GERRY Hassan, as ever, hits the spot (The return of England as the UK, October 26). On December 16 I wrote to the BBC History Magazine anent another example of this convenient conflation of the two imagined communities.

David Olusoga, who has a regular column in the magazine, has done some really good work on black history, imperialism, slavery etc in both TV documentary and written format.

I thought I was on the same page until, no sae lang syne, he did a TV documentary in which he came up to Scotland to meet like-minded Labour party types (for that is his ilk) who told him all about the terrible experience of the indyref which divided families and nearly brought about the end of civilisation as we know it. Belying his vocation as a historian, he never interviewed anyone on the Yes side, nor anyone that might have a semblance of neutrality.

READ MORE: Why the England-UK equivalency is a problem for us all

Somehow it still disappointed me to see how his great-nation mindset (surely odd for one who is part-Nigerian, yet there is a political parallel in Lisa Nandy, who is part-Indian) affected his historical writing. I quote my emailed letter to BBC History magazine below:

“In his article on the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, Professor David Olusoga (BBC History Magazine, December 2019) has, like all too many English-based historians, conflated England with ‘Britain’.

“He states that when the Gregorian calendar was introduced by the Papacy in 1582 “a number of Protestant countries, including Britain, rejected it.” He has either conflated ‘Britain’ with England, or this is an historical error, for ‘Britain’ as a country certainly did not exist in 1582.

“He further asserts that the country he calls “Britain” stood out against the adoption of the Gregorian calendar until 1752. If, as I have suggested, he has conflated ‘Britain’ with England, this statement in itself could stand, but it ignores the fact that Scotland adopted the Gregorian calendar on 1st January 1600, just short of 152 years earlier than England.

“En passant, I would suggest that Professor Olusoga’s entertaining article could have noted that the reason the financial year begins in early April (New Style) is because it still keeps to the Julian calendar, in which the year began in spring, not winter, and New Year’s Day was March 25 (Old Style).”

Bob Attar, editor of BBC History Magazine, replied by email to advise that my letter would be considered for publication either in the magazine or on their website. I had hopes thereby that it might the brought to Professor Olusoga’s attention and that he would acknowledge the error, which would be fine.

Time has since passed, the February issue of the magazine is now out, and my letter has not been published in either context, which leads me to suspect that this was a challenge too far for them.

Norman Easton

A VERY significant change will happen on February 1.

An essential principle of the EU is that it does not interfere or make comment on the internal affairs of any of its member states. It could not exist as a democratic and voluntary union without that being the case. This of course presented it with a huge problem in the Spain/Catalonia conflict. Despite many individual EU states acting against the Spanish interest and intent on some issues,the EU was silent.

The EU therefore to date has made no official statement in support of or opposition to Scottish independence other than to affirm that legal process must be followed on such issues.

On February 1, however, the UK is no longer a member state of the EU. The EU therefore is free to comment on our independence campaign and Scotland’s future as a member state of the EU if that is what we want.

I await developments with some confidence.

David McEwan Hill
Sandbank, Argyll