Scots take more pride in Billy Connolly than the Queen, says survey

Billy Connolly: Scots consider the comedian more representative of national identity than Queen
Billy Connolly: Scots consider the comedian more representative of national identity than Queen
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THE majority of Scots believe the Queen contributes nothing to their sense of national pride, according to a new survey of national identity, calling into question support for the monarchy if Scotland becomes independent.

Despite the high profile of plans for Diamond Jubilee celebrations taking place across the UK this year, only 41 per cent of Scots surveyed said the Queen made them feel proud to be Scottish.

Scots have snubbed Queen Elizabeth II as symbol of national identity. Picture: PA

Scots have snubbed Queen Elizabeth II as symbol of national identity. Picture: PA

South of the Border, 80 per cent said the Queen made them proud to be English, while the monarch instilled national pride in only 35 per cent of the Welsh.

The YouGov poll found 55 per cent of Scots said the Queen did not make them feel proud to be Scottish.

More Scots, 58 per cent, took a sense of national pride from the comedian Billy Connolly, who is seen as a potential frontman for the pro-UK campaign. Another 84 per cent took pride in the Edinburgh Festival and the same proportion said Robbie Burns made them proud to be Scottish.

The Highlands instilled a sense of pride in being Scottish in 96 per cent of respondents, and Ben Nevis also scored highly at 75 per cent.

The revelation has called into question Alex Salmond’s strategy of promising to keep the monarchy post-independence, against the wishes of many in the SNP.

The survey, carried out for the think-tank British Future, also revealed that more than half of Scots, 52 per cent, believe that to be Scottish, people need Scottish parents, while 73 per cent think Scots need to be born in Scotland.

However, the survey suggested Scotland also has the least problem with race, with 83 per cent believing that people do not need to be white to be Scottish, compared with 81 per cent in Wales and 74 per cent in England.

The survey results gave a conflicting message on the impact of the independence referendum campaign on national identity.

It found that the number of Scots feeling “Scottish not British” is at its highest level for six years at 31 per cent, and those feeling British but not Scottish is at a new low of 5 per cent.

However, in a boost for supporters of the Union, the poll also shows that those feeling equally Scottish and British is at its highest level since 1992 at 37 per cent.

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said the low level of sense of Scottish pride that the Queen inspired was “not surprising”.

He said: “The monarchy is a symbol of Britain, and British symbols are stronger in England than they are in Scotland.”

Others suggested that the survey might prompt a rethink in SNP strategy.

Scottish political historian David Torrance, Alex Salmond’s biographer, said: “I’m surprised by this gap, but I suppose the monarchy has always enjoyed fluctuating levels of support in England as well as in Scotland.

“What it does highlight is the SNP’s or rather Alex Salmond’s new-found enthusiasm for the monarchy, which most people assumed was pitched at middle Scottish opinion as opposed to SNP members, who are mostly republican-minded.

“If mainstream Scottish opinion is now ambivalent about the Royal Family, as this poll suggests, then the SNP might have to rethink its strategy.”

Devolution expert Alan Trench said that the issue was that the Royal Family “sound and look English despite their best efforts”.

He said: “Perhaps this Jubilee is a time to remind ourselves of the benefits which union has conferred, at home and in our international dealings, on the inhabitants of all parts of this United Kingdom.”

Mr Trench said he believed the Queen and Royal Family still tried to “sell themselves hard to the whole of the United Kingdom”.

He added: “I think they are relaxed now about the constitutional outcome as long as the monarch remains head of state.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said that he did not believe that Scotland was about to embrace republicanism, whatever the outcome of the referendum.

Mr Rennie said: “I think this survey shows that Scots are more anti-establishment and less deferential than other parts of the UK.

“But not being proud of the monarchy does not translate into support for abolishing it.”

A spokesman for the SNP said that the party was still committed to the monarchy and considered Elizabeth II as “Queen of Scots”.

But SNP ministers focused more on other aspects of the survey, particularly on the issue of whether people needed to be born in Scotland or have Scottish parents to be Scottish.

A spokesman for constitutional affairs secretary Bruce Crawford said: “Scotland is a diverse, inclusive and welcoming country, where people of all origins and backgrounds can and do feel themselves to be Scottish.

“It is encouraging that people in Scotland, more than any other part of the UK surveyed in this poll, clearly do not base national identity on ethnicity, and – as this survey itself finds – ‘a clear majority of Scots endorse a civic definition’ of what it means to be Scottish.”

The SNP’s opponents insisted that the survey showed that Scots would support the Union in the forthcoming referendum.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: “While this survey is interesting, it simply serves to demonstrate that all the nations within the United Kingdom are proud of our individual traditions and are keen to see them prosper.

“Identity and cultural tradition matter.

“Across the United Kingdom, even as we celebrate what is unique to each of our nations, we do so largely content that all of this tradition and culture is what continues to make the United Kingdom the most successful political union in history.

“Come the day, this will count for more than all of Alex Salmond’s bombast and rhetoric.”

A Scottish Labour spokesman added: “Scotland is a open-looking country proud of our past and excited about the future.

“Over many centuries, ours is a country shaped and influenced by ideas and people from around the globe.

“Forcing people to choose between being Scottish and British doesn’t make sense. The truth is that most people are both: proud Scots and keen to work in partnership with our neighbours.

“The SNP are desperate to confuse patriotism with nationalism, but they are two very different concepts. Scots are fiercely patriotic, but that doesn’t mean people want to break up the UK.”

British Future director Sunder Katwala said that the survey carried out for his organisation to mark St George’s Day in England showed that Scotland was an inclusive country. However, he said there were dangers of the country falling back into prejudicial views.

He said: “Alex Salmond and every party in Scotland have worked hard to make sure the new Scotland is civic, inclusive and not ethnically defined.

“Perhaps it was put best by the Indian-born MSP Bashir Ahmed, when he said: ‘It is not important where we have come from: it’s where we are going together as a nation’.

“This new polling shows that resonates with most Scots who want a modern and inclusive pride, but this can’t be taken for granted.

“That a slim majority still seem to think that having Scottish born parents makes you more Scottish shows that more needs to be done to create a fully inclusive identity.”