Hugo Rifkind

It’s time that Scotland’s timid posh folk spoke out

From the spires of Loretto, Glenalmond, Fettes and Gordonstoun, let the cry go up...

22 February 2014

9:00 AM

22 February 2014

9:00 AM

I took part in a documentary about Scottishness a few weeks ago, and it wasn’t bad at all. I mused, mainly, on my own border-hopping, fretful-about-independence Scottish-Britishness, and a decent number of people got in touch afterwards to say I’d been speaking for them, too. Others were more cross, but interestingly so. One thing about the whole experience bugs me, though. That was the way they had me sit in a swanky Scottish restaurant in Belgravia and made out like I belonged there.

It’s not that you don’t get Scots in Belgravia. Most will probably own castles back in Scotland, too, though. When they move to Belgravia, they do so in a manner similar to the way that orthodox Jews move to Israel; to finally be among their own. This is not my world. I live opposite a mosque in Haringey and moved to London for the opposite reason — not to join my people, but to leave them. Raised in comfortable, middle-class Edinburgh (where the castle is lovely, but alas not mine), I wanted a life with a few more jagged edges.

I can see why producers went with the Belgravia thing, though. One great oddity of modern Scotland is the near-invisibility of the true middle class. By which, of course, I don’t really mean the people in the middle, like Ed Miliband would, but something more like the non-landed posh. The professionals. England’s equivalents are noisy, boisterous and sharp-elbowed; confident that they set the template of what everybody else should hope to be. Frankly, they act like they own the place.

Not so in Scotland. Here they skulk, despite being everywhere. Edinburgh is a city in which a staggering one in four children are educated in the independent sector. Honestly, look it up. The Merchant Company, the Faculty of Advocates, the Edinburgh Festival; these pillars of the Scottish establishment are still stuffed full of such people. Yet in politics and indeed in public at all, they have picked up a habit of either keeping their heads down or pretending to be something else. Search for their overt contribution to the current debate on Scottish independence and you will search in vain.


This is not a new phenomenon. A decade and a half ago, the Glaswegian poet and critic Christopher Whyte used the phrase ‘textual invisibility’ to describe the near absence of the Scottish middle classes from contemporary Scottish literature. And it’s true. From Alasdair Gray’s Lanark to Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting and a thousand points between, they simply aren’t there, except very occasionally as terrible wankers. And yet it is they who read contemporary Scottish literature; who buy it and consume it. It’s not even a defeat, this, because no battle has ever been fought. It’s a pre-emptive retreat. It’s a cringe.

It won’t do. Not any more. You could argue, I’m sure, that one of the most positive aspects of Scottish devolution has been a populist reclamation of the body politic from an establishment with split priorities. That’s all well and good, but actual independence is a different matter. The Scottish middle classes aren’t really a tribe. They could not drift easily into exile, maybe like Uganda’s Asians. They’re exactly like everybody else, but with better jobs. They include, by definition, many of the most successful, creative and driven people that Scotland has to offer.

And they’ll vote no. Not to a man, perhaps, but near as dammit. You get flashes sometimes from their young, who have not yet learned their place. Strathallan, one of Scotland’s most expensive public schools (and costing, as such, slightly less than a London day crèche) recently hosted Brian Taylor’s BBC Scotland debate on the forthcoming independence referendum. The pupils were against, by a margin of 197 to three. Afterwards, some of them had to apologise for getting into an online slanging match with Pete Wishart, the local SNP MP. So there’s passion there.

Yet from their parents and elder siblings, not a peep. They know what they think. They have just grown accustomed, insidiously, to avoiding stating it. Granted, there may be a downside to their turning up the volume, for there are doubtless nationalist factions who would love a referendum on independence to become one on class. But for God’s sake, isn’t that the sort of self-loathing squirming that got us into this mess in the first place? These are the missing voices from the independence debate. This is the source of the No campaign’s terrible insipid bloodlessness, and its palpable lack of fire. It’s the cowed, awkward, embarrassed silence of the very people with the greatest stake.

Yes, you may have divided loyalties, to Scottishness and to Britishness, too. But that’s what Unionism is by definition and there ought to be no shame in it. And yes, you may turn into Welsh’s Begbie after your ninth pint of Bellhaven’s Eighty, or at the very least have an identity tightly bound up with the feeling that you ought to. But even sober, by God, you’re as much a Scot as Sir Walter.

It’s too late for me. I’ve gone. But for you, there is still time. Among the scions of George Watson’s, George Heriot’s, St George’s and other Georges I’ve forgotten, let the cry go up; from the spires of Loretto, Glenalmond, Fettes and Gordonstoun; at Academies Glasgow and Edinburgh, and Morrisons and Dollar and Hutchesons and everywhere else. Your horizons may be broad and your accent may not be, but that matters not one whit. Scotland is your country, too. So pull your damn fingers out, and man the hell up before it’s too late.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Hugo Rifkind is a writer for the Times.

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Show comments
  • Sheumais

    As you are concentrating largely upon Edinburgh, I suggest you peruse the Scotsman’s on-line pages and gauge the relative popularity of comments on Salmond and his version of “independence”. You will find an overwhelming condemnation of both. Perhaps not in the number of comments, but the recommendations of comments. It takes a great deal of effort to outnumber the desperate and empty rantings of the cybernats.

    Some of those denouncing Salmond and his silly campaign may have voted for the SNP in the last Scottish election, to address the Labour stranglehold on Scottish politics, but that has never meant they also supported Salmond’s “independence”. Salmond has never come close to justifying his claimed desire for self-government for Scotland, partly because he keeps turning 180 degrees on what he “thinks” is best. Demanding a currency union after describing the pound as “a millstone around Scotland’s neck” is just one such reversal. That that seemingly hugely important currency union is only intended to be temporary may be an important detail, but Salmond and his band of whatever they are would prefer you aren’t aware of it. What Salmond says he thinks is best is far more likely to be decided by opinion polls and politics than principle and economics and what he intends to deliver may be very different from what he promises.

    Salmond is offering a myth at this referendum. Not because he would have to negotiate the terms of independence, should Yes carry the day, but because the definition of independence varies from one individual to another. If you ask a thoughtful individual what it is they would be voting Yes for, you may find many simply offer self-determination. Membership of the EU does not permit self-determination and it is not unanimous in the SNP, never mind the country as a whole, that EU membership is desired. If Scotland has such a bright financial future solely because it is released from the shackles of Westminster (evil tories, boo, hiss) rule, how can logic support the assertion shackling itself to Brussels is somehow better?

    Amongst Salmond’s many demands is one for David Cameron to debate independence on television with him. That may sway some, in that Clegg seemed somehow credible in the company of Brown and Cameron, but only to those who weren’t listening properly. Those who do listen carefully would note both Salmond and Cameron are pro EU membership, so both would be arguing the same case, but pretending they weren’t. Such a debate would be politics of the cheapest sort and demeaning to a country faced with such an important referendum. Again ,the thoughtful may like to hope No will be accepted as No, but, though he most certainly should, Salmond will not slink quietly away, accepting defeat.

    • allymax bruce

      Shuemais, you shouldn’ tread the Scotchman, it is annoying, anxiety-producing, & Depression-fixated. It is ‘designed’ to project discord & hate. The comments section is controlled & moderated by contracted trolls that work for Johnson Press in USA; they monitor and delete any good argument for iScotland, while instilling the malicious hate into the threads. To say Scotchman is horribly biased is an understament. It is a specific tool to minimise the argument for iScotland, by using Psychological Warfare, ‘dark noise’, (allymax), and Propaganda.

      • Sheumais

        If you develop the respect for other people’s ability to reach their own conclusions, you might have something to say worth saying. It is apparent you do not at present.

        • allymax bruce

          Considering you read the Scotchman, I would say you are the accompliced ignorant. May be you are happy in your cringe?

          • Sheumais

            Grow up.

          • Crying out loud

            He is out of touch with the reality of modern Scotland, much like the slow implosion of the Scotsman itself.

          • Sheumais

            Yes, that’s right, because I’m aware of what’s in the Scotsman, I must only spend my time reading it and nothing else. If you ever approach reality, try to get a firm grip of it.

          • Crying out loud

            You sound like a crazy person.

        • Jambo25

          Given your rant above; that doesn’t appear to be a skill you have yet developed.

          • Sheumais

            Go look up “rant” in a dictionary and you might employ it correctly the next time.

          • Jambo25

            Oh I know what a rant is. You don’t, apparently.

      • Andrew Morton

        As a regular Hootsmon contributor I have to agree. The BTL comments are haunted by a group of astroturfers using multiple identities. In no way are they representative of anyone. The reason for this is that there are no checks unlike the Herald where you have to give checkable names and addresses. You can be pretty sure that a poster on the Herald is a real person. ‘Strangely’ none of the No warriors on the Scotsman BTL pages show their faces over on the Herald!

        • Jambo25

          I think ‘windae lickers’ would be a better description of the crowd at the ‘Hootsmon’. I’m not being flippant but a few of the unionist claque seem unhinged. I’m quite happy to have my name and address up front in the Herald but I wouldn’t do it in the ‘Hootsmon’. There used to be a female poster on the ‘Hootsmon’ who was rather unpleasant. I believe she is now a Labour MSP and supposed rising star. I suspect you’ll know who I mean.

          • Andrew Morton

            You must mean Fifi le Bon Bon aka Rear Admiral Sturgeon aka Dawn of the Courier!

          • Jambo25

            Oh! is she still at it. I thought her duties at Holyrood would keep her busy especially now that that nice Jenny Marra looks like she’ll be the next SLAB leader but one rather than Kezia.

          • allymax bruce

            So that’s who was ‘giving’ my work away to journos.

        • Derick Tulloch

          The Spectator, so far, has been mercifully free of the paid UK trolls. I come here for some RnR and decent banter

      • rtj1211

        I think you’ll find similar employed trolls at the Independent, Telegraph and Guardian in London. All comments are filled with hatred, puerile insults and needle.

    • M4rkyboy

      Yes voters have been banned from posting on the Scotsman.

      • Sheumais

        Have they? They seem to do so prolifically.

    • Iain Lawson

      Don’t get too excited about the number of up and down votes in the Scotsman, they are rationed so the Unionist owned paper can manipulate any response. Silly Boy!

    • asalord

      I, like many Yes supporters, have boycotted The Scotsman – both its print and on-line editions. The comment section is therefore an arena for British nationalists.
      If September’s result is a No I shall certainly continue to support Scottish independence. I will never consider myself as British.

      • Crying out loud

        Britishness is dead, the only people who think themselves British are immigrants and their offspring and those weird Northern Irish protestants in the mould of Ian Paisley. Unpleasant.

      • Fergus Pickering

        You may do what you like. It will remain a free country, given a No vote. After a ‘Yes’ vote who can say?

        • Derick Tulloch

          Beneath you, Fergus

      • Sheumais

        “The comment section is therefore an arena for British nationalists. ”

        Which is the point of mentioning it.

    • Crying out loud

      The Scotsman is anti independence as its tiny and falling circulation is centred on men of a certain age, living in middle class areas of Edinburgh. It is a fossilised readership. Its staff are mainly graduates from Edinburgh and St.Andrews doing their first jobs for near minimum wage, a high percentage of whom are English.

      • rtj1211

        You could replace ‘Edinburgh’ with other places and define quite a few UK publications to be honest……

  • Mark Curzon

    Horribly spot on. To be anything other than low/working (whatever you want to call it) class in Scotland used to be an invitation for abuse from the worst kind of Scot – you know, the one with the large chip on his shoulder. This is why so many creative and professional Scots are not in Scotland and the ones that are there keep their heads down. However, if the statistic about Edinburgh kids is correct that must make it the poshest city in the UK. We can’t leave that to the Scots!

    • Jambo25

      I obviously live in a different Scotland from the one you describe. I attended one of those posh Edinburgh public schools. Not Hugo’s old man’s alma mater, Watsons but another one that used to play ‘rugger’ against it. Strangely enough none of my ex school mates ever felt the need to keep their heads down. What is odd, however, is that many of them do not vote or behave in the way that many of their English counterparts would. Indeed, the products of the Edinburgh public schools are to be found well represented in the Labour and Lib Dem parties. Very few active SNP MSPs or MPs but numerous in the wider independence movement.
      Why that is is rather complicated but one major reason has been the inability of the Tory Party to put forward any kind of appeal to a wider Scottish public over the past 40 years or so since the Heath/Thatcher years. To get the full feel of how discredited the Tory Party is in Scotland drive from Berwick to Edinburgh up the A1. You pass through or near miles of fairly rich farmland and small, affluent towns until you arrive in the very affluent south eastern suburbs of Edinburgh. Throughout the entire drive, which would be natural Tory territory in England, you go through not one Tory constituency. There are fairly few Tory local councillors.
      Incidentally, there are lots of smart, creative professional Scots up here, many of them PSBs. That’s why places like Edinburgh and Aberdeen are amongst the most economically resilient and prosperous in the UK.

      • Curzon

        Good points, Jambo25. Interesting thoughts.
        Edinburgh and Aberdeen are indeed prosperous, would a vote for independence risk that?

        • Jambo25

          I very much doubt it. The Scottish economy, generally, has been surprisingly healthy over the past few years. The little secret that neither nationalists nor unionists are too keen, for different reasons, to highlight, is that Scotland has generally better economic stats and living standards than pretty much anywhere else in the UK other than London and the South East.

          • CraigStrachan

            Sounds like Scotland’s doing pretty well under the present arrangements, then.

          • Jambo25

            We all get taught to go for more in the wonderful market economy we live in. So why shouldn’t Scotland go for more or is that only acceptable if its done in the London area? There is also the little matter that I raised earlier that British identity appears to be fatally weakened.

          • CraigStrachan

            Scotland should go for more, fully participating in the UK recovery that is now starting to gather steam, and remaining an integral part of a country that is predicted to overhaul Germany, demographically speaking, in the next few decades.

            Or it could go for independence, and settle for less.

          • Jambo25

            Or you could, of course, take the view, that I do, that the economic future belongs to 2 distinct types of national units. One type is the giant, continental sized country which can partially control its economic environment. The USA and PRC would be the prime examples. The other would be smallish, resource rich states which can react quickly to changing economic circumstances. Scotland could be one of those. Most of the most prosperous of the world’s states fit into this category Larger medium sized states are going to be the ones in trouble. Not big enough to control their environment but too big to react quickly to change.
            The choice is between, on the one hand, a small, resource rich Scotland with a good land and resource to population ratio with a population which is relatively homogeneous and stable. On the other hand a relatively resource and land poor UK with a declining industrial base and a split, probably fractious population going north of 70 million. There is nothing particularly laudable in the UK population overtaking Germany’s over the next 20 years. There is no reason to believe that average living standards would rise simply because of that and there is certainly good reason to think that quality of life would decline with greater overcrowding, house price rises etc.

          • CraigStrachan

            Except the UK industrial base is no longer declining, and it isn’t resource poor. It’s the Saudi Arabia of shale, didn’t you hear?

          • Jambo25

            Industrial output is well below the pre-crash figures and hasn’t improved much. As for shale. Its still not known, despite Osborne’s boosterism how much shale gas is actually there. In any case it looks pretty likely that there are sizable deposits under bits of Scotland as well.

          • CraigStrachan

            Right, so UK industrial output is not in fact declining, and there is indeed likely to be sizeable shale deposits in Scotland. However, the SNP seem strangely reluctant to exploit them, given how much of their economic case hangs on North Sea oil, which is a declining resource.

            Also, how does your preference for a “relatively homogenous and stable” population square with the immigration policy contemplated by the SNP in “Scotland’s Future”?

          • Jambo25

            UK output has declined fairly drastically since about 2007/2008 and shows nom real sign of getting back to its pre-crash figure.

          • CraigStrachan

            Yes, output fell off a cliff during the global crash, and is now recovering – faster in the UK than most of Europe.

            Now, as you point out above, Scotland actually fared relatively well during the downturn, certainly when compared, say, to Ireland. What accounts for the difference in the experiences of Scotland and Ireland over the past 6 or 7 years, do you suppose?

          • Jambo25

            We didn’t have the huge propert bubble had for one thing. Its worth pointing out that Ireland still has living standards above ours.

          • CraigStrachan

            Ireland has unemployment almost double ours, and (once again) is experiencing large-scale emigration.

          • rtj1211

            The benefits of shale won’t accrue to the British people, it will accrue to companies based in the Cayman Islands who will pay no corporation tax.

          • GUBU

            Scotland has the lowest life expectancy levels in Western Europe.

            I suspect that many of of your fellow Scots simply wouldn’t recognize the economically agile, resource rich paradise you speak of.

          • Jambo25

            In that case you will have no problem finding the bits of the above where I characterised Scotland as a “paradise”. The idea is that you engage with the arguments presented to you, not the ones you’d like to engage with.

          • GUBU

            Indeed, but what you omit to mention is often as important to any debate as what you choose to say. Any meaningful debate can simply not be framed on your own terms.

            So to quote…

            ‘The choice is between, on the one hand, a small, resource rich Scotland with a good land and resource to population ratio with a population which is relatively homogeneous and stable’.

            ‘The little secret that neither nationalists nor unionists are too keen, for different reasons, to highlight, is that Scotland has generally better economic stats and living standards than pretty much anywhere else in the UK other than London and the South East.’

            This might be true to you in your circumstances, but, as I was suggesting, will mean little or nothing to an unemployed man living in Drumchapel.

          • Jambo25

            You still haven’t got anywhere near doing what I asked you to. As to your last paragraph. I’m better off than an unemployed man in Drumchapel. I’m also better off than an unemployed man in Huddersfield. So what?

          • CraigStrachan

            And an unemployed man in Drumchapel and an unemployed man in Huddersfield have needs which give them more in common with each other than with a better-off type such as yourself.

            Why is solidarity such a hard concept for nationalists to gradp?

          • Jambo25

            And who is going to enforce this solidarity? The Tories, Lib Dems, Labour?

          • CraigStrachan

            Solidarity isn’t enforced. Like I say, a hard concept for nationalists to grasp.

          • Jambo25

            Au contraire. My family were long time ILP then Labour supporters; activists even. My lifetime has been one demonstration after another of the lack op solidarity in British society from the “You’ve never had it so good.” days of dear old Super Mac. Well, that might have been true of the South and Midlands of England. It sure as hell wasn’t for Central Scotland. Industrial decline and mass emigration was more like it. Then we had the solidarity shown by that nice Mr. Wilson and the corrupt bunch of scuzz round about him. Then there was that nice Mrs Thatcher and all she offered Scotland. Finally we ended up with the multi-millionaire, Blair and his on the make pals. Where is the solidarity?

          • CraigStrachan

            Solidarity resides in the sentiments of people towards each other. As a matter of public policy, in the UK context, it is expressed, in the cases of our two unemployed men in Drumchapel and Huddersfield, through social transfers in the form of unemployment and other benefits, job training etc.

            You evidently feel solidarity for the man in Drumchapel, but not for the man in the same circumstances in Huddersfield, and I have to wonder why.

            Is it perhaps something to do with your expressed preference for homogenity?

          • Jambo25

            I feel that I can have an effect on how the unemployed man in Drumchapel is treated. However as a member of a nation with only about 8.5% of the UK’s population I can have no effect on the treatment of the poor chap in Huddersfield.

          • CraigStrachan

            How so? Surely what would work for a guy in Drumchapel would work for a guy in the same situation in Huddersfield?

          • Jambo25

            Something similar would work. All you’ve got to do is get ‘Middle England’ and their political representatives ton agree to it. Good luck with that.

          • CraigStrachan

            I don’t think there’s disagreement that the unemployed should have access to benefits and training.

            Seems to me common sense that a generous welfare system is better guaranteed by a larger, younger, growing population than a smaller, stable, aging one.

          • Jambo25

            It doesn’t seem to be borne out by the fats of the matter that we are seeing coming out of Westminster.

          • CraigStrachan

            How so?

          • Jambo25

            Well we seem to be in a situation where the welfare state and NHS are going backwards a bit down south.

          • allymax bruce

            So, we should have ‘solidarity’ with everyone, regardless of our culture, beliefs, ethnicity etc?
            You are a Marxist-Communist; telling people their financial/economic future lays in their concomitant allegiance with all other poor people. While the rich, nae, super-rich Marxists get uber-rich off the commodities of the poor, impoverished!
            Tell me one thing; where did David Miliband go to? Did he choose Marxist conglomeration, over Public Representation?
            International Rescue will tell you what you want to hear.

          • CraigStrachan

            No, I fully understand that nationalism will always stress culture and ethnicity before solidarity which is why I join Camus in the sentiment that “I love my country too much too be a nationalist”.

          • GUBU

            It’s always nice to meet someone as evidently self satisfied, both with themselves and their lot, as you are. And so dismissive of, uninterested in, and unwilling to engage with anyone’s opinions, or circumstances, other than your own. That warm glow of self righteousness must be very pleasant on these cold mornings.

            I am, however, actually interested in your response, so perhaps a direct question will elicit one: why should our hypothetical unemployed Drumchapel resident vote for independence, when he has no sense of connection to the Scotland you boast of?

          • Jambo25

            Possibly because the best chance of improving his life chances may well lie in an independent Scotland. After all, the Union hasn’t served him particularly well.
            Incidentally, while being tolerably happy with my lot I find the way in which the poor are treated in this country atrocious. Their lot, comparatively, has not improved since my childhood. While they may be materially better off in absolute terms the gap between them and people like me has increased and is increasing. The social mobility which allowed people like myself o greatly improve their life chances has gone.
            What is more even large numbers of children of the comfortable middle classes are also being frozen out of the kind of lives their parents could take for granted. These things are happening because of deliberate choices made by the British political and business classes and I see no party or movement in the present UK who will rectify these things.

          • Crying out loud

            So it does not.

          • rtj1211

            I don’t think 80 million plus people in Britain is a prospect many would see as a good one. Now if you can find a way to house 5 million north of the Great Glen doing something productive, I guess that would help. No population constraints up there…….

          • CraigStrachan

            Well, they say Inverness is the fastest-growing town in Scotland!

          • Derick Tulloch

            It’s an interesting one: this long term, irreversible, decline of British identity in Scotland.

            To take it down to an individual level.

            My partner’s great grandfather was a Border’s Liberal MP, patrician mill owner and True Blue Briton
            Her grandfather was a (quietly subversive in a very Scots/British way) British diplomat
            Her father a professional and deeply conflicted between British and Scottish identity
            Herself again a professional but entirely secure in her Scottish identity.
            Public school products one and all

            The Union is past

          • Jambo25

            I’m in a similar boat. My grandfathers both were Victorians and served in WW1. They saw themselves a British and Scottish. My dad was a CPO in WW2. He saw himself as Scottish and British. I have had few of y grandfathers’ or father’s experiences

          • Well exactly: if you’ve got your hand in the till, don’t shout about it, eh? : )

          • Jambo25

            Whose till do we have our hands in?

          • Well I was just referring to the fact that the gravy train has an express service to Scotland….

          • Jambo25

            So where are our hands then? In a till or in a gravy train? Whose gravy train is it?

          • I get the impression that Scotland, like much of the north of England and Canada, has lots of economically unproductive regions. What happens in a federation is that the ‘have not’ regions get massive transfer payments from the ‘have’ regions. The ‘have’ regions don’t really benefit while the rest of the country is artificially propped up. Also, Scotland is now overrepresented politically and therefore economically, within the UK: there is, for instance, no ‘English’ parliament voting solely for the interests of the English and England.

          • Jambo25

            1) Scotland appears to have greater economic productivity and living standards than virtually the whole of the rUK other than London and parts of the south east.
            2) Scotland was a major net contributor to the UK Treasury from about the mid 70s to the mid/late 90s. Scotland is now in deficit but a lower deficit than the UK as a whole.
            3) Macro-economic policy is controlled overall by Westminster. Scotland is not over-represented there. As for an English parliament or not: take that up with Cameron. It is not within Scotland’s gift.

          • Well, OK. But please don’t leave. We’ll miss you and it doesn’t feel right.

          • Jambo25

            Along with the majority of Scots I’d have been happy with Devo-Max. We were never offered it. Going back to the English Parliament. Of course, there should be one and the political class might get round to it one day but only if you complain like hell. However, don’t blame the Scots if it isn’t there. Blame the inertia of the political class. Finally there should be meaningful regional power centres in England as well. London has one already. Why shouldn’t other areas. If you had them you might have found it much easier to deal with the recent floods.

          • Oh I agree: I think England is far too centralized. The counties should be power centers in their own right, not just quaint divisions of the map.

          • Jambo25

            To deal with things like economic regeneration and emergency protection I think you need something a bit bigger than counties.

          • Really? Perhaps. I was thinking of English counties as functioning (ideally) more like the American states. Unfortunately, English counties have got bittier than in the past. I liked Sussex when it was one county — as it still was when I was born. Maybe if counties could club together to form a new ‘Wessex’, ‘Mercia’ etc., they could cease to be the mishmash of weak local gov’t that is simply waiting to be bullied by Westminster.

          • Jambo25

            I think to be able to do proper economic and transport planning or run effective emergency services you’d need something like French Departments or a group of departments.

          • I don’t know anything about the French departments but I’m prepared to think that they might be better at political organization in some ways than we are! But my favourite model remains the American states. Each state has enough power (whatever is not enumerated as a federal power in the Constitution) to create a distinct flavour of life. If you don’t like Connecticut’s, you can always move to Arizona or Utah. If you don’t like Utah’s, you can decamp to Illinois or Pennsylvania. There is a sense of choice that I think people in England just don’t have.

          • Jambo25

            US states are considerably larger and more populous than English counties.

          • Not all of them. There are not many people in Idaho, despite the square footage. Rhode Island is tiny. The state model is about political economy not geography or demographics. That’s one reason why we have two Senators from each state, regardless of the size or population of the state. This is to balance the proportional representation in the lower house of Congress, the House of Representatives. Note that the higher house is the non-(population)-representational one and that Senators serve for six years instead of the Representatives’ two.

          • Jambo25

            I think you’re right . The UK is grotesquely over-centralised. Counties have very little power. The big cities scarcely more. Money is doled out to them by central government and local revenue raising power has been severely curtailed. There is very little power or authority invested in local government. It used to be said that France was the only European country more centralised than the UK. I doubt that that’s true any longer and England, if not the whole UK, is probably now more centralised than France.

        • Fergus Pickering

          It would put Edinburgh’s prosperity at risk for sure, since all the banks and investment companies would move Soth or lose all their money.

      • Kitty MLB

        You also need to mention that Edinburgh university is one of the
        most prestigious in the United Kingdom.
        I have also been told by someone living on the Isle of Mull
        that in regards to the referendum Edinburgh are more likely
        to vote to stay in and Glasgow will always do the opposite
        to the posh people of Edinburgh.
        I also have heard something along the lines to what you were saying,
        Scotland deplore the Tories far more then they deplore even England.

        • Jambo25

          Edinburgh certainly has a middle class/upper middle class student profile. It also has a large number of non-Scottish UK and foreign students studying at it. Heriot-Watt with its emphasis on science, engineering and other vocationally based courses tens to be the ‘locals’ university though it also has large numbers of non-Scottish students. St Andrews is the posh university, in Scotland, though and has been for a very long time: at least as far back as my school days in the 60s.

        • rtj1211

          They deplored having the poll tax imposed on them first when everyone knew that they hadn’t elected Mrs Thatcher. it was quite the worst piece of politics Mrs Thatcher ever attempted. Ever since then, the Tories have been toast.

        • allymax bruce

          Kitty, what Jambo25 says is true. And, there’s more going on in the streets & cafe’s than meets the eye. There’s a real entreprenuer presence about Edinburgh now; think of the ‘Paris Scence’; that’s what’s going on in Edinburgh now. It’s electrifying to all.

          • Kitty MLB

            Edinburgh is such a beautiful city,
            I am glad she is buzzing!
            Hope to visit her again someday soon,
            assuming I will still be allowed into
            the country. Ally, they may not allow it 🙂

  • allymax bruce

    “They have just grown accustomed, insidiously, to avoiding stating it. … This
    is the source of the No campaign’s terrible insipid bloodlessness, and
    its palpable lack of fire. It’s the cowed, awkward, embarrassed silence
    of the very people with the greatest stake.”
    Hugo, I think you write better than the journos ‘covering’ the iScotland debate, but your focus is way off. The massive impoverished Scots public, having to listen to jumped-up little George’s, Justin’s, and Hermoine’s, telling Scotland what they want the ‘great unwashed’ to do, is not advisable. There’s a very good reason why these super-rich kids/adults ‘keep their heads down’!
    Likewise, there’s a very good reason why the No Campaign have went with scaremongering, Project fear, and pumping out Hate ‘dark noise’ over all our tv/radio airwaves, e/tactile Press, and Public Institutions, because they can’t tell the truth, like it really is; telling the mass populace of Scotland the poor are impoverished to maintain a Class System wouldn’t go down at all well!
    In a way, Hugo, your perspective on iScotland epitomises what the super-rich in Scotland consider iScotland to be about; self-interested maintenance of the Westminster Class System for snobs!

    • Shinsei1967

      I find it baffling this description of a snobbish Westminster class system. For 13 years until 2010 we had the UK’s economic and domestic policies controlled by Gordon Brown.

      The idea that one votes against a 300 year union because one doesn’t like George Osborne (who probably won’t even be in government after May 2015) is just madness.

      • Jambo25

        I think a lot of people are either pro-independence or ambivalent about continuing the Union due to the fact that there is little British identity to unite us any longer. That, by the way is/was down to the actions of the London based business/political and media classes over the years, not the evil Scotnats.

        • HJ777

          There is plenty of British identity – it’s just that you don’t want there to be, so you simply assert that there isn’t any.

          And now you’ll go on about census results but it depends on what question you ask. Did it ask how many Scots identify themselves as Scottish but NOT British? No it did not.

          And your denial of the SNP’s constant efforts to create division and your attempts to blame everything on people based in London are laughable.

          • Jambo25

            Yes, of course, at 3 or 4 hundred miles distance you are totally expert on this.

          • HJ777

            I’m certainly more expert than you, perhaps because I don’t exist in an SNP bunker.

            I am part Scottish myself, lived in Scotland, have friends and immediate family in Scotland (none of whom are as a blinkered as you) and I live next door to Scots.

            In the SSA Survey, 71% of Scots said they had a sense of British identity.

            Scots are no less likely to feel British than people in any England or Wales.

            http://www.psa.ac.uk/insight-plus/blog/scottish-independence-why-head-matters-because-heart-divided

            And even “Yes” campaign supporters (the more thoughtful ones, which obviously doesn’t include you) acknowledge this:

            http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/letters/nationalism-is-primitive-instinct.22333039

          • Jambo25

            Yet the census results still stand. Incidentally, in the SSA survey you pointed me to only 11% of respondents felt themselves to be more British than Scottish or British and not Scottish at all. I may be ridiculous but I know how to read statistics.

          • HJ777

            You are ridiculous AND you don’t understand statistics one little bit – perhaps as result of your lack of mathematical or scientific background.

            Just because most Scots perceive themselves to be Scottish before British does not mean that there is “little British identity… any longer” (as was your claim). In fact, 71% of people in Scotland confirmed that they do feel British. Feeling Scottish and feeling British are not mutually exclusive. When understanding statistics you need to understand whether things are mutually exclusive or not. If they are, the total cannot add up to more than 100%, if they are not, it can.

            What is more, you have no evidence of a decline in British identity because for that you need to have several results taken over an extended period (another lesson in statistics for you).

            Do you really think you understand statistics? Really?

          • Jambo25

            Well why don’t you go and look for a run of results and you can then easily disprove my contention. By the way look at the results from down in England. They might be interesting as well.

          • HJ777

            You made the claim – you provide the stats to back it up.

            Otherwise it can be safely concluded that your assertions are worthless.

            But then, as we’ve already established, you don’t understand statistics, do you?

            By the way, as Daniel Hannan has recently pointed out, it has long been a common myth that the union is less popular in Scotland than it is in England.

          • Jambo25

            Why do you show me an article which shows that British identity is, at best, secondary to Scottish or English identity?

          • HJ777

            Because it contradicts your assertion that British identity is in decline – as is clearly stated in the article.

            Whether British identity is secondary is neither here nor there – it is not in decline.

          • terregles2

            The only time there is any suggestion of anything British in the central belt of Scotland is at an Orange Walk or Rangers football park. No evidence of anyone posh and the numbers according to police statistics who turn out for an orange walk continue to diminish.

          • HJ777

            You’ve turned up have you?

            Who or what is discredited today then?

            My daughter lives next to a very posh independent school in the west end of Glasgow, so what do you know?

          • terregles2

            If it’s Kelvinside Academy or Glasgow Academy they are not that posh. I suppose it depends how you define posh.
            I know several people who live in the West End of Glasgow Westbourne Gardens. Don’t think your daughter would know them they are YES voters.

          • HJ777

            Apparently everyone you know becomes a “Yes” supporter just a few minutes after meeting you and hearing your persuasive arguments. You tell us this frequently.

            Either that or they are saying what you want to hear just so that you will go away and leave them alone…

          • Derick Tulloch

            Not what the census says HJ.

            Eight per cent felt a British national identity only
            Sixty two percent felt Scottish only

            http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/press/2013/census-2011-release-2a.html

          • Jambo25

            Stand by for Agent 777 to insult you as well.

          • Derick Tulloch

            Ah, it’s the weekend. He’s off shift

          • Kitty MLB

            Will be back tomorrow then.

          • HJ777

            That’s simply not true – read the links I posted below. It is very easy to interpret the census in the way that suits your agenda

            The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey showed that 71% of those asked felt that they were British (not necessarily primarily or exclusively).

      • Jambo25

        We have a Westminster political class which is overwhelmingly professional middle class; university educated with a very high percentage of Oxbridge alumni: a surprisingly large number with the same degree, PPE. Those who are not professional middle class like the bulk of the present government are ‘echt’ Toffs. I wouldn’t care to pass judgement on the political class’s snobbishness but it clearly is not representative of modern Britain.

        • Kitty MLB

          Yes there is a problem that a lot of them,
          study the same degrees, become a special advisor
          to an MP and then as in Ed Miliband’s case parachuted
          into a safe seat.
          There seems to be very little life experience before hand these days, maybe they should use their excellent education
          to get a job beforehand.
          I am glad you are not the type to pass judgement on political
          class’s perceived snobbishness- spite, envy and division are leftie traits and very ugly.

          • Jambo25

            I’m originally from a working class background but have ended up, for various reasons, comfortable middle class so I wouldn’t comment on the snobbishness or otherwise of a whole class of people. I will say that the present Westminster political class are highly unrepresentative of the UK or Scottish population as a whole and appear to be grossly out of touch because of it.

          • Andrew Morton

            Good point. I also went to an Edinburgh fee paying school, got a good job and am now retired on a good pension living in a very pleasant Victorian house.

            But . . .

            I was born and brought up in an Edinburgh Corporation Scheme (Council Estate) and still have friends from my days there. I’m a member of a golf club with ‘Royal’ in the title but many of the members are ex miners.

            The fact is that a large proportion of the Scottish middle classes aren’t divorced from their roots and still identify with working class concerns.

          • Jambo25

            Agree. I think you see in the present Scottish middle class the massive social mobility we had up until the 70s. I can remember, in the 60s, the buses from my housing scheme filling up with kids in the blue, black red and scarlet blazers of Heriot’s, Stewart’s, Watson’s and Melville’s. You also saw lots of others in the uniforms of Leith Academy, Trinity and Boroughmuir. As you know the last 3 were state schools but gave essentially the same education as the private ones. Many of the kids in the private school uniforms would have been, like me, scholarship boys. All these schools acted as a major conveyor belt of social mobility for my generation and pushed us into the middle class. The same job was being done in Glasgow and other Scottish cities. That movement has marked the Scottish middle class ever since.
            It hasn’t made Scotland into some classless society but it does mean that some od the attitudes regularly expressed in publications such as this one, the Telegraph etc are probably less socially acceptable in Scotland.

          • rtj1211

            The difficulty with not working for 15 years first is that you are simply so ignorant you don’t know how ignorant you are. It takes a minimum of 5 years before you really understand any field with the depth necessary to lead effectively. To lead in politics requires a depth of understanding in many fields.

            The problem with career politicians is that they know everything about spinning and nothing about how to judge whether the experts are selling them lemons. They got Iraq wrong, they got climate change wrong, they got the value of science wrong, they got the City wrong, they got procurement wrong, they got PFI wrong, they got the EU wrong, they got democracy wrong.

            We need to go back to people going into politics at 40 or even 50. At least then they’ve got solid experience in the real world…….

          • Solletico Ranting

            the poll tax wasn’t spiteful and divisive then?

          • HJ777

            It may have been divisive but it certainly wasn’t spiteful. You need to look at the history of why it was introduced in Scotland – because rates were considered so controversial and unpopular.

        • Fergus Pickering

          To study PPE you have to go to Oxford. There is no such degree in Cambridge.

          • Jambo25

            As an ex teacher and 6th form supervisor I’m well aware that PPE is Oxford only . I referred to a political class which is Oxbridge educated; many of whose members have the same degree PPE.

      • HJ777

        And before that we had John Major as Prime Minister (who was hardly “posh” and didn’t even go to university) and before that we had Margaret Thatcher who also came from a very modest background.

        The problem is that you are trying to discuss with people who don’t like facts, only their own assertions.

        • Jambo25

          Yes. The non-posh Thatcher whose father was a leading businessman in Grantham . Wasn’t he Mayor of Grantham at one point? She then attended Oxford and married a millionaire. Just the girl next door.

          • HJ777

            What a pile of nonsense.

            Her father started as an apprentice greengrocer and worked his way up until he was the proud owner of a business empire consisting of two (small) corner shops. He served as an elected alderman for many years before being made mayor (which is honorary and is more a recognition of respect and long service than anything).

            Margaret thatcher got where she go to by her own efforts.

            Denis Thatcher was a self-made man who built up his own business.

            You may sneer, but you’ve never achieved anything.

          • Jambo25

            So back to the insults.

          • HJ777

            Having been proved wrong, that’s precisely what I would expect from you. That is your usual behaviour.

          • Solletico Ranting

            never achieved anything?

            isn’t that a bit presumptuous? 😀

          • Jambo25

            Nah, he’s right. I’ve never achieved a thing. I’m a complete waste of space. He said it so it must be true.

          • HJ777

            Nice to see you admit that my suspicion was true.

          • HJ777

            No, just an inspired guess, which he has since confirmed is accurate.

          • terregles2

            You seem to be rather sneering yourself

          • HJ777

            So am I discredited?

            Describing everything you don’t like and anyone you don’t agree with as “discredited” is sneering, don’t you think?

            Now who do we know who exhibits that behaviour?

          • Wessex Man

            oh come on, most of the Cybernat nujobs on here there any everywhere could take a degree in sneering. Carry on HJ777 you are doing a spendid job holding your own with these silly people.

          • terregles2

            Wessex man you are desperate for Scottish independence you never tire of stating how much you are praying for it to happen. Indeed you have said that you would happily help campaign to gain Scottish independence.
            I don’t know why a man so desperate for independence would speak so vehemently against those who are as much in favour of it as yourself.

          • HJ777

            Whether you like Margaret Thatcher or not (and she was a straight talking yellowbelly, like my wife, not some inverse snob like you) her government went to a huge amount of effort – successfully – to encourage inward investment into Scotland. I know, because of my involvement in the electronics industry how massive this was in Scotland.

            Now what have you ever done to encourage investment in Scotland?

          • Jambo25

            Yes, we could just feel her love flow all over us.

          • HJ777

            So you’ve done nothing. So you sneer.

          • Jambo25

            I couldn’t as I spent her time in office spreading sexual perversity, social revolution and anti-English sneering or teaching as we used top call it. I left it up to her to largely de-industrialise large sections of Central Scotland. The fact that we have largely recovered was not her doing.

      • Alistair J Murray

        One votes against the 300 year Union because one dislikes the 300 year Union and all its baggage.

        I look forward to the day when elections to Westminster hold all the interest of elections to the Bundestag…

    • Fergus Pickering

      You don’t mean snobs. You mean rich people.

      • allymax bruce

        Ahh; well; there’s the thing, Fergus, all rich people think they are snobs. The demarcation is set-in-stone, according to consumer spending accounts! They tend to cling to the idea that money/wealth makes them ‘rich’. I went to North America, and I noticed it to the extreme there. That’s when I realised rich people are really only insecure.

  • dougthedug

    The Scottish middle classes aren’t really a tribe. They could not drift easily into exile, maybe like Uganda’s Asians. They’re exactly like everybody else, but with better jobs. They include, by definition, many of the most successful, creative and driven people that Scotland has to offer.

    Your assumption is that to be wealthy, middle class and privately educated in Scotland automatically makes you a British nationalist rather than a Scottish nationalist.

    Why do you think Scottish identity is associated only with the working class?

    Perhaps these middle class Scots aren’t shouting for No because they are already in the Yes campaign.

    • Shinsei1967

      The 197 to 3 vote against independence at the Strathallan College debate suggests that the well-off middle classes aren’t in the Yes campaign.

      • Janet Moxley

        Strathallan has a high proportion of overseas students who probably don’t identify with Scotland or fully understand how the UK works (I know because my sister in law teaches there). Identifying “professional” Scotland with “posh” Scotland is a sweeping generalisation, but, you’ll find many professionals are indeed in the Yes camp e.g Academics for Yes which launched yesterday.

        • CraigStrachan

          “Academics for Yes”

          Sounds sexy.

        • Angus_MacLellan

          On the button. It is often said that Edinburgh is more English than the English cities.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Often said by whom? I lived in Edinburgh for years. It seemed pretty Scottish to me.

      • dougthedug

        At £9,355 per term (£28,065 a year) for full board before you add in extra-curricular activities and items like laundry I think that it could be classed as an upper-class school rather than a middle-class one.

        • dougthedug

          The equivalent for George Watson’s College is £10,074 per year.

          For George Heriot’s it’s £10,299 per year.

          • Crying out loud

            But those Edinburgh schools are mainly local day pupils.

          • Jambo25

            I think that is a very important point about Strathallan. It is completely untypical of Scottish public schools, let alone wider Scottish middle/upper middle class society.

          • Crying out loud

            True though Gordonstoun and Kilgraston could be included.

          • Jambo25

            That’s probably true. Don’t know much about Kilgraston. Glenalmond might well be in that group as well.

        • Jethro Asquith

          Nonsense. Upper Middle perhaps. Upper Class (I.e Aristocracy) are so few and far between they couldn’t fill the school if they all went there.

      • Jambo25

        Several things about Strathallan. 1) Its at the very upper end of the private school spectrum in terms of expense. 2) Its largely boarding which the vast majority of Scottish public schools aren’t. 3) As such it deals with a very high percentage of non-Scottish pupils and staff. 4) It seems to have slightly odd disciplinary standards given by the obscene texts and tweets to Pete Wishart. I cannot imagine pupils at my old Edinburgh public school behaving that way. I think there would have been a real chance of expulsion if we had done. 5) I suspect its academic record isn’t any better than Heriot’s or Malcolm Rifkind’s old school Watson’s. In fact I’d guess its worse.

    • Crying out loud

      In my experience Scottish private schools are bastions of Scottish identity, something that is not found in state schools.

  • AdamRamsay

    I went to Glenalmond. My fellow old boys include Adair Turner, Lord Faulkner, a Labour MSP and a Tory MEP. For a school of around 400, I think you hear more than enough from us.

    • Jambo25

      I rather share that view or at least part of it. Pupils at school with me or at round about the same time as me have popped up as senior lawyers, judges, MPs, businessmen, well known journos, MPs, MSPs and MEPs, senior military officers etc etc. Slightly older pupils included a Lord Chancellor (2 in fact), a couple of cabinet ministers, well known film actors etc.
      I don’t think the FPs of my school were cowed into silence.

      • CraigStrachan

        Ah, Heriot’s.

      • rtj1211

        How much wisdom did they spout then?!

        • Jambo25

          I leave it to others to decide whether it was wisdom or dreck. I merely point out that they weren’t/aren’t cowed into silence.

      • Wessex Man

        you little old social climber you! who the **** cares who you know?

    • Wessex Man

      who cares?

  • Tony Collins

    Two ‘No’ campaign leaders Alisdair Darling and Anas Sarwar are a pair of posh, privileged wankers making their voices heard very well and assisting the Yes campaign no end! Hope that helps put your mind at ease. The posh boys are doing plenty, just not doing it well

    • Crying out loud

      Loretto and Hutchesons grammar Schools are hardly posh schools.

      • Jambo25

        I think that would come as news to Loretto. I’m not sure about Hutcheson’s.

        • Crying out loud

          To quote Waugh, “We class schools, you see, into four grades: Leading School, First-rate School, Good School, and School.” I suppose Loretto falls into First rate or Good.

          • Jambo25

            It depends on what basis you grade them. If its social connections then I would think Fettes, Edinburgh Academy, Merchiston et al are up at the top. If its academic performance then you’re probably looking at Heriot’s and Glasgow High. That will vary slightly from year to year.

          • Crying out loud

            Very valid point and one that I did not think of.

        • Robbie Fraser

          It’s ” Hutchesons’ ” not ” Hutcheson’s ” because the school was founded by 2 brothers, George and Thomas, if memory of the school song serves.

          • Jambo25

            Thanks Robbie. I wasn’t trying to be sniffy about your alma mater. I really don’t know what the pecking order (If there is one.) for public schools in Glasgow is. I do know that Hutchesons’ has an excellent academic record.

      • Solletico Ranting

        Loretto’s pretty posh if you went to Mussey Grammar.

        • Crying out loud

          ‘Posh’ is relative.

          • Solletico Ranting

            yes. my relative comparison indicated that i knew that already no?

  • I’m sure all these “posh folk” will be delighted by the condescending manner in which Hugo Rifkind claims them for his own brand of rather witless British nationalism.

    • Jambo25

      To be fair to Rifkind he is brighter than the average bear. He and his dad are, however, part of a specific tribe. You could call them ‘EdLons’ . There used to be another tribe known as ‘NyLons’ . They split their time between New York and London. ‘EdLons’ do the same between Edinburgh and London. The Rifkinds might now be full time Londoners. I think Hugo is though Daddy might still have the house in Duddingston. There’s another related tribe known as ‘Willies’ (Work In London. Live In Edinburgh). My sis, to a certain extent, belongs to it. A surprising number of ‘meejah’ folk are ‘Willies’.
      Now, the point about ‘EdLons’ and ‘Willies’ is that they have a foot in both camps and generally cannot understand why the ‘old folks at home’ have any desire to be any different from them and find the fact that. at some point, they might be asked to make difficult choices, a real bore.

      • David Balfour

        What type of mind altering substance are you on (NyLons, EdLons) ?Typical wittering nonsense from the moronic separatist klansmen.

        • Jambo25

          Oh good! Another raging, right wing loonie.

          • HJ777

            You usual throwing of insults, I see.

          • Jambo25

            Oh for God’s sake, look at what Balfour wrote. ans which I then replied to. Engage your brain before doing anything else.

          • HJ777

            So more of your usual insults then, this time directed at me.

            I suppose that now that what passes for your arguments have been thoroughly exposed, that’s all you have.

            That really was complete wittering nonsense you posted above. Next you’ll be telling us that you are proud of it.

      • Fergus Pickering

        You missed out that they are jews. Edinburgh jews are a most important and cultured part of the scene. Scotland’s beat twentieth century novelist was an Edinburgh jew. At my Edinburgh School among 600 boys there were forty jews and one Catholic.

        • Jambo25

          One of my class mates was an Edinburgh Jew. He ended up fighting as an Israeli paratrooper in 1973. Very bright guy. Very nice one as well.
          As for the Rifkinds. I remember when a German jouno referred to Malcolm Rifkind as “Der Jude Rifkind”. I had a lot of colleagues who were really surprised to find that Rifkind was Jewish. He just always struck them as an Edinburgh Tory lawyer.
          As a kid it was my job to go to Sternberg’s or Bialek’s bakers on Sundays to buy morning rolls. As Jewish shops they opened on Sunday as their Sabbath was Saturday. I was always told to get rye bread and cheesecake as well. I can still taste that cheesecake 50 years later.

    • Andrew Leslie

      I’m as posh as they come (mild exaggeration) and I’m just home, soaked to the skin, after delivering newspapers….for the Yes campaign. It’s my country too, and I want the best for it.
      As Hugo says, he moved south. In that, he is following a long tradition.
      I want a country where our brightest and best, whether products of Watson’s or not, have the opportunity and incentive to stay here and contribute rather than feel that London is where they have to go to get on.
      That can only come with independence.

      • Crying out loud

        The problem with London is that it has changed. It is peopled by a majority with no ties to the UK and with no interest in what happens outside of the Londonshire. You simply would not want to bring up children in London, so it is less attractive. So it attracts some Scots, but that number is falling.

        • Fergus Pickering

          I hear this crap all day long. What you mean is that it’s full of black and brown people. And even that isn’t true.

          • Crying out loud

            I like to be passive aggressive with my racism.

      • Fergus Pickering

        London will always be where they have to go to get on.

    • Wessex Man

      Much like you, Hugo Rifkind, who is indeed is a witless sort of person is part of a dying breed.

  • That’s it: I’m moving to Edinburgh!

    • Kitty MLB

      You would love Edinburgh Swanky, a beautiful city, but unfortunately
      full of Celtic Warrior types climbing the walls of the castle.
      Its also rather cold all the time.
      Just do not mention Glasgow, or they will put a peg on their noses ! or fried mars bars, which apparently are best frozen 🙂

      • Jambo25

        Actually, the only recipe for deep fried Mars Bars I ever saw was one of the fragrant Nigella Lawson’s.

        • Kitty MLB

          You see I was told it was it was part of the staple diet in Scotland, well actually Glasgow ( which cannot be as bad as my Scottish friend from Mull says it is)
          and now you say, its hardly known and created
          by the ‘fragrant’ and very English Nigella Lawson.
          You will be telling me that the Loch ness monster does not actually exist next 🙂

          • ChuckieStane

            Personally, I’ve never seen deep fried mars bars in a Scottish chip shop (although I know there is a chip shop in Aberdeenshire that sells them after “inventing” them for a competition)

            I had relations over from Canada who, after hearing the myths, asked for them in a number of chip shops but the owners refused as they said it would ruin the oil.

            If you really want to try them, go to Camden, Kitty, where the are a number of outlets where you can try such delights as deep fried mars, snickers, oreos and even rolo kebabs.

          • Kitty MLB

            I shall wander upto Camden then,
            Much closer then the wilds of
            the very beautiful Scotland.
            I shall even be brave enough to
            venture onto the M25 (Camerons version
            of Hadrians Wall) Keeps him away from
            the rest of the country 🙂

          • Jambo25

            Wasn’t it the Ashvale chippie that ‘invented’ it as a PR stunt and joke?

          • Jambo25

            No, I’m telling you that deep fried Mars Bar was a joke thought up by some chippie which was then adopted by the media and some lame comedians down south in place of actual thought and wit. We’re quite used to it up here.

          • Kitty MLB

            Comedians down here are nearly
            all Lefties, actual thought and wit,
            are removed with sense and reason
            I am afraid 🙂

          • Jambo25

            Part of your problem, down south, is the appallingly bad coverage of Scottish affairs from the London based media.

          • rtj1211

            They’re fairly appalling at reporting anything outside the M25 to be honest.

          • Jambo25

            I agree. It isn’t simply a Scottish problem. The ignorance of and condescension towards people outside the M25 from many bits of the London based MSM is dreadful.

          • HJ777

            Your ignorance and condescension towards people inside the M25 is pretty impressive.

          • Jambo25

            Surprising that as I’ve got friends of some 40 years standing living up in Finchley and Friern Barnet. I have no condescension towards them at all but then they aren’t part of the London based political and media class.

          • HJ777

            Yes, it is surprising that you have such condescension when you should know that your caricature isn’t true.

            But then that’s the nature of blind prejudice, I suppose. It isn’t concerned with fact.

          • Kitty MLB

            The M25 is a jungle, not much gets past
            that place.

          • Jambo25

            I think its a toss up between the M25 and that section of the M6 south of Haydock as to which is the most hellish road to drive on. I think the M25 wins.

          • Kitty MLB

            The M25 is a jungle, not much gets past
            that place.

          • Fergus Pickering

            It’s no problem. We just don’t want to know.

          • Jambo25

            I’m quite willing to believe it. Hate to say it but most people up here probably have little interest in England. Its part of the dissolution process.

          • terregles2

            You don’t want to know but are certainly keen to give us all you opinion of us.

          • Fergus Pickering

            I am Scots. Otherwise I wouldn’t bother.

          • Derick Tulloch

            Ho Fergus
            Are you a Proud Scot though?
            Say it ain’t so

          • Fergus Pickering

            I’m a Scot. Proud of it? Naw. It’s like having blue eyes or being bald. But I like England better. By the way. why is it that the Scots are so pitiful at rugby?. In my day they would never have lost twenty-nil to anybody and could more than hold their own most of the time. Have you all gone soft or something?. Ken Scotland, Mike Campbell-Lamerton, Chisholm and Hastie. Oh my Hornby and my Barlow long ago!

          • Derick Tulloch

            I am glad to hear that. Everybody despises the Proud Scots, but.

            No idea why the Rugby team is so poor! Perhaps because it is played so rarely in State schools the pool of talent is unduly restricted. New Zealand manages fine on the same population!

          • Fergus Pickering

            Every school in Edinburgh played Rugby. My friend from Trinity Academy was banned for biting.

          • Derick Tulloch

            Not in Shetland, alas. Have the build and the inclination for rugby. Football is vile, in my opinion. James IV made it and golf illegal. Sound fellow

          • Wessex Man

            Why on earth would any one despise Scots except for self loving Cybernat nuttters who want to believe we are out to get you but wish you every success in your struggle for your independence?

          • Kitty MLB

            Perhaps Dave & Alex might play
            some sport together, and talk over their
            problems and a divorce maybe avoided.
            Where else would anyone with the very
            celtic name of fergus hail from Norfolk?
            Although I trust not 100% Scottish.
            I shall now attempt some bridge building
            here, they feel they have been ignored,
            and upset at not being offered Devo Max.

          • Kitty MLB

            Perhaps Dave & Alex might play
            some sport together, and talk over their
            problems and a divorce maybe avoided.
            Where else would anyone with the very
            celtic name of fergus hail from Norfolk?
            Although I trust not 100% Scottish.
            I shall now attempt some bridge building
            here, they feel they have been ignored,
            and upset at not being offered Devo Max.

          • rtj1211

            Traditional Saturday night diet for Glaswegians in the 1980s was a fish supper, 10 pints of heavy and being ejected at 10am on Sunday morning from the Botanic Gardens where bodies dropped rather than risking life and limb trying to find their way home in a state of considerable inebriation.

            I used to walk my landlord’s dogs on Sunday morning, so I encountered these species quite regularly in summertime……..

          • Jambo25

            Sounds a bit like the area round Butterwick bus station, in Hammersmith, in the late 60s and large chunks of Manchester in the 70s when I lived there. More recently the charming chap having a crap in the middle of a suburban street in Bedford a couple of years ago.

          • terregles2

            Who were they weekend tourists.?

          • rtj1211

            They were indigenous Glaswegians as you well know.

          • terregles2

            Were they really? It is incredible that you know everything. Unless you woke everyone up who was lying in the Botanic Gardens and asked them where they were born I’m not sure how you would know where they came from. it is an area that has a high number of students living there due to the close proximity to Glasgow University.
            Anyone who knows anything about indigenous Glaswegians would know that they are not inclined to drink in the West end of the city. They are inclined to frequent the city centre and Merchant city pubs.

          • terregles2

            I am a Glaswegian who possibly has a healthier diet than yourself. I certainly hope that I have better manners.

          • Kitty MLB

            My Scottish friend was the one speaking about Glasgow,
            in a rather unusual light. Its his rather obscure humour,
            and I chastise him quite often. perhaps humour
            should not be repeated as it goes quite stale- apologies.

          • terregles2

            Thank you I did not mean to sound sharp in my reply.

          • Derick Tulloch

            Cease this outbreak of politeness at once. Lifting the tone of this place. It will not do.

          • Wessex Man

            er you better know that terregles2 doesn’t ‘do’ humour.

      • You are right, Kitty, as I have been (once) to the city and was mesmerised by the place. Do you mean they’re best frozen after being fried? I like my chocolate chilled (esp. living in the South), but frozen sounds a bit tooth-breaking.

        • Kitty MLB

          I was told that they are frozen after frying, sounds disgusting
          but never mind.
          I assume they will be a cross between a frozen sponge
          and a magnum ice cream in taste. I would also
          guess that you would leave then a while before eating.
          I might try one next time I am visiting Haggis Land but I am not that enamoured
          by the idea of them really.

          • Hmmmm….. Not sure about that either, though I do like confections of nearly all kinds (creamy sloppy ones not so much). There’s something called Baked Alaska that I have to try this summer. (Summer is vacation in the mountains time.) I like the Scots because they have the nerve to put haggis in jacket potatoes — and it’s delicious.

          • Kitty MLB

            Baked Alaska sounds yummy, ( I assume it comes from Alaska, like Sarah Palin who I think is brilliant! ) I believe
            its a meringue based dessert adore meringues ( although cannot make them for toffee)
            Nearly love them as much as chocolate, will have to find a dessert that combines both.
            I also do not eat sloppy desserts, because of a tummy issue ( make something of that Mr Odd)
            Sorry about that Swanky, I have myself a humourless
            UKIP person who took offence to something or the other
            and now I am the anti-Christ and a Socialist.
            The Scots just like to eat stuff that softies down South
            would not touch with a barge poll, the same with Black Pudding.

          • rtj1211

            Just don’t admire Mrs Palin’s knowledge of Geography. It’s not the best……..

          • Jambo25

            I’m not a big dessert man myself. I always tend to go for the cheese board and a glass of sauternes or port. The exception is Mrs Jambo’s Pavlova or meringues as she is the worlds best meringue maker. Quite superb. Black pudding I could kill my more distant relatives for but I’m not allowed it by the Mrs. When she’s out for the day I get a couple of slices and 2 floury rolls out of the local butcher. Grilled black pudding on the rolls slabbered with butter.

          • Does she bother using cream of tartar? American recipes always insist on it but I’ve never used it for meringue, myself.

            P. S. I go for the cheese board, the Sauternes or port, *and* the dessert!

          • Jambo25

            No, she just uses egg whites and a mixture of caster sugar and icing sugar.

          • Well there you go. I always thought c. of t. was a waste of time! A mixture of sugar, eh… I’ll have to try that.

          • Jambo25

            Ah! but its got to be done with love.

          • Love of meringue? Oh I have that aplenty! : )

          • Jambo25

            Yep.

          • Kitty MLB

            I am sure Mrs Jambo is quite aware of what
            culinary delights you eat whist she is out for the day.
            Wives always know.
            Quite like a cheese board myself, and before any wisecracks, its not an excuse to have a spot of Port,
            honestly.

          • Jambo25

            I’m dead sneaky, I am.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Nonsense re Black Pudding. My local Asda serves black pudding with its breakfasts. It’s true you can’t get black pudding chips and mushy peas but we’re working on it.

          • Kitty MLB

            Oh no, we have been invaded by Northern culinary
            delights have we, Southerners are becoming more brave.
            Also those who eat that stuff should only do so at
            breakfast the plot to bring it onto the dinner table
            will never work.

          • Michael Mckeown

            Deep fried mars bars, you don’t know what you’re missing.

          • Kitty MLB

            I shall try them, have too now !

          • HJ777

            The mars bars are frozen, then dipped in batter and fried just like a pice of fish.

            The reason for freezing them first is so that they keep their shape while the batter fries to crispness. Otherwise the chocolate, etc. would ooze out before the outer had solidified.

            I’ve never eaten one, by the way.

          • Kitty MLB

            Thank you, I was clearly misinformed,
            it all sounds a little more palatable now -Just!
            I have also never found anyone who
            has actually eaten one, or has admitted
            To doing so.I will have to find one next
            time we visit Scotland.

          • Doggie Roussel

            Pass the sick bag, Alice !

          • Kitty MLB

            No, don’t say that I really will
            try them, it will turn me right off before
            I start.
            Besides some countries eat fried maggots,
            and someone I know has eaten bulls
            testicles, and snake stirfry, can
            a we little fried chocolate bar be that
            bad, really ?

          • Fergus Pickering

            I think fried maggots would be better. Fried frogs legs are very toothsome. Served in many Parisian bars.

          • Kitty MLB

            Lots of protein within a fried maggot,
            not too sure about fried frogs legs too slimy.
            I find the thought of eating bulls testicles
            very funny, its the look sheer horror
            on a chaps face when you tell
            him what you have eaten, with a decent
            red wine obviously.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Not slimy at all, I assure you, any more than a cooked fish is wet. Try them.

          • Kitty MLB

            I shall put them on the list of foods to try
            with the fried Chocolate Bar,
            and will remember not to eat them together.

          • Sean McDougall

            Some countries eat jellied eels and dog whelks.

          • Alistair J Murray

            I sampled one once.

            It was far less dreadful than expected, though I declined a second piece.

          • Gwangi

            If deep fried Mars bars had an Italian name and were priced at £12.99, I am sure they’d go down a storm in Islington, amongst yummy-mummy upper-middle-class couples and their beautiful children – who always seem to have names like Ptolemy, Phaedrus and Amonhotep III (no only kidding – there’s no Amonhotep in Islington; try Stoke Newington for that one).

            Anyway, are deep fried Mars bars really any more weird than chilli-flavoured chocolate (which is all the rage in Chelsea)? I retain an open mind. Nothing can be as ridiculous as asparagus anyway…

            The Italians do of course have their equivalent of deep friend pizzas – also served in Glasgow chippies, I hear – and also eat slivers of lard as hors d’oevre. The Italians also chuck handfuls of salt into their cooking too and eat almost twice as much as we do. Maybe if Scotland goes independent it can be towed away to Italian waters, where the locals can gorge themselves on lard and deep fried pizza sprinkled with salt forever and ever amen…

          • rtj1211

            Glasgow also has some very good curry houses.

          • Jambo25

            Glasgow has some very good restaurants, period. Not quite as good as Edinburgh. There isn’t any Tom Kitchin or Martin Wishart but prwtty good. I still have a soft spot for Stravaigin.

          • Fergus Pickering

            I am glad Edinburgh has improved. Fifty years ago it had no restaurants to speak of at all.

          • Jambo25

            I don’t know about that. I’d imagine Denzler’s and the big hotel restaurants would have been open in those days. However, I do take your point. Along with most other British cities Edinburgh’s restaurants have improved immeasurably over the past 40-50 years. If you go onto the various listings pages you can find page after page of really excellent eating places.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Never heard of Denzler’s.

          • Jambo25

            It was a Swiss place down the New Town. I don’t know when it first started. I’m pretty sure it was in the 60s.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Possibly. By the late 60s I was gone. Disappeared into the smoke, as you might say.

          • Lemon meringue white chocolate is my fave…

          • Derick Tulloch

            Take a commendation for the first line of that comment!

      • Crying out loud

        You are rather racist and unpleasant.

        • Doggie Roussel

          And you are a humourless prat.

          • Crying out loud

            You are a tit.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Nonsense. Scottish public schoolboys use the word ‘pret’ all the time. I think the preferred epithent among the Scottish lower class is ‘cunt’, a word I had never come across in my first nine years of life in England. L learned it on day one in Scotland..

          • Crying out loud

            I think you mean Pleb and not pret. Cunt is widely used in England but is much stronger.

          • Fergus Pickering

            I mean prat. And cunt wasn’t used in my part of North London by nine-year-olds.

          • Crying out loud

            9 year olds using cunt? Mmm I blame the parents.

          • Jambo25

            I rarely ever came across people using the word prat at my old school or, indeed, when as an adult I taught. ‘Cunt’ was certainly in constant use in North London when I was there in the mid/late 1960s and yes it was used by primary school kids. The same was true of Manchester in the 70s. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sent up foul mouthed London yobs very neatly in the Derek and Clive tapes.

          • Sean McDougall

            Thats funny.

        • She’s nothing of the kind. Don’t you have anything better to do?

          • Kitty MLB

            Thanks Swanky, some Scottish people
            are without humour, if they were all like him,
            most people would leave Scotland, instead
            of removing Scotland from England, if you know what I mean.

      • terregles2

        More stereo typical nonsense about Glasgow and Edinburgh. I and many other Glaswegians love Edinburgh. We are proud of the capital city of our country. My friends in Edinburgh come through to Glasgow for the excellent shops and restaurants, Kelvingrove, comedy clubs etc. I visit Edinburgh for great weekends the Edinburgh fringe ,theatres,hotels,book festival,etc, The two cities are both less than an hour away from each other by train are both very different and both great cities to visit. We share humour not animosity.

      • Sean McDougall

        The only place I ever saw a chip shop offer fried mars… was in Edinburgh!

        And its the one Charles and Camila use when they are in town.

    • allymax bruce

      Edinburgh, is now the new centre for Modern improvement; the ‘Paris Scene’ was only 100 years ago, check-out Edinburgh now; everything is happening.

  • asalord

    Mr Rifkind writes,”But even sober, by God, you’re as much a Scot as Sir Walter.”

    Concerning the increase in Scottish malt tax and its use as part of “The Equivalent”,Sir Walter Scott commented:
    “This large sum of money in fact belonged to the Scottish nation,being the compensation to be paid to them for undertaking to pledge their revenue for a part of the English national debt.So that,in fact,the Parliament of Scotland was bribed with the public money belonging to their own country.In this way,Scotland herself was made to pay the price given to her legislators for the sacrifice of her independence.”

    • allymax bruce

      Excellent comment, Sir.

    • David Balfour

      And just ignore the fact that Scotland was an economic basket-case thanks to the Darien project; If we listen to the separatist buffoons, we will be walking into another economic disaster on a scale that will supersede that of our predecessors.

      • HandandShrimp

        The Darien project was a failed mercantile adventure. It cost a fair number of people a lot of money. The total cost was reckoned at close to 100% of Scotland’s GDP. It was of course all private investment as Scotland did not yet have a Central Bank or Government debt.

        Today the UK has personal debt at around 100% of GDP, it has Government debt at 90% of GDP (and rising) and Financial Sector liabilities of close to 500% of GDP. Is the UK also a basket case?

        • Andrew Morton

          Hi there Hand!

          Undoubtedly.

          • HandandShrimp

            Hai 🙂

          • Sean McDougall

            The Wings of protection spread far and wide.

      • Doggie Roussel

        Dead right, Mr Balfour !

      • allymax bruce

        Engerland doesn’t rule the world anymore. Just look at their football team.

        • HJ777

          England never did. Scots were disproportionately prominent in the Empire.

          It was called the British (never English) Empire with good reason.

          • flippit

            Yrs, Scots do seem to want to disown their part in
            the Empire. yet we know that denial’s not good, sooner or later it will have to be exorcised.

      • terregles2

        To compare any present day economics with the situation of centuries past is ludicrous.
        The rest of the UK does not have any resource that Scotland does not have. Countries are doing very well that do not have the exports and natural resources of food exports, whisky, electronics, textiles, gas, renewables, tourism, oil, hyrdo power,minerals,fisheries,forestry,agriculture,construction,microelectronics.etc.

      • Sean McDougall

        What nonsense. Poor wee Scotland, too stupid and poor to be succeed as a country.

        Have you looked at the mess that Westminster has prided over in the last sixty years? (regardless of party in power)

    • HJ777

      The union was enormously popular with the Scottish merchant class and most lowland Scots. It was the English who were rather more ambivalent at the time.

      Over the 100 years or so after the union, Scotland went from having an income per head barely half that of England to having an income per head of almost the same. This is one reason why the union has always been at least as popular in Scotland as in England.

  • Robbie Fraser

    From one (proud) former Hutchesons’ Grammar School pupil and Oxford graduate to the Spectator: take your pathetic attempt to turn the debate on Scottish independence into a (doomed) class war and SWIVEL

    • Michael Mckeown

      It is going to be a class ‘war’, those that have are more likely to vote no and those that dont are more likely to vote yes, is there more that have then dont have?

      • Robbie Fraser

        I don’t know Michael, maybe it does boil down to the haves and haves-not… I guess the No campaign do have a number of very wealthy backers, such as Ian Taylor of Vitol who kindly gave loads of money to BT just as he did to Arkan the genocidal Serb warlord; whereas the Yes Campaign have to rely on the odd million from deceased poets and lottery winners – but first why don’t we consult those well known leftist rags Forbes Magazine and The FT, then ask Tom Hunter what he thinks?

        http://www.forbes.com/sites/eamonnfingleton/2014/02/18/as-scotland-mulls-independence-a-stupid-london-plays-it-dirty/

        http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/5b5ec2ca-8a67-11e3-ba54-00144feab7de.html#slide0

        • Michael Mckeown

          Lets ask the audience instead.

          +1 for voting no if you already have a good standard of living.

          -1 for voting yes if you need more in life.

          • Andrew Morton

            What do I click if I have a good standard of living and am voting Yes?

          • Michael Mckeown

            You wont be clicking you would be pulling the trigger.

          • Wessex Man

            Just make you you put your cross in the yes box please.

          • Alistair J Murray

            I have an excellent standard of living and I’m voting “Yes”, as are most of the academics and professionals of my acquaintance.

          • Michael Mckeown

            really? define ‘most’.

          • Alistair J Murray

            Of the doctors, engineers, professors, lawyers, architects, teachers and lecturers I know ~70% have expressed their intention to vote “Yes”.

            Indeed, the epidemiologist with whom I was dining last night, who is used to extracting information from noisy data sets, said that he was yet to encounter any solid argument or information in support of the Union.

          • Michael Mckeown

            I dont believe you, you are saying you polled everyone you know then made statistics on it and thats not normal.

            Anyway for arguments sake lets assume your telling the truth then in order for your ‘statistics’ to be meaningful you would need to give a total number of respondents and your lack of doing so is telling.

          • Alistair J Murray

            No stats, no polling, just the vibe from my wider social circle, some of whom have .ac.uk email addresses.

            In my, statistically irrelevant, experience there are fewer committed “No”s than indifferents and undecideds.

            I think it’s amongst the petit bourgeoisie that the “No” camp must look for support.

          • Michael Mckeown

            How may? under ten? under 100? over a thousand? You are simply not credible until you publish the details but anyway I’m going to do what the ‘70%’ did and just agree with you as it shuts you up 🙂

          • fluffnik

            Under 100.

            The referendum comes up in conversation quite often, though I rarely raise it.

          • Michael Mckeown

            So is it under 50 then?

          • fluffnik

            Probably around 50, maybe slightly more.

          • Michael Mckeown

            So a completely insignificant number then.

          • fluffnik

            Indeed, I claim no statistical significance.

          • GUBU

            Are you the new Nate Silver?

            I’m glad you know so many distinguished people (do you know any binmen or shop assistants?), but I hope you will understand that I personally would not want to place a bet on the referendum result based on information gathered from people you personally know or have dined with in the last few days.

            But you’re right on one thing – there is nothing worse than a noisy data set.

          • Alistair J Murray

            Yes, I know binmen and shop assistants, shopkeepers and both sorts of painters too, I’m a sociable chap.

          • Sean McDougall

            Fluffnik… you sound like a thoroughly reasonable chap. Ignore the idiots.

          • Sean McDougall

            Fluffnik… you sound like a thoroughly reasonable chap. Ignore the idiots.

          • Sean McDougall

            Well said. I agree.

          • Robbie Fraser

            I think the abstainers have it

        • Fergus Pickering

          The FT IS a leftist rag. Has been for years.

    • Sean McDougall

      At least not a class war in Scotland. I agree.

      But in many respects, a class war between Westminster Elite and Scotland’s 99%.

      Had there been a modicum of equality over the past 60 years, the Independence debate would not be happening today.

      The UK as in British Empire is finished… residents of Scotland are at the leading edge of the change… But there will be similar moves in England to dismantle Westminster and London hegemony. Its only a matter of time. There are unfortunately, English people who think that the UK can be saved.

      • Shaun Walker

        please dont try and turn this into some sort of debate about english regions…once the scots vote yes…all the little McTwats can leave..how about giving the english a vote on its independence..all the scots are after is more english money…rather a muslim than a jock…at least a muslim is honest….

        • Jimmy McHeggis

          Yeah right… Is there not a BNP meeting you have to run along to?!

    • Hugo Rifkind

      Maybe you need to read this column again, because you seem to be under the impression it’s a call for the posh to vote “NO”.

      Actually, I think the vast majority of them will be voting “NO” already. This is a call for them to engage with everybody else enough to explain why. Hope this helps.

      • Robert O’Riordan

        Methinks you doth assume too much Hugo Rifkind…and you could even be accused of being a little bit patronizing. tosh from the Murdoch camp. Hugo, you one) assumes that as a group “we” have all made up our minds how we will vote and we stand and two) that if we haven’t we would be stupid if we didn’t agree with you.

        I don’t think the Strathallan sixth form is a very good proxy for the whole of the Scots intelligentsia / thinking classes nor do I think you have tried to understand or analyse the issues at stake which, as in the past, are far from straightforward or as black and white as you suggests.

        Yours in undecided open mindedness…

        Federalism, Europe and Local Democracy all have virtues in abundance.

  • venyanamore

    Spot on

  • Angus_MacLellan

    For a guy who claims to be Scottish, he certainly doesn’t know much about their mentality. It is not their way to be in your face, boisterous rather a little more understated and subtle.

  • Raw England

    Don’t you get it? ‘United Kingdom’ is now a FAIL. Its ran by a Liberal fascist, viciously anti-democratic, multicultural scum pit of a political class/government.

    Its FINISHED. The future is us English asserting our ethnicity and identity, and reclaiming our nation from the immigrants. The only way we can do this is if Scotland PISSES OFF. We don’t even WANT it. Plus, the Scottish WANT Independence, and they’ll keep trying no matter what; so we need to cut them loose, and good riddance.

    • P_Cochrane

      The UK is a fail and your solution is to get rid of the only part that seeks a bit of socialism? Good luck with your new country run by an English Liberal fascist, viciously anti-democratic, multicultural scum pit of a political class/government.

      • Raw England

        OK. I’ll turn your (admittedly entertaining) statement on its head: The 50 Scottish Ministers who, disgusingly, have power over English affairs ALL voted for more mass immigration, more multiculturalism and more resources for Scotland, which is the exact OPPOSITE to what we English want.

        So, this kinda voids your entire argument.

      • Wessex Man

        oh do grow up!

    • Sean McDougall

      You’d get more support for English Independence, if you supported Scottish Independence without bitterness.

  • john

    The independence bandagon is beginning to gain strength. If Salmond now says Scotland will dump the Windsors – he’s home and dry.

  • MaxStewart

    It is expected that those most concerned by the populist ideas of independence are those of the high socio-economic classes. They are the business owners, the investors, the property developers, the exporters, etc.
    What do the working class people have to lose? All Scottish hearts are romanced by nationalism, even the “timid posh folk”, however nobody wishes their children a future in an experimental state born of SNP promise and self-interest.

  • Peter Arnott

    I’m sure they’ll adjust.

  • F. Hugh Eveleigh

    Oh dear, the comments below suggest a mirror to the yea and nay in the debate but for my part I think Mr Rifkind has summated one aspect of the background on independence very successfully. As one who spent a year in Edinburgh in 2010 (it is a city I much admire) I found that after six or so months the inward xenophobic nature of every aspect of public life just too limiting on my sensibilities and so I left for France and then Oxford – and that was before a referendum had been mooted. Rifkind is quite right in that there is a small and non-vocal group of cosmopolitan sophisticates who get on with their lives almost in spite of what goes on around them. It is easier to keep one’s thoughts on Scottish matters close in such circumstances but for me it was too difficult (witness this comment) and I had no option but to leave. Whether the equation ‘privately educated’ equals British as opposed to Scottish I can’t say but I suspect there’s something in it.
    For my part I hope the Scots say No but it will be their decision and if it’s Yes – so be it and Good Luck.

  • Derick Tulloch

    The flaw in your article, Hugo, is that the middle classes also have something to gain from Independence. No, not the thousands of well paid repatriated civil service jobs e.g. in the new Scottish Foreign Office. Nor the chance ‘to finally get to do something…’ as an existing civil service bod, and one from the more fragrant schools, noted in a recent conversation i was privy to. Not the economic boost that will come from Independence. But an end to divided loyalties. And self respect.

    That’s why the middle classes are so quiet. They are ashamed. Time to grow up

  • DDownie

    Well Hugo from the posts below you have clearly got under the skin of the nationalists. The louder they shout on the internet the more it appears that they have lost the argument. To quote Corporal Jones, ‘They don’t like it up em’

  • Rebel Laird

    A must read article by another Spectator. The irony of this article is uncanny!

    1. The reason the UK is in this mess is because of an Old Fettesian (Tony Blair (Labour))!!

    2. The article is written by a Loretto Scot Hugo Rifkind from the same school as Alistair Darling (Labour and architect of this mess as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 1997 giving Scotland a Parliament)).

    3. It appears he has totally missed the fact the “No Campaign” is already led by a timid Posh Scot Alistair Darling, from his Old School. Ironic given he effectively gave Scotland the road to separatism in 1997.

    4. The timid posh Scot Alistair Darling living in Morningside seems to be unaware if he doesn’t pull his finger out and wake up and start backing the side he has been appointed to lead he will lose his Westminster seat in Edinburgh.

    5. Rifkind was educated privately in Scotland, is a Scot living in London telling the professions to rise up, most of whom it would appear from the above vote Labour or SNP and back separatism. This kind of lecturing plays directly into SNP hands… Loretto Scot in London telling Scots in Scotland what to do the rest might well be history…

    6. Another Posh Scot without a plan, happy to discuss in the quiet medium but not put his neck on the line in the debate. Ignorant that in a Socialist parliament the minority can’t win, has he not noticed the lack of Conservatives north of the border and the head of the Conservative & Unionist Party happy to promote more independence on a No to separatism vote.

    On the current path, with or without separatism, Scotland will became more cantankerous, a radical C21st path is needed fast from the Government to ensure no separatism and a return to a dynamic union. The debate for now is on the streets with Labour for them to accept responsibility for this mess, apologise and clean up the damage done and for the Scottish based MSPs to stick their head above the parapet.

    It would appear rightly or wrongly the timid “Posh Scot” should not speak out!!

    • fluffnik

      The Union is crumbling, it, and its parasitic elite, will be swept away, unmourned.

  • Sean McDougall

    Independence will be won on the council estates… They are the polar opposite of Westminster elite. They welcome any change, as things cannot really get any worse for them.

  • Terry Field

    Why should they speak out? Whatever happens – they win!
    Land-ownership in the Land of the Shortbread Sporren is medieval.
    They own it.

    • fluffnik

      For the moment.

  • frglee

    Few things make a Scot wince more than hearing an English cut glass accent ordering them about. It might impress ordinary English people, but it sure as hell does not work in Scotland! North of the border society is much less class based than England.

  • Cymrugel

    Oh come now Hugo!
    “Looking for a few more hard edges” down south were you?
    Do you think we’re all daft or something?
    You are the son of privilege, lad ;child of a Tory Grandee in a country where Tories are becoming an endangered species.
    Your career path has been stellar ; a complete unknown then suddenly a columnist in the Scotsman; then the Standard and now the Times – not to mention your part time job with the Spectator of course.
    Your writing is passable but I see nothing to justify your own column in the national press with so few journalistic chops as you have to show.
    Do you seriously think you would have moved up so far and so fast without your political connections in London?
    Hard edges indeed!
    You have been feather bedded every step of the way and are now working in London because there is better pay; a bigger platform for your career – path smoothed by Dads connections of course – and access to the milieu where a likely tory lad with the right connections can rise without too much trouble – though that might change in the event of a yes vote in Scotland .
    Enjoy yourself, but please do not insult our intelligence with this bilge.

  • FrankieThompson

    The problem for the “posh Scots” as Mr. Rifkind would have them, really was Margaret Thatcher.

    Having pulled a flanker in 1979 by convincing the Scots they’d voted no when in fact we voted yes, the “posh Scots” watched in silence as the country was humiliated, almost as an afterthought, by a government which vandalised our economy, attempted to introduce “survival of the fittest” as a political maxim, completely ignored the expressed wishes of the people through the ballot box, and squandered our precious natural resources in a social and economic experiment which created a bitterness which the current crop of etiolated Tories in Scotland are still reaping.

    So, spare us the hand-wringing Mr. Rifkind.

    If your dad had stuck by his principled decision in 1976, rather than defeat the purpose of it by his actions in the 80’s, maybe things would be a bit different now.

    • Desyduk

      Argumentum ad hominem.

  • Lucy Holt

    Hugo, you are absolutely right about posh Scots staying silent because there’s a good chance they’ll get lambasted by aggressive Yes voters, many of whom – but NOT ALL let me stress – hate everything that we represent, in their eyes anyway, i.e. privilege, landowners, private school, English accents. I am all of these things but I was born and bred in Scotland and I care passionately about my country. I am Scottish first, British second and the thing I worry about most is that if Scotland becomes independent we will be ruled by people who despise us. As one SNP MSP said the other day (I forget who), “the best reason to vote Yes is no more Tories”. I am quite scared about posting this because of the response I will get from some quarters, but in response to your battle cry, Hugo, here goes…

  • Tamas Marcuis

    When the USSR took over the Baltic States and encapsulated Poland the middle classes were disposed of “permanently”. Katyn Forrest provided a hole for the army officers and who knows where the others ended if not the Gulag system. It was decided that removing the top slice of society made these countries easier to control. In the end it failed, a ship yard in Gdansk and a string of people across hundreds of miles in the Baltics.

    England chose another strategy, it divided Scotland’s population. A small group were guaranteed social and economic privilege in return for loyalty and the expectation of steady assimilation into the English nation. The poor average lowland Scot and even poorer Highlanders were fed an unending diet of crude propaganda and demeaned at every occasion. Gaelic culture was all but exterminated and Scots language culture only survived in the stagnant city slums and grim farming communities as a mark of common suffering. Yet still the last census showed more than a third of Scots still speak their language openly with linguist placing estimates of 60%.

    Mr Rifkind’s posh folk in the realities of Scotland and the examples that can be found all over Europe, are not Scottish. Their ancestors chose to assimilate, for personal advantage, into the English Nation. Scotland will eventually become independent, if not this time, a lot sooner than people think. These things tend to move geometrically spinningly faster towards the end. In their minds their is always the bolt across the border. A false idea. The legal system they operate in ties some, while land is not like a Persian rug. Businesses, yes, if you move towards your customers. But not as easy to relocate to England with higher cost and a poorly educated working class.

    Most will be as trapped as the Uncle Babus in India. The aristocracy can look at the Indian example if not the Irish. This why I believe they are quietly considering their future. They are after all a small self serving group.

  • Elizabeth Rodgers

    Why is everybody so big on statistics as we all know they can be manipulated to suit both points of view . I am comfortable in all aspects of my life and I am a YES voter

  • Peter_Wood

    There is no doubt that this referendum IS seen as class war by many residents of Scotland’s housing “schemes”. A once and for all chance to get the power to raise income taxes in order to benefit people who have never paid them

  • tina

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  • Ian Clark

    Me? Cargilfield. Glenalmond. Durham University Classics, and a fiercely Tory military family including Sirs and Lord Provosts, blah blah blah.
    My vote? YES. Why? Because it’s what Wallace and Bruce fought and died for. We still owe them and the job is not over until (re)independence is achieved, including complete and utter severance from the monarchy. Other answer? Because I share the vision of a nation that is more than able to stand on its own two feet without being held back by the shackles binding it to an anachronistic Union that never had Scotland’s interests at heart from the time the ink on the Union of the Parliaments was dry. Scottish first. European second. British, no thank you. Slainte!

  • Wylie Davidson

    A reply to Hugo Rifkin’s Call to Arms

    From a flat in Maida Vale by Wylie Davidson

    I have a copy of Lanark and a copy of Trainspotting and I am also rather fond of
    that restaurant in Belgravia. Truthfully my accent is not very broad but then again we are not all Rob Roy Macgregors, you know? You see just because you are born in a stable, it doesn’t make you a donkey. Now yes you do get Scots in Belgravia and some of them have castles and some don’t, but you also find them in Wales and in New York’s Upper East Side and in Brixton and in the Falkland Islands. In fact you can find Scots in every crevice of the world, even Westminster.

    I am disputing Hugo’s claim that the Scottish middle class skulk around. The
    Scottish middle class I know have no sinister or cowardly motives. They simply have more humility and make their judgments of others on a more moral basis than their English counterparts. Hugo is correct in that they’re exactly like everybody else, few of them indeed live in castles and they certainly do include many of the most successful, creative and driven people that Scotland has to offer. However it is not true to say that they are invisible, perhaps if you live in London then they are invisible. For everyone else in Scotland they see them whenever they talk to their lawyers, doctors, dentists, teachers, vets and the list goes on and on. They just don’t go around flaunting their wealth and successes in the face of the rest of the community. If anything they are really more Scando-Scots, if I may coin the term.

    They certainly don’t fear exile, as they are an integral and valued part of the
    community. Yes there is an absence of the middle class in Scottish literature, but
    only because no one wants to know! The dentists don’t want to finish work and
    come home to read about being a dentist. I would say that many of these professionals are British in so much as they haven’t forgotten what it means to
    have a sense of duty. They perform their professional tasks to the best of
    their abilities, then go on to help the local community and then they take some
    time for themselves. Rotary, the John Muir Trust, the National Trust for Scotland and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. All these institutions that protect Scotland from the pariahs and ignorance of many, is where you will find the middle class toiling to protect our place and for everyone’s benefit. Afterwards, if there is some time for hill walking and pottering about in the garden then they are generally quite content.

    Do they know what they think? I would argue that they are thinking very hard and carefully what this decision will mean for everyone. Unlike the Nats who go around
    sodcasting their freedom propaganda and the BTs who are trying to economically
    scaremonger everyone into the status quo. The middle class are calculating. They are after all methodical, patient and intelligent. I mean they didn’t become advocates and surgeons by being impulsive. They are not affected by the flyers and the posters. They are however alarmed that a country might be budgeted and run by the same people that spent 414 million on a Parliamentary building and 776 million
    on a tram.

    Then there is Alex Salmond, a man who is apparently very good at betting on horses.
    Well they don’t like this gambling and the smart ones don’t like his wind turbines. Is it wise to put all your eggs in one basket? If that is the case I would prefer to have a basket of thorium. To quote Niall Stuart the Scottish renewables chief it was ‘the cheapest technology readily deployed at scale’. They know that turbines are just a huge scam with public money. They know that the Earl of Moray makes 2million a year from the turbines on his Perthshire Estate and pockets the public money in Monaco. They know the Earl of Roxburghe, the Earl of Seafield and the Earl of Glasgow play a similar game. Sure a change is needed, but they can see this money comes from the UK as a whole and wonder where it will come from in an Independent Scotland. Sure 16 people own 10% of the land but how would you like it if your house was confiscated by the State? On this subject Andy Wightman is inspirational. The largest landowner in Scotland is the Forestry Commission with 1,600,000 acres. Community buy-outs depend on public subsidy. The State can’t afford to buy out every landowner. Even if the land was nationalised the State couldn’t pay for its upkeep.

    Consider who will protect an independent Scotland from a terrorist attack, without Trident and Scotland’s Yard, what happens if John Smeaton is on holiday? Lowering tax and simplifying regulations would attract new business sure, but then who will
    pay for the 20% on disability benefits and who will pay for the 20% of pensionable age; a figure that is set to rise to 50% with Scotland’s aging demographic. How Scottish Govt “targets” will be met is a real concern. With regard to the NHS, work often has to be contracted out to the private sector – and yet Alex Salmond maintains only his party will protect the NHS. His party is starving it of funds.

    The middle class are weighing the impact in real money terms for the Scottish
    people. If the Bank of England raises base rate as the UK economy is flying, as it currently is, what happens when the Scottish economy stalls due to setting up a country and there is a lack of external investment… All of a sudden people can’t afford their mortgages. They can see that people are taking a huge risk for very little upside, but they do wonder. I believe they can also see the attractions for those who are disenchanted with Westminster. They may be Scando-Scots in their behaviour but they view Scandinavia as an egalitarian utopia only on the surface and are fully aware of the complex reality that lies underneath. In their minds they really are British.

    Hugo is certainly right about one thing, they are the ones with the greatest at stake. You see if their vote creates a fairer, more equal, more prosperous country then all the Scottish literature in the world can be written about them for generations to come. Their children and their children’s children will read it. But if they make the wrong decision, all the blame will fall on them, those who were read, who were learned, ultimately those who should have known better.

  • Malcolm Ritchie

    Couple of words to the wise, Wylie.
    First
    off – it was the Labour Party who a) spent 400 million on the Scottish
    Parliament building and b) wasted the money on the “tram” and who then
    forced the Scottish Government to pick up the pieces. Every single Party on Edinburgh City Council voted in favour of the trams – with the exception of one. Guess which one?

    Secondly – on Pensions? Already confirmed – MORE than once – by the DWP
    and the relevant minister that State Pensions are GUARANTEED by the UK
    Government. They have to be – that’s with whom the “contract” has been
    made. If you have 1) a NINO and 2) have 35 years of contributions then
    THEY MUST pay you. Location is irrelevant. And those with a NINO –
    REGARDLESS of nationality- can buy NI “stamps” personally.
    Thirdly –
    an aging population? True enough. But also one which “exceeds” the rUK
    by one quarter of one per cent of the population per capita. Scarcely
    some sort of massive difference. And precisely the same problem of
    demographics will be faced whether we are in or out of the Union, in or
    not in rUK. Probably explains why former officials and ministers are now
    suggesting that retirees should do some sort of “voluntary” work in
    return for what they are now calling a “benefit” – rather than a pension
    and a right.

  • James Henry

    This is one Old Fettesian that voted Yes.

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