Dr Gabriel Glickman of the University of Warwick's Department of History argues: Images of domineering English imperialists or scrounging Scots unable to stand on their own two feet have been with us for centuries, and they have pockmarked this campaign. But the ‘no’ campaigners need to show that this is at best a partial view of British history.
Dr Glickman, who teaches The British Problem: Empire, Conflict and National Identities 1558-1714, said:
The concrete possibility of the United Kingdom being severed reflects to a great extent the limitations in the way in which the unionist camp has made its case. Obsessed with economic calculations, they have vacated the territory of patriotism and identity, and left it to their opponents. Absent from their campaign has been any sense of the organic connections, shared experiences and commonality of attitudes and values that made the union work for three hundred years despite distinctly unpromising beginnings.
There has been no attempt to pitch any meaningful idea of ‘Britain’: in fact, the ‘No’ campaign has often seemed allergic to using that very word. No doubt this is because campaigners don’t want to seem hidebound by history. But, like it or not impressions of the past inform the way in which people act. It’s been striking how many of the most simplistic caricatures to come out of the history of Anglo-Scottish relations have thrived on both sides of the border in the months up to this referendum.
Images of domineering English imperialists or scrounging Scots unable to stand on their own two feet have been with us for centuries, and they have pockmarked this campaign. But the ‘no’ campaigners need to show that this is at best a partial view of British history: that there are many other ways to describe this relationship. They need to find a way of countering that negativity - and they need to do it pretty swiftly.
For further information or to arrange an interview with Dr Glickman please contact:
Tom Frew - International Press Officer; a dot t dot frew at warwick dot ac dot uk
Kelly Parkes-Harrison - Senior Press and Communications Manager; k dot e dot parkes-harrison at warwick dot ac dot uk