I’ve had the booster jab now so if you see me in the street, do feel free to get up close, pat me on the back perhaps or tell me which of my columns is your personal favourite. After all the months of distancing, the social interaction will do me good.

We could also talk, maybe, about something specific that happened at my booster jab, something I wasn’t expecting. On the whole, it all went pretty smoothly - the vaccines were being done by a mixture of local staff and soldiers brought up from England - and I was in and out of the booster centre in ten minutes or so.

But as I was sitting there, sleeve rolled up waiting for steel on skin, chatting away to the soldier, a woman approached me with an ipad in her hand. She had a few questions for me, she said. When was I last vaccinated? Did I have any allergies? Was I on any kind of medication? Etc, etc. All fine. Then she asked a couple of questions I wasn’t expecting. What was my race? And was I British?

The question about race the woman answered for me before I could say anything - white - but the question on nationality was a little trickier. Normally, when I’m asked the nationality question in surveys I tick either “British” or “Scottish/British” and so without thinking much about it I said to the woman “British”. But I then discovered that the British option as I knew it wasn’t actually available.

I took a look at the screen of the woman’s ipad and I could see that there were two options, “Scottish” and “Other British”, and because I’d said British, the woman had ticked “Other British”. In fact, that wasn’t true because in this case, “Other British” meant English, Welsh or Northern Irish. In other words, the options I usually go for - “British” or “Scottish/British” because that’s how I see myself - were not available.

I had a couple of reactions to the incident. First, I was a little irritated that I couldn’t tell the woman my nationality in the way I see it - Scottish and British - and, as I rolled my sleeve back down and headed home, it got me thinking a wee bit about what exactly our perceptions of nationality in Scotland are. And how they might be changed. Or how they might be changed for us.

Secondly, I wanted to know exactly why I was being asked these questions on nationality and race and so, when I got home, I asked someone in the Scottish Government. This is what they told me: the pandemic, they said, has negatively affected a number of minority ethnic groups and the information the government has about ethnicity is incomplete. With hundreds of thousands of vaccinations happening every week, they said the booster represented a good opportunity to improve their data.

As for nationality, the government told me the people being surveyed have a number of options, including “Scottish”, “Other British”, and “Irish”, and that they can leave more detail under any of the choices. They also said that the options were widely used categories and that they would help ensure consistency for any future analysis. And they pointed out that individuals were able to select a “prefer not to say/do not know” option, although that choice was not put to me.

I do not, you understand, want to get overly angsty or outraged about this but I am a little concerned that, as a Scot in Scotland answering a question about my nationality, I was not actually able to choose the option that describes me. The word “Scottish” is accurate as far as it goes but I am not just Scottish, I am British as well. You might say that in the survey the “British” is implied in the “Scottish” by the fact that the second option was “Other British” but a better option to provide would have been “Scottish/British”. In fact, it’s the only option that accurately describes me, but it wasn’t there.

I also, I must admit, have some concerns that the survey reveals the way the Scottish Government see nationality and in particular words such as “Scottish” and “British”. No doubt they would prefer us all to see ourselves as exclusively Scottish and no doubt they would prefer it if we were all willing and happy to tick a “Scottish” option rather than a “Scottish/British” option. But that is not how it is. To that extent, the survey I was asked to do was wrong. Inaccurate. Misleading even.

The survey may also point to some other stuff that’s going on with how the Scottish Government perceives and uses nationality and national terms. Obviously, it prefers the words “Scottish” and “Scot” to anything associated with “British”, which is invariably used pejoratively, and what this effectively seeks to do is create two types of nationalism: British, which is bad, and Scottish, which is good. The British type, naturally, is associated with Tories and cuts to the NHS and so on, and the Scottish with the SNP and booster jabs: Scottish jabs in Scottish arms.

You may think I’m just projecting my own hang-ups on to a perfectly innocent little survey and perhaps I am, but at some point a decision was made on the categories of nationality that would be included in the survey and at some point it was designed so that someone like me, Scottish/British, did not actually have an accurate option to choose. It was just a choice, and it’s just a survey, but choices reveal motives, and intentions.

Perhaps I’m wrong and it’s all perfectly innocent and if that’s the case I apologise. But perhaps, in a small way, it’s about guiding us all, in the end, to thinking of ourselves more as Scottish than British. This week I’ve been reading Peter Whittle’s book Being British and his central premise is interesting. Scottish nationalists, he says, happily use terms such as “Scottish” and so on because they are at one with nationalistic feeling which might normally be anathema to anyone on the Left. Whittle’s point is they feel this way because they see their nationalism as the right kind; Scottish nationalism is not only acceptable, it’s fashionable.

While I do not agree with everything Whittle says in his book, I do think his take on Scottish nationalism is pretty accurate. The word “British” has certainly become anathema to more Scots and it’s certainly unacceptable to the Scottish Government. And so it does not pass the lips of Scottish ministers, except when contained in a criticism. And it does not appear in government literature except when making an accusation. And it does not, I’m afraid, show up accurately in a survey conducted as part of the booster programme. I just wanted my third jag the other day; I did not want to have to worry about the future of my national identity.

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