From Socialist Unity:
It is common on the left to argue that national differences in culture and character are incidental. The danger with this approach, especially for those of us who live in a metropolitan imperial power like Britain, is to confuse our own particularity with universality – the danger of this is greatest for those of us who are native English speakers, given the adoption of English as an international lingua franca. Self-awareness of the particularities of English political culture is necessary in order to counter-act this tendency to assume that the whole world looks to us to set an example.
Um, just who in England, which doesn't even exist constitutionally, thinks that the world looks to "us" to set an example? What is English political culture? There is no such thing.
Those of us who live in a cosmopolitan imperial power like Britain? Uh, when was that, then?
Ulster Unionist Arthur Aughey has written a book, The Politics Of Englishness. Here's a quote from it:
a reversal of the anxieties that were familiar in the non-English parts of the United Kingdom where the hegemony of England promoted two anxieties: the anxiety of parochialism, in which acknowledgement by England (the centre) was thought necessary to validate the local, and the corresponding anxiety of influence, in which such validation ran the risk of appropriation by English hegemony. The experience of devolution, however, has provoked a corresponding set of English anxieties about the Union which inverts those familiar ‘Celtic’ grievances. In short, the English have discovered the rest of us in the Union not as appendages to England but as assertive political communities.
Oh please, as a kid in the 1970s, I was never taught about "England" - it was always considered somehow shameful - we were "Britain" - which was not considered to be very commendable either. I was always made fully aware though of the existence of Scotland, Wales and Ireland - three nations which had fully participated in the British Empire movement, but had climbed into various pulpits afterwards and denounced England as the wrongdoer.
I'm sick to death of the likes of Arthur Aughey and Socialist Unity proclaiming that England has somehow dominated the so-called "Celtic" nations in the past. England ceased to exist with the Act of Union and has been so submerged in the "United Kingdom" project, which happened at the behest of a priviliged few in England and Scotland, that finally it was almost completely lost.
The other nations, meanwhile, went on and on gaining special priviliges - such as Secretaries of State - and various subsidies. And now a parliament and two assemblies.
There was never a time in Arthur Aughey's purely imaginary "English hegemony" when health apartheid and issues like the West Lothian Question roamed the land.
Mr Aughey is simply afraid that the Union may be about to become unstuck. And so it should in my opinion. As a thoroughly mongrel Englishman I'm all for an inclusive civic English national identity, but I take exception to Mr Aughey's posturings and those of Socialist Unity, which seem to believe that the Scots are fine to primp, preen and consider themselves exemplary, "pure bred Celts", etc., but that England must fit to their rigidly defined views and is somehow solely to blame for the Empire.
From Socialist Unity:
From my perspective, English independence would not be about making England exemplary, but recognising that we are no more special than anyone else, and abandoning the delusions, the pomp and the swagger of our British imperial past.
But it's fine for Tony Blair to proclaim Scotland, his homeland, a "proud, historic nation" is it?
And for David Cameron to proclaim that certain of his ancesters "...were Scottish Empire builders - conquered all sorts of parts of India, I think."
I don't think so.