Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Disappearing Scots

The Scottish population is declining, while England grows more crowded each year.

Magnus Linklater in the Times notes the decline in the Scottish population compared to its southern neighbour, but fails to point out that but for immigration, England would be in the same situation. Only the influx of migrants, and their generally higher birth-rate once arrived, keeps the population rising, keeps pressure on house prices, and keeps the Native Brits fleeing to the suburbs and country towns.

The English, left to their own devices, would also be in numerical decline. And no bad thing either, say the newly-formed Optimum Population Trust.

"In countries where there is only one race," said Churchill, "broad and lofty views are taken of the colour problem". He was speaking of 1940s England, where the locals were shocked by the segregation of the U.S. armed forces, but the same could be said of Scotland today, where views on race and immigration can be as broad as the Silvery Tay - because few immigrants or asylum seekers venture outside England.

If you were an asylum seeker headed for the UK, where would you like to go ? To Scotland or Wales, with their strong Nationalist parties ? To Ulster, where Sinn Fein/IRA are still killing people because their forebears were immigrants four hundred years ago ? Or to a country whose national flag should really be emblazoned with the word 'Sorry !'. No choice, really, is it ?

None take a more broad and lofty view than Charles Kennedy. He attacked William Hague every time the latter opened his mouth on asylum.

On one occasion he implied in Parliament that Hague's rhetoric on asylum was encouraging racist attacks, and cited an incident where a young black man was set on fire.
To the best of my knowledge he didn't retract this when it emerged that the man in question had suffered burns while setting a car ablaze.

Charles Kennedy, a crofter's son, comes from the Highlands and is MP for Ross, Cromarty and Skye.

A couple of years ago, staying on Speyside, I wondered idly about the ethnic diversity of the area, and picked up the phone book, which covers everywhere north of Aviemore as far as Shetland. Patels ? None. Singhs ? Two - both doctors. The famous Mohammed clan of Lewis, there for over forty years and subjects of a fascinating Radio 4 documentary a few years back.

And that's about it. Different world. Easy to forget, if you represent Slough, for example, that the 1st Battalion, Scots Guards are likely to be as monocultural a bunch as ever Trooped the Colour.