The English have much to learn from these enlightened Scots.


The Library of Innerpeffray sits in rural Perthshire close to Crieff. It is one of the oldest lending libraries in the world and was established by Henry Drummond in around 1680.

I visited it on a snowy day in April and spent an hour or two with its curators discussing Duns Scots and Robert Burns, David Hume and Lord Henry Kames.

In the 18th century Scotland had much stronger literacy rates than England. This was in part due to the establishment of village schools , inspired by John Knox. Knox’s vision was that all Scots should be able to read the bible.

Inside the cover of a leather-bound tome of Kames that I was handed was a statement from the author that the quotations within it had been translated, so that all, especially those of the female sex, could both read and understand them.

Looking at the lending registers that are kept within the library, it’s amazing to see that erudite volumes were being devoured by men of the field, craftsmen even someone who described himself as “one who watches the water”.

While Johnson mocked the primitive nature of the Scottish Highlands in his road to the Western Isles, he noted that many of what he thought peasants , were highly knowledgeable. Sadly, these rural communities were mainly destroyed by the Highland Clearances that followed the Jacobite rebellions.

Scotland swapped its rural communities for the slums of Edinburgh and Glasgow. It swapped its erudition for a culture that we make fun of to this day.

But sitting in the library of Innerpeffray, with the books and the curators, and my 17 year old enrapt, I could understand why Scottish people are so proud of their past and why the Scottish Nationalist Party is becoming such a force in the United Kingdom.

I have no difficulty with the admirable Nicola Sturgeon teaching me a thing or two. I’d like to apologise for destroying her culture in the 18th and early 19th century.

I am sorry that the National Labour Party has played its cards so badly and left it’s good Scottish politicians including McClymont, Begg, Brown and Darling in danger of losing their seats.

I would have no difficulty with a Labour SNP coalition that brought some Scottish erudition and good sense to the table. Indeed I would much rather have Nicola Sturgeon as my next prime minister than Cameron, Clegg or Milliband.

It’s time we reappraised our attitude to the Scots (by we – I mean my fellow Englishmen and women). They have their own parliament and their own tax raising powers, they are becoming experienced politicians with their own ways and means.

We have pledged a union with them and they have renewed that Union within the past six months. It is time that we learned that we are not their masters, they are our equals. We may have pretended to be the China to their Tibet but in truth is is Sturgeon and not the English power-brokers who holds the cards.

Sitting in the Library of Innerpeffray was a wake up call for the Pension Plowman.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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10 Responses to The English have much to learn from these enlightened Scots.

  1. Rob Davies says:

    Do you really know what Sturgeon wants?

    • George Kirrin says:

      You may say I’m stretching an analogy with pension trustees, Rob, but Nicola wants what’s best for the Scottish people.

      From your distance away in Cardiff, you may not get this?

      • Rob Davies says:

        I live in Glasgow and what she wants is to spend money she hasn’t got. And, oddly, I don’t think that is a good idea.

      • George Kirrin says:

        Sorry to have confused you with the Quantum Davies, Rob.

        As for your comment, I didn’t think Holyrood had reached levels of indebtedness to compete with Westminster, but what do I know.

      • Rob Davies says:

        Holyrood is not allowed to have any debt, yet.

      • George Kirrin says:

        I thought Scotland could already from 14 December 2014 borrow up to £2.2bn via the so-called National Loan Fund and/or via so-called “commercial loans”, although some of the other 2012 Act powers do not apply till 1 April 2016 or later.

        But I think you’re right, Maven Rob, that additional borrowing powers announced by HM Treasury on 15 December 2014 didn’t start until this week, with the Scottish Government being permitted to issue its own debt again, for the first time since 1707.

        The present Scottish Government has yet to explain its position on how far so-called “fiscal autonomy” would/could go, but their next election is next year, not this.

  2. George Kirrin says:

    Do you mean “Spurgeon”, still remembered in baptist circles, Henry, or Sturgeon?

    yours aye, George

  3. Gerry Flynn says:

    What part of referendum result does Nicola not understand?

  4. henry tapper says:

    Apologies for typo- now corrected, I know the literary critic Hilary Spurgeon – not sure she’s your baptist George, but she got me messing my ps and ts.

    This Sturgeon is a left-wing politician to keep Westminster honest.

  5. henry tapper says:

    Bleeding hec! What is this woman up to- a month ago I thought she was a passing fad!

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