It makes you Wonder,
It makes you Proud.
To play for England,
And hear the Crowd.
"This Time", English World Cup Squad Song, 1982.
I was born into an Army family in Hong Kong in 1965, a few months before England won the World Cup. In my early years I lived also in England and West Germany. Loyalty to all the constituent parts of Britain, the Nation, came naturally. As I grew to political consciousness, it came as a shock to discover that some people did not understand or accept the idea of Britain, the Nation. It came as another shock to discover that some Scots went so far as to cheer for the team playing against England!
This sorry behaviour was reawakened at the recent Euro 2000 competition. It requires study because in some cases it appears to be spreading and normalising. One example: Dunfermline's new Odeon cinema allowed people in free during Euro 2000, provided they were wearing German football strips. The staff was pictured in The Scotsman (16 June) all wearing German football strips. Big joke!
This would be an unhealthy social development at any time, but from our perspective especially, any social tendency that has the effect of dividing the Scots from the English, at whatever level, works to subvert our efforts to promote a shared sense of British identity as a foundation for our political programme. Self-determination for the British requires solidarity among the British.
WHAT ARE THE EXCUSES FOR THIS BEHAVIOUR?
"They're just having a laugh"
Well, you can enjoy yourself cheering for England just as easily. This is inappropriately-directed cheering.
"It's just friendly rivalry"
On the contrary there's something distinctly unfriendly, unhealthy and unpleasant in the air. Those Scots who engage in this behaviour are not pleased because Romania won. They are pleased because England lost. That means they are deliberately taking pleasure in another's misfortune. The Germans call this schadenfreude, and it is an unhealthy and unpleasant emotion: There's nothing jolly about it. It's a spiritual attack. It's psychically healthy to take pleasure in someone's victory. It's psychically unhealthy to take pleasure in someone's loss, and it's unpleasant to project your glee.
"Scotland perceives itself to be dominated by England"
Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP has said, "We don't take enough pleasure from Scotland's achievements so, sadly, the compensation for some of us is to delight in England's falls." No guessing what his cure is. "It's to do with our subservient position within the UK and I think we will grow out of it as we rediscover our identity through independence" (quoted in Sunday Times Scotland, 28 June 1998, sec. 1, p. 10).
However, there is no evidence that this is likely to cure the problem. These overt expressions of anti-Englishness appear, in some cases, to have hardened as Scotland has moved to devolution. Moreover, changed circumstances, in an "independent" Scotland, may not make a difference to something that is irrational in the first place. The only difference would be that those people who engage in this behaviour would have even less of an excuse than they have at the moment.
"It's a historical and political thing. Look what they did to William Wallace, and of course, there's the Poll Tax"
Well, the Germans bombed Clydebank in WW2. Nobody makes a thing of it today. Margaret Thatcher, whatever one may think of her, was supported by one in four Scots. In any case, Germany is playing England, not the Conservative Party.
"The English are arrogant and think they are better than everyone else."
This sounds more like an inferiority complex than a statement of fact. Anyway, it's healthy for a nation to have a confident and positive view of itself, even if some misinterpret this as "arrogance."
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE WHO BEHAVE LIKE THIS?
Among, perhaps, the majority, there is simply a large element of unthinking fashion. A sort of, "We're all cheering the team playing against England. Ha, ha, what a laugh." These are the people who are most susceptible to the Daily Record football propaganda which legitimises this attitude. If it appears to be socially acceptable to cheer against England then they will do so because they think everyone else is doing so and they think it is expected of them -- the staff of the Dunfermline Odeon, for example. These people are open to persuasion and are influenced heavily by the cultural norms of the day. There is, however, a harder core.
There is a small minority who are simply anti-British, not just anti-English. They don't make a distinction and they don't care to make one. They are as likely to cheer the team playing the British Lions at rugby as they are to cheer the team playing England. They don't identify with Britain and never have. They are the sort of people who chant IRA slogans at football matches.
This lot will tell you that they have nothing against the English as people, but rather that it is the English mentality which they do not like. Here they are referring to what might be termed English Imperial Consciousness.
Although Scots played a large part in the Empire, it remains a fact that without England in the driving seat, the British Imperial project wouldn't have got very far. A strong and assertive England has always been crucial for a successful Britain.
According to this Anti-Imperialist mentality, everything bad that has ever happened in the history of the world can be traced back to English Imperialism. If the English had just stayed at home instead of deciding to carve an Empire -- with the help of all the British, of course -- then everything today would be hunky-dory. It is this dislike of the English Imperial Mind, as manifest symbolically in its football team, which animates some of the people who like to see England getting beaten. In fact, this mentality is obvious throughout much of the British national mass media.
THE MEDIA HATES ENGLAND
Many in the media hate the whole concept of England. They hate for England to win at anything. They loathe the fact that England won the World Cup. They despise any manifestation of English Consciousness that states, or even implies, that England is a special nation. The last thing they want is for the English to get any ideas above their station. That might lead in directions they couldn't control.
The media love to see English football fans getting out of hand because that allows the media to indulge its hatred of everything England. You just know that in the newspapers the next day England the nation, England the history and England the consciousness is going to take it on the chin.
For example, the editorial in The Independent (22 June 2000) was titled: "It is England, not football, that is cursed by racist yobs and hooligans" and it sought to remind us that England was "just another country, same as any other". No sense here that politically England -- and the rest of Britain -- may be special, and worth defending and building for its own sake.
The theme is always that we are no different from anywhere else and that we have to get used to the idea. If we accept this, then there is no reason to invest emotional, intellectual and physical energy in fighting the good fight for national self-determination from the EU because only a people imbued with a sense of their nation's specialness would bother to fight for national self determination.
THE MYTH OF THE TARTAN ARMY
In all of this, some elements of the Scottish media like to favourably contrast the "Tartan Army" with the English football supporters. However, a columnist in the Ecosse section of The Sunday Times was more accurate when he wrote on 30 April 2000: "The Tartan Army's reputation for benign behaviour rests on the team's inability to win … the team never proceeds to those stages of tournaments where the pressure rises and tempers flare … Like the quality of Scottish education … this gang of simmering drunks, career wife-avoiders and sentimental dupes has been overstated too long." Quite right! In any case, singing, "If you hate the English, clap your hands" is not funny, much less original, witty or ironic. A friend of mine reported a very unpleasant atmosphere engendered by some of the Scottish fans at the last Scotland v. England game at Hampden. They should be shamed and ashamed.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO CHANGE THIS BEHAVIOUR?
People are moved to change their behaviour by facts and ideas which they can understand, and by emotions which they can feel.
The Importance of Education
Firstly, therefore, we must continue to spread our facts and ideas as widely as possible. We must use every opportunity to reach out and make people think about what we believe.
Where there is anti English prejudice it must be exposed. Where there is mean spiritedness it must be shamed. After all, it is they who are delighting in another's fall. It is they who are motivated by negative sentiments, while we are motivated by the positive sentiments of friendship with the English and identification with the English, and a wider British, nation. Where there is irrationality and wrong-headedness it must be educated and where there is parochialism it must be freed from its limited vision and brought to see the big picture of Britain.
The Importance of Leadership
The example set by leadership has a huge impact upon the way people think and feel and consequently behave.
I remember passing a pub in Edinburgh at the time of the World Cup in 1998. I knew England was playing and I could hear cheers from inside. I suspected the worst and stuck my head in for a look. To my delight the pub was full of people cheering for England. I spent the rest of the game there and observed the crowd. It was overwhelming for England with only a few against. There was a small group of animated English students who seemed to be leading the cheering, but there were many Scots joining in unselfconsciously. It was a happy experience.
This told me that where there is a group leading the way then others will follow, and if there is a large crowd cheering for England, then the anti-English types will be subdued. As with all political warfare, it is about numbers at the end of the day. More Scots need to set the example and the rest will follow. Prominent public figures, including footballers, setting an example would also be helpful.
The Importance of Culture
The most effective way to move large numbers of people is by the manipulation of emotional images. From our perspective, a TV series which had a storyline highlighting the foolishness of anti-Englishness would be very helpful. No one wants to feel like a fool. There is also ample scope for comedy to parody such behaviour. The media have no compunction in building up a "comedian" like Al Murray, who has now begun to parody eurosceptics with the obvious intention of discrediting them in the popular mind. Films which were able to stimulate widespread debate on the issue, would help people to think about their behaviour and provide the emotional images which would help them to change.
It's easy to influence mass consciousness if you possess the tools. Unfortunately, we cannot expect much from the present artistic "elite" in Scotland. What we can do, however, is use the existing mass media as much as possible to promote our beliefs, and we can also work to develop an alternative media outreach, in order to help build a new popular orthodoxy of thinking and behaving.
The Importance of an Inclusive British Identity
Underpinning everything, must be a common sense of identity. It is through the British identity that the English, Irish, Scots, and Welsh connect with each other. It is through a shared British identity that we can take joy in each other's success. It is through a British identity that a Scotsman can rejoice when England wins at football, and vice versa. Those who reject a British identity confine their sense of identity and limit their horizons.
If people in Scotland are encouraged to think of themselves as Scots or British, then some may choose Scots. They need to be encouraged to see themselves as Scots and British. Identities are too often positioned as mutually exclusive, as "either or", when they can often be a matter of "and". Scottish and British identities complement, not contradict each other. A British identity says that what we have in common is greater than any differences.
Many younger Scottish people have never been aware of their British identity because Britain, the Nation, has never been real to them. Unlike the older generation, who remember the War, the young have no experience, or sense, of Britain as a great nation which once projected itself upon the globe.
Solidarity cannot be enforced. It has to flow naturally. However, such thoughts and feelings are heavily influenced by the facts and ideas which people consider, through the example set by leadership in society, and by the popular culture of the day which influences people's emotions. We can work our will in all three areas.
Let us emphasise the spiritual, intellectual and physical bonds which exist in our islands. Let us emphasise the inclusive British identity which we can all share, instead of the artificial differences constructed by the politics of the day. Our destiny is bound intimately with our fellows throughout these islands. It is foolish to divide ourselves wilfully against each other.
The tasks facing us can only be solved by a people united. Regardless of what the administrative system in our islands may be, it is necessary, above all, to be united in spirit: A community of people standing together and sharing naturally in each other's achievements and joy.