Last week I watched Europe for Scotland hosted by Lesley Riddoch. A comment caught my attention. The French contributor, who works for Erasmus+, said that one of the big losses from our withdrawal from the program was for European educators who wanted to see Scottish schools because, as she said, what they are doing is largely admired. Let’s remember that the next time someone tries to disparage our “failing” schools!
I was also struck by Michael Russell’s quote in the Sunday National saying that the case for joining the EU should be cultural as well as economic. I totally agree.
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In 1971, I had the privilege of attending the International Summer School at the University of Oslo. I rubbed shoulders with students from all over the world, but mostly Americans and Europeans, and made friends with many. This was before we joined the EEC as it then was. It struck me strongly how much we shared values and attitudes with European countries, unlike the United States, despite our so-called common language. There was also already an awareness of Scotland‘s distinct identity: a Dutch friend pointed out that, as he was from Brabant, calling it ‘Holland’ was like calling Scotland part of England.
This shared European identity was not limited to Western Europe. I met three Hungarian students who were very open and relaxed, and we had good conversations. I remember one of them said he knew their political system was wrong, but being in the Communist Party (only reliable members would be allowed overseas at the time) , he planned to work on the reform of the interior. I thought (a young cynic of 20!) that it was more likely that the system would change it rather than the other way around, but it came back to me in 1989 when the Hungarian Communist Party (unlike others in Eastern Europe the East) renamed itself and called multi-party elections.
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Later, I briefly lived and worked in Denmark. I felt immediately and comfortably at home there, in a way (dare I say it) that I have never felt in England. I have a friend, a Unionist, who insists that Scottish and English are really the same. If that’s true, I wonder why they keep electing such appalling governments!
On a more anecdotal note, in the late 1970s, I was in Angers (northwestern France) with a group of agricultural students. In a bar one evening, the alcohol having been taken, the bar boys were getting louder and louder. I was at the other end of the bar with a friend, a charming and interesting Englishman. A group of French locals were mumbling about loud Scots, and my friend said recklessly “I’m not Scottish, I’m English!”. In an instant they turned on him and told him that the French and the Scots were still good friends, but the English…
To put it simply, I can’t help but think that before the Union, Scotland’s relationship with mainland Europe was through trade, while England’s was through war. England never really identified itself as part of Europe. It wasn’t just the ruling classes either. Years ago I read somewhere that a French diplomat appointed to the London of Elizabeth I was warned to be discreet in the streets because if ordinary people identified him as a foreigner they would mistreat him, if not worse.
WHY are Westminster politicians and the media afraid to mention Brexit when trying to explain rising prices, wage strikes, the cost of living crisis and the impending recession?
Apparently only the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine are to blame, according to Boris Johnson’s implosion of prime minister and his dysfunctional government.
The fact is that the disastrous Brexit deal in the UK has increased the costs and ability to do business with the world’s largest single market on our doorstep, the EU. Yet millions of misinformed and lied to people are still shouting “freedom of Europe”, except in Scotland!
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From perhaps the worst Prime Minister of all time to a Conservative party we didn’t vote for and which has been dragged out of Europe, only pessimism and negativity are offered by the Unionist campaign no, with promises and lies as a bonus.
Scotland must leave this damaged (irreparable) union with England and once again carve out its own name in the world as an independent British Isles and European nation.
WATCHING Johnson get his brains and temper gored by Chris Mason on Monday was tragic, even amusing, as the Prime Minister’s shirt collar tightened and his face flushed as if a little boy had been caught pinching sweets at lunchtime, mumbling under his breath as the leftovers trickled down. her chin.
He does not distinguish fact from fiction, truth from lies, but only anything that passes for a response from a man busy doing a little more in life than indulging himself and saving his own skin while avoiding supposedly a war.
Is there anyone in the Conservative Party brave enough to see him impeached?