Sunday, 29 January 2012


This is the first example of the kind of article I have been dreading, the hymn to Englishness and all that encompasses. This one comes from a 'life-long Labour supporter' - as if that makes it okay - and it is printed in the Independent, not normally the home of extreme views.

Now don't get me wrong, I agree with pretty much everything this writer says about England and its proud traditions, creativity and strong identity, including the lively range of modern influences he cites. I am a proud Englishman and I celebrate this country every day in all its myriad variety but this article contains a few grains which will germinate and grow into pernicious weeds if allowed to continue.

First, the author gets in a few clear digs about Scotland: about how he is 'angry' that English students must pay fees at universities there, a mention of the incidence of 'sectarianism' which can sometimes be found in Scotland.

Second, the writer yearns to be proud of his country and how he longs to celebrate it with an anthem, an English equivalent of Burns Night, how we should have Jerusalem as the national anthem. Oh dear, this is the last recourse of the scoundrel writ large.

Again, I agree with the sentiments and I, too, object to many aspects of our relationship with Scotland such as the unfair constitutional settlement and the continued influence of Scottish MPs over my life but this is the start of a national challenge from England to the challenge laid down in Edinburgh by Pandora Salmond and the SNP.

I've said it before and I'll be hoarse by the time this debacle draws to a conclusion: the point about Englishness is that we have all these advantages but we don't need to trot them out every five minutes. The very essence of Englishness is a sense of quiet confidence in who we are. I don't need a flag introduced by the Normans to make me English. A beautiful piece of music like Jerusalem moves me but it is not necessary to make me English. For Heaven's sake, any country whose citizens can remain proud of its identity and existence even when our football team performs so lamentably at every international tournament has got to be described as being at ease with itself.

Pandora Salmond dreams of two countries living side by side in peace with a shared country and monarch with only a healthy rivalry between us. To use an English phrase from my home, London, he's having a laugh. When the trouble begins - be that at a football match, in a manufactured argument over Berwick, or with an attack on an innocent individual in one or other country we must all be absolutely crystal clear about where the blame lies: at the doors of the SNP and the home of Pandora Salmond. To make that stick we need to avoid playing his silly game.

No comments:

Post a Comment