Just why do people like J.K Rowling have a problem with the Scots language?

The Harry Potter author J.K Rowling Tweeted this the other day.


She linked to this piece from Alex Massie published behind a paywall in The Times, and seeing as I’m not going to give a dried up husk like Rupert Murdoch my money so here’s a critique of the piece from Bella Caledonia that outlines the issues with Massie’s latest whine about the Scottish culture.

For those that don’t keep up with the issues of Scottish culture or politics, the short version is that since the independence referendum there’s been a move to denigrate the language and dialects many Scots, especially working class ones, speak. Here’s another Bella Caledonia piece that seems to have started this latest argument between a small number of pro-UK journalists/media personalities and the pro-independence movement.

It’s an argument that has been raging in some shape or form for decades. I myself remember Scots, and various Scottish dialects being ignored at school, with only a few teachers interested in actually teaching the history of the language I spoke. And here’s a thing, Scots isn’t a ‘dialect’ like say, Glaswegian (though there’s an argument various dialects are languages but that’s another post in itself), it is a living, breathing thing all of it’s own distinct from English. It doesn’t make one a ‘nationalist’ to speak it, as after all most people from a working class background in Scotland speak it in some form.

For the first two decades of my life I lived in Glasgow, and spoke with a strong accent using Glaswegianisms all the time. I probably spoke a version of Scots, but back in the 1970’s and 1980’s the ‘Scottish cringe’ was rife. When I moved in 1988 to Leicester, my accent and language changed so I slowed down,dropped a load of Scottish words from my everyday usage and became Anglicised, albeit quite clearly Scottish I had carefully assimilated myself. Then over the last five or so years thanks to the Indyref, I looked more and more at how I’d suppressed parts of myself to fit in.

But this behaviour isn’t confined to Scots. I’ve noticed the same with working class Scousers, Bristolians, Londoners, Geordies, Welsh and Irish who I’ve met over the years and to help fit in they’ve allowed themselves to be assimilated. Now part of that is ease of communication as some people do struggle but some of it is class and the idea that to be ‘British’ one must sound ‘right’. You hear this with students especially with the rise of Estuary English or a flat, almost accentless English accent and the adoption of a monoculture so everyone acts, looks and sounds the same. Assimilation is the key to help people progress as people may hear an accent and think them working class or from the wrong background. Having a neutral accent that’s approved helps grease the wheels.

But I digress a bit. The question I asked myself is just why people like J.K Rowling would have an issue with language or dialect, or indeed, be annoyed that language is politicised as after all, it always has been all over the planet for good and bad. Also as a writer Rowling should be less dismissive of the power of language, or even trying to suppress the culture associated with languages and dialects.This though I think is the issue. Scots is closely associated with a distinct set of people across the country, people that in some cases support Scottish independence. Here lies the problem for Rowling and her kowtower Twitter followers that trail in her wake crying ‘foul’ when Scots language and culture is promoted.

Yet Scots signifies a position of class. By attacking Scots as an organic language closely associated with the independence movement, Rowling displays a depressing snobbery borne out of a disconnect with how the world is around her. Same goes for her mainly journalistic followers who again, occupy a bubble where for them, things are fine yet for hundreds of thousands of people there’s little or no representation of how they speak in the media. They’re denied basic representation in having people like them being given the same respect as people like say, Alex Massie.

Now as I grow closer to returning to Glasgow after two and a half decades, I’m being more intrigued by exploring the part so Scottish culture I never did decades ago. The fact I’m a supporter of independence doesn’t enter into it, and Rowling’s cultural imperialism mixed with her classist snobbery is simply depressing. She though is a writer. If she wants to exclude words and culture on the basis of her own nationalism then that’s her choice. Journalists on the other hand are just being craven as these people are supposed to hold the powerful to account, not help validate their prejudices.

Scots isn’t threatening anyone unless of course, you feel threatened by diversity and the sound of  working class voices….

J.K. Rowling and the Curious Case of the Misogynist Troll

J.K. Rowling is successful and rich beyond the dreams of avarice thanks to her Harry Potter creation, but crops up in the media on a regular basis discussing the ‘Nationalist abuse’ she receives from supporters of the SNP and/or Scottish independence. She’s spoken before of her distress in regards the abuse she’s received online, and indeed, I have no doubt she’s received the usual steaming heap of misogynist bullshit that successful women get on social media. She also has a reputation in the media for ‘taking down trolls’.

Last night the former SNP MP and now standing as an independent MP, Natalie McGarry Tweeted about Rowling’s ‘defence of misogynist trolls’ and it erupted into a Twitter war, abuse, and threats of legal action.before leading into articles like this in the media today.The troll in question is ‘Brian Spanner‘, a typical social media troll that has an issue with women, but has an odd number of journalists following him, and indeed, J.K Rowling herself follows him and out of the millions that follow her he/she is one of the few hundred she follows back. In fact it seems journalists are close enough with whomever it is to see if they’d go for a coffee with them.


At this point I’ll come clean. I find these Twitter spats fucking tiresome, and as much as I think McGarry is bloody stupid for stirring up Rowling who is as pointed out, well known for ‘sorting out trolls’, there’s a thing the mainstream press is missing here in that Rowling manages to ‘crush trolls’ by calling in the support of probably the biggest fandom on the planet in the shape of Harry Potter fans. So if you are trying to ask why a near billionaire with all the power, time and money in the world is following a pretty nasty bit of work (this Wings Over Scotland article goes into serious detail of ‘Spanner’s’ Tweets) perhaps don’t do it on Twitter?

At the same time, it needs to be pointed out that the media is so insanely compliant to Rowling’s every belch, that they can’t understand the concept of context as seen in this shoddy article from the Huffington Post in regards Irvine Welsh’s take on this. Everything is reported to give Rowling the upper hand, even though in this case there’s a clear double standard in her following ”Spanner” and that in fact, McGarry has at the very least, a valid point here that’s lost because of the legal threat from Rowling. Instead of a discussion of how a near billionaire used the threat of legal action to silence an elected representative asking for her to be scrutinised for once.

It’s just part of how hopeless much of the British, and Scottish media is. Had ”Spanner” been an SNP/Indy supporter we’d have had months and months of his account being scrutinised, and any politicians, celebrities or journalists. There’d be hysterical calls for people to apologise, but instead it’s being brushed aside by larger issues of free speech and press freedom in regards the sacking by the Herald of Angela Haggerty by its editor after threats from fans of the football club Rangers.

Both the Rangers and Rowling story show how the diehard Scottish/British establishment and their agents ensure that they enact power over people, and if you’re J.K. Rowling with hundreds and hundreds of millions in the bank, and millions of fans following you from all over the planet then you can’t lose, even if you’re actually a bit of a hypocrite.

Neil Gaiman has a quote:

Most commentary on the internet seems to break down into people picking sides based on personalities and opinions.

And its totally true. That quote is from this piece Gaiman wrote that Rowling plagiarised him with Harry Potter, something not true as both were drawing from the same sort of tropes and archetypes. However that quote is true here. In this case the media commentary have sided with Rowling while at the same time ignoring the abusive, misogynistic bullshit women like Angela Haggerty took online, and wrote about in her last column for the Herald.

If Rowling was this ‘slayer of trolls’ then why hasn’t she spoken out against the likes of ‘Brian Spanner’, or exposed him for who he/she really is? Haggerty sums it up in closing in her last article.

What is required is for both men and women to stand up to this abuse online when it occurs; for employers to show unwavering support to staff who must use social media in their jobs and be uncompromising about who is to blame for these attitudes.

Women are not the problem.

We do not bring this on ourselves, we do not deserve it and we should never be required to change our

behaviour or lower our voices to

placate the intolerant misogynist mob.

J.K Rowling chose not to speak up against ‘Brian Spanner’. Her choice, nobody else’s. Perhaps our media could remember that and do well to ask her why, or is it a case that because she’s a ‘personality’ many in our media like and who’s politics align with theirs that it’s best to look the other way. After all, it’s only another misogynistic troll isn’t it?

It shouldn’t be shite being Scottish

Yesterday Scotland lost to Australia in the Rugby World Cup by the fact of some terrible refereeing but because the Aussies are a bloody good side. Yet again we suffer glorious defeat. Yet again we’re praised for our plucky ability to compete at a higher level than expected. Yet again we wallow in self-pity and glory in what we didn’t do, which was beat the Aussies, dodgy ref or not.

Yet again loads of people are posting how ‘it’s shite being Scottish’ online. Fuck, I did it myself a month or so ago after the Scotland-Poland result. Here’s the thing though. I’m tired of accepting second best. I’m tired of celebrating glorious defeat like Muriel Gray and J.K. Rowling here.


It accepts a position that although we lost we can take some comfort from how we played which is true, but it also at the same time accepts a position where we’re in our place. We were magnificent but hey, that’s how it goes right?

Nah, I’m fed up with that sad, pathetic defeatist attitude many Scots (including myself only a month ago) hold. We can do better, much better and we can stop accepting defeat as a norm as do you think New Zealand, South Africa or the Aussies accept a ‘magnificent defeat’? No, do they fuck. They get up and get it right next time.They don’t accept this mantra of glorious defeat.

Get up off your knees and accept better because this attitude is one that holds Scotland as a nation back not just in sport but everything. Accepting defeat, and romanticising that defeat isn’t helping, and neither is accepting your place in the world is to be beaten or ruled by others. It’s time to look at yourselves and think ‘we can do better than this’ and we’re capable of that, we just need to get ahead of where people think we should be rather than just accept the ‘glorious defeat’ as a part of the Scottish psyche.

Shake that off and we might shake a lot of things off. Hell, we might actually have something to cheer that isn’t a defeat….

An Open Letter to JK Rowling

For those people who want a quality rebuke to J.K Rowling’s comments about Scottish independence, then read this wonderful blog.

Teachers for Yes


by Allan Crosbie, PT English, Edinburgh

Dear Joanne,

You won’t remember me but nearly 20 years ago we worked together briefly in a school in Edinburgh. Your talents have since made you a lot of money and given you considerable status and influence; I have continued to channel mine into that Freirean project of opening minds and changing the world from the classroom. You now have millions of Twitter followers; I have six.

People should always act on their conscience and yours has obviously prompted you to speak out in order to try to prevent Scotland voting for Independence. In doing so over the last few days you have claimed to be speaking not out of self-interest but on behalf of ordinary Scots who, you claim, are set to suffer immeasurably under Independence.

You speak of three kinds of Yes voters – the first are gamblers on oil and blackmailers…

View original post 513 more words

Why are the likes of Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama talking about Scottish Independence

This week Hilary Clinton was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman and during this the subject of Scottish independence came up. Her comments suggest that it’s Scotland who will be lost by Britain, which as Alex Salmond rightly says;

Mr Salmond said the American politician was entitled to her views, adding the inference that Britain would “lose Scotland” after a “Yes” vote was similar to reported remarks by Prime Minister David Cameron.

The first minister said: “In any case, Scotland is not a property to be lost but a nation about to take a precious and consensual and democratic decision.


Quite. The language of the debate is still geared in ways to suggest that Scotland is owned by ‘Britain’  but really what they mean is England, specifically London/Westminster still controls Scotland and it’s resources which is exactly the argument over independence. This has also been the week where J.K. Rowling gave a huge sum of money to Better Together which has resulted in people giving her abuse on social media which is, frankly, mainly just of the sad sort of abuse you’d expect. However most of it isn’t. Most of it is pointing out that a Scotland with separate values to that of the Westminster parties helped her when she needed it, and that supporting Better Together is actually supporting the three main parties, all of which are looking to break the decades old welfare state and drag the UK further to the right in order to chase UKIP votes.

In fact the way it’s been played reminds me of this Bill Hicks routine.

It’s as if there’s been a campaign to create a perfect storm so people campaigning for independence will give Better Together what they want which is to slur the campaign. Now I’m not a believer in conspiracy theories but I do know Saatchi and Saatchi are now helping organise the No campaign, and this all seems like an ordered campaign to stir up controversy which therefore helps polarise the debate even more without having to convince the people of Scotland of any side of the argument.

As people reading this blog will know, I’m a Scot living in England so I rightfully don’t have a vote. That decision lies with the people of Scotland and they need to make an informed decision on that vote, but the last week has shown what the powerful and wealthy consider Scotland to be which is owned. The talk of ‘greater powers’ is all a smokescreen as what isn’t being discussed in all the chatter of Scotland becoming independent is what happens to the rest of the UK, including it’s seat on the UN Security Council which is possibly what worries the US if it suddenly doesn’t have another country who’ll blindly agree with them.

I don’t see these interventions this week will change too many people’s opinions but it does show that Scottish independence is something a lot of people don’t want but seeing as they don’t have a vote on it they intend to influence popular opinion, or in Rowling’s case, throw the gun at the feet of Cybernats and wait for them to pick it up so her mates can pick them off.

This is why the people of Scotland need to vote Yes. Had things worked out for me last year I’d probably be back in Scotland now, but sadly I’m not going to have my say. I hope the people of Scotland choose wisely and don’t let the likes of Obama or Rowling make them make a bad choice.