Neil Oliver: 'My war of attrition with Scottish nationalists'

Historian and broadcaster Neil Oliver has spoken out about his “war of attrition” with a section of Scottish nationalists and said he would continue to stand up to bullies in order to set an example to his children.

Neil Oliver will step down as President for National Trust for Scotland later this month and said he was unable to speak freely about issues while holding the position, given the potential damage to the reputation of the organisation. PIC: NTS.

Mr Oliver has come under regular attack by online commentators since he came out to support the Union in 2014, with criticisms intensifying after he described the prospect of a second independence referendum as a “cancerous presence” and Alex Salmond as a “round wrecking ball of a man".

Mr Oliver, in an interview with the Mail on Sunday, said he felt he has become a “lightning rod” for nationalists and described the vitriol as ironic given he had held “very middle of the road” views all his life.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He added: "I feel as if I’m in an entrenched position in a war of attrition.

"Since 2014, I’ve been a lighting rod for the nationalists because I spoke up in favour of the United Kingdom.

"It’s become an article of faith now that if you’re truly Scottish you would vote for independence and therefore if you’re in favour of the continuation of the United Kingdom then you are not Scottish.

Read More

Read More
Neil Oliver to stand down from National Trust for Scotland role

"That’s just become a binary position that’s being pushed by a section of the population. But I grew up British and Scotish. I never gave it a second thought.

Most recently, Mr Oliver was condemned on social media after describing his “mortifcation and heartbreak” that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his family appeared to have cut short their holiday in Applecross, Wester Ross, because they ‘felt unsafe’ after pictures of their holiday home appeared in a newspaper.

He said: “With Boris Johnson, no one except him and his own people know why he left Scotland early to return to London.

"But there was certainly a perception that he’d been scared or chased out of Scotland and I thought ‘I don’t want even that suggestion about this country’.”

Mr Oliver is due to stand down as President of the National Trust for Scotland later this month after three years in the post.

He said that during is tenure he felt he could not speak freely on issues that mattered to him given the potential damage to the reputation of the organistion.

Mr Oliver said: “I couldn't say anything as me.”

Mr Oliver, who lives in Stirling with his wife Trudi and their three children, said some of the comments made about him had been “poisonous” – with many of them about his appearance.

Mr Oliver added: “I get endless comments about my hair or about my face or the way I walk or the things I do on TV and a lot of it is just vindictive, personal attack. I just won’t give into it.

"The longer it goes on and the more vicious it gets, the more obliged I feel I have to stand up to it.

"When I feel like I am being confronted by bullying, I don’t feel I can credibly say to my kids they have to stand up to bullies unless they see my doing it too.”

A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.scotsman.com/subscriptions now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Joy Yates

Editorial Director