How do the Scottish generally feel about being in the UK?
September 14, 2022 7:19 PM   Subscribe

Generally speaking how do the Scottish people feel about England and being part of the United Kingdom? Do the Scottish (again generally speaking) consider themselves part of the UK or think of themselves as sort of separate, even though they are a country within the UK? For what it's worth, I'm American born and raised, so may be missing some crucial context.

Reason for question: Got my DNA scanned by two different companies. One broke out Scottish heritage and separated it from English heritage. The other didn't break out Scottish heritage, but lumps the region as British and Irish heritage. So I'm curious how the Scottish themselves view things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Society & Culture (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
They keep talking about independence.

I know some Scots, and am related to some Scots. None of them are big fans of England. As far as being in the UK, I think Brexit has soured Scots on that arrangement.
posted by Windopaene at 7:28 PM on September 14

I am Scottish and see myself as Scottish first, for such small cultural things as my very obvious (to me) accent, the times when most of the music I listened to/saw live were Scottish indie bands like Belle and Sebastian or Camera Obscura, or even the sense of local pride when Scottish athletes do well in track and field or tennis. However, I take very little interest in Scottish history and things like whisky or tartans, thinking (wrongly!) that those are things we sell to the tourists. My politics are slightly to the left so for most of the time I've been an adult the overall UK ruling party has been one that hasn't reflected my choices nor those of my countrypeople. However, I'm definitely not anti-English. I feel really embarrassed to admit that there are pubs in my home city where visitors might get a hard time from locals if they heard the English accent. I am home a lot through disability and do a lot of Zoom group social things, and have more English friends than Scottish (plus a few acquaintances who live in Scotland but arrived as students from Europe). I can think of lots of my fellow Scots who take a slightly different position, they might be against the "ruling class" from England and still get on fine with everyday English folks.

Although there are small nations doing well I think for the big things like central banking or defence Scotland is much better off as part of a larger United Kingdom, much better able to get through those occasional shocks to the system like the pandemic, a big recession, the inflation from the Ukraine war etc. Brexit seems a disaster to me but rather than increasing my desire for independence (hoping we might be allowed back into the European Union) it makes me think the costs would be vast to switch over every computer system, all currency and banking, all pensions, from a UK one to a separate one for Scotland. I think the costs would outweigh the benefits for many years after independence, possibly for such a long period it would be until after I passed before there was a net gain. i admit it does seem odd for a country to be offered independence and turn it down, thinking of all the Commonwealth countries that leapt at the chance to be independent, but in terms of the economy and buying all the things we need for everyday living it just makes more sense and seems more efficient to be part of a bigger Union where economies of scale prevail.

In short, I like lots of English people, am not always thrilled with the Tory party government, but am too risk-averse and fearful to actually want full independence.
posted by AuroraSky at 7:55 PM on September 14 [14 favorites]

There is a huge independence movement which narrowly lost a referendum in 2014 but vigorously continues. Younger people were more in favour of independence than older.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:53 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]

Scottish DNA can be Norse or French or Celtic, so how Scots “feel” about being “ British” might not accurately reflect their actual ancestry. PNAS genetic landscape of Scotland and the Isles.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:07 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

i was born in england to scottish parents and lived there until i was seven. i spent the rest of my years growing up in scotland. i also have irish heritage on my mother's side. i am both scottish (and british) but definitely not english. i am british in the sense i am from the UK aka britain and share cultural traits with anyone else from dear old blighty. one of the problems though with being british is that for most people in the UK, i.e. the english, the two are interchangeable. so when most people say "british" what they really mean is "english" to the exclusion of scottish, welsh, and irish cultures. even some of my more enlightened english friends regularly fall into this trap of shorthanding english with british and so on.

i've long supported the idea of scotland being an independent country. i've never considered this as a rational viewpoint but more of an emotional one. i think for scotland to survive we need to stop defining ourselves as something we're not i.e. english. we can't continue to blame england for all our ills. of course 2014 was a watershed moment in the independence movement. i would never have dreamt when i started supporting independence in the late 80s/early 90s that the SNP would be the dominant party in scotland and talk of independence would be taken seriously.

saying all this i'm a rank hypocrite as i fucked off long ago and have been living in the US for almost 20 years. i love england and the last place i lived in the UK was england. but i absolutely hate england at football and want them to lose every single time without fail more than i want to scotland win. it's more fun that way. english folk never seem to understand this as most are quite happy to support scotland and england as, well, we're all the same etc etc.

i think the most interesting thing about scotland that gets overlooked a lot is that it is one hell of a chilled out country. scottish people tend to not take themselves too seriously. i really feel that in the 21st century england has begun to take everything so seriously and ergo brexit and all the nonsense that has caused. i am concerned though despite wanting independence for scotland that the next referendum will be called too soon and will lose again and that will be it and we'll be banished to a long tail of being second rate. but i've been wondering how scotland and the UK in general will recover from the hangover the current situation with the royal family is going to leave.
posted by iboxifoo at 11:04 PM on September 14 [7 favorites]

This page has a couple of interesting graphs showing polling data. Basically it’s neck and neck at the moment, but more striking is the graph showing data since 1979, which shows a pretty dramatic change.

(I’m not Scottish or well informed on the subject, I was just curious so I googled it)
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 12:57 AM on September 15

As a Scot, I'm very much pro-independence so understand I clearly have a bias there. As to how Scots generally feel, well I'd say it's reasonable to say that the majority of Scottish people feel distinctly Scottish primarily, rather than British. Note, this can be entirely separate from their opinion on independence.

I'd suggest that for many, though probably not the majority of English, British is effectively just a synonym for English.

Identity is a very complicated and emotionally charged element however and it is very much an on-going discourse in Scotland and the wider UK. I'd suggest that there is not as much 'anti-English' sentiment in Scotland as the media can portray, fundamentally it's a political issue against rule from Westminster parties that Scotland does not vote in to power having power over us.

I'd also say that very few care about whatever DNA records indicate as far as nationality/identity goes. Someone whose DNA test says they are 25% Scottish ancestry, but has never been part of Scotland is to me not Scottish at all, their ancestors were. That's not meant to denigrate, as I said identity is a powerful topic for people. People who are Scottish live and contribute to Scotland and hopefully feel able to culturally identify as being Scottish by being part of Scotland now, not Scotland on the biscuit tin lid. That doesn't matter if their their ancestry is 100% of Scots, English, Welsh, Pakistani, Nigerian or Polish.
posted by Leud at 1:15 AM on September 15 [7 favorites]

I am not Scottish but I live in Scotland. The majority of Scottish people I know think of themselves as Scottish first, and British second. Whether they were annoyed about someone saying "you are British" probably depends on the context; there's a long history of people conflating British with English, especially abroad, so it's easy to get a little salty about it. There are also things like, a common complaint among Scots is that Andy Murray is referred to as Scottish in the media when he loses at tennis but British when he wins (this is not true, but like all these kinds of cultural bugbears that doesn't really matter).

Having said that, I can certainly think of a few people who would first and foremost identify as British even if they were born in Scotland, I also know people who would say all national identity is inherently problematic, I know people who would say they are Scottish but also Asian or some other not white ethnicity which is more or less important to them, I know Scottish people who would maybe grudgingly accept that they are also British but would say they hope not to be after the next within "Scottish" people there's obviously a very broad spectrum of identity and how much it matters to that person and what it means to them. I suspect there isn't as much interest in it on a like, DNA level...I mean, again it's a generalisation but I don't know any Scottish people (or British for that matter) who've ever done one of those home DNA tests to find out about their ancestors. But overall it's a strong cultural identity and I think it's fair to say most Scottish people feel distinctly Scottish.

The question is somewhat complicated, as noted above, by the independence referendum. It's a slightly different question to ask "do most Scottish people think of their identity as being Scottish, British, or both?" versus "do Scottish people want independence from the UK". You might be interested in census data to answer the former question; if you go to that link and play around with the National Identity question data there's some interesting stuff there.
posted by cpatterson at 1:31 AM on September 15 [2 favorites]

The "Generally speaking" is very important: People living in a country are not a homogenous group and how they feel about something (or how they *say* they feel about something) can depend a lot on context.
posted by BinaryApe at 1:49 AM on September 15 [2 favorites]

Bloxworth's second graph is interesting in that the switch from no to yes votes on independence has a clear gradient from 1979 to 1997, is basically flat with spikes till 2010 and has continued to shift from 2010. Those 3 periods match the periods of UK government being Conservative-Labour-Conservative. It seems pretty clear that the Scots feel less positive about the Union under Tory government. And for good reason I would suggest.
posted by biffa at 2:07 AM on September 15

I grew up in Scotland and now live in England although I am originally from neither place. I do still spend a lot of time in Scotland.

I'm particularly interested in the balance between emotional salience, what Ibn Khaldun called "'asabiyya", and economic benefits so I have a lot of thoughts on this topic but keep in mind that I'm an outsider to both Scottishness and Britishness so though I think about this a lot, you can't take what I say as what "the Scottish" think about it.

I think it's worth noting that asking how people feel about this on Metafilter is a bit like asking how "Americans" feel about the Republican party.

Polling data shows that support for independence comes and goes in the short term but has dramatically risen from "quixotic political project for traditional dance enthusiasts" in the 1970s to "serious political ambition that might well happen" in the last few decades.

As British external prestige normalises from "world-spanning empire" to "Large but ordinary European country", identification with Britishness as an identity has declined. I would suggest that "British and Scottish" as an identity was much more common in the past than it is now. It has also been historically more of an elite identification, the higher up on the social scale someone was, the stronger that identification was.

Key to understanding the change since the 1970s as well is understanding the evolution of Scottish Nationalism as a movement and the SNP as a party since then. There was a time when there was an ethno-nationalist aspect to it that was unappealing to:
1) people on the left who were hostile to that kind of project as a matter of instinct and ideology
2) the substantial number of Catholic Scots, many of them with Irish ancestry, who suspected the SNP of being a sort of Scottish DUP.

That isn't true anymore, modern Scottish Nationalism is a civic nationalist project and not an ethnic one. This has happened at the same time as the centre of gravity of English politics has moved to the right and towards a more individualist, less collectivist position. I'm personally a little suspicious about whether this represents some change to Englishness, which consistently shows in polling of specific issues a position much closer to the Scottish popular position than where political parties are but if people don't translate that into votes... That has changed the way that a lot of Scots think about independence because they aren't just voting for independence, they're voting for that and then for a more social democratic political settlement.

It's also the case that the Sturgeon-era SNP has governed Scotland well within its devolved responsibilities so it is much less of a leap into the unknown as in the 1970s, it wasn't really clear who or what would be the next government. Now it's very clear that it means transferring additional powers to an already understood political institution which is a lot less scary.

Also, a lot of "British" institutions to which people, including in Scotland, had and have a lot of fondness are long since privatised and had the emotional valence stripped out of them. Who gives a shit about "Royal Mail" when it's just another private company? "B"P? "British Gas" / Centrica? If everything is provided by privately owned companies then who cares?

I personally think that Scotland is now in a very difficult position re: leaving the UK. Economically, it would be like Brexit x 10 even though in a bitter irony, most Scottish people didn't want Brexit. People who think that increased trade with the EU will make up for disruption of trade with the rUK are in the same category of fantasists who believed that the UK would do enough increased trade with the rest of the world to make up for disruption to trade with the rEU.

It's worth considering whether relatively transient political events and trends are a sound basis for permanent decisions like this. I don't think you can just secede and un-secede based on the quality of political leadership. Those things change over pretty short periods of time. The question is: has the centre ground of Scottish politics diverged so far from the centre ground of the UK as a whole that it is better to separate? I don't think there is an easy answer to that. In my experience, people who have never lived outside the UK for extended periods of time have an exaggerated sense of the differences but they're real enough.

Yes the current Westminster government is bad, but we had 13 years of extremely popular centre-left government (led by two Scots!) that preceded it. May wavering independence supports will have to consider whether a world with Liz Truss as PM is the new British normal or whether this is a bizarre interregnum to be followed by another decade of much more palatable to them centre left Labour government. That won't affect hardcore nationalists but it's a matter of a few % at this point.

If the centre-of-gravity of Scottish politics is now permanently so far from the rUK that the only way to govern Scotland in a way that comports with the wishes of its people is full independence then economic considerations shouldn't necessarily get in the way of doing it but... the same could have been said of Brexit. In both cases, I think that an adult debate about economic models and trade impacts has never been had, it wasn't had during the Brexit referendum, I don't really think it was had during the previous referendum on Scottish independence either.

During the Brexit referendum, I made a list of de jure freedoms of action that the UK would gain through Brexit and how they interact with likely power balances in order to produce de facto options that are an awful lot more constrained than those, which I think it's worth setting out because the same framework applies to Scottish independence (although there's no reason it needs to lead to the same answer!).

1) Ones which are de facto constrained because they are governed by other supra-national compacts. I.e. lots of things that were never going to happen in the post-Brexit UK because they are violations of WTO rules, energy charter rules, or other rules. It is now no longer EU rules which restrict government procurement from favouring domestic content... it's WTO rules instead (and also see (2) because the UK's trade agreement with the EU constrains them and see also (3) since France has some very "interesting" rules on solar PV subsidies which look a lot like local content).

2) Ones which are de facto constrained because they are governed by supra-national compacts which are likely to be made as part of the separation process. You can see how tightly the existence of a land border between NI and the Republic has coupled the UK to EU rules as part of the withdrawal agreement, something very similar will happen as part of the discussions between rUK and Scotland. The EU is bigger than the UK but the rUK is bigger than Scotland by an even bigger margin. For the same reason, they may find that their notional freedom of action is constrained by requirements imposed by the larger party.

Ok, Scotland can't get rid of nuclear weapons without leaving the UK. What happens if maintaining those bases is an absolute condition the rUK places on something like being able to continue using the pound? Keeping the pound is now official SNP policy, since the Euro crisis and what happened to Greece and Ireland has made joining the Euro less popular. It does no good saying that these conditions would be unfair. Arguably some of the concessions the EU extracted on fisheries were "unfair" but tough, that's negotiation and the stronger party has the upper hand.

3) Powers which haven't even been used to their full extent yet. It was noted during the Brexit debate that the UK routinely followed the most restrictive possible interpretation of EU rules when France and Italy often don't do that. Scotland has additional income tax raising powers which are barely being used, only a 1% extra on the higher bands. While I accept that they would run corporation tax differently and might well introduce a wealth tax if they had those powers, corporation tax isn't one of the big revenue raising taxes and most countries in the EU either don't have wealth taxes or raise barely any of their tax receipts from them. If you want to move to a Danish social democratic model, you need to increase the "big" taxes that apply to the majority of the population. Arguably Scotland could to that now.

4) Things that haven't been done, not because they aren't allowed by rules set by the larger entity (EU or UK), but because the sub-entity (UK or Scotland) doesn't want to do them / there are other reasons for not doing them but the larger entity is used as a "boogeyman". In many cases, the constraint is a fiscal one and is effectively set by capital markets. If you think that MMT means that doesn't matter then a) that is only true for sovereign issuers so Scotland would need its own currency and b) MMT-based ideas are still constrained by trade flows and currency strength unless you are the US and are much closer to autarchy in essential inputs.

5) Ones for which there might not be a domestic political consensus. The UK's political centre of gravity doesn't actually want to do a lot of the things which are now technically possible because the UK is no longer in the EU. This one is less relevant for Scotland because I think there really *is* a political consensus to be a higher-tax, better public-service country with more equality. On the Brexit side, see literally anything that Patrick Minford says. Yes, economic models say that if you were to get rid of all import tariffs on agricultural products, the net benefit of cheaper food for everyone would outweigh the impact of destroying the farming industry. Good luck getting political consensus for doing that one guys!

6) Things which are proposed but where it is unclear that the domestic civil service and political leadership has the capability to execute them. Can the UK make a better agricultural and fisheries policy than the EU? Probably, no expert on either within the EU thinks that even the current reforms go remotely far enough. But... where's our UK policy then? They've had years to work this up, any time now chaps.

7) Areas where they can make a reasonable case for a gross benefit through tailoring of a regulatory regime which nonetheless gets wiped out by trade friction to leave no net benefit. Could the UK come up with a better version of REACH? Probably, there's plenty to fix. Could the UK come up with an alternative so much better that it outweighs the sum of the implementation costs of UK REACH, the costs of compliance with two regimes, and the trade friction? Definitely not! See also proposals to use greater flexibility in regulation of genetically modified food crops. I happen to think that's a great idea but where are you going to export them to?

Finally we are left with things that pass all of those tests but that I happen to think are bad ideas. That isn't a good reason for me to object to a permanent change of sovereignty because I think those should be made based on enduring principles and not on the fact that the current state of affairs suits me better than the desires of the current government.

Anyway you're left with a grab bag of the trivial and the irrelevant. Are we going to get any additional UK productivity from repealing the WTD? No as it was widely opted out of anyway. Do I think it would make us a better society not to have it? Also no but that's a personal view.

That doesn't mean that Scottish independence has to be an equally bad idea as Brexit and it certainly doesn't mean that other people can't disagree with my conclusions that both Brexit and Scottish independence are bad ideas. I do think that it is ultimately on the proposer of radical change, in this case the SNP, to make a compelling case for what the new model looks like. Unfortunately they may well have taken a lesson from Brexit that you can get your political goals through without doing any such thing.

I think that Scottish independence has a stronger ultimate motivation than Brexit but I also think the challenges and costs of doing it are substantially higher. If I still lived in Scotland, would definitely vote against. As I don't, wish them good luck whichever way.

The the stranger and further right the Westminster political centre of gravity gets, the more pragmatic centrists will look at the disruption and decide that it's worth it.

So it's become logistically more difficult at precisely the same time as it has become more politically and emotionally attractive.

The reality is that geography is destiny for Scotland as it is for the UK. Whatever future political arrangements are made between Scotland and the rUK, their fates will remain tied together as indeed the UK and the rEU are tied together.
posted by atrazine at 2:24 AM on September 15 [14 favorites]

I think the "Generally speaking" in your is impossible to answer - Scotland is famously deeply divided on the issue, having voted approximately 55% to 45% against independence in 2014.

I was born and raised in England, have lived in Scotland for many years. When I first moved to Scotland I tended to think of myself as British just because it felt like a convenient word that covered all the things I was. Around the 2014 independence referendum, "British" became a much more politicised term - if you think of yourself as British in Scotland right now, you're essentially announcing yourself to be anti-independence.

I'm generally somewhere around the middle on the indie question; growing increasingly despairing of England as it sinks into a national identity of right-leaning British bulldog xenophobia; have an English accent, though not a screamingly loud/posh one (which would codify me to listeners as being super-English); work in the sports sector in a job that means I am on occasions literally on Team Scotland and walking around in clothes proclaiming me to be Scottish.

With all those things in the mixing pot, these days I tend to think of myself less as British and more as an "English Scot", the same way one might be "British Pakistani" or a "Welsh Jamaican" - one denoting your heritage and one your current ties. In practical terms, being an English Scot is not a particularly common phrase, and would get some people's backs up who think you can't be both. So in reality, the answer I'd give would depend entirely on context.

tl:dr: It's complicated.
posted by penguin pie at 3:19 AM on September 15 [3 favorites]

I did feel the general sentiment of being part of the UK does depend on where you are and who you speak to. Even in Glasgow where I lived it's not that easy to generalize even if I was unsurprised by how the city voted in the last Indyref. I remembered once I was asked by two police detectives (uninteresting story; i was just another foreign student who fell into a rental scam) what I thought about independence, being "from a former colony." And really that was to chip in to a long-standing argument between the two of them.

But devolution clearly helped along a sense of Scottish identity; one small feature they prided themselves (as it relates to me*) was how not racist they are compared to the English.

*Interesting experience, being asked to validate this feeling more than once, lmao.
posted by cendawanita at 3:39 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Oh, and if you want to add an extra complication to the mix, there's a wee streak of sectarianism in Scotland (and especially in the west) which echoes - though is by no means as strong or pervasive as - that in Northern Ireland. It's most obvious in the Glasgow football teams but also pops up in things like Orange marches. Crudely, you could lump in together Protestantism, Rangers (football club), Unionism, and calling yourself British on the one hand, with Catholicism, Celtic (football club), Independence, and definitely not calling yourself British on the other hand.

As with all things, however, it's not that simple - the vast majority of the population probably have no big allegiance to either of those camps (or even if they're Protestant/Catholic on paper, it's not an identity for them); the Independence movement is much, much wider and more varied than just Catholic Celtic fans.

So it's not a defining division in Scotland's national identity, but it's a wrinkle you might need to be aware of if you're reading about such things. When the BBC were interviewing people this week queueing to see the Queen's coffin, they interviewed one young lad in a Rangers top who was holding forth about how he thought Scotland loved the Queen and how it was extremely important to be patriotic, and I watched it and really thought that the interviewer/producer either didn't know or didn't care that his Rangers top would put an entirely different complexion on his comments for Scottish viewers than would be recognised by viewers south of the border.
posted by penguin pie at 3:42 AM on September 15 [4 favorites]

I entirely agree with penguin pie's "it's complicated" summary: there are a lot of factors at play, no group is a monolith and the long, entagled history between Scotland and the rest of the UK means that there are always bound to be mixed feelings for different reasons.

That said, like Canadians define themselves as "not American", so too I find Scots often defining themselves as "not English", which is also a way of saying "we might have our problems, but at least I'm not some pretentious southern wanker". On that level I'm deeply sympathetic to the Scottish cause for independence, because I can't imagine having such a vibrant, distinct culture that was literally invaded and taken over by said wankers and not being quite irritated that they still get to dictate the direction of your country after close to half a millenium (pace Catalonia, Quebec, etc).

To that point: looking at the poll analysis of the last IndyRef, it appears that there is a split among those who voted along certain lines that could make it just as hard going in the next one. I can well imagine organised English poshos who live in Edinburgh firmly campaigning for the No camp. This also happened in Wales for Brexit: colonisers have a way of getting their hooks into things, don't they?

As for your DNA, congrats on your heritage but one piece of advice: one of the quickest ways to wind up a Scot is to be American and exclaim "I'm Scottish!" when you meet them. Leud's comment above speaks eloquently to that point.
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 4:03 AM on September 15 [2 favorites]

Basically, it's not a direct correlation, for any of your questions in terms of self-identity (kinda like how if you go to Dublin specifically, a sympathy for past Ireland doesn't correlate with a desire for a modern reunified Ireland). It's best to think about it as a Venn diagram and the overlapping circles are:

- Identity as a European
- Identity as a British person
- Identity as a Scottish person*
- Sentiments about the peerage and the monarchy
- Sentiments about the English political parties
- Sentiments about the Tories specifically
- personal history of the deindustrialization and closing of mining etc
- Sentiments about the English people and society**
- Sentiments and sympathy with the other British countries eg the Welsh
- Sentiments about the Anglican church

*Idk if SNP can take credit for this but it's true Scottish identity as a civic one is more prevalent. Just from a Muslim perspective, Scottish Muslims i know tend to feel it's better to be in Scotland than in England. And for migrants, people do feel very welcome about becoming Scottish -- it's funny to realize my coworkers, with their thick Scottish accents, were actually transplants (doesn't even matter the region, I've heard thick Perth ones from a former student from China and a Glaswegian one from a Norwegian), but that's some kind of indicator of idk what

**Small anecdote: based on the people i lived with and interacted with, Scottish people actually don't go down to England that much, much less London. In any case, one persistent complaint that even I encountered was how provincial the English can be, when they do, that the English can't/won't even recognize the Scottish pound note as legal tender just because it's printed by the Royal Bank of Scotland. You get the wrong newsagent and you can't even pay for your Coke in cash just because of this. I don't know if it's changed much. I don't expect it to.
posted by cendawanita at 4:04 AM on September 15 [3 favorites]

In parallel with the growth of support for independence, Scotland had moved towards the idea of “civic nationalism” rather than the “blood and soil nationalism“ which used to predominate: if you live in this country you belong here politically - if you don’t- then, no matter how strong your Scottish lineage and genes - then you don’t. This attitude is worth remembering when considering “what Scottish people think” about a political issue such as independence- because those who make a political impact on that issue - comprise many both nationalities and ethnicities- most notably those from England. Bear in mind that, whatever a particular person in Scotland thinks about England and the English- very few people don’t have English family members or colleagues.

It is quite hard to find media which covers this issue well and in a non partisan way. Most of the newspapers and TV in Scotland (exception The National) is unionist. I’d recommend the blog WeeGingerDug for an insight into the pro Indy camp.
posted by rongorongo at 7:08 AM on September 15 [4 favorites]

the English can't/won't even recognize the Scottish pound note as legal tender

I mean, fwiw in a strict legal sense Scottish banknotes are not legal tender in England — although I hadn’t realised that the same is true for English banknotes in Scotland.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 8:24 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]

I don’t mention this, by the way, to say anything about whether English newsagents should accept Scottish fivers . I just think it’s interesting.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 8:29 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Hence the complaints lol. Fwiw it's meant to be accepted as legal currency or whatever it is (it's basically cash-shaped promissory note). But the point being of course, here's a small unnecessary friction for the Scottish that reminds them of their difference. AND for foreign students, it's always a fun introduction to the whole crossborder palaver between the two countries (this is a pretty common footnote in our orientation phase). In any case, I always wondered if this was a small factor to the cashless payment methods picking up.
posted by cendawanita at 9:06 AM on September 15

re the legal tender discussion, I used to work in the students' union in edinburgh university and it was always hilarious seeing the reactions of the (majority) english students during freshers' week when upon seeing their first scottish notes, especially the clydesdale bank ones. "what the fack is this?" etc etc.
posted by iboxifoo at 11:28 PM on September 15

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