of 1997 in which they achieved 6.

A number of possible explanations for the Scots discarding devolution in the 11th hour, in spite of most people expecting a clear majority in favour,[22] have been suggested. It is possible that the SNP with their separatist course had frightened supporters of a slower dissociation with Britain, thus - again - invoking the fear of a self-governed Scotland standing alone (even in spite of the expected oil revenues). Perhaps a more likely explanation might also lie in the fact that in order to become an independent country, the Scots would need - oil or no oil - to politicise the pseudo-nationalism they had relied on for so long. Or rather: they would need to abandon it altogether, they would have to shed the secure (even if forged) tartan-image - established through Tartanry and Kailyard, and reinforced by the tourist ideas of Scotland held by foreigners as well as by the Scots themselves - replacing it with a more mature form of identity.[26] Moreover, they would have to give up the conventional idea of England being the ultimate foe causing all the problems, and start governing instead of girning, with all the responsibilities this brings.

Devolution

Independence in Europe

Many Scottish nationalists have caught sight of a new way of trying to achieve status of an independent nation, by means of the European Union (EU). The goal is to gain "Independence in Europe", as the catch phrase of the campaign launched by the SNP goes,[27] and it appears that the EU then becomes instrumental in the "struggle" (or, rather, passive demand) for a higher degree of independence; an accessory for dissociation with Britain.

Cultural icons

Cultural icons in Scotland have changed over the centuries, e.g., the first national instrument was the Clarsach or Celtic harp until it was replaced by the Highland pipes in the 15th century.[28] Symbols like the tartan, the kilt and bagpipes are widely but not universally liked by Scots; their establishment as symbols for the whole of Scotland, especially in the Lowlands, dates back to the early 19th century. This was the age of pseudo-pageantry: the visit of King George IV to Scotland organised by Sir Walter Scott. Scott, very much a Unionist and Tory, was at the same time a great populariser of Scottish mythology through his writings.

Further reading

  • Abstract of Constructing National Identity: Arts and Landed Elites in Scotland, by Frank Bechhofer, David McCrone, Richard Kiely and Robert Stewart, Research Centre for Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Cambridge University Press, 1999
  • Abstract of The markers and rules of Scottish national identity, by Richard Kiely, Frank Bechhofer, Robert Stewart and David McCrone, The Sociological Review, Volume 49 Page 33 - February 2001,
  • National Identities in Post-Devolution Scotland, by Ross Bond and Michael Rosie, Institute of Governance, University of Edinburgh, June 2002
  • Abstract of Near and far: banal national identity and the press in Scotland, by Alex Law, University of Abertay Dundee, Media, Culture and Society, Vol. 23, No. 3, 299-317 (2001)
  • Abstract of Scottish national identities among inter-war migrants in North America and Australasia, by Angela McCarthy, The Journal of Imperial & Commonwealth History, Volume 34, Number 2 / June 2006
  • Scottish Newspapers and Scottish National Identity in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, by IGC Hutchison, University of Stirling, 68th IFLA Council and General Conference, August 18-August 24, 2002
  • PDF file from psych.lancs.ac.uk: Vernacular constructions of ‘national identity’ in post-devolution Scotland and England, by Susan Condor and Jackie Abell, to appear in: J. Wilson & K. Stapleton (Eds) Devolution and Identity
  • PDF file from essex.ac.uk: Welfare Solidarity in a Devolved Scotland, by Nicola McEwen, Politics, School of Social and Political Studies, University of Edinburgh, European Consortium for Political Research Joint Sessions, 28 March - 2 April 2003

References

  1. ^ Lynch, Michael (2001). The Oxford Companion to Scottish history. Oxford University Press. pp. 504–509. ISBN 0192116967. 
  2. ^ Bingham, Caroline: "Beyond the Highland Line", Constable and Company, 1991 - p. 126
  3. ^ Lynch, Michael: Scotland - A New History, Pimlico, 1992 - p. 307-309
  4. ^ Brander, Michael: "The Making of the Highlands", Constable and Company, 1980 - p. 85
  5. ^ Brander, Michael: "The Making of the Highlands", Constable and Company, 1980 - p. 155
  6. ^ Thomsen, R. C.: "Tartanry", Aalborg Universitet, 1995 - p. 24
  7. ^ Lynch, Michael: Scotland - A New History, Pimlico, 1992 - p. 392
  8. ^ Lynch, Michael: Scotland - A New History, Pimlico, 1992 - p. 358
  9. ^ Fraser, W. Hamish and Morris, R. J.: People and Society in Scotland - Volume II, 1830-1914, John Donald Publishers, 1990 - p. 384
  10. ^ Fraser, W. Hamish and Morris, R. J.: People and Society in Scotland - Volume II, 1830-1914, John Donald Publishers, 1990 - p. 291
  11. ^ Harvie, Christopher: "No Gods and Precious Few Heroes", Edinburgh University Press, 1993 - p. 1
  12. ^ Campbell, R. H.: "The Economic Case for Nationalism" from Rosalind Mitchinson: The Roots of Nationalism: Studies in Northern Europe, John Donald Publishers, 1980 - p. 143
  13. ^ Lynch, Michael: Scotland - A New History, Pimlico, 1992 - p. 428
  14. ^ Campbell, R. H.: "The Economic Case for Nationalism" from Rosalind Mitchinson: The Roots of Nationalism: Studies in Northern Europe, John Donald Publishers, 1980 - p. 150
  15. ^ Nairn, Tom: The Break Up of Britain, Low and Brydone Printers, 1977 - p. 154
  16. ^ Thomsen, Robert Christian: Tartanry, Aalborg Universitet, 1995 - p. 77
  17. ^ Osmond, John: "The Divided Kingdom", Constable, 1988 - p. 93
  18. ^ Gallagher, Tom: "The SNP and the Scottish Working Class" from "Nationalism in the Nineties", Edited by Tom Gallagher, Polygon, 1991 - p. 115
  19. ^ Lynch, Michael: "Scotland - A New History", Pimlico, 1992 - pp. 441-443
  20. ^ a b http://www.bbc.co.uk/election97/background/pastelec/elecsco.htm
  21. ^ Lynch, Michael: "Scotland - A New History", Pimlico, 1992 - p. 446
  22. ^ a b Pugh, Martin: "State and Society - British Political and Social History 1870-1992", Arnold, 1994 - p. 293
  23. ^ Lynch, Michael: "Scotland - A New History", Pimlico, 1992 - p. 447
  24. ^ Osmond, John: "The Divided Kingdom", Constable, 1988 - p. 71
  25. ^ Lynch, Michael: "Scotland - A New History", Pimlico, 1992 - p. 448
  26. ^ Thomsen, Robert Christian: "Tartanry", Aalborg Universitet, 1995
  27. ^ http://www.snp.org.uk/library/p-europe.htm
  28. ^ Farmer, Henry George (1947): A History of Music in Scotland London, 1947 p. 202.

See also


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