The Scot, which in the British imagination is a bluff and mumbling fellow, may seem like an unusual object of fear and loathing. But in London, it seems the city is being ruled over by a group of ambitious Scotsâ€”what Jeremy Paxman, a popular BBC presenter, has dubbed the “Scottish Raj.” Prime Minister Tony Blair, who claims Englishness, was born and educated in Edinburgh. Five of Blair’s 20 Cabinet ministers are Scottish, meaning that about one-twelfth of Great Britain’s population has produced one-quarter of its Cabinet. The ruling Scots include Gordon Brown, who will probably succeed Blair as prime minister, and John Reid, the home secretary, Brown’s only real rival for the post. Menzies Campbell, the leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats, is Scottish, as is his predecessor, Charles Kennedy.
When Scottish pols sit down for interviews at the BBC, they are increasingly likely to hear questions posed in a familiar brogue: Scottish media stars include Andrew Marr and Radio 4’s James Naughtie. “At some point, it begins to sound like an intensely Edinburgh conversation,” says Ian Jack, a Scot who edits the London-based literary magazine Granta. Perhaps because of this critical mass of ascendant Scots, the last year has been a noticeably tense one for English-Scottish relations. In June, London’s mayor, Ken Livingstone, joked that a new rail-link system was necessary “so that we can continue to pay for the Scottish to live the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.”