The year that Scotland learned to hate

We have a new politics, yes. And most of us are quietly terrified of it

9 May 2015

9:00 AM

9 May 2015

9:00 AM

You get bad losers in politics and bad winners, too, but it’s surely a rare business to get a bad winner who didn’t actually win. Yet this, since they lost last September’s referendum, has been the role of the SNP. Dismay, reassessment, introspection, contrition, resignation; all of these have been wholly absent. Instead, they have been triumphalist. Lording it, with cruel and haughty disdain, over their vanquished foes. Who, we must remember, they didn’t even vanquish.

Well, maybe they’ve vanquished them now. I write this pre-election, with the polls all saying that the Nats will win something between almost every Scottish seat and actually every Scottish seat. Only, of course, you don’t call them ‘Nats’ any more, do you? That’s a word from my youth; you used to hear it all the time. Nats were cranks, weirdos in kilts and cagoules. Half Jacobite, half trainspotter; you really didn’t need to worry about them. I see the numbers today, and it is not my place to say they are wrong, but I still cannot quite believe they aren’t. Really? You’re all actually going to do this? You’re going to vote for the Nats?

The day of the referendum I walked Edinburgh’s streets, polling station to polling station, struck by the sheer volume of ‘no’ voters who suddenly, finally, seemed to have dragged themselves into the light. Never forget that a majority of Scots still don’t want independence. Offered it, they said no. Offered it again, they’d say no again. Many are sickened by what Scotland is becoming; the jingoism, the aggression, the piousness, the division. Most of all, they’re sick of being miserable all the time.

For make no mistake, being a unionist Scot is miserable. Even the word is miserable. Unionist? Unionist? Half a decade ago, the word meant Ulster or Ian Paisley or the ageing, brittle members of weird Masonic lodges who got their kicks out of marching down your road in a bowler hat. Most ‘no’-voting Scots never wanted to be bloody unionists. They didn’t want to have a fight over the Union and win it. They just wanted to be left the hell alone. Call the SNP ‘nationalists’, or draw attention to their more militant, scary fellow travellers, and supporters will invariably respond by pointing out that there are unionist thugs out there, too. Indeed there are. That’s because if you start a big fight, the fighty people come running. And you lot did. So don’t bloody blame me.

For the unionist Scot, though, the misery doesn’t end there. Did David Cameron comprehend, in this election campaign, the extent to which he ripped the rug from under our feet? I don’t see how he could not. I can only assume he didn’t care. The Tory campaign has traded heavily on the notion of Scots being a problem; of Scottish influence at Westminster being a thing to be feared, and where possible, marginalised. That the legitimacy of Scottish MPs, in other words, comes not from the people who may have voted for them but from the extent to which they can be accommodated in Westminster with the least difference made. That’s not a Union. At best, that’s a vassal with a voice. I can well understand why even some Scots with no interest in secession at all might have heard all of this and fancied sending the SNP to box clever on their behalf, as a regional bloc.

The trouble is, that’s just not what the SNP is or wants to be. That’s certainly not where its passion comes from, much as Nicola Sturgeon might occasionally pretend otherwise. A year ago I wrote a column in this paper asking why, if Ukip was not a racist party, so very many racists seemed to flock to it under the impression that it was. A similar set of questions have to be asked of the SNP. Why do the haters of difference, the defenders of Scottish purity, the loathers of the English all cheer it on? Why does it seem to operate so often on faith rather than logic? Why does it appear to contain no internal dissent whatsoever? Why does it inspire such wariness and intimidation in a majority with quite different views? Why will the response to this very column be so different from the response I’d get for writing about any other British party, bar Ukip? If this is not — on any level at all — a traditional, nasty, blood-and-soil nationalist party, why do all those traditional, nasty, blood-and-soil nationalists seem to think it is?

Scotland has a problem, whichever way this week’s vote goes or went. Its politics have become shrill, illogical and nasty. It has learned to exclude. It always has a bit, of course, and a whole vein of Scottish politics has long involved the ridicule of the likes of me, the private-school poshos, as ‘pretendy Scottish’ or ‘Scottish-ish’.

The striking thing now, though, is how much further it has gone. Scottish nationalism has bundled all of its enemies together, as Tories and Red Tories and quislings and traitors and all the rest of it. Scottish Labour, the dominant political force for a generation, is in absolute shock; speak to them and they sound like White Russians not quite in exile yet. They’ve lost their country. It sounds melodramatic, I know. But they have.

Sane and sensible politics doesn’t do that to anybody. Really, this is my beef with nationalism. It is the politics of people who claim to be defining themselves, but are actually defining everybody else, thereby cowing a majority into silence. And for the lonely Scot in London, left trying to hold the centre against the divisive ravages of Sturgeon and Cameron alike, it is about not being sure who you are any more and, more than anything else, minding the way it no longer seems to be up to you.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Hugo Rifkind is a writer for the Times.

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Show comments
  • Paul

    ‘Scottish politics has long involved the ridicule of the likes of me, the private-school poshos, as ‘pretendy Scottish’ or ‘Scottish-ish’.’- it’s Private schools that do the separating off by following the English curriculum and bringing people up speaking with home county accents.

    • 2fishypoliticians

      Typically bitter anti-anybody-who-has-an-opportunity-that-i-don’t-have jealou sy. There will be times in your life when you are better off than others too. Wonder what u would make of a similar attitude towards you.

  • gerronwithit

    Politics is the expression of polarities. Being afraid to express the prejudices you feel by being comfortable within a political party is to ultimately give any high ground you had to the opposition. Being fearful of expressing dissatisfaction with the EU or mass immigration has given the winning hand to every left leaning, bien pensant, Brit loathing piece of work who simply has to cry “Racist!”, every time you open your mouth.

    Similarly, listening to the endless whinging from up North about the nasty Tories or Racist UKIP while using the tactics of Nazi brownshirts deserves an equally robust response. If you are a Tory be proud of being a Tory. If you are a UKIP supporter never apologise for that fact and shout it loudly. If you are proud to be English and or British then let everyone know.

    Now, more than ever, don’t cower apologetically in a corner if you work, pay taxes, raise a family and have genuine aspirations which you work hard to achieve. After all, ‘Austerity’ is the ultimate achievement of the feckless, work shy, welfare dependent Socialist, Scot Nat or Liberal; those too fearful to take any responsibility for their own lives

    • magi83

      If you think it’s hard being a UKIP supporter in England, try being conservative leaning of any shade in Scotland. There’s an almost religious adherence to left wing dogma here.

      • Redneck


        Indeed it is: as a robustly right-leaning, British citizen (who happens to be Scottish), it is starting to feel more like a socialist republic up here every month.

        Whatever happened to that innate drive for self-reliance & self-betterment? The SNP, and Labour before, seem destined to drive an agenda of: tax those who work hard to provide for those that don’t.

        I’ve no idea where all these SNP votes came from? Oh well, let’s hope, for the next Referendum, those who wish to remain British can fly our Union Flag without dogs’ abuse & threats. Next time, I won’t hang back: if they call me a traitor, they’ll regret it. Guaranteed.

        • magi83

          The annihilation of the Lib Dems perhaps gives the Scottish Tories an opportunity to win back middle class Scottish voters who have deserted the party from 1997 onwards. I have no doubt that many Scottish middle class voters will be alarmed by the militancy of the independence movement. Scotland needs a stronger right of centre voice.

      • 5h4k35p34r3

        Sectarianism. I cannot think of any brand of nationalism in the history of mankind that has been a force for good: German, Irish, any.

      • Jack Haggerty

        If ‘there’s an almost religious adherence to left wing dogma’ in Scotland, it is in the general discourse of political debate. Left thinking bears no fruit in the general workplace. Outside of local government, trades union activity is non existent or weak. Speak to anyone in the retail or tourist industries. Speak to anyone in a call centre. Workers have only minimal employment rights. Free collective bargaining is a relic of the past. The low paid work in miserable conditions. No one gets paid a penny in overtime. Call centres are the new sweatshops. A pity the workers cannot enjoy the cushy subsidised life of Lord Forsyth in the House of Lords.

        • Jeff Pringle

          The work force is largely the same here in America too.

  • Truck67

    The year Scotland was hated.
    For daring to come close to independence and not playing to the Westminster elite

    • blandings

      “The year Scotland was hated.”

      You flatter yourself.

    • Closedshop

      Prior to this the Unionists in Labour and the Tories, especially ones from Scotland just had contempt for most of the Scotch electorate.

      Not there is a twinge of hate, especially from Labour, who view their wayward voters as jumped up n!””£$ back talking master.

      The Tories could care less about Scotland either way for decades.

  • flaxensaxon

    How Labour rejoiced as the tories lost their Scottish seats. Too arrogant to think it could ever happen to themselves.

    • Mukkinese

      How the SNP rejoiced as Labour lost their seats, too arrogant to realise that this will hold out the only hope the Tories have of keeping power over a U.K. that still includes Scotland…

      • colchar

        Labour could have won all of the SNP’s seats and the Tories would still have won the election.

      • davidshort10

        At the Carlton Club on Thursday night, the Tories there were cheering every SNP win!

        • 5h4k35p34r3

          Were you there?

          • davidshort10

            Of course. How would I know otherwise?

          • 5h4k35p34r3

            We all thought you were lying.

          • davidshort10

            Who’s ‘we all’? I was there till 4am. The Tories were cheering the SNP and NS because they knew their attitude had helped them to victory.

          • 5h4k35p34r3

            Attitude? So, Nicola Sturgeon and Alec Salmond don’t have an attitude?

          • davidshort10

            I was referring to the attitude of NS and the SNP. Do keep up.

          • davidshort10

            I’m over and out on this now.

          • 5h4k35p34r3

            Do explain yourself better. Communicating like a retard just causes confusion.

          • Abie Vee

            UKIP. Deny everything.

  • davidofkent

    Scotland does have a problem that will show itself more and more in the future. Scotland has lost the affection with which it was regarded by the rest of the UK. The relationship between England and Scotland has been changed irrevocably by the antics of the SNP. There will be more and more clamour for an end to Barnett and for EVEL, and I foresee in a year or two an enormous sigh of relief in England when Scotland finally declares itself independent.

    • Ian B

      I don’t think anyone will see EVEL as a fair solution, as it retains the issue of Scots (and Welsh and NI) citizens getting two votes, while the English will get only one vote for a double-jobbing MP which has to be used at the GE to indirectly vote for the UK Prime Minister.

      The only fair solution is an English Parliament; but I suspect more and more of us would just prefer them to leave and be done with it.

      • Closedshop

        Westminster is the English parliament. 82% of its members are English, no law passes there without English consent.

        Why not have all these EVEL supporters get together and start a party. England to break from the Union, stop deciding laws and running Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

        Let your side have no legal say in their affairs and side with the parties that want no say over yours.

        This is however not what many EVEL supporters want though, is it, sadly.

        • Ian B

          Nonsense. It’s a parliament for the whole nation, not just England.

          • Closedshop

            It is but if England doesn’t want it then it doesn’t happen.

            That is what happens when you have an 80%+ majority.

            As of tomorrow it will no longer be the parliament of all though, 50 SNP MPs put paid to that. WM is a sideshow to Holyrood now for the Scottish people, same as Brussels is a sideshow for, hell, most of the voters in Europe.

          • Ian B

            The same could be said by any minority in a democracy. The people of East Anglia are overruled by the other regions and Scotland, and so on. The people of Orkney and Shetland are dominated by the rest of Scotland in Holyrood. And so on.

          • kingkevin3

            but coming from Norwich I can firmly state I have no irrational hatred of the Londoners.

          • kingkevin3

            which kind of makes us way superior to the Scots.Time to cut them loose

          • Jeff Pringle

            People like you are why the Scots hate the English. You’re an arrogant, racist, bigoted, asshole.

          • Ian B

            It’s going to take quite a run of success by the Covenanters to get that far South this time.

          • FrankieThompson


            The question is one of self-determination in international law.

            East Anglia and Orkney and Shetland are not covered by that law. Scotland is. That is the difference.

          • Ian B

            Rubbish, that is an entirely different issue.

          • Dogsnob

            Just as all of them are subsumed by the parliament of the EU. How are you liking that?

          • Ian B

            Not at all. If Scots wish to leave, that is their right. I was just pointing out that claiming a lack of representation as a reason is a false argument.

          • Martin Wood

            Wrong….99.6% of all divisions in the house of parliament are in line with English MPs wishes….

            there is English Votes for English Laws in all but 21 out of 5000 votes passed….
            We get English votes for English Laws at the moment
            we also get English votes for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish laws too ( for those parts not devolved and as the budgets depend on English laws a significant number of devolved powers too)

            Westminster is the de facto English parliament in all but name

    • davidshort10

      I agree. As someone who was brought up in the North East in the 50s and 60s, we had a warm regard for the Scots. We bought the Sunday Post and avidly read The Broons and Oor Wullie and got the annual every Christmas. Many of us had Scottish relations as Scottish people had come ‘south’ on holiday and met their future spouses. That has all gone, and we are the poorer and sadder for it. Yes, we should blame the SNP, but grim people such as Gordon Brown and Andrew Neil probably contributed.

    • Jack Haggerty

      As davidshort10 writes below , ‘At the Carlton Club on Thursday night, the Tories were cheering every SNP win.’ The sigh may grow to a mere ‘two cheers’ (in E.M. Forster’s phrase) throughout certain parts of southern England, but mostly there will be real and painful tears, particularly among the good folk of the North of England, who are going to suffer once the savage austerity cuts under David Cameron, our millionaire old Etonian, devastate the lives of the poorest people. I foresee more need for food banks as the gap grows between the poor and the very comfortable. As a supporter of the union and a Labour voter who yearns for the return of real social democracy, I am sorry to see the party’s collapse. The public forum will be the poorer without Jim Murphy and Margaret Curran. I am heart sorry to see them go. Columnists are already invoking George Dangerfield’s classic book ‘The Strange Death of Liberal England’ and substituting the words ‘Labour Scotland’. I think they are a wee bit premature. However one has to respect the will of the Scottish people. And Nicola has grown into a very capable stateswoman in a remarkably short period. All congratulations to her and to her party as well as to our youngest 20 year old MP who, like a whoosh of fresh air in a stuffy room, expressed her contempt for spin doctors – something with which we all heartily agree, maybe even the grandees in the Carlton, rightly described by Polly Toynbee as ‘the powerful invisibles at the heart of the Tory Party’. A week before the election I visited Bath Abbey to pray for the future of my country. An elderly man, one of the many volunteers who welcome visitors, told me he was shaken at the thought of the death of the United Kingdom. Not one of the Carlton’s cynical grandees. Just a decent one nation Conservative, I should imagine.

    • Abie Vee

      My view is that the affection was skin deep and conditional upon good behaviour: Do as you are told, and be grateful for the crumbs off our table.

      Hell hath no fury like a Little Englander scorned, eh?

      • rob232

        So many English people, like me, have Scottish family and friends.I cannot believe you have any justification for what is clearly deep bitterness.

        • Abie Vee

          Nothing really to do with the Scots. It applies to all of us. Do as you’re told and STF up.

    • Jack Haggerty

      A comment below says there were cheers in the Carlton Club with the announcement of each SNP win. Cheers from ‘the powerful invisibles at the heart of the Tory Party’ in Polly Toynbee’s phrase. But tears elsewhere, I should think, particularly in the northern regions of England. The forthcoming austerity cuts will create the need for more food banks, the conditions for more misery. If Mr Rifkind detects hatred among his ain folk then it is the classic Scottish hatred of social injustice. Many who voted SNP will come to regret the departure of Jim Murphy and Margaret Curran, politicians who were committed to a social policy of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. However one has to respect the will of the Scottish people. Nicola has grown in stature in a remarkably short period; she connects with people and she really does listen. Our youngest new Member of Parliament since the 19th Century spoke of her contempt for the culture of spin doctors. Even to me, a Labour supporter, she feels like a whoosh of fresh air in a stuffy room. A week before the election I was visiting family in Cheltenham and all I heard in the streets was sorrow over the imminent death of the United Kingdom. I went to Bath Abbey to pray for the future of my country. One of the Abbey’s volunteers, an elderly man, was shaken at the thought of an SNP landslide. He was a decent one nation Conservative. If David Cameron wants to save the Union and be remembered in the history books, it will be in somehow reinventing one nation Conservatism. I hope he succeeds.

  • Mukkinese

    The same can be asked about UKIP and Europe.

    Both take the easy route of blaming others for their woes and there is some small amount of truth in that, just enough to give some purchase in the minds of voters, but no where near the level it is spun to be.

    Both parties give a “fresh” view of problems. One that is not seen as an “establishment” view. This is attractive, especially to those who are angry, less knowledgeable and think they are voting for an alternative.

    The truth is that neither party has anything radical to offer other than a symbolic break with the “establishment” and it is only symbolic. The same, or similar problems will have to be dealt with and both are promising similar ways of dealing with them to those that already exist.

    They are the “grass is greener on the other side” parties, offering false, but novel-seeming hope to a desperate and forlorn electorate…

    • Atticus Returns

      If you can’t even admit that the EU (not ‘Europe’) doesn’t need at the very least drastic reform, then there really is little hope for your political awareness and the quality of your comments.

    • Kennybhoy


  • Fried Ch’i

    Rifkind is such a status quo appeaser. “The year that Scotland learned to hate”, when have I ever read any such nonsensical garbage?

    • Des Demona

      Desperate stuff indeed. Fear-mongering and divisive nonsense at its worst.
      The Scots have surged to the SNP not as a sudden swing to Independence only months after the referendum or because they have ”learned to hate” – (how effing ridiculous)- it is because they feel the SNP will represent Scotland’s interests better than the other parties will or, more importantly, have.

      ”……. and a whole vein of Scottish politics has long involved the ridicule of the likes of me, the private-school poshos, as ‘pretendy Scottish’ or ‘Scottish-ish’.

      Good God man, grow up. Have you not noticed that the poshos Bullingdon Boys etc get ridiculed here too?

      • Gerschwin

        Nonsense, the SNP have redefined the GE as a second referendum and the others are still fighting it as a GE, so they split the ‘no’ vote three ways and that gives the SNP massive amounts of seats in a FPTP GE situation. Truth is the SNP haven’t made a single gain toward independence since the referendum – more people in Scotland won’t vote SNP today than will. They’re no closer to independence now than they were after the referendum.

        • Des Demona

          ”Nonsense, the SNP have redefined the GE as a second referendum;;

          Have they? That nugget has passed me by, perhaps you could enlighten me as to where that is in their manifesto or elsewhere?
          As Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly said –
          ”This election is not about independence;;


          ”more people in Scotland won’t vote SNP today than will”

          Mmmm – according to the latest opinion polls they will get over 51% and possibly 59%.

          ”They’re no closer to independence now than they were after the referendum.”
          I’ve never said they were. The GE as a second referendum is entirely your proposal.

          • Gerschwin

            Couldn’t give two hoots if it’s in their manifesto or not Des – that’s the reality above. Take it or leave it, couldn’t give a you know what whether you do or not. Have a good one Des and see the 45% SNP vote roll in in the morn. I won’t because I’ll be in bed and Cameron will still be PM this time in a month so once again…couldn’t give a you know what.

          • 5h4k35p34r3

            And Salmond said: it’s a staging post to a second referendum.

          • 5h4k35p34r3

            “Mmmm – according to the latest opinion polls they will get over 51% and possibly 59%.”

            Hmmm, wouldn’t set too much store by opinion polls.

      • styants64

        The reason the Scots have turned to The Nationalists is because they have a victim complex and think the English owe them big time I have heard it from them first hand,from from the country that gave so much to the age of Enlightenment they have become inward looking bitter and more and more socialist and think more money should be spent in Scotland on hand outs

        • kingkevin3

          Indeed. How often do we hear about what Scotland gave to the Union. The English of course gave nothing. But the joke of it is , the Scots will remind us of the positives they contributed, but the negatives they will disassociate themselves from whenever possible. Rather like a child.

          • HeavyHeart

            Not a child. A spoilt teenager which is dimly aware that the bank of mum & dad may be closing its doors shortly.

        • Fraziel

          They have turned to the SNP because they , rightly, hate tory millionaires who govern only for the wealthy and because they see labour as a party run from London for middle England and which does not have Scxotlands interests at heart. It has nothing to do with thinking the English owe them big time and i have no idea why you think that. Been reading the telegraph and the mail a bit too often perhaps.

          • styants64

            You have your own parliament with Quite a lot of spending capabilities and also Scotland has around 15% per head more spent on each individual in respect of social spending, and also I’ve heard it from the Scots that personally they feel are done by historically by England, and then when the Scots came to Manchester and London Trafalgar Square for football matches they trashed the place where is the respect in that imagine us doing that same thing to the centre of Glasgow or Edinburgh .

        • Redneck


          A very astute observation.

      • 5h4k35p34r3

        Did you notice that as many of the Scottish electorate voted against the SNP as for?

    • 5h4k35p34r3

      Probably the SNP’s 670-page Scotland’s Future diatribe that said and achieved nothing.

    • Jack Haggerty

      Aye, Rifkind is a status quo appeaser and a well paid one at that – his pockets are weighed down in Murdoch gold because he writes propaganda puffs for The Times unless I am mistaken. The Times and its toxic cousin The Scottish Daily Mail have nothing to say to the Britain of zero contracts, zero hours and wage slave workers who get not a penny in overtime and won’t even get a state pension till they’re in their late 60s. Yet we are all doomed to another five years of right-wing austerity government headed by an old Etonian. Why on earth do ordinary English people still vote for the Tories?

  • mortsnerd

    What’s wrong with home county accents? Not Scottishy-twee-esque enough?

  • Aberrant_Apostrophe

    “Stronger for Scotland” – I thought her name was Sturgeon? If it’s not a spelling mistake what on Earth is that slogan supposed to mean? Is it actually an advert for Irn-Bru? Perhaps it was dreamt up by the same ad agency that did Labour’s similar grammatically meaningless slogans, like “Harder Working Britain”.

    • John Carins

      It should be “Stranger for Scotland”.

  • PetaJ

    I see that the elephant in the room wasn’t mentioned once. I speak, of course, of the West Lothian question – still unresolved. If the English are wary of the Scottish MPs in Westminster, they have every reason to be.

    • Ian B

      This is precisely the issue for the English. Not Scots, but the unjustifiable system of devolution.

    • Closedshop

      The SNP wanted to break and end the West Lothian, Barnett etc question completely.

      An overwhelmingly majority of English MP’s and newspapers fought tooth and nail to prevent that.

      • PetaJ

        And a pretty good majority of the Scots agreed with them.

  • Closedshop

    The Tories say they are a Unionist party but are playing an effective role in finishing the Union from south of the Border.

    Labour say they are not nationalists yet are resoundingly bitter and banging the British drum in doing so.

    The Lib Dems are the Lib Dems, enough of that.

  • vickreyauction

    you guys never saw this coming because you never understood left nationalism – this was all foretold by tom nairn’s ‘break-up of britain’ 30 years ago. if you suck the life out of the periphery with neoliberal economic policies, the periphery understands that there was never a union in the first place. so they decide to assert themselves, and a new identity emerges.
    you’re the stupid party, and you stay stupid by scorning any argument with a dose of theory. that leaves you helpless when the ground shifts. the snp takeover of labour’s vote means the uk is going further left than it would have under Ed M alone. weve been working for this in plain sight for 25 years – and the tory anti-scots campaign has helped immensly, exposing the Union as an english instrument.
    cant wait to see what the stupid party does next.

    • HeavyHeart

      So long and thanks for all the oil…

  • ohforheavensake

    I’d have a chat with Alex Massie, Hugo. He’s a lot less hysterical than you are.

  • Muireach MacGilleChaluim

    Scottish politics has long involved the ridicule of the likes of me, the private-school poshos, as ‘pretendy Scottish’ or ‘Scottish-ish

    And long may it continue, you plastic imitation Scotsman.

    • Closedshop

      Poor old Rifkind, refusing to be like the scots but always on the edge in London.

  • Fraziel

    Now i am not one of the SNP Borg but this is hysterical claptrap.

  • Darth Smith

    i don’t see how the union can survive there no way a Tory government can have any pull in Scotland, England can keep there Tory government its time to declare another referendum at once

  • Sun

    “Learned to hate”.

    Purity equals hate?

    Ha ha. Ok then.

    (and even if that’s true. fine. hate and love are intermingled. so what. they love their own group and hate the other. you hate your own group and want to love the other)

  • Terence Hale

    “The year that Scotland learned to hate”. Hate is an emotion that cost more than it
    brings. Scotland will learn the power of its own governance where no other is to

  • Peter Thomson

    Hugo, your spite, venom and disregard for the real issues at play in Scotland knows no bounds, you may have won the battle last September but like so many overconfident generals you are losing the war.

    Do not blame 52% of the Scottish electorate for the Unionists political failure, the result you clearly despise is of the arrogant Unionists own making.

  • cartimandua

    I look forward to the SNP managing fiscal responsibility and having to deal with a 9 billion drop in budget.
    The Tories can pass this now.

    • Harry Pond

      But would they take on their fair share of the debt- I doubt it somehow, they’ll try and claim war reparations from the eighteenth century or some other dodge.

  • Cymrugel

    Oh Come off it Hugo!

    If the Tories won like this you’d be crowing about the will of the people and public common sense.

    I was in Scotland for the referendum too and I didn’t see any anti English nastiness apart from the odd crank, swiftly slapped down – and I speak as someone as much Anglo-Welsh as Scottish. There was plenty of anti- Scottish nastiness in the UK press though.

    I am sure the SNP have a few nasty “fellow travellers” as you say, but which political party doesn’t? ; Labour with its crank leftist fringe; the greens with their nasty Malthusian deep ecology faction; the Tories with their not-so-borderline racists, class snobs and xenophobes?

    By any normal standard the SNP are a mainstream slightly left of centre social democratic party with a pretty mainstream agenda. About the only “radical” policy they have is Scottish independence. The difference between them and the unionist parties is that they are trying to represent the needs and aspirations of the whole community – not just a faction of it.

    They certainly don’t have a racist or xenophobic platform, which is more than be said for the Tories, with their “Britain is leading the world at at ….blah, blah”, without actually doing anything to make their boasts a reality, other than to make London so much of a playground for corrupt foreign regimes and dodgy dictators that the banks have to wash the blood of their money before locking it in the safe.

    Who are the xenophobes and reactionaries in fact ; the Tories with their desire to leave the EU, or the SNP who want to stay in?

    You are uncomfortable because the cosy consensus which you grew up in has ended. I can’t say I blame you, but no sympathy I am afraid.

    It must have been great growing up in privilege with a surname that magically opens doors. but we can’t really run the whole country to suit a comfortable few.

    We can’t have a governmental system where the likes of your Dad thinks its OK to use his job to get bungs from private business on the grounds that he “can’t live” on a basic salary of £68,000 plus expenses (He’d have been getting a lot more as a cabinet minister I have no doubt). We need politicians who are entirely focused on the job in hand who think they are there to serve the public.

    Nor in my view do we need a media stuffed to the gills with people who have gotten where they are through nepotism rather than talent ; son of Snow and others spring to mind.

    Don’t be confused about being Scottish Hugo, just accept that there’s a new game in town and you aren’t starting with a deck of marked cards this time.

    • Redneck


      I don’t mean to be rude but the only aggressiveness I saw during the Referendum run-up was from Yes supporters. That is an honest observation. I saw two instances where males were aggressive & rude towards ladies: to my mind, beyond the pale.

      Also I have to disagree, I think the SNP are extreme left: they are a party inclined to tax and are very keen on “redistribution”: beware if you fall on the wrong side of their line. They definitely don’t support equality of opportunity, they’d like to impose equality of outcome: a very different concept, in my opinion.

      As to their desire to full EU integration, that to me is an anathema and I hope never happens. Scotland would be an oil-dependent minnow tied into the Euro. I fail to see why that’s better than being a fellow citizen with my Geordie, Scouse, Cockney, Welsh or Ulster brothers.

      • Cymrugel

        I am not denying that you may well have had yes voting boors, yet this is hardly a sign of impending dictatorship. The night of the referendum a rampaging crowd of orangemen supposedly supporting No physically attacked people in George Square Glasgow.
        I know this happened because my niece was there with a couple of Swedish friends and they saw a young tourist being badly beaten.
        I myself was abused leaving the polling station by some nut case wearing a NO badge – and he didn’t even know how I had voted.
        Big campaigns bring out the cranks- its as simple as that. In the main I found the debate heated but broadly courteous and a refreshing change from the dreary affairs we usually have.
        As far as the SNP being far left – sorry even the Americans don’t see them that way and they think anyone to the right of the Tories is a dangerous subversive.
        Obviously you are entitled to your opinion. Mine is that we are a province attached to the fag end of an English empire that should have withered long ago. It simply isn’t healthy for one country to hold three others as subject provinces and that’s what we are like it or not.
        Personally I find I have just as much in common with friends in Europe the USA Canada and Australia as in Britain, but I don’t want to be ruled by them either. Scotland is perfectly capable of making its way in the world.

  • FrankieThompson

    Well, well.

    Let’s go back to 1976 , when Hugo’s Dad resigned from the Scottish front bench over Margaret Thatcher’s abandonment of devolution.

    Then , after a referendum, when, for the first time in British electoral history, a quota of the electorate was placed on a vote, and the democratically expressed will of the Scottish people( a grand statement but true) was ignored.

    Hugo’s Dad then became part of a regime which ruled for 18 years , directly against the wishes of he Scottish people, including a period when we were used as social guinea pigs for a mad ideological exercise called the Community Charge, and our industrial base and heritage was destroyed in the name of dogma.

    Then Labour turn right, big-style, added an adjective to their name, and won three elections, only to revert to type in 2010 and 2015, i.e. losers.

    And anyone wonders why we’re voting SNP?

    • “…including a period when we were used as social guinea pigs for a mad ideological exercise called the Community Charge, and our industrial base and heritage was destroyed in the name of dogma.”

      Except the former was better for you but was torn down by rabid lefty DOGMA and the latter was happening anyway and had NOTHING to with dogma.

    • 5h4k35p34r3

      Why was the Community Charge mad? Why shouldn’t everyone in the community pay for what they receive instead of it being based on nonsense like the dubious rateable value of home owners?

  • Baw Claw

    Yet more nonsense from Rifkind. Just a load of self-serving rhetoric masquerading as political opinion.

  • Barba Rossa

    Toe curling stuff from someone who is clearly not British. Pity yer old man was caught with his fingers in the till

  • thomasaikenhead


    The SNP does not hate the English at all, what they do hate is the corrupt political class originating in Scotland that has used the country as a springboard for their ambition and greed and personal enrichment and totally ignored the plight of those that voted them into office!

    You know the sort of people I mean Hugo, those with a sense of entitlement who despise ordinary Scots, they can be found in every other political party, Lib Dems, Labour (BLair? Brown?) and even the Conservatives although never in Scotland as their is no place for them so they fled south for their constituencies.

    These are the sort of corrupt politicians and social climbers who have sold out those they purport to represent and enrich themselves by both fair means and foul.

    The SNP represent a new type of politician in Scotland, and that is why ordinary voters have embraced then AFTER they lost the referendum!

  • Josh Cook

    It’s been a absolute disaster the way the Union has been managed for about 30 years but particularly since devolution. Complacency has been the main problem hopefully that will stop now.

    We can take comfort from the fact that the difference between English and Scottish people are style not substance.

  • Brian

    The litmus test that proves the bollockosity of this article’s proposition is how the SNP handled the referendum result. Amid the wailing and gnashing of teeth, a true “blood and soil” nationalism would’ve pointed forcefully to the fact that the polling analysis showed a majority among the Scots-born for Yes and squarely blamed the immigrant English for the No.

    As Alex Massie has sensibly pointed out before on this site, they didn’t.

  • Marcus


    England is a country that wrestles between various centre / right of centre social and political ideologies with a few Socialist pockets in some of the larger cities. See recent local elections for details.

    Scotland is nothing of the sort. It was always largely Socialist and is now increasingly Nationalistic as well.

    We should go our separate ways. We have grown apart.

    • HeavyHeart

      As an Englishman, I agree completely. Don’t forget to turn off the lights… no, wait, we’ll do that.

  • Verbatim

    They need a cold north wind up their collective kilts. And some porridge forced down with a long-handled shovel.

  • John M

    I am almost looking forward to the wee Sturgeon’s first set of demands being squeaked across the floor of the house at Cameron. I hope Cameron has the balls to just get stuck straight into her. Along the lines of :

    – The Scots are already massively subsidised by the English to the tune of over £1,500 per person more than the English are
    – And you want *more* money? Are you serious?
    – If the SNP want more money remind laSturgeon that the Scots parliament already have the controls over vast amounts of public money in Scotland. If that’s not being prioritised to the NHS whose fault is that? We don’t get free Universities, or free prescriptions…
    – If the Scots Government are already receiving more funding per capita than the English, and there isn’t enough money going into the NHS, whose fault is that?
    – On top of that Holyrood also has the ability to level taxes in Scotland to allow additional funding to be given. That power has not been exercised – whose fault is that?
    – Who leads the Scottish Parliament? Would that be the SNP?

    Frankly if Sturgeon intends to come to Westminster with an even bigger begging bowl, then Cameron should tell her and her yellow mates to get stuffed – across the floor of the house. I am fed up of thier whinging and begging for more.

    • Flying Scotsman

      You seem confused John,allow me to assist.
      What house is it you imagine this happening in?Sturgeon isnt an MP so I can only assume Cameron is making the trip up to Holyrood.
      -Scotland has put more into the treasury than it has taken out for most of the last 30 years.
      -If you want free education and free prescriptions,maybe you should vote for a party who are offering this in their manifesto.
      -You dont really have much understanding of how barnett actually works do you?
      -Any extra taxation raised would go straight to the treasury at Westminster, why would she raise taxes if the extra funds immediately left Scotland?
      -Well at least you got this one correct.

      As I have already explained, Nicola is not coming to Westminster.

      Hope this helps.

  • Auldreekie

    Mmmm. This is a rather bitter little article. The gist of it is that Hugo feels he doesn’t fit in when he visits Scotland now. But that’s because he didn’t get to know Scotland and its people well enough when he did live here, in childhood and adolescence. Schooling at Loretto wouldn’t have helped.

  • Barba Rossa

    is that like Jews hate Palestinians?

  • cartimandua

    The headline should read when the English learned to hate. Every parent of any child academic enough to be headed to University hates the Scots for making us pay so their kids get it free.
    My daughter will have nearly 40Ks worth of debt.
    F*** the whining scrounging socialist SNP.
    In fact a good solution (come on Dave) would be to tax any grad working in England who has not acquired University debt here.
    Include the Scots. That way our kids will not be permanently disadvantaged compared to others in terms of disposable income when renting or buying.
    There will after all be a brain drain from Scotland.

    • Flying Scotsman

      Your countrymen voted for a government who introduced tuition fees, you then lament that another country did not immediately follow suit.
      If you are opposed to tuition fees then please take this matter up with you MP, or vote for a party who will reverse this policy…….but please dont expect Scotland to lump our young people with massive debts just because England has chosen to do so.
      I see this complaint a lot, it would seem that middle-England does like progrssive policies, but only when it suits them.Tho possibly not as much as they like to blame others for their own self-inflicted problems.

      • NorthernFirst

        Blair would have lost the tuition fees vote if he hadn’t had the votes of Scottish MPs whose constituents don’t have to pay them.

        Let’s not rewrite history, OK.

      • NorthernFirst

        Blair would have lost the tuition fees vote if he hadn’t had the votes of Scottish MPs whose constituents don’t have to pay them.

        Let’s not rewrite history, OK.

      • rob232

        A majority of English MPs voted against it.

  • Paul Robson

    “if Ukip was not a racist party, so very many racists seemed to flock to it under the impression that it was”

    This is obvious. It’s because UKIP – which wants controlled points based immigration, is closest to what they want (no immigration at all ?) in mainstream politics.

  • A .Farrow

    Not all Scots support the SNP. Most people I know are sickened by these fanatics and the hold they seem to have over so many people.
    A huge number of their support are people who receive welfare benefits who were scared into believing that they would lose these benefits if any other party got into power. The area I live in was plastered with some very nasty posters warning just this.
    The people of Scotland were promised that the referendum was once in a life time – I pray that the British government does not allow the SNP to subject us to this again.
    I live in a country divided. I am embarrassed to be Scottish i.e. the version that is being potrayed by the SNP and their followers.
    What is that saying? Give them enough rope and they will hang themselves? It will be interesting to see how the Scottish government will cope with all the new powers they are demanding – and don’t forget the referendum ballot paper was YES and NO – not a demand for more powers (these were promised by panicking politicians). These people can barely run Scotland as it is how they will manage is beyond me. God help Scotland .

    • Barba Rossa

      utter tripe…embarrassed, you should be. Shame on you… surely you must be the hating Jew Riftkin.

      • Ned Costello

        Indulge me here for a moment, but I’m guessing you voted SNP?

        • Barba Rossa

          I’m part English and have voted for Labour for the best part of 40 years….and Yes I’m am now voting SNP.

    • AtMyDeskToday

      I’m also embarrassed that you’re Scottish..

  • Alex Williamson

    I wish they were a blood and soil nationalist party.

  • AtMyDeskToday

    The only thing certain that follows from this article is that the name Rifkind will be forever associated with the “lapse of judgement” by the father rather than the “journalism” of the boy.

  • grumpyoldrockape

    I can’t see how Scotland economically benefits the remainder of the UK .No doubt a beautiful country and we share much history but the SNP trouncing of Labour shows that we need ‘a divorce’. Scotland is a drain on our resources.We bankroll them.If they want to leave the Union we should give them every opportunity to do so.The sooner the better.

  • St Ignatius

    This could be the high watermark of Nationalism in Scotland, to be fair. I was a staunch “No” in the referendum, and I wasn’t disappointed with the GE outcome Tories have the Government, Labour are finished and the SNP are isolated and toothless. They have to deliver something now to their slightly unhinged supporters or else they will turn on the SNP. If we can just hang in there as fellow Brits: there is no chance of another referendum and all this will blow over. Just like most things eventually do.

    • AtMyDeskToday

      “their slightly unhinged supporters ”

      So a very significant number of Scots vote for the SNP, both in Edinburgh and Westminster, and you consider them unhinged. Says more about you than you would be comfortable with. Last time I checked it was called democracy. If you can’t handle that then I suggest you go do something other than sit on your butt reading and posting.

      • St Ignatius

        Yes, even if your greatest idea is basically single-issue-fanatical-nationalism-sod-the-consequences you can have your say. The same way it’s democracy that we now have a Conservative Government and the SNP have no say in the running of the UK. (Great!) The number of SNP MPs might seem significant to you but don’t kid yourself that the raw number of votes in terms of the UK population is significant (far fewer voted SNP than voted UKIP), nor is their influence in Parliament. Your comment is amusing though: I said it would be the slightly mad (unhinged) ones who would turn on the SNP. They will. The SNP base is a rag bag of anarchists, socialists, nationalists and ex-labour. I did *not* say they were *all* unhinged. Yet you read that into my comment! A psychologist would say that’s a case of “projection” i.e. you deep down think they are nutters. I don’t, but some of them obviously are.

        • AtMyDeskToday

          Nice, elegant attempt at shifting responsibility for your stupid comment. I can’t help but admire your brazen, smug self satisfaction.

          • St Ignatius

            ^ Hey I have no answer to your well put and valid points but I’ll call you names and feel better about myself.

  • Abie Vee

    Be fair, she doesn’t look like she hates anybody.

  • Kerrin Evans

    A mean spirited and spiteful article that does the writer no credit. Shameful

  • Ancient Alchemist

    Shouldn’t the SNP brochure read ‘Stranger for Scotland’.
    Obvious misspelling!

  • Roger

    The defence of the realm is the first responsibility of the gover

  • YMenard

    So it’s all really about racism, right, right… Funny, Canada says the same thing about Quebec, France says the same thing about Brittany, Spain about Catalonia… Heck, I’m sure the French said the same thing about you English Orangists back in the day. And they were right. Yet that’s precisely how England got its independence. But I’m sure it’s different for Scottland.

  • Roger

    We seem to have become ignorant, lazy and petulant. Above all lazy. During the election, although we could have informed ourselves with facts before engaging in debate, we didn’t. Reading “comments” after any topic it’s clear that much of what comes out of our mouths is rubbish. Simple factual errors. We could inform ourselves, but we don’t. We use stuff we think we know to give pronouncements on complex subjects and we’re certain we’re correct. And that in a debate, our view is as valid as any other. There’s no debate because we know we’re right, and in that case the other guy is wrong and must be told.

    The defence of the realm is the first priority of government. Each country has a strategy developed over time to meet it’s needs and commitments. In the UK ours includes our nuclear technology. So given it’s such a complex issue, why is it that a 20 year old can turn round and tell us how she’s going to fundamentally change it, given half a chance? It’s the casual arrogance that I don’t understand. Personally, I have no idea I if we need a nuclear deterrent. It’s a fact that it has done it’s job.

    Daniel Kahneman won the nobel prize for economics for work that included the following quote “The trouble is, we think we know and we don’t. We have no idea.” and he’s not wrong.

  • Aldo

    What has sickened me is the people the Nats court for a vote and the fear and intimidation carried out by its boots on the ground supporters , yet the leaders say they have nothing to do with us but for the most part still don’t condone the behaviour .

    A yes / vote SNP rally was held in Glasgow going through George Square on Saturday the 25th April and it was led by Irish republican flute bands who usually support groups that would love to see people on the Mainland killed , yet they were out in there one or two hundreds leading the SNP followers playing there hate filled music , again no big media outrage at what was happening just the usual from them and the SNP leaders , nothing to see here move along.

    I am astonished that I know people who vote for them and ask them if they support these people and there methods and they don’t believe you it happens , it’s as if they are brainwashed by all the rhetoric and lies from Sturgeon or they don’t mind the Stalinist stasi tactics.

    Now I write this after the vote I say to my fellow Scots when we were promised a voice and influence at Westminster all we got was a Tory majority , so when the benefit cuts come in there billions make sure you go ask your SNP MP about wielding that voice or that influence and when they say they can’t just thank them for doing like they did in 1979 for giving Scotland the Tories and it’s people 5 more years of austerity.

  • Ross

    The year Scotland learned to hate is possibly the best and most accurate article yet written on the state of post referendum Scotland. I have lost so many friends to the vomit churning SNP ideology. They have simply become hateful bullies infecting everyone around them including their children. It’s so sad to be witness to it. So many of them now are imploding under the constant self inflicted hostility they show to anyone who is seen as a traitor. My wife was even bullied and verbally abused at her work by a prominent SNP politician, simply because her husband (me) had challenged the SNP exploitation of school kids to get more yes votes.

    I speak as a one time supporter of the SNP. Thankfully I’m much wiser now and see them for what they are and the very real danger they bring to our fragile democracy. They preach of fair societies yet vote against David Cameron when he tries to stop genocide on our doorstep. Never, never and never again will I support these bringers of misery and division.