British definition

Share this article
6
Have your say

BRIAN Monteith brings to bear yet another weighty argument against Scottish independence in fretting about the name of a rugby team (Perspective, 3 June). Just call them The Lions –
problem solved.

As regards the monarchy, Mr Monteith bafflingly backtracks on his general concession that it would be for Scots to decide what they want, by warning this must not extend to embracing republicanism – why not?

I remember CS Lewis (an Ulster­man but a considerable Anglophile) arguing a long time before Scottish nationalism was a real force that nobody in the UK was actually British, rather they were English, Scots, Welsh or Irish. It would in reality be very difficult to set out what characterises “British” – surely it would turn out to be just
Englishness?

Nothing changed for the ­English in 1707 and when the English sing about their “green and pleasant land” we know they are not thinking of Brechin or Dumfries.

In the English mentality there is not an onion skin between what they mean in using the terms “British” and “English”, as anyone who has experienced the company of English people for any time will soon find out. For a Scot, however, there is all the difference in the world.

For some of us it amounts to explaining to foreigners that Scots still cling to the illusion that they are a distinct people and culture, while the reality is that we form a fairly inconsequential part of the English state. For those who argue that Scottish nationalism is narrow-minded, the huge irony is that the English must be one of the more naturally xenophobic peoples in the world. This may have something to do with a long history of living on an island at risk from greater continental
powers.

Perhaps the insightful Allan Massie, who also has hinted shyly at “feeling British”, could have a go at defining what Britishness amounts to – it is certainly a huge lacuna in the
Unionist case.

Alan Oliver

Battock Road

Brightons, Falkirk