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The case for Orkney nationalism Would the archipelago be better off with Norway?

(Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty)


July 5, 2023   5 mins

When John Maynard Keynes visited Orkney for two months in the summer of 1908, he wrote, enchanted, to a friend from Stromness, claiming “the view from this town is the Bay of Naples and the Island of Capri”.

This stunningly beautiful archipelago off the north-easternmost tip of Scotland is also supposed to be the “happiest place in Britain”. And yet all is not well. On Tuesday, with a show of a dozen or so hands, the islands’ local council gave its support for “alternative forms of governance”, which could reframe its relationship with Westminster in line with crown dependencies such as Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man, or overseas territories like the Falklands. It could attempt to go even further, declaring its independence and reviving its historic links with Norway to becoming a self-governing territory, like the Faroe Islands, an autonomous region of Denmark.

While discussions about going back to their Scandinavian roots are at the exploratory stage — even newspapers haven’t yet settled on whether such a move should be called “Orxit”, “Orkxit” or “Orkexit” — Orcadians seem to be sold on the idea. Reasons for the disgruntlement with Westminster and Holyrood are various, but include under-subsidised ferry fares, a miserly dividend from four decades of North Sea oil exploration and underinvestment by central governments into potentially lucrative wind power projects. As Scotland’s smallest council, it also receives hundreds of pounds less per person than the others.

Certainly, Orkney — and Shetland to its north — is distinct from the rest of the United Kingdom. Geographically closer to Oslo than Edinburgh, the islands retain a strong Nordic character, even though they were last under Norwegian and Danish control in 1472. And life on the archipelago certainly has its upsides. It has good schools, affordable houses, clean air and abundance of space, but its winning edge is a form of Scandinavian communitarianism that instils a profound sense of safety and social trust among its 23,000 residents.

Here, crime is rare — the sort of place where farm equipment is shared and a builder’s yard won’t charge you for half a bag of sand. Nearly 40 years ago, my parents bought a property overlooking Scapa Flow which, with a few short intermissions, had been held by our wider family for centuries. On requesting the door key, the estate agent replied that one didn’t exist. (Despite soaring local house prices, which rose 8.5% last year, the average cost of a property on Orkney is just £221,000.)

“Bleak” is a word only our opponents use to describe the place. True, the first view of the high cliffs and red sandstone of Hoy can seem forbidding. Frightening even, particularly if shrouded in sea fret. And the weather in the Northern Isles is changeable, and best described in quantitative terms. The total absence of trees can upset people — but Orcadians reply, I think correctly, that they would only spoil the view.

It is a quirk of medieval history that the Orkneys — for centuries, a central hinge in a Nordic chain linking Scandinavia with Iceland and Greenland — ever found themselves to be a peripheral province of Scotland. Last month, while raising the prospect of greater autonomy, financial security and economic opportunity for his islands, James Stockan, leader of the Orkney Island Council, noted that “we were part of the Norse kingdom for much longer than we were part of the United Kingdom”. And Stockan believes the islands are being “failed dreadfully”. He recently told BBC Scotland: “The funding we get from the Scottish government is significantly less per head than Shetland and the Western Isles to run the same services — we can’t go on as we are.”

Scotland’s acquisition of Orkney in 1472 was accidental. In 1468, the daughter of King Christian I of Norway and Denmark was betrothed to King James III of Scotland. The marriage treaty promised a dowry of 60,000 Rhenish Florins, but the impoverished Nordic King didn’t have this sum immediately to hand. Consequently, the archipelagos of Orkney and Shetland were pawned to Scotland with the intention of being later redeemed once the cash could be found. Alas, this never happened — a tragic turn for Orkney, which found itself a peripheral province of Scotland. Formal sovereignty was never transferred, and historians have long made the case that Scotland holds Orkney and Shetland in pledge rather than by sovereign right. To this day, Orcadians continue to make this point.

Would Orkney fit back into the Norse realm? Well, Orcadians do wear their Viking heritage with great pride. Norn, the local language of Orkney and similar to Icelandic and Faroese, was gradually replaced by Scots, but survived on the outer islands until the late 1700s. The modern Orkney dialect has a noticeable “sing-song” Scandinavian quality, characterised by a rising intonation at the end of a word (known as “the post-stressed syllable”).

The island also enjoys a strong sense of local patriotism and a separateness to the rest of Scotland. Orcadian poet Edwin Muir once infamously disparaged Scotland as “a sham nation”. In his History of Orkney of the late 1700s, George Low noted that Orcadians were reserved in their sentiments, honest in their dealings with one another, but “studious to conceal their gains”, while also being tenacious in their preservation of old customs. A politeness and civility also seems to pervade the islands, one now sadly absent in many other parts of Britain.

By modern standards, Orkney remains basically monocultural. Of course, the very idea might seem impolite and dĂ©classĂ© in a society where diversity is now promoted as a foundational value. For progressives, monocultures seem unacceptable, exclusionary things, in need of correction. However, Orkney’s monocultural strength makes it far easier for incomers to fit in. Unlike most of Britain, Orcadians set a cultural tone into which new arrivals can assimilate. The setting of clear rules and norms make it easier for outsiders to find a place in the community. It’s not uncommon for settlers from the south, called ferry-loupers, to give their Orkney-born children names such as Erland, Thorfinn and Mangus.

As large states like Britain become increasingly divided, I can see the attraction to Orcadians of re-uniting with their Nordic brethren. There’s a reason the UK government would resist these ideas out of hand though. The oil might be running out, but Orkney played a pivotal part in Britain’s naval operations in both world wars. It was in Scapa Flow that naval aviation was born in 1917, when Squadron Commander Edwin Harris Dunning first landed an aircraft on a moving ship at sea. The loss of the Northern Isles would be a serious strategic loss to the United Kingdom.

While it is difficult to imagine any circumstances in which Orkney would be permitted to leave — only last week, the Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman said: “There is no mechanism for the conferral of crown dependency or overseas territory status on any part of the UK” — an exit from a newly independent Scotland would seem much more promising. After all, if arguments of history and self-determination are ever to grant independence to Scotland, the very same would apply to Orkney. And this is where an even more practical issue would emerge: resources. A fledgling independent Scotland would struggle to balance its budget. Indeed, it may even be uncertain of how to pay its pensions — and in what currency? Without the unwarranted fiscal largesse of the Barnett formula, used to calculate the overall level of funding allocated by the UK Treasury to devolved governments, so-called “Highland economics” would be brutally applied by Holyrood.

It is in these circumstances that the prospect of self-governing status, similar to that enjoyed by the Faroe Islands, might suddenly suit Orkney very nicely. Who wouldn’t wish to be part of a Norwegian state that boasts a $1.4 trillion sovereign wealth fund?

Orcadians are acutely aware from their surroundings that kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall and that political jurisdictions are transitory. The archipelago resembles a pin cushion of archeological sites spanning from the 5,000-year-old Neolithic Stones of Stenness to Pictish brochs from 200 BC, to Viking drinking halls from a mere thousand years ago. What an irony it would be if an Orkney earldom lost to Norway in 1472 through lack of money was lost centuries later by Scotland for the very same reason.


William Clouston is leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP)

WilliamClouston

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Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
10 months ago

By modern standards, Orkney remains basically monocultural. Of course, the very idea might seem impolite and dĂ©classĂ© in a society where diversity is now promoted as a foundational value. For progressives, monocultures seem unacceptable, exclusionary things, in need of correction. However, Orkney’s monocultural strength makes it far easier for incomers to fit in. Unlike most of Britain, Orcadians set a cultural tone into which new arrivals can assimilate. The setting of clear rules and norms make it easier for outsiders to find a place in the community.

How refreshing.

William Shaw
William Shaw
10 months ago
Reply to  Katalin Kish

This is a good example of a member of the left-wing elite supporting and encouraging the dissolution of national sovereignty. It’s been going on for decades and they continue to chip away at the social and political fabric of the country.

Last edited 10 months ago by William Shaw
Andrew D
Andrew D
10 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I think you’ve misunderstood him

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
10 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

It’s plain to see that the urge toward larger and larger unions; empires, great nations, trans-national unions; is a common feature of many human minds. And also that there’s something to recommend the opposite idea; smaller, more localized polities.
If nothing else the change often brings an opportunity to correct some of the glitches in the ruling legal frame-work of the larger union. This is almost certainly the case here in the US. With political tribes at loggerheads for so many decades there’s no chance of ammending our Constitution; leaving us with a democracy that simply doesn’t represent the will of most of the people. A civilized divorce would be far better.
I have no idea, but perhaps such a divorce would be better for the Orkadians, too. “National sovereignty” is not a good reason to hold them.

Last edited 10 months ago by laurence scaduto
Andrew D
Andrew D
10 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I think you’ve misunderstood him

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
10 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

It’s plain to see that the urge toward larger and larger unions; empires, great nations, trans-national unions; is a common feature of many human minds. And also that there’s something to recommend the opposite idea; smaller, more localized polities.
If nothing else the change often brings an opportunity to correct some of the glitches in the ruling legal frame-work of the larger union. This is almost certainly the case here in the US. With political tribes at loggerheads for so many decades there’s no chance of ammending our Constitution; leaving us with a democracy that simply doesn’t represent the will of most of the people. A civilized divorce would be far better.
I have no idea, but perhaps such a divorce would be better for the Orkadians, too. “National sovereignty” is not a good reason to hold them.

Last edited 10 months ago by laurence scaduto
William Shaw
William Shaw
10 months ago
Reply to  Katalin Kish

This is a good example of a member of the left-wing elite supporting and encouraging the dissolution of national sovereignty. It’s been going on for decades and they continue to chip away at the social and political fabric of the country.

Last edited 10 months ago by William Shaw
Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
10 months ago

By modern standards, Orkney remains basically monocultural. Of course, the very idea might seem impolite and dĂ©classĂ© in a society where diversity is now promoted as a foundational value. For progressives, monocultures seem unacceptable, exclusionary things, in need of correction. However, Orkney’s monocultural strength makes it far easier for incomers to fit in. Unlike most of Britain, Orcadians set a cultural tone into which new arrivals can assimilate. The setting of clear rules and norms make it easier for outsiders to find a place in the community.

How refreshing.

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
10 months ago

“a Norwegian state that boasts a $1.4 billion sovereign wealth fund”; you are out by a factor of a thousand. It is $1.4 trillion.
Thank you for pointing out that “monocultural” Orkney is the “happiest place in Britain”, whilst the UK cultural elite is forever banging on about the wonders of diversity. Thanks also for your observation that it is actually easier for an outsider to integrate into a monoculture. Metropolitan diversity encourages silos, rather than integration.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
10 months ago

Indeed. Decades of promoting a multicultural society has merely resulted in a multiplicity of monocultures.

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
10 months ago

There were over a dozen nationalities in my English class in 1989 in Melbourne, Australia. We had a blast translating jokes from our own lands. No one pulled away offended. Migrating is a tough gig, people expected some knocks. We learned from knocks. I know, because we talked about them.
The ideas of multiculturalism and political correctness were confusing concepts evidently for many of us, as we arced up and argued with the poor instructor trying to defend these concepts.
While we ended up in Australia for different reasons, none of us came here to sort out a chaos: many of us were escaping chaotic environments and were craving to assimilate into a stable society where right vs wrong is consistently understood, where we could easily measure our progress toward living peaceful, productive lives, where our children could thrive as Australians – without hyphens.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
10 months ago

Indeed. Decades of promoting a multicultural society has merely resulted in a multiplicity of monocultures.

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
10 months ago

There were over a dozen nationalities in my English class in 1989 in Melbourne, Australia. We had a blast translating jokes from our own lands. No one pulled away offended. Migrating is a tough gig, people expected some knocks. We learned from knocks. I know, because we talked about them.
The ideas of multiculturalism and political correctness were confusing concepts evidently for many of us, as we arced up and argued with the poor instructor trying to defend these concepts.
While we ended up in Australia for different reasons, none of us came here to sort out a chaos: many of us were escaping chaotic environments and were craving to assimilate into a stable society where right vs wrong is consistently understood, where we could easily measure our progress toward living peaceful, productive lives, where our children could thrive as Australians – without hyphens.

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
10 months ago

“a Norwegian state that boasts a $1.4 billion sovereign wealth fund”; you are out by a factor of a thousand. It is $1.4 trillion.
Thank you for pointing out that “monocultural” Orkney is the “happiest place in Britain”, whilst the UK cultural elite is forever banging on about the wonders of diversity. Thanks also for your observation that it is actually easier for an outsider to integrate into a monoculture. Metropolitan diversity encourages silos, rather than integration.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
10 months ago

The biggest advantage is that Norway’s government is encouraging more drilling and development while all UK governments, and so-called oppositions, are acting like executive branches of Just Stop Oil.

Andrew H
Andrew H
10 months ago

Indeed

Andrew H
Andrew H
10 months ago

Indeed

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
10 months ago

The biggest advantage is that Norway’s government is encouraging more drilling and development while all UK governments, and so-called oppositions, are acting like executive branches of Just Stop Oil.

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
10 months ago

The article says Orkney “last under Norwegian and Danish control in 1472”. In 1472, neither Norway nor Denmark existed as separate national entities. Along with Sweden, they formed the Kalmar Union which was ruled by a German monarch, Christian 1. (The article incorrectly describes him as “Christian I of Norway and Denmark”.) It was the German monarch who handed over Orkney to the Scots king.
Why does Orkney think it should revert to Norway, when there is just as much argument that it should revert to Sweden, Denmark, or indeed, Oldenburg in Germany, the home of Christian 1? Presumably it is because Norway is the one with the trillion bucks of sovereign wealth fund.
BTW, I wish the Orcadians no ill. If I were an Orcadian, I would fully support the move. Anything to get away from the dead hand of the SNP.

Last edited 10 months ago by Peter Kwasi-Modo
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

As the ‘Union of Kalmar’ was dominated by Denmark, and Sweden was a somewhat reluctant member, the case for Sweden is rather weak.

On the other hand Norway had been ruled by Denmark for centuries, and thus ‘technically’ Denmark may have the strongest case?

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
10 months ago

Some accounts say that Christian only had the right to pledge Orkney in his capacity as King of Norway. On the other hand, the princess involved in the marriage settlement was Margaret of Denmark.
My original point, as is usually the case with my posts, was entirely flippant. It was merely intended as a way to impute venal motives to the Orcadians.

Last edited 10 months ago by Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
10 months ago

Some accounts say that Christian only had the right to pledge Orkney in his capacity as King of Norway. On the other hand, the princess involved in the marriage settlement was Margaret of Denmark.
My original point, as is usually the case with my posts, was entirely flippant. It was merely intended as a way to impute venal motives to the Orcadians.

Last edited 10 months ago by Peter Kwasi-Modo
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
10 months ago

Norway is also the one that was occupied by Germany in WW2 and borders Russia. Orkney would be a very soft entry option for Russian interference in Norway and a backdoor to the UK.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

Denmark was also ‘occupied’.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
10 months ago

Orkney is not proposing to join the great Renewable Energy Power that is the Kingdom of Denmark, bordering Germany, but oil-rich hydro-powered Kingdom of Norway, bordering Russia.

Last edited 10 months ago by Brendan O'Leary
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

You said and I quote :-

“Norway is also the one that was occupied by Germany in WW2”.

Which is incorrect is it not?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

You said and I quote :-

“Norway is also the one that was occupied by Germany in WW2”.

Which is incorrect is it not?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
10 months ago

Orkney is not proposing to join the great Renewable Energy Power that is the Kingdom of Denmark, bordering Germany, but oil-rich hydro-powered Kingdom of Norway, bordering Russia.

Last edited 10 months ago by Brendan O'Leary
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

Denmark was also ‘occupied’.

Alan Elgey
Alan Elgey
10 months ago

William Clouston needs to do his research a bit better; in the same paragraph he writes: “Geographically closer to Oslo than Edinburgh, the islands……” Look at a map – this is not even close to being true.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

As the ‘Union of Kalmar’ was dominated by Denmark, and Sweden was a somewhat reluctant member, the case for Sweden is rather weak.

On the other hand Norway had been ruled by Denmark for centuries, and thus ‘technically’ Denmark may have the strongest case?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
10 months ago

Norway is also the one that was occupied by Germany in WW2 and borders Russia. Orkney would be a very soft entry option for Russian interference in Norway and a backdoor to the UK.

Alan Elgey
Alan Elgey
10 months ago

William Clouston needs to do his research a bit better; in the same paragraph he writes: “Geographically closer to Oslo than Edinburgh, the islands……” Look at a map – this is not even close to being true.

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
10 months ago

The article says Orkney “last under Norwegian and Danish control in 1472”. In 1472, neither Norway nor Denmark existed as separate national entities. Along with Sweden, they formed the Kalmar Union which was ruled by a German monarch, Christian 1. (The article incorrectly describes him as “Christian I of Norway and Denmark”.) It was the German monarch who handed over Orkney to the Scots king.
Why does Orkney think it should revert to Norway, when there is just as much argument that it should revert to Sweden, Denmark, or indeed, Oldenburg in Germany, the home of Christian 1? Presumably it is because Norway is the one with the trillion bucks of sovereign wealth fund.
BTW, I wish the Orcadians no ill. If I were an Orcadian, I would fully support the move. Anything to get away from the dead hand of the SNP.

Last edited 10 months ago by Peter Kwasi-Modo
David Lindsay
David Lindsay
10 months ago

Norway is not in the EU. Its combination of prosperity and equality is because it never has been. Boreas Domus, Mare Amicus, indeed, Orcadians. Boreas Domus, Mare Amicus, indeed.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
10 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

They also didn’t flog their oil and gas fields to their friends at the first opportunity

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
10 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Like BP, ConocoPhilips, ENI, Exxon, OMV, Wintershall, Det Norske, Lundin etc?
All these companies and their successors own and operate Norwegian oil & gas fields. Indeed, if it were not for Phillips, it’s debatable whether there would be any Norwegian fields at all. Remarkably, Phillips first development, Ekofisk, is still producing and development drilling , 54 years after its discovery.
https://www.conocophillips.com/spiritnow/story/50-years-of-ekofisk/

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
10 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Like BP, ConocoPhilips, ENI, Exxon, OMV, Wintershall, Det Norske, Lundin etc?
All these companies and their successors own and operate Norwegian oil & gas fields. Indeed, if it were not for Phillips, it’s debatable whether there would be any Norwegian fields at all. Remarkably, Phillips first development, Ekofisk, is still producing and development drilling , 54 years after its discovery.
https://www.conocophillips.com/spiritnow/story/50-years-of-ekofisk/

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

“Boreas Domus, Mare Amicus”.

How very pretentious!
Couldn’t ’they’ have dreamt up something in Norse?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
10 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

They also didn’t flog their oil and gas fields to their friends at the first opportunity

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

“Boreas Domus, Mare Amicus”.

How very pretentious!
Couldn’t ’they’ have dreamt up something in Norse?

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
10 months ago

Norway is not in the EU. Its combination of prosperity and equality is because it never has been. Boreas Domus, Mare Amicus, indeed, Orcadians. Boreas Domus, Mare Amicus, indeed.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
10 months ago

Inspiring as a push for Orcadian independence from the Scottish yoke would be, they could hardly manage it unless Shetland was willing to jump with them. Yet support for the SNP in Shetland is surprisingly high (42% in the last election) and Shetland was noticeably more supportive of Scottish independence in the 2014 referendum than was Orkney (36% vs 32%), so Orkney may be caught in the middle. But the SNP leadership’s distain for the interests and concerns of the Scottish regions will be their undoing.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
10 months ago

Inspiring as a push for Orcadian independence from the Scottish yoke would be, they could hardly manage it unless Shetland was willing to jump with them. Yet support for the SNP in Shetland is surprisingly high (42% in the last election) and Shetland was noticeably more supportive of Scottish independence in the 2014 referendum than was Orkney (36% vs 32%), so Orkney may be caught in the middle. But the SNP leadership’s distain for the interests and concerns of the Scottish regions will be their undoing.

Margaret Donaldson
Margaret Donaldson
10 months ago

The Orcadians shoul check out the Norwegian level of taxation and cost of living before getting too dewy eyed about joining. But it is good that at last folk somewhere in the UK are expressing what most of us feel: fed up with a government, legislature and civil service that do not listen to us but ‘experts’.

Oliver Butt
Oliver Butt
10 months ago

They would, if part of Norway, have to pay to visit the GP (about ÂŁ10) and have their tax returns available for all to inspect.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Oliver Butt

What a brilliant system!
That certainly makes up for Mr Quisling!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Oliver Butt

What a brilliant system!
That certainly makes up for Mr Quisling!

Oliver Butt
Oliver Butt
10 months ago

They would, if part of Norway, have to pay to visit the GP (about ÂŁ10) and have their tax returns available for all to inspect.

Margaret Donaldson
Margaret Donaldson
10 months ago

The Orcadians shoul check out the Norwegian level of taxation and cost of living before getting too dewy eyed about joining. But it is good that at last folk somewhere in the UK are expressing what most of us feel: fed up with a government, legislature and civil service that do not listen to us but ‘experts’.

William Shaw
William Shaw
10 months ago

What a ridiculously idealistic view of Orkney. The author makes it sound like utopia.
Having spent time in both Orkney and Norway on several occasions I don’t recognise this description of the islands and people at all. It’s also very apparent that the people of Orkney are nothing like Norwegians.
At the very least the author should cease with the rather silly use of geographical distances as a reason for sovereignty.
Kirkwall is significantly closer to Edinburgh than it is to either Oslo or Copenhagen. In fact, Kirkwall is 100 miles closer to London than it is to Copenhagen.
Is Wales going to give Anglesey to Ireland due to it being closer to Dublin than it is to Cardiff or London?

Last edited 10 months ago by William Shaw
William Shaw
William Shaw
10 months ago

What a ridiculously idealistic view of Orkney. The author makes it sound like utopia.
Having spent time in both Orkney and Norway on several occasions I don’t recognise this description of the islands and people at all. It’s also very apparent that the people of Orkney are nothing like Norwegians.
At the very least the author should cease with the rather silly use of geographical distances as a reason for sovereignty.
Kirkwall is significantly closer to Edinburgh than it is to either Oslo or Copenhagen. In fact, Kirkwall is 100 miles closer to London than it is to Copenhagen.
Is Wales going to give Anglesey to Ireland due to it being closer to Dublin than it is to Cardiff or London?

Last edited 10 months ago by William Shaw
Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
10 months ago

For over two years I’ve seen anti-Scottish, anti-Welsh and anti-Irish comments on UnHerd – but only very rarely anti-English. This is presumably because England supports the rest of the UK financially and so generates a liege mentality in the population. Also, of course, England has the greatest number of people.
But isn’t it becoming clear that, with the exception of relative poverty and social diseases caused by poverty, England would really be better alone. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a mechanism for England to leave the UK.
Wales is very poor but the quality of life is much better than in England. 10 million English people visit Wales every year on vacation. I’m not sure that the quality of life is good in all of Scotland but Scotland is a big place with a lot of room for expansion – clearly Orkney seems to be a good place to live and probably also Shetland and the very north of the mainland.
It depends what you mean by ‘quality of life’. If you want money, airports, fast living, high finance, etc, then England wins. But isn’t that whole idea becoming unfashionable now? The ‘get back to nature’ movements are pretty well established. Scotland has space, Wales has beaches and water (for English survival), Ireland has
.? Both Scotland and Wales have very low populations which makes everything much easier to manage. England should find a way to leave the UK.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
10 months ago

For over two years I’ve seen anti-Scottish, anti-Welsh and anti-Irish comments on UnHerd – but only very rarely anti-English. This is presumably because England supports the rest of the UK financially and so generates a liege mentality in the population. Also, of course, England has the greatest number of people.
But isn’t it becoming clear that, with the exception of relative poverty and social diseases caused by poverty, England would really be better alone. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a mechanism for England to leave the UK.
Wales is very poor but the quality of life is much better than in England. 10 million English people visit Wales every year on vacation. I’m not sure that the quality of life is good in all of Scotland but Scotland is a big place with a lot of room for expansion – clearly Orkney seems to be a good place to live and probably also Shetland and the very north of the mainland.
It depends what you mean by ‘quality of life’. If you want money, airports, fast living, high finance, etc, then England wins. But isn’t that whole idea becoming unfashionable now? The ‘get back to nature’ movements are pretty well established. Scotland has space, Wales has beaches and water (for English survival), Ireland has
.? Both Scotland and Wales have very low populations which makes everything much easier to manage. England should find a way to leave the UK.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
10 months ago

Could the author fill me in how great Britain’s security is enhanced by the Orkney’s leaving it?

Alan Elgey
Alan Elgey
10 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

Where does he suggest that? He suggests that they would be a significant strategic loss.

Alan Elgey
Alan Elgey
10 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

Where does he suggest that? He suggests that they would be a significant strategic loss.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
10 months ago

Could the author fill me in how great Britain’s security is enhanced by the Orkney’s leaving it?