Let’s talk about racism in Scotland

There is still no official referendum campaign, but the battle lines for Project Fear Mark II are being clearly drawn. Whereas Project Fear Mark I told Scotland that it shouldn’t become independent because it was too wee, too poor, and too stupid, Project Fear Mark II is telling Scotland it shouldn’t become independent because it is too wee, too poor, and too stupidly racist. One reason we’re racists, apparently, is because we’re not providing a safe space for British Unionists to call independence supporters racists.

Yesterday in the Guardian there was an article by a young Scottish black woman who pointed out Scotland’s history of racism. That bit of her article was correct. Scotland, like all European nations, has a history of racism. It’s not entirely clear what Scotland’s 18th century involvement in the slave trade says about the modern Scottish independence movement that it doesn’t also say about Scotland’s modern Unionist establishment, but we’ll let that pass for the time being.

What the article didn’t say was that what characterises Scotland is its unique experience as both coloniser and colonised. While individual Scots enthusiastically participated in the British Empire, they did so as Britons. They did so in order to aggrandise Britain and Britishness. And while they did so, back home parts of Scotland were being depopulated and despoiled. The Gaelic language was being extirpated in what was but a bawhair away from an organised campaign of genocide. Its speakers were shipped off abroad to exploit brown skinned people somewhere else, or they ended up in the slums of the Lowlands where they were pitted against immigrants from Ireland by cynical employers who used sectarianism as a tool to defeat organised labour and who sang God Save the Queen.

As a young black Scottish woman the author of the Guardian article has experienced racism in Scotland, and it’s not for a white guy like me to reinterpret her experiences. To paraphrase another British Unionist, her experiences are her experiences. However it was bordering on dishonest that neither the Guardian nor the author made it clear that she is a former Better Together activist, and so very much has a dog in this fight. Her views on the Scottish independence movement are not those of a neutral and dispassionate academic studying the nexus between racism and the Scottish independence movement. Naturally people who support the Union have every right to express their views, but she is a campaigner for Scotland to remain a part of the UK, and it undermined the sincerity of the piece that that fact was not made explicit.

What I do take issue with is the way in which the article attempted to conflate two very different things. There’s the issue of the racism experienced by people of colour in predominantly white societies. This is a real issue, it’s an issue for Scotland as much as it is an issue for any European country. Then there is the supposed issue that the Scottish independence movement is motivated by anti-English racism in particular. This is not a genuine issue, it’s a trope of the British Unionist movement. Anti-English sentiment in Scotland does exist in an inchoate way on a personal level with certain eejits, but it is not organised or systematic in the way that racism against black and ethnic minority communities is. It certainly is not welcomed in the mainstream of the Scottish independence movement, far less providing its main motivation.

What Unionist apologists never point out is that anti-English racism in Scotland is less powerful than anti-Scottish racism in England. Anti-Scottish racism regularly puts in an appearance in the pages of the UK right wing press. Scots are decried as subsidy junkies, grievance mongers. There are numerous English terms of abuse for Scottish people as anyone who dips a toe in the sewer of the below the line comments on articles about Scotland in the likes of the Daily Mail or the Express can testify. Scottish anti-English racism doesn’t actually have any popular terms of abuse for English people. If it was indeed so pervasive and essential, you’d think that at the very least we’d possess some anti-English equivalents to the long list of offensive terms there are in English for just about every other ethnic group under the sun. The fact these terms do not exist is proof of the marginality of Scotland’s anti-English racism.

The author claimed that the pro-independence aim of making Scotland better was proof of its anti-English racism, an argument which she based on nothing more than innuendo. Better than who? Eh? Nudge nudge wink wink. Why better than England of course! Then having completely invented something she complained that it was an instance of Scottish exceptionalism. Proof positive that the Scottish independence movement rests upon the belief that Scotland is better than England, and that’s racist and bad. Actually myself, and thousands of other independence supporters who are not seeking any English axes to grind – because it’s only Unionists who do that sort of thing – interpret that slogan as independence can make Scotland better than it is just now. It’s not Scottish exceptionalism to believe that Scotland can be better than it is. It’s British exceptionalism to believe that it can’t be.

Let’s talk about some real Scottish racism. One comment that the author of the Guardian article made I did find offensive and hurtful. She said that white Scots have no experience of racism, with the implication that white Scots have no right to comment. That’s offensive and hurtful because it’s untrue. And it’s offensive and hurtful that an academic who specialises in the study of racism doesn’t recognise the greatest and historically most pervasive racism experienced by members of Scotland’s largest migrant community. What we like to call sectarianism is nothing more or less than anti-Irish racism, and it’s a form of racism which is and was practised by supporters of the British state and a British identity in Scotland. The proponents of anti-Irish racism wave Union flegs. Scottish sectarianism, Scottish anti-Irish racism, is a disease of British nationalism. It’s hardly surprising that an apologist for the British state didn’t want to address it.

It’s true that white people cannot experience racism in the same way that visible minorities experience it. As long as no one knows your Irish sounding name, or knows that you went to a Catholic school, you can, in theory, hide. But that doesn’t mean that anti-Irish racism can be excused, it doesn’t mean it’s not real. It blighted lives. It destroyed opportunities. It was systematic and all pervasive and highly organised.

I’m not that old but I can remember when I was a child being told that my sister couldn’t join the sports club her friend went to, because it didn’t admit Catholics. I remember my aunt, the first person in my family who went to university, telling me that she had wanted to study economics so she could work in a bank, but she was informed that as a Catholic she would never be promoted above the level of bank teller. So she studied maths and became a teacher instead. Teaching was then one of the few occupations open to Catholics with middle class aspirations.

We all knew which places where you could forget about applying for a job, because you were a Catholic. It was a much much longer list than the list of places where Catholics were preferred. The proof that it was racism and not about a person’s religious beliefs was that it didn’t matter whether you believed in god or not.  If your family was Catholic, so were you.  Your own religious beliefs and experiences were irrelevant.

Every summer there were the marches with their Union flags and God Save the Queenery telling us that we didn’t really belong here. The Union flag was a flag of exclusion. It was a flag that told me and people like me that we didn’t really belong in Scotland.  Catholic was just code for “of Irish descent”, and that meant you couldn’t be British.  And if you couldn’t be British, you couldn’t be Scottish either.  Traditional Unionism took it upon itself to define who could or could not be Scottish.  One of the reasons they howl now is that the Scottish independence movement has taken that power away from them with a more inclusive and tolerant vision of Scottishness.

It was anti-Irish racism that allowed the Conservative and Unionist party to maintain its dominance in working class communities throughout the first half of the 20th century. Anti-Irish racism once extended into every aspect of Scottish life, and it was one of the tools used by the North British establishment to exert its control and dominance over the unruly working classes. Divide et impera. Yet British Unionists in Scotland don’t want to address it. They refuse to acknowledge the role of systematic racism in the perpetuation of British rule in Scotland. So if we want to talk about racism in Scotland, let’s talk about anti-Irish racism too. Let’s talk about the destruction of the Highlands and Gaelic culture in the name of spreading British civilisation. But those are stories which don’t allow the supporters of Union to present themselves as victims. If we want to examine the real history of racism in Scotland, it’s the Unionists who are the perpetrators. Racism in Scotland was a tool of Unionist rule.  No wonder they don’t want to talk about it now.

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130 comments on “Let’s talk about racism in Scotland

  1. I remember my (Church of Scotland) dad telling me ‘mixed marriages’ didn’t work. And he meant Catholic/Protestant!

    • scotclogs says:

      Mine does, been very happy marred to my Catholic Hubby for 35 years, and my dad really liked him.

  2. crabbitgits says:

    Bang on dug!

  3. Blackhack says:

    I can remember (Not that long ago) being asked at interviews “What school did you go too” The only reason for this was to weed out the Kaflicks….I being one of them (Lapsed)

    • mogabee says:

      Or what boys brigade troup you were in… This was asked of my Dad who being English had no idea of it’s meaning, just that he thought it was an odd thing to ask!

  4. Steve Bearne says:

    Wonderful! Nail on head as usual Paul.

  5. Ian says:

    Really poignant words. You described it so well and so clearly. I hadn’t quite joined the dots between racism and sectarianism. I have lived for 10 years in the west of Scotland and, while seeing the ugliness, I hadn’t quite seen it for exactly what it is and what its roots are. Everyday is a school day – and today I have learned something new. Thank you.

    • H Carmichael says:

      Still exists in schools. Catholic teacher can reach the top in a non catholic school.
      A non catholic cannot reach the top in a Catholic school. Progress blocked by the priest.

  6. Alba woman says:

    So spot on WGD. I remember thousands of folk with union jacks cheering local Church of Scotland ministers and politicians as they led the orange order marches. Talk about a hate fest.

    Nowadays things have improved but particular memories are being stirred by the use of unionist rhetoric of divide and rule.

  7. Macart says:

    Very well said Paul.

    Yes, it was a truly awful piece by Ms Heuchan and published by the Guardian for the usual reasons and the usual audience. It’s how they frame and explain the entire Scottish debate. Regardless of the young lady’s uni background, so far as I can see, it’s still Londonsplaining for a metro audience.

    IMO It was also very obviously click bait and baiting for those who support the indy movement. Use one article to create many kinda thing. I doubt that empirical proof and sound reasoning were high on the list of priorities for the Guardian during this weekend of article idiocy. Still, it does point to the route of travel for the media and their chain tuggers this time round. They’re attempting to limbo under sewer level.

    As far as the thrust of both atrocious articles are concerned and seeing as how I do support indy, I can say from the heart of my bottom that neither the Guardian or its commentators and authors speak for me, or get to define who I am. Mr Khan and Ms Heuchan certainly don’t.

    That’s kinda my job.

    The YES movement I know is not represented in mainstream media, but in mainstream media it is all too readily misrepresented.

    • Patience is a Virtue says:

      Macart, I read a comment on WoS 27th Feb (under A Trivial Omission) the following:

      “According to the Times(?) last week, a cabinet meeting devoted to the thorny problem of UK break up was held.

      The pnr posted a link to an article last thread which focussed on that meeting and several other similar themed articles besides.

      The UK cabinet is on a war footing. At last week’s meeting almost the whole 90 minutes was taken up with a lengthy discussion about how to save the Union.

      Each minister was told to find ways to make the case against Scottish independence in their own policy area. “Everyone around the table wants the Union to work and stay together,” No 10 said.’

      I’m guessing the ‘war footing’ wasn’t an exagerration. Everyone on speed dial, including the lamentable SIU, will be getting a tug from those ministers”

      ….any more on this?? and was there ‘Scottish’ representation at this meeting?.. and if so what was their contribution?

      If such a meeting took place, it is at least tacit admission that a second referndum is somewhat inevitable’ (if not perhaps being engineered)- why waste time on such a meeting otherwise… they should have discussed in Parliament – why are they so afraid to discuss in camera… seems we are going to find out anyway.

      Perhaps the Guardian can also enlighten us to the north of the north, with some in depth reporting.

      In the meantime.. reckon we should make the case for Independence anyway.

      • Macart says:

        Yeah, that’s one of mine and I’d say there’s been a definite ramping up of anti SG, anti YES movement rhetoric both from the political class and the media. They’re going in feet first and clogs on by the look of it.

        So, yes. We filter it out and focus on getting our own message across. A good start to that process today on the WoS fundraiser, but all of our new media platforms NEED to be kept up and running. Folk like Paul, the Rev and yes NNS, Bella, the National, any and all forums we might get a voice out of.

      • Ealasaid says:

        ‘Each minister was told to find ways to make the case against Scottish independence in their own policy area.’

        You know I have been wondering about the sudden announcement about the two new nuclear power plants in Scotland on existing sites. It quite correctly produced a storm of fury on social media but in amongst the “No No No Scotland Green, wind power, tidal and wave power, hydro” etc there was a wee voice saying “…..but jobs?”

        I could not help but wonder if this was meant to be a bribe to Scotland. Why would they spend all that money if Scotland is likely to leave? As England is so anti green energy and pro nuclear the London bubble probably assumed that Scotland was too.

        If I am right in this, it didn’t go very well for them did it? 🙂

        • mogabee says:

          The nuclear plants were in a policy document put out by the Scottish Tories. A delightful case of trolling if I’m not mistaken!

    • Ruth Davis says:

      I read the Heuchan Guardian article and about 4 pages of BTL comments. I was slightly heartened that the majority were calling her out for the rubbish she wrote.

  8. Vestas says:

    She defines herself as a radical (black) feminist.

    Given that radical feminism is (now) pretty much clearly defined as a belief in the inherent superiority of the female gender, doesn’t that make her a misandrist before we start deconstructing her self-publicism “Katie Hopkins style”?

    Book to sell time for her & her Guardianista friends oblige mmmm?


    • Norma Slimmon says:

      Your definition of radical feminism is way off

      • McGonzo says:

        I would say it’s very much correct, personally. You have obviously never encountered the unfortunate extremist feminist, American-imported mindsets coming out of universities on both sides of the Atlantic. Without even trying to be offensive or flippant about it, they could teach Valerie Solanas a thing or two, and were clearly influenced by her unbalanced misandry.


        • Illy says:

          “Radical feminism” was originally the concept that gender was inherently a learned behaviour. Unfortunately, this has been thoroughly debunked, which leaves the “radical feminist” in a bit of a quandary – do they accept that they were wrong and move on, or do they become, like religion, a group that preaches a belief, rather than espousing a facts-based explanation of reality?

          Radical Feminism was proved wrong when transgender people got medical/scientific recognition, in case anyone is wondering.

  9. Some serious allegations have been made that Claire Heuchan has been hounded off twitter. Where is the evidence? I had a look at her twitter feed yesterday. I saw a lot of criticism but no abuse.

    It has been claimed that Claire is very scared because people on twitter have been trying to find out where she lives. Someone did mistakenly suggest she was a Londoner and questioning her first-hand knowledge of Scotland and Scottish politics. The tweets did strike me as abusive.

    I do not know for sure but I suspect that this exchange is being spun into a frightening attempt to find out where she lives. That was not how I read it.

    There was one genuinely nasty, racist post on her blog:

    “Scots are white as are all European ethnic groups. You’re neither Scottish nor European. Please stop appropriating native Europeans identity, African.

    There is no indication if this was made by an #indy supporter.

    • Rachel says:

      Yes, I thought it strange that no quotes of the “abuse” or people’s attempts to find her location were given in the article. Reading that she was a better together supporter and someone else’s comment that this is just to create more articles and everything falls into place.

    • stewartb says:

      I deplore any “nasty, racist post on her blog” – and of course it could have been sent by an Indy supporting nutter who we would all condemn or a dishonest mischief maker. I have no doubt both sorts of characters exist, regrettably.

      However, we need to be aware of the deliberate exploitation of the “salient exemplar”, something that is becoming a mainstream tactic by some politicians and their media managers e.g. Trump.

      See this for a brief introduction: https://www.wired.com/2017/02/cognitive-bias-president-trump-understands-better/

    • Doh!


      “Someone did mistakenly suggest she was a Londoner and questioning her first-hand knowledge of Scotland and Scottish politics. The tweets did strike me as abusive.

      Should have ended with:

      “The tweets did NOT strike me as abusive.

  10. This is a splendid article, Paul!

  11. Weechid. says:

    The young lady’s article that Scotland was being racist by claiming we want a “fairer Scotland. She suggested this meant fairer than England and was, therefore. anti English and racist. I find that a bit of a leas as, like most people, too the expression “A fairer Scotland” to mean fairer ie more equal than it is now. If the young lady chooses to misinterpret the meaning may I suggest that I interpret her final tweet “Stay mad, white people” as her saying that white people are all insane and that her statement is definitely racist. We can all play the misinterpretation game.

    • Saor Alba says:

      This young lady is clearly NOT able to reason with logical accuracy and using accurate facts, which one would certainly expect from anyone who is to be considered an academic. Her so-called reasoning is DEEPLY flawed, as you have pointed out Weechid. Introducing suggestion into the argument is NOT reasoning.

      “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” John F Kennedy.

  12. BlackAndWhiteCat says:

    “There’s no racism towards the English”, says the Scot living in Scotland.

    I’m an Englishman in Scotland for best part of 14 years and in that time I’ve had my car singled out and vandalised, I’ve had my kids picked on in School because their Dad is English, I’ve had to endure “banter” (or whatever word you want to use to dress it with) when International matches come around, along with shops selling ANYONE BUT ENGLAND T-shirts to boot.

    For the record, I keep my ‘Englishness’ down to an absolute minimum. That includes refraining from wearing national Footballs tops around tournament time.

    The icing on the cake for me was when I went to to Glasgow for a Christmas Panto where Dean Park, playing the Lion and dressed as William Wallace, announces he’s going to kill the English. Cue the cheers from Adults and Children alike.

    Sure, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

    This is what we endure today, whilst part of the UK. Now let’s imagine we voted Yes in 2014. Unless you want to paint some romantic image that Scots are superior to English (which is rubbish), we would see a number of anti-English people giving the likes of myself and my kids a hard time. I cast my mind back to 2005 when I spoke to an ex-colleague who was also supportive of Independence, had no problem telling me (whilst in a professional workplace) “If I had my way, the likes of you wouldn’t be allowed in Scotland”.

    If you’re trying to convince people this is an isolated view, or my experience in Scotland is isolated, the Vet chopped off more than your knackers.

    I’m assuming the only thing you get to see is your dog-food bowl, given the size of blinkers you wear.

    • weegingerdug says:

      Your anger is getting in the way of your reading ability. I do not say that there is no anti-English racism in Scotland. What I do maintain – and as someone with an English husband and English daughters my experience is not negligible – is that anti-English racism in Scotland is not organised, systematic and is certainly not welcomed in the independence movement.

      • BSA says:

        You identify the key issue and the key difference between the two countries where racism is concerned. A brilliant article as well.

      • I spent some of my younger years (very happily) growing up in Manchester because of my dad’s job. When we moved back up to Scotland, I was bullied at school for being “English” & for having an “English” accent. I was continually asked if we’d had television in England & what programmes we got. I was targeted physically and verbally. I got little or no protection from the teachers, most of whom told me I was stupid, it was just banter.

        When I returned to Manchester to do my first degree, everyone loved me because I was Scottish, I was a big hit with English, Irish et al. The only person who rattled my cage was an English dietetics lecturer who managed to slag off the Scottish diet in every lecture I attended. Had I been able to induce a heart attack at her feet just to make her feel morally justified, believe me I would have.

        My point ? These people were individuals, not organised crime. The Independence movement is not racist. I can feel for you BlackandWhiteCat because I was subject to it – and I’m Scottish ! I don’t doubt your family’s experience, it is disgusting and unacceptable to be treated like that anywhere, but I’m not like that. Racism, bullying, ignorant assholes are everywhere but they don’t define a movement, nor a country.

    • Vestas says:

      I’m sorry that happens to you, however unlike me you have recourse to having it defined as a “hate crime” – ie one which is motivated by race/religion etc.

      I say unlike me as you live in Scotland where calling someone an English c*nt is a hate crime. As it also is in Wales. Cue drama in the press.

      Strangely it isn’t in England – calling people Welsh or Scotch c*nts isn’t a hate crime. It is if you call someone an Irish c*nt but Taffies/Sweaties are fair game for “banter” all the way up to ABH.

      One rule for England…..

    • Dinna_fash says:

      Far worse happened to me in Yarmouth 10 years ago.
      I ended up in intensive care after being set upon by several locals for having the audacity to speak Scottish whilst walking home at night.

    • Sheryl Hepworth says:

      Black and White Cat.. I’m English born I stil sound English even after 30 years here, my son-in-law is broad Hull speaking, my 2 youngest grand-daughters are both in Academy now, having done 4 & 5 years at primary here in Sutherland. Never at any time have any of us been ”called out” because of the way we speak, never have any of us been given any ‘banter’ about our birth place. I haven’t come across any problems at all with any of my English born friends who also live here. 2 from London 4 from Northern England, our local cafe owners and garage owners from the Midlands etc. I and my family are all Yessers, my friends voted No. we’re still friends we still speak go out etc. Having said that we all came here to live this life NOT to change what we came to into an English idyll. I have found that English folks who come up here then immediately try to do things the ”british” way and change the locals but therein lies their problems. You don’t say where abouts you reside but here in the true Highlands all are welcome and included!

    • stewartb says:

      The ‘intent’ of the independence movement for Scotland’s future is summed up well by this extract from our First Minister’s message published for Burns’ Night this year:

      “People around the world appreciate his (Burns’) humour, admire his empathy for others and are deeply moved by his love songs and poetry. And we also identify with his principles, his internationalist outlook, the belief in equality that his poems set out, and his vision of a world where, man to man, the world o’er shall brothers be, for a’ that.

      “As we mark Burns’ Night I know that many people will also be reflecting on those sentiments, those enduring values of equality, inclusion, and internationalism. They are well worth celebrating and well worth striving for.”

      Perhaps BlackAndWhiteCat the critical phrase for you, for me and for citizens of Scotland to note in the FM’s message is ‘STRIVING FOR’. So no knee jerk denial from me of what you describe as your experience but, candidly, no acceptance either that this is the norm. And also a recognition of a strong, widespread commitment among those I meet in the independence movement to ‘striving’.

    • Ruth Davis says:

      Blimey, that’s harsh, it’s a shame you’ve had that experience.

      I’ve lived, studied and worked here for 20 years and speak with a comical Laaandon accent, my partner too. We’ve brought 2 daughters up here, they consider themselves Scots. I was on the PTA of their Primary school and joined in with many community activities, I’m no shrinking violet and have never minimised my Englishness.

      In all this time I can honestly say that we have never, EVER had any negative, anti English experiences. We have been welcomed and appreciated every step of our journey.

      I worked very, very hard to help secure a YES vote in 2014. I spoke at meetings, helped on stalls and delivered leaflets. I was/am very opinionated and vocal. I was broken for a considerable time when we lost the vote, embarrassed and sad.

      I suppose all this shows is that experiences of Scotland are different for everyone. “We” do not endure yours today or yesterday.

      And I do not wear blinkers…

      Good luck for the future.

    • Saor Alba says:


      I do not think you accurately read what WGD wrote. Your experience differs greatly from all of my English friends who live happily in Scotland and also from that of my father, who was English (from Kent) and lived here for 24 years.

      Do you know who vandalised your car and why? Or are you just making an assumption? Just like the assumptions you make if a yes vote had happened.

      Personal references to the author do NOT enhance your argument and indeed lessen it somewhat.

      “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser”. Socrates.

  13. John Edgar says:

    I read the article too. J was appalled by it conflating “facts” from the past and implying that is the Scotland of today.
    It seems there is a “conspiracy” going on. Pop-up articles insinuating racism in Scotland linked to independence.
    Stating she was a black woman does not add anything to her skewed selection of facts.
    She had caused an uproar. Now she has withdrawn from a social web site out of fear her address is being sought. All this sounds too pat.
    The most laughable bit of her argument was to look back to the 18thCentury Slavery and Scots involvement and extrapolate from that. 300 hundred years ago? As a PhD student it does not look like precise and balanced use of facts. One could easily say that the atrocities committed by UK gov troops after Culloden are symptomatic of the UK army today and are likely to be repeated! Her inferences from the past were spurious. Now that I read she was a better together supporter, ones sees why. But I would never call all former bt supporters vindictive on strength of past behaviour and hurl or imply accusations about next time round. That would be untenable. That was what she did in her so-called objective and factually based rant. As a PhD student one would ave thought her critical faculties would have been more acute to her bias.

  14. Thepnr says:

    Of course white Scots can have racism aimed at them. Sure, usually in a jokey type manner of the sweaty sock, haggis mucncher or porridge wog variety that you can read everyday by commenters on Express or Mail articles.

    Quite often it is those writing the article that are guilty of racist comments against the Scottish people, that article yesterday in the Guardian had me riled. I think it was meant too, it’s of no surprise that she campaigned for Better Together as this is quite typical of them.

    Remember these articles in the past couple of weeks in the Times and the Scotsman from a Scotland In Union Patrick Harkness director who was not identified as such.


    Then this from Emeritus prof. Jill Stevenson


    I think we can clearly see where this is all going, a tactic to blacken Independence supporters reputation. It will backfire because we won’t stand for it.

  15. Claire’s main argument seems to be that because Scottish nationalists want to create a better-run country which delivers for all of its people, they are somehow “othering” English people, creating a better “us” and an unfavoured “them”.

    It’s absurd. To me, independence is simply about better government. It’s a chance to break away from a corrupt, chronically-mismanaged nation which regularly lurches hard to the right in ways which Scotland does not vote for. This is a disagreement about politics and about fundamentals such as simple humanity (which shouldn’t even be up for debate in the first place). It has nothing to do with any sense of racial superiority.

    I’m so utterly sick of having to explain civic nationalism to people who will not hear. It’s an attempt to stop us telling our story: we want to build a fairer, more equal society which delivers for all of its people.

    That’s another thing Claire gets badly wrong. She claims the idea that Scotland could be a fairer society is myth-making, conveniently ignoring all the hard evidence of real differences in outlook: prescription charges, a desire to walk back benefits sanctions, the Brexit-induced rise in racist violence – and even some murders – south of the border, a stronger commitment to vital services such as the NHS… The evidence is not hard to find. For some time Scotland and England have been in two completely different political orbits which rarely cross.

    • grumpydubai says:

      ‘….two completely different political orbits…’ Indeed Noel, that is what I believe our Independence is all about, a political separation. The rest is film flam

  16. donald6 says:

    She forget to mention it was the Brit Nat Unionists who encouraged racism, not Scottish Nationalism.

    • Saor Alba says:

      Indeed Donald6. Your observation is spot-on.

      Gandhi said “Violent nationalism, otherwise known as imperialism, is the curse. Non-violent nationalism is a necessary condition of civilised life”.

  17. Jan Cowan says:

    Excellent article, Paul. About time our horrific Highland history was well advertised. I hope the person who wrote the Guardian article reads your excellent piece and thus recognises her sad ignorance. I’m sure her people, like ours, were treated appallingly by the British Empire. We’re not looking for sympathy. Empathy would suffice.

  18. […] Wee Ginger Dug Let’s talk about racism in Scotland […]

  19. Bill McDermott says:

    I can say quite honestly that as a Scot with part Irish and Highland background, I was subject to quite gross racism when I lived in Lancashire and worked in Liverpool. This racism was pervasive. It affected my family at school as well as my job.

    On work visits to London, I always felt demoted as a Scot when the public school persona of colleagues came to the fore.

    Paul is quite right to call out Unionism as a main motivator of sectarianism in Scotland and English exceptionalism as the raison d’etre for many people in England.

    Unfortunately I still experience this tendency to exceptionalism now living in the Highlands. It is a common experience to feel the pushiness of the English incomers who are nearly always the first to vent their views in community meetings. As guests, incomers whether in England or Scotland should always take a back seat in reference to indigenous folk.

    • JayR says:

      Completely disagree with your last sentence, Bill. In England, Scotland and anywhere else,NO “incomer” should take a back seat to “indigenous folk”. No matter where you come from, wherever you choose to live you should always be in the FRONT SEAT.

  20. Clapper57 says:

    And subsequent to this she had tweeted she has received ‘Racist’ abuse for her article and now Severin Carroll has tweeted “Feminist researcher who linked racism with Scottish nationalism quits @twitter over safety fears”.

    Personally I am pig sick of these games being played where Pro Unionists are given a platform, with no mention of their links to pro unionist movements, in order to spout contemptuous insults and convey their warped interpretation of the Indy movement. To then cry ‘Foul’ when they receive criticism and rejection of their subjective and ill judged rants is evidence that they promote only THEIR Freedom of Speech while actively suppressing any dissenting voice that does not follow their agenda.

    One would have to be extremely naive to NOT see that Sadiq, Anas and Claire’s opinions were politically driven with the intention of promoting a slur in the hope that ‘Mud sticks’

    If Claire wants to make sweeping generalisations based upon observations of her personal experiences then perhaps she needs to also accept that others may also feel that they too are entitled to adopt this same strategy, and there we go down the dark road of ‘alternative’ and ‘fake’ news territory as adopted by the extreme right.

    She cleverly omitted certain divisions, which you Paul mentioned in your piece ,that have existed in Scotland. The reason I suspect they were omitted is because the people involved in creating these divisions are pro unionists and thus their inclusion in her article would have diminished and possibly destroyed her argument and ultimate objective .

    It is now common for the perpetrator to become the victim and I see this is a method adopted by pro unionists in order to validate their evil cyber Nat mantra and SNP Nazi cult non message.

    The cycle starts with them instigating a situation through insults and lies to then evolve into receiving feedback which disputes their opinion which in turn is interpreted as abuse. Job done. This is infantile and transparent and it will ‘divide’ rather than ‘unite’ .

    I received wise advice from another person who posts on here and another Indy site to ignore and smile at this obvious baiting strategy. However I have the right to stand up to those who promote misinformation with the sole purpose , not to educate, but to generate division and hatred. Ironically this was my interpretation of Ms H’s Guardian article, but then my rights and opinions are deemed invalid through my political allegiances and belief in Scotland’s independence. How sad this has become and yet not unexpected…..Very good article Paul as per.

  21. Bill McLean says:

    I remember as a wee boy in Cowdenbeath 65 years ago going with my wee pal (I think his name was David Briggs) to join the Lifeboys which he was already a member of (Junior Boys Brigade I think) at the age of seven. My wee pal went to Fulford school and I went to St Bride’s – when we approached whoever was in charge and maybe told them what school I went to I was told I could not join. Spent many happy years in the Scouts though. Thank God those unionist inspired differences are on the way out and oddly when racism and sectarianism do crop up it’s always from Union Flag loving fascists – remember George Square September 19th.

  22. Robert Graham says:

    So the attempted Division starts , i am sure everyone can Quote this , look at that etc , it happens all over the world , but to try and define one particular political movement by giving up a few examples of look what they did etc , we could be here all day and night throwing insults and spurious examples , to what end ? this is exactly what the latest Unionist gambit is , all at each others throat’s , it worked in the past why not now ? . get over it its a trap .

  23. Dan Huil says:

    Sadly there will be more attempts at shaming people in Scotland by calling them racist for wanting independence. Hatred and negativity is all that britnats have. I believe, however, that people in Scotland have grown so sick of britnat behaviour in recent years that they will rightly ignore the latest britnat smear campaign.

  24. benmadigan says:

    Excellent article Paul .
    I was particularly struck by this sentence
    “What we like to call sectarianism is nothing more or less than anti-Irish racism, and it’s a form of racism which is and was practised by supporters of the British state and a British identity in Scotland”.

    The same happened/happens in Northern Ireland. As you say it was/is fomented and encouraged by supporters of the British state and a British identity in Ireland.This week’s elections in NI will show us all how much support this policy currently has !

    Let us all make sure Brexit leads to a successful Independence Referendum in Scotland and a change the status of Northern Ireland within the UK.

  25. benmadigan says:

    Reblogged this on the mirror@wordpress.com and commented:
    This post by the WEE GINGER DUG is well worth reading. I was particularly struck by this sentence
    “What we like to call sectarianism is nothing more or less than anti-Irish racism, and it’s a form of racism which is and was practised by supporters of the British state and a British identity in Scotland”.

    The same happened/happens in Northern Ireland. As in Scotland, it was/is fomented and encouraged by supporters of the British state and a British identity in Ireland.This week’s elections in NI will show us all how much support this policy currently has!

  26. iain taylor says:

    I’ve been subjected to racist abuse in the USA, Ghana (“is that your slave name?”), Hong Kong, Thailand and… Scotland.
    I’m white.
    It happens.
    The most memorable Scottish episode was when I was accused by a neighbour (with a different skin colour) of being a racist because I’d objected to something he’d done. Just then my (mixed race) son appeared at my shoulder to ask what the problem was.

  27. I partly read the article, but gave up out of sheer boredom, tedium and exasperation, sensing quickly that it had been written by a 12-year old with a questionable pretentious phd with clearly no contextual experience or history of what she was attempting to write about. I then read the comments instead, which were 99% painstaking in their critique of what was obviously no more than flim flam. The fact that this long-discredited national newspaper gave this rubbish ‘front page’ credence is really the point and not the author’s 6th form article. I have given up getting upset by such tosh as its never ending. Where’s Tom Devine when you need him to debunk this crap on a regular basis? Now that would be news worth reading about and educational into the bargain.

  28. Smallaxe says:

    Racism has been around for as long as humans have inhabited this beautiful world which we all still share.Fortunately, there is a more enlightened society existing in Scotland, the Enlightenment began here in the 18th century by representing knowledge gained by using one’s senses and proven experience and experiment, to endeavour to improve and benefit society as a whole and the individual in particular.

    Thankfully that enlightenment has produced countless people like myself in the independence movement and worldwide who believe that there is really only one race on this planet.
    We call it the Human Race.

    Peace Always

  29. David says:

    Very poignant Paul.

    The issue in central Scotland is that the conditioning of both sides of the divide begins at the age of 5 when the 2 kids who happily have played together most days are tearful because they no have to go to different schools.

    And so begins the subtle conditioning of our children. Or should I say began, because it happened then as it still does now.

    Year on year, the conditioning grows stronger. For the child whose parents care not of football or religion, they are suddenly introduced to peers who eat, sleep and breathe Rangers, Celtic or the local team. Unfortunately, the call of yhe old firm is usually stronger, and the majority go down this route in their late primary years.

    With the first two comes all of he associated, religious hatred abd baggage. Suddenly little Johnny is walking around with his mates, spouting the the mantra of FTP / FTQ.

    The bigots are gradually dying year on year, but there still ate the hard core. And this hard core will still have their brainwashed kids to pull more of their school friends to the dark side.

    There is but one way to remove these ideologies, which would take few decades. Remove the state sponsored sectatianism that our schooling system became after the Education(Scotland) act of 1872. Force the schools to merge. No more Catholic or Ptotestant (or should I use the term “non-demominational”) schools.

    Unfortunately I fear that no Scottish Government will ever make this bold move. For the foreseeable future they will not have the strength for this.

    Neither would the blue Tories go for it – it would infuriate their mostly Unionist followers. Equally the red Tories would not want to anger their followers.

    • annickburn says:

      Correct David, non-denomination schools are a starting point. I vividly remember, at the age of 5, asking my mum why my friend was going on a different bus to school. We all went to nursery together, everyone went to the same local school, my mum just said “because she is catholic they go to another school.” Now we were segregated and 1 girl became the minority. I don’t remember playing with her after that.
      Of course I didn’t understand it at the time but you are correct when you say “year on year the conditioning grows stronger”. I actually like football. I think it was my rebellion….”girls don’t go to football matches”. Naturally I chose Rangers as my team and I still do. I stood on the terraces and sang the songs, held up my Union Jack enjoyed every minute of the buzz of winning, frustration of the draws and the tears of defeat. I was also terrified when I found myself in a carriage on my own (the old carriages with seats for 6 people and the sliding doors) covered in red, white and blue as the train pulled into Paisley Gilmour Street the day Celtic beat St Mirren 7-1 to win the league. The platform was a sea of green and white jubilation. I had no where to go and the soon my carriage was full of ‘Tims’ singing in my face. Fortunately a rather large, actually huge (or was that my fearful perception) red headed man pushed his way into the carriage, I thought I was going to die! I didn’t, obviously, he told everyone to get out and he sat beside me and talked about football and asked about me being on my own .. when I got off the train in Troon I was physically sick and shaken. I was 17 at the time.

      The experience didn’t put me off going to the football but because of that huge red hair guy my prejudices wained. I am a natural historian and I started to think about what I was singing about, I researched King ‘Billy’ 1690 and the Union and I didn’t really like what I read, I also realised that the religious divide protestants vs Catholics was not unique to modern day Scotland it had actually spawned itself through centuries and across nations. A few years later after moving through to the East Coast I discovered that kids there all went to the same local school, there was no segregation, nobody asked you what school you went to or what team you supported ….

      I became enlightened, I still enjoy football and I still follow Rangers, some may say I am not that enlightened. I don’t go to games now and condemn sectarianism in any shape or form but I am mostly mortified that I bought into it all.

  30. Graeme Timoney says:

    Another excellent article Paul. Since my first school days when I had to run a daily gauntlet of spit and blows to get past the “proddy school” on my fear filled journey to St.Bonaventure’s in the Gorbals, to losing jobs to the funny handshake mob all my working days, I have experienced racism. In this disunited kingdom we Scots are made to feel inferior, but then to be of even part Catholic parentage we are made to feel even less so. I do not want independence to be better than anyone just to be an equal in my own country.

    • I doubt that this lass will get her PhD if this is the quality of her evidence.
      Can we just let it rest now.
      We are getting sucked into the Kaffliks Proddies thing, an anachronism from the last century.
      This is what WATP Tomkins, The Queen’s Eleven Fraser, and James Kelly, the One Man Political wing of the Green Brigade are doing on behalf of the Better Together camp.
      In an earlier post, I urged this lass to read No Mean City, or The Road to Wigan Pier.
      It didn’t matter what colour or creed our forebears were, the Establishment crushed them into eternal poverty, degradation, and endless ‘slavery’.
      Divide and conquer. To think a black person would sign up to this, just so that the Oligarchy, The Iron Heel, the Brit Establishment can continue to control the rest of us, beggars belief.
      Look in the mirror, young lady.
      The day is coming when we will have a ‘better’, fairer’, Scotland.

      • The ‘young lady’ is deliberate, echoes of that Bullingdon Boy Cameron.

      • Graeme Timoney says:

        Well said Jack , we can make this country a better place to live in once free of Westminster’s divide and rule policies, and everyone who chooses to live in Scotland comes together to work for the common weal

  31. JayR says:

    Fantastic article, Paul. Unlike the Unionists, you’re not trying to airbrush any sad, grubby wee chapters from Scotland’s history that might be “awkward” to explain.

  32. ALANM says:

    “She said that white Scots have no experience of racism, with the implication that white Scots have no right to comment. That’s offensive and hurtful because it’s untrue”

    Too right it’s untrue. I moved from Glasgow to London in 1980 but was barred from applying for tickets to watch England v Scotland at Wembley in May 1981. This was because the English FA had decided not to accept accept applications from people living in Scotland or people living in England with “Scottish sounding” surnames!

    This was taken to court by the Scottish Football Supporters Association but the case was lost because apparently Scots are not a defined racial group under the terms of the 1976 Race Relations Act – we’re all British so discrimination is perfectly legal.

  33. Stephen Sinclair says:

    Having spent much of my life living in England, I think my all-time ‘favourite’ insult at work was being referred to as the Porridge-Wog. Of course, it wasn’t meant as an insult. It was just ‘gentle ribbing’…

  34. Hmm, so Scotland only took part in the slave trade to please the English?

    • Pointless little one liner. It’s the 21st Century, whoever you are.

      • if you read the blog, you will see what i mean.

        • DrScott, I have no interest in following this line of mock outrage manufactured by the Better Together nasty back room boys.
          This lady knows what she’s doing. Firstly climbing up the career ladder as a champion for black, gay, but British folk, and secondly, spreading hate and division throughout this land.
          I ignore you, and this small minded rubbish.
          We are repealing the Act of Union, and will no longer ‘allow’ that country to the South of Us ‘rule’ us.
          I am white, heterosexual, a parent, retired, btw.This is the one and only time that I’ll pigeon hole myself when arguing for Self Determination.
          ‘If you cut me, do I not bleed?’
          The tactics of hate, racism, bigotry and uber nationalism all emanate from disgusting little opportunists.
          It will do this lady’s career no harm to spout this groundless bile.

          Take your faux outrage elsewhere. It has no place in a debate on Self Determination.

    • weegingerdug says:

      Really not sure where you’re getting that from. Try thinking Dr Scott, and less knee jerking. You could go far.

      • weegingerdug says:

        It’s a very simple point really. Scots who got involved in the more nefarious aspects of the British Empire project did not do so because they were concerned to spread Scottish nationalism. But instead of engaging with the issues raised by the article, about the role of Unionism in perpetuating racism, some Unionists prefer to keep on slinging mud. Introspection and reflection are not their strong points.

    • hettyforindy says:

      And er, who benefitted from that slave trade, regards land, and property. hmm, let me think now, it must be all those Scots who own Scotland now. All those mansion houses and castles. Hmmm.

      How long has Scotland been in this forced marriage? Even now, we are seeing deportations from Scotland, which has nothing to do with us, it is the UKGov using Scotland to ensure that Scotland is portrayed as a mean, insular and racist country, when the opposite is true! Immigration, reserved to Westminster even if people have lived in Scotland for years and years they are being forced out by the UKgov, to the detriment of Scotland’s economy and skill base.
      Utterly disgusting.

      Trident, wmds. Some even think that Scotland has an MOD for christ sake!

      So yes, no doubt there was some coercion, maybe a few shillings changing hands, who knows. The english certainly have a heck of a lot to answer for, and still do.

      • Slavery is an utter abomination. Rewriting Scotland’s involvement by linking it to trident is an utter disgrace.

        • annickburn says:

          Rewriting Scotland’s involvement by linking it to ‘People make Glasgow’ and Commonwealth Games was a cheap jibe from Ms Heuchan.
          Has there not been recent talk about renaming streets in Glasgow that are associated with Scotland’s Slave traders? That is not to wipe it from history, that is to take away the honour.

        • hettyforindy says:

          No what is an utter disgrace is that slavery is being used by unionists to further demonise the many hundreds of thousands of Scotland’s supporters for simply wanting to be independent.

          My analogy was to make the point that Scotland is a colony to the britnats, to be used and abused, to the detriment of the people. I was not ‘rewriting’ anything. I neither have the time, nor inclination to ‘rewrite history’. Not one part of my comment condoned slavery in any way, shape or form. Your faux outrage is very telling indeed.

          Trident is most certainly an abomination, forcibly parked in our beautiful country, along with wmd’s. That is an utter disgrace!

        • hettyforindy says:

          No what is an utter disgrace is that slavery is being used by unionists to further demonise the many hundreds of thousands of Scotland’s supporters for simply wanting to be independent.

          My analogy was to make the point that Scotland is a colony to the britnats, to be used and abused, to the detriment of the people. I was not ‘rewriting’ anything. I neither have the time, nor inclination to ‘rewrite history’. Not one part of my comment condoned slavery in any way, shape or form. Your faux outrage is very telling indeed.

          Trident is most certainly an abomination, forcibly parked in our beautiful country, along with wmd’s. That is an utter disgrace!

    • Macart says:

      Nope, can’t see where that is written in the post.

      • I hope this helps: “While individual Scots enthusiastically participated in the British Empire, they did so as Britons. They did so in order to aggrandise Britain and Britishness.”

        • Macart says:

          There you go. You can read.

          Now point out where it says:

          ‘Scotland only took part in the slave trade to please the English?’

          In your own time.

          • It implies that if not part of the UK Scotland would not have taken part in the slave trade. That’s reprehensible. We have to confront our history, not rewrite it.

            • Macart says:

              I’m not seeing that implication at all and in fact in the very line you have chosen it clearly stipulates enthusiastic participation in the expansion of empire. I’m not seeing any attempt to either rewrite history or evade responsibility.

              Now again. Please point out where the author claims in his own text: ‘Scotland only took part in the slave trade to please the English?’

              • Yes, of course you don’t see that implication.

                • Macart says:

                  So that would be no then? You can’t find those words in the body text.

                  As I understand this reading malarkey. You deal with what someone actually writes, not with what you wish they had written.

                  • Sam, I counsel you to ignore this Yoon plant.
                    This is the aim; clog up sites like this with pointless garbage about 18th century slavery, rather than Self determination issues in the real world, the here, the now.
                    It’s probably McDougall himself. After all he’s been out of work for two years.

                    • ‘Claptrap’ best describes the nonsense seeping through from the Yoon trolls.
                      DrScott spews claptrap.
                      Vacuous unfounded nonsense to elicit a response.

                • weegingerdug says:

                  The reason he doesn’t see the implication is because it only exists in your imagination.

                • Janet says:

                  Dr Scott, have you got a job to go to?

                  Course you do. You got that job by way of intellect not funny handshakes. Come out of the shadows, come join us!

            • weegingerdug says:

              It implies no such thing. What is reprehensible are people like you who try to rewrite people’s words in order to make a spurious point.

        • weegingerdug says:

          That doesn’t mean they did it to “please the English”, you idiot. Perhaps you ought to think about engaging with the issues that the piece actually raises instead of those which only exist in your own mind.

  35. […] proud of the fact that Scotland is a country someone can belong to in two weeks if they want to. As Paul Kavanagh points out in a brilliant […]

  36. Iain Donnachie says:

    Wonderful piece of writing it is definitely something that was in need of saying. It is very sad that sectarianism still goes on here the sooner it ends the better. But when you have so called unionist MSPs who are happy to keep it going it will still take a long time to eradicate it from society. A few MSPs names spring to mind and I’m sure you will know who I mean.

  37. Bill McDermott says:

    To make money under the auspices of the British state. No more, no less

  38. Shinty says:


    50 odd years ago I was laughed out of a shop as a 10 yo child because I asked for a plain loaf and a tin of Granny’s Tomato Soup. ( my family were visiting relatives in Cheshire)

    Roll on 8 years, as a student in London the friendliest place for me during my 3 week course was an Italian Cafe.

    40 years later, I speak to people from over 40 countries (including England) and guess what, they think Scotland rocks!

    So I reckon if your kids are being abused at school or your car is being vandalised report it to the police/school.

    I hope I’m wrong here but I think I saw a copy and paste job from your post way back pre indyref 2014 different moniker, but heyho, dugs love you no matter what eh?

  39. Hugh Wallace says:

    One of your best Paul. As a white Scot who spent some time in New Zealand as a child I have first hand experience of racism directed towards me because I was Scottish. By the white New Zealanders I hasten to add; the Maoris were generally much more accepting of me. On returning to Scotland I became very aware of the racism directed towards Scots by the English, even some of those who live up here alongside us. Many English are not actively racist towards Scots but are passively so, something that I also witnessed in NZ among many whites towards non-whites. I also witnessed the racism some Scots had & have towards the English & non-whites (& other ‘foreigners’) but that is something that has changed massively for the better in the last 25 years in my observation Are we a perfect, racism free country? Not in the slightest but it is not a prevalent motivating force among this who are campaigning for independence from the UK. If it were, I’d have nothing too do with thodr campaigners despite being a life-long supporter of an independent Scotland.

  40. PHIL says:

    One of the first things I was asked when I commenced work in the printing trade in Edinburgh in 1965 was ‘what school did you go to son’, aged 15 and too stupid to get it I replied ‘Dalkeith High’, that was deemed to be ok. It was only until 6 months later that another laddie started and was asked the same thing by the same person and answered ‘St Anthony’s’ that the penny finally dropped. That same person also tried to make a case for Hitler’s treatment of the Jews, even at age 15 l knew there was something amiss………….

  41. hettyforindy says:

    Great article. I reckon this kind of article in the Graun, pretendy lefty rag, is aimed at those who already display either ignorance and/or contempt for Scotland, the SNP, and especially for those having the audacity to want to change things for the better, ie Scottish independence supporters.

    In the lead up to the independence referendum in 2014, I vistited friends and family in north east England. I was utterly shocked at the ridicule, ignorance about, and contempt aimed at those of us who wanted Independence. In fact some friends, one Irish, were full of contempt for what they viewed as the ‘Scots siding with the english’ in some past war. I had little knowledge to argue my case then.

    There was the usual, ‘I don’t like the Alex Salmond mind’. Asked why, they had no idea!

    After the referendum, more ridicule. Stuff like, ‘av lost all respect now you’s voted no like’. And ‘what you think you can make Scotland a utopia, and what about the rest of the yookay, you’s don’t care about them do you!’

    This from intelligent Graun reading friends, and family who take the bbc as gospel.

    So, the utterly disgraceful propaganda coming out now, is for their benefit. Make people your enemy, pit people against. It’s called othering, and it is very dangerous. It will however, to some, make it easier to demonise Scotland, and the SNP. It means that a unionist attack in whatever form will be viewed as justified.

    That the independence supporters are being demonised, totally lied about, is really the one thing left that the unionists have, and they do not care about any consequences. Obviously nothing could be further from the truth regards the unionist lies.

    It is blatantly obvious that those in support of Scottish independence could hardly be more peaceful, more inclusive and more democratic.

    Why let the facts, and the truth get in the way of continuing to keep your neighbouring country shackled, eh. They have a lot to lose, watch out for false flag stuff too. They will stop at nothing.

  42. Bamstick says:

    We all deal with “…ism’s”. No matter our race, religion etc. We are judged and we judge others.

    I have only one “…ism”. I freely admit to hating a*seholes. So I judge people to be a*seholes and I’m guilty therefore of a*seholeism.

    A*seholes can be of any race or religion. I am indiscriminate in my judgement. It matters not a jot if they are the man up the road, the woman in the street or anyone anywhere in the world. If they act like an a*sehole, that is what they are. (In my opinion)

  43. Doug Porteous says:

    So white people cannot experience racism, well that’s not my experience you should experience HMs armed forces. Expression such as Porridge Wog (Above), Jock Bastard or JB and the acronym FRISP (Fuckin Repugnant Ignorant Scottish Person) were in common use the Welsh and Irish suffered similar indignities. Curiously enough there were no similar descriptions for my English counterparts.

  44. kate58 says:

    A very good friend of mine sent me the link to this Guardian article on racism in Scotland. I read it and was gobsmacked. It’s not for me to prove or disprove the veracity of what the woman said, and I will not denigrate her feelings: they are hers, and valid. But let me share my experience with you.

    I am a black American woman (I use “black” because I dislike the term “African-American”; these days, I am hesitant to admit to being American, but that’s another story) who, as of this writing, has lived in Dundee, Scotland for 14 years and four months). And I happily refute the idea of Scotland as a racist country.

    When I moved here all those years ago, I did so with some trepidation: when you grow up black in America, it makes you cautious, it makes you wary. But I moved for love, and my fiancé assured me that the Scots weren’t like that. It was the one thing he was right about.

    In Scotland – and not just Dundee, for I have travelled widely across the country, visiting places my Scottish friends jokingly tell me they’ve not visited – I am not viewed as a BLACK woman. For the first time in my life – and I am close to 60 – I am seen simply as Kathy, a woman who moved across the pond for love.

    In almost 15 years, I’ve had three racist incidents: a wee boy in a playground who called me a “Paki”, a casual acquaintance who referred to me as a “bonnie darkie” in the pub, which resulted in a two-week ban from said pub, and a person I thought was a friend, who was being aggressive toward the bar staff and patrons in my local and who, when I jokingly told him I thought it was time for him to go home, said to me “Fuck’s sake….never thought I’d see the day when a nigger’d tell me to go home.” Before I could respond, the patrons responded: they physically grabbed him and literally threw him out of the pub onto the pavement.

    In Scotland, I’ve had total strangers walk up to me – men and women – to tell me “I’m a beautiful lass.” On my first visit to Blairgowrie, I had a total stranger, who, after asking if she could touch my braided hair, invited me to her home to meet her 6-year-old son. My first Christmas in Dundee, some of the patrons in my local bought me Christmas presents because they were worried about the number of presents I’d get being so far from home and my family. Once when I was lost, I ended up in a long conversation with an elderly Scottish couple who, after they gave me directions, then gave me their home address and phone number and invited me to visit them at their farm in Blair Atholl. I went, and I am still friends with this couple.

    When an error some years ago on my ILR form led to my receiving a letter from the Home Office that I was going to be deported, it was my Scottish neighbours, my Scottish co-workers and the students in the Scottish school where I was employed at the time who put together paper petitions and online petitions to the Home Office on my behalf. I had many Scottish friends who wrote letters to their MPs on my behalf, went to surgeries with me to highlight my case, and went to court with me.

    I won my case – I now have indefinite leave to remain, and I hope to obtain full citizenship in the future.
    But don’t you miss your family and friends back in the US? I can hear some of you asking. Of course I miss them – they’re my family and friends. But I LOVE living in a country where I am allowed to just BE, where I am not seen first and foremost as a COLOUR. I love being able to wander around a shop without having security guards follow me around because they have a mistaken belief that because I’m black I will most likely steal something. I love Scotland’s people, their openness, their tolerance and acceptance of people of other cultures, their humour and generosity.

    To the woman who claims Scotland is racist, I can only say that I’m sorry if that has been your experience. But it has definitely not been MINE.

  45. Electric blue says:

    Thanks again for another brilliant article. I wish this had been published in the Guardian.
    Heartening too, to read all the comments following.
    Add haggis hunter and jock strap to the list of Scottish insults. Used by some idiots but not my very good English friends!

  46. annickburn says:

    Excellent response Paul and some interesting posts and stories to boot.
    I think the Guardian should print it in response but won’t hold my breath.
    Perhaps you can respond in The National?

  47. Holebender says:

    What kind of an ego does an Englishman like David Cameron or Sadiq Khan have to have to believe that Scotland’s independence movement is all about him?

  48. Scott Borthwick says:

    One of your best, WGD. I would love to see this in the Guardian as a reasoned counterpoint, but I’m guessing they wouldn’t touch it. Their agenda is clear, and they will work hard to manufacture their narrative.

    I despair at the lack of intellect and introspection from a PhD student.

  49. Douglas Milne says:

    A superbly written, powerful and important piece, Paul. I’d never really made the connection between sectarianism and anti-Irish racism before, even though it’s blatantly obvious as soon as it’s pointed out.

    Well put

  50. Abulhaq says:

    Ms Heuchan’s script was poor, irritating, but rather second rate, ad hoc clickbait. She may well have set out to be vilified and has seemingly achieved the intended result.
    Having failed to damage Scottish nationalism politically the British Statists are attempting the high moral ground stunt. The bitter irony of the Brits, with their imperialist and racial exceptionalist history, having a high moral ground to occupy apparently escapes the likes of Ms Heuchan.
    Scots as British did do ‘racism’. We also did it, as Scots, against our own. Anti-Gael/Gaelic discrimination is a running sore in our history. Then there’s the Catholic thing. The airbrushing of Catholic Scotland from the national historico-cultural narrative to suit the revised political text. Something that hasn’t yet been adequately addressed.
    The complexities and tragedies of our own national story in which we were as much exploited as exploiters should give us the resource to see through the knavish tricks of the amoral British establishment apparatus and its deluded Scottish propagandists.
    I personally do not have an issue with the term ‘ethnic nationalist’. Scotland is after all a land of ‘ethnicities’ intersecting as in a venn diagram. We should be proud of that. In Scottish nationalism we have the possibility of creating a nation of interdependent, mutually supportive ‘ethnicities’. But first the alien, divisive elephant in the room, Britishness, has to be sent packing.

  51. Robert Graham says:

    o/t sorry . my sincere condolences to our Nicola in having to deal with Mrs Mayhem and this Tory regime , having watched this lot and their leader at PMQs , its their way or NO way you simply cant have any sort of meaningful dialog with this Machine , they dont listen to anyone , wont listen to anyone , So whats the point ? just do anything you want First Minister with the full backing from what now must be a Majority of people here , Personally i wouldn’t have the patience , it would be GTF May and take yer Tory f/krs with you .

  52. […] Heuchan even touches on that as you’d expect from someone defending the British state) but as Paul Kavanagh points out here, Scots come from a position of coloniser and colonised. It was not just morally dishonest for the […]

  53. emilytom67 says:

    Wee ginger dug,after the “battle of the boyne” both catholic/protestants were united in wanting a united Ireland,this posed a huge problem for the government of the time”a united front”,the prime minister?of the time consulted General Sir George Knox about how best to tackle the problem,his re-ply was don,t worry I will play the “orange card” the rest is as they say history.3ooyrs later and we are still divided.

  54. Dietrich Eckhart, and his Thulis Nationalists, the forerunner of the Nazis, wooed anti -Jewish bankers, businessmen, and intellectuals of Bavarian high society by telling them things that they wanted to hear:-a guarantee of low interest rates, a pledge to disband the unions, a promise to return to traditional family values, an anti- Jewish crusade, since the blame for Germany’s decline was laid at the door of the Jews and the Communists.
    It was he who introduced a young Hitler to this gilt edged elite.
    Hitler later observed:-
    ‘This Dietrich Eckhart is a man I can admire. He appears to know the meaning of hatred and how to apply it.’
    “Hatred and how to apply it.”
    It is clear that the Britnats have taken this on board.
    Hate the Jocks because they are racist Nats?
    Hate the Jocks because they voted Remain?
    Hate the Jocks, well, because they are Jocks?
    Project Fear II is underway.
    It is clear that there can be none of the old Project Fear lies and threats this time.
    England and Wales are now the ‘separatists’.
    Why would we leave a union with 27 countries, and a market of 500 million, to be subject to English Arch Right Wing Tory Domination for eternity instead?
    They are worried sick, that’s for sure.
    ‘Bye Eng/Waland.
    This is my last comment on this disgusting little Better Together smear on the citizens of Scotland.
    I repeat, shame on you.
    We shall prevail.

  55. heathermclean19 says:

    Glad to see my friend Kathy’s post on here, I sent her the Guardian article and also this blog and knew that she would want to comment on the Guardian piece. Kathy loves Scotland and its people, she was welcomed into the bosom of Dundee and people made her welcome because she is a lovely, positive, smart and genuinely nice person – and because of that, no one notices the colour of her skin – all they see is genuine goodness glowing from her.
    You reap what you sow in life, if you have a positive, caring attitude and are nice to people, then generally that’s what you get back in return, regardless of race, religion or skin colour. Which really makes me wonder, WHY this other lady has received the experience she claims to have had from Scots!

    • kate58 says:

      Give yourself a hand, Heather, for being one of the many Scots who have welcomed, accepted & loved me. Thanks for having my back through the years. xx

  56. […] again, I kept quiet, more or less. Others did not, and all power to them, particularly those wonderful English Scots who refute the equation of the […]

  57. Roy says:

    Excellent article Paul, all I wanted to add is that Sadiq khan will be on LBC radio tomorrow on the James obrien show tomorrow from 10am taking calls, do us all a favour and call in.

  58. […] there are many such discussion on the nature of racism, bigotry and xenophobia in Scotland, and the independence movement in […]

  59. Very nice article! As recently arrived here in Scotland it’s nice to find balanced views over the society over here. Loved it! Greatly appreciate it.

  60. […] very clear racism deployed against Catholics in Scotland, as elaborated on by Paul Kavanagh (see https://weegingerdug.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/lets-talk-about-racism-in-scotland/), which affected a great deal of supporters of Scottish self-determination, that assertion is […]

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