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Wings Over Scotland

As other selves see us

Posted on March 01, 2014 by

Will Self in the New Statesman, 28 February 2014:

“As someone who for the past two decades has visited Scotland at least three or four times a year, and spent a great deal of those visits in and around the former steel town of Motherwell, I cherish few illusions about the country.

On the whole, I’ve considered independence to be something of a no-brainer: if ever there was a small, potentially socialistic state that could do with being detached from its deluded imperialist neighbour, it’s Scotland.”

Despite our misgivings about the shortbread, bagpipes, sporrans, whisky, Nessie and deep-fried Mars bar cover, the magazine’s special “Scotland” issue isn’t bad at all. Of course, as Scots we’re all far too mean to pay £3.95 – £3.95! – for a copy, but do go and browse it on your local newsagent’s shelves.

The entire column can be seen below. Click to enlarge.


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    1. 09 03 14 22:25

      Broadcasting the Reasons for Scottish Independence | Darling Blogs

    55 to “As other selves see us”

    1. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      Whever the Scots are gone and they do not have us to denigrate, they have always the Geordies and Liverpudlians, then the Brumnmies, Welsh and West Country Bumpkins?

      That just leaves the London and the errrr foreigners?

    2. Arbroath 1320 says:

      That would of course be Sc£3.95, a currency that dear, dear old Westminster want nothing to do with because they are too busy dealing with their £1.6 Trillion debt. 🙂

    3. Tasmanian says:

      “As other /SELVES/ see us”… I see what you did there Stu 😀

    4. blunttrauma says:

      Still with the subsidy myth.

    5. Geoff Huijer says:

      I used to quite enjoy when Will Self popped up on Question Time and this isn’t a bad article at all.

      Although the ‘subsidy’ myth still grates…

    6. Colin mccartney says:

      Hell of a drive , out of Glasgow, over the Kincardine bridge and up to Loch Lomond? Apart from that and the subsidy gaffe he has what it takes to be a good neighbour.

    7. heedtracker says:

      It’s like that Scottish lion of yours up there should be giving England a hanky to dry their poor wee eyes. English people that say YES, Bill Bailey for example, they’re the English people that really get Scotland as new nation state. The rest are just tormented by Britnat rule Britannia territoriality and unpleasant prejudice, just like that bizarre idiot from the Daily Mail below. We own Scotland so just who the hell do they think they are?

    8. Graeme Purves says:

      Quite a good piece from Selfie. I’m pleased to learn that Major Tom has received a promotion (particularly after that unfortunate mishap in space), but I can’t quite fathom why anyone would cross the Kincardine Bridge on a journey from Glasgow to Loch Lomond.

    9. Arbroath 1320 says:

      Think you’re right about that drive to Loch Lomond Colin. Maybe he used the map as supplied by Melanie Phillips. 🙂

    10. David Smith says:

      I’m not sure he wasn’t being ironic with the ‘subsidy’ remark.
      If not I’m sure he’s open to education.

    11. gordoz says:

      Will Self us usually pretty good. Not the owrt by a long way and its not that bad a read here – agree about subsidies, but then they are reading the English press and ours are no better.

      O/T At last the students have organised at Glasgow Caledonian Uni (GCU); they are way outnumbered by big BT drive, so give them a vote of confidence on Facebook if you can spare the time.

    12. gordoz says:

      @heedtracker says

      Simon Pegg falls into the same category as Bill Bailey.

    13. Stuart Crawford says:

      Colonel Tom? I guess none of that £3.95’s paying a sub’s wages.

    14. Alfresco Dent says:

      I’ve always had a soft spot for Will Self. Most intelligent and erudite. But like everyone else has spotted, his navigational skills clearly leave a lot to be desired.

    15. KillieBoab says:

      No doubt the journey to Loch Lomond was planned using the BBC Weather Map!

    16. Arbroath 1320 says:

      That would be this weather map then Killie. 🙂

    17. Holebender says:

      Am I right in thinking Alex Salmond is guest editor of this week’s (month’s? I don’t even know if it’s a weekly or a monthly!) edition? I think I read that somewhere.

    18. Croompenstein says:

      Must admit I don’t really get Will Self but more power to him for this. O/T very good article in Daily Ranker’s Saturday mag today by Libby McArthur quite uplifting..

    19. BigSteveChisholm says:


      I was surprised (pleasantly) to read about Bill Bailey and Simon Pegg. Bob Mortimer has also been a fairly vocal Yes supporter on Twitter. Stan Collymore too!

      Has anyone gone to the effort of compiling a decent ‘friends of Yes’ list?

      And foes. Better Together can have Nicky Clarke, for starters.

    20. joe kane says:

      Will Self’s wife, I believe, is Guardian columnist Deborah Orr who comes from Wishaw, Lanarkshire.

    21. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Am I right in thinking Alex Salmond is guest editor of this week’s (month’s? I don’t even know if it’s a weekly or a monthly!) edition?”

      No. But he does have a big feature in it, and also interviews Judy Murray, so he gets a good few pages.

    22. Macart says:

      Not a bad piece by Will Self, although as others have noted the subsidy myth still makes a guest appearance. Still and all he seems to have put more thought into his article than the vast majority of commentators have in a two year period to date.

    23. G H Graham says:

      Did you actually read this article?

      It’s shite; just more of the same southern English view of Scotland; subsidised and full of drunk people.

      I paraphrase … “Yeah, the scenery is great but the folks are hopeless, inebriated romantics.”

      I’m done listening to gob shites telling me how awful we are. Given two pages of copy to fill, he missed an opportunity to relish on the rich, diversity of written, spoken & sung culture. Or about the uniqueness of our arts. Or our distinctive collective political viewpoint. Or about the architectural merits of some of our ancient built heritage.

      But no, he used these pages to repeat false claims & denigrate the Scots. Maybe that’s what happens when you spend the bulk of your time in Motherwell.

      Sure, we might only be 5.3 million strong but when we live in an area that covers 1/3rd of the land mass of the British Isles, one has quite the palette to pick from.

      Unfortunately he must be colour blind cos all I see in his picture is Black & White. Fuck off.

    24. Nuada says:

      Daman it all, it’s STILL Will Self, isn’t it?

    25. Tamson says:

      To be fair to Will Self, he’s a massive fan of Alasdair Gray.

    26. Guy McV says:

      There is no Industrial Heritage Museum in Helensburgh.

    27. Guy McV says:

      Unless it closed long ago.

    28. Bruce Wallace says:

      @G H Graham

      Can you expand on “But no, he used these pages to repeat false claims & denigrate the Scots. Maybe that’s what happens when you spend the bulk of your time in Motherwell” with what you are getting at, as it looks like You are trying to denigrate the people of Motherwell.
      Apologies if I’m wrong.

    29. G H Graham says:

      Motherwell is a place where North British Labour dinosaurs live.

      It’s industrial soul has been ripped out largely as a consequence of disastrous British government policies from the Conservatives & Labour since the 1970’s.

      Despite it’s mighty fall, locals still look with misty eyes to North British Labour for their salvation. I think the phenomenon is referred to as Jockhome Syndrome or something similar.

      But to forge an impression of a nation from the flattened industrial heritage of Motherwell is at best, highly selective.

    30. Bruce Wallace says:

      G H Graham

      Thanks for clearing that up, they do hate the snp there, Its my old home town, their political beliefs are labour through and through, I just don’t like seeing them get abused for it. Cheers

    31. Paul Kelly says:

      SUBSIDY? Not in the meaning of a tangible asset! But spiritual, i think he meant that we do not need to be part of something “bigger”. We don’t need mighty Westminster to be our voice in the world. I think…

    32. joe kane says:

      …locals still look with misty eyes to North British Labour for their salvation.
      – The SNP has made significant gains in North Lanarkshire Council over the years whose HQ is in Motherwell Civic Centre. Check wikipedia entries under “North Lanarkshire Council election” for the bare stats.

      The Motherwell and Wishaw Westminster Parliamentary constituency is contained within the Central Scotland Scottish Parliamentary constituency which has two list SNP MSPs, Richard Lyle and Claire Adamson.

      Here is the video record of local Labour MP and former party whip Frank Roy’s recent dire performance in a well attended debate with the estimable Blair Jenkins which took place in Motherwell recently –

      Here is the lively YES Motherwell and Wishaw Facebook –

    33. Squirrel Towers says:

      I think Will Self spends time on Orkney so at least he has made it past the central belt…

    34. Holebender says:

      I got the Salmond guest editor thing from Tom Gordon’s Twitter feed. 26 Feb 1:37pm.

    35. joe kane says:

      It’s a source of pride that Motherwell and Wishaw voted the first Communist MP to Westminster in 1922.

      It was also the first constituency to return an SNP MP to Westminster in 1945.

      Motherwell (UK Parliament constituency)

    36. Grouse Beater says:

      Good ol’ Will Self – and what is more, he expresses his analysis without employing a single obscure word.

    37. stephanie says:

      Very good, I thought. Wondering why some would be offended by it? Thought the spirit of it quite positive. Longer piece here by Self, musings on Orwell and Scottish islands, if any are interested

    38. Morag says:

      As Joe said, the first ever SNP MP was elected for the constituency of Motherwell and Wishaw.

      It’s middling, in the ranks of Labour fiefdoms. Lay off, basically.

    39. Graeme McCormick says:

      The industrial museum in Helensburgh he was referring to was Faslane?
      The Tories/BT mob are forcing through a submarine museum in a converted church hall to be opened by Prince William in July .

      It will creat one full time job and cost public funds £300k.

      Money which should be used for youth facilities. Meantime Helesburgh’s population has dropped by 2000 in ten years.

    40. SquareHaggis says:

      Having met Will a number of years ago, I have to say I found him a most charming and entertaining bloke, mostly pro any new ideas.

      Also, have to admit he did subsidise this particular Scot to the tune of twa pints of ale after I “accidentally” left my wallet on the mantlepiece.

      Go yerself Wull & cheers for the beers, Edinburgh 2003 – many happy returns 😉

    41. joe kane says:

      Anyone who punctured the triumphalist neoliberal balloon by confessing to using smack in the midst of the elitist, brown-nosing, media entourage aboard a tory Prime Minister’s airplane, and who made a wonderful BBC tv documentary arguing that taxpayer subsidies to British merchants of death was a waste of money can’t be all bad.

      A Point of View – The Arms Trade

    42. edulis says:

      You can put the various clangers into place. He visits Motherwell because his wife comes from Wishaw. His jaunt to the industrial heritage museum would take him to Summerlee in Coatbridge, which right enough is not on the tourist trail and he would go to Helensburgh via the Erskine Bridge, but then again, he might have mixed up Coatbridge and Helensburgh, although he right about the Hillhouse. Maybe he was surfacing from one of his occasional binges with the brown sugar!

    43. Paula Rose says:

      Will Self stay with me!

    44. HenBroon says:

      Thats him buggered for any more Question Time slots.

    45. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      Nice to see a mention of the completely invisible MP Frank Roy. (joe kane at 6.03) He was Labour agent in Motherwell when I was election agent for the SNP in the same area. Pathetic is a generous description of his contribution to public life.

      The promotion of sectarianism to aid the Labour cause was much in evidence in those days as I related in an article to Wings a few months ago.

      Motherwell knows what the UK has done to it. It used to be encouraged to blame “the Tories” but I suspect it has learned a few lessens since then. It will vote YES

    46. joe kane says:

      Thanks Dave McEwan Hill.
      Your blog articles and comments are always the best.

      As far as the alleged Motherwell and Wishaw Labour rotten borough claims are concerned (and putting aside the chaotic overlapping British system of democratic political representation) as it currently stands, all it needs is a swing of 9 Councillors out of 70 for the SNP and the YES rebel alliance to take the imperial britnat Dark Star, known locally as “North Lanarkshire Council”, by storm.

    47. joe kane says:

      erratum “Dark Star” should read “Death Star”

      Still, an out-of-touch spaceship, totally cut off with no local support, commandeered by career space cadets who have forgotten their original purpose and moral commitment and taking the obedience of their minions for granted, which is all going to end badly, seems more appropriate in the circumstance.

    48. Linda's back says:

      Whilst David Bowie is entitled to his opinions it is astonishing that not one of our fearless journalists or state broadcasters mentioned his previous political comments praising Hitler and his form of government.

      A two minute google search would have revealed this and if a pro independence celebrity supporter had this background it would have been front page news for days on end.

      That is what we are up against when taking on the British Establishment and it will get worse over the next six and a half months.

    49. Dcanmore says:

      I live about a mile away from Mr Self, he in Stockwell, I in sunny Camberwell (of the carrot fame). We both have something in common, the love of our favourite local cinema, the Ritzy in Brixton. Unfortunately I’ve never bumped into him but a mate of mine did interview him a couple of years ago just before his house partially collapsed! No casualties thankfully!

    50. lumatrix says:

      As already noted by an astute reader – Self knows so much about Scotland that he does not know the direction of Loch Lomond from Glasgow. Which says all we need to know about the rest of his (shit) opinions on Scotland.

    51. Aileen says:

      sycophantic sh*t from Self & I’m surprised at you Wings. 50% of this ‘analysis’ is an affront, teetering as it does aroundabout a bunch of wee-wean inferences.Somebody ordinary once saw Bowie being somewhere ordinary behaving in ordinary ways & from that we have ‘tales of this sort say a lot about famous people..’ & ‘..who Bowie really is; an instinctive egalitarian and a good father..’ & oh lord, on it goes. ‘Saltire seasoning’? Oh feck off. ‘The Kincardine Bridge’? Feck off & dont be so silly.’Contemporary bondage’- really??!
      ‘Easy wee number f’you there Will, getting grownup pay from a big peoples’ comic for what amounts to a junior high school essay.
      ‘Course its a no-brainer, now wheesht Will, us lot have important things to think about.

    52. StevieMcb says:

      Will Self is a human being with an opinion, respect it,(geography, not so good, so what) it is a very well thought out piece which I welcome much more than Bowie’s,

      I am still a Starman (Spangle) waiting in the sky, cant fault the man for the tunes of my youth.

    53. kalmar says:

      Always liked Self. Good on ‘im.

    54. setondene says:

      Enjoyed this article by Will Self and assume it’s mainly about the English. Liked his description of them as a big crowd of bullies.

    55. HoraceSaysYes says:

      I picked up a copy of this yesterday, while it was still available, and inside was a subscription card, offering this as a free gift –

      They are having a laugh, surely?

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