Jim Sillars seems to have started using a new Twitter hashtag
with the attached message
forward any anti Scots sentiment in English newspaper editorials or letter pages to me, please RT #indyref.
I’m afraid I can’t oblige as an Englishman (Scottish partner, Scottish kids as it happens) who’s lived in Scotland for nearly thirty years. Because mostly I only read Scottish newspapers.
It did occur to me that I could start #NatMediaWatch and ask people to send me any examples of anti-English sentiment coming from some of the supporters of the independence Yes campaign.
But that would be mean, wouldn’t it?
Anyhow, Jim might be pleased to know that in all my time living in Scotland I have only twice felt any face-to-face hostility to me as an English person (I’ve experienced some online abuse and seen a trickle of incidents reported one way or another over the years but that’s different).
The first time was when a colleague, during an evening session on a residential training course and in his cups, said in quite a pointed way words to the effect
Why do the English pronounce [a word I now forget] in a funny way?
Well, hey, if you want funny pronunciation, I bring you … well no I don’t. Because everyone pronounces some words in funny ways. And his question was hardly a matter for the then Race Relations Board.
The other incident was a little more telling.
Someone persuaded me to go to an SNP fund-raiser on the strength of the musical entertainment on offer, a well-known folk duo called … no, decency prevents me naming and shaming.
There was a bar, of course, any profits presumably going to party funds, and the music wasn’t bad at all. The two guys, who’d obviously been round the block a bit, got stuck straight into their set without any introductions in front of what I assumed was the mandatory yellow banner.
After a few numbers and a bit of banter all seemed fine. Then there was an instrumental and a slight pause. One of them approached the microphone and in a gravelly voice that spoke of years of dedication to tobacco and alcohol, a voice somewhere below the lowest of The Dubliners far-famed croak, asked
Any English in tonight?
The rest of the audience roared with laughter. A few cheered and a few banged their tables in appreciation. I kept quiet.
Trivial wasn’t it? Although, sensitive soul that I am, I did feel a little uneasy.
But here’s a serious question.
Why say it? It’s not quite on message and it doesn’t quite aspire to the high ideals of civic nationalism, does it?
And that’s the problem with the SNP for me. Lurking below the surface it’s not all smart suits and a smile for the neighbours. It’s more elemental. And not always very pleasant.
So Jim, fancy joining me in #NatMediaWatch?