Something a bit different today.
You know I don’t talk about politics and the news on here. I never said anything about indyref or the EU referendum on this blog, but I obviously have a lot of opinions. I am absolutely terrified the way the UK government is currently pursuing policies that would fit right into 1930s Germany.
But there’s this hashtag #WeAreScotland that’s set up or at least promoted by the First Minister to respond to the xenophobia shown by May and Rudd. It’s quite heart warming to see all the tweets today (I started writing this on Saturday morning), so I thought I’d contribute. I started writing this as a Facebook post, but as ever, brevity is not really happening so a blog post it is!
So: My national identity is a bit complicated. I was born in Luxembourg, but I went to a European school where I was in the German section. I don’t speak more than a few phrases of Luxembourgish (I do understand it all though). On the other hand, while I have a German passport, I’ve never lived in Germany. So I never really identified as either, and I’ve kind of always felt in a constant state of outsideness, but not in a bad way at all. It’s a pretty interesting place to be. I do find national identity fascinating though. My undergrad dissertation was on European identity, my Masters on how New Labour constructed Britishness through a series of back to back immigration policies, and I’ve done lots of stuff on Scottish/English/British identity in my work as a government social researcher. So I do think I’ve got a pretty good theoretical academic understanding, I just don’t get it on an emotional, taken for granted level. When people say they are *proud* to be British/Spanish/Namibian/whatever, I don’t really know what they mean. It’s a bit like saying you’re proud to be tall, or have curly hair to me, i.e. something you haven’t chosen, or worked for for.
So all that being said, I would never describe myself as Scottish, even though I’ve lived here for 16 years, absolutely consider Edinburgh my home, and have zero intention of ever moving away. I guess I do tend to treat the actual being Scottish in terms of having been born here or lived here from a very young age, which I haven’t.
But it doesn’t really matter.
Because the thing is I do identify with Scotland really strongly. I’ve lived here all my adult life (I moved when I was 18), and I’ve worked for the Scottish Government for 10 years. I think of the news, including UK news, from a Scottish perspective. When Jeremy Corbyn was first elected leader, one of my main reasons for thinking this was a good idea because I thought it would finally allow Scottish Labour to say things about welfare reform, given that previously anything they ever said could be met with the point that their UK leader voted with the Tories when it came down to it. The reason I then went off him is because it became obvious to me that he had no understanding of Scottish politics or desire to learn. (I should say I’m not a Labour member or voter. But I really hope that Scottish Labour regenerate themselves, because a government without an opposition is never a good thing.) I do of course care about UK politics as well, but clearly not as much. My hopes such as they are in this awful time are almost entirely Scotland-focused.
So that was much more about politics than I meant to write really, but I guess what I’m saying is that is what I like about living here: that whether or not I identity as Scottish or not doesn’t really matter, what matters is that I’m here, and I’m doing my thing. No one is asking me to swear allegiances to anything, or to prove anything, I’m welcome whatever.
Successive Scottish Governments have done an amazing job at sending a very clear message that everyone is welcome in Scotland. Even when things went nationalist, it was always a civic, inclusive nationalism. I watched FMQs last week after all the Tory party conference horribleness broke, and everyone from almost all parties was falling over themselves to condemn what is being said down South. It does not take my worries away, but it did make me feel better, everyone saying everyone that’s here has a right to be here, and is wanted and we will fight for you.
And that is what #WeAreScotland means to me, and that is exactly why I can say that even though I don’t identify as Scottish, I do identify with Scotland, and I very much feel part of it, in my own national-identity-free way.
Unrelated photo is clickable for source