Sporting Nationalisms: Identity, Ethnicity, Immigration, and Assimilation

By Mike Cronin; David Mayall | Go to book overview

Braveheart Betrayed? Cultural Cloning for Colonial Careers

J.A.MANGAN


Introduction

'Let's say goodbye to Britain'-this exasperated plea from the former staunch Scottish devolutionist, senior figure of the post-war Scottish Establishment and doyen of Scottish broadsheet journalism, Sir Alastair Dunnett, appeared in The Independent in September, 1996. 1 The former editor of The Scotsman bemoaned a nation's alleged loss of name and identity, 'The name of Scotland has…largely disappeared…an inexplicable thing to have happened to a country that was a nation longer than most' The major cause of loss of identity, and associated prosperity and pride, appeared to lie 'south of the border'. 'Almost the only Scottish problem is England', and a minor cause, he implied, citing Samuel Johnson's 'prophetic' warning to a MacDonald chief, was that Scotland's sons had been tamed into insignificance by English education. A somewhat different view of more recent Scottish educational events will be presented here more along the lines of the rebuke to his polemic which appeared in a subsequent letter to The Independent: '…Sir Alastair Dunnett parades… tedious anti-English sentiment, and worse, a casual re-writing of History'. 2

By the middle of the eighteenth century, as Linda Colley makes clear, 'Scotland was coming to be seen by those in power as useful, loyal and British'. 3 This loyalty, she makes equally clear, was to be paid for 'by giving its titled and talented males increased access to London and its plums' 4 -a process still in place today. Colley goes on to describe the enthusiasm with which Scots made full use of the opportunities of Empire with the result that, again in her words, 'Whatever some Scottish nationalists choose to maintain today, it was not simply a case of Scottish ability being creamed away from its proper home for the benefit of an English empire'. 5 Of course, loss of identity has been a long-standing concern. Sir Walter Scott died in 1832 convinced that 'everything distinctively Scots was about to die' but

A shorter and somewhat different version of this contribution will be published by the Ethnographical Research Centre, National Museum of Scotland in its forthcoming multi-volume study of Scottish Culture and Society under the title, 'Missionaries to the Middle Class: English Muscular Morality for a Scottish Colony'.

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