THE TARTAN TAKEOVER; If Gordon Brown Becomes the Next Prime Minister, the Scots Will Lead the Way in Every Aspect of British Life. So Why Are We So Successful?

Daily Mail (London), May 22, 2004 | Go to article overview

THE TARTAN TAKEOVER; If Gordon Brown Becomes the Next Prime Minister, the Scots Will Lead the Way in Every Aspect of British Life. So Why Are We So Successful?


Byline: JAN MOIR

SATURDAY ESSAY GREAT Scot - yes, aren't we just? I f Gordon Brown ever becomes Prime Minister, the Scottish invasion of England will be complete. So why is it that so many of us won't stay at home?

According to a new book published this week, it is not rats, tourists, cars, illegal immigrants, Arsenal fans, discarded litter, men wearing those stupid half-mast trousers or even cyclists who are taking over London - it's the Scots.

'As one of the oldest immigrant groups in London, and the most successful, the Scots have made more of a mark on the city than any other,' writes author David Stenhouse in On The Make: How The Scots Took Over London.

He's got a point. Blink, and you still won't miss us. We are everywhere.

We're reading the news on radio and TV, we're passing laws, we've got a stranglehold on the media, we're up on our trotters in the Houses of Parliament, telling it like it is.

Everyone's children are reading our books, everyone's money is held in Scottish banks and, i f Gordon Ramsay hadn't told the English how to jazz up their vichyssoise by adding ice cubes filled with olive oil... och, they ' d never have thought of it otherwise.

Under cover of darkness, the Scots have slipped into the English capital in increasing numbers over the past few centuries.

'I came to London because it seemed exciting. It was the honeypot, the Emerald City,' says Nicky Campbell, whose career began at Northsound Radio in Aberdeen and who now presents Watchdog for the BBC as well as being a fixture on Radio 5 Live.

IT'S not that I desperately wanted to get out of Scotland, it's just that I wanted to go to the biggest platform, in a British context,' says Campbell.

His sentiments are echoed by Radio 4 broadcaster James Naughtie, who told Stenhouse: 'You can't present the Today programme from Edinburgh.' Once down south, we have paved the roads, designed and built nearly all of the bridges over the Thames, then tiptoed into the citadels of power and grabbed all the best jobs for ourselves.

From dawn to dusk, there is no escaping us. From the selfsatisfied burr of Naughtie on Today to the motherly chirp of Lorraine Kelly on daytime television, from Andrew Marr on the main BBC political bulletins to Kirsty Young on Channel 5 and Kirsty Wark wrapping up the day on Newsnight, we are clogging up the airwaves like Celtic cholesterol.

We are even placing Crimewatch and BBC news presenter Fiona Bruce under Scottish arrest. Yes, I know she was born in Singapore, but we claim her as one of our own - particularly because her father, from Elgin, started out as postboy before working his way up to become the managing director of Unilever.

That's the Scottish way. Dig in for the long haul and work hard.

What is it with us? Do we have an extra ambition gene? And why, as the old Scottish football chant goes, are we so great?

TO relocate is a sign of ambition, says Stenhouse. 'And, historically, Scots never had a feeling of entitlement - life was much nearer the bone north of the Border. There was always a feeling that whatever you had might disappear, so Scots are predisposed to working hard.' This could explain why Andrew Marr holds down a national newspaper column and presents Start The Week on Radio 4 , as well as being political editor of the BBC. And look at the punishing regime of Kirsty Wark, who commutes to the Newsnight studios from her home in Glasgow.

'She's got her own production company,' says Stenhouse. 'She commutes thousands of miles every week to present Newsnight, but she still makes the kids' breakfasts. Does she need to do so much? She obviously thinks she does.' And if the political winds blow in the right direction, who knows what might happen?

Gordon Brown might be in charge of the whole of the UK and the McMafia invasion will be complete.

If so, asks Stenhouse, will this become the final step in what is seen as the Scottishing of England, the transformation of Britain into the image of Scotland, with parts of the English population reduced to resentful witnesses to changes in a society they once felt they owned?

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