Wednesday, August 08, 2012

You don't even live in Scotland! (Scots Abroad)

If you feel strongly that the Scottish diaspora has turned their back on Scotland and don't make any contribution to Scotland, then you might want to stop reading now and visit another site, because it's likely that I am about to piss you off.

If you feel open-minded that a Scottish expat CAN contribute to the advancement of Scotland and would like me to prove it. Read on.

A lot of people have given Sean Connery a hard time over the years. He is a supporter of the Scottish National Party and the Scottish independence movement, even though he doesn't live in Scotland. The bloody cheek! Why listen to him?

I used to think this too, until I left.

I've been living in New Zealand since 2003, and I spent a year in Australia before that. In between I've visited many other countries, including Canada, Germany, Thailand, Singapore, China, Laos, and the tiny Cook Islands. As a Scot living overseas with a big interest in politics and people, I've gained a lot of perspective by comparing these places to my home.

Back in the old days when someone 'emigrated', it was almost always forever. But these days with air travel and worldwide job opportunities, it's not like that anymore. People can emigrate, come back, emigrate again and come back again. There's no point in denying opportunities for Scots to go overseas and experience a different life.

I have more experience working and living in other (independent) countries than most Scots [1]. By comparing my experiences from home with New Zealand and being on the outside looking in, I believe I have a unique perspective on how Scotland operates. For example, since I moved to NZ I have completely changed my attitude on how cold Scotland is. I have also a new respect for Scottish laws and regulation.

Whether we live inside a country or not, we still get much of our information from the same places, usually the mainstream media. Most Scots see the independence referendum and the YES campaign from an internal perspective, but I think there is room for an external perspective too.

Because I don't have immediate access to the regular UK/Scotland TV news programmes here in NZ, I seek alternatives. This often forces me to view websites, blogs and other sources of news about Scotland which I'd argue, many Scots probably don't bother seeking out.

Many Kiwis travel, just as many have never left their respective island. New Zealand is an excellent place to test how a country like Scotland is perceived economically and politically, I won't go into it here, but you can read about this in another post. It's not pretty.

All expats are unofficial ambassadors for their home country, whether they want the job or not. Many expat Scots will gladly tell how they left such a miserable dour place, with all that bad food and terrible weather. This impression is quickly formed in the minds of people they meet and it's not a good thing.

So why do I care?

I am Scottish, I was born on the Scottish NHS and educated by the Scottish education system. I hold a Bachelors degree from a Scottish university and all my family is Scottish. When I was in Scotland I worked for many years, paid my taxes and never had any reason to claim welfare.

Now I live in New Zealand, but ironically, I believe I make more of a contribution to the advancement of Scottish interests from all the way down here than I did when I actually lived there! I write about Scotland, I am a paid member of a Scottish political party and I have made financial donations to the Scottish independence campaign and over the years I have brought a significant amount of foreign exchange into Scotland.

Had I not left Scotland and seen with my own eyes how things are done in other (independent) countries, I doubt I'd ever have started this blog, let alone created YouTube videos, joined political parties and paid donations to the cause for Scottish Independence. I've learned a lot from being in New Zealand, in fact my switch from Unionist to Nationalist probably has a lot to do with the things I've learned as an expat.

So if you ever feel the urge to give an expat a hard time for turning their back on Scotland, just stop and think about it for a moment, you never know, they might be doing more for Scotland than you are.[2]

Muzzerino

Notes:
  1. By most Scots, what I mean is 'most Scots' I am not referring to yer mate Dougie who spent 6 years in Australia, or even my mate Helen Lumburn who spent a few years in the USA before going back to Scotland (or Preston?). Most Scots haven't done this. Many have, but most haven't. That's all I'm saying. 
  2. By 'you' I don't mean you, right now reading this on your screen. This is not aimed at you. What I mean by 'you' is the collective 'you' or the royal 'you'. Many of 'you' don't do a damn thing for Scotland, so don't lie.
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