Member only
Episode
142

Scotland

Mar 19, 2021
History
-
17
minutes
Scotland
Great Britain
Life in the UK
UK politics
European history
The British Empire

It's one of the four countries that form part of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and has a fantastic history of invention, rivalry with its neighbour, and fierce pride.

In this episode, we take a look at the fantastic history of Scotland and ask ourselves how long it will remain part of the UK.

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Transcript

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about Scotland, one of the 4 countries that make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 

[00:00:33] The other three being, of course, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

[00:00:38] In this episode you’ll learn about the history of Scotland, and how it came to join forces with its arch-rival, England, to form a country. 

[00:00:48] We’ll talk about some of the great inventions that come out of Scotland, and we’ll consider what the future of Scotland might be.

[00:00:56] It’s a super interesting story, and it’s also a personal one. 

[00:01:00] Although I might not sound like it, I’m a quarter Scottish; my father’s side of the family is from the north of Scotland, I spent a large chunk of my childhood growing up in Scotland, and I can actually play the bagpipes.

[00:01:14] I should also start by saying thanks to my dad, not just for being Scottish, but also for helping me with this episode - so, thank you dad.

[00:01:24] My final point before we get into the meat of the episode is to quickly remind you that you can get all of the bonus episodes, plus the subtitles, the transcript, and the key vocabulary for this episode and all of our other ones over on the website, which is leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:01:42] This is where you can check out becoming a member of Leonardo English, and join a community of curious minds from all over the world, doing meetups, exchanging ideas, and generally, improving their English in a more interesting way.

[00:01:57] So if that's of interest, and I certainly hope it is, then the place to go to is leonardoenglish.com.

[00:02:07] OK then, Scotland.

[00:02:09] When most people think of Scotland, they think of the highlands, of bagpipes, of men wearing kilts, the things that look a little bit like skirts, of Scottish whisky, and perhaps even of haggis, the famous Scottish dish.

[00:02:27] You can find all of these things in Scotland, but beneath the surface is a fantastic history of rivalry with its neighbour, of entrepreneurship, of inventiveness, and of struggle.

[00:02:41] Let’s start with a few statistics, to give you an idea of how Scotland fits into the story of the United Kingdom.

[00:02:49] Scotland, in case you can’t picture it on a map, is found in the northern part of the UK, it’s directly above England. 

[00:02:59] Although the land area of Scotland forms a third of the total area of the UK, it has only 7.5% of the total population, just 5.5 million people.

[00:03:13] So, it is far less densely populated, with only 70 people per square kilometre, vs 430 in England. 

[00:03:23] And even within Scotland, the vast majority of the population is found in a relatively small area, mainly the part between Edinburgh and Glasgow. 

[00:03:34] There are huge swathes of it with very few people living there.

[00:03:40] So, it is a small country, between Slovakia and Finland in population size, but it packs a sizable punch, it has had a large impact on world history. 

[00:03:53] Scottish men and women are responsible for some fantastic inventions, some amazing creations, and for things that we use every day.

[00:04:02] John Logie Baird invented the television.

[00:04:05] Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

[00:04:08] Adam Smith is the father of modern economics.

[00:04:11] JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote Sherlock Holmes.

[00:04:17] For the sports fans, Sir Alex Ferguson, the long-standing manager of Manchester United is a proud Scotsman.

[00:04:26] When it comes to politics, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are from Scotland.

[00:04:31] And there are probably hundreds of Scottish people you have never heard of that have had an outsized impact on the world we live in, and you probably use things that they invented.

[00:04:44] A man called William Cullen is responsible for the technology behind refrigerators, behind fridges.

[00:04:51] A man called Ron Hamilton developed the disposable contact lens, if you enjoy toast, you have a man called Alan MacMasters to thank, and if you have ever taken money out from an ATM, from a bancomat, then you also have another scotsman to thank, a man named James Goodfellow.

[00:05:12] Indeed, Winston Churchill, the most definitely English wartime Prime Minister, once said “Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.”

[00:05:28] Scottish people are very proud of the impact Scots have had on the world, and rightly so, the world has a lot to be thankful to Scotland for.

[00:05:39] You might be thinking, if Scotland is such a fantastic, proud country with so many great inventors and thinkers, why did it lose its independence and form another country with England? 

[00:05:52] And didn’t it recently vote to not be independent?

[00:05:57] These are both excellent questions.

[00:06:00] We’ll get to the second one shortly, but to the first question of why did Scotland first unite with England we need to go back in time a little bit.

[00:06:11] Starting as far back as the 13th century, Scotland has been a fierce rival of its closest neighbour, England. 

[00:06:20] If you remember the film Braveheart–which you should certainly not rely on for historical accuracy by the way–you’ll remember a character called William Wallace, who led a movement against the English forces who had occupied Scotland.

[00:06:36] One thing that the film doesn’t get wrong though is that it doesn’t end well for William Wallace. 

[00:06:43] He is hung, drawn and quartered - he is killed in a horrible way, his body cut up into four pieces and sent to four corners of the land as a warning to obey the English king.

[00:06:57] For several hundred years after the death of William Wallace, in 1305, there was a period of tension between England and Scotland. 

[00:07:06] Scotland ended up forming an alliance with France, out of a shared hatred of England, and there were intermittent periods of fighting between the Scots and their southern neighbour.

[00:07:18] It was only in 1707, relatively recently, all things considered, that Scotland finally completely joined forces with its arch-enemy, England, to form the United Kingdom.

[00:07:31] This wasn’t an immediate, overnight change. 

[00:07:35] Indeed, Scotland and England had been living in a slightly strange situation for just over a 100 years, where Scotland and England shared a king, they shared a monarch, despite technically being different countries.

[00:07:52] This happened because in 1603, as Elizabeth The First had no children, she made her closest living relative, James the Sixth of Scotland, also King of England. 

[00:08:05] James’ heirs, his children and their children, became the Kings of both England and Scotland, and so there was a sort of unofficial union.

[00:08:16] And it wasn’t until 1707 that there was the full, political and legal union of the two countries.

[00:08:25] The reality is that the unification of Scotland and England wasn’t something that Scotland wanted to do, they did it out of necessity.

[00:08:35] The reasons were twofold, there were two of them.

[00:08:39] Firstly, Scotland had experienced a period of severe famine in the late 1600s. Its population reduced dramatically, and it was struggling economically.

[00:08:52] The second reason involves a country that you might not expect to have had an impact in the unification of the United Kingdom.

[00:09:02] Panama, yes, Panama, the small country in central America.

[00:09:07] This was the height of colonialism, and there was a plan formed for Scotland to colonise Panama, and to control the route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

[00:09:20] It sounded too good to be true, and almost every Scottish landowner invested in the plan.

[00:09:27] Indeed, anywhere from 15-40% of all of the money in Scotland went into this idea to colonise Panama.

[00:09:36] Unfortunately, it did not go to plan, the investors lost all of their money, and this had a huge impact on the Scottish economy. 

[00:09:45] It was as if everyone in Scotland had lost between 15 and 40% of their money, almost overnight.

[00:09:53] There were few options left for Scotland other than to accept a unification with its hated next-door neighbour, England.

[00:10:02] This was in 1707, and the union has remained in place ever since, Scotland has been united with England in the United Kingdom, ever since.

[00:10:13] How happy the Scots have been to remain in the union is another question. 

[00:10:19] In order to keep the union intact, there have been recent concessions to allow Scotland more powers of self-governance.

[00:10:28] Although Scotland got its own parliament in 1999, with limited powers around education, health and some parts of its tax system, it is still part of the United Kingdom, with major decisions being taken in Westminster, in London, in England.

[00:10:47] But, for how long that remains is another question.

[00:10:51] As you may remember, there was a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014. 

[00:10:58] 55% of the Scottish population voted to remain in the UK, while 45% voted to leave. 

[00:11:08] After the results came out the Scottish National Party, the SNP, which was the party that had been pushing for independence, said that the matter had been settled for a generation, that there wouldn’t be another referendum for 30 years.

[00:11:25] So, if that is the case, why might you have heard about a growing movement for another referendum on Scottish independence?

[00:11:35] In a word, Brexit.

[00:11:38] Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 5 years, you will remember that in 2016 the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, which it has now done.

[00:11:50] The margin was close, overall it was 52% voting to leave, and 48% voting to stay.

[00:12:00] But in Scotland, it wasn’t close at all. 

[00:12:03] In Scotland, only 38% of the population voted to leave, 62% voted to remain in the EU.

[00:12:13] And one of the important reasons that people had voted for Scotland to remain part of the UK back in 2014 was that, if Scotland had broken away from the UK, it might have had to reapply for EU membership, there was no guarantee that Scotland could have left the UK but stayed in the EU. 

[00:12:35] So, after the Brexit vote, there was a growing feeling in Scotland of “hang on, we voted for something back in 2014, but the rules have changed. If we had known that the UK would have voted to leave the EU in 2016, we might not have wanted to remain part of it back in 2014.”

[00:12:58] And as far as the opinion polls are concerned, it does suggest that if a referendum on Scottish independence were held today then Scotland would vote to leave the United Kingdom and become an independent country.

[00:13:14] If this did happen there would be all sorts of consequences that would be felt far outside the British Isles.

[00:13:22] Would Scotland be allowed to easily join the European Union? 

[00:13:27] Presumably any attempt would be made difficult by Spain, as if this were easy, it would be a strong sign to Catalonia that it could try a similar thing.

[00:13:39] Scotland would need to find its own currency, its own money, as it wouldn’t be able to immediately join the Euro.

[00:13:48] And in terms of social spending, Scotland spends more per citizen than the rest of the UK, and contributes less per head to the UK taxpayer.

[00:14:00] So, long story short, Scotland would either need to find additional ways to make money, or would need to cut costs in order to maintain the same level of spending on its people.

[00:14:13] And then there’s the question of a border. 

[00:14:16] As anyone who has been following the Brexit negotiations and the question of the border with Northern Ireland, you will know that there are no easy answers. 

[00:14:27] As far as I’m concerned, as someone who is Scottish, English and Welsh, if Scotland were to leave the United Kingdom it would be a great loss both for Scotland and for the UK.

[00:14:41] Although there is still huge rivalry between the two countries, they have been through a lot together, and there is a lot of shared cultural heritage between the two. 

[00:14:52] From fighting side by side in two world wars through to the fact that the two countries are literally part of the same country, there is more that unites the two than divides them.

[00:15:05] But, as with any alliance, any union, it needs to be based on equality and on mutual respect. 

[00:15:13] Each party should feel like they are stronger united than apart. And certainly Scotland, and the people of Scotland, should have the right to decide for itself whether it still feels that it is the case.

[00:15:28] Voltaire once said “We look to Scotland for all of our ideas of civilisation.”

[00:15:34] Speaking as an Englishman and also a partial Scotsman, it would be a great shame for those ideas of civilisation to break from an imperfect union, but still one that is preferable to no union at all.

[00:15:51] OK then, that is it for today's episode on Scotland.

[00:15:57] I hope it's been an interesting one, that you've learnt something new, and if you do go to Scotland, well then you’ll now know a little bit more about this fantastic country.

[00:16:08] If you are interested in learning more about the differences between Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and you have always wondered what the difference between the UK and Great Britain is, then I’d recommend listening to Episode 25, which is on the differences between the UK and Great Britain. 

[00:16:26] That certainly clears that question up.

[00:16:30] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode.

[00:16:33] For the members out there, you can head right in to our community forum, ask me questions about Scotland, Brexit, and the UK, and whatever you want. 

[00:16:41] You’ll find the community forum at community.leonardoenglish.com.

[00:16:46] And as a final reminder, if you are looking to improve your English in a more interesting way, to join a community of curious minds from all over the world, to unlock the transcripts, subtitles, and key vocabulary, then the place to go to is leonardoenglish.com.

[00:17:05] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:17:10] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.


[END OF EPISODE] 


Continue learning

Get immediate access to a more interesting way of improving your English
Become a member
Already a member? Login

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about Scotland, one of the 4 countries that make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 

[00:00:33] The other three being, of course, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

[00:00:38] In this episode you’ll learn about the history of Scotland, and how it came to join forces with its arch-rival, England, to form a country. 

[00:00:48] We’ll talk about some of the great inventions that come out of Scotland, and we’ll consider what the future of Scotland might be.

[00:00:56] It’s a super interesting story, and it’s also a personal one. 

[00:01:00] Although I might not sound like it, I’m a quarter Scottish; my father’s side of the family is from the north of Scotland, I spent a large chunk of my childhood growing up in Scotland, and I can actually play the bagpipes.

[00:01:14] I should also start by saying thanks to my dad, not just for being Scottish, but also for helping me with this episode - so, thank you dad.

[00:01:24] My final point before we get into the meat of the episode is to quickly remind you that you can get all of the bonus episodes, plus the subtitles, the transcript, and the key vocabulary for this episode and all of our other ones over on the website, which is leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:01:42] This is where you can check out becoming a member of Leonardo English, and join a community of curious minds from all over the world, doing meetups, exchanging ideas, and generally, improving their English in a more interesting way.

[00:01:57] So if that's of interest, and I certainly hope it is, then the place to go to is leonardoenglish.com.

[00:02:07] OK then, Scotland.

[00:02:09] When most people think of Scotland, they think of the highlands, of bagpipes, of men wearing kilts, the things that look a little bit like skirts, of Scottish whisky, and perhaps even of haggis, the famous Scottish dish.

[00:02:27] You can find all of these things in Scotland, but beneath the surface is a fantastic history of rivalry with its neighbour, of entrepreneurship, of inventiveness, and of struggle.

[00:02:41] Let’s start with a few statistics, to give you an idea of how Scotland fits into the story of the United Kingdom.

[00:02:49] Scotland, in case you can’t picture it on a map, is found in the northern part of the UK, it’s directly above England. 

[00:02:59] Although the land area of Scotland forms a third of the total area of the UK, it has only 7.5% of the total population, just 5.5 million people.

[00:03:13] So, it is far less densely populated, with only 70 people per square kilometre, vs 430 in England. 

[00:03:23] And even within Scotland, the vast majority of the population is found in a relatively small area, mainly the part between Edinburgh and Glasgow. 

[00:03:34] There are huge swathes of it with very few people living there.

[00:03:40] So, it is a small country, between Slovakia and Finland in population size, but it packs a sizable punch, it has had a large impact on world history. 

[00:03:53] Scottish men and women are responsible for some fantastic inventions, some amazing creations, and for things that we use every day.

[00:04:02] John Logie Baird invented the television.

[00:04:05] Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

[00:04:08] Adam Smith is the father of modern economics.

[00:04:11] JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote Sherlock Holmes.

[00:04:17] For the sports fans, Sir Alex Ferguson, the long-standing manager of Manchester United is a proud Scotsman.

[00:04:26] When it comes to politics, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are from Scotland.

[00:04:31] And there are probably hundreds of Scottish people you have never heard of that have had an outsized impact on the world we live in, and you probably use things that they invented.

[00:04:44] A man called William Cullen is responsible for the technology behind refrigerators, behind fridges.

[00:04:51] A man called Ron Hamilton developed the disposable contact lens, if you enjoy toast, you have a man called Alan MacMasters to thank, and if you have ever taken money out from an ATM, from a bancomat, then you also have another scotsman to thank, a man named James Goodfellow.

[00:05:12] Indeed, Winston Churchill, the most definitely English wartime Prime Minister, once said “Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.”

[00:05:28] Scottish people are very proud of the impact Scots have had on the world, and rightly so, the world has a lot to be thankful to Scotland for.

[00:05:39] You might be thinking, if Scotland is such a fantastic, proud country with so many great inventors and thinkers, why did it lose its independence and form another country with England? 

[00:05:52] And didn’t it recently vote to not be independent?

[00:05:57] These are both excellent questions.

[00:06:00] We’ll get to the second one shortly, but to the first question of why did Scotland first unite with England we need to go back in time a little bit.

[00:06:11] Starting as far back as the 13th century, Scotland has been a fierce rival of its closest neighbour, England. 

[00:06:20] If you remember the film Braveheart–which you should certainly not rely on for historical accuracy by the way–you’ll remember a character called William Wallace, who led a movement against the English forces who had occupied Scotland.

[00:06:36] One thing that the film doesn’t get wrong though is that it doesn’t end well for William Wallace. 

[00:06:43] He is hung, drawn and quartered - he is killed in a horrible way, his body cut up into four pieces and sent to four corners of the land as a warning to obey the English king.

[00:06:57] For several hundred years after the death of William Wallace, in 1305, there was a period of tension between England and Scotland. 

[00:07:06] Scotland ended up forming an alliance with France, out of a shared hatred of England, and there were intermittent periods of fighting between the Scots and their southern neighbour.

[00:07:18] It was only in 1707, relatively recently, all things considered, that Scotland finally completely joined forces with its arch-enemy, England, to form the United Kingdom.

[00:07:31] This wasn’t an immediate, overnight change. 

[00:07:35] Indeed, Scotland and England had been living in a slightly strange situation for just over a 100 years, where Scotland and England shared a king, they shared a monarch, despite technically being different countries.

[00:07:52] This happened because in 1603, as Elizabeth The First had no children, she made her closest living relative, James the Sixth of Scotland, also King of England. 

[00:08:05] James’ heirs, his children and their children, became the Kings of both England and Scotland, and so there was a sort of unofficial union.

[00:08:16] And it wasn’t until 1707 that there was the full, political and legal union of the two countries.

[00:08:25] The reality is that the unification of Scotland and England wasn’t something that Scotland wanted to do, they did it out of necessity.

[00:08:35] The reasons were twofold, there were two of them.

[00:08:39] Firstly, Scotland had experienced a period of severe famine in the late 1600s. Its population reduced dramatically, and it was struggling economically.

[00:08:52] The second reason involves a country that you might not expect to have had an impact in the unification of the United Kingdom.

[00:09:02] Panama, yes, Panama, the small country in central America.

[00:09:07] This was the height of colonialism, and there was a plan formed for Scotland to colonise Panama, and to control the route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

[00:09:20] It sounded too good to be true, and almost every Scottish landowner invested in the plan.

[00:09:27] Indeed, anywhere from 15-40% of all of the money in Scotland went into this idea to colonise Panama.

[00:09:36] Unfortunately, it did not go to plan, the investors lost all of their money, and this had a huge impact on the Scottish economy. 

[00:09:45] It was as if everyone in Scotland had lost between 15 and 40% of their money, almost overnight.

[00:09:53] There were few options left for Scotland other than to accept a unification with its hated next-door neighbour, England.

[00:10:02] This was in 1707, and the union has remained in place ever since, Scotland has been united with England in the United Kingdom, ever since.

[00:10:13] How happy the Scots have been to remain in the union is another question. 

[00:10:19] In order to keep the union intact, there have been recent concessions to allow Scotland more powers of self-governance.

[00:10:28] Although Scotland got its own parliament in 1999, with limited powers around education, health and some parts of its tax system, it is still part of the United Kingdom, with major decisions being taken in Westminster, in London, in England.

[00:10:47] But, for how long that remains is another question.

[00:10:51] As you may remember, there was a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014. 

[00:10:58] 55% of the Scottish population voted to remain in the UK, while 45% voted to leave. 

[00:11:08] After the results came out the Scottish National Party, the SNP, which was the party that had been pushing for independence, said that the matter had been settled for a generation, that there wouldn’t be another referendum for 30 years.

[00:11:25] So, if that is the case, why might you have heard about a growing movement for another referendum on Scottish independence?

[00:11:35] In a word, Brexit.

[00:11:38] Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 5 years, you will remember that in 2016 the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, which it has now done.

[00:11:50] The margin was close, overall it was 52% voting to leave, and 48% voting to stay.

[00:12:00] But in Scotland, it wasn’t close at all. 

[00:12:03] In Scotland, only 38% of the population voted to leave, 62% voted to remain in the EU.

[00:12:13] And one of the important reasons that people had voted for Scotland to remain part of the UK back in 2014 was that, if Scotland had broken away from the UK, it might have had to reapply for EU membership, there was no guarantee that Scotland could have left the UK but stayed in the EU. 

[00:12:35] So, after the Brexit vote, there was a growing feeling in Scotland of “hang on, we voted for something back in 2014, but the rules have changed. If we had known that the UK would have voted to leave the EU in 2016, we might not have wanted to remain part of it back in 2014.”

[00:12:58] And as far as the opinion polls are concerned, it does suggest that if a referendum on Scottish independence were held today then Scotland would vote to leave the United Kingdom and become an independent country.

[00:13:14] If this did happen there would be all sorts of consequences that would be felt far outside the British Isles.

[00:13:22] Would Scotland be allowed to easily join the European Union? 

[00:13:27] Presumably any attempt would be made difficult by Spain, as if this were easy, it would be a strong sign to Catalonia that it could try a similar thing.

[00:13:39] Scotland would need to find its own currency, its own money, as it wouldn’t be able to immediately join the Euro.

[00:13:48] And in terms of social spending, Scotland spends more per citizen than the rest of the UK, and contributes less per head to the UK taxpayer.

[00:14:00] So, long story short, Scotland would either need to find additional ways to make money, or would need to cut costs in order to maintain the same level of spending on its people.

[00:14:13] And then there’s the question of a border. 

[00:14:16] As anyone who has been following the Brexit negotiations and the question of the border with Northern Ireland, you will know that there are no easy answers. 

[00:14:27] As far as I’m concerned, as someone who is Scottish, English and Welsh, if Scotland were to leave the United Kingdom it would be a great loss both for Scotland and for the UK.

[00:14:41] Although there is still huge rivalry between the two countries, they have been through a lot together, and there is a lot of shared cultural heritage between the two. 

[00:14:52] From fighting side by side in two world wars through to the fact that the two countries are literally part of the same country, there is more that unites the two than divides them.

[00:15:05] But, as with any alliance, any union, it needs to be based on equality and on mutual respect. 

[00:15:13] Each party should feel like they are stronger united than apart. And certainly Scotland, and the people of Scotland, should have the right to decide for itself whether it still feels that it is the case.

[00:15:28] Voltaire once said “We look to Scotland for all of our ideas of civilisation.”

[00:15:34] Speaking as an Englishman and also a partial Scotsman, it would be a great shame for those ideas of civilisation to break from an imperfect union, but still one that is preferable to no union at all.

[00:15:51] OK then, that is it for today's episode on Scotland.

[00:15:57] I hope it's been an interesting one, that you've learnt something new, and if you do go to Scotland, well then you’ll now know a little bit more about this fantastic country.

[00:16:08] If you are interested in learning more about the differences between Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and you have always wondered what the difference between the UK and Great Britain is, then I’d recommend listening to Episode 25, which is on the differences between the UK and Great Britain. 

[00:16:26] That certainly clears that question up.

[00:16:30] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode.

[00:16:33] For the members out there, you can head right in to our community forum, ask me questions about Scotland, Brexit, and the UK, and whatever you want. 

[00:16:41] You’ll find the community forum at community.leonardoenglish.com.

[00:16:46] And as a final reminder, if you are looking to improve your English in a more interesting way, to join a community of curious minds from all over the world, to unlock the transcripts, subtitles, and key vocabulary, then the place to go to is leonardoenglish.com.

[00:17:05] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:17:10] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.


[END OF EPISODE] 


[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about Scotland, one of the 4 countries that make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 

[00:00:33] The other three being, of course, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

[00:00:38] In this episode you’ll learn about the history of Scotland, and how it came to join forces with its arch-rival, England, to form a country. 

[00:00:48] We’ll talk about some of the great inventions that come out of Scotland, and we’ll consider what the future of Scotland might be.

[00:00:56] It’s a super interesting story, and it’s also a personal one. 

[00:01:00] Although I might not sound like it, I’m a quarter Scottish; my father’s side of the family is from the north of Scotland, I spent a large chunk of my childhood growing up in Scotland, and I can actually play the bagpipes.

[00:01:14] I should also start by saying thanks to my dad, not just for being Scottish, but also for helping me with this episode - so, thank you dad.

[00:01:24] My final point before we get into the meat of the episode is to quickly remind you that you can get all of the bonus episodes, plus the subtitles, the transcript, and the key vocabulary for this episode and all of our other ones over on the website, which is leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:01:42] This is where you can check out becoming a member of Leonardo English, and join a community of curious minds from all over the world, doing meetups, exchanging ideas, and generally, improving their English in a more interesting way.

[00:01:57] So if that's of interest, and I certainly hope it is, then the place to go to is leonardoenglish.com.

[00:02:07] OK then, Scotland.

[00:02:09] When most people think of Scotland, they think of the highlands, of bagpipes, of men wearing kilts, the things that look a little bit like skirts, of Scottish whisky, and perhaps even of haggis, the famous Scottish dish.

[00:02:27] You can find all of these things in Scotland, but beneath the surface is a fantastic history of rivalry with its neighbour, of entrepreneurship, of inventiveness, and of struggle.

[00:02:41] Let’s start with a few statistics, to give you an idea of how Scotland fits into the story of the United Kingdom.

[00:02:49] Scotland, in case you can’t picture it on a map, is found in the northern part of the UK, it’s directly above England. 

[00:02:59] Although the land area of Scotland forms a third of the total area of the UK, it has only 7.5% of the total population, just 5.5 million people.

[00:03:13] So, it is far less densely populated, with only 70 people per square kilometre, vs 430 in England. 

[00:03:23] And even within Scotland, the vast majority of the population is found in a relatively small area, mainly the part between Edinburgh and Glasgow. 

[00:03:34] There are huge swathes of it with very few people living there.

[00:03:40] So, it is a small country, between Slovakia and Finland in population size, but it packs a sizable punch, it has had a large impact on world history. 

[00:03:53] Scottish men and women are responsible for some fantastic inventions, some amazing creations, and for things that we use every day.

[00:04:02] John Logie Baird invented the television.

[00:04:05] Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

[00:04:08] Adam Smith is the father of modern economics.

[00:04:11] JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote Sherlock Holmes.

[00:04:17] For the sports fans, Sir Alex Ferguson, the long-standing manager of Manchester United is a proud Scotsman.

[00:04:26] When it comes to politics, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are from Scotland.

[00:04:31] And there are probably hundreds of Scottish people you have never heard of that have had an outsized impact on the world we live in, and you probably use things that they invented.

[00:04:44] A man called William Cullen is responsible for the technology behind refrigerators, behind fridges.

[00:04:51] A man called Ron Hamilton developed the disposable contact lens, if you enjoy toast, you have a man called Alan MacMasters to thank, and if you have ever taken money out from an ATM, from a bancomat, then you also have another scotsman to thank, a man named James Goodfellow.

[00:05:12] Indeed, Winston Churchill, the most definitely English wartime Prime Minister, once said “Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.”

[00:05:28] Scottish people are very proud of the impact Scots have had on the world, and rightly so, the world has a lot to be thankful to Scotland for.

[00:05:39] You might be thinking, if Scotland is such a fantastic, proud country with so many great inventors and thinkers, why did it lose its independence and form another country with England? 

[00:05:52] And didn’t it recently vote to not be independent?

[00:05:57] These are both excellent questions.

[00:06:00] We’ll get to the second one shortly, but to the first question of why did Scotland first unite with England we need to go back in time a little bit.

[00:06:11] Starting as far back as the 13th century, Scotland has been a fierce rival of its closest neighbour, England. 

[00:06:20] If you remember the film Braveheart–which you should certainly not rely on for historical accuracy by the way–you’ll remember a character called William Wallace, who led a movement against the English forces who had occupied Scotland.

[00:06:36] One thing that the film doesn’t get wrong though is that it doesn’t end well for William Wallace. 

[00:06:43] He is hung, drawn and quartered - he is killed in a horrible way, his body cut up into four pieces and sent to four corners of the land as a warning to obey the English king.

[00:06:57] For several hundred years after the death of William Wallace, in 1305, there was a period of tension between England and Scotland. 

[00:07:06] Scotland ended up forming an alliance with France, out of a shared hatred of England, and there were intermittent periods of fighting between the Scots and their southern neighbour.

[00:07:18] It was only in 1707, relatively recently, all things considered, that Scotland finally completely joined forces with its arch-enemy, England, to form the United Kingdom.

[00:07:31] This wasn’t an immediate, overnight change. 

[00:07:35] Indeed, Scotland and England had been living in a slightly strange situation for just over a 100 years, where Scotland and England shared a king, they shared a monarch, despite technically being different countries.

[00:07:52] This happened because in 1603, as Elizabeth The First had no children, she made her closest living relative, James the Sixth of Scotland, also King of England. 

[00:08:05] James’ heirs, his children and their children, became the Kings of both England and Scotland, and so there was a sort of unofficial union.

[00:08:16] And it wasn’t until 1707 that there was the full, political and legal union of the two countries.

[00:08:25] The reality is that the unification of Scotland and England wasn’t something that Scotland wanted to do, they did it out of necessity.

[00:08:35] The reasons were twofold, there were two of them.

[00:08:39] Firstly, Scotland had experienced a period of severe famine in the late 1600s. Its population reduced dramatically, and it was struggling economically.

[00:08:52] The second reason involves a country that you might not expect to have had an impact in the unification of the United Kingdom.

[00:09:02] Panama, yes, Panama, the small country in central America.

[00:09:07] This was the height of colonialism, and there was a plan formed for Scotland to colonise Panama, and to control the route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

[00:09:20] It sounded too good to be true, and almost every Scottish landowner invested in the plan.

[00:09:27] Indeed, anywhere from 15-40% of all of the money in Scotland went into this idea to colonise Panama.

[00:09:36] Unfortunately, it did not go to plan, the investors lost all of their money, and this had a huge impact on the Scottish economy. 

[00:09:45] It was as if everyone in Scotland had lost between 15 and 40% of their money, almost overnight.

[00:09:53] There were few options left for Scotland other than to accept a unification with its hated next-door neighbour, England.

[00:10:02] This was in 1707, and the union has remained in place ever since, Scotland has been united with England in the United Kingdom, ever since.

[00:10:13] How happy the Scots have been to remain in the union is another question. 

[00:10:19] In order to keep the union intact, there have been recent concessions to allow Scotland more powers of self-governance.

[00:10:28] Although Scotland got its own parliament in 1999, with limited powers around education, health and some parts of its tax system, it is still part of the United Kingdom, with major decisions being taken in Westminster, in London, in England.

[00:10:47] But, for how long that remains is another question.

[00:10:51] As you may remember, there was a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014. 

[00:10:58] 55% of the Scottish population voted to remain in the UK, while 45% voted to leave. 

[00:11:08] After the results came out the Scottish National Party, the SNP, which was the party that had been pushing for independence, said that the matter had been settled for a generation, that there wouldn’t be another referendum for 30 years.

[00:11:25] So, if that is the case, why might you have heard about a growing movement for another referendum on Scottish independence?

[00:11:35] In a word, Brexit.

[00:11:38] Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 5 years, you will remember that in 2016 the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, which it has now done.

[00:11:50] The margin was close, overall it was 52% voting to leave, and 48% voting to stay.

[00:12:00] But in Scotland, it wasn’t close at all. 

[00:12:03] In Scotland, only 38% of the population voted to leave, 62% voted to remain in the EU.

[00:12:13] And one of the important reasons that people had voted for Scotland to remain part of the UK back in 2014 was that, if Scotland had broken away from the UK, it might have had to reapply for EU membership, there was no guarantee that Scotland could have left the UK but stayed in the EU. 

[00:12:35] So, after the Brexit vote, there was a growing feeling in Scotland of “hang on, we voted for something back in 2014, but the rules have changed. If we had known that the UK would have voted to leave the EU in 2016, we might not have wanted to remain part of it back in 2014.”

[00:12:58] And as far as the opinion polls are concerned, it does suggest that if a referendum on Scottish independence were held today then Scotland would vote to leave the United Kingdom and become an independent country.

[00:13:14] If this did happen there would be all sorts of consequences that would be felt far outside the British Isles.

[00:13:22] Would Scotland be allowed to easily join the European Union? 

[00:13:27] Presumably any attempt would be made difficult by Spain, as if this were easy, it would be a strong sign to Catalonia that it could try a similar thing.

[00:13:39] Scotland would need to find its own currency, its own money, as it wouldn’t be able to immediately join the Euro.

[00:13:48] And in terms of social spending, Scotland spends more per citizen than the rest of the UK, and contributes less per head to the UK taxpayer.

[00:14:00] So, long story short, Scotland would either need to find additional ways to make money, or would need to cut costs in order to maintain the same level of spending on its people.

[00:14:13] And then there’s the question of a border. 

[00:14:16] As anyone who has been following the Brexit negotiations and the question of the border with Northern Ireland, you will know that there are no easy answers. 

[00:14:27] As far as I’m concerned, as someone who is Scottish, English and Welsh, if Scotland were to leave the United Kingdom it would be a great loss both for Scotland and for the UK.

[00:14:41] Although there is still huge rivalry between the two countries, they have been through a lot together, and there is a lot of shared cultural heritage between the two. 

[00:14:52] From fighting side by side in two world wars through to the fact that the two countries are literally part of the same country, there is more that unites the two than divides them.

[00:15:05] But, as with any alliance, any union, it needs to be based on equality and on mutual respect. 

[00:15:13] Each party should feel like they are stronger united than apart. And certainly Scotland, and the people of Scotland, should have the right to decide for itself whether it still feels that it is the case.

[00:15:28] Voltaire once said “We look to Scotland for all of our ideas of civilisation.”

[00:15:34] Speaking as an Englishman and also a partial Scotsman, it would be a great shame for those ideas of civilisation to break from an imperfect union, but still one that is preferable to no union at all.

[00:15:51] OK then, that is it for today's episode on Scotland.

[00:15:57] I hope it's been an interesting one, that you've learnt something new, and if you do go to Scotland, well then you’ll now know a little bit more about this fantastic country.

[00:16:08] If you are interested in learning more about the differences between Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and you have always wondered what the difference between the UK and Great Britain is, then I’d recommend listening to Episode 25, which is on the differences between the UK and Great Britain. 

[00:16:26] That certainly clears that question up.

[00:16:30] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode.

[00:16:33] For the members out there, you can head right in to our community forum, ask me questions about Scotland, Brexit, and the UK, and whatever you want. 

[00:16:41] You’ll find the community forum at community.leonardoenglish.com.

[00:16:46] And as a final reminder, if you are looking to improve your English in a more interesting way, to join a community of curious minds from all over the world, to unlock the transcripts, subtitles, and key vocabulary, then the place to go to is leonardoenglish.com.

[00:17:05] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:17:10] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.


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