I’ve spent a week in Germany since my last post. I’ve learned how little I know of German history before the 19th Century. I now suspect that the German love of order, obedience to authority and negotiated settlements in a European state comes from a cultural fear of old enemies in every shadow, ready to slit their throats. I think France was moulded by it’s rejection of authority and civil disobedience in their Revolution and their experience of being at the centre of an Empire.
Britain is a mongrel nation. Celts, Druids, Romans, Vikings, Saxons and the French have all invaded our tiny island, all the time trying to see off raids from North of the border. We sit here, surrounded by sea and the English finally made peace, first with the Welsh via Henry Tudor then 300 years ago with the Scots, by accepting their King as ours. Unlike mainland Europe, all successful conflict against our island for the last 1000 years has been of our own making. We’ve learned to carry on, regardless of religious disputes, family quarrels amongst royalty and a Civil War, by pretending to do as we are told, while being annoyingly unhelpful towards anything we dislike and blaming foreigners.
The English find it difficult now to see any difference between being English or British, so do the Scots. Scotland appears to throw in an extra level of confusion between ‘what England thinks’ and what the Coalition government of Eton educated, London-centric market capitalists have done to them; not realising that they’ve done it to most English people too.
A political commentator pointed out this week that politics is about both logic AND psychology. What are the cultural differences between the English and the Scots that might be used to manipulate Scottish emotions? What makes a Scot identify as a British Unionist or a Scottish Independent?
I believe that our biology, encoded in our DNA, comes as a package with our independently evolved cultural codes. Scots have evolved in a harsher climate and fought many battles against the English and the weather, against terrible odds to survive. My observation is that Scots like chaos and bravery. After the Act of Union, The Highland regiments have a history of fighting apparently suicidal battles for the British Army. I don’t believe this was because the Highland Regiments were considered expendable but because they were the only ones likely to win.
We ARE slightly different but does that mean we would be stronger apart? We have had a great history together, until quite recently. Conservatives believe in the natural superiority of a ruling class and of “our nation” (“We” are better than “them”; aspire to be like us. If you work hard enough, perhaps we’ll let you in.) This has been roundly rejected by Scotland. Socialism pretends we are all created equal and teaches that we are stronger together. The Union has failed because Labour didn’t deliver equality to Scotland and the Conservatives didn’t even deliver hope.
Scotland will vote “Yes” if it decides that a wild charge in the face of all the evidence of probable death is a chance worth taking for a life worth living and “No” if it thinks Westminster has learned its lesson and realises that Britain can’t survive without these passionate nutters from the frozen North, who have better historic claims to the resources of this island than the rest of us. Scots are like those ‘rare breeds’ at stately homes, which turn out to have desirable characteristics that have been lost due to the selective cross-breeding that has gone on ‘down South’.
Like Germany, I have a fear of land borders and the shadows of history, so I hope the line will stay dotted. I hope those woolly cows will stay too.