Cutting a Dash through the 21st Century

Culture

A Love Letter to Scotland

Dear Scotland

Please, from the bottom of my heart, don’t become a foreign country.

WP_000666Now I’ve attempted to steer clear of political discussion by and large, I really have. Despite being a politics graduate I endeavour to focus in my writings on what unites us, rather than what divides us. That’s really what being a gentleman is all about (never discuss sex, politics or religion Sir.) Yet I am being forced to be political, because something that defines this blog, defines me and defines so many of us is about to be snatched away. I’m talking about my country of Great Britain, and consequently the concept of Britishness.

WP_000664Britishness for me is a source of fascination. It’s a wonderfully quirky, non-specific idea; yet it is an idea that really unites us. I’ve already written a guide for foreigners as to what it means to be British. Now I write to you Scotland, in the sincere hope that you will not soon join that list of foreign countries.

I braved a rotten cold to go to London yesterday and attend the Let’s Stay Together event in Trafalgar Square. Dan Snow, Eddie Izzard, Bob Geldoff and Al Murray were on hand to express their love of Scotland and why it is integral, no essential to the UK. The people attending weren’t Tories, or establishment stooges, they were just ordinary Londoners – English, Welsh, Scots and Irish – coming together to say no to nationalism and yes to patriotism. It was, as it happened, extremely British; polite, amusing and heart-warming in equal measure. The central message was this – it is ultimately up to you, but we are your brothers and sisters and would be devastated if you left us. We get disillusioned with Westminster too. We get frustrated with political processes. But the answer is not to run away, it is stay with us and fight – in the way we have stood together and fought over the past 300 years – for a better country.

WP_000669And it is also about Britishness; that unique entity that unites us. What is Britishness? Well for me it is nothing short of a globally idealised brand.  Whether someone is in Jakarta watching James Bond, Taiwan listening to Tom Jones or Quito eating a crumpet – Britishness is something the planet aspires to. It is an ideal that we have given the world, a global brand that transcends nationalism and is inclusive and open in a way that Englishness, Welshness and Scottishness is just not perceived to be.  Britishness is an identity that welcomes the world and encourages everyone to be more like us – whether that be through manners, style, heritage or attitude.  This identity, one that has moved beyond the connotations of empire and military might, really is British too.  It is about Harris Tweed as much as Savile Row. It is about Franz Ferdinand as much as the Arctic Monkeys. It is about Neeps and Tatties as much as Fish and Chips. It is about Tunnocks Teacakes, William Wilberforce, Aston Martin, Walter Scott, The Rolling Stones, Anthony Hopkins, The Flying Scotsman, David Livingstone, The Thin Red Line, Alan Turing and Harry Potter. I am proud of every one of those things. I haven’t even started on the beautiful landscape of our island.

WP_000667Most nations on earth envy our global branding – the Union Flag is one of the most recognised on the planet. So Britishness is not just about the past, even when standing up to bullies such as Napoleon or Hitler, it is about the future too.  It is about coming from a land uniquely blessed with incredible regional and national diversity, yet united by a globally recognised culture, language and even by a good old British sense of fair-play and decency. We cannot throw this away, we may never forgive ourselves. The world certainly will not forgive us either.

Please don’t go.

Yours with love

A Fellow Briton

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