Thursday, September 4, 2014

Interview with G. Wright, Resident of Glasgow

Pearl of Tyburn:  I’ll now be speaking Mr. G. Wright of Glasgow. How are you, Mr. Wright?

G. Wright:  Well, thanks.

P.T.:  Could you please explain what your British identity means to you?    

G. W.:  For me, a Scotsman, to be British is to enjoy a unique and special identity.  Most people only have one culture and one history; but we British are lucky to have a share in several other cultures, as well as our own.  I love all things Scottish, but I'd still prefer a Dry Gin to a Whisky, a Shakespeare over a Burns and a St Thomas More over a John Knox.  And despite these things being English in origin - they have become very much part of my culture - thanks to the UK.  This is part of the beauty of the UK - as to be British is to be enriched in this way.

P.T.:  What is an analogy that you might use to describe the Union?

G.W.:  Our very successful Union is like a family, in that the Nations are close and affectionate of one another, but also distinct in identity and at times rivals.  There is nothing quite like the UK, and - should the worst happen in September, God forbid - there never will be anything quite like it again. For it is more than just a bland Union of Nations - like the EU - it goes way beyond that, via having unity of language and a shared and lively history too.  The Peoples of the UK Nations are not simply mere 'partners', but kith and kin. To be British is to be part of a family.

P.T.:  Do you ever feel like your British identity takes away from or diminishes your Scottish identity in any way?

G.W.:  Unlike some, I do not feel like my British Identity is an unwelcome "bolt on" to my Scottish Identity.  For me, it is a complimentary aspect - not a rival one. Like two luxurious room in a large Mansion. The rooms are not competitors, but each is wonderful and interesting on its own merits. You can flit from one to another, or place them alongside one another. It is fascinating to see how they compliment one another.

P.T.:  What do you feel it is to be British, on an international level?

G.W.:  To be British is to belong to a Nation which has done more than any other, over centuries, to shape the modern World.  I think this is shown by the enduring successor of the Empire, the British Commonwealth.  That the vast majority of former Empire States choose to remain part of this family of friends today, is a testament to how the bonds of brotherhood and friendship have ultimately prevailed over conquest and domination.  These friendships are the real legacy of the Empire. 

P.T.:  What did you think of the Commonwealth Games recently held in Glasgow?

G.W.:  The recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow were a lesson in how blessed we are to be British, to enjoy links and friendship with so many different People and Nations from across the globe.  And the enrichment of Britain, through contact with these friends, was clearly visible - not least by the welcome presence of Men from the Gurka Rifles, at the security points! It may not fashionable to boast of Empire in the modern era, but the size of the British Empire was impressive by any standards. I believe that, one day, historians will talk of the British, the way they talk about the Romans today. And so to be British is to be International. 

P.T.:  How would you answer some of the negative charges made against the British identity by separatists?

G.W.:  Some separatist extremists try to extrapolate neo-fascism from a simple pride in, or admiration of, British identity and the United Kingdom. But in spite of this, many people continue to be proud of their British identities. We are not especially vocal about it - that would be quite un-British indeed - but that doesn't mean its not there. We have just as much to be proud of as Britons, as we do as Scots. One cannot blame keen fans of British culture for admiring the more romantic aspects of an exceptionally rich tapestry of history, as others do with the Romans, etc. As a Scottish Briton myself, I cannot help but share their sympathies!

P.T.:  What do you think has contributed to the antipathy towards the British identity on the part of many Scots?    

G.W.:  Sadly, many Scots today define themselves by what they decide to dislike - be it the English, or the Catholics – instead of appreciating the fullness of their heritage and important historical events. Many Scots think resenting these groups is what it means to be Scottish - it’s very sad. This kind of negative, or inverse identity is a phenomenon I have not encountered elsewhere.

I think in part this "negative identity" explains the verses in The Flower of Scotland which attempt to create a sensation of loss or grievance - rather than pride in our own nation, our anthem is all about whom we dislike and how hard-done-by we feel. The end result of all this is an ignorant and divided society. Most people have no real sense of themselves and are simply unthinking clients of cheap, imported pop culture. And that which is thought of as being genuinely Scottish (kilts etc) is in the main a modern and contrived caricature of an identity. 

P.T.:  What do you think of the claim that the British army used Scottish soldiers as cannon fodder?

G.W.:  The type of Scot who can seemingly see nothing but ill-will and exploitation in the United Kingdom strikes a chord of frustration with me. I hate the "cannon fodder" argument you often hear, about Scots in the British Army. It’s just not true. On the contrary, Scots Regiments have always been an important and illustrious part of the British Army. The Royal Scots were the oldest British Army Unit, till they became sadly defunct. Now it is the Coldstream Guards. And where is Coldstream? That’s right, Scotland! I also strongly dislike the bogus notion that Scotland is an English colony, rather than a partner of the English. It’s just absurd. 

P.T.:  If Scotland were to become independent, what do you think the Scottish people could expect?

G.W.:  I think people would get a shock in an independent Scotland. We would have no G8 seat, no permanent UN Security Council seat, no permanent UN veto, no major EU influence, no major global influence, no nuclear deterrent, no conventional military power, no fiscal control over our own currency, etc. As part of the UK, we currently have all of that. I don't think our coffers would be able to support the large number of public sector jobs the country depends on.

Before recent cuts started 1 in 4 employed by the State in Scotland, compared to 1 in 5 UK wide. And this is before all the extra ones needed if independent. Let’s not forget the many Scots communities, often isolated, who depend heavily on local British bases and military installations to drive their economies. All that would be gone if we split from the UK.

P.T.: What’s your opinion on the currency debate?

G.W.:  Control of our currency is another major issue that ceding throws up. We have to either take the euro (assuming we even got into the EU - not guaranteed) and let the EU control our currency, (that's going really well for Greece right now), or we keep the pound and let the Bank of England control our currency. The Bank of England currently controls our currency, but does so while taking us and our economic circumstances into account (along with the rest of the UK).

Post independence, they would still be in full control, but the Scottish economy would not feature in their considerations whatsoever, as they no longer have any duty to us. This then has grave implications for anything our Government would try to do: fiscal plans, the economy etc. Why would sane person, who was not intoxicated or under duress, freely vote to give up fiscal control of their own currency? If people think seriously, they can only credibly vote no, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens almost "by accident"! 

P.T.:  Can you please give me your closing thoughts, and what you see as the heart of the referendum?

G.W.:  Ultimately, the name of the "no" campaign - Better Together - sums it all up.  Were it not for the UK and its centuries of history, none of the constituent parts could ever have expected to have such an eventful history, or range of experiences and opportunities.    We know from the work place that working together achieves more, and so it is with the UK too. To be British is to have broad horizons.

This whole referendum comes down one major question: do Scots want to be part of a nation which helps to shape the world (The UK), or do they want to be part of a nation which is shaped by the world? No Scotsman worth his salt would choose the latter! Here's to a prosperous + proud Scotland within a happy + strong UK!

P.T.:  Thank you very much for your taking part in this project.

G.W.:  Sure, no problem.

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