Scotland: anti-English and anti-east European

Economic crisis and job shortage caused racist actions in Highlands  18 November 2008. Scotland has witnessed an increase in racist abuse directed at English and eastern Europeans. The emerging tensions in the Highlands are due to increased competition for jobs, says a report.

Between April 1, 2007, and March 31, this year, 15 Polish nationals complained they were racially abused, compared with 12 in the previous year. But the most frequently targeted group are the English, included in the larger category of “other white British”.

The race equality survey which indicated the anti-English sentiment involved Highland Council, NHS Highland, Northern Constabulary, Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Natural Heritage and the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The race equality scheme reveals there were 396 racist incidents in the Highlands in the past three years; 55 racist incidents were lodged by on-duty police officers.

One-third of the racist incidents took place in Inverness. The city has been flooded by up to 10,000 eastern Europeans, while the city’s population has doubled in 12 years.

Ian Latimer, a statistic specialist, commented for The Press and Journal: “The vast majority of people who come in are welcomed and accepted, and they make a contribution. “Integration has gone well, but we do monitor racist incidents and hate crime. In comparison with other areas, the figures are not large, but they are always a concern.”

One comment for the Press and Journal said: “People in the Highlands, especially in villages, do not want anyone apart from Scots. I receive various racist remarks, being English, even married to a local.”

Another response said: “There is sometimes anti-English feeling and sometimes poor understanding of non-Christian religions.”

A three-year race equality scheme action plan, which is due to run until November 2011, aims to reduce racial discrimination in the Highlands by promoting equality and encouraging harmonious relationships.

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