Being an Englishman with Scottish parents, I identify with English national feeling, while having some understanding of the Scottish national identity and its distinct perspectives. The English and the Scots have different “bile” and it’s no surprise that we English often don’t really get the Scottish perspective.
One could say that the English have more of a “big country” mentality. This gives us a certain confidence and a bull-headedness but sometimes also an insensitivity to smaller nations. Scotland has more of a “small country” mentality – more open to influences from other nations, but also a suspicion of the power wielded by its large neighbour south of the border.
Obviously, I am generalising massively but the point is, with open dialogue, we can understand better what is going on underneath our skins when disagreements arise. It’s not just about intellectual debate, it’s also about feelings. And that includes prejudices, negative attitudes and hurts – stuff that professional politicians can’t easily express.
Recent British Prime Ministers have apologised to various nations for historical injustices perpetrated by Britain e.g. the Irish potato famine, the massacre at Amritsar. This is good. But it’s not enough. How much easier would it be for countries to move on from their painful pasts if their aggressors were willing to enter into respectful dialogues about the facts of history and the feelings generated? What better “practice” could we in England and Scotland have than to have this dialogue between our own nations first?
I’ve wondered why I can’t find anywhere on the Net a forum for English and Scots to debate respectfully and sensitively how we feel about each other. It seems like a gap in the market and I think there is a big need for it at the moment in the lead up to the referendum and in its aftermath.
If anyone is interested in taking this idea forward, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you