Scotland has suffered another blow to its sense of separate identity: The English have overrun its cultural establishment.
Ever since 1707, when Scotland and England were united under one crown and parliament, Scots have worried about being swamped by their English neighbors, who outnumber them 11-1.Comes now "The Englishing of Scotland," broadcast Aug. 29 on the independent Scottish television channel, which shows the command posts of Scottish culture firmly in the hands of Sassenachs from south of the border.
Not the artists, mind. Native Scottish creativity has never looked healthier. What worries guardians of Scottish identity is the preponderance of Englishmen in a cultural bureaucracy supposed to be separate.
"The Englishing of Scottish life is a process that has gone on for many years, but many Scots . . . feel it is beginning to undermine the very notion of Scotland," George Rosie, the writer and host, said in introducing the program.
Rosie presented impressive evidence of "non-Scot" infiltration, the non-Scots being almost invariably from England.
Non-Scots run most of Scotland's major state-subsidized arts institutions: the National Museums, National Galleries, National Library, Arts Council, Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, its three major international arts festivals and the Scottish National Trust for heritage parks and buildings.
They run five of the eight universities, 10 of the 15 government-funded colleges and three of the six leading theaters.
"We are assimilating ourselves toward an English ideal, and gradually I think we will assimilate ourselves out of existence," Billy Kay, a playwright, historian and Scottish nationalist, said on the program.
While everyone saw a problem, there was little agreement on the cause.
Newspaper columnist Neal Ascherson said most of the institutions mentioned were recent creations copied from England.
"The idea of cultural bureaucracies is entirely alien to Scotland," he said. "This is not a country which has traditionally been kind to the arts."
Some said Scots were reluctant to protest "Englishing" for fear of sounding racist. Alan Lawson, editor of the left-wing journal "Radical Scotland," said this fear had deprived Scots of "the confidence to stand up and argue that there is a problem."