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Not at the World Cup - my part in its downfall

Back in 2002, before the last World Cup, I was living up in Scotland, working for a large Government research institute. The collaborative international nature of science ensured that there was a healthy mix of nationalities represented - Scots (probably 70%), English (perhaps 10%), along with a mixture of other scientists from around the world, Irish, Spanish, Argentinian, French, German, you get the picture...

With such a smorgasboard of nationalities and footballing pride and prejudices there was obviously some friendly rivalry and canteen banter to be had. One sunny Scottish day I arrived at work and upon turning on my computer I noticed that a screensaver and desktop wallpaper, coutesy of a Tennents' website, had been installed on my computer.

Not at the World Cup

Not wanting to be a bad sport and spoil the joke for my Scottish colleagues I left the foreign bunting up, but, in a covert evening operation with my English colleagues, we made the point of decorating the corridor in some foreign flags of our own - the Cross of St George. And that was that. Lines were drawn in the sand. We all knew where we stood, especially as a large proportion of my Scottish colleagues were resplendent in Argentina strips.

The petty chippiness 'friendly rivalry' from individuals I could take. What bothered me was the Tennents' advertising campaign that was now live on the internet, and on roadside billbords, imploring Scots to support England's opponents. Would Tennents run a similar campaign imploring Scots to support anyone other than Turkey, or Germany, or Nigeria? I didn't think so, and that bothered me. The website in question was www.notattheworldcup.com and was intended to carry the full range of World Cup flags, each with a witty anecdotal Scottish slogan. But in their wisdom Tennents chose to launch it, and the billboard campaign, with just the flags of England's group-stage opponents (Nigeria, Sweden and Argentina) which gave the impression that it was a distinctly anti-English site. And as far as I was concerned it was.

At the time the Scottish press was in an introspective mood, full of articles about playground beatings that were being dished out to English children, and beating itself up about the anti-English vein that ran so visibly through Scottish life. This was post-devolution Scotland, a proud nation with a new sense of purpose and ambition, looking to the future not to the past. Except that it wasn't.

I decided to get pro-active and wrote to Tennents and the Leith Agency (the creative sparks) to complain about the adverts. The ironically named Robert Bruce of Tennents marketing wrote back and accused me of having 'no sense of humour' and further informed me that he hoped that England got beaten and knocked out at the earliest possible juncture. The director of the Leith Agency, Phil Adams, wrote back to inform me that he was an Englishman living in Scotland and he saw the adverts as nothing more than harmless fun. Neither man would concede that their corporate anti-English advertsing could be in anyway related to the beatings taking place on the streets and schoolfields of Scotland. I deliberately asked each man whether they would ever countenance running a simillar campaign against, say, Turkey; whether they thought such a campaign might make life difficult for the immigrant Turkish population in Scotland, and; why Bass Breweries/Interbrew (owners of Tennents) were only running the campaign north of the border, meaning that most of their English customers were oblivious to their methods. I pressed my case by arguing that their campaign maybe be reflective of Scottish opinion rather than causative but that it was, nevertheless, overly provocative given the prevailing wind of anti-Englishness at that time.

Neither man would concede that they might be held responsible for inflaming or reinforcing anti-English prejudice amongst the Tennents swilling yobbery of Scotland. Robert Bruce became increasingly rude and belligerent, picking out the odd spelling or syntax error in my emails, and refusing to be drawn on any of the points that I raised. Phil Adams addressed my points and informed me that altough the English were a minority group they were considered fair game given the sporting rivalry of the two countries, and that the campaign was only running in Scotland because Tennents was only ever marketed in Scotland

Annoyed, more than anything by the intemperance and rudeness of Robert Bruce, I decided to email Scotland on Sunday journalist Antonia Swinson with transcripts of our correspondence. This was the result.

What a result. To be fair Antonia had already been on the case but the Bruce emails enraged her and my case gave her the 'workplace bullying' ammunition that she needed. Of course, I didn't actually feel bullied or intimidated by the actions of my sniggering Scottish colleagues, and I didn't believe the adverts to be 'racist', but the ends justified the means and it was extremely gratifying to see the arrogant Bruce taken down a peg or two.

When the World Cup actually began I was amused, but unperturbed, to find my office furniture adorned, and my office walls plastered, with the flags of Nigeria, Sweden and Argentina.

The institute had a large lecture theatre with a giant screen and it was there that the multicultural workplace watched the matches. All matches were screened but it was only the England matches that drew a large crowd; mostly Scots, with whom I worked, socialised and played footy, all baying for the downfall of my team and the humiliation of England. It was a slightly hostile environment, even in a Government workplace full of extremely well-educated professional individuals, but after the match we got on with our jobs and resumed our friendships. Just as things should be.

Mercifully I was down in England attending a wedding on the day that England played Brazil, so my Scottish pals didn't get to fully enjoy the schadenfreude to which they felt entitled.


After re-reading this post I decided that there was something further that I wanted to add. As I said I don't think that the Tennent's campaign is 'racist' and, as I pointed out in a previous post, neither do I think that the anti-Englishness in Scotland is a form of racism.

Anti-Englishness may well have the same affects as racism - after all it's a form of hatred that often results in abuse, exclusion and violence - but I do not believe that it is a hatred defined by 'race'. It's a hatred defined by other factors (jealousy, sporting tribalism, nationalism and politics) but even the most vociferous Scottish supremacist would be hard pushed to pick out an ethnic Englishman from a line-up of ethnic Scots.

Insecure ScotsmanRacism to me is something different, something more sinister. To me racism is the belief that you are superior to another because of your race - your genetics. I don't think that Scots hold that view about the English and, likewise, I don't think the English hold that view about the Scots. The use of the word 'racism' to describe the nationalist squabbles between the English and Scottish devalues a powerful word that should be reserved for more appropriate occasions. I myself have been accused of being 'racist' towards the Scots because of what I write on this blog. It's a laughable suggestion, not least because I have Scottish heritage myself and count many Scots as close friends.

This man may be anti-English. He may be an insecure moron. He may simply be a retard. Or he may, in the words of Andy Murray, be just 'a typical Scot'.

However, I would hesitate in describing him a racist. Proudly displaying the flags of England's opponents is not racist, it's just following the mindset of prominent Scottish public figures such as Andy Murray and Jack McConnell.

Let's get this straight. Even if you are foolish enough to subscribe to the concept of 'race' as a taxonomic system for describing your fellow humans, or the delimiting factor that prescribes the boundaries of your nation, the Scots and English are not separate races. It is not racist to say that a man cannot be a Scot because he has an English accent, it is racist to say that a man cannot be Scottish because he is black. The former is discrimination, the latter is racism.

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"because Tennents was only

"because Tennents was only ever marketed in Scotland".........

I think the marketing boys at Tennent's are a bit wrong there. Tennent's Super Strong Lager is the tipple of choice in the sink estates round our way....

The problem is Toque, you deliberately antagonised those noble Scots, by talking in an inflammatory English accent..... cos that means you're related to Margaret Thatcher, supported the Poll Tax and play Polo at the weekend at Cowdray Park.

I think that the current backlash against supposed age old rivalries is generally a good thing. It means the stooge, the patsy, the butt of all the jokes - in this case the English are standing up and shouting "ENOUGH ALREADY"....

The amazing thing is that the Scots seem genuinely surprised and shocked that we've suddenly discovered our balls. All I can say is the Scots have been poking us with their poky stick for far too long. It stops now.

The sleeping giant is awake.

But alot of the justification

But alot of the justification for the "us and them' mindset in Scotland is that they consider themselves 'Celts' - whilst they view people south of the border to be 'Saxons'......

Genetically speaking, that view is utterly flawed.

The questions are, do they use the word 'Saxon' as a form of abuse - rather like 'Prat', 'Whally', 'Numpty', 'Pranny' etc...... or do they actually believe we in England are racially different?

Do they actually believe they belong to a tribe called 'Celts' - with branches in Britanny, Wales, IOM, Ireland and Cornwall?

The Sassanach thing was

The Sassanach thing was originally an insult directed at their own people rather than the English. Nowadays it is only a seriously mentally retarded Scot NED (and most of those are sassanachs living in the central belt) that would actually consider it to be a racially pejorative term.

I'm also based in canada. So

I'm also based in canada.

So what's your view on Canadians who openly support whoever plays hockey against the US (as they do)? Or ads that basj Americans, such as "I Am Canadian"? There is open, often ugly rivalry between canada and the US on blogs and in the media, between politicians, and in sport. Same with Australia and New Zealand. It's the way of the world and it comes out during sports events like the World Cup which are by nature, incredibly nationalistic. Get a tougher skin. I was in England during Euro 96 and took more than my fair share of stick from the English. "Jock" his "jock" that. It works both ways, mate, and I'm surprised you don't see the similarity as with what goes on between Canada and the US. It's a big country vs small country thing. You;re from the big country so you don't understand. Ask a Canadian mate.

Look, I'm a Scot and enjoy banter with my English pals here and in Scotland, and England. We have nuts who take it too far, but so does England. So does every country.

Toque, this blog has

Toque, this blog has disturbed me a little so I came back afer discussing it wit my canadian wife. Im not sure that posting negative articles about incidents invokving Scots and English people serves any purpose. I could surf the web and find articles about English people in violent acts against people from other countries or mouthing off against Scots.

Look my wife reminded me of the Canadians booing the US anthem at hockey games. This isn't a Scottish thing. And, living in canada, you must be aware of the huge Scottish influence in the history and develoment of this country. Just look at the place names in your province for a start.

I just think this thing is getting out of hand. Campaign for a parliament, but don't slander Scots in the process, please.

I haven't slandered the Scots

I haven't slandered the Scots in any way shape or form. The small nation syndrome that you refer to is a quite pathetic phenomenon, mostly because the small nations in question cannot take the flak when the antagonism is reciprocated and act as if the larger nation is the aggressor.

In the case of England Scotland it has been apparent for many years and is becoming more apparent because the English feel short-changed by asymmetric devolution and feel that it is Scotland, not England, that has the problem.

The Scottish nats campaigned for many years, and still do, on the back of anti-English sentiment in Scotland. English nationalism has arisen not because we want out of the union but because the union is now skewed constitutionally in Scotland's favour making it undemocratic. What is disturbing here is not that the English object to the situation but that the Scots resent the English objection and, finding themselves in a privileged financial and constitutional position in the Union, do not have the good grace to cut out the unpleasant rancour. Do not be disturbed that it is reciprocated, be disturbed by the conduct of your countrymen, Messrs Brown, Darling Reid, Blair, Faulkner who openly flout the conventions of democracy and good governance in order to pander to the precious sensibilities of whining Scots.

Having lived in Scotland for many years I can attest to the fine nature and hospitality of its people, and I know a little about its great history (including the Scottish settlement of Canada) but lets not paper over the cracks here. We both know that the unity of the UK is being being broken not by the English, but by the Scots.

I don't agree. I experienced

I don't agree. I experienced anti-English sentiment before devolution in my years in England to the point of not being able to go on a night out after Sotland were beaten by England in 96. And that was after you won! I hate to think what it would have been ike if you lost. Ad that was a group of us peaceful lads who all lived in England going out in our kilts as we've done many times in other countres. So it seems that just as English people may get some comments when going out on the twon in Scotland in England colours, so it's the same for Scots in England. I have persinal experience of that. And yes, I was in fear for my safety.

Did you never think that the Scots finally got fed up of being slagged off all the time, and that's what led to devolution to paraphrase another contributer on another blog?

The small country-big country thing may well be pathetic. In fact it is kind of. But only someone from one of the big countries would think to say that. Go to Vancouver or Toronto or small town canada and fly two American flags on your car and drive through the city centre. See what happens. The St georges Cross, rightly or wrongly, has far right links in the eys of many Scottish, and English, people.

You wouldn't wear an Arsenalk shirt in a Spurs part of London, or a Rangers shirt in a Celtic pub, or an American stars and stripes shirt in Canada. My quibble with you is not that you don;t deserve to be your own nation. I think England does deserve it. I don't agree with the way youre going about it, stirring things up. It will come back and bite you in the arse when Scots like me decide to start their own blogs rubbising the English and focusing on only negative English strokes to redress the balance.

English football fans, remeber, have caused much toruble in foreign lands - and in England - over the years, so we have plenty of dirt to dish up if we have to. There are many Scots who have lived in England and returned to Scotland with stories to tell. I fear you;re just stirring up a war of words and the Scots are just discovering blogs like this and will soon start respondng in kind.

Why not focus on the positive things of England instead of slandering an entire nation. And it's especially ironic given that Canada has had more Scottish immigrants over the years than anywhere else. Just ask the average Canadian whhat hey think of Tommy Douglas's contribution. We're a proud nation, as are the English. that's why your combatative approach in posting one-sided stories is just going to stir things up, unless that's your plan?

Watch the "I Am Canadian" ad that knocks Amreica and you'll see that this is not an England-Scotland problem.

And apologies for my poor

And apologies for my poor typing.

And the guy with the flags is

And the guy with the flags is a retard, no matter his nationality. I think I'll start a blog and find some English chumps to post pictures of in an antaganostic manner.

And Andy Murray is just a kid who was probably worried what his mates in Scotland would think of him. Get Scots together in a pub and they;ll cheer against England. Put them in front of their TVs at home and you may be surprised. Peer pressure and the crowd mentality is an amzing think, as English football fans know too well. Put a grouop of them together and all hell often breaks loose. Argentina against Togo? I think I know who the English would be supporting. Individually, there's no problem.

Very few people in Scotland actually buy the shirts of England's opponents, but some do. Just as some Spurs fans bought Barcelona shirst when they played THEIR great rivals Arsenal in the European Cup Final. Sporting rivalry - got to love it!

I think things need stirring

I think things need stirring up TP. The Scots need a taste of their own medicine. For long enough we've heard them whinge endlessly about England and the Union/Poll Tax/Tories/Monarchy blah blah blah....Anyone would think that the English had it in for them.

Quite the contrary, the English have been extremely benign politically. That's changing, and it's a good thing. It's not right that Scotland's interests should be served over and above those of the other nations of the UK.

Sorry about what happened to you in England. There are idiots everywhere and I don't think that will change regardless of the political make-up of the UK. Obviously I don't want to encourage that sort of thing but if the only way that we can focus attention 0n the democratic deficit is to create hostility between England and Scotland then that's what we must do. The Scottish nationalists got their parliament via that route.

I'd love it if the Scots did start replying in kind to this blog. Bring it on. Please start writing negative things about the English - it may just be the kick up the arse the English need to kick off the Scottish yoke (Brown, Faulkner, Reid, Darling, Blair and all those arrogant contemptuous Scottish bastards that I hate so much).

And it's especially ironic given that Canada has had more Scottish immigrants over the years than anywhere else.

Sorry, I don't get the irony. How is it ironic?

It's ironic that you chose a

It's ironic that you chose a place bursting with Scottish connections to move to from England, given your comments above. And I can tell you that many poeple in Scotland who quite like an independent Scotland don't vote SNP because of the way they have stirred up or promoted anti-Englishness rather than pro Scottishness.... at times. There was certainly nothing on the scale of what's been going on in the English-based media right now. The Scottish media can be very critical of SNP tactics.

Last comment. You seem a fair

Last comment. You seem a fair guy, I just don't agree with your tactics. Your comments are indeed anti-Scottish. I don't like Blair either. Not because he's Scottish, but because he supported the US in certain things. Anyhoo, what I wanted to say was... regarding the Poll Tax. I marched against that. Scotland got it a year before England. In any language that's unfair.

I don't agree that my tactics

I don't agree that my tactics are 'anti-Scottish' and the fact that you say they are possibly says more about you than me. I am simply replying in kind to the unfairnes of the system as I see it. It is exactly what the Scots did and why they now have a privileged position in the Union. You must concede that I might be correct in my belief that you, as a Scot, have a vested interest in the English lying back and thinking of Britain while we get royally shafted by Scottish politicians.

As I said, 'they don't like it up them'.

I'm not asking for anything other than equality. The day that I can step down from my nationalist soap-box (the day we in the UK are treated as equals) will be a happy day for me. I was not an English nationalist prior to devolution - I was happy to call myself British - I became a nationalist having been forced into that position by Government's appeasement of Scottish nationalists, something that I believe has been to the detriment of England and the UK a a whole.

It's not 'ironic', more 'coincidental'. Edmonton would possibly be the last place in Canada that I would chose to live - I moved there because my wife is an Edmontonian.

Here was me thinking that

Here was me thinking that Canadians understood Queen's English properly, and avoided using words incorrectly. Ah well, the idea that irony is a form of intentional humour seems completely lost on the humour deprived of all nationalities.

TP? I completely disagree with Toque on a lot of issues, as he well knows, but idiotic England bashing (inclding schoolkids being attacked for supporting the team) is bloody stupid.

If a problem is there, but isn't discussed,t hen it can never be solved. But then, some people like to act like ostriches.

so we`ve upset the jocks,now

so we`ve upset the jocks,now they are really angry and picking on the disabled and kids.let me be brutally frank all you jocks reading this nd living in england please piss off back to scotland and take your ginger mingers with you.i prefer that muslim geezer the hook to brown,at least he is honest and speaks his mind not like i will support your team and rob you at the same time.the scottish pr**k.Q why are there so many flies and midges in scotland. A the country is literally shit.

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