Two very different features have been drawn to our attention via the excellent Witanagemot Club today. One is on the young celebrity Tricky - proclaiming that he is very happy indeed to be English:
England knows how to integrate
Yesterday I was on the bus and saw a young Chinese girl talking to a 67 year old black woman, and by my hotel I’ve seen a black man and white woman arm in arm, walking to work. I just don’t see that anywhere else, and I’d notice it. At the end of the day, the thing with England is that I’m a black guy, but I’m English. If you’re an Arabic guy in France you could be born in France, but if you’re parents are Arabic, you’re still Arabic, they don’t look as you as being French. When I was growing up, people always saw me as an English kid. I’ve grown up here, so I’m English. I’ve got a British passport, no-one can look at me and tell me I’m not English. So the racism might be against black people, but it’s never that you’re not English.
Well, our knowledge of popular music stops circa 1989 (Pump Up The Jam, Fool's Gold and Jive Bunny!) so we can give no opinion on Tricky's work. But we like his attitude towards his homeland.
Meanwhile, Toque comes up with a snippet from Prospect Magazine, July, 1998. Here's Andrew Marr, telling us just why he feels free to wander around England so arrogantly:
“British” is a political term, not an ethnic one. There are no ethnic British. For millions of non-English island dwellers that makes it useful and reassuring. “Britain” may have imperial connotations, but it also represents the authority of treaty and ethnic compromise. For many black, Asian, European and Irish people here, who will never be English, Britishness is a useful badge of belonging. For you, in Edinburgh, Britain may seem a flag of convenience for Greater England. From where I sit, “British” surmounts and tames England. During the World Cup the cross of St George fluttered on every street; not everyone enjoyed that…
England has absorbed a lot of immigration over a long time without the rise of ethnic nationalism on the French or German model; this has something to do with the separation between the ethnic (Englishness) and the civic or political (Britishness). Asian people and black people can declare: I am British; and know that the assertion is irrefutable. But they don’t feel English, any more than I do. There is no such thing as an ethnic Briton, just as there isn’t an ethnic American. I like that.
So, rather than having an inclusive civic English identity, which would make us all English and equal, regardless of our origins, we have been "tamed" by Britishness. That's why we are ruled by Britishness - why we have health apartheid, the West Lothian Question, the Barnett Formula... why the people of England are not cared for anywhere near as well as their Scots/Welsh counterparts.
And of course that proud Scot Andrew Marr, happy to see England "tamed" and subsumed by Britishness, was all for Scottishness being recognised politically - he fully supported the establishment of the Scottish Parliament.
So, good news from Tricky, but a glimpse of what keeps us under the cosh of the Scottish Raj from Andrew Marr.