“Scotland never divided the way Ireland did…”

Steve Bruce with a well researched broadside on the dodgy accusation that Scotland is awash with sectarian, football related violence:

Scotland never divided in the way Ireland did. It did not divide politically: the native Scots who worked with the Irish settlers and their children in the labour movement and in the Labour party always vastly outnumbered those who supported tiny and short-lived anti-Catholic parties.

Scotland never divided residentially: nowhere in Scotland displayed Belfast’s pattern of residential segregation. And despite the Catholic church insisting on maintaining a separate school system, social mixing has always been common and, as interest in religion has declined, intermarriage has become commonplace. In Northern Ireland only about 6% of marriages are mixed but in the 1990s, just over half of Scots Catholics under 35 who were married had non-Catholic partners.

Scotland’s disgrace is not religious bigotry. It is the unthinking way in which sectarianism is assumed. In 2004, on the Sunday after a heated Rangers-Celtic game, a Sunday tabloid newspaper ran a two-page story under the headline “Real toll of that Old Firm mayhem”. One page was given over to a fire which severely damaged a Catholic church in Stornoway. The implication was clear: “Priest’s church blaze agony” was caused by “Old Firm Mayhem”. The boring truth, which merited just one column inch in a sister tabloid the following week, was that the fire was caused by an electrical fault.

And from last week in the wake of what looks like an un-Scottish premeditated campaign of intimidation (and worse) against several key members of Glasgow Celtic Football Club, David Goldblatt had this to say:

The reflex action of many is to call for the removal of politics from football; an operation likely to kill the patient. As with most cultural forms, from the cinema to the novel, the politics of football will be what we make of it. For those already locked into sectarian conflicts, racist politics or authoritarian manipulation, football, its crowds and its rivalries, offers enormous potential for recruitment and demagogy. For those who want to promote a politics of universalism, fraternity and equality, its canvas is equally attractive. If we want the chance to pursue the latter, then we must accept the possibility and threat of the former.

, , , , ,

  • Republic of Connaught

    Irish settlers in Scotland went as emigrants. Scots who came to Ireland in the 17th century came as colonisers. The Ulster Scots never intended to integrate into Ireland and become countrymen with the natives, they intended to control that part of Ireland as the English crown saw fit and whatever the native Catholic Irish thought about it was irrelevant. The natives were to be suppressed.

    So the relationship between Catholics and Protestants in the north of Ireland is a built on a more sinister foundation to the relationship between Catholics and Protestants in Scotland. Hence the infinitely more segregation across the north..

  • lover not a fighter

    Good theory there Republic of Connaught.

    Or perhaps the Irish were a better class of immigrant. Better at the integration and what have you !

  • Another reason is the shared experience, especially that of working-class Glasgow. Why bother to go further than Hamish Henderson’s John Maclean’s March

    Argyle Street and London Road’s the route that we’re marchin’,
    The lads frae the Broomielaw are here tae a man.
    Hey, Neil! whaur’s your hauderums, ye big Hielan’ teuchter!
    Get your pipes mate an’ march at the heid o’ the clan.
    Hello Pat Malone, I knew you’d be here, son:
    The red and the green, lad, will march side by side.
    The Gorbals is his the day and Glesga belangs tae him—
    Great John MacLean has come hame tae the Clyde.

    And done by Alistair Hulett or (for my taste) Dick Gaughan.

    Trust those links work.

  • Alanbrooke

    Republic of Connaught

    So the Scots came to do only what the English told them ?

    How do you explain the events of the 3 Civil wars or those of 1798 ?

    I’m also sure that the Sioux and Cherokee nations will thank the people of Ireland for the seamless way they integrated into the indigenous life of North America. Just look at all those John Ford movies.

  • john

    Sorry Alanbrooke must have mised that in my history lesson when did the Irish state colonise America mmm I think the European powers of Britain and France in the North and Spain and Portugal in the south were busy clearing the indians long before any setting for a John Ford western

  • DC

    Scots who came to Ireland in the 17th century came as colonisers.

    I blame the French.

  • Canisp

    ‘perhaps the Irish were a better class of immigrant. Better at the integration and what have you !’

    Hmmm, I doubt it. Hence we have n-th generation descendants being encouraged to declare as Irish instead of Scottish for census purposes.

    ‘Tick The Irish Box: Be Proud And Be Counted’ :

    Gotta get em while they’re young?

    ‘Head teachers given guidelines on
    celebrating Irishness in Glasgow schools’:

    Let’s all pretend we’re not really living in the UK:

    ‘Royal wedding: Big day cake makers McVitie’s ban Union flag from Glasgow factory’

  • Scotland’s disgrace is not religious bigotry. It is the unthinking way in which sectarianism is assumed.”

    I would tend to disagree with this statement. There is now no comparison, in terms of extent, between Scottish and Northern Ireland sectarianism but that does not mean that football faction sectarianism is minimal and not a very significant problem. I agree that Scotland did not divide the way that Ireland did but there was a certain amount of political sectarianism there in the past.

    That factional sectariansm was largely on the Unionist side and was significant at a time when the Scottish Unionist Party was a force in Scottish politics more than half a century ago. It is also reasonable to assume that the decline of the SUP and the decline of political sectarianism in Scotland is inextricably linked.

    I would suggest that political – related sectarianism in Scotland became all but extinct but there remained a strain of sectarianism (football – related sectarianism) which has survived and thrived around the cult of “old firm” rivalry in Glasgow.

  • Seymour Major @ 2:22pm:

    Up to a point, Lord Copper. The Old Firm rivalry may be based on sectarian origins, but it is mirrored, parcel bombs aside, across Britain (even here at Redfellow Hovel: Ipswich 1, Norwich 4. … heh, heh, heh!) — and is now even worse in parts of Europe.

    You are on stronger ground with that observation about the Scottish Unionist Party, but not necessarily for quite the obvious reasons.

    Professor T.C. Smout spotted one prime cause of sectarianism in the post-1815 period. The end of the Napoleonic Wars solved a manpower problem; but also reduced the value of labour at a time when demand on the coal industry of Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Renfrew and Dunbartonshire was growing apace. Hence the rise of unions in the coalfields. Hence, too, the import of blackleg Irish labour into the mines. The Northumberland and Durham coal-fields had their own version of the same.

    It’s those absentee Unionist landlords to blame, then. Again.

    Now, remind me again what happened to the coal-fields?

  • Sick of Biggots

    Republic of Connaught. You don’t pay much attention to real history, do you.

    How about this little piece in Wikipedia about the United Irishmen?

    All attendees at the first meeting were Protestant. Two (Theobald Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell) were Anglicans and the rest Presbyterian; most were involved in the linen trade in Belfast. Along with Tone and Russell, the men involved were: William Sinclair, Henry Joy McCracken, Samuel Neilson, Henry Haslett, Gilbert McIlveen, William Simms, Robert Simms, Thomas McCabe and Thomas Pearce.[2]

  • Republic of Connaught

    Sick of denial,

    How many of the overall Ulster-Scots population sided with the Republicans in the 1798 rebellion against the English?

    The article stated the north of Ireland is more troubled with sectarianism than Scotland. This is true and explained by the fact that Ulster Protestants arrived as colonisers and Catholics in Scotland arrived as emigrants. So the relationship in Ulster was built on a different, more violent, foundation from the very start.

    If those Irish Catholics had arrived in Scotland as colonisers confiscating lands then God only knows the savage violence the native Scots would have used against them. And the relationships between Catholics and Protestants in Scotland thereafter would have been a lot worse than it is now.

  • JoeBryce


    There’s some truth in what you say.

    I would suggest though that you need to factor in (a) that there has always been migration across the North Channel (only 13 miles wide at the closest point), (b) that the Plantation accounts only for a proportion, the size of which is disputed, of Scots settlement of the north, and (c) many of the lowland Scots who settled in Ulster (I deliberately use that word because many went to Donegal, Cavan or Monaghan as well as the wee six) were returning to an ancient ancestral homeland. Migration across the Channel in both directions is so prevalent that it makes sense to think of a single community (yours and mine) centred on Ailsa Craig. Or at least that that is one of the realities that needs to be bargained with.

    My question to you is this. Accepting as I think I have to that the Plantation distorted relations between Scots and Irish, especially but not exclusively in the north of Ireland, what do you want us to do about it? The GFA is a starting point for a renegotiation of relationships. It has been made possible, I believe, by changes in the Republic which may reasonably be viewed as not yet going far enough, but having the potential to go further. It also seems to me that there is a developing consensus across the island, curiously enough hastened by the econmic collapse, that a more modern secular state is required.

    The bottom line is, will you treat us as partners on a journey or will there be a reversion to violence to impose your will on us, legitimised in your eyes by something that happened in the 17th century. That’s the perspective from this side. There is huge potential for change that benefits all: Scotland becoming more autonomous will want and need good relations with the whole island of Ireland; the Queen’s reign (I cannot stop myself from saying, sadly) will necessarily end not very far away; and as I say, many are comfortable with the changes that are already being seen in the Republic. Will you harvest those opportunities, or nurse ancient wounds?

  • Malcolm,

    Thank you for plugging a few of those gaps in my knowledge. There are plenty of them!

  • Greenflag


    “Remind me again what happened to the coal-fields?’

    They were uprooted and sent to Poland during and after the Thatcher era . Subsequently some 500,000 or so Poles decided to avoid the coalfields of Poland by removing themselves to the UK and approx 100,000 or so took the extra 12 or 60 miles to get to Ireland 😉

  • Republic of Connaught

    Joe Bryce,

    I only brought up the Plantation of Ulster because because the article gives the impression, by mentioning the mass
    segregation in the north, that the Catholic and Protestant Irish are by nature more sectarian than people in Scotland. It is an unfair comparison. The Plantation of Ulster undoubtedly distorted the relationship between the Catholics and Protestants in Ulster from the very beginning in a way Scotland never experienced.

    If you ask what I think Ulster needs to be ‘normal’ then only God knows. But from west of Ireland eyes, I do believe more Unionists need to WANT to work at their relationship with people in Ireland and stop behaving like outsiders who arrived from Britain a generation ago. Encouraging a lot more Ulster Protestant kids to try colleges in the South to mix with young people from the other provinces would be a good way to build friendships and break down old ignorances in both traditions.

    In the long term I believe Ireland and Britain’s relationship should be like Australia and New Zealand – very
    close historically, culturally and politically but still maintaining political independence from each other. That’s the good relations the majority in Britain and the majority in Ireland want. Once the Protestants of Ulster accept that kind of close but independent relationship between Ireland and Britain and channel their talents and efforts into making their own home island the best it can possibly be socially, economically and aesthetically (Dublin and Belfast need skyscrapers) then a new Ulster and a more successful Ireland will develop. With a flourishing Ireland will come a closer relationship with Britain.

    I once seen someone write that it would be a sad day for Ireland if the Ulster Scot leaves after reunification and I agree with that. The Protestants of Ulster have infinitely more to offer Ireland than they do Britain because their influence can be hugely positively felt in Ireland yet barely noticed among 60 million in Britain. But they have to want to make that positive influence in Ireland before it can happen.

  • Sick of Biggots

    Republic of lazy stereotypes

    “How many of the overall Ulster-Scots population sided with the Republicans in the 1798 rebellion against the English?” I don’t know. Did they take a count?

    Perhaps you should have read the article.

    “Most of the United Irish leadership and ideologues were born into Presbyterian families. This small part of the population – about 15% – included Wolfe Tone, Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Napper Tandy and Robert Emmet. While the United Irish had declared themselves to be non-sectarian from 1791, there were other liberal Protestants in the Irish Parliament who were also anti-sectarian and sought a more democratic franchise, such as Henry Grattan and John Curran. Although the United Irishmen was a staunchly non-sectarian body which sought to unite all Irishmen, regardless of religion or descent many among their ranks were former Defenders, a term applied to many loosely connected, exclusively Catholic, agrarian resistance groups. Many of these men, as well as their Presbyterian counterparts in Ulster, had been shaped by the sectarianism that was prevalent in eighteenth century Ireland and it was no mean feat to persuade Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter to put aside their differences and view each other simply as fellow Irishmen. Although the project met with remarkable success, it was quickly recognised by the establishment that sectarianism was a useful ally in the fight against the United Irishmen.”

    I’m curious as to how you know for a fact that sectarianism is more of a problem in Northern Ireland than Scotland. I’ve never experienced naked and socially accepted sectarianism in Northern Ireland like I have in Scotland. You seem to know a lot about these places without actually living there. Very impressive.

  • Mac

    “I’ve never experienced naked and socially accepted sectarianism in Northern Ireland like I have in Scotland.”

    4 years ago, working as a contractor for an IT firm that supplied RBS with their systems. I joined a meeting on my first day with a dozen or so managers/tdas/dbas in their office in Edinburgh. I was late to the meeting as my flight was delayed, so I snuck in and sat down without introducing myself. The senior TDA remarked that a bit of functionality in the system was a bit ‘Irish’.
    ‘Irish?’ asked another contractor in an English accent, unaware of the edinburgh fellow’s slang.
    ‘You know, fucking stupid’ the TDA replied.

    Another contractor in a Dublin accent remarked
    ‘Well, you fucking designed it’
    They let the dublin fellah go at the end of that week and spent 7 months trying to find a suitable replacement.

    Then again, many moons ago in my first IT job for one of biggest local councils, the manager referred to me and others as ‘Armenians’.
    I think it’s idiot rhyming slang.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Sick of denial,

    Read wikipedia as evidence? Sure you could have written whatever you wanted in it.

    Have you noticed Steve Bruce’s article about resendential segregation in the north being a lot worse than Scotland? How many peacewalls are there in Glasgow compared to Belfast? Does that give it a little hint to you?

    But of course your anecdotal evidence is much more noteworthy. You should pass on your wisdom to Steve Bruce.

  • Compare and contrast:

    [1] Mac @ 10:35 pm yesterday, as above;

    [2] Jackie Ashley in yesterday’s G2:

    Women don’t have to face Tory MPs wiggling their hands under imaginary breasts and mouthing “melons” when they get up to speak – as Labour’s Barbara Follett did when she became an MP in 1997. Or Gillian Shephard’s experience when she arrived in 1987 to find herself called Betty by an MP who explained he called all the female MPs that “because you’re all the same . . . it’s easier”.

    In only one of those alternatives did the aggrieved party have the option of:
    ¶ joining a trade union; which would
    ¶ have grounds for suing for unfair dismissal.

    On such occasions one has two choices:
    ¶ kick up a fuss, scream and yell, if necessary all the way to the Courts;
    ¶ be an obedient little bitch.
    So my sympathy for the individuals in the anecdotes by Mac @ 10:35 pm yesterday is somewhat tempered by realities.

    The matter here is just how bad was the sectarianism and discrimination in Scotland; and whether it was globally comparable to that in Unionist Ulster (before and since 1921, which is why I’m specific about my terminology).

    Steve Bruce’s piece is journalistic and impressionistic, in the main focused on the Old Firm, rather than historical analysis.

    Should I be surprised that Mick Fealty picked on Bruce, rather than the previous article, also from Comment is free, by Joan McAlpine? Ah, but what would a wee ginger lassie know about such things?

    Bruce properly uses survey evidence, which shows that actual experience of recent discrimination is small to invisible — testimony to the last two Scottish administrations, who committed resources to the last outbreak around 2005-6? He fails to note that in Scotland RCs are about 16% of the population (Cf: Ed West’s piece for the Telegraph, last Thursday week): a significant difference, surely — like it or not. However, he does correctly indicate that mixed marriage (50% of RCs under-35s) is far more common in Scotland than NI.

    My original sniffy comment in this thread derived from his pertinent thought: Scotland … did not divide politically: the native Scots who worked with the Irish settlers and their children in the labour movement and in the Labour party always vastly outnumbered those who supported tiny and short-lived anti-Catholic parties. The working class recognised the need for solidarity and knew who was the real enemy. The Unionist in Ulster successfully, and unscrupulously (and fatally) played the Orange Card. And still do so. Remember: it wasn’t just Celtic manager Neil Lennon who got the parcel:
    ¶ so did QC Paul McBride (whose fault was to give an interview to the BBC about politics in sport),
    ¶ former Labour MSP Trish Godman (who celebrated the last day of the outgoing Scottish Parliament by wearing a Celtic shirt)
    and now
    ¶ Cairde Na H’Eireann.
    An intriguing and eclectic coincidence of [Kilwinning] Ayrshire bile there, perhaps. But a very singular mental disturbance.

  • Sick of Biggots

    Republic of the small minded

    “Read wikipedia as evidence? Sure you could have written whatever you wanted in it.” Wrong again. Everything is checked and reviewed. Wikipedia is recognised as being an unbiased and neutral source of information. Something you are obviously not.

    If you are going to use history as the basis of your argument perhaps you should read some before pontificating. Or is it simply that you don’t want your world view questioned? A world view that seems to have been built up over years from reruns of Taggart and Father Ted.

    “How many peacewalls are there in Glasgow compared to Belfast?” Once again your lack of knowledge of the history of the places you want to pontificate about is showing. The peacewalls were originally built to close down routes into and out of the areas involved so that the so called volunteers on either side couldn’t freely move through the city with weapons. Before the glorious struggle began, a large number of these areas were mixed. People were forced to move into strongly segregated areas because small minded idiots with guns forced them to. Not because it was socially acceptable or desirable. If you want to see peacewalls in Glasgow, start a war for Scottish independence.

    Truly mate, get out of your tiny parish and go and visit these places. It’s a big wide world out there. You might even enjoy it.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Sick of tiresome denial,

    Put Wikipedia as a source in any academic paper and you’ll be laughed at. But I doubt you’ve ever written any.

    So Scotland is more sectarian than the north of Ireland? Despite Alex Bruce, an academic Professor, stating the opposite in an above article. But hey, who is he to argue with your anecdotal tales of wisdom?

  • Republic of Connaught @ 12:59 pm:

    Wrong Bruce. But I think I made the same mistake above. This one is Prof of Sociology at Aberdeen (I suppose).

  • JoeBryce


    You describe the position I am coming round to. So, I don’t disagree. But there should be some more years of peace first.

  • Mac

    “In only one of those alternatives did the aggrieved party have the option of:
    joining a trade union; which would
    have grounds for suing for unfair dismissal.”

    I think you’re showing your age.
    In 14 years of working in IT, I’ve met less than a dozen guys that were in a union.
    But that’s not relevant with IT contractors, they tend to have rolling 1 to 6 month contracts which the company can terminate with anything from 24hours to a week’s notice. You can’t sue for unfair dismissal as a contractor. Even if you could, you wouldn’t, not if you wanted to work again.

  • JoeBryce

    Incidentally, the mindset you view as stemming from arrogance may be rooted as much, if not more, in insecurity. One which surely must be conceded as having some historical justification. But I think the direction you describe will ultimately be viewed as the correct one. It’s like the parable of the sun and wind; the wind blew and blew to make the man take his coat off, he merely wrapped it more tightly around himself; the sun came out, and he removed it of his own volition. Irish nationalism needs to swap the sun of political and cultural openness – which you describe in a very welcome way – for the wind that went before. That was why repeal of Articles 2 and 3 mattered so much.

  • Republic of Connaught


    Thanks for that. Alex Bruce is Sunderland manager Steve Bruce’s son and played for Ireland so that’s why Alex came to mind! Yes, the author Steve Bruce is evidently a sociology Professor.


    Yes, many more years of peace and looking to the future for everyone on the island and not the past. Because the past will clearly send us all round in circles without ever agreeing.

    My one hope now is that the Queen’s visit goes off well without dissident lunatics or protestors trying to shame us all.

  • JoeBryce

    One final thought, which may be of interest. At the time of the GFA, I was a huge Trimble fan. I still admire him a lot, I think he was brave and right. His vision was To Build Up a New Northern Ireland, in which he imagined a UK-wide polity whose pluralism would trascend old divides. Then when Trimble was eclipsed, I made an observation to a friend which he thought was a sign of madness but which I think is turning out to be true, which was that the replacement of Trimble’s vision with Paisley’s Ulster nationalism was ultimately a vote for an all-Ireland future. My friend thought I was stark, raving mad; surely the protestants of Ulster had just voted for ultra-Unionism? Well, as subsequent events have established, no they had not. They had voted for the party they thought would drive the best bargain for them in the process which you have described. Allow for the possibility that there is more going on under the surface than appears. Only a reversion to The Armed Struggle will stall or reverse the evolution that otherwise reflects a growing consensus.

  • Republic of Connaught


    The Armed struggle will only be resurrected by dinosaurs and there aren’t enoughof them to do it. John Hume and David Trimble will always be given their rightful place in Irish history for the courage they both showed. Courage which destroyed their parties in many ways.

    It’s funny but when I watch Robinson and McGuinness work so confidently together like they did on UTV leaders questions, I wish they were the two Irish politicians dealing with the EU, IMF and ECB rather than what we have in Dublin.

  • Mac @ 1:45 pm:

    You make my point admirably: they tend to have rolling 1 to 6 month contracts which the company can terminate with anything from 24hours to a week’s notice. You can’t sue for unfair dismissal as a contractor. Even if you could, you wouldn’t, not if you wanted to work again.

    You are also correct about the age showing.

    Now, here’s an odd thing: one subterranean root of my family tree involved South Yorkshire and Derbyshire forefathers who were down the pit. They had the same problem of insecure employment and victimisation. They, and their peers, did something about it. The something was called the South Yorkshire Miners’ Association. When Ben Pickard combined the two Yorkshire Associations and switched from the ameliorative (paying benefit to injured colleagues) to confronting the owners, jobs were made more secure, pay went up, and membership increased rapidly.

    Ben Tillett, Tom Mann and John Burns were achieving similar results in the London Docks, around the same time.

    Obviously the modern IT worker is less co-operative, less self-interested, and far less savvy that those guys were 130 years ago.

    Clive Jenkins and Barrie Sherman [Computers and Unions] took an interest in how your problems would inevitably develop: but that was as far back as 1977. There’s none so deaf as those who will not hear.

  • Sick of Biggots

    Tedious Republic of Bile

    “Put Wikipedia as a source in any academic paper and you’ll be laughed at.” Yet again wrong. You can use Wikipedia in certain circumstances as long as it’s properly referenced. It was used here because it”s a bit hard to cut and paste out of a text book, but it’s value to the argument was just as relevant.

    “But I doubt you’ve ever written any.” More pontification on a subject you know nothing about. I’m currently working on an MBA. What’s your current academic undertaking? An examination of your navel?

    “So Scotland is more sectarian than the north of Ireland? Despite Alex Bruce, an academic Professor, stating the opposite in an above article.” Just because Steve Bruce says it’s so, doesn’t make it so. The first thing you are taught at university is to question what you are being told by the academics. I suppose it’s a bit hard to do that at the university of Daytime TV. If Steve Bruce told you the world was flat would you believe him?

  • Mac

    The tales from the pit and waterfront are fascinating but not exactly relevant when it comes to unions and modern IT workers.
    Did they work for a multinational corporation on a product that required no raw materials or supply chain? Could their jobs have been off shored almost instantaneously with little to no interruption in the supply of the end product with no transit issues to consider?

    Contractors don’t join unions because a union could do even less for a contractor than they can do for full time employees, which is next to nothing.

    Anyway, we’re both way off an a tangent from the actual topic thread.

  • Republic of Connaught


    You are arguing simply for the sake of it.

    It is truly ridiculous to claim any individual having lived in Belfast and Glasgow can offer more conclusive evidence about which city is more sectarian than actual ACADEMIC RESEARCH on the matter which Professor Bruce has referenced.

    When you actually conduct your own academic research on the subject to prove him wrong then come back to me.

    PS: Don’t reference wikipedia on your MBA if you want to be taken seriously.

  • Sick of Biggots

    Sigh . . .

    All through this I have merely tried to point out your lack of true understanding of what you feel the need to pontificate about. I thought the wikipedia article may have opened your eyes a bit, but all you want to do in denigrate it. As you don’t seem to feel the need to think about your views but just spout what someone has told you I’m really not interested in the output of your small little mind.

    PS: the MBA is going really well. Thanks for asking.

    PPS: I have already referenced wikipedia in at least one essay. Good a good mark too.

  • JoeBryce

    Connaught: We seem to agree about a great deal. Not entirely sure that is the point of Slugger!

  • Republic of Connaught


    Yes, but I think it’s a rarity on Slugger. Mick will not be encouraging it.


    You are the one denigrating the article of a Professor of Sociology with multiple books published about religion in Northern Ireland and Scotland based on nothing but your own little experience of Belfast and Glasgow. Forgive me if I take his findings over yours.

    I’m glad your MBA is going well nonetheless.

  • Mac @ 3:22 pm:

    I’d disagree with you on most points there; and the comparison has relevance to this thread.

    The coal-owners were as near as dammit multi-nationals (British coal was exported widely). The pits, producing a primary product, needed minimal inward supply chain (even the pit-props were off the estate). The outgoing product was CIF. Until the pitmen combined — and the combinations were international as early as the 1880s — and became waged, the normal conditions of employment in the pit were to be granted a stall, with the pitman required to supply his own pit-props and his own helpers (normally his own family). Payment was entirely by the weight of output: hence the maxim: “Keep your hand upon your gannins, and your eye upon the scale”.

    Now consider: what was imported — Irish blackleg labour, when the “natives” became restless. That was (see above) the point of social division in the Clyde coalfields, as in Northumberland and Durham. That also was where the solidarity of a union was tested — and largely successful, but it was a bloody business in hard times. As Greenflag @ 11:02 am yesterday suggested: not everything has changed.

    If IT workers have no job security, and fear for being ousted by blacklegs, go figure.

  • Mac

    “The coal-owners were as near as dammit multi-nationals (British coal was exported widely)”

    Yes, BRITISH coal. Not Citibank, or Fujitsu, or Sopra, or Liberty, or Northbrook or any of the other dozen big employers that are not even Europena companies in most cases let alone British.

    Working for a company that exports to many nations isn’t the same thing as working for a multinational that happens to put a development centre in your country because the tax breaks are good….
    for now.

    “Now consider: what was imported — Irish blackleg labour”

    I get that, you however seem to be missing the important difference of what you are asking me to consider. The production of BRITISH coal required the import of labour, labour that lived nearby, labour that could be intimidated or even approached to form a united front, theoretically. Labour that still has to buy goods and food at the same prices as the native labour. Union member or blackleg they HAD to go to the one place to work, and live in the surrounding area.

    The guy sitting in Belfast or Manchester or Waterford has zero interaction with someone in Bangalore, the programmer in Bangalore can buy goods at a fraction of the price of the aforementioned programmers. He has, a well paid job, that currently carries more prestige in Indian society than that of a doctor.

    These guys ain’t blacklegs, they simply do the same job cheaper. The best job security for developers is to get work on projects/products that mandate security clearance.

    This is more Molly Millions than the Molly Maguires.

  • The answers to Mac @ 6:12 pm are that multinationalism in works more ways than one, and we have, indeed, been here before.

    Coal has been quoted on the exchanges for a century: Cardiff Coal Exchange used to be pre-eminent and was the marker for world-wide prices. Allegedly (though this has been challenged) the first ever million pound cheque was issued there in 1901. The power of the Cambrian Combine then might be fairly compared with Shell or Exxon today.

    So the mine-workers internationalised, too. Which is why they were denounced, demonised, and brutalised. “The Red Scare”, y’know.

    If the employment of an IT specialist in Silicon Glen is threatened by her/his opposite number in Bangalore (whence Number One Daughter’s US-based multinational is despatching her for the next week), then the answer is multi-national unionism — look up “One Big Union” some time. The Victorians managed bits of it. Big Jim Larkin was later part of it. Has the modern generation lost that power of organisation? This time round you’ve got that magic ingredient: “human rights”.

    Anyway, back to the prime matter of this thread. I’d want to argue that one reason why any sectarianism in Scotland stems from industrial conflict was because there otherwise was a common radicalism: the flower of Scotland bloomed again/ Among proddy dogs and papes [© Alistair Hulett].

    To begin at the beginning …

    Expatriate Scots, of either persuasion, were deep into the French Revolution. Dr William Maxwell of Kirkconnel was a member of the French National Guard and close enough to soak a handkerchief in “the tyrant’s blood” when Louis XVI went to the guillotine. Bishop John Geddes went to revolutionary Paris to keep a shrewd and censorious eye on Alexander Gordon, principal of the Scots College (and a convinced republican): there he found a Mr Rose of Edinburgh acting as an usher (a “hussier”) at the French National Assembly. Thom Paine’s Rights of Man, though banned, circulated widely across Scotland, and was translated and sold thoughout A’ Ghàidhealtachd. Burns may have produced Scots Wha hae wi’ Wallace Bled, but it was as well known in another form: Albannaich, thug Brus mu’n cuairt. Geddes, by the way, had a personal copy of Burns’s verses, with holograph additions by Burns himself. Hugh MacDiarmid put forward evidence that Burns enlisted as part of the Scottish republicans plans to infiltrate the yeomanry.

    How many here know that there was a United Scotsmen rising, although almost entirely confined to Perthshire, in 1797?

    One of the consequences of the failure of the 1798 and 1803 Irish Risings was the arrival of some 15,000 Irish into the Glasgow area. This petrified the editor of the Tory Glasgow Herald, Samuel Hunter (who had served in the Crown forces in the ’98). The graduates of the United Irishmen went on to be movers and shakers in the Scottish Insurrection of 1820. Now there’s another episode which has been airbrushed from the history of “North Britain”.

  • Mac

    I’m sorry Malcolm, you seem to be interpreting my experiences and knowledge of the modern IT industry as an opportunity to display your encyclopaedic knowledge of union/labour history of the last millennium.

    Unions, be they local or multi-national are irrelevant in IT. Job security as an IT worker for a multinational is better gained through an evolving and relevant skill set, or by securing work on central government projects that mandate onshore development by security cleared workers.
    You can’t apply ‘traditional industry’ rules and lessons to IT.

    No raw materials.
    No reliance on a central point of production (beyond what is occasionally legislated).
    No need to consider freight/haulage/import export taxes.

    The kid in Bangalore with the knowledge base that is the internet will take your job in 5 years if you don’t evolve, and you wont even get the opportunity to scream scab at him as he goes to work ‘your job’ because you are a continent or two away.

  • Mac @ 12:13 am:

    Which all falls apart when that patronised “kid in Bangalore” realises her/his lifestyle is threatened by a younger, smarter stripling in Beijing or Botswana. Suddenly that “kid” has a communality of interest with you … The trouble with imposing the rigours of the capitalist rat-race on oneself is that the young rats are always fitter in racing the maze than the old rats, unless the old rats use their experience to advantage.

    Which is why, as to history, I’m a Santayana man, not a monochromic follower of Ford.

    That “communality of interest” thing is yet another reason for the difference in sectarianism between Glasgow and Belfast, and why — at the outset of this thread, several decades ago — I suggested the significance of John Maclean.

    Again, there is a direct historical link, and it continues the narrative from my previous post.

    Burns composed Scots wha hae … at Gatehouse of Fleet (well-known to Sealink customers). It’s not primarily about Wallace, but was allegorical, inspired by seeing Thomas Muir in shackles on his way to trial in Edinburgh. Muir had been charged with sedition for defending the views of Thom Paine. Muir, an advocate, had gone to France to argue against the execution of Louis XVI. He came back via Dublin, where he joined the United Irishmen, and was arrested at Stranraer.

    In Edinburgh Muir was sentenced to 14 years transportation. This was part of the crack-down on all Scottish dissent. Even protests about famine were suppressed with extreme violence. When the miners of Tranent resisted the impressment of 6,000 Scots into the militia, Kentish dragoons and the bourgeois of the East Lothian yeomanry were sent in to sort ’em out. There were a dozen (including a child) killed in the subsequent massacre. Funny how Peterloo (15 dead) is generally recalled, but not Tranent.

    Except, of course, the radicals of Scotland didn’t allow their history to be sanitized; and Tranent and Bonnymuir (5th April 1820) went into an alternative, and more reliable history. Scotland remained a military zone until 1832.

    All of which resurrected when the ILP opposed the Military Service Act, imposing conscription, in 1916. Which sent John Maclean and others to gaol. Which united working class opinion across the denominational divide. Which didn’t happen in Ulster (where conscription was not imposed) because Big House Unionism had played that “Orange Card” and the Sons of Ulster, recruited by their betters to oppose Home Rule, were Observed obediently Marching Toward the Somme [© Frank McGuinness, 1985].

  • Michael Gillespie

    Federal Unionism-Early Sinn Fein.

    Reading the comments on Mick Fealty’s article on Scotland the following points come to mind about sectarianism in Scotland and N. Ireland.

    Point One. It’s factual that the Church of Scotland preached along these lines in the 20th century: –
    “Irish Catholics belong to a different religion and a different race and aren’t one of us. Ulster Scots share our faith and are of the same race and are one of us.”

    Point Two. If Irish immigrants had come to Scotland declaring they were Republicans intending to overthrow the Constitution and the Crown by violence and set up a Republic of Scotland the Irish immigrant population would have been met with bitter violent opposition by Scottish loyalists.

    Point Three. In Ireland Irish Republicans mostly Catholic past and present have actively attempted to overthrow the Constitution and the Crown by armed force and have been rightly opposed by violent loyalists and the forces of the state; hence the sectarian ghettoes and peace walls in Belfast and Derry and the sectarian D.U.P. and Sinn Fein.

    Point Four. It is well known that at Celtic matches the supporters display the Irish Tricolour which is in its history is a constitutional threat to the loyalist Rangers who support the U.K.constitution and display the Union Flag in retaliation. Sectarian violence is the outcome.

    Point Five. It is my thesis that the British/Irish sectarianism problem evident at Celtic/Rangers matches and in the sectarian ghettoes of N. Ireland is a constitutional problem and it can only be resolved by reforming the U.K. Constitution of Great Britain and N. Ireland to the Federal Kingdom Constitution of the Sovereign Nation of Ireland and Great Britain expressed in The National Government of Ireland Act making a reformed elected Crown Head of State for all Ireland. Ireland like Australia and Canada could then be a sovereign independent nation separate from Great Britain with its own government, flag, anthem, Irish Identity, passport army navy air force police service and with a seat at the U.N. Australia and Canada have all of these national characteristics due to the Australia Act and the Constitution Act of Pierre Trudeau in the 20th century but both nations are under the Crown whilst retaining the option of becoming Republics if that is the democratic wish of the people For anyone interested there is more on this theme at http://www.authorhouse.co.uk by typing my name into the search engine.

    Michael Gillespie Federal Unionist-Early Sinn Fein Derry