Rory the Tory has been at it again. Rory Stuart, another of those old Etonian posh boys who infest the Conservative party, is nevertheless terribly keen to tell us in his cut glass upper class English accent that he is Scottish. Rory appeared in, wrote, and presented, an infamous BBC British propaganda exercise during the 2014 independence referendum campaign when the state broadcaster gave him an hour long, programme, masquerading as a historical documentary, which was a ludicrously pro-British exploration of the far north of England and the Scottish Borders in which Rory, who’s Scottish you know, attempted to sell us his highly idiosyncratic take on Scottish history.
Rory, I bet you didn’t know that he was Scottish, was also responsible for that “join hands along the border nonsense” and a torchlit parade along Hadrian’s Wall, both which died a death due to a complete lack of interest, possibly because the only people prepared to join hands along the border were people like Rory – who is frightfully frightfully Scottish – who don’t actually believe that the border exists.
Rory, did I mention that he is Scottish?, has a view of Scottish history and cultural identity which makes Neil Oliver seem like a raging Scottish nationalist. According to Rory, and at this juncture it’s important to mention that he’s Scottish, being Scottish is basically nothing more than “a fun way to irritate the English,” news which will come as something of a surprise to five million Scottish people who hadn’t realised that their national identity was just a prank, and that our entire purpose as a nation is to be defined by and provide amusement for our English neighbours.
But then Rory, who was born in Hong Kong to a posh Anglo-Scottish father and an equally posh English mother, and who was brought up in the posher parts of London before being packed off to Eton, is himself Scottish and therefore has his finger firmly on the pulse of the Caledonian Zeitgeist, so who are we mere lifelong residents of Scotland to contradict him. We are just peasants who don’t feel the need to keep telling everyone that we are Scottish because it’s obvious every time we open our gobs and so can’t possibly understand being Scottish better than Rory, having had to go to comprehensive schools in Lanarkshire or Dundee and not having had the benefit of Rory’s very Scottish Eton education. Although it may be more accurate to say that Rory does not so much have his finger on the Scottish pulse as he has his hands firmly wrapped around the Scottish carotid artery as he desperately tries to squeeze the life out of it.
Anyway, Rory, who is Scottish, believes that Scottish national identity is basically a false construct overlying a far deeper, older, and supposedly more authentic British nationhood. In his, let’s call it a documentary, he tried to punt the proposition that the North of England and the Scottish Borders are really some “Middleland” which is neither Scottish nor English but really both, the Scottish-English border is really an artificial line dividing an essentially united Britain and that Scottish nationhood is an artificial construct. The BBC actually broadcast this nonsense during the independence referendum campaign as an “apolitical” historical documentary.
Of course the reality is that the Scottish English border is one of the oldest in Europe and the modern understanding of Scottish nationhood dates back to the Scottish wars of independence of the 13th century and arguably earlier, whereas the modern concept of Britishness is a far more recent invention, dating back at the very earliest to the Union of Crowns of the 17th century, but even then it remained a concept and identity restricted to the aristocracy and the elites until the Union of Parliaments of 1707, even then it took a long time to establish itself amongst the wider population, and never replaced the older and more organic Scottish identity which it overlaid, but rather co-existed with it, often uncomfortably.
Rory, did you know that he was Scottish? – is now back punting his Scottishness isn’t a real thing shtick. He’s allowed to say these things without being accused of being a clueless upper class English idiot because as he keeps reminding us, he himself is so Scottish that his dad liked to wear tartan trousers and even enjoyed bagpipes, rather than run screaming out of the room with his ears bleeding like a proper red-blooded Englishman.
In a recent podcast, Rory, during the gaps in between telling us how Scottish he is, said that it was “insane” to think that Cumbria and the Borders could be in different countries. I don’t know about you, but I had always thought that as far as the Borders is concerned, the clue is in the name. It’s called the Borders because it sits on the Border, if there was no Border it wouldn’t be called the Borders now would it. It would be called Northnorthumbria or Stillcumbria.
Rory thinks that Scotland and England can’t possibly be different countries because people on both sides of that, you know, border, speak the same language, listen to the same music and shop in the same supermarkets. Of course perhaps if Rory’s experience of Scottishness was rather deeper than it is he might realise that the Scots language not only exists but is still widely spoken, but his assertion that speaking the same language as a neighbouring country means that you can’t be a different country must come as news to French speaking Belgians, the Swiss, or Canadians. And for all that Tesco is very keen on plastering union flags on grocery packaging, I didn’t realise that shopping there meant that Scotland couldn’t be a country. No Scotland, you aren’t a proper nation because too many of you like Tesco own brand lamb jalfrezi.
Rory’s plea is just another misguided appeal to ancient history in an attempt to manufacture an emotional case for the Union. And it’s going to convince no one because it’s irrelevant to the question of whether Scotland in the 21st century is better served by an independent parliament, or a parliament in London. The fact that Rory keeps making these irrelevant and frankly intelligence insulting interventions only proves that he is utterly clueless about the Scotland he so desperately keeps telling us he belongs to.
I have a physiotherapy appointment tomorrow and will most likely be wiped out afterwards. So there may not be a new blog piece for a couple of days.
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