There’s something awry in Scotland. The mood is changing, and nasty bigotry is becoming more mainstream. I love it here, but recently, based purely on the way I sound, I have felt judged and not welcome in the country I call home. And it breaks my heart.
I have lived in Scotland for four years, and before that I worked here for a few months of the year for four years. I represent a mix of nations that is modern Britain. My family history and name are Welsh and I represented Wales at rugby when I was 17. But I grew up in England, and was lucky enough to get a scholarship and bursary to go to a private school. So I have what some people think is a “posh” English accent.
Recently, whilst picking up some food in an Edinburgh Supermarket I was told “to fuck off and go be English somewhere else”. All for the crime of getting in the way of a bigot who wanted to walk past me in the socially-distanced one-way aisle.
One of my SNP supporting Scottish friends, who was standing next to me at the time did nothing to call the xenophobe out, and later tried to say the incident didn’t happen, claiming he heard something different. So much for solidarity and for challenging hate speech, something that wasn’t lost in his subsequent support for the BLM movement. Square that circle.
Was he embarrassed? Was he in denial being on the “same side” as that hate? Does he actually agree with it? I’ll never know. His silence at the time speaks for itself. He is part of the problem regardless, there is no doubt in my mind.
If someone can hear the sound of my voice and tell me to “go be English somewhere else” then what other assumptions and leaps can that man make about other strangers’ skin colours, genders or sexualities. If you judge others and label them based on the sound of their voice, then surely you’ll judge everyone that doesn’t look like you too.
You might say this is just one anecdotal example, but I have many more. Just as insidious, at a friend’s party on New Year’s Eve I was accused of being a “Posh Tory-supporting, Boris Johnson wannabe, English twat”. Granted, I have blonde hair and sound vaguely like Johnson. However, I am a member of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
On this occasion, the perpetrator was called out and I received an apology. But, for this educated and drunk (not that those matter), acquaintance at this party, to make THAT abusive, xenophobic, down right wrong leap is not just scary but straight-up nasty Nationalism.
The vile perfect storm of hate breeding in Scotland is catalysed and stoked by mean, insecure, chips-on-shoulders, inferiority complex Scottish Nationalists, who somehow feel threatened by “English” people.
Are the Scots really persecuted by the English? I certainly am not interested in persecuting anyone, and I believe the vast majority of English people aren’t. Most English and British people have a very positive view of Scotland.
So why is it that Nationalists think that everything that is right in Scotland is a result of the SNP and everything that is wrong in Scotland is caused by the English and the Tories? The SNP has been in power in Scotland for 13 years, isn’t it time they took some responsibility and stopped blaming outsiders for their woes?
Isn’t it also time the silent majority of Scots call this Caledonian xenophobia, or as I call it, Calexenophobia, out and act in solidarity with their British family members?
If Scotland is to become a progressive, social democracy like the SNP keep saying it is, then why don’t we all start to be an ally to the victims of the hate and be aware of the institutionalised state-sanctioned hate that has reared its ugly head in Scotland.
I’m not a Unionist, I’m anti-xenophobic, anti-racist and anti-Nationalist. Shouldn’t we all be?
Stephen Thomas is an Edinburgh-based young entrepreneur and businessman.
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