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Wings Over Scotland

Away from here

Posted on January 10, 2013 by

We’ve already tweeted about this and it’s doing the rounds in general, but as we know lots of you don’t use Twitter we’re just going to give it another little nudge.

We’re enormously jealous of Bella Caledonia today as they have a fantastic exclusive piece by “Trainspotting” author Irvine Welsh, entitled “Scottish Independence And British Unity”. It’s of particular interest from our perspective as it tells of Welsh’s experiences of spending large amounts of time in both Scotland and England, and his conclusions are both perceptive and compelling.

It’s a lengthy read at 5000+ words, but it’s worth every second. Check it out here.

(Mind you, we’d have caught the typos…)

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    45 to “Away from here”

    1. muttley79 says:

      @Rev Stu
      Read it earlier on.  It is a very good article by Irvine Welsh.

    2. Read this earlier. Irvine captures how we in Scot feel towards England, we like them but don’t like  their politics & for most of us the union flag represents Englishness & most of us prefer the Saltire as it represents our differences.

    3. MajorBloodnok says:

      Slip Irvine a couple of jellies* and he might do an article for you too.

      *anything but ear-wax flavour.

    4. FreddieThreepwood says:

      I’d have to take issue with the ‘worth every second’ appraisal – the whole Aunt Jessie story could have been reduced to a few paragraphs of his history in London to underline his qualifications for making the observations he does. (But, to be fair to Irvine, maybe he was given the 5,000 word count and decided to leaven his neo-liberal capitalist critique with the ham and cheese rolls story etc.).
      All that said – of course he’s got the cultural/political situation in this ageing home of empire past spot on. I’ve always used the frustrated teenager at home analogy to try to explain why leaving the union doesn’t mean we will be leaving the British family. Indeed, how many family relationships have been improved since one or more members cut the apron strings and got on with their own lives?

    5. Rabb says:

      I have a simillar story actualy. I spent many a summer holiday in Fareham, Hampshire with my aunt, uncle & cousins (My uncle was a submariner and married a local lass while stationed in Portsmouth). I have fond memories of childhood friends down there and some great times, however, my head rules when it comes to independence despite still having numerous friends and family there.

      It’s not like I’m never going to be able to see them or speak to them ever again!

      And there’s only so many times a person can be dgragged along to the Submarine museum!!

    6. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “I’d have to take issue with the ‘worth every second’ appraisal – the whole Aunt Jessie story could have been reduced to a few paragraphs of his history in London to underline his qualifications for making the observations he does.”

      I disagree. I loved it, and it was better written than the subsequent political stuff. It would have lost a lot of nuance condensed to a few paragraphs.

    7. Seasick Dave says:

      I agree with Freddie in that there was a fair amount of fluff but I enjoyed reading it all the same.

      I spent three years in the Midlands and married a Leicester lass and I am fairly confident that she will be voting YES.

      Independence has nadger all to do with nationality; its all to do with Scotland running its own affairs and managing its own finances.


    8. Rabb says:

      Seasick Dave says:

      Independence has nadger all to do with nationality; its all to do with Scotland running its own affairs and managing its own finances.

      My sentiments exactly 🙂

    9. FreddieThreepwood says:

      @ Rev Stu

      Well, I know his heart’s in the right place but I confess I’m not the biggest fan of his writing. At least this time he limited himself to just the one c**t. 

    10. Seasick Dave says:


      I thought that it was all too civilised and that it was only a matter of time before we got treated to a See You Next Tuesday.

      Maybe next time 🙂 

    11. AndrewFraeGovan says:

      I prefer that other c**t, Kelman.

    12. cath says:

      It was certainly a long read but very worthwhile and sums up for me a lot of how I feel.
      Last year felt quite difficult really. I’m half English and love “British culture” in the form of Beatles, Monty Python, Mod etc. Most of my Facebook friends are English. So coming out as an indy supporter felt quite radical and awkward. Being a women probably doesn’t help as we tend to look for consensus among friends rather than argument. That’s the main reason – rather than any rational arguments or belief – I’ve always supported devo-max or full fiscal autonomy. Both are guaranteed to raise nothing more than a weary “oh do shut up about Scottish politics” rather than the “Aaaaaargh! You’re breakingBritainand taking my identity from me, you evil separatist cybernat”. (Even though, to all intents and purposes, they might be identical.)
      But anyway, I did come out. Only to walk into suddenly feeling other parts of my life, like the MOD target red, white and blue bag (oh yes…) and union Jack covered Who CDs all had to be rapidly hidden from my new SNP buddies. Especially towards the end of last year when flags, symbols and national identities became so divisive and the whole sectarian thing blew up.
      This year, I suspect will be about getting back on an even keel and not getting so riled and defensive about identities, culture and symbols, but stressing the obvious:Scotland, andEnglandare separate countries and need the freedom and sovereignty to go their own ways and sort their own economies. And that doesn’t mean we don’t like each other or there’s any animosity. I honestly believe we’ll be far better friends and neighbours as independent countries. Perhaps not instantly – I suspect the negotiation years may be fraught and painful – but certainly in the longer term.

    13. Seasick Dave says:


      I wouldn’t worry about hiding all your UJs; why should you?

      Hopefully you can persuade a few more closet Independentistas to come out of hiding!

      Roll on 2014. 

    14. Doug Daniel says:

      Cath – Scotland, and England are separate countries and need the freedom and sovereignty to go their own ways and sort their own economies. And that doesn’t mean we don’t like each other or there’s any animosity. I honestly believe we’ll be far better friends and neighbours as independent countries.”

      Nail, head, DOOSH! The first part is essentially what it all comes down to – it’s not about trying to erect artificial barriers as some unionists would have you think, it’s about acknowledging a fundamental truth that Scotland and England are not the same country, and it’s hindering both to try and govern the two countries as one.

    15. Scaraben says:

      I was thinking about this question of identity, not for the first time, this afternoon while walking with my dog, and got home to find this post. I identify myself as Scottish, and only as Scottish. When I had to fill in visa forms while working abroad, I disliked having to put British as my nationality.

      I have a mild interest in history, and have read a fair number of books and watched a fair number of documentaries dealing with events that postdate the Treaty of Union. A common source of irritation has been the frequent use of England/English in place of Britain/British even where it is clear from the context that this is incorrect. Even some professional historians seem to regard English as a synonym for British.

      Now I know perfectly well that, on a logical level, British includes both English and Scottish, but at at an emotional level my resistance to the idea that English equals British has been worn down somewhat. If English equals British, then British equals English; as I am not English, then I cannot be British. In my mind, British has become too corrupted with a false meaning for it it be one which I can apply to myself.

    16. cath says:

      “I wouldn’t worry about hiding all your UJs; why should you?”

      To be fair, if I was still on the east coast I probably wouldn’t even think twice about it. The mix of being a fairly new weegie atheist, and an ageing ex-mod, and now an SNP member and Yes campaigner has been mildly mind-bending over the past few months. Maybe I’ll dig out my MOD target bag and stick a big green Yes badge on it just to confuse the hell out of any passing bigot.

    17. cath says:

      “it’s not about trying to erect artificial barriers as some unionists would have you think,”

      Exactly. If anything independence should rip down a lot of barriers, by making Scotland a direct, autonomous and independent part of the world again. That’s what’s so exciting about it.

      “on a logical level, British includes both English and Scottish”

      Does it though? If you think British culture you tend to think Beatles, Elgar, Shakespeare, Python – all fantastic stuff.

      Burns, Scott, JS Skinner etc are very much “Scottish”.
      That’s been hitting me over the past year too. If we really are a genuine union, or genuine “one nation”, anything Scottish should sit as easily as “British” as anything English does. I don’t think that’s the case.
      But equally, I really don’t want it to be the case. I don’t see us as “one nation” and have no desire at all to change that and make us one. I want Scotland back, properly, as a real country, with a voice in the world and a recognition of a different, separate culture – politically as well as in the arts. I think many unionists don’t see it that way, but want us to be one bland nation under a “British culture” increasingly defined from the Westminster media bubble. That to me is a vision hell – for both Scottish and English/Welsh regional culture.

    18. Seasick Dave says:

      Maybe I’ll dig out my MOD target bag and stick a big green Yes badge on it just to confuse the hell out of any passing bigot.
      Hopefully it will make them think rather than confuse them.
      I don’t see what good wrapping yourself in a Union Jack does if your country suffers as a result of misrule (to the tune of billions) from Westminster.
      I don’t care how many gold medals Chris Hoy wins as a member of team GB, I do care though that we spent billions of Iraq and Afghanistan, that we have nuclear submarines moored near Glasgow (and are looking to spend billions renewing their warheads) and that Westminster is looking to remove our hard won benefits so that we can “One Nation”.
      Bollocks to that – we are different and we can be better. 
      If Westminster want to copy us and be the same then fantastic but, as they obviously don’t and our lapdog Unionist MPs are happy to fall in line, then the only option left is to vote YES for a better future.

    19. Seasick Dave says:

      Mmm, don’t know what happened there…

      Italics missing and line spacing seems a bit awry. 

    20. James Morton says:

      It was a very good piece and he sums up the dilemma for the better together camp very neatly. As the day draws nearer, they will have to find a positive argument to counter the negative. They have to be able to articulate a reason why Scotland would be better of in the Union and not frame it in terms of how Scotland would be utterly useless at everything if it was in charge of its own affairs. It’s an image that most Scots won’t recognise about themselves or indeed their nation.
      I feel that they have put the cart before the horse. Had they the conviction of their professed beliefs they would be trying to save the Union to win the referendum, not try to win the referendum and leave the Union for another day…like its something that will keep. Welsh is quite correct in pointing out that most of the things that defined the Union are lost to us, and the only positive thing to say about it now is a nostalgic look backwards. They are asking us to vote no and keep the status quo, but the status quo is to accept a slow and posionous death of the union and what it stood for…which seems quite odd and will become more apparent to the Scottish public as the tories aided by their lib dem chums strive to be the nasty party we have always believed them to be. Its even more odd when the party that should make a stand against this, then comes out in defiance of logic and declares itself to be in broad agreement with the current government.
      Quite how you frame a positive vision against that backdrop whilst spouting nonsense of an inherent Scottish “learned incompetence”, is not something I can even begin to imagine.

    21. Cuphook says:

      It’s interesting reading how other people got to the same conclusion as yourself. I’m sure that the No campaign will denounce Irvine soon.

      I’ve just been mailed the historic poster that’s doing the rounds today in response to the UK Government’s welfare vote and the publicity that they’ve been putting out. Where are they getting their ideas from?
      “This disabled person will cost our people’s community 60,000 marks over his lifetime. Citizens, that is your money.”

    22. FreddieThreepwood says:


      I couldn’t agree more about the cultural split in Britain – if it’s English (Beatles, Python etc) it can also be British, but if it’s Scottish (Burns, even our man Welsh there) it is only Scottish.
      Consider this – the great celebration of British culture that was the Olympic opening ceremony Welsh refers to … how much Scottish content was there? I remember a video of some school kids singing at Edinburgh Castle (no doubt played in the stadium as background music while they moved the sets around) and  … er, that was it.
      And even that had the likes of the Herald and the Record fawning at how wonderful it was, how grateful we should all be that they had allowed any Scottish element in the thing! 

    23. Ysabelle says:

      From 1987: 

      Hope it’s okay to post it.  

    24. Joanne Lamont says:


      Thanks, doll, that’s pure magic! 

    25. cath says:

      Yes, Freddie. The funny thing is that if you try and define great British values in the way the Olympic opening ceremony did – ie the NHS, striving for new industries, hope against the odds, the plucky spirit of political activists like the Suffaragettes – and you also want to take Brown’s line about the welfare state being British then the only real British part of Britain left is Scotland. And the SNP epitomise Britishness.

      In a way that’s probably not so surprising as Scotland, Wales and the North did make Britain great industrially and politically. So I sort of feel we’re just doing our very British duty of dragging the unwilling UK power centre into the 21st century. They’ll thank us for it in the end 🙂   


    26. scottish_skier says:

      Oh the irony, the irony!


    27. scottish_skier says:

      Whisky, tartan, bagpipes, ceilidhs, haggis, burns night etc = British?

      Na, not even North British Gordon could have pulled that off.

      However, if it doesn’t look obviously Scottish but comes from Scotland and is good, then it’s British.

      Like Andy Murray or Celtic when they won the European cup. North Sea oil and gas too for that matter. 

      How I understood it anyway.

    28. Vronsky says:

      For those short on time for reading 5000 words, here’s the Executive Summary:
      Most people from Scotland, to varying degrees, tend to identify themselves as Scottish and/or British. For personal reasons, (and we’re all products of our past, as well as, hopefully, visionaries of our futures) I’ve always felt a strong emotional connection to both. This might be expected to place me in the ‘better together’ unionist camp, alongside the three major parties of the thirty-five year British neoliberal economic consensus; Conservative, Liberal Democrats and Labour. However, this was never a tenable position for me. To explain why I’m going to crave the reader’s indulgence and ask you to stick with me on a long digression to Southall, Middlesex, through the 1970’s.

      [3000 words about his family]

      As a rule I dislike talking about my family or my close friends.

      [some stuff about the London property market, and the possibility of making money from it]

      Getting rid of it [the British State] won’t instantly redress the massive inequities that have shamefully been allowed to heap up since I spent time in Southall in the 70’s, but it will allow the constituent countries the opportunities to put their divergent houses in order.  And I believe it will permit an inclusive, respectful sense of true British identity to emerge, based on shared cultural values, rather than disparate political ideals flimsily held together around the shabby worship of an exploitative hierarchy. Better together? Yes, certainly, but better independent and free together.

    29. cath says:

      Good summary Vronsky. It’s lucky he didn’t give you Trainspotting to Edit though: it would have ended up one of those 5 minute films on Channel 4.

    30. Boorach says:

      Apologies for going O/T and any intemperate language but while those evil bastards in Westminster were debating and voting on the welfare bill they were also responding to a survey on their own remuneration!

      Result: vast majority of 100 respondents believe they are worth a 30% pay rise.

      30 bloody %  extra in their own pockets while they vote away the lives of the Poorest in society.

      Radio 4 news @ 6pm 

    31. Boorach says:

      Oh! And they also want to keep their ‘final salary pensions’.

    32. Boorach says:


    33. ianbrotherhood says:

      Well spotted that man.
      Another nail in their coffin… 

    34. Dal Riata says:

      See the Guardian has put on their site the concise (very) precis from the Press Association about Welsh’s article:

    35. james s says:

      O/T too but I had a wee look through the Telegraph’s rundown of recent news in their “Scottish edition”.
      21 of the 24 articles on page 1 were either anti-Salmond, anti-SNP (Scottish Govt), anti-independence or pro Better Together. I was too angry to move onto page 2.
      Quite staggering really. This really is an uphill struggle. On the front page today was a headline claiming “SNP-warned-off-outrageous-Shetland-oil-grab.” Through enough mud and all that……
      The so-called Scottish correspondents are a disgrace to their kin.

    36. cath says:

      Virtually no on in Scotland reads the Telegraph though, and if the mainstream media and Westminster bubble exist in an echo chamber where all they ever hear is their own propaganda, that’s OK for us, isn’t it? All that happens is the Telegrahs looks ever more daft to any passing Scot who happens to see it, while those fighting against Scotland are ever more deluded and out of touch.

      The SNP rose in support massively during 2007-2012 and I’d hazard a guess that was as much because of the level of bile, negativity and hatred towards them as in spite of it. Sometimes if you’re not entirely sure about something, looking at who opposes it can the be deciding factor. And a party and leader so utterly despised by the entire British establishment has to be doing something very right indeed!

    37. Erchie says:

      I would be surprised if any Scot, even a proud Unionist, could read about the events before the Treaty of Union and not get miffed. Scots trading vessels seized as “legitimate prizes”, the Navigation Acts to prevent Scots trading with English colonies, harsher conditions than imposed on nations that did not share a monarch, and finally the threat of the Alienation Act, forbidding Scots from owning enterprises in England

    38. Bill C says:

      Just listened to Darling on Scotland Tonight and Newsnight Scotland. John McKay was as usual, too nice, but Darling seemed a tad uncomfortable when asked about the “risks” of staying in the Union. Gordon Brewer was a bit more forensic, but not his usual agressive self, yet it was a car crash of an interview by Darling. In summary, if he is the best the ‘Bitter Together’ mob have, we already have a YES vote. Salmond, Sturgeon, Angus Robertson, etc. will destroy him in open debate. I am even more confident that we will win and look forward to the live debates with increasing anticipation..

    39. M4rkyboy says:

      @James S 9:50pm
      Cheers for the link.
      A fine example of political spin-something i have noticed a rise in.
      Now it’s the SNP who want to annex Shetland & Orkney.
      You couldn’t make it up.

    40. Morag says:

      That’s another one BBC Scotlandshire could publish as is, frankly.

    41. Tamson says:

      @cath , 10:49:
      “Virtually no on in Scotland reads the Telegraph though”

      Last ABCs had the Telegraph selling 19,768 copies in Scotland. Given that The Scotsman circulation was 33,585, that makes the Telegraph just over half as influential as The Scotsman. Of course, whether anyone cares what’s in The Scotsman is moot…

      If you add up the 3 main London broadsheets (Telegraph, Times, Guardian), their Scottish sales are 50,543 – well in excess of either Scottish broadsheet.

    42. Elizabeth says:

      Re Darling on Newsnicht – he’s such an uncomfortable speaker he makes my toes curl.. What I would like to see him challenged on is his mantra of ‘this is not just for 5 years’. I want to hear his list of positives for the union beyond the 5 years…

    43. Aucheorn says:

      Let’s just hear 1 positive, it’ll be a first.

    44. muttley79 says:

      I want to hear his list of positives for the union beyond the 5 years…

      You will be waiting a long, long time, possibly forever.  Unionists seem to think the positive case for the Union involves abusing the SNP as much as possible.  Lamont yesterday clearly started to target Sturgeon at FMQs.  It was not even subtle, although arguably Lamont does not know the meaning of the word…

    45. AndrewFraeGovan says:

      If Lamont thinks targeting Sturgeon is a winner, she could hardly be more mistaken.

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