(16)  The Scots, the English and racial discrimination (1)

Two industrial tribunals have come to differing conclusions on the question of whether the Scots and the English are separate races for the purposes of the Race Relations Act 1976. In February 1997 a tribunal sitting in Glasgow found that the Scots and the English belonged to the same ethnic group and so there had been no racial discrimination against Scottish employees of British Airways in losing seniority benefits upon a job transfer from Scotland to work based in London, when English colleagues being similarly transferred from Manchester and Birmingham to Gatwick and Heathrow took their seniority with them. A month later, however, a tribunal sitting in Edinburgh found relevant the claim of Graham Power, deputy chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police, that the Northern Joint Police Board had overlooked him for appointment as chief constable because he was English. The following dictum of Lord Simon of Glaisdale was cited during argument in the Edinburgh case: Scotland is not a nation in the eye of international law, but Scotsmen constitute a nation by reason of those most powerful elements in the creation of national spirit: tradition, folk memory and a sentiment of community. The Scots are a nation because of Bannockburn and Flodden, Culloden and the pipes at Lucknow, because of Jenny Geddes and Flora Macdonald, because of frugal living and respect for learning, because of Robert Burns and Walter Scott. So, too, the English are a nation – because Norman, Angevin and Tudor monarchs forged them together, because their land is mostly sea-girt, because of the common law and of gifts for poetry and parliamentary government, because, despite the Wars of the Roses and Old Trafford and Headingley, Yorkshireman and Lancastrian feel more in common than in difference and are even prepared at a pinch to extend their sense of community to southron folk (Ealing LBC v Race Relations Board [1972] AC 342 at 364). For further comment upon the question, see Aidan O’Neill, “The Scots, the English and the Race Relations Act”, 1997 SLT (News) 101-105. See further No 20 above.