An Emotion Foreign To Me

Is that really bafflement, sadness and fear, or just general boredom?

Vote No Borders didn’t bother to credit the source of this stock image (at least as of this post), so I’ve done it for them.

Much as I’d like to ignore Vote No Borders, their latest stunt has filled my heart with a wrenching sadness.

Dr Richard Marsh writes “My grandson in England, aged ten and quarter, looks utterly baffled and very sad at thought of  his Grandparents being in danger of becoming foreigners. He keeps asking “Why Grandpa?”

“Grandpa, will you and granny be foreigners?”

My aunt was born in Kenya. My cousin was born in Singapore. Several of my family members were born and live as far afield as Denmark, Canada, the United States, and beyond. I cannot imagine my feelings about my grandparents would change an iota if they were born in a different nation – why should they?

Dr Richard Marsh goes on to say some other things that I can’t understand, but I’m pretty sure that’s simply because I can’t understand his point of view.

After 300 years the most successful and effective economic and social union of four nations in world history is under threat. That union is called the United Kingdom and those that want to break it are from a single nationalist faction in Scotland – the Scottish Nationalist Party.

And the Scottish Greens. And the Scottish Socialist Party. And Solidarity – Scotland’s Socialist Movement. And the many who do not subscribe to any party at all. But it doesn’t do to represent the desire for independence as something that’s desired by many parties, when it’s so much easier to present it as the mania of a single party?

Why? The macro economics of a separate Scotland make no sense – a prospect of ever increasing debt and deficit in a diminished market.

And the UK is doing so well on that front…

Cultural arguments do not exist, we are all British, thoroughly intermixed and integrated with the same gene pool in Truro as in Thurso.

Well if we’re all British, why do we even consider Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales distinct countries, with their own distinct and separate national heritage trusts, historic societies, even football teams? Why keep up this pretence of four nations if we’re so “thoroughly intermixed and integrated”? Let’s subsume it all: Historic Britain, the National Trust for Britain, the British football team. Then get rid of any distinction between Scots and rUK laws, health services, and so forth.

This is part of a more insidious argument, the idea that Scots are no different from England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Any differences, from language to culture to history, are either Walter Scott fakery, or so minor they don’t even deserve recognition – certainly not enough to warrant enough distinction to assert their independence. Do people not realise just how offensive such a thing that is – to say that your culture doesn’t exist?

So is there an advantage in separation for the vast majority of Scottish businesses? “Yes” shout the Nats, “We will reduce Corporation Tax.”


To shave a couple of per cent off the least burdensome of business taxes our businesses will first have to lose  90 % of their home market.

Separation =/= independence. Is wanting out of the EU “separation”? Is wanting to remain a sovereign nation apart from the rest of the world “separation”? No? Then stop with the emotive language. Less of the “Nats” would be nice, too.

They will then lose the pound

No they won’t. Stop saying Scotland will “lose the pound” when you presumably mean “will not have a currency union” – which, even if it was true, would not stop Scotland using the pound any more than it currently stops several independent nations from doing right now.

be hit with much higher borrowing rates, have unsecured banks without a lender of last resort, have to cope with an unpredictable exchange rate lottery, lose the EU opt outs and if they resort to exporting they will discover they have just turned 267 British Embassies and High Commissions around the world into arch rivals and the fiercest of competitors for our export trade.

I love how our former best friends, who previously loved us to bits as “the most successful and effective economic and social union,” will then transform into “arch rivals and the fiercest of competitors” as soon as we assert our independence. If the UK’s that petty and vindictive, why on earth would we want to remain part of it?

It is a sad and dangerous time for Scotland. A wonderful country and people in the grip of a narrow, divisive, arrogant, controlling and insular creed called Nationalism.

It is indeed sad and dangerous to present the millions of Scots who want independence as “narrow, divisive, arrogant, controlling and insular,” and to describe that desire as a “creed.” (Then again, I could be unkind and say that they are indeed talking about nationalism – British nationalism)

My grandson in England, aged ten and quarter, looks utterly baffled and very sad at thought of  his Grandparents being in danger of becoming foreigners. He keeps asking “Why Grandpa?”

If anybody knows the answer would you be kind enough to tell him please?

I have a question for your grandson, if you don’t mind me asking. Since you decided to bring him into the debate – and as his grandfather, I’m sure you only chose to involve him after much thought and considerations for his own feelings – it’s only fair that he be treated as part of it.

Young lad, why are you baffled? Because your grandparents would not – and indeed, cannot – “become” foreigners. For one, the UK home office asserts that Scottish citizens in the event of independence will retain their UK citizenship – after all, you can’t change your birth nationality. A person born in Zimbabwe who emigrates to Australia doesn’t mean they must renounce their Zimbabwean past, that they somehow renege their very birthplace. Perhaps that’s why you’re baffled – because your grandfather is telling you something that you know cannot make any sense?

Young lad, why are you sad? What could make you sad about the idea of your grandparents residing in the exact same country they’re living in, only with a different government? As far as they’ve said, they aren’t moving further afield, so it can’t be that. They aren’t promising never to return to visit, can’t be that either. Is it because the idea of becoming foreign would make you sad? Why would it? Your grandparents would speak the same language, eat the same food, do everything they did more or less the same as they did as UK citizens. Your grandparents would be the exact same people you know and love. Perhaps that’s why you’re sad – because your grandfather is telling you that something innate to his very being would change?

Young lad, why are you afraid? What is it about the idea of your grandparents becoming foreigners which you perceive to be a “danger”? From the British perspective, the vast majority of people on this planet are “foreigners.” They are much like you or me, or your grandfather. They all have families, homes, lives they cherish, which may differ in detail, but not at the core. To be foreign is not something to be distrusted, or feared, or hated. Perhaps that’s why you’re afraid – because your grandfather tells you that being a foreigner is something to be afraid of? Your grandfather told you that? Even though it is completely untrue, he would still put that fear into your mind?

I would ask my ten-year-old niece her thoughts on this, but I’d rather not exploit my younger family members in such a fashion, especially not telling bare-faced lies about “becoming” a foreigner, “losing” the pound, and maligning a substantial portion of the country – the very “wonderful” people he speaks of – as “narrow, divisive, arrogant, controlling and insular”.

I have more respect than to do that to the people I love.


4 thoughts on “An Emotion Foreign To Me

  1. Fantastic riposte, Taranaich. It really does disturb me way British nationalists obsess about ‘foreign’ as a pejorative. It saddens and embarrasses me in equal measure to the point I would rather have nothing to do with them at all. The UK today is an embarrassment to me and an insult to my intelligence and I truly cannot wait to acquire a Scottish passport and never again have carry the baggage of shame that bearing one with the emblem of the British State obliges me to.

    • alharron says:

      You and me both, maxstafford. As ever, I can only hope the scales fall from their eyes and they see that the people most likely to do actual harm to them are not the foreigners or benefit claimants or even the terrorists, but the same people who change legislation under the guise of “protecting” them from those dangers.

      • These days, I often remember one of the final scenes from the movie ‘Bridge at Remagen’. The noble German Major, played by Robert Vaughan, is about to be executed by the SS. Some aircraft fly overhead and he asks the SS commander; “Ours or theirs?”, “Enemy planes, Major”, says the SS officer.
        The major replies rhetorically; “But who is the enemy?”
        And that’s a question I have asked myself increasingly since Iraq and especially this last three years.

  2. Hugh Wallace says:

    Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    As someone who grew up the son, grandson, nephew and cousin of foreigners – not to mention growing up in a foreign country – Vote No Border’s latest effort grates just a little.

What're your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.