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People & Parliament Part 1 - Identities

 

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People & Parliament

Part 1 of the Full Report - Identities

 

 

1. Question 1 - “We are a people who...”

 

1.1 Sense of Environment and Place

 

A large number of groups started their response by stating that “we are proud of our Scottish identity and heritage.”

 

Pride was of place - the land and scenic beauty of Scotland - and the convivial cultural values of community. We value Scotland,” said one group from Dundee:

 

for its quality of life because of open spaces, clear air, mountainous landscapes, wilderness, wildlife and sense of community - where you feel you belong, where you can make a difference, where you count and have local cultural identity.

 

Land management, in the opinion of a group of Morayshire landowners, should have: “proper consideration ... for the well-being of rural communities, the environment and the widest public interest.” Whilst landowners obviously saw private control being the key to this objective, a Port Glasgow group reflected the view that “our national resources have been robbed,” and from Perthshire the sentiment was expressed that “land in Scotland [ought] not belong to individuals apart from their houses and immediately surrounding grounds.”

 

Concern about the land was more dominant amongst, but by no means confined to, rural communities. A Kilmarnock family, for example, was not alone in noting:

 

There is a spaciousness which can be experienced either where we live or within a reasonable distance. This space is able to help keep things in perspective and gives peace.

 

Many groups therefore expressed the hope that the environment would be protected from pollution, that any new developments would be “sustainable,” wildlife would be conserved and access to wild places kept open. A Govan group summed up their feelings saying that they hoped for “A better quality of life for all and boat races on the Clyde!”

 

There was virtually no pride expressed in Scotland’s built environment and cities even though the majority of participants were urban. Underlying this lack of expressed enthusiasm were fears or concerns about safety, pollution, stress, poor public transport and bad housing. Scots appeared to view their cities very much in relation to the rural hinterland - a perspective that would find strong resonance with such Scottish thinkers as Patrick Geddes. The place in which people felt rooted was expressed more as being the land of Scotland than its cities. This might be because the benefits of city life are taken for granted. On the other hand, rural access, especially for the poor and those without cars, is something that still has to be struggled for - as highlighted by the land reform debate. A further factor is that a majority of urban Scots are only two or three generations removed from the land. This connection remains strong in the psyche of a people who, very often, have seen urban dreams disillusioned by the post-war collapse of heavy industry - a factor which clearly pained a number of respondent groups who urged regeneration of Scotland’s industrial economic base.

 

1.2 Sense of Community and Belonging

 

Rooted in this strong sense of place was an equally strong sense of belonging. There was an evident sense of Scotland being a nation of communities and community values. Being aware of the medieval roots of Scottish sovereign identity, several Gaelic groups made statements like:

 

Gaelic was vital to the formation of the Scottish nation and has been a central component in leading to the Scottish national identity as we know it today.

 

This was a concept of identity that saw power as resting ultimately in the people - the “community of the realm.” Many groups demonstrated implicit understanding and expectations of such a “claim of right.”

 

An Aberdeen group therefore reflected what is sometimes called “metaphysical Scotland” in saying, “We care about maintaining a unique Scottish national identity, the collective feeling, the self-awareness and the radical tendencies.” The pre-eminence of freedom was often asserted: a group of Glasgow mothers saying that they “Value freedom of speech, thought and action according to individual conscience... We value tolerance and respect individual rights to be different ...” with the important qualification of, “... while still being part of the community.”

 

Frequently these values were expressed in religious language. An ecumenical group from Edinburgh said:

 

We are proud of our ... sovereignty of the people under God. We are a spiritual people with ... an environment of beauty and grandeur.

 

Some groups emphasised regional variations: a Glasgow family said:

 

We are proud of our history, with a strong sense of identity but depend on a rich array of local cultural reference points which may not be understandable to outsiders.

 

However, one group, comprising students at an independent school, evidently felt less potential for connection, saying, “As things stand at present, we see our future lying outside Scotland.”

 

Residents at an Edinburgh day-care centre said, “We are different from other countries. We have our own accent and different ways of speaking.” In asserting difference, such groups often recognised xenophobic dangers. Thus the latter group concluded by saying:

 

We are different from the English but should not hate them.

 

A number of groups recognised that the quality of their place strongly influenced how they feel about their lives. Several mentioned the benefits of being able to get away to beautiful countryside. Conversely, some of those living in run-down areas found the consequences “depressing.” As a group of Buckhaven teenagers put it (a one-time fishing and mining area of Fife):

 

We are a people who live in a dull depressing country with no opportunities of jobs [and] there’s not much to do.

 

“Many of the young have no prospects for the future,” said some Glasgow independent school students, “and often this leads to depression. However, if these problems were combated Scotland would have all the elements to become a happy nation.” Such comments show awareness of a link between cycles of poverty, community decline and mental health. The positive side of this is that it suggests that redressing poverty will benefit not only the poor, but Scottish communities and sense of wellbeing as a whole.

 

1.3 Sense of Identity (including Ethnic Minorities)

 

1.3.1 Ethnic Scots and English People

 

From a sense of place and of belonging in community derives an understanding of identity. There was a widely held sense of identity that recognised the value of Britishness (including, sometimes, the monarchy) or being European, whilst expressing uncomfortableness about relationships with England. A group from an Edinburgh suburb summed this up, saying:

 

Although having some Celtic, British and European identity we are Scottish first [and] still resent what is perceived as English interference in our affairs.

 

“I am proud to be a Scot but I am also proud to be British,” wrote a male individual. “We have a distinct national identity as well as district and local identities,” said members of a social ministry course.

 

Many groups shared a feeling that Scottish identity has long been under threat of being subsumed by more populous and dominant powers. “We feel that we’re ruled by people in England,” said a group with learning difficulties in Kirkcaldy. “We would like to keep our own identity,” said a joint Perthshire tenant’s association and crime-prevention panel, “as we feel our country is becoming too Americanised.” With obvious allusion to the insensitivity of some English incomers, an Edinburgh suburban group said, “We feel strongly about Scotland’s history and ignorant people who live here.”

 

“Identity is often forgotten,” protested a school class of young people in rural Aberdeenshire. “We are often grouped together with the English nation in sporting events ... if we win, but not if we lose.”

 

Only one group, however, went as far as to say that they “hate England.” These were young men who qualified their statement by adding, “although some of us only sort of hate you.”

 

There was considerable evidence that such ambivalence was targeted not against English individuals per se, but at what are perceived as the individualistic values of a southern electorate, especially the regime of a former prime minister and the perception that it had used Scotland for social experiments. Thus, a group of biological scientists from Edinburgh insisted:

 

We have different needs from London [and] do not approve of imperialism. We don’t want to be submitted to something like Mrs Thatcher ever again.

 

“We fear a further fragmentation of society and the reduction of our country to a “product,” said a group of Glasgow ministers.

 

In counterpoint to anti-English feeling was a strong sense of the importance of rooting out racism. Many groups seemed to be saying that while they resented being dominated and their cultural values being trampled on through the insensitivity of a globalised Anglo-American monoculture, they did not want their own values of hospitality to be violated by xenophobia. A Helensburgh group surmised:

 

Despite centuries of amalgamation we retain a sense of national identity based on a traditional regard for equality, social justice and universal education.

 

“We need to be inclusive rather than exclusive,” said an adult education group, resonating with some Glasgow schoolchildren who said, “Our reputation and making people feel welcome in our country is very important.” “We are hospitable and value to live in a safe country with a strong community spirit,” said another, “but have to be careful not to lose it.”

 

The question of identity was a vexing issue for some residents whose origin was non-Scottish. A group who described themselves as “middle aged, middle class wives of incomer oil workers in the north-east” said that they found the very sentence, “We are a people who...” to be “emotive and encouraged divisiveness.”

 

1.3.2 Indigenous Ethnic Groups

 

Indigenous ethnic groups, however, felt that their own values had been trampled on by either mainstream British or Scottish society. “We would like the People’s Parliament to realise the Government has tabbed us with “Traveller” - a name that covers a multitude of sins,” said a group who wanted to reclaim the identity of being “Gypsy” or “Romany.”

 

An Invergordon group of Gaelic learners was typical of other “Celtic” groups in reminding that “Gaelic is an essential and intrinsic element of the national identity of all Scots.” Gaelic broadcasting professionals in Stornoway asserted that this “unique and inherent component of Scottish national identity” should also prompt:

 

... respect for the rights and aspirations of other linguistic and ethnic minorities, [promoting] equal opportunities in the new Scotland for all people and their respective geographic rights.

 

1.3.3. Non-Indigenous Ethnic Groups

 

Many ethnic groups originating from outside of Europe expressed a real sense of feeling welcomed in Scotland. A group of women overseas students said, “We view Scotland as a home from home, with friendly locals amongst a multicultural society.” Jewish teachers in the west of Scotland said, “We are of the Jewish faith and identify with Scotland as our home. We see Scottish society as one which respects and values people from all religious and cultural backgrounds.” Dundee Asians, mainly professionals describing themselves as “some rich and some poor,” said, “We are people who have come from different parts of the world to settle in Scotland and in particular, Dundee... We have married either in Scotland or in India, raised our children in Scottish schools and now, obviously, some of us are elderly.” Similarly, representatives of Glasgow Mosque and Islamic Centre described themselves as people:

 

who want to live in Scotland with dignity and like to contribute for the social, cultural, economic and environmental development of this beloved land. We want to promote peace, harmony and equality in the wider society of the UK. We wish to maintain religious freedom and cultural identity in a multi-cultural society without harming others’ religious values and beliefs.

 

However, beneath this were indications of actual or latent racism. “We, as asylum seekers and refugees, love to live in Scotland in peace,” said sixteen clients of the Scottish Refugee Council. However, they add: “We feel that we have been excluded and marginalised by law in this country, and this is not fair. We would love to contribute into the Scottish society and want to feel being part of it.”

 

A Glasgow multicultural group expressed the feeling of wanting to be both Scottish and ethnic: “We wish to maintain a separate identity and culture from the rest of Great Britain and to preserve our heritage.” A group of Muslim women in Midlothian said:

 

We wish to be a part of Scottish society [but] feel excluded by the society in which we live ... because Islam is viewed as a religion rather than a complete way of life which encompasses a complete socio-economic structure as revealed in the Holy Quran.

 

The most damning critique came from an urban group of African women, who said that they:

 

feel like strangers, unnoticed, unseen, unheard, alienated, dehumanised, invisible in the scheme of affairs but visible enough for racial attack and with the fear that this may increase with Scottish independence... We feel anti-English feeling will be turned against ethnic minorities when the English are gone. Sometimes the nationalist feeling is so strong that one wonders how minorities will fit into the new Scotland.

 

Chinese workers within the Chinese community rated Scotland less highly than England for employment opportunities:

 

Compared with England, we found that there are lack of opportunities in employment field for ethnic minority communities. We hope to see more young Chinese people to take up employment outwith the catering business.

 

This group added that, “About 40% of the Chinese population in Scotland have no knowledge of what the parliament does, they are either women/men in their late 30’s and the elderly.”

 

Many ethnic Scottish groups expressed such views as “We realise we are living in a multi-racial society,” and that we “are tolerant, yet can scapegoat.” “The ethnic groups in Scotland are very welcome,” said a group of three Glasgow families, “with the proviso that they respect our culture and laws as we do theirs.” However, this group added somewhat ominously: “Our present Scots are afraid to air their views in fear of being branded a racialist.”

 

Other groups unambiguously welcomed ethnic diversity in Scotland. One group of Glaswegians said: “We are aware that we live in a multifaith society and positively welcome that fact.” A group of elderly women in Argyll said:

 

We acknowledge that there is a mixture of influences and ancestry in Scotland. We value and accept the current status of Scotland as a multicultural society.

 

But others reinforced the African women’s message, warning that, “We are increasingly aware that new prejudices threaten to replace the old as tensions with ethnic minorities increase,” and called for better education to address the problem.

 

An Edinburgh women’s justice and peace group said that they, “Aim at identifying our Scottishness in public life as civil, not ethnic - looking beyond our own horizons to welcome the stranger. We do note an erosion of some of these qualities in our present society: a growing individualism, racism (anti-English, anti-Black) and some lingering religious intolerance.”

 

Retired members of the trades union, UNISON, warned: “We have a strong identity which can defend what shouldn’t be defended.” A group of retired staff from Scottish Power plc aspired to an understanding that:

 

We are a people who should judge people by what they do and not by the colour of their skin, not by their accent, and not by the colour of the football strip of their favoured team.

 

Such sentiments, however, raise the question of what price ethnic Scots are prepared to pay really to make the “stranger” at their gate feel welcome. We must ask, for example, whether our aspirations for ethnic inclusivity would be prepared to accommodate such groups as the Asian schoolgirls in Glasgow who said:

 

Our needs are not being met and not being represented. For example, there is not a good choice for Halal eaters in school and mainstream food outlets. We always have to say we are vegetarian when we are not - they don’t cater for our needs.

 

The overall impression from ethnic communities is that they understand and value Scotland’s emphasis on community and expressed concern for the underdog, but they feel uncertain how deeply they are accepted as part of that community. Racism is something that they experience alongside the welcoming tendencies, it is something that they also see being condemned, but mostly it is unconscious in ethnic Scots and therefore latent. This constellation is well illustrated by the experience of a young graduate in one of the groups whose mother is an ethnic Scot and whose father is a Pakistani Scot. One day she arrived at work feeling upset by racist graffiti at the railway station. A sympathetic ethnic Scot colleague put an arm round her. “Don’t worry about it,” she reassured. “You don’t really look Pakistani.”

 

1.4 Values and Characteristics

 

One of the limitations of focus-group approaches is that peer pressure within the group tends to elevate the level of what is said. In research with TV audiences, for example, groups will tend to say that they want less sex and violence, whereas in practice, they may watch more.

 

Accordingly, one might have expected most of the statements in this category to be of a “motherhood and apple pie” nature. This was generally the case, and yet it was tempered with a heartening level of honest self-criticism.

 

The overwhelming self-image was, as a group of professionals from Kilmarnock put it, that:

 

The personality of the Scot is warm, friendly and hospitable. Our people care for one another and are hard working.

 

Linking their perceptions back in with the nature of place, they added, like a number of other groups, that, “The Scottish character has been described as hardy. The harsh climate probably contributes to this.”

 

“We are proud, honest, hardworking and respect our national identity;” “a friendly nation with a good sense of humour, proud of our heritage, legal system and our achievements in the world,” said two Glasgow groups. “We care about those who have lost dignity,” said one from the high unemployment area of Boghall. Hospitality, education, religion and a willingness to share and sympathise with the underdog featured strongly. “We are certainly not mean,” insisted one Edinburgh group, others asserting that, “We are proud of our traditions, hospitality, freedom, tartan, passion, spontaneity,” and, “We see and feel the great importance of community, hospitality and sense of humour.” Being Scottish is about “Poetry - Rabbie Burns ... Scottish music ... ceilidh” said a group in Grampian. After all, said a Duddingston group, “We are warm and friendly and know how to party.”

 

Youth showed a particular sensitivity about “tartan and shortbread” caricatures. “We care about how people portray us. We don’t run about in kilts,” said an Aberdeenshire group of secondary schoolchildren. A Glasgow class said, “We are often stereotyped, i.e. kilts, haggis, bagpipes... We want to be respected by other nations, i.e. England.” There was a hint that younger children identified more with the stereotypes, a Hillington primary 7 class reporting pride in their heritage, “e.g. William Wallace, bagpipes, kilts, haggis and Irn Bru.”

 

The Dundee Baha’i community called for deepened understanding of national values in saying:

 

We have pride in [Scotland’s] heritage - not just the traditional view of this such as bagpipes and tartan - but a heritage that speaks to us of the value of community, of a friendly family orientated society, of the importance of good education and health services.

 

A Greenock neighbourhood group referred to “A proud Celtic heritage, but many see our nationality in Irn Bru and tartan, which is very shallow.”

 

Some, however, felt that the stereotypes were justified. “We drink too much alcohol,” said a group from Falkirk, and we “love Irn Bru,” added another from the same town. Interestingly, of all the human-made national icons to be mentioned, this soft drink (supposedly for hard men) topped the league. When it came to macho, values, however, there were remarkably few practical expressions. These were confined to the level of “We want to see Saddam Hussein obliterated,” as suggested by three boys from a Glasgow school.

 

Many groups showed awareness of negative traits in the Scottish psyche. “We have our divisions - the inferiority complex or underdog mentality,” confessed an Aberdeen group. “We are aware of our flaws [such as] poor health record and alcohol problems,” said teenagers in Aberdeenshire. In contrast to the sense of being passionate and spontaneous, some considered Scots to be “Slow to express personal feelings,” yet “angry at injustices.”

 

“We value our directness and sharpness but we acknowledge that there can be aggressiveness that needs resolution,” said a group of Fife Quakers. We are people, said one group from Edinburgh, “Who are deeply divided but who are attempting to define themselves in a positive and inclusive manner.” A Nairn group remarked:

 

We see all humanity as our brothers and sisters... Mind you, some of us are narrow-minded, tight-fisted parasites.

 

This awareness of defects was often accompanied by a concern to grasp the thistle and bring about change. Many of the negative cultural attributes were clearly seen as being related to Scotland’s subordinate position with respect to England or a central-belt-based establishment. “We have a long history with many, many mistakes to learn from,” said a Dunfermline family:

 

We are a strong, inventive, intelligent people who can overcome most obstacles when the odds aren’t stacked against us [but] we have let a small minority dominate our lives for too long.

 

That said, there was a clear feeling that the advent of the Scottish Parliament offered new opportunities to overcome our shortcomings. “We are friendly, tolerant, creative, open, wild egalitarian, ‘all Jock Tamson’s Bairns,’ canny, generous optimistic, pessimistic, contradictory,” said a Glasgow church group, who reinforced the contradictions by adding:

 

We have a sense of humour but are dour, we travel (well), drink, dance, moan and have fun, have hang-ups about the English, and love our country.

 

Residents of Strathspey echoed many voices in concluding that we can no longer blame others for the way we are. The Parliament, they said, means that we must now “accept responsibility for our future and our actions.” After all, we are, as voices from Port Glasgow asserted, “A people who want truth, openness and honesty.”

 

1.5 - Public Sector

 

Scots clearly desire a strong sense of ownership of public services. Importance is placed upon education, health, transport, housing and law-and-order - in that order. There was widespread dismay at the decay of these provisions.

 

A group of students of rural development in Moray said, “We are engaged in a daily struggle to provide an essential public service with meagre resources.” Retired educationalists in Glasgow described themselves as “saddened as we watch our ancient education system - and hence our social and political institutions - sink year by year into the morass. Education should be the most important concern of the human race, next to organised religion.” “Education for young women” was emphasised by a group of Glasgow adult learners.

 

“Health is the most important thing,” said an Edinburgh woman’s guild, with Aberdeenshire schoolgirls calling for “better health education.”

 

“In Fife we are particularly proud that we still have free bus travel for elderly people,” said one group of OAPs. Many rural groups mentioned problems of poor public transport provision and some blamed this on the rise of car culture: “We care about buses v. cars,” said a Grampian group.

 

An Aberdeen tenant’s group said:

 

Housing is a social necessity for all and as such should be a high priority in any new Scots Parliament.

 

An Edinburgh Community Council called for “a good quality legal system giving justice to everyone and recognising the European Human Rights Bill.” Marginalised women in Glasgow expressed concern about “corruption in the police force” and the unsatisfactory nature of “the ‘not proven’ verdict.”

 

1.6 Private Sector

 

The fact that only a handful of indicative statements from question one fell into this category suggests that the private sector plays a very minimal role in the sense of national identity of those Scots who participated in this exercise. Companies had very little representation, though British Telecom did pick up on the process and use it in a separate and modified exercise with their employees.

 

Concern was expressed by those who did comment upon the private sector for the state of farming, for there to be non-polluting industry, for expansion of our international financial skills and:

 

... more accountability by large employers to the community and workforce.

 

A richer response on private sector issues is, however, reflected in section 2.7 below - responses to future aspirations for the private sector.

 

1.7 Social Exclusion

 

Many participating groups felt themselves to be marginalised by virtue of disability, ethnicity, poverty or age. “We are a people who feel they belong to Scotland,” said an ethnic group at a Glasgow women’s health centre, “however we feel alienated and isolated from the consultation process, as we are ‘invisible’ to the statutory organisations.”

 

“As women,” said a group working in community care, “ we have experienced inequality in greater proportions.” “We seek justice and equality for women,” said a YWCA group, adding that, “On a practical level we feel women who wish to rear their own children should be sufficiently rewarded by the state. Their worth in the rearing of future working generations should be recognised as equal to manufacturing, processing food, etc..”

 

The care and protection of children featured very strongly (see especially responses to Question 2). A group of 23 “incest survivors” said:

 

We want child protection legislation which is practical and effective, which does not further damage the victims through the court process and send them home to their abusers.

 

“As users of mental health services our experience is that we are discriminated against and stigmatised.” “We are concerned about the attitude of staff in hospitals and doctors to people with learning difficulties,” said an Edinburgh group. Another service-user group said that as hospital residents they were “trying to change things in the hospital to allow more freedom and more to do, and hope to move into the community.”

 

An OAP group called for “a better pension whereby other benefits would not be necessary.” A particularly penetrating critique of the position of people categorised as “ageing” was levelled by the Renfrewshire Elderly Forum, representing 1,300 members. These resented being politically represented at Westminster in a manner that they evidently find unsatisfactory.

 

An increasing proportion of the people are retired and within the group considered as “ageing”. These people are of course ordinary citizens still in full possession of their intellectual faculties. Many were the managers and “captains” of industry until they chose retirement, and now being free from the harness of employment, can be more pragmatic and more objective in their views. This group, representing as it does, a considerable proportion of the electorate, is effectively disenfranchised due to the fragmentation of ministerial responsibilities, and is not adequately represented as a group in its own right. At this time we feel that we have had the right to select our representative in parliament removed and that we are having a placeman foisted upon us.

 

Ethnic groups called for education on racism to increase the extent to which they feel included by the mainstream. A group of black and minority ethnic women in Craigroyston said:

 

We like and enjoy Edinburgh. It is our home now and we want the white Scottish community to be tolerant and acceptable [accepting] to people coming from different parts of the world. We are concerned about the education that our children receive and the problems of racism they face in schools, including bullying. We want a safe city to live in and the Parliament to look at ways children’s different cultures could be built into the teaching. We want our overseas qualifications recognised.

 

A number of groups called for action to restrict “the tolerance of alcohol abuse and the increasing acceptance of illegal drug use.” These were seen as being tied to “the negativism of our culture and denial of social problems.” Others, a much lesser number, urged relaxation of existing controls. For example, the Legalise Cannabis Campaign maintained that:

 

Cannabis was traditionally grown here - archaeologically proven at Soutra and in Fife. Also, Queen Victoria used it. We have rights under the Single Drug Conventions to traditional use of cannabis.

 

A number of groups describing themselves as privileged or affluent expressed profound concern about social exclusion. “We desire to take up responsibility for ourselves and others - particularly those who are more vulnerable,” said a group comprising a cross-section of the community in Falkland. Members of a Glasgow church said:

 

We are part of ‘Comfortable Scotland’ and want to reach out to those on the margins of society. We believe in the value of each individual, in social justice and in the importance of education.

 

1.8 Political Process

 

Many groups expressed dissatisfaction with past political structures. A group of Glasgow women meeting in the City Chambers said:

 

Over the centuries we have suffered as a people, and feel hard done by. Even though we have political freedom we are alienated from the political process. In our lifetimes we have seen the encouragement of individualism and the destruction of community.

 

An ecumenical group in Glasgow said, “We feel unable to engage in the current party political or socio-political issues which affect us due to disempowerment through a lack of education and awareness, resulting in a cycle of ignorance.” Indeed, “We are politically apathetic,” concurred another west of Scotland group, attributing this to the perception that, “many of our politicians at all levels and in all parties are of poorer quality.” A Fife group described feeling like second-class citizens and called for “Political awareness ... as early as primary school.”

 

Party politics was almost universally derided. An Edinburgh group said:

 

We are a people who historically have chosen a specific person who may be of any party or none to represent his constituents and to vote for our views, not those of any political party.

 

“We value democracy and genuine decision-making at the lowest possible level,” said a chorus of other voices. It is noteworthy that no political party groups sent in responses to People and Parliament.

 

“It may be that our awareness of disadvantage has been sharpened by the remoteness of existing central government and an accompanying sense of powerlessness,” said a Kilmarnock group. The finger was pointed more directly by a community council that said starkly, “We do not want all the trappings of the Westminster Parliament.”

 

Political education was seen as being of central importance to redress these failings. The Modern Studies Association similarly voiced “full support for the education of young people in the values of citizenship and democracy.” A group of Strathclyde University Dominicans called for:

 

... a remodelled national curriculum [in which] all aspects of Scotland’s heritage will be given proper priority, and a Scottish history taught which truly reflects the diversity of our country, including our religious diversity.

 

“We are concerned,” said a Leven group of elderly women, “about the fragmentation of society and would like the Parliament to pull the people together again.” To address this several groups were willing, as one put it:

 

...to reaffirm our commitment to the decision made in the referendum of 1997 that the Scottish Parliament should have tax-raising powers.

 

“Why not ask everyone these questions?” said a Dundee women of the People and Parliament process. “We have not the confidence for an autonomous government” said Renfrewshire students for the ministry, “but we have the potential.”

 

1.9 National Stature

 

“We are a people,” said an individual from Dundee proudly, “who have the historic ability to be extraordinary.” Of course, “We have quality football sides,” a “distinctive religious heritage” and “a rich cultural heritage with a socialist orientated working class,” according to Glasgow’s Friends of the People. They continue:

 

We feel there is a definite Scottish identity, but also want to nourish the multi-cultural aspects of Scotland and be part of Europe - to be Independent but International.

 

Such “Scots Internationalism” was a fairly common theme. About Europe, there was hardly any negative comment. On the contrary, “We feel close to Europe, not isolated on the edge,” was a typical sentiment.

 

Internationalism, however, is not the same as globalisation. “We value the distinctiveness of Scottish society in companionship with the rest of the world,” said members of a community council in Govan, “as against any commercially imposed culture of international sameness.” That’s because, “We are proud of our heritage, but are also forward thinking and world conscious,” according to a Greenock family group and, of course, said an Ayr group, “We have the best golf courses in the world.”

 

“Our younger people are moving further afield but remain proud of their country,” noted some “single or widowed women” in Paisley. This helps us to “see all humanity as our brothers and sisters,” and be “friendly, creative and welcoming to others - a cultural characteristic which is evident in the people as a whole,” say students at a Catholic college.

 

Scotland, of course, say an Aberdeen church group, is a country “from which many missionaries spread the Gospel to so many parts of the world.” We have been, says an elderly Dalkeith person living on their own, “through 2 European wars and many other turmoils and revolutions” and so we are a people, he or she believes, “with particular interest in liberation struggles in [countries like] African and South America.”

 

Independence versus the Union were two of the most divergent strands of thought on national status. Two young men in Glasgow wrote in saying:

 

We believe that Scotland is a country so contrasted to England that independence is inevitable. We believe that Scotland was illegally entered into the Union of 1707 and that Union is therefore void.

 

The effect, as many groups saw it, was a stifling of ability to express full national stature. “We are liked worldwide but lack power in our own country because we sit back and let other people control us,” said young people in Buckhaven ... it often being unclear whether in such statements “other people” meant non-Scots, upper-class, landed, professional or governmental people ... or whether little distinction was being made between these various categories.

 

“We are about to recover our nation, our independence ... after 300 years of British Rule, and will now take our place along with all the other independent nations of the world,” says an individual from a Moray community council. In contrast, women in a Glasgow Methodist church said:

 

We voted ‘no, no’ because we do not want a government who will bring changes that will affect us adversely. It appears the sole idea in Scotland is to become independent with no thought for education, health, or development priorities.

 

The bottom line of political change, says a Glasgow adult education group, is “to know more clearly how to release the talents of all. We need,” they say, “to measure ourselves in terms of who we are rather than what we are not.” That means, say young women in Aberdeenshire, “caring about the welfare of our country and how our future is determined by society today.”

 

 

 

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Summary and Contents Part 3 - Political Process Sample Participant Forms
Part 0 - Methodology Part 4 - Raw Data Related Material: The Parekh Report
Part 1- Identities Part 5 - Sources Embracing Multicultural Scotland Report
Part 2 - Vision Part 6 - Statistics Le Monde Diplomatique Article

 

 

 

 

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