Why it’s time for Scots abroad to speak up

A guest post by Christopher Carnie

solidarityWe, the Scots who have chosen to leave, do not get a vote in the Referendum. It is the people who live in Scotland who will vote on September 18th. So why speak up? Who are we, the offshore Scots, to talk of the Referendum? Why should our voices join the clamour for Yes?

There will be many of us with our own personal, emotional Scottish love stories (I have one) who will want to speak. But there are at least four more substantial reasons why we should speak up in solidarity with Scotland;

In the Catalan village in which I live there are 1,200 inhabitants. In February around 300 of us, a quarter of the village population, dance Les Gitanes, the traditional Carnival set dances. It’s like dancing the Dashing White Sergeant or Strip the Willow, so when I arrived here sixteen years ago I joined the dance. I always wear tartan. I’m known as L’Escocès, the Scotsman. And this is the first reason why we offshore Scots should speak. Because in our communities around the world we are ‘The Scotsman’ or ‘The Scotswoman.’ We are ambassadors for Scotland, helping to construct an image of what it is to be Scottish, in the minds of people we meet. We make friends, we build contacts, and everyone we meet comes away with this, or that, impression of the Scots.

Like an ethical NSA we are also the ears and eyes of Scotland. We tell people back home how it is here. We pass back information when we chat to family and friends in Scotland, whether that is professional information or simply social attitudes and new views. It’s an exchange of course, and I find lots in the great gush of new writing in Bellacaledonia, or Newsnet or the many other social sites that I can pass on to friends here. We, the offshore Scots are an information network for Scotland, so we have lots to speak about.

And the knowledge we have gathered is a Scottish asset that Scotland can mine. The millions of Scots abroad know about everything (between us) from accounting to zoology. I’m not boasting. I’m not taking about the little that I individually know. I mean the offshore Scottish hive mind, the collective intelligence of all of us. Anytime Scotland wants it, it’s hers. Just ask. That collective knowledge is why we can and should speak.

I come from the comfortable Scottish middle class. But it was in Scotland, taken by the hand of a lover to The Barras, that I learned about poverty and first thought of justice. Scotland has taught many of us the hard lessons of poverty. We have seen, smelled, touched poverty and felt the anger against injustice that it rightly provokes. Scotland has taught us that we cannot abandon the poor in the way that Westminster has. And that is also why we speak. We’ve witnessed the worst and now we want the best for our country.

So we offshore Scots should speak. We’ll use whatever means are at our disposal – social media, talking to friends, writing or shouting from the rooftops. Solidarity with Scotland, http://www.solidaritywithscotland.com, is one of those media and I support it.


18 comments on “Why it’s time for Scots abroad to speak up

  1. allan sayers says:

    I could not agree more. I wear a kilt often and all over the world we, Scots, are recognised. Last year, in China, walking through the streets of Kunming I heard people yelling Scotterland, Scotterland. We have a fantastic brand in Scotland.

    I hitched out of Irvine with 15 pounds when I was 18 as I couldnt get a job after years of Tory neglect in Scotland. I was never a nationalist but from the outside I have seen the way Scotland has been run from London and they take Scotland for granted.

    I have always kept a home in Scotland. I dont visit nearly enough but last December I proudly brought three hundred business people to Edinburgh from all over the world for a conference and they loved it and a large number encouraged us to go for freedom.

    Now is the time to run our country the Scottish way.

  2. […] Why it’s time for Scots abroad to speak up […]

  3. mary vasey says:

    Great post, I do agree with all you say. I also love reading about other’s thoughts on why they agree with YES, whether or not you have a vote. Thanks

  4. daibhidhdeux says:

    Fair comment.

    However, perhaps you underestimate the numbers of the diaspora who have been messengers for this message for “countless” generations since the contrived “Union” (and continue to be).

    Myself via the USA, Turkey, and, for the last twenty years, in Japan (as my Japanese wife, Kyoko, will testify, along with others from a multitude of backgrounds, ethnic origins, and nationalities I have had the privilege to converse with in a genuinely human way rather than the superficial).

    For the most part, and despite the propaganda of the overseas arms of the British state, the reaction is supportive when the situation is explained.

    I predict, albeit from afar and often full of home-sickness, that September the 18th will see the sovereign will of the citizens of Scotland done to great global joy; and I, for one amongst many, will be hosting a hooley and ceilidh to end all in celebration.

    Best wishes

  5. macart763 says:

    Great post Christopher and that name, the Scotsman? That’s brought back some memories.😀

    Back in 85 I was lucky enough to go work over in the states for a short time. It was only a year long visa, but it was quite an experience in more ways than one. I was called a cultural representative and placed in a pub due to catering background called the Rose and Crown in the then shiny new Disney EPCOT centre. We had really cool 18th century innkeepers costumes (cough), I still remember the chafing of those knee length breeks, and told to go forth into our various posts and just be ourselves. Oh, and I had hair back then.

    EPCOTs world showcase then comprised representatives of a dozen nations each manning pavilions around the showcase lagoon. We all lived together in two complexes off site, either in Vista village or Snow White cabins and it was Disney policy to mix the nationalities living together. Mexicans with Japanese, French with Chinese and so on. I was lucky enough to be sharing with a couple of German lads and boy was it an experience for a young Scot on his travels. It was like a mini UN without having to watch whether you left DNA in a hair brush or credit card details in a bin for Hilary to collect. It was how international relations should be conducted. Talking to people about your history and culture whilst serving them fish, chips and a pint. That’s proper kulchur, that is.😀

    The strange thing was instead of us all gravitating toward our own nationalities most of us wound up having diverse groups of friends in the community. I had some interesting adventures in a group of six friends comprised of a Monegasque, French Canadian, German, English, Chinese and American. Everyone worked their socks off during the day, represented their respective countries with pride and partied like mad weans on a sugar rush at the weekends. We learned to speak each others languages after a fashion, shared histories and experiences of our countries, cooked national dishes for each other and simply got on. Much like yourself though most folks knew it was party time when Mr Scoteesh showed up. The name was given when initially at a meet n’ greet soiree nobody could remember my name, but everyone clocked the nationality as soon as I opened my gub. It stuck and sounded especially cool when a young lady of my acquaintance would say Ola Scoteesh (sigh). I did have hair then. Did I mention that?

    • JGedd says:

      That was fascinating. I always like reading about other Yessers experiences, especially reminiscences of foreign travels. I always dreamed of visiting faraway places when I was a child and was determined to travel when I grew up but unfortunately I acquired a chronic illness when I was 21 and that put paid to my wanderlust. I can manage holidays abroad nowadays but Europe only – short haul flights you see. Love Europe, but would have liked to travel further afield and for longer trips. Anyway I keenly enjoy reading about other people’s sojourns in faraway places.

      By the way, what national dish did you offer when it was your turn to cook? You didn’t tell us that.

      • macart763 says:

        Well I did like to cook and entertain back then, so a fair old range from traditional stews and steak pies, to a selection of soups and broths, even oatcakes and soda bread. My cranachan always went down well for afters. There was a supplier in the village who would sell imported produce from the UK where I would source some of the ingredients. Other times I would use whatever was to hand to replace those ingredients you couldn’t get a hold of.

        I found that there’s no better way to make friends than having folk round a table enjoying a bit of a feed, a laugh and a dram for afters.

    • hektorsmum says:

      Many years ago, way back while you still had hair. We were awaiting our first bought house being built. It took a mere thirteen months to build a quarter villa. So we managed to get a cheap early holiday to Corfu. late March. early April, just before the Greek Easter. This was the time when the Greek School kids get their holidays. We were based in a resort called Gouvia, We called it Groovy Gouvia, it was nearly empty except for a load of Scots, one of whom was wearing his kilt. Well shall we say Gouvia probably still talks about him. He got us all up dancing with the locals. We had a great time and he was a great ambassador.
      Our other one was an elderly Gentleman who was on the Black Sea cruise with us. Also kilt wearing. We were waiting on the quay for our tour when an English Couple spoke to us, I do not think they thought we were Scots at first but they said about him being in his nineties, there was a bit of embarrassment when they realise we were Scots so I have no idea what was actually going to follow. Well the old boy wore his kilt in the casual way of someone who did it regularly and with an educated English accent. I was very proud of him.

      • macart763 says:

        Yep, never judge a book by the cover.😀

        We do appear to like our travel and play well with others. Our only black mark is our unhappy part in the creation and maintenance of empire. Plenty of time to make amends though and do it by example. Let’s keep building on the plays well with others part from now on I say.🙂

  6. ian foulds says:

    At 42, I obtained my first overseas posting and have been overseas since.

    I retire at the end of the year and my wife and I return to our new home – mainly, apparently, for the benefit of our grandchildren in Scotland and England.

    I desperately hope enough voters have the good sense to see where our future must lie.

    We are giving it 2 years when we get back to acclimatise to the weather!

    In the event of a ‘No’, my thoughts are we shall be travelling again, probably sooner than that, as I would find the shame of us not voting YES coupled wth the thought of what will happen to Scotland, if left to Westminster.

    I know I should fight with those who remain but I see the next ‘fight’ for independence being a little more violent than this one which appears – in the main – to have been addressed extremely civilly – ESPECIALLY by YES.

    Our fear would also be for the grandchildren and we would earnestly be trying to show them the potential for work and life opportunities elsewhere in the World in the event of a No.

    I admire the efforts you all have been makng in the YES grass roots campaign and more ‘power to your elbow’, despite the disgusting tactics by No (which will unfortunately follow them after 18th), in these final weeks.

    Kind regards,


  7. david porter says:

    and another one!

  8. Sìleas Choineagan says:

    Great post Christopher. I’ve been living away for 16 years now and like yourself, seeing Scotland from the outside has only strengthened my resolve that Scotland can and should do it alone. I have however been hesitant at posting things on the internet to my friends and family back home (aye, ah still call it home) probably because I’ve been told more than once ‘whit’s it got tae dae wi yoo? Yoo don’t live here anymair!’ A sentiment I can fully understand BUT…….I do want to come home at sometime. I’m homesick right now. Actually homesick is the wrong word. The Germans have the perfect word ‘sehensucht’ an inconsolable longing for what can be. That’s what I’m suffering from right now. To cut a long story short, thanks to your post, I will be ignoring the negative comments and I will be sharing positive messages about an independent Scotland with them all. They can, unfriend, unfollow and block me but hopefully some of them will take heart and do the sensible thing on the 18th.

    p.s. I’ve booked the 19th off. Ceilidh an am Berlin cuideachd.

  9. Eilean says:

    It is about thirtyfive years since I was stationed in West Germany as it was back then.

    I remember informing Germans that Scotland was a separate country from England. The whole UK thing only confuses “foreigners”.

    The best way that I could explain it was by comparing Scotland to Bavaria which at the time was discussing more political autonomy.

    Once I explained the situation to the German folk they were sympathetic to the concept of an independent Scotland. To be honest they were not that fond of “Englanders”. I found the German people to be very hospitable indeed. Especially when the above was explained. They would then up the hospitality to “eleven”. Many hangovers ensued!

    I suppose I was a “Yes” way back then. This has been a long struggle for some of us.

    Ich bein ein Schottlander!

    • hektorsmum says:

      Eilean, Early eighties we were on holiday in Yugoslavia, now Croatia. As our resort was all but closed, September. We took a trip to Venice. On the way back we overheard a bunch of twenty somethings having a conversation with some youngsters from Austria. They must have said they were from Scotland, I recognised the accents, to which the Austrians must have said England, to which the reply was, then you must be German, Austria /Germany same thing.

  10. George Craig says:

    6 years in Azerbaijan, a great Scottish community that does an awful lot for the local community. I got involved with the Caledonian Society here 3 years ago and have been Chieftain for the last 18 Months. We do the whole Scottish thing on St Andrews and Burns with a small pipe band playing in Baku old City on St Andrews plus a Ceilidh Band. In the last few years more and more Azeris are asking for tickets to the events and the Pipe Band March is on national TV with hundreds walking with us
    . I have been to 3 Azeri weddings with my kilt on and the reaction is fantastic with queues for photos.

    I will be home for the vote but not yet sure if I qualify due to my ExPat status but will be pushing as many as possible to vote Yes.

  11. john johnston says:

    the problem with the brigadooners is that they cannot tell us
    1…will we be in the EU……it says no
    2…will we be in N A T O
    3…will we be in the U.N.
    4…who is going to pay for the new embassies, consulates and diplomats
    5…what is the basis of our armed forces going to be
    6…what happens to servicemen who will be forming part of a foreign nations armed forces
    7…what happens to current EU rules regarding eg medical care for ex pats
    8…what happens to UK employers’ and indeed state pensions
    9…what happens to passports, will scots passports be available to irish people as british are
    10 they can’t even tell us what the currency will be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    scots are shrewed and willnot vote for a pig in a poke

    MUCH better together!

    • weegingerdug says:

      1. Yes, we will be in the EU. It is against EU law for us to be automatically excluded after a yes vote. The EU has NOT “said no”. The EU Commissioner Juncker has said he will accept the result of the referendum, which is a democratic and constitutionally recognised process which EU Treaties oblige other EU states to accept and respect. Scotland will have to apply for membership, but will do so from WITHIN the EU.

      2. Yes, we will be in NATO. Spain negotiated the removal of US nuclear missiles and submarines from the US naval base at Rota in Andalusia, and then went on to join NATO.

      3. Yes, of course we will be in the UN, and it’s frankly ridiculous that you should imagine there is any doubt about that. ALL independent countries whose independence is recognised by the state from which they became independent are members of the UN.

      4. Scotland is already paying for our share of UK embassies, consulates and diplomats. After independence they will represent Scotland.

      5. Proposals for a Scottish Defence Force have already been published. See here : http://www.yesscotland.net/answers/what-would-happen-scottish-defence

      6. UK service personnel who are eligible for Scottish citizenship will be able to choose between continuing to serve with the British armed services, or joining the new Scottish Defence Force. Membership of the UK armed services is already open to non-UK nationals.

      7. The same rules as are currently in operation will continue to apply. Scots will continue to have eligibility for health care in other EU states on the same basis as now.

      8. State pensions will continue to be paid, the Scottish Govt has guaranteed that the Scottish state pension will NEVER fall below the level paid in the rest of the UK. Employer’s pensions will continue to be paid as normal, there are already international agreements in place for this.

      9. All UK citizens born in Scotland or habitually resident in Scotland will be automatically eligible for Scottish citizenship and a Scottish passport. They will ALL retain their right to (r)UK citizenship and passports. The UK Home Office has confirmed that it has no plans to alter existing UK citizenship laws after Scottish independence. All children born to UK citizens in an independent Scotland will also have the right to (r)UK citizenship if they wish to take it.

      10. It’s going to be the POUND. Perhaps you haven’t heard that, we’ll be using the POUND. That’s P.O.U.N.D. the pound, we’re going to use the pound. There is ZERO uncertainty about that.

      Happy to help.

      Indeed Scots are shrewd – and that’s why they’ll vote yes and will see through the lies, misinformation, and manipulation that you have so clearly fallen for. Sad, but that’s what happens when you don’t analyse the news you’re told. But never fear, we can help. Independence therapy and counselling services for confused Unionists who’ve been lied to are widely available, and coming to a door near you very soon. Be happy dear, a cure is on the way. It’s called independence. Look beyond the headlines – there’s a whole world of truth out there.

      Però tu vius al Pais Valenciá, per la cual no tens vota.

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