In the week that it was reported that a customer received an email response from Marks and Spencer to a complaint about Scotch Whisky being branded as British, advising her that Scotland was now part of England, more and more instances surface of the unconscious view held by many south of the border that Scotland exists only as a dependency to its larger neighbour. After writing to voice her displeasure that Whisky produced in Scotland and therefore protected in law as being Scotch, was not afforded Scotland as its country of origin but was instead labelled as being British; the matter was further compounded by the fact that English whiskey was labelled correctly as such. She was then incredulous to receive a reply from a customer services representative that included the lines
‘I have received the email from you and I am able to inform you that the National Scottish Referendum has taken place and the majority of Scotland decided that the lovely country of Scotland would belong in and stay within the UK and will be a part of the country known as England.’
It further went on to state that
‘I know that it is hard to get used to but I have come around to the idea that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom and I think eventually everyone would agree when it is about reputation of a nation that is as great as Great Britain then especially near Christmas when they sell chocolate Scottie dogs at Harrods and have done for many years as well as the food halls selling Scottish salmon, that Marks & Spencer have only in reason been able to manufacture and produce the products that we are proud are from Scotland. ‘Especially the M&S Whiskey. I am sorry if you thought that we are trying to offend anyone. We Love Scotland.’
From the proclamation that the best produce does indeed originate in Scotland and therefore has to be claimed as British to the incredibly patronising “We love Scotland” – anyone remember Dan Snow and his let’s stay together plea? – it just sums up the entrenched belief that we are not a nation in our own right as no one is taught differently. The adjacent bits at the top and the side of England are nothing more than quaint holiday playgrounds and England/Great Britain/United Kingdom are interchangeable. Marks and Spencer’s were quick to distance themselves from the response stating that it did not reﬂect the views of the company but at some level, it does. It was their commercial decision to brand the Whisky as such and now have to backtrack as customers publicly disagree. It was an obvious attempt to quietly subsume Scottish produce; I have no doubt that this is in preparation for the post Brexit days when everything and anything will be described as British and that this is only the beginning of a concentrated campaign to strengthen the British identity across the globe at the expense of individual nations.
As other retailers remove Saltires on packaging and replace them with Union ﬂags, #keepScotlandtheBrand is on the ascent. This campaign is to place pressure upon retailers to correctly identify the country of origin and celebrate the diversity of products available from all areas of the different component countries. Started by two Angus Yes groups aware of the economic impact that homogenous labelling could have on local farmers, the aim is to support all Scottish industries and raise awareness in a positive way of where food comes from. They ask that if you see an item that has been produced in Scotland but displays the Union ﬂag, that you photograph it and share in social media using the hashtag #keepScotlandtheBrand. Write to the retailers involved to raise awareness and encourage them to support local producers. Leaﬂets, badges and shopping bags are available to purchase and any proﬁts left over will be returned to their local Yes group; further information can be obtained from