Saturday, 5 September 2015

The melting pot melts nationalism


One of the things I remember best about living in Cambridge was that it was busy. Sometimes I would watch cars queuing for an hour and more to get into a car park. When I went into London on the train I noticed that we passed villages and towns continually. There hardly seemed to be a gap. I never could quite bear to be in London for more than a few hours. The contrast for someone from rural Aberdeenshire was just too great. When I travel home from Aberdeen now I see emptiness all around me. Villages are relatively rare and separated by miles of fields. Whenever I’ve flown over Scotland and looked down, my immediate impression is that there’s nothing there but mountains. Only as the plane descends can I actually see examples of human habitation.

Why should it be that England is so densely populated, while Scotland is so sparsely populated? There are historical reasons for this. There are geographical reasons. There are reasons to do with climate. The vast majority of Scotland’s population lives along a line that extends from Glasgow to Edinburgh and then up the coast to Aberdeen. If that thin strip were to disappear Scotland would have almost no population at all. We’ve all chosen to live in the parts of Scotland that are most fertile and where there is the most in the way of natural resources. But compared to the world as a whole even the more remote parts of Scotland could sustain far more population than they do.

It is easy to find examples of countries which endure difficult climatic conditions with hugely more population than Scotland. Chad for example has over 12 million people. Israel has over 8 million. If a country made up largely of desert can sustain so many people, then clearly Scotland could. Each little Scottish island could have a large town. With hard work even the most marginal land in the Highlands could be made productive. After all, if they can grow plants in the Negev desert, there’s a hardly anywhere in Scotland that ought to be less productive.

There is an inequality in the UK whereby some people have to live where it is densely populated while others live where almost no-one else lives at all. What could we do to remedy this? We could start by encouraging people to move from those parts of the UK that feel full to those parts of the UK that feel empty. Unfortunately it obviously wouldn’t be easy to get people to move. They are free to do so at the moment and if anything more people tend to want to leave Scotland than arrive.

This is where the UK Government could play an important role. If people from the rest of the UK don’t want to live in Scotland, they could be encouraged. New towns could be built in the Highlands with tax breaks for businesses and people who chose to live there. Communications could be improved and made cheaper. If the UK Government set itself a goal of doubling Scotland’s population, it would both benefit Scotland and England. England would feel less full, while land that is barely used in Scotland would be made productive.  Scotland’s economy would benefit vastly from this new influx of people. An economy is really only the people working in it. Growth happens because these people have ideas, put them into practice and interact with each other.

The SNP have been keen to show that they are in favour of immigration. But why be so half hearted about it? There are millions of people already in the UK who could move almost immediately to Scotland given the right conditions. There is a great inequality in the UK that we have a duty to amend. England is densely populated while Scotland is sparsely populated. Scotland needs people and there is a ready supply of them right on our doorstep.

Let’s imagine if five million people moved to Scotland from other parts of the UK in the next few years. What affects would this have on Scotland? Well where I live in Aberdeenshire, we’ve already had quite a lot of people moving from other parts of Scotland, the UK and the rest of the world. These people have changed the nature of rural Aberdeenshire, from the place I remember from my youth. The Doric language is spoken less frequently, because the majority accent and language in schools is from elsewhere. In general, whereas before the oil came nearly everyone could trace their ancestors to the Vikings, now we are much more mixed and cosmopolitan. Many different accents are heard. It has involved the loss of something that was typically North East, but we have gained also. The benefits in terms of economy and jobs are obvious to anyone who comes here.

Imagine if we could move five million people from England to Scotland. Think of the benefits. We would of course have to adapt somewhat to their culture and attitudes. But we would rapidly find out that people everywhere are more or less the same. People born in England would marry people born in Scotland and soon we’d all be mixed together.

Such a large transfer of population would no doubt also have political effects. The people least likely to vote for independence are people from the other parts of the UK. The reason for this is obvious. Who wants to vote to turn themselves into a foreigner in the land of their birth or rather to turn the land of their birth into a foreign country? There are exceptions to every rule of course. There are English people who turn out to be more Scottish than the Scots. There are English wives who find it easier to agree with their nationalist husbands. There are people on the far left who think that breaking up the UK is a small price to pay if only we can introduce socialism in a part of it. But other things being equal people from the rest of the UK who come to live in Scotland are overwhelmingly liable to vote for the UK to remain together.

But the Scottish nationalists can hardly object to five million people from the rest of the UK coming to live in Scotland. After all if this were to happen the SNP would consider these people to be as Scottish as you or me. Civic nationalism does not allow us care about where someone is from, just where they are now. The downside for the Scottish nationalists of, course, is that if there were such a mass movement from the south it would tend to swamp Scottish nationalism. The most likely people to vote SNP are those who feel themselves to be exclusively Scottish. But as more and more people entered Scotland from the rest of the UK, this feeling of being Scottish and not British would be diluted and in time might cease altogether. Union Jacks might be flown all over the places that have been newly settled. God Save the Queen or King might once more be played even in Glasgow and Dundee. Everyone might stand up.

Here is one of the benefits of us all mixing together in the melting pot. It makes ideas like nationalism seem quaint and from a time when everyone in Scotland could trace their ancestry back to the Culloden or even Bannockburn. It wouldn't be long before those who sang about a "land that is lost now" would realise that it indeed was lost. At this point no doubt they would cease singing.  


46 comments:

  1. I've been thinking this for a while. Mass movement of people into Scotland from England and the rest of the world would dilute and marginalise Scottish nationalism.

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    1. My point is that not so much about people moving from the rest of the UK to Scotland. This may or may not be practical. Rather it is that I strongly suspect the SNP are not remotely in favour of large scale movements of populations into Scotland. They may pretend they are, but give them the example of 5 million moving from England and I suspect most Nats would be absolutely horrified. It's rather easy however to be wildly in favour of something that isn't going to happen. Few people from elsewhere want to move to Scotland. Far too cold.

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    2. Perhaps the crisis in the Med offers us an opportunity. Take a large proportion of the asylum seekers and send them - not to overcrowded England - but to Scotland. These people will be grateful to the British state for rescuing them and providing a decent standard of living and will vote to maintain the British state.

      For most of my life I have been opposed to mass immigration but here is a circumstance in which it could actually strengthen national cohesion - and wee nippy can hardly complain as she has been stamping her feet demanding the UK government do something about the refugees.

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    3. Aldo, asylum seekers get access to public funds and they get permission to work but they do not get a vote so wee nippy need not worry about them as each one to her is additional cash via Barnett.

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    4. Presumably they would eventually become naturalised British citizens. In time for any future referendum, probably - which will be years away, if it ever happens at all.

      I'm just throwing it out there as a possibility. Germany has taken in 600,000 people - a staggering number. Even half that amount sent to Scotland would change our voting demographics forever.

      But instead of nationalism being the problem, it would be the Islamification of Scotland. I think I probably hate the nationalists a wee bit more, at the moment, lol.

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    5. After 4 (maybe 5) years they get a right to apply for citizenship but that right implies no obligation on The Home Office to accept the application.

      Personally Id rather have wee nippy and her flock of sheep any day to turning Scotland into Bradford.

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    6. I know, I know. I'm not thrilled by the thought of it either. But it is amusing to think of nippy and co having to look all progressive and left wing and welcoming, all the while knowing their cause is beingkilled off.

      But it's like extreme chemo for a dose of the flu. We'll beat these erseholes with reason.

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    7. Thing is though The Home Secretary can grant citizenship on bulk to whoever she likes so if minded she could simply make British Citizens of the best of the bunch in the UN camps and I favour those law abiding ones over those law breakers that are ignoring our laws and just going to whatever EU country they like. 10% of Syrian's are Christians so its a safe bet most of these are already out in refugee camps.

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    8. Its definitely worth consideration. By my calculations my earlier suggestion of 300,000 immigrants would mean the SNP have to secure more than 54% of the vote of those already here to win a future indyref. Not impossible but very difficult. A real uphill struggle.

      I'm bored with the SNP. I want the government to nuke them somehow. Deep in the bowels of tory central office, I'm sure some of this stuff is being quietly considered.

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    9. HM Government is taking refugees from only the UN camps, if that's code for grabbing non-Muslims I dont know but the cynic in me would say so and Sturgeon is after all deciding that Scots on housing waiting lists are going to be waiting much longer to accept these folk. I'm sure Cameron will call her bluff and dump 10,000 on her.

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    10. Hopefully! I've noticed a few of the sheep going nuts over this on facebook. These feckers want to take my national identity but go off their heads when a refugee might take their council flat. It would be poetic justice to drop 10,000 Syrian refugees on their heads. They claim to be socialists. Fine. Be prepared to both give/share as well as take, you vacuous cnuts.

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  2. I live in Scotland (Fife ) ,the SNP wants Scotland to fail , so they can occupy the ruins .

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    1. Fife's referendum vote was 55-45 to NO, almost exactly the same as the national result. They should probably do all their polls, surveys etc there.

      Yep, the SNP aren't too bothered about the future of Scotland. They'll be the new establishment, lording it over us, and if the great unwashed should attempt anything so uppity as retribution against those who destroyed their standard of living and national identity, the leading lights of the SNP will drop their beloved Scotland like a hot potato and head to England.

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    1. It takes one to know one, Peter.

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    2. What would be the pull factor Effie ? A better life in Scotland ? Surely that complicates your own argument

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    3. How so? Scotland inside the UK does not equal Scotland outside of the UK.

      If I could get my friends and family out of Scotland, I would encourage independence here. The moment when the masses discover they have been conned will be pure gold.

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    4. Unless you're suggesting forcible relocation on an industrial scale - which is spookily Stalinist - the only people likely to be interested in relocating to Scotland through choice are those already well-disposed to Scotland either emotionally, culturally or politically. Your being a tad presumptive about their politica

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    5. Tax incentives. The offer of cheap housing. Business friendly policies....

      The greatest fear for the SNP is that their audience will shrink to an inconsequential number. We should now do all we can to achieve that. Yes, even taking thousands of refugees from the middle east / africa.

      The SNP must be stopped.

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    6. What makes you think that new people would not support the SNP. It's as if you believe only Scot's are taken in as the rest are too canny to be suckered. One only has to see the popularity of the SNP in working class areas in England during the national TV debates or the renewed appetite of Labour supporters on the Corbyn bandwagon to see that popularity doe not seem to be constrained by borders.

      Anyway Aldo you had them beat already in 2021, not sure why you are worried.

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  4. Some fascinating reactions to this blog from the nationalists. One person suggested that I was advocating cultural genocide. Others reacted with their usual mix of fury and lack of understanding.

    Let's be clear. The prospect of 5 million people moving from England to Scotland is precisely nil. No-one, but no-one has put this in a political manifesto. This blog is a thought experiment, no more. It sets a trap. And guess what all those going nuts about it, just fell in the trap. Thanks folks. Q.E.D. and all that.

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    1. I see, its the 'I'm only joking' defence. There is nothing actually stopping this happening today. The problem for you and your posse Effie is that they jump on it as an SNP defeating strategy when in fact its probably the opposite. People would come here to escape the London dominated situation down south, you don;t think their eyes would be opened.

      Sure I'll move from Surrey to Kilkreggan but if needed I'll block Trident as its probably long term good for my health and my house price.....

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    2. Does that mean we get 120 seats at Westminster then ?

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  5. Fascinating scenario Effie. On a smaller scale, Scotland is indeed changing in some ways due to immigration. The demographics of Glasgow, for example, will be different in 20 years - the African churches are growing, prospering, and attracting more locals to their congregations (the more established evangelical congregations seem to be growing also). Such congregations tend to be socially conservative, but also devoted to charitable work.

    There will certainly be more Muslims, but Glasgow's (indeed Scotland's) Muslims do not form a homogenous bloc.

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    1. Everywhere changes when there is immigration. There's lots to like about this. But let's not pretend that immigration has long term consequences for all of us. Scotland could easily take 5 million people from elsewhere. We have room. But when I present this idea to the Nats, they are horrified. Beyond tokenism the one thing they don't want is for more people from elsewhere to come to Scotland. The horror, the horror, imagine if 5 million of them were from England!

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    2. But what would the pull factor be for those individuals ? Your contribution to fantasy future Scotland doesn't horrify me at all as an SNP voter. If individuals have decided freely to come to Scotland then they already have an emotional attachment. Let them come and contribute

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  6. One problem for the nationalists is how to combine a modern progressive view with the more hairy-arsed opinions of the past, to which they are very much attached. The so-called 'Declaration' of Arbroath, for example, rejoices in the ethnic cleansing of the Britons from Strathclyde, and the genocide of the Picts (real history was more complex of course, but the framer of the letter wasn't into diversity of any sort).

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  7. Brilliant post, and though-provoking comments above.

    Taking on board, Effie, that you say it's just a though experiment, I can't help but wonder about the logistics of this, and the current logistics say that it simply cannot happen with the SNP controlling Scotland, as they would run a country mile from any collegial dealings with the UK Government, and cannot afford to push the demographics further out of their favour. The only way this could happen is if the same Unionist party controlled both Parliament and Holyrood, and came up with a joint programme - eg, the UK Gov allowing investment in Scottish new towns to be exempt from corporation tax; the Scottish Government legislating for said new towns, providing a fast-track planning system for each, and incorporating Enterprise Zones in each. This would be an incredibly cheap but effective means of turbo-charging the construction sector, as well as ramping up the population and taking pressure off southern England.

    [This is, incidentally, the type of thinking that should already be taking place on a detailed level in order to mitigate the collapse of North Sea Oil. But I can almost guarantee that this will not be happening, for the simple reason that it is an article of faith for the SNP that the oil will miraculously last forever; and if they were to ever acknowledge that it won't - which would be implicit in such contingency planning - their entire case, the case which they have been pushing for decades, would be destroyed.]

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    1. Yet it was London Labour party who ruled out any coalition with the SNP ate Westminster....

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  8. Good plan. However we'd just be replacing one nationalism with another one. English/British instead of Scottish.

    A more ambitious and far sighted plan would be to get China to build and populate a number of enterprise cities throughout England etc. 100 million new citizens. Nationalism killed stone dead.

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  9. Good plan. However we'd just be replacing one nationalism with another one. English/British instead of Scottish.

    A more ambitious and far sighted plan would be to get China to build and populate a number of enterprise cities throughout England etc. 100 million new citizens. Nationalism killed stone dead.

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    1. Yes because England would be open to 100M foreigners. I see what plan you are hatching there and I think it would be popular lol

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    1. Housing for double the population, not to mention the transport nonsense ? Why not just suggest we move 5M to the moon.

      We already have a large number of 'white settlers' from down south. Mostly economic migrants who move up north on the back of government subsidised house price inflation in the southern counties to snap up hotels,local housing and small businesses. Inflating house prices locally and distorting the local economies. One can hardly watch Scottish Television without hearing a BBC accent speaking for the local community.

      The last time I read it was almost 1 in 10 who identified themselves as English but lived in Scotland. Mostly I may without any issue at all despite what you might be told by the usual nutters.

      Did the Germans not try this 'Germaniszation' already or more recently the Russians in Ukraine or even the English in Ireland ? We've already had MP's suggesting annexation of Islands and even the area of Coulport/Faslane .... Like a British Guantanimo.

      You folks get madder and madder but it is entertaining.

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    2. Sauce for the goose and all that.

      England has absorbed the great majority of all immigration into the "UK"; perhaps its time Scotland took her share, in the national interest.

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    3. 10% of our population are English......

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    4. And how visibly English are the English in Scotland. Do they insist the locals abandon the flying of their national flag so as to not risk offence, or moan vociferously about the Scottish national anthem?

      Perhaps the Scots are just louder and more nationalistic in general...

      http://www.scotsman.com/news/the-english-town-that-s-truly-scottish-1-465894

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    5. I would say the impression I have is that the English are overly represented based on how many non local accents I hear on TV, usually speaking for the local community or in some Senior position.

      Maybe if you lived next door to a neightbour with 10x as many kids who piped your TV to you and made sure his news was up first then you'd get the gist of what I mean.

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    6. "Non-local accents"? You're such a little Scotlander! You should now realise that Scotland is part of a wider world, and you should welcome the progressive, modern, multi-cultural Scotland you now live in.

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    7. Clearly as far as you are concerned this multi culturalism and openess does not extend to Corby.... you really are hilarious.

      We do know that as far as you Westminster is concerned it doesn't extend to Syrian refugees of course.

      I'm very relaxed about the multiculturalism in Scotland, my city(Glasgow) is a much brighter and more colourful place for the mix of people there.

      My concern is the mono culture that Anglicization brings but you won't of course recognise that..

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    8. "Mono culture"? "Anglicization"? What Anglicization would that be?

      As for multi-culturalism in Glasgow, am I to infer then that you don't mind "non-local" accents as long as they aren't English?

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    9. Spoken like a man who knows nothing about the place.

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    10. As I predicted you don't recognise Anglicization as I said.....

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  11. Aberdonian, pro indyscot... The more the merrier, it would be great for Scotland. We might even end up with a great national football team as well. hehe.

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  12. Ps: If it killed independence dead then so be it. :p

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