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Thursday, April 29, 1999 Published at 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK


How they see us ...

Forbes McFall ventured south to discover what the English think

BBC Scotland's Forbes McFall goes south to find out how one market town in Lincolnshire views the prospect of a Scottish Parliament.

This is the weekly market in Stamford. It's Saint George's Day, the English patron saint's flag is draped above a vegetable stall while another flies from the steeple of a nearby church.

There is a hint of celebration in this historic rural town.


Forbes McFall's report for Good Morning Scotland
A prosperous community of about 20,000 people, it boasts two private secondary schools, has near full employment and has always known a Tory MP.

Its architecture a Georgian picture of "Middle England". In the marketplace there's a mixed response to the prospect of a Scottish Parliament.

'Let them have it'

"If they want it, let the Scots have it," went one opinion. "You look after yourselves, that's my attitude."

From another: "I suppose they don't want us making decisions for them. They've probably got a better idea of how they want things run."

And there was this comment too: "It probably is a good idea, I mean the English are never really interested in the Scots, are they?".

Hymns ring out of the Saturday morning church service at Stamford School. The summer term is underway.

At a politics class for sixth form pupils, students from the boys and girls schools harbour doubts about devolution.

"We've worked quite hard to create a United Kingdom and it seems a waste of the English effort if they are just going to break off now," said one.

'They need the English'

"I think it could lead to independence but I don't think it's a very good idea. I think they need the English to support them," was another frank assessment.

Stamford prides itself as being one of the most English of English towns. But over the years many Scots have come to settle there.

Bruce MacKenzie, from Dunfermline, is a retired teacher whose regular golfing partners are a Welshman and an Englishman.

Bruce said: "I am not against a Scottish Parliament but I think there are dangers in too much independence. I believe in the United Kingdom, Great Britain."

His Welsh golfing friend chipped in: "I think we've got to guard against splitting up the idea of the UK."

Parliament 'unnecessary'

And from his English partner: "I think a Scottish Parliament is totally unnecessary. We are the United Kingdom, we all get on well together.

"We all live together, we are all on the same little island."

But as the buskers play in Stamford's High Street, the townspeople appear more interested in the outcome of their own local elections on 6 May, rather than the contest north of the border.

In this little part of "Middle England" there's no warm embrace of constitutional change, more a passive acceptance that a Scottish Parliament is on its way and some apprehension about what may follow.



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