Scotland the…plebby peasant?

This is in response to a video I came across by a Scottish Youtuber. The video is around an hour long, and although I watched the whole thing through, and there are many points and statements made within that I would love to transcribe here so as to answer, that would simply be too much of a waste of time for you or I. So, I’m just going to include a few snippets of what was said, which will give you a reasonable idea of the content of the video, and then give my response. The first is below:

The fact is, I’ve never been very proud of being Scottish. In fact I’ve basically been quite embarrassed by it. In a way when I advocate that third world colonies should have been proud of being taken over by the English, in a sense I’m kinda talking about my, the Scots”

To that first part; fine, don’t be proud, there is nothing wrong with that, many people feel that way, that the country or culture you’re born into is a fluke; I understand that line of thought, yet don’t subscribe to it. But, to be embarrassed by being Scottish, I cannot understand. Whilst a colony implies expansion and settlement by a particular colonial nations people as with the ulster plantations. And so when did that happen within Scotland; castle garrisons/ invading armies? We were not, and are not, a colony. We entered into a union of monarchy’s, and then parliaments’. It really is that simple. Colonized/colony is, in this context, nothing more than an inflammatory word meant only to deride and belittle.

Touch his head, and he will bargain and argue with you to the last; touch his heart, and he falls upon your breast” Andrew Carnegie.

He then goes onto say: “They were civilized by the English and I don’t have any resentment about it, I don’t hate the English for it, I’m grateful to the English for it, I’m glad that they took us over”

England did not civilize Scotland, for Scotland did not need civilizing. So what does he mean then, that invasion is akin to the spreading of civilization; surely then, the founding of Christian places of worship, and that of universities would be seen as more of an intrinsic mark of civility within a society, than say, one whose hunger for power is matched only by its lust for conquest. Am I wrong? Macbeth brought in many sweeping reforms to Scottish society, such as making it easier for people to own their land, whilst campaigning for peace and civility among the countless warring factions of tenth century Scotland. Is that the mark of civility within a country; good land management and civic and monastic reforms towards peace? This guy has clearly never read a history book, and equates civilized society to the wearing of bowler hats, drinking tea, and fancy suits, whilst relegating the entirety of Scottish society to cave dwelling, fur-clad heathens.

Our Scottish theory…is that every country has need of Scotchmen, but that Scotland has no need of the citizens of any other country“ Arthur James Balfour.

This next part is a doozey: “But I think it was a necessary thing to bring a country up to date. I mean it was peasantry; now this, and you still see it now, I’ll get to that later. The long and the short of it is my heart is with England, I don’t feel the type of, I don’t feel I particularly belong to the Scots, um, I don’t admire them as a people, as a group, as a country, I think it’s, um, it’s just dwarfed, its overshadowed by England. England’s cultural and political and artistic achievements dwarf those of Scotland-”

Politically? Most definitely; we both agree on that. Culturally, and artistically though? Are you high? England has Shakespeare, whilst Scotland has Robert Burns (National poet of Russia and the toast of many North American burns nights) Sir Walter Scott’s creation of the Romantic Movement within literature; Charles Ronnie Mackintosh’s contribution to Art Nouveau? What’s not to admire; the medical breakthroughs of Scottish surgeons during the Victorian era; the industrial revolution, and Scotland’s incredible contribution to it? None of that makes you proud? That despite it all, you still feel inferior to the English; clinging to the colonial idea that all of Scotland was some backwater, whilst England was always in a shirt and tie; because pop culture paints them as all being civilized Richards, despite being plagued with alcoholism and violence just as much as Scotland is. No, your heart simply lies with an antiquated ideal of the suited Englishman; whilst wholly being out of touch of the far from perfect modern populace of that country. You are a pathetic, sniveling little wretch of a creature, projecting your own inferiority complex upon your countrymen.

The mark of a Scot of all classes is that he…remembers and cherishes the memory of his forebears, good or bad; and there burns alive in him a sense of identity with the dead even to the twentieth generation” Robert Louis Stevenson.

“-and how can, I just don’t know any way to deny that, or any reason to deny it, it’s the truth we have to face up to, um, now it might not be a permanent condition, it might just be an historical accident that that’s the way it happened, and given enough time, Scotland would be just as civilized as England. Personally i don’t think that would be the case because I, then I don’t know what the percentages are, I did know a year or two ago but I forgotten them know. But the, historically the working class has always been a much larger percentage of the Scottish population, than of the English population. Now, without wishing to disparage the working class, and I think most of us would agree that they don’t tend to be stalwarts at culture…and, I think you can see the effects of this, eh, I think you can see the effects of this in, in Scottish life in, specially in Scottish culture now with the, they are basically a peasant people even now, and it takes, eh, It’s a very unusual person like myself for example, who doesn’t fit into all, doesn’t fit into the pleby attitudes, the disgusting low-grade cultural tastes of the majority and I’m not saying that to pump, to puff myself up. It’s just; I’ve always felt like this. I despair of them, and, the iron brew; the terrible diction, the ridiculous…that, the crassness; the reliance on alcohol; the ignorance and the crudity, the lack of manners, and all of this stuff…it, it, I mean you could probably sense my frustration, I just, I can’t admire them”

Side note: According to , More than 9 million people in England (3 million more people than the entire Scottish population) drink more than the recommended daily limits, and 80,929 people started new alcohol treatment in England in 2013-2014.

To have such vehement contempt for your own people on account of some speaking in dialects, having a colorful vocabulary, or for simply producing a soft drink that outsells the likes of Coke and Pepsi in the home market, is a reflection of this man’s insecurities and self-loathing. But okay, you know what? I’m not even going to waste my breath trying to comprehend this one, or attempt to use logic either. Instead, I’m going to first point out the very real social classes of both Scotland and England prior to, and around the time of, the union, and then bring up a few crime statistics for regions of England.

Criminal (Ne’er do well peasants)

Cottagers and labourers (Hard working Peasants)

Husbandman and other tradesmen (Skilled Peasants)




Baronet (hereditary, non peer)

Peer (Noble/Archbishop)


Side note: The Union meant the Scottish Parliament and Scotland’s independence were forfeited, and as such, the parliamentarians, politicians, nobility then moved down to London. Yet lawyers and jurists remained behind in Edinburgh. The Church of Scotland also remained, as did the universities and the medical establishment. The lawyers and the clergy, along with the professors, intellectuals, doctors, scientists and architects then formed a new middle class elite within urban Scotland, and consequently facilitated the Scottish Enlightenment. These men it seemed, where already fairly civilized…

Anyway, to say that historically and culturally, every Englishman was somewhere between a gentleman and a royal, is simply not true. But to say that every Scot was/is a peasant is simply prejudice, for both Scotland and England have historically had industrial heartlands compromised of working class populations; Glasgow and the central belt in Scotland, and much of the northeast of England. This should not have to be explained. Regardless, he then equates crassness with being an intrinsic aspect of the Scottish psyche in an effort to belittle us; dragging on his cigarette between reflective, poignant pauses; educated and with an air of tired fatigue; attempting to give his own languished arrogance a sense of justification as though all who watch know fine well how unruly we canny Jocks are; acting as though crassness is to be encountered nowhere else in Britain, save for Scotland. So why don’t I just go ahead and pull up those aforementioned crime statistics for a couple parts of England then, eh? First, here is Manchester:

manchester crime stats

manchester crime stats2

Oh, nothing crass about burglary, robbery, shop lifting or general violence, eh? These must all be immigrants from Scotland, for surely no nation of cultured gentlemen of the privileged classes, such as whom form the entirety of the English nation, would do something so boorish as to stab someone, or steal their bike. And just so you don’t think I’m skewing things by referencing from a historically working class area of England, here is the homicide stats for London:

london homicide stats

And here’s the crimes involving guns and knives:

london crime stats

Whoa…what does it all mean then? Well, regardless of which country has historically had more of a working class population; both have, and had, a working class population; as well as a higher class within their social structure. To say that just because Scotland might have had more of a working class, rural and even pastoral society than England in the past, somehow makes the entirety of the country somehow less civilized than England, is utterly nonsensical; based purely on presumption, ignorance, misguided prejudice and a complete and utter lack of understanding of the histories and social structures inherent to both countries.

We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilization” Voltaire.

Moving on; let’s take a look at academia and the arts, shall we; you know, that bit were England apparently “overshadows us”: The Scottish Enlightenment (That bit where we invented the entire Goddamn modern world) Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

The Scottish Enlightenment was the period in 18th and early 19th century Scotland characterised by an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments. By the eighteenth century, Scotland had a network of parish schools in the Lowlands and four universities*. The Enlightenment culture was based on close readings of new books, and intense discussions took place daily at such intellectual gathering places in Edinburgh as The Select Society and, later, The Poker Club as well as within Scotland’s ancient universities (St Andrews, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen).

Among the fields that rapidly advanced were philosophy, political economy, engineering, architecture, medicine*, geology, archaeology, law, agriculture, chemistry and sociology. Among the Scottish thinkers and scientists of the period were Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart, Thomas Reid, Robert Burns, Adam Ferguson, John Playfair, Joseph Black and James Hutton.

The Scottish Enlightenment had effects far beyond Scotland, not only because of the esteem in which Scottish achievements were held outside Scotland, but also because its ideas and attitudes were carried across the Atlantic world as part of the Scottish diaspora, and by American students who studied in Scotland.

*England only had two universities.

*By the end of the century, the University of Edinburgh’s Medical School was arguably one of the leading centers of science in Europe, boasting such names as the anatomist Alexander Monro (secundus), the chemists William Cullen and Joseph Black, and the natural historian John Walker. Access to Scottish universities was probably more open than in contemporary England, Germany or France. In the eighteenth century, Scotland reaped the intellectual benefits of this system.

Now onto a few other examples of Scotland’s actual contribution to art, literature, culture, the Industrial revolution itself, and I dunno; the very advancement of human civilization (Probably wise just to scroll right past the long, long list. It’s simply to illustrate the scale of just a few of Scotland’s achievements. The post resumes beneath it)

Macadamised roads (the basis for, but not specifically, tarmac): John Loudon McAdam (1756–1836)

The pedal bicycle: Attributed to both Kirkpatrick Macmillan (1813–1878) and Thomas McCall (1834–1904)

The pneumatic tyre: Robert William Thomson and John Boyd Dunlop (1822–1873)

The overhead valve engine: David Dunbar Buick (1854–1929)

Tubular steel: Sir William Fairbairn (1789–1874)

The Falkirk wheel: Initial designs by Nicoll Russell Studios, Architects, RMJM, Architects and engineers Binnie Black and Veatch (Opened 2002)

The patent slip for docking vessels: Thomas Morton (1781–1832)

The Drummond Light: Thomas Drummond (1797–1840)

Canal design: Thomas Telford (1757–1834)

Dock design improvements: John Rennie (1761–1821)

Crane design improvements: James Bremner (1784–1856)

“Trac Rail Transposer”, a machine to lay rail track patented in 2005, used by Network Rail in the United Kingdom and the New York Subway in the United States.

Aircraft design: Frank Barnwell (1910) Establishing the fundamentals of aircraft design at the University of Glasgow.

Condensing steam engine improvements: James Watt (1736–1819)

Thermodynamic cycle: William John Macquorn Rankine (1820–1872)

Coal-gas lighting: William Murdoch (1754–1839)

The Stirling heat engine: Rev. Robert Stirling (1790–1878)

Carbon brushes for dynamos: George Forbes (1849–1936)

The Clerk cycle gas engine: Sir Dugald Clerk (1854–1932)

The Pelamis Wave Energy Converter (“red sea snake” wave energy device): Richard Yemm, 1998

Europe’s first passenger steamboat: Henry Bell (1767–1830)

The first iron–hulled steamship: Sir William Fairbairn (1789–1874)

The first practical screw propeller: Robert Wilson (1803–1882)

Marine engine innovations: James Howden (1832–1913)

John Elder & Charles Randolph (Marine Compound expansion engine)

Lieutenant-General Sir David Henderson two areas:

Field intelligence. Argued for the establishment of the Intelligence Corps. Wrote Field Intelligence: Its Principles and Practice (1904) and Reconnaissance (1907) on the tactical intelligence of modern warfare during World War I.

Special forces: Founded by Sir David Stirling, the SAS was created in World War II in the North Africa campaign to go behind enemy lines to destroy and disrupt the enemy. Since then it has been regarded as the most famous and influential special forces that has inspired other countries to form their own special forces too.

Intelligence: Allan Pinkerton developed the still relevant intelligence techniques of “shadowing” (surveillance) and “assuming a role” (undercover work) in his time as head of the Union Intelligence Service.

Coal mining extraction in the sea on an artificial island by Sir George Bruce of Carnock (1575). Regarded as one of the industrial wonders of the late medieval period.

Making cast steel from wrought iron: David Mushet (1772–1847)

Wrought iron sash bars for glass houses: John C. Loudon (1783–1865)

The hot blast oven: James Beaumont Neilson (1792–1865)

The steam hammer: James Nasmyth (1808–1890)

Wire rope: Robert Stirling Newall (1812–1889)

Steam engine improvements: William Mcnaught (1831–1881)

The Fairlie, a narrow gauge, double-bogie railway engine: Robert Francis Fairlie (1831–1885)

Cordite – Sir James Dewar, Sir Frederick Abel (1889)

Hollow pipe drainage: Sir Hew Dalrymple, Lord Drummore (1700–1753)

The Scotch plough: James Anderson of Hermiston (1739–1808)

Deanstonisation soil-drainage system: James Smith (1789–1850)

The mechanical reaping machine: Rev. Patrick Bell (1799–1869)

The Fresno scraper: James Porteous (1848–1922)

The Tuley tree shelter: Graham Tuley in 1979

Print stereotyping: William Ged (1690–1749)

Roller printing: Thomas Bell (patented 1783)

The adhesive postage stamp and the postmark: claimed by James Chalmers (1782–1853)

The Waverley pen nib innovations thereof: Duncan Cameron (1825–1901) The popular “Waverley” was unique in design with a narrow waist and an upturned tip designed to make the ink flow more smoothly on the paper.

Universal Standard Time: Sir Sandford Fleming (1827–1915)

Light signalling between ships: Admiral Philip H. Colomb (1831–1899)

The underlying principles of Radio – James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879)

The Kinetoscope, a motion picture camera: devised in 1889 by William Kennedy Dickson (1860-1935)

The teleprinter: Frederick G. Creed (1871–1957)

The British Broadcasting Corporation BBC: John Reith, 1st Baron Reith (1922) its founder, first general manager and Director-general of the British Broadcasting Corporation

Radar: A significant contribution made by Robert Watson-Watt (1892–1973)

The automated teller machine and Personal Identification Number system – James Goodfellow (born 1937)

The first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica; Edinburgh (1768–81)

The first English textbook on surgery(1597)

The first modern pharmacopaedia, William Cullen (1776). The book became ‘Europe’s principal text on the classification and treatment of disease’. His ideas survive in the terms nervous energy and neuroses (a word that Cullen coined).

The first postcards and picture postcards in the UK

The first eBook from a UK administration (March 2012). Scottish Government publishes ‘Your Scotland, Your Referendum’.

The educational foundation of Ophthalmology: Stewart Duke-Elder in his ground breaking work including ‘Textbook of Ophthalmology and fifteen volumes of System of Ophthalmology’

Logarithms: John Napier (1550–1617)

Modern Economics founded by Adam Smith (1776) ‘The father of modern economics’ with the publication of The Wealth of Nations.

Modern Sociology: Adam Ferguson (1767) ‘The Father of Modern Sociology’ with his work An Essay on the History of Civil Society

Hypnotism: James Braid (1795–1860) the Father of Hypnotherapy

Tropical medicine: Sir Patrick Manson known as the father of Tropical Medicine

Modern Geology: James Hutton ‘The Founder of Modern Geology’

The theory of Uniformitarianism: James Hutton (1788): a fundamental principle of Geology the features of the geologic time takes millions of years.

The theory of electromagnetism: James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879)

The discovery of the Composition of Saturn’s Rings James Clerk Maxwell (1859): determined the rings of Saturn were composed of numerous small particles, all independently orbiting the planet. At the time it was generally thought the rings were solid. The Maxwell Ringlet and Maxwell Gap were named in his honor.

The Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution by James Clerk Maxwell (1860): the basis of the kinetic theory of gases, that speeds of molecules in a gas will change at different temperatures. The original theory first hypothesised by Maxwell and confirmed later in conjunction with Ludwig Boltzmann.

Popularising the decimal point: John Napier (1550–1617)

The Gregorian telescope: James Gregory (1638–1675)

The discovery of Proxima Centauri, the closest known star to the Sun, by Robert Innes (1861–1933)

One of the earliest measurements of distance to the Alpha Centauri star system, the closest such system outside of the Solar System, by Thomas Henderson (1798–1844) The discovery of Centaurus A, a well-known starburst galaxy in the constellation of Centaurus, by James Dunlop (1793–1848)

The world’s first oil refinery and a process of extracting paraffin from coal laying the foundations for the modern oil industry: James Young (1811–1883)

The identification of the minerals yttrialite, thorogummite, aguilarite and nivenite: by William Niven

Discovering the properties of Carbon dioxide by French-born Joseph Black (1728–1799)

The concept of Heat capacity by French-born Joseph Black (1728–1799)

The pyroscope, atmometer and aethrioscope scientific instruments: Sir John Leslie (1766–1832)

Identifying the nucleus in living cells: Robert Brown (1773–1858)

An early form of the Incandescent light bulb: James Bowman Lindsay (1799-1862)

Colloid chemistry: Thomas Graham (1805–1869)

The kelvin SI unit of temperature by Irishman William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (1824–1907)Devising the diagramatic system of representing chemical bonds: Alexander Crum Brown (1838–1922)

Criminal fingerprinting: Henry Faulds (1843–1930)

The noble gases: Sir William Ramsay (1852–1916)

The cloud chamber recording of atoms: Charles Thomson Rees Wilson (1869–1959)

The discovery of the Wave of Translation, leading to the modern general theory of solitons by John Scott Russell (1808-1882)

Statistical graphics: William Playfair founder of the first statistical line charts, bar charts, and pie charts in (1786) and (1801) known as a scientific ‘milestone’ in statistical graphs and data visualization

The Arithmetic mean density of the Earth: Nevil Maskelyne conducted the Schiehallion experiment conducted at the Scottish mountain of Schiehallion, Perthshire 1774

The first isolation of methylated sugars, trimethyl and tetramethyl glucose: James Irvine

Discovery of the Japp–Klingemann reaction: to synthesize hydrazones from β-keto-acids (or β-keto-esters) and aryl diazonium salts 1887

Pioneering work on nutrition and poverty: John Boyd Orr (1880–1971)

Ferrocene synthetic substances: Peter Ludwig Pauson in 1955

The seismometer innovations thereof: James David Forbes

Metaflex fabric innovations thereof: University of St. Andrews (2010) application of the first manufacturing fabrics that manipulate light in bending it around a subject. Before this such light manipulating atoms were fixed on flat hard surfaces. The team at St Andrews are the first to develop the concept to fabric.

Tractor beam innovations thereof: St. Andrews University (2013) the world’s first to succeed in creating a functioning Tractor beam that pulls objects on a microscopic level

Macaulayite: Dr. Jeff Wilson of the Macaulay Institute, Aberdeen.

Discovery of Catacol whitebeam by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (1990s): a rare tree endemic and unique to the Isle of Arran in south west Scotland. The trees were confirmed as a distinct species by DNA testing.

Side note: The list above compromises only about half of Scotland’s inventions and achievements. There are a good 130-160 more I could add, but won’t for obvious reasons.

So, not bad for a bunch of crass, Irn Bru swilling, ignorant and crude farm dwelling peasant savages with bad diction; don’t you think? Though certainly none of the above listed achievements and inventions merit any sense of pride, right? That a vocabulary littered with swearwords is a barrier to education and intelligence; that simply for having a strong work ethic, we Scots are the uncivilized louts in need of a strong hand? That is the entirety of this apathetic, odious, quiet frankly overweight, self-hating Scotsman’s argument; one that boggles my mind in light of such a litany of wondrous Scottish minds and innovations, advancements and inventions. If a country is something you can be proud of, then why not be proud of Scotland.

But hey, don’t take my word for it, here’s what J.K Rowling has to say: “It is one of the most hauntingly beautiful places in the world, the history is fascinating, the men are handsome and the Whisky is delicious. But don’t eat the macaroni pies

In conclusion

I’m well aware of England’s role in the industrial revolution, and I’m well aware of her great thinkers and innovators, and so would never say that Scotland is inherently better, simply for having just as apt minds within her own society. I acknowledge those English thinkers for what they were; gifted Englishmen. It doesn’t have to be one or the other in regards to deciding an entire country’s worth. Can’t both simply be proud of their own merits, without seeking to exclude those of the other? What makes England supposedly better than Scotland is exactly what makes Scotland better than England; all one needs to do is flip it on its head. Scotland and England have both suffered from unsavory types within their populations; dare I say, crass, elements, even. And yet, Scotland and England were also home to radical thinkers and great technological leaps forward among the sciences, and agriculture. To say that one is any better is simply down to an uneducated national bias.

God help England if she had no Scots to think for her” George Bernard Shaw.

I won’t bash England, and I’m not going to insult the country. Why? Because some of the artists I most admire, belonged to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; a group of English painters and poets. I still enjoy the works of Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns, but not to the exclusion of outside influences by otherwise wonderful minds. And I dare say that not a single English person alive today, could live without their television, or light bulbs, penicillin, or yes, even Football…

Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind” Winston Churchill.

If you’re Scottish, be proud of our country. If your English, Be happy we’re your neighbors. You could have done a lot worse, I mean, just look at the neighbors we’re stuck with…

Cinead MacAlpin.