Scotland, Scotsmen, The Great War, Scottish resentment


Looking back over the last claendar year at the end of 1929, one Glasgow newspaper concluded, "Certainly no year within the memory of any living Scot has witnessed so much heart-searching. Never before has there been so much airing of the question: what is wrong with Scotland?" The question might as well have been posed about the entire decade of the 1920s. Scotland emerged from the Great War essentially demoralized, with a devastated industrial sector, an influx of Irish immigration, and a flood of mass Scottish emigration to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Facing this onslaught of postwar domestic problems, Scotland found itself increasingly distanced and isolated from England, its erstwhile partner in empire. While Scottish factories were closed en masse, putting thousands of men out of work, high-profit nonindustrial enterprises developed in the southeast of England, draining Scotland of wealth, along with its position of power as one of the key facilitators of empire. As the Scots suffered dramatically higher rates of infant mortaliry, malnutrition, and chronic overcrowding than their fellow Britons south of the border, English platitudes such as "Scotsmen only need to believe in themselves again" fell on increasingly deaf and despairing ears. Although Scotland had in fact suffered higher per capita casualties than any other nation of the United Kingdom in the Great War, England and the English experience of war tended to dominate war commemorations, doubtlessly exacerbating Scottish resentment and feelings of neglect within the Union.