sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul

Wings Over Scotland

A New Jerusalem

Posted on January 01, 2013 by

Someone recently directed us towards a recording of an episode of BBC Radio 4’s “PM” news and current-affairs show broadcast early in June of this year. It featured a discussion between presenter Eddie Mair and Dr Alex Woolf, a listener to the show who’d contacted it after an interview with Alex Salmond.

You can listen to the whole discussion on YouTube, but we always prefer to see this sort of thing written down for ease of reflection and reference, so we gritted our teeth for another transcription session. (Though this one was made less painful by the superb Chrome plugin Transcribe, which we recommend unreservedly).

The result can be found below. It seems an appropriate way to start the year in which the Scottish Government’s white paper on independence will be published.


“Someone who’s already contacted us is Dr Alex Woolf. He heard the SNP leader on PM the other week, and wrote to say “I enjoyed listening to your interview with Alex Salmond as I drove home just now. What would be interesting is if as part of your coverage in the run-up to the referendum, PM could also investigate the views of people like you and I, who now live and work on the other side of the border from that on which they grew up.”

Dr Woolf is from Bexhill-on-Sea in Sussex. He moved to Scotland in 1997, where these days he lectures in Medieval History at St Andrews University.”

“I came up as a typical south-eastern English person, no Scottish ancestry, with all the kind of cultural assumptions that go with that.”

“What were these assumptions?”

“Well, I think I thought about the national question, I thought that whilst I’ve always been somebody who’s believed in – a greater level of local government, maybe is the better way to put it, in the way that the Liberal Democrats used to put it – as being a good idea, I thought full independence was just something for the sort of people who watched ‘Braveheart’ and thought it was the best film ever made, a lot of flag-waving jingoistic people, the sort of Scottish equivalent of the BNP, I suppose.

And to begin with, when I came up here and I met apparently intelligent people who were strong nationalists, I argued against them and used all the general arguments about Scotland being small and that there isn’t any real anti-Scottish prejudice, it’s just that the greater part of the population live elsewhere so obviously the Scots are less represented in cultural and political life. And that was my starting position when I lived here in the 90s.”

“And it was an interesting time to be there, because I think you arrived just after the devolution referendum.”

“Yes, that’s right – my temporary post was in Wales, so I voted in the devolution referendum in Wales, and then moved to Scotland almost instantly, and then got to vote in the first devolved Parliamentary election here rather in Ceredigion.”

“And at that time, there was such debate about the future, and you were there for part of it – was that when your views maybe began to move a little, or has that happened over the years since?”

“I think it’s happened relatively gradually. I mean, when I first arrived I can remember that a friend I already knew who was based in Edinburgh, who I stayed with while I was looking for a flat, and who worked for one of he government agencies but was English, from Somerset, was really worried that devolution would mean that it would affect her chances of promotion – possibly even that she’d lose her job because there’d be preference given to native Scots over English immigrants.

I recently did a site visit in Aberdeenshire with her and another colleague, and she’s now become very pro-independence. And I think it’s associated with the disillusion with the Blair government, and in 1997 – the same year that I moved to Scotland – there was that great General Election change and we all thought that everything was going to change, but what we got was another smug public schoolboy who was out of touch, to use Nadine Dorries’ term.

And I think there’s a sense that what’s really changing up here, and why people like me and my friend Sally and other who perhaps aren’t traditionally part of that hardcore nationalist movement are now becoming more inclined towards separatism, is that we haven’t actually changed our beliefs about what we want, it’s how we want the country we live in to be, and we’re giving up hope on Westminster ever delivering that.

We want to save Britain. We want to build Jerusalem anew in this green and pleasant land, but we’ve given up hope that that’ll ever be possible with the Westminster structures and the built-in dominance of an entrenched historical elite. The burden of history is too great in the Westminster structures, so we might as well try and save part of the island, if not all of it.

Alex Salmond is giving us an option to have a country that has a new constitution, a proper Parliament that’s truly representative.When I first came up here, I think I shared that view that a lot of the Scottish Parliament politicians were a bit second-rate, they were a bit ordinary and dowdy-looking – you think about people like Nicola Sturgeon and Joan McAlpine, and they’re the sort of people you imagine standing behind in the queue in the supermarket.

But then I’ve come to realise that actually that’s what you want in representative democracy – you want people who represent their constituents, who ARE like us. You don’t want this kind of Teflon superheroes who are out of touch and belong to an elite class that have no idea about the price of a pint of milk.”

“How well is the UK-wide media doing the job of conveying what you experience?”

“I don’t think they’re doing it very well. You do get occasional accounts, programme things obviously, but I think generally both the UK media and the Westminster politicians are presenting the national question as if it’s these diehard radical nationalists, flag-waving jingoists, who are the enemy, and that’s what’s the debate here.

But in fact they’re the people who’ll never change their mind anyway – they’re not addressing the potential floating voters, people like myself who will actually make the difference if we have the referendum. It seems to me that they’re not dealing with the issues – what people here are interested in is having something more like a Scandinavian government style, greater equality.

So for example, this big debate about whether or not Scotland would be better or worse off, what people look at is GDP. Well, it’s not the GDP that matters to society, it’s how it’s distributed. If we have a smaller GDP, but the money is better distributed, then we have a better economy for the people of Scotland, or of Britain. So I think there’s too much focus on that business agenda, and on the vested interests, and also a misunderstanding of what people are interested in here.

People are interested in social equality, they’re impressed with not having to pay tuition fees, not having to pay for medical prescriptions and so on, and those are priorities that the Scottish people have chosen to back. And if it means that we cut down on some other areas, then that’s fine, but it isn’t about waving flags.”

“If you were running the No campaign, how would you seek to appeal to the voters?”

“I think I would de-stress the nationalist aspect of it, I would look at real constitutional reform and promise it, things like the House Of Lords and so on. I don’t think simply trying to “diss” Scottish government and Scottish potential is really realistic, because we all know Scotland isn’t THAT small – if you listed it among the list of the world’s countries, it’s bigger than quite a lot of countries that are fully independent – the economy may or may not be a bit worse off if it were devolved but it’s certainly not something one can predict, partly.

We all know how the economy has – you know, your friend Robert Peston is very well-versed on how random the economic movements are in the world, so we can’t really predict where any of us will be in 10 or 20 years’ time.”

“A friend of mine who’s Scottish and works in London, but is often in Scotland and still has a home there, says to me that essentially Scotland already is independent. And he’s not saying that from some starkly political personal political viewpoint, it’s just that his impression of how people talk, and how people feel, is that there’s a completely different vibe, for want of a better word, about how Scots see themselves. Does that chime with your experience?”

“Yes, absolutely. I think it really does feel like that, and I think in some ways the danger for Scots in the present constitutional situation is that they don’t realise the areas that Westminster still does control. So they think they’re independent and they’re likely to not turn up for Westminster elections and not take them that seriously.

There is a sense that we’re a community, and we’re a much more accessible community, there’s much more interaction between the people at the bottom and the people at the top, and the news and everything up here is all about living in Scotland. I think we ARE very much independent and one of the things people say – some of the soft Unionists, if you like – is “Why do we need to change anything? We’re running everything ourselves now anyway.””

“Could I tempt you back to Sussex?”

“They don’t teach Medieval History in the university there. Although I must admit it does look prettier now than it did when I grew up. The thing I really miss about the southern Britain is the trees, and there’s very few places – some bits of maybe Argyll, and a lot of Galloway and the Borders have wonderful wooded hillsides and things – but that’s the thing that now strikes me as so beautiful when I go back down to the south. I love the island of Britain, I’d like to save it all, but I don’t think that’s an option. I can only save Scotland.”

“Are you Scottish?”

“Um, I suppose I’m Scottish but I’m not a Scot. It’s like the difference between being a Serb or a Serbian – a Serbian lives in Serbia, a Serb might live in Bosnia.”

“How have people in Scotland, how did they receive you when you arrived? You do hear horror stories – true stories, which makes it even more horrific – of English people sometimes being treated very badly.”

“I’ve almost never had anything like that. I think generally, of the various parts of the UK I’ve lived in, South Yorkshire was probably worst because of the way I talk, ‘cos they hate southerners because we’ve stolen Englishness from them. Whereas the Scots have their own identity, and the Welsh know they’re better than us anyway so they’re slightly condescending, but kind.”

“Let me ask you finally – it’s such a fascinating concept and story, this, and we discussed the polls with Mr Salmond and you know what they say – what do you think’s going to happen in this referendum?”

“I don’t know, but I suspect that Mr Salmond’s being slightly more optimistic than he would be. What I think has happened is, as I say, you’ve got the hardcore jingoistic nationalists who, no argument will change them one way or the other, as you get in every country. And I think the shift towards a Yes vote is largely people like me – not necessarily English, but chattering-class intellectuals.

I think the important group who are perhaps less impressed are what we might call the solid blue-collar core of lower-middle-class, upper-working-class groups in Scotland living in places like, I don’t know, Dunfermline and Stonehaven and all these kinds of places, I suspect they’re not particularly interested in the issue, they don’t think anything really needs to change. I think they’re the mass, and getting to them is the difficulty.

He’s now got two constituencies, the kind of rabid nationalists and the intellectuals, but he’s got to prove to the kind of ordinary, decent core of Scottish society that there’s something in it for them.”


And there the interview ended. We’re not sure we agree 100% with Dr Woolf’s analysis of the situation – numerous surveys have shown that support for independence basically decreases as you move up the income spectrum, as people doing well from the status quo naturally have the most to fear from change – but a great deal of what he says makes a lot of sense, and it’s intriguing to hear the perspective of an outsider whose views on Scottish nationalism have been entirely formed from direct first-hand experience, rather than by ill-informed and biased media coverage.

Most of all, it’s heartening that people who come to live in Scotland, perhaps without the ideological baggage of those of us born and bred there, can arrive independently at the same conclusion as we have – that Westminster offers our homeland a bleak, dark future whoever stalks its corridors, and that only governing ourselves can deliver the sort of nation we want to be. Happy New Year, readers.

Be Sociable, Share!

57 to “A New Jerusalem”

  1. cynicalHighlander says:



  2. Juteman says:

    So he’s a settler then. ūüėČ


  3. redcliffe62 says:

    Whether this chap votes yes, no, or does not vote, he has been an asset to Scotland in his time here.


  4. Boorach says:

    Happy New Year to everyone, may it bring health, happiness and many YES converts.

    An interesting perspective which could well be useful as a tool when talking with other incomers who have a more jaundiced view of their future in an independent Scotland. 


  5. Craig P says:

    Interesting article, thanks for transcribing. Alex Woolf ¬†probably knows as much about the Picts as anyone alive. Is there anybody with an interest in Scottish history, arts or culture who *isn’t* pro-independence, or at least very inclined towards it? It seems you only have to look into the subject to become converted. Look at Michael Fry for example.¬†


  6. Craig P says:

    Just think where the campaign would be already if we had the media on side…


  7. Jim Campbell says:

    Probably a long while ago he would fallen into the “white settler” category by being just an Englishman taking a job here or buying up a ¬†Scottish buiness that was for sale, and it happenedwhen the labour party was doing their propaganda work and trying to stir up the working, tax-paying, apparantly ¬†intelligent Scot with a fixed residence in Scotland. ¬† Anybody who legally lives, works, pays taxes, etc. etc. (read the simplev qualifications) and is registered on the “Voters Roll ” can vote for YES or No in the independence referendum.


  8. douglas clark says:

    There is an important point quite early on in the piece where Dr Woolf makes the comment about:

    “…..was really worried that devolution would mean that it would affect her chances of promotion ‚Äď possibly even that she‚Äôd lose her job because there‚Äôd be preference given to native Scots over English immigrants.”

    I wonder who she heard that from?

    It is that sort of fear-mongering that we have to nip in the bud. I, for one, want Scotland to have the best people in any job independent of their nationality.

    We really do need to keep hammering out the inclusive nature of the nationalist case.

    On these grounds alone, Alasdair Gray has been less than helpful.

    Happy New Year!


  9. JLT says:

    I have an English friend whom I car share with. My friend is from Newcastle, and when the Edinburgh Agreement was finally signed, I could tell he was slightly apprehensive. The one good thing was that he’s lived here for around 11 years, so at least he knew what Scotland was like.
    He knew that I was a Nationalist, and eventually, he began asking me what I thought. As I told him, I am a Scottish nationalist, but that didn’t mean that I was anti-British.¬†Far from it! I wish no ill-will on any part of England or the rest of the UK. But I did say that I detested Westminster with a passion. It served only the few (mainly London), and treated the rest of the UK like sh***. My friend being a Geordie agreed with that viewpoint.
    As I told him, nothing will change in an independent Scotland, except where the tax goes. Instead of your taxes going to London, they will go to Edinburgh. End of story. There will be no border controls or any of that p***.
    I pointed out that his new born son has a better chance of a future up here (at least going with what we have today) as that he can go to Uni on a grant Рno tuition fees. In fact, I predicted to him that a lot of English may emigrate north as they will see it as the future, and a better future at that.
    My friend, is not quite convinced (he’s about 90% there). I think¬†it’s those last strands of ‘connectivity’ to the rest of the UK that is holding him back. I guess he doesn’t want to¬†feel disloyal to his own homeland, but as I pointed out, ‘Mate…10% of Scotland is English anyway. Your not alone up here, nor the only Englishman thinking like this. After all, how many other English folk do you know up here, and the answer is mate…loads. So don’t fear you’re the only one thinking like this. Some will vote No, but many others, will vote Yes. It’s how you want to live, and everyone around you should want to live. That …is what this referendum is really about. It’s not about Scotland versus England; it never was. It’s about what sort of society you want to live in. You can continue with what we’ve got, but all you’ll get is a growing style of US politics; right-wing banking bullsh** where everyone carves each other up as they jostle for a better position on the wealth ladder!!
    Or …we can go our own way, and try something different, and very possibly …something better; something better for everyone …not just the select few.’
    I do believe on the day, that my friend will in the end vote for Independence.


  10. Macart says:

    A happy new year all and all the very best for 2013 Rev. :)


  11. kininvie says:

    I’d just like to emphasise what a great interviewer Eddie Mair is. His gentle, no interruptions style, teases peoples real thoughts and feelings out far better than the attack-dog, ‘but-surely-you-must-admit’ kind of interview we have all got bored with. Paxman may be good, but he’s done us a big disservice in encouraging a whole new raft of interviewers to believe his approach will work for them too. Usually, it just results in a shouting match, which is never enlightening.
    Happy New Year to all


  12. Bill C says:

    “Most of all, it‚Äôs heartening that people who come to live in Scotland, perhaps without the ideological baggage of those born and bred there, can arrive independently at the same conclusion as we have ‚Äď that Westminster offers our homeland a bleak, dark future whoever stalks its corridors, and that only governing ourselves can deliver the sort of nation we want to be. Happy New Year, readers.”

    Spot on Rev. I often think that some folk born and bred in Scotland are much more of a hinderance to taking our nation forward than those who come and settle here.

    May I take this opportunity of wishing all on here a very healthy and happy New Year. Let’s hope we can all do our bit to win our country’s self determination. Saor Alba in 2014.¬†¬†


  13. Iain says:

    I remember hearing the interview the time and being impressed by the difference to the standard template through which Scottish Independence is usually viewed. However I’m still slightly concerned with the terms used to describe nationalists who have for a long time been certain of where Scotland’s constitutional future lies: jingoistic, hardcore, rabid, ‘Scottish equivalent of the BNP’, while in contrast the undecided people who have to be appealed to are the ‘ordinary, decent core of Scottish society’. Practically speaking this is true but there’s a kind of unpleasant differentiation there. It may be entirely unconscious on Dr Woolf’s part, and indicative of the way the (Unionist) media have aimed to define the debate for a long time.
    As an aside, I dont think the the good doctor is going to be on Joan & Nicola’s Christmas card list anytime soon!
    Happy New Year to everyone, and more strength to your arm Rev Stu.


  14. Seasick Dave says:


    I agree with you about the unpleasant differentiation but its an interesting interview all the same.

    I hope that everyone has a great New Year and I look forward to seeing how 2013 unfolds in our quest for self determination.



  15. Brian Forrest says:

    @Juteman…”so he’s a settler then”
    Yes…EXACTLY the kind of settler we should be welcoming with open arms…as open as his mind is to Scotland and improving our situation and lives…we could do with more thinkers like him, incomer or native (IMHO).
    Wha’s like us…?
    A Guid New Year tae ane an’ a’…!!


  16. KOF says:

    @Ian There is to me as well some concerning things about what he says in the interview.
    eg.We want to save Britain. We want to build Jerusalem anew in this green and pleasant land,” WTF?
    I love¬†the island of Britain, I‚Äôd like to save it all,” He’s a Unionist at heart, he’s not an “undecided”.
    ‚ÄúThey don‚Äôt teach Medieval History in the university there.” If there was a well paid job there, then yes, he probably would move south again.
    a Serbian lives in Serbia, a Serb might live in Bosnia.” He believes Scots to be an ethnic species, whereas as we know, all it takes is a choice to be a Scot, that is all. He however, doesn’t believe himself to be an Englishman in Scotland.
    Apologies if all this seems a bit misery-guts first thing in the New Year, but if the Rev gives us “A New Jerusalem” as his first offering of the new Year, then what do you expect. ūüėČ


  17. Training Day says:

    Interesting interview.¬† My experience is that some – perhaps still a majority – of Scottish-born friends and colleagues are¬†only now gradually beginning to express¬†their thoughts about the debate (which they have never done before).¬† That expression is often diffident and halting and in many cases takes the form of saying ‘my heart is there but..’ or reflexively asking themselves ‘what if¬†such and such¬†goes wrong’ questions – but it goes without saying these people are prepared to be convinced even if not there yet.¬† The mere fact that they are thinking about it is a massive step forward.

    Two English-born guys¬†resident in Scotland, one a good friend and¬†the other a work colleague,¬†have given me the most direct views to date (perhaps they are better than Scots¬†in communicating clearly and unequivocally!).¬† One said¬†he ‘hoped the bastard would be sent home with his tail between his legs in 18 months time’.¬† Another looked at me as if I had horns and asked me why I thought he would be voting anything other than Yes?

    I leave you to guess which one is the friend and which the work colleague ūüėČ


  18. Cuphook says:

    It’s always interesting to hear personal experiences in the context of a historical moment.

    I have a number of friends and colleagues from other countries who are now resident in Scotland and it’s obvious that the national debate which we’re having has challenged them to look a fresh at the idea of their own national identities.

    I’ve done it myself and, when you get to the bare bones of it, the only thing that makes me Scottish is my historical attachment to this bit of the planet. But for my personal history I might be English, Norwegian or any other nationality. I was born and bred in Scotland though and did grow up with ‘Scottish values’, which, paradoxically, I don’t believe are unique to Scotland.

    As someone not given to waving flags and signing anthems it might seem strange that I’m participating in an independence movement, but the political ‘revolution’ which the SNP has instigated has also given rise to a social ‘revolution’ that will, hopefully, lead to a fairer society, and protect our ‘Scottish values’.

    It’s no coincidence that the opposing sides in the referendum debate have polarised around competing political philosophies: independence is not about replacing the Westminster elite with a Hollyrood one, it’s about taking back the decision making powers needed to better our society, and there are a lot of people with vested interests who don’t like that idea.

    I don’t know if it’s unique to Scotland but the concept that we the people are sovereign should be the foundation stone of our renewed country. That alone is worth fighting for.

    Anyway, Happy 2013 and all that. God, I need more coffee.


  19. Aplinal says:

    We have all gone on a personal journey. ¬†I have a Scottish mother and English father. ¬†As a family we were brought up in England (North East – so ‘socially’ not so far removed from the West coast, IMHO) But I have ALWAYS considered myself as a Scot. ¬†Interestingly my brothers do not. ¬†My younger has never thought about this at all, and my elder always appeared to be “English” and used to claim, “you are not Scottish, our father is English.” ¬†But last year he celebrated his 60th by having a Burn’s supper (he was born on the same day, and is actually named after Burns!) ¬†So, time changes us all.

    I am currently living/working in the Balkans, in fact in Serbia at the moment, so the Serbian reference I read with a slight smile.  If there is any people who are intensely proud of their heritage it is the Serbs.  And despite what the MSM may have told you in the last 20 odd years, they are not all rabid neo-fascists (that is absolutely appropriate to the Croats, again IMHO), but quite the reverse.

    I am Scottish in my heart AND my head. ¬†Independence is not only a wish, it is a desperately needed practicality. ¬†Only through Independence can Scotland hope to meet the challenges of the country in the next 20-50 years. ¬†I have said to my wife that if the Scots are so feart or stupid to vote NO, then I see no future in Scotland, and see no reason to return. ¬†2014 is the only practical opportunity to regain our country. ¬†I am convinced that a NO vote will see Holyrood’s powers reversed, and a form of constitution (a la Spain) that makes a future independence referendum almost a practical impossibility. ¬†If Scots think it is bad now, and STILL support dependency in 2014 when the austerity cuts really bite, then frankly we don’t deserve a country of our own.

    BUT … I am an optimist. ¬†So despite the gloom above, I am convinced that we WILL vote YES. ¬†And the elections in 2016 will be to a fully independent Scottish Parliament. ¬†

    Saor Alba 


  20. Jeannie says:

    A Very Happy New Year to everyone at Wings.  I wish all of you health, love and prosperity for 2013. 
    I was at a wee ceilidh at George Square in Glasgow last night and was amazed at the saltires being waved…….by people from China, Japan, India… well as some Scots.¬† It was a laugh as the people from abroad tried to master the dance steps, adding new innovations such as a dashing white sergeant in a group of 9 instead of 6 and 4 sets for strip the willow gradually becoming one enormous set.¬† Nothing but goodwill all round.¬† I was thinking…..if there’s a Yes vote in 2014, can you imagine the Hogmanay party that year!¬† As it was, the ceilidh in Glasgow ended at 10pm.¬† How sad was that?


  21. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “As it was, the ceilidh in Glasgow ended at 10pm.”

    Jeez. When I read that I on Sunday I’d assumed it was a joke.


  22. velofello says:

    And another article that just demands readers to respond!
    Whereas you can edit a written article, you cannot re-speak what you said in an interview so I suspect Alex Woolf wishes he hadn’t apparently linked second rate and dowdy to Nicola Sturgeon and Joan MacAlpine.
    I’m inclined to interpret what he said as two parts.
    The Scottish government in 1997 was second rate – and Labour.
    The current Scottish Government are from the people of Scotland,Ms Sturgeon and  MacAlpine cited as examples.
    “People like me – Chattering class intellectuals”. That does irk me a bit. I know many artisans(?) I consider intellectuals and many dunderheids of the chattering class.
    Intellectual is surely an assessment view of others on you, not a status you award yourself?
    We need to be careful what we wish for with this inclusiveness thingy. A decade back I purchased a modest house in a small village deep in rural France Рfew shops and a rundown restaurant with a bar doing mostly lunches for truck drivers and an evening watering hole for the locals.I was the only only non-French person around. Over the second half of the decade a few English people bought property. Then the restaurant started a Friday fish and chip English night, then it was put up for sale, then it closed. 


  23. Iain Gray's Subway Lament says:

    Douglas Clarke raises the point about relentlessly negative stereotypes which we are all aware is the stock in trade for so many in the media clustered around London.
    Yet even knowing that this little gem from Radio 4 is mindboggling for the sheer number and crassness of the type of stereotypes that a small child might hesitate to use about scotland.
    It’s presented as a “comedy” in much the same way Bernard Manning and Jim Davidson were fond of using that title.
    Yet although it sounds suspiciously like a musical written by the combined “talent” of Jeremy Clarkson and the Daily Mail performed by a few drunken Oxbridge students, there is much to laugh at as it presents a delightful self-parody of the views all too prevalent for those to whom scotland is a faraway place of which they know nothing.
    Licence to Kil…marnock


  24. Jeannie says:

    @Rev Stu

    Jeez. When I read that I on Sunday I’d assumed it was a joke.
    I know – I thought it was a bit mad, too.¬† At the council elections, Labour’s council leader, Gordon Matheson, insisted that the Labour Party had won a huge victory by continuing to preside over Scotland’s largest council. So, what was Scotland’s largest council up to when it declined to adequately promote Glasgow’s tourist and business industry at Hogmanay, of all times of the year?¬† Edinburgh is boasting that their celebrations have boosted the local economy by around ¬£3million.¬† Does Glasgow’s economy not also need a boost in this difficult economic climate?¬† Does Glasgow not need tourists?¬† I’m guessing that the tourists weren’t flocking to George Square for the delights of the small, temporary ice rink and a couple of fairground rides.
    I’m just wondering if Glasgow’s Chamber of Commerce will be asking any questions about this, given the high business rates that local businesses are forced to pay. The ceilidh itself was free of charge and the ceilidh band, Skipinnish, were very good, but why stop a Hogmanay ceilidh two hours before the bells in Scotland’s largest city?


  25. dadsarmy says:

    Well, as far as “Jerusalem” is concerned there’s this from the Mail:

    And did those feet in ancient time
    Walk upon England’s mountains green
    And was the holy lamb of God
    On England’s pleasant pastures seen

    the article goes on:

    “Jerusalem is more than a hymn. It is almost our national anthem; as popular at rugby internationals as it is at earnest Labour party conferences; it is universal in its appeal. It’s also more than just the name of a magical place. It represents the British nation itself. Which is curious, when you consider the story of Jerusalem the place.

    The reason a hymn called Jerusalem stirs such patriotic fervour with us is because the city is not only the Holy City: on the one hand, everyone feels it belongs to them; on the other, it has a clearly defined special relationship to the British which is expressed in the hymn.

    But on purely geographical terms, no corner of the globe has seen such bloodshed, such fanaticism, such glory and such tragedy. Its history is that of the great religions and visions of mankind, Christian, Muslim and Jewish; and it symbolises the aspirations of the British to rule their empire.

    Yet how did it become the symbol of a perfect paradise? And more pertinently for us, how did it become so British?”

    The reason I cut and pasted the article (from the “view source”!), is because it represents my understanding as well, of what Jeruaslem means to the English – including their eternal confusion over England / Britain. It’s a window into the soul of England.


  26. Dal Riata says:

    Re the Glasgow ‘ceilidh’:

    Couldn’t the ‘powers that be’ not at least have kept it going until midnight for ‘the bells’? Yes, it wouldn’t have compared to Edinburgh’s shindig, but why bother trying to compete and instead making it the best it could be?

    Yes, save costs when appropriate, but there are cost-saving exercises and there are ‘cost-cutting exercises’.

    Makes Glasgow seem a bit miserablist, does it not? 


  27. David McCann says:

    Interesting article and interesting how some people view us died in the wool nationalists. I think it worth pointing out to any English people who are trying to get to grips with the independence question, that Ian Dommett, the Director of Marketing for the Yes campaign, is an Englishman from the home counties, but also a passionate believer in Scottish independence.


  28. Juteman says:

    Personally, i always thought the hymn Jerusalem was a load of sentimental pish. Good rugby/football tune though.


  29. dadsarmy says:

    Yes, when I worked down south I used to go to a fair amount of rugby matches, “Twickers” and others, and Jersualem was a stirring anthem, depending on who was playing of course.

    I’m thinking that as a¬†Medieval History¬†lecturer, Woolf could well be into this, including the crusades and all that sort of thing.

    I think he wants the ideal place, the Garden of Eden, the Paradise, the Jerusalem, the Camelot, and having given up now on the UK becoming that, sees its possibilities in Scotland. He’s a YES voter, even if he doesn’t know it yet!


  30. Jeannie says:

    @Dal Riata
    Makes Glasgow seem a bit miserablist, does it not? 
    It certainly does and it pains me to say it being a born and bred Weegie.¬† But the miserablism at the City Chambers is set to continue through Burns Night – At the Council’s charity Burns Supper this year, the toast to the lassies, usually given by a non-politican and by someone who has some expertise in art/language/culture and performance is instead to be given by Labour councillor Archie Graham, aka as Mr Johann Lamont and the reply is to be given by, wait for it,¬† that well-known repertoire of scintillating wit and master of the bon-mot,¬† Johann Lamont.¬† I somehow can’t imagine there will be a stampede to buy tickets to sit through 3 hours of the Labour Party’s answer to Grace Clarke and Colin Murray.
    Once again, Glasgow City Chambers has the heavy feel of the Kremlin about it.


  31. dadsarmy says:

    Jeannie, just asking, isn’t it possible it ends at 10 so’s workers can get home for the bells, like older times? Even after pubs were able to stay open after 10, pubs near me still kicked out at 10 to allow bar staff to go home and get ready – you’d to go to hotels to drink. like olden Sundays.


  32. Simon says:

    The song “Jerusalem” is not really pish, it is a kind of mystical religious inspiration, a kind of transcendental English mystical national vision. In some ways it is a good Socialist anthem for the strong and old left/social justice movement in England (yes there is one and yes it is big and old but usually hidden and supressed).

    Blake was a very interesting poet and writer.

    Yes some of its uses are pish though I am sure.

    English living in Scotland and pro-independence here. When visiting relatives in England over Xmas I was interested how much they didn’t “get” it.


  33. Jeannie says:

    @dads army
    Really don’t know what their reasoning was, but there were lots of places around George Square opened much later.¬† Also, in the past, there were Hogmanay parties in the square, usually ticketed and featuring bands, such as Runrig.¬† They were very popular, but I just don’t have a clue what’s going on in the heads of the councilors these days. They’re about to remove the statues from the square to redesign it as a civic area – ironic really, given that they currently have fairground rides on it.


  34. Seasick Dave says:

    Don’t you mean the Hogmanay ceilidh started at 10:00?

    Anyway,¬†I don’t know if any of you caught the Janice Forsyth presented programme about Andy Stewart tonight?

    This was a programme that could have been a disaster but ended up being a wonderful tribute to Andy.

    Well done Janice; much appreciated.


  35. dadsarmy says:

    Seems to have happened last year, due to cost (£34 per head) of staging it:

    “The decision to ditch the traditional Hogmanay party has been backed by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.”


  36. Derick says:

    How dare someone say ‘Jerusalem’ is pish.¬† It most definitely not! and IMNVHO opinion would make a much better anthem for independent England than the horrible dirge God save Mrs Saxe-Coburg.¬† Yes, Jerusalem is a bit smutty but sex is not a Bad Thing.¬† The imagery says ‘make love to the land’ and the message even now and massively for its’ time was pro human, proto-green to an extent anti-capitalist. Down wi the dark satanic mills! Yes it has spent a long time being nicked by dodgy public schools, last night of the ghastly proms and the like.¬† But, combined with Parry’s music it is truly great, and captures the soul of our great and varied southern neighbour wonderfully.¬† Pity the Daily Heil can’t tell the difference between England & Britain – but that’ll come.¬† Vote Yes for an Independent England, free of the ghastly drapes of Britishness! 2 versions for your perusal.
    Billy Bragg
    Mary Hopkin


  37. Edulis says:

    Talk about being miserablist on the Hogmanay shindig, I encourage everybody to look at the BBC Alba version from Kirkhill nera Beauly. That is what I call a Hogmanay party with a sense of community. The BBC effort at Atlantic key was awful -excruciating even when they brought on that supposed band called Frightened Rabbit. What an insult!


  38. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “‘‚ÄúPeople like me ‚Äď Chattering class intellectuals‚ÄĚ. That does irk me a bit. I know many artisans(?) I consider intellectuals and many dunderheids of the chattering class.”

    “Chattering class” is a self-deprecatory term. To describe oneself as a “chattering-class intellectual” is in no way an assertion that nobody else can be intellectual. And as far as that word goes, I think a professor of history at St Andrews probably has a pretty fair claim.


  39. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I encourage everybody to look at the BBC Alba version”

    I want to as apparently my uncle was in the choir, but I have no idea what it was called so I can’t search for it on the iPlayer.


  40. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for the link.¬† Had a wee look at it. Maybe for once they’re telling the truth, because it certainly had the air of cheap and cheerful about it. Edinburgh sees Hogmanay as an investment.¬† Glasgow sees it as a needless drain on resources. My own feeling is that if Glasgow Council was genuinely trying to save money, it went too far in this case and I’m amazed if the Chamber of Commerce sees what was on display as helpful to Glasgow’s professional reputation. I’m hoping that next year Glasgow might take a leaf out of Edinburgh’s book and see Hogmanay as something worth investing in. They don’t necessarily need to fund headline acts, but maybe just remove the tacky fairground machinery after Christmas, use the space to enlarge the marquee and keep the party going long enough to bring in the new year.


  41. Erchie says:

    Only thing I’d say is that the implication that Indy supporters are rabid and not decent people sets my hackles on edge a bit.

    Otherwise, fair play to him 


  42. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:


    Cheers for that. If you go to 22m you can indeed see my Uncle Jim and his choir singing a beautiful song.


  43. Cameron says:

    @ KOF

    No need to apologies, I found the piece to be deeply pernicious. Unlike earlier posters, I do not appreciate the skills of Eddie Mair, who I see as being little better than a very slick and effective mouth-piece for one of the most criminal organizations of the British establishment. Most of us have grown up with Auntie, and so find it hard to accept that we are willfully exposing ourselves to incredibly sophisticated propaganda every time we switch on. The BBC was formed out of an office created to disseminate propaganda in the run-up to WWI. Since then, it has exhibited an extremely unhealthy relationship with the Foreign Office (where do you think all those unaccountable reports about Syria are coming from?). Indeed, I would suggest the BBC would have been found guilty of war crimes if they had been held to account at Nuremberg. But then again, most of the real criminals behind WWII, not only managed to get off with their lives but also with their business interests and political careers intact (Rockefeller, Harriman, Bush, DuPont, Dulles, etc.).

    Sorry Rev, but as I said a couple of days ago, I see “fear of Godwin” as being a powerful factor in obscuring our true history. And if we do not know where we came from, how can we see where we are going? I shall take my tinfoil hat off now, and wish you all a very Happy New Year.

    P.S. Although there is lots of evidence that William Blake stood against racism, rampant capitalism and imperialism, the same can not be said of those that made his hymn such a smash hit. This is probably why Blake’s poem was not set to music by composer Sir Hubert Parry and orchestrated by Sir Edward Elgar, until 1916 (notice anything these two individuals have in common). They had been asked to perform this task by the Poet Laureate Robert Bridges, who I am sure himself had been instructed by the then wartime Prime Minister, David Lloyd George. As such, they were acting under full Royal approval. It should also be remembered that Jerusalem was under Ottoman control until falling to the British army in 1917. Lloyd George’s Foreign Secretary, fellow Zionist and former Prime Minister, Arthur Balfour, had offered Theodor Herzl and the Zionist Organization, a Jewish homeland in the British Protectorate of British East Africa (now Uganda), in 1906. Herzl’s rejection of this offer and Balfour’s desire to secure support for the British war effort from the Jewish diaspora, led to the first Balfour Declaration of 1917, which was a letter written to Baron Rothschild for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. Later this letter would be incorporated in to the Mandate for Palestine, which formalised British rule in the southern part of Ottoman Syria from 1923‚Äď1948. Having served its purpose as a stirring patriotic anthem for British ownership of the Holy City, Blake’s hymn was then adopted by Clement Attlee’s Labour Party, as an ahthem for the welfare state. Quite a useful little song really.

    Sorry for going way off topic Rev, and for the length of post. As I asked a couple of days ago though, what is fascism?


  44. Cameron says:

    Correction: Uganda is history, so for British East Africa perhaps Kenya would do. Duh!


  45. dadsarmy says:

    Mmm, vaguely on-topic, I find in other forums posters still with some ignorance of Scottish history, and seaching around found this – ironically:

    Great menu on the left, and links for extra info on the page itself.

    It does make me – slightly critical at times – but it’s a good barebones, and I guess it has to be non-political and kind of universally acceptable, except to me perhaps. Mmm.

    Edit: I started the link there to give some background before the Union of Crowns and the Union of 1707.


  46. Cameron says:

    Tinfoil hat now firmly back on, perhaps.

    Isn’t it interesting that the earth shattering news that the USA really is a police state controlled from Wall Street, is broken during the holiday period???!!!???



  47. pictishbeastie says:

    As one of those that Mr Woolf would describe as one of the “diehard,radical nationalists” I personally found a lot of what he has to say as patronising,sanctimonious pish!¬†


  48. douglas clark says:

    Several commentators appear to miss the significance of what Dr Woolfe has said. He has been persuaded of the independence case from a default position of assuming it was mince. I don’t agree with everything he had to say, but if you read the story he tells it is of a gradual movement towards voting YES. I hope pictishbeastie is not being used by anyone to persuade the undecideds!


  49. David Smillie says:

    I wonder what a ‘died in the wool nationalist’ actually is in Alex Woolf’s mind?¬† On nationalist blogsites contributors seem to always be saying things like – ‘although I spent the last 40 years in London’ or ‘both my parents are English, but..’ or ‘there’s no such thing as an ethnic Scot’.

    I’ve¬†only spent 3 months of my long life in England and my parents and grandparents were all Scots and vaguely patriotic.¬† They might be considered to be died in the wool nationalists by someone like Alex Woolf.¬†¬†They certainly considered themselves to be ethnic Scots.¬† As I understand it, SNP support has always been strongest amongst¬†the lower middle class, upper working class.¬† ¬†I welcome Alex’s contribution, he’s the kind of supporter we need, but I think he doesn’t¬†¬†entirely understand¬†Scotland yet.¬†


  50. muttley79 says:


     But then again, most of the real criminals behind WWII, not only managed to get off with their lives but also with their business interests and political careers intact (Rockefeller, Harriman, Bush, DuPont, Dulles, etc.).

    Are you seriously arguing that Hitler, Himmler, Goring etc were not the real criminals behind WW2? 


  51. Cameron says:

    @ muttley79

    Of course they were, to suggest anything else would be ludicrous. What I was alluding to was the credible research produced by Prof. Antony C. Sutton, when he was working as a Research Fellow for the Hoover Institute in the USA. Do a search yourself, and you will be amazed at how much backing the individuals I named gave to Hitler. You could do worse than starting with the link below.


  52. muttley79 says:


    I will have a look at the link. 


  53. Cameron says:

    @ muttley79

    Sorry, but the particular video I was directing you to seams to have been removed. You can get to it through the links hidden behind the videos.


  54. Alan says:

    Jerusalem is in Jerusalem. I’m in Scotland. The opinion polls are rigged!


  55. Gary says:

    I’d point out to ‘Pictishbeastie’ and others that Alex was not talking specifically about people who have supported independence for a long time when he was talking about ‚Äėdiehard nationalists‚Äô. He is talking about the type of nationalists that hate everyone who is not Scottish, and/or who think Scotland is the best place ever and it is ‚Äėall the fault of those bloody English‚Äô (or those who think that being patriotic/Scottish is dressing like an extra from Braveheart). Alex does know the difference between mildly patriotic and rabid xenophobic Nationalist. I‚Äôve worked with him for about a decade and seen firsthand the ‚Äėjourney‚Äô he has been on. I‚Äôm one of those Alex used to (and occasionally still do) argue with.
    And before anyone starts; I’m a born and bred working class Scot.   
    There are many people who support independence, and many that might be persuaded, that will never buy the Nationalist (we‚Äôre the best country ever/ ‚Äėethnic-Scots‚Äô) argument. Alex is right; the people we need to convince are the majority of the population who don‚Äôt much care either way.


  56. pictishbeastie says:

    Gary, you may say that he’s ”¬†not talking specifically about people who have supported independence for a¬†long time”, but that’s how it came across to me and,obviously,others! Having read the article again a lot of it still comes across as sanctimonious,patronising pish!¬†


Leave a Reply

↑ Top