How could these stories not leave the listener affected? At every stop on our way around the tunnels and underground platforms Paul informed us not only of the stories of the places and the events, but of the people – the ordinary working people of Glasgow, the ordinary working people of the Highlands who came, cleared from their homes, to work in the city, and the ordinary people of Scotland and elsewhere who passed through the station.
So long as “our language” – as the BBC in Scotland was once proud to describe it – was seen as a quaint fossil of a defeated nation; a Scotland wholly absorbed into Great Britain qua Greater England, it was ignored or treated with a benign touristic or voyeuristic passing interest. Now that Scotland is well on its way to independence, that patronising benevolence has been replaced by an open hostility fast approaching that displayed by the British nationalists in the north of Ireland towards Gaeilge.
We are not permitted the language of genocide – legally and technically precise as it is – because it makes certain people uncomfortable. That’s the seat of all the anger and vitriol right there: That Britain did this to Gaelic Scotland is discomforting, it tears from Britishness the fraudulence of benign and beneficial patronage and lays bare its naked and vicious and murderous ethno-nationalist imperialism. One simply cannot have the comfort of being “British and Scottish” and accept as historical fact that Britain did this and still does this.
When Jill Stephenson claims that Scotland doesn’t fit any definition of a colony, she is quite wrong. Scotland fits almost every definition of a colony. All that her claim does is highlight something more about her and her positionality than it does of anything in Scotland’s historical or present reality.
Conditioned by the belief of the Gael’s racial and ethnic inferiority, in one example of a program being repeated right across the Highlands and Islands, the Duke of Sutherland forcefully evicted over 15,000 people from his land at a rate of over 2,000 families in a single day on one occasion.