Auld enemy? We're just teasing English, say Scots

October 24, 2003

Are the English in Scotland the "auld enemy" or "new Scots"? Conflicting views are set to emerge at a symposium next month organised by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the British Academy and backed by the Economic and Social Research Council to mark the 400th anniversary of the Union of the Crowns.

According to Dundee University historian Murray Watson, nine out of ten English migrants had not experienced anti-Englishness other than in the form of teasing and light-hearted banter. Many English-born residents also said they resented the way the media in both countries exaggerated tensions and differences between the English and Scots.

But Bill Miller of Glasgow University, who with Asifa Hussain is carrying out a survey of Pakistanis and English north of the border, found that a third of English migrants believed the Scots to be anglophobic. A quarter of respondents said they or someone in their household had suffered harassment, with one father claiming his children had had "kitchen scourers dragged down their faces" by fellow pupils.

Dr Watson said he was particularly surprised to find that more than half of the English settlers considered themselves new Scots, or a combination of Scots/English or British. The Scottish National Party now has a group of English activists called "New Scots for Independence".

But Professor Miller and Dr Hussain said that the English placed more emphasis on birth and parentage than did Pakistanis. "The Pakistanis find it much easier than the English to accept a self-image of themselves as Scottish," Professor Miller said.

In 2001, there were more than 408,000 English people living in Scotland. It was widely believed that the English in Scotland were largely middle-class "white settlers" who had exchanged expensive home counties homes for a Highland retreat. But Dr Watson said that most English people lived in Scotland's central belt and had moved north for work.

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