As the World Cup approaches and the flags come out across England, we face the niggling annoyance of a whole section of Britain actively demonstrating their antipathy towards us through their senseless opposition to our football team. This happens at every sporting event so it is no surprise and such sporting hostility can be a source of fun. The difference with regard to Scotland and England is that the cause of this antipathy is ancient history.
This overt hostility to England is simply out of date and ignores a range of straightforward truths which suggest a somewhat skewed relationship in favour of Scotland, rather than supporting the myth of the English somehow being responsible for the various ills which many people beyond Berwick are convinced afflict their country.
In a conversation today a Scottish acquaintance was asked if anything special would be happening today on what is the anniversary of the birth of Robert the Bruce? Their response was a jokey but still fervent hope that the border would be closed. That kind of comment just annoys me. Why should a Scot living in England with absolutely no demonstrable disadvantages to their position and in the light of many advantages have such hostility to my country? This is tantamount to casual racism.
Given the fact that Britain has had a Scottish dominated government for 13 years, that Scotland has more powers and democracy than England, that Scottish MPs get to tell the English how to live and that in return the English are expected to pay far over the odds for Scotland, and given the fact that Scotland's banks were rescued by primarily English taxpayers, this seems somewhat churlish and ignorant of quite how well Scotland does from the union.
The surprise for me is that we in England don't particularly care about any of this and we generally rub along quite happily with the situation without treating these various issues as problems. I suspect that that must really annoy the Scots.
I remain 100% committed to a binding referendum on Scottish independence but my one condition would be that it should be a nationwide referendum, from Penzance to Peebles. I remain convinced that our Scottish neighbours would be quite uncomfortably surprised at the outcome of such a referendum but they would almost certainly get what they wished for which, as anyone who knows the old saw will realise, may not be the best outcome for Scotland.
For the record, I am also fully supportive of the union and I believe it to be a good thing for all of us. England benefits from this union as much as the other participants but any such union requires active and positive participation from all its members. The long-standing Liberal Democrat policy of a federal Britain remains an ideal aspiration for our country which could reduce much of this resentment and even up the huge political imbalance which is currently skewed in favour of Scotland.
Here's my challenge then: if you are Scottish and reading this blog, feel free to post a message of support for the England team in South Africa. If you feel you are unable to, can I suggest that you reflect on whether that is a mature response to our ongoing, positive relationship which the union embodies in the 21st century.
However, if you do, my thanks and my very best wishes. And here's to a 'Great Britain' football team for 2012.