New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Politics
26 September 2014updated 05 Oct 2023 8:51am

How many people think of themselves as “British”?

Only one in five voters prioritise our collective identity.

By harry harry

The full version of this article is available on

In the last weeks of the Scottish referendum, the campaigns fought a war over national identity. The unionists cast themselves as “patriots” in a bid to challenge the “nationalists” laying claim to every emblem of Scottish identity – from flying the flag to singing “Scotland the Brave”. Those were the terms Labour’s Jim “Irn Bru crates” Murphy deployed to confront the waves of heckling Yes voters.

“In Bathgate, a man came out of a Poundland and placed a six-pack of toilet rolls on my crates, with a put-down of: ‘Big Man, yu’ve been talking shite for an hour, so here – that’s to clean yer mooth oot!'”

By doing so Murphy was trying to reach those who thought of themselves as more Scottish than British. These were the voters Salmond had to persuade to win independence. And at the time of the Edinburgh Agreement, when support for separation was dwindling in the low thirties, they were keeping the No campaign’s fears at bay.

They made up one of the three big blocs of Scottish voters. The other two were those who saw themselves as purely “Scottish”, and those identifying as equally British and Scottish. Half of the former already backed independence, while few of the latter were persuaded; the relationship was clear: the more Scottish a voter, the more likely they were to vote Yes.

Continue to…

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
An innovative approach to regional equity
ADHD in the criminal justice system: a case for change – with Takeda
The power of place in tackling climate change