31 MAY 1930, Page 6

A Scotsman

on Scottish Problems


AFEW years ago a few young Scots began to traverse the generally accepted views of Scotland's position, of its relations with England, and of Scottish character. They declared that Scotland was in a bad way. It had by far the worst slum problem in Europe. Unemploy- ment in Scotland was fifty per cent. worse than in Eng- land, although emigration from Scotland was two hundred per cent. greater. Rural depopulation was pro- ceeding at an alarming rate. Legislative provisions for land-settlement were nullified by Departmental practice ; applications for holdings were dealt with at an incredibly slow rate and only two per cent. were approved, although the land settlements actually effected showed a much smaller percentage of failure—and cost far less—than the settlements in Canada and elsewhere which it had been the policy of successive Governments, irrespective' of party, to encourage. It was the elements that could least be spared that were being drained out of the country—native Scots, most of them originally land- workers, who first went into city employment and then overseas. Their place was being taken by an alien influx of Irish, English, Jewish, Polish and other elements, most of whom were content with -lower wages. While the outflow of native Scots was counterbalanced by this inflow of foreigners, and urban congestion and rural depopulation remained alike unrelieved, the " Southward trend of industry " was transferring many Scottish indus- tries and at least the head offices of many more to London. At this point the Chamber of Commerce of Glasgow became alarmed. Criticism in other quarters concen- trated on the cumulative disadvantages to Scotland of the amalgamation of Scottish with English banks, railways, and other concerns. It was pointed out that Scotland was disproportionately taxed for Imperial purposes to the extent of some ten million pounds per annum, and if these figures were challenged the reply was that they were based on the last Treasury returns differentiating between Scottish and English revenue and expenditure. The practice of distinguishing between these had been discontinued. Why ? In other directions England (and even Wales) was generously treated; and Scotland, by comparison, in an incredibly niggardly fashion. This was particularly the case in respect of the National Library. Another " scandal " was the appalling con- dition into which Scottish national and local records had been allowed to drift. Similar instances and arguments were adduced from every department of Scottish affairs, and an increasing body of opinion agreed in attributing all this unsatisfactory state of matters to "English- controlled politics." During the previous' thirty years numerous Scottish Home Rule Bills had been thrown out by the permanent English majority in the House of Commons, although they had the support of four out of five Scottish members of all parties. The Scottish Estimates debates had long degenerated into a farce. English members absented themselves from the dis- cussions, until the division bell rang, when they trooped into the lobbies and out-voted the Scottish majority. The result of all this agitation, fostered by the continuous worsening of Scottish problems of all .kinds, was to intensify the Scottish Home Rule Movement.

It is impossible to foretell what the result of recent political developments in connexion with the Nationalist party will be. It is easy to dismiss them as the wild projects of a few fanatics ; but leading Scots, not associated with the National party, have declared them- selves in no uncertain terms on the general situation; however they may differ . on the question of cause and cure. Mr. John Buchan: has said that Scotland needs a great national awakening. Commander Kenworthy, two years ago, prophesied the coming of Scottish Sinn Fein and characterized it as urgently necessary ! Lord Lovat himself recently said. that Scottish interests are very different from, and sometimes opposed to, English in- terests,,and threatened that Scotland could not wait much longer-for the predominantly English Parliament to tackle the giave position of Scottish agriculture. Many years ago, the late Lord Rosebery anticipated the present movement when he declared that " Scotland was the milch-cow of the Empire." The surprising thing is not that active nationalist organizations should come into being now ; it is that Scotland should ever have lacked them. Its traditional " Wha's like us ? " sentiment has been curiously divorced from practical affairs.

Alongside of the political nationalism there is a many- sided cultural movement. Scotland to-day possesses a host of young writers all. of whom have repudiated the traditional habit of looking towards England. They are no lOnger seeking to confribute to English literature, but to re-create a distinctively Scottish one. Their creative efforts have produced little of any consequence.; but the bulk of their work has been along critical lines. In Scots verse, efforts are being made to dethrone Burns and substitute' William Dunbar. Other writers emphasize the necessity of a return to Gaelic culture. Scottish history is being rewritten in de-Anglicized forms. Efforts are being made to establish a distinctive Scottish drama, and to make good the fact that Scotland is the only European country which lacks a school of composers working in a native idiom, and has failed to develop any art-music worth mentioning on the basis of one of the finest in- heritances of folk-music in the world.. Calvinism has been vigorously attacked as largely responsible for Scotland's anti-aesthetic disposition. Another plea is for the de- Anglicization of the curriculum of Scottish schools, which pay little or no attention to Scottish language, literature, or history. In_a different direction, Scottish character is manifestly undergoing a revolutionary change. Over a third of the inhabitants of Scotland have no church con- nexion of any kind. Another third is Roman Catholic— and has a high rate of natural increase, while the contrary is true of the membership of the Church of Scotland. The protests against the alleged " Irish Invasion " and against the position given to Roman Catholic Schools by the Education Act of 1918 manifest the increasing insecurity of the Protestant Church. The anti-Irish agitation sig- nally failed to " set the heather on fire." It was based on inaccurate statistics, and backed by no consideration of the economic causes of the influx or of the increasing emigration of native-born Scots.

Whatever the outcome may be, there is an indisputable liveliness in the North to-day, which is at least in healthy contrast to the stagnation and parochialism that haS pre- vailed for upwards of a century. New Scottish books of a challenging character are forthcoming every other week. So far, however, little has been done to make good the leeway in national documentation of which Mr. William Graham, M.P., and other leading Scots have complained. It is very difficult to secure up-to-date statistics and other information On Scottish issues. The sooner this lack is made good*the' better..