Thursday, 23 September 2010

This England


The October issue of Prospect has a review by Maurice Glasman of Michael Wood’s new book The Story of England. The publication ties in with a new six-part documentary on BBC 4, purporting to unravel English history in microcosm, looking at it through the prism of a single village, Kibworth in Leicestershire. Wood is good as a telly historian, always tackling his subject with simple clarity and school-boyish enthusiasm; so the new venture looks quite promising.

I’ve not read the book so I can offer no direct comment here. However, Glasman, in his own analysis, has raised some general issues with which I am in absolute agreement. He begins with a stark observation: “There is a political void where England should be.” It’s perfectly true: England no longer governs itself. The people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have devolved parliaments or assemblies. But what about England the country that created Parliament in the first place? Westminster, the seat of an ancient assembly, represents the union, not the nation. As Glasman puts it, England, as a political nation, has no body and it cannot speak.

Wood writes in his book “For a small country on the far shore of the Eurasian landmass, its influence on the world of literature, language, politics, law and ideas of freedom has been out of all proportion to its size. Why this should have been so is an interesting question in itself.” It certainly is. An even more pressing question is why has England been diminished and marginalised? The Scottish question, the Welsh question and even the Northern Ireland question, at least to a degree, have been answered, but not the question of England, now the most pressing part of the last government’s catastrophically bad constitutional ‘settlement’ that settled nothing.

England has been betrayed. Wood’s book is about the ordinary people of England, the labouring poor, as they were once described, the people who have been subject to particular treachery by those who pretend to represent them in the modern world. Glasman takes the example of mass immigration, which affected England more than any other country of the union- “Yet there was no political body that could speak for England, that could express and embody the political life of the nation.” The dispossession of the English, it might be said, has been almost as thorough as the dispossession of the Anglo-Saxons in the wake of the Norman Conquest.

It’s almost as if some conspiracy has been at work to submerge England, to submerge the story of England. The disconnection between the English and the Labour Party, as Glasman reminds us, has been particularly profound. Where once was talk of native radicalism there is now a huge vacuum, a measure of the intellectual bankruptcy and shallow cosmopolitanism of the Labour movement in this country;

When Gordon Brown gave his most memorable speech of the election campaign on 3rd May at Methodist Central hall he did not speak of the Pilgrimage of Grace and the Levellers or of the London dock strike and the foundation of the health service, but of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama, of civil rights and liberation. It was as if the struggles of people thousands of miles away were of more relevance than those of the country he wished to lead.

Glasman, a senior lecturer in political theory at London Metropolitan University, has political sympathies quite different from my own. He believes that Labour will need to rediscover a radical history rooted in a native tradition if it is ever again to “speak for the nation.” I would rather David Miliband, or whoever the next leader of the Party may be, waffled on interminably about Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, knowing very well that, beyond the hotbeds of Islington, there are precious few who care anything at all about these fashionable and wholly irrelevant international icons, avatars of a bankrupt mood.

Glasman concludes his essay by saying that the English question is silent in our politics and remains so; that it will take a very different book from Wood’s to begin to give it voice. How much longer can this be delayed, I wonder? The English people are remarkably tolerant, so tolerant that I suspect that most have no real sense over the extent to which their interests have been compromised or why they are so little heard. Their tolerance has been taken for granted, perhaps even as a sign of apathy or indifference, a sign that politicians can get away with anything, can hand out freedom to the fringes while denying it to the centre. For me the Union increasingly resembles a corpse tied to a vital body. If it has to be cast away for us to rediscover our identity, for the English question to be answered at last, then so be it.

120 comments:

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  4. Adam, there is no doubt at all in my mind that you will stand, along with the Protestants of Northern Ireland, as the last of the Britons.
    :-)

    On a point of clarification I am a patriot and not a nationalist, the principle here being a patriot is a person who loves her country and a nationalist a person who hates everybody else's country!

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  8. Ah, but we can only build Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land!

    Adam, your paths are not my paths, your causes not my causes, your passions not my passions.:-)

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  12. England was strong long before the formation of the United Kingdom. I honestly could not care less about the Commonwealth, made up in many parts of petty tyrants and welfare dependants! It really does not matter what I want, Adam. I just believe there is a kind of historical inevitability here, a dynamism neither you nor I nor anyone else can arrest. I will say that England is much more than a nebulous and wholly amorphous ‘culture’. England is a nation; it’s my nation. It's time she was heard.

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  15. Adam, I did not say and I do not think that any of those nations are 'the enemy.' The past is the past. We can no more return to 1889 than we can to 1706.

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  16. Anthony, that is a step in 'Britishness' always too far for me. :-)

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  19. Adam, you will have to find your own Tardis. Meanwhile the world moves on. :-) I'm not sure it matters what I want or not. The Celts wanted devolution; the Celts got devolution, though they never seem to be satisfied, always whinging from the sidelines. I'm tired carrying their historical and emotional baggage. I want England to have its own voice again; I want England to be a nation. That will always be my point of reference.

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  22. Adam, Ana is obviously saying that she wants England to be an independent state.

    I wish you would stop referring to Northern Ireland as 'Ulster' ... I live in one but not the other. Ana wouldn't commit this error. :-)

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  23. The English people are remarkably tolerant, so tolerant that I suspect that most have no real sense over the extent to which their interests have been compromised or why they are so little heard.

    I think this is precisely the problem/explanation of the larger part of the problem.

    As well as historic factors that meant English nationalism was subsumed into love of the Empire, at least as much as the Union.

    The whole ethos of the last few decades (inevitably for perfectly well-intentioned reasons) has been one of "bugger the (largely silent and long-suffering) majority, give what they want to hectoring, threatening and petulant minority groups with vocal spokesmen/women".

    Certainly as a child growing up in (suburban) England the only time I ever saw the St George's flag was on the local Anglican church, on 23 April. Although the way I see it used today, specifically in my home town (one of the apparent BNP heartlands - oh thank god that fat buffoon Nick Griffin has buggered off from its horrid streets now. If only Margaret Hodge would also bugger off therefrom) is far from healthy - kind of like a tribal banner waved in fear (a bit like what one encounters in some parts of Northern Ireland, I think)

    OK I am at least as Scottish as I am English, and at least as Ulster Irish as I am Scottish, but I must largely disagree with you about "whining Celts" (well, Liverpudlians apart ;) and maybe some of the Welsh ; and well, a certain proportion of Glaswegians and Dundonians).

    When I lived in Scotland I was surprised to find the remarkable positivity of a lot of the SNP types I met - the line about "the enemy of the Scot is not the Englishman, but rather the Scot without imagination" got whipped out a lot, and I think to good effect - I sense a real pride, in many ways a positive thing, in Edinburgh (and even the formerly God-forsaken hellhole of Dundee) whenever I have visited in the post-devolution years. Glasgow is maybe a different matter... The whinging and self-pity of the Scottish Liberal Democrats however, is another matter entirely. But maybe that is par for the course of Liberal Democratdom...

    As such, I think there are maybe some positive things than can be learned from what the SNP has become for English nationalists. But maybe it is far easier for a small nation to forge a cohesive identity and form a common voice. And (and I think Adam will disagree) I think England is hampered by what I regard as its excessive centralism, the lack of devolution or subsidiarity (perhaps too by the embrace of fairly radical free-market economics, which have destroyed local traditions and businesses that still flourish in places that have valued and protected them - France and Italy and Germany all, for example)

    I suspect that any political resolution of the matter will only follow once some kind of cultural voice of Englishness is prominent. But it certainly a challenge to restore what has been wrongly taken or given up.

    Quite seriously, I would say, at the present time, saving the grand English tradition of hte public house is a good (and necessary) starting point. Although there is so much more to be done, some ale would be to the good.

    The likes of Chesterton and Blake (and even though he were half-French, Belloc: his "Four Men" is a great tale of love of the Sussex landscape, maybe something I aspire to write a relative of for my own beloved county) will light a path, with many others. To militant reasonableness!

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  24. Forgive the 'whinging Celt' remark, Dominic, barbed, yes, but not really meant seriously. Some of my best friends blah, blah, blah. Who am I to talk anyway? I'm just a whinging Norman. :-))

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  27. 'You know exactly why I call it that' ... no, but please don't feel that you need to enlighten me.

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  28. Boys, I can't continue to hold the ring! I must be off but I wil publish any subsequent remarks on Sunday...polite ones, of course!

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  30. OK, you can have that! Best of luck at King's. :-)

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  31. Returning to blogs after a break I find this first rate piece by you. Very well written indeed. Beautifully so. Some excellent comments by you and also by Adam.
    There is something inherently pertinacious in the English, the British, that made them as great as they became. From an 'outsider's' perspective, I can tell you, it has waned but it is very much still there. More than tolerance, it is their sense of fair-play. That is what made them great, that alone will keep them great.

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  32. Ana, no problem. One comes here partly for barbed comments :)

    Adam, the Co. Donegal side of ancestry also makes me keenly sense the Northern Ireland/Ulster distinction...

    I might well agree with restoring London to its 1899-1965 boundaries (so long as what lies beyond is not treated in the same fashion as what occurs in and around Paris). Unitary councils? Hmmm. Not sure. Certainly the detachment of London, in so many regards, from the rest of the country strikes perhaps one of the biggest problems that England has to deal with.

    And black stuff apart, there is no denying that the beer in Ireland is inferior to the stuff in England...

    (The Crown Liqour Saloon in Belfast, owned by the National Trust of Northern Ireland, however, is however sublime. Real ale from Great Britain may be found there. Beautiful building, great beer, great soup, opposite the opera house. One notes in passing, while it is very far from being a "republican pub", the mischevious Italian Catholic decorators made is such that anyone entering had to walk over a tiled image of the British crown)

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  34. Now this really is my final, final appearance: I really must be off. Time flys and my chariot awaits! Thanks, dear Shermeen, and Brendano, and Dominic and Adam. I do hope you all have a super weekend.

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  35. Indeed - so be it. The sooner we nail the lid down and bury that bloated, festering corpse the better.

    The so called "United Kingdom" needs England but England doesn't need the "United Kingdom".

    The Unionist "stronger together" mantra is a lie. Within the "Union" there is no England. English independence takes England from a state of non existence to existence - England is stronger apart - in all ways.

    There will come a time when big Britisher delusions of grandeur no longer hold us back. England is rising - slow but sure. We will throw off the last chains of empire and set England free.

    English taxes for England
    English law for England
    Home rule for England

    Anyone wishing to see a free England should join the Campaign for an English Parliament - http://www.thecep.org.uk (new website imminent).

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  36. It is all about commerce,money makes the world go round. The reason they hold on to northern IRELAND is thats where your fish n chips come from . The fishing industrie is based there. As for the Queen she wants to take money from the poor to heat her palace . All these people want to do is keep their positions and wealth .It is all about money all others are expendable.All colonial powers have raped the world of natural resources . This goes on to this day with corporate profit, it is the old pyramid social structure.Human nature does not change.

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  37. I was actually just thinking about this a couple weeks ago, how the English were so unique but now, at times, seem to be trying to force their uniqueness away. You know, Ana, I don't think Labour can be English as far as I can tell. I don't think so. I think the very idea of a left socialist political party is fundamentally against, as far as I can tell, again I'm not the best judge of this as I've never actually been to England, all of the original (and at times contradictory) native sensibilities of your country, perhaps even more so then it is against Americas because at least, in America, they can kind of tie themselves to "New England," also known as that strange little short lived nation state created by English people who didn't want to be English anymore that later got gobbled up by the rest of America, though outside of this they're really pretty at odds with our sensibilities too.

    I guess I'm just saying this because, in politics, people want to keep power, and as long as Labour exists, as far as I can tell, I don't think they can be anything but a force to ruin England because Englands not any good for them. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but that's just the way it seems to me.

    I think it's weird though that England doesn't have its own parliament if the other three kingdoms do. You have your own flag, and you could move the unions parliament to Gretna, since it's right on the border between Scotland and England and the Irish Sea, and move the entire mechanics of government there to send a clear message not to use government as a jobs program for London, create a separate non-economic capital city like the ones that America and Brazil have to prevent favoritism towards London, then retain the ancient parliament as the English Parliament and bulldoze Whitehall.

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  38. Oh and I forgot to mention, make the entire city a beautiful architectural statement with wide boulevards, gardens and hypermodern Kingdom-neutral architecture. There's a large relatively undeveloped farmland just south of the River Esk that could be used to build the new Capital, and we could have the Parliament built on top of the river with a trap door so that any rally annoying legislator can be dropped in to the river when he goes over time in debate.

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  41. Thanks, Wyrdtimes. Do I know you, perhaps, from the Witangemont Club?

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  42. Anthony, I couldn't possibly do without fish and chips!

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  44. Jeremy, thanks ever so much. I've long been of the view that Labour was inimical to the interests of this country, a bit like the Democrats in the States! It's just got worse because they have selected a new leader, Red Ed Miliband. I like your final suggestion very much, the one about trap doors. :-)

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  45. Thanks for your link, Adam; I'll check it a bit later.

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  48. Adam, you have some strange ideas about me. For example, the idea that I resent people in England because they have a better life than those in Ireland has nothing to do with me; it must have something to do with you, because you have prejected it onto me.

    'Particularly Brendano; everything you've ever said about your happy life in Ireland, indicates that you are not an oppressed person nor a miserable person, but a deeply content person.'

    Yes, absolutely.

    'So I'll take no lectures from you about how England is reaping advantage from the exploitation of those outside England.'

    Fine ... I have never given such a lecture, and have no intention of doing so, except in your imagination.

    'I have suffered more in my life than you ever have' ... how would you know?

    I'm not a nationalist.

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  50. That certainly sounds awful, Adam.

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  52. @MGON:

    "...Anti-House of Windsor..."

    Seems like my clan's on the move again! We're the clan with a plan.

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  53. Damn ... I just noticed that I wrote 'prejected' above.

    Should be 'projected', of course. :-(

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  54. Brendano, don't worry; I read that as projected, a correcton clearly made in the in the speed of the mind's eye. :-)

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  55. Strangely, Ana, the mind's facility for instant correction is the very thing that someone in my line of work (editorial) needs to switch off.

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  56. Yes, I'm sure it is. I tried a spot of copy editing for the university newspaper, but I'm quite hopeless, reading far to fast!

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  57. I think the writer's side of the fence is your natural abode. :-)

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  58. "I've talked a lot in this thread of my loathing of English nationalism and disappointment at a minority of English people who hate all British and Commonwealth subjects outside of England."

    I'm an English nationalist who is married to a Canadian citizen. Do you loathe me too? Personally I don't believe that British nationalists such as yourself can claim any superiority over English nationalists like me. But I'd be amused to see you try...

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  59. Toque, I just want to say that it's lovely to see you. I hope all is well. :-)

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  61. Did you read the post, Adam? Ana is saying she would like to dismantle the Union. You seem to have missed that somehow. :-)

    I have no axe to grind in the matter - nothing to do with me - but it's an interesting fault line in English conservatism.

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  62. Hi Anna, I'm well thanks, tired but well.

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  63. Mr Garrie, I've read your blog on occasion and I must say that you do come across as a British nationalist. I agree with you that Britain (or the United Kingdom) is not a nation - it is a multinational state. Based upon a reading of your One Nation post I'd classify you as a typical Anglo-Brit (Greater Englander).

    So all those who want Britain not Brussels, class unity rather than division, a strong national defence that defends rather than entangles, and a prosperous Union and the head of a dynamic Commonwealth, rather than an irrelevant and isolated England—stand up and say, I’m a One Nation Tory—who ironically can be mostly found in UKIP.

    It's the archetypal UKIP position, and I'm afraid that it's one that I find laughable.

    Let me explain my English nationalism and then you can tell me whether you find it 'particularly loathsome' and inferior to your unionism.

    cont...

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  64. To begin with English nationalism is not the same as English separatism, the demand for 'English independence'. English nationalism springs from a feeling of English national identity but it does not necessarily preclude a sense of 'British identity'. There are a great many English nationalists who feel a sense of grievance at the constitutional position of England and the lack of English government/national voice. These people are not necessarily separatists.

    I call myself an English nationalists because I recognise England as a country; I recognise English as a nation (a national people), and; I believe in popular sovereignty for the people of England - the right to self-determination.

    Now there are people who call themselves English nationalists who are loathsome, but these people are rarely calling for popular sovereignty on behalf of the nation of England. I claim national popular sovereignty on behalf of the English people, you claim sovereignty on behalf of the United Kingdom. You have pragmatic political reasons for doing so: You want to retain British influence in the Security Council, prevent EU encroachment, maintain an independent military defence, hold the Commonwealth together, etc. Those are perfectly legitimate political goals and certainly I'm not going to rubbish you for them, but if that's the ideological basis for your unionism I would question your assertion that it is a superior ideology.

    My English nationalism demands that England is treated as a nation and permitted to choose the government best suited to it's needs, whether that's an independent state, a confederal union, a federal union, a devolved union, localism, or rule from Westminster and Scottish, Welsh and Irish politicians. I'm an English nationalist because I believe that the people - the nation - should make that choice and it is not the job of Westminster to take that decision for us (see Commission into the West Lothian Question, Regional Assemblies, Localism Agenda, etc.).

    If England is to be in political union with other nations of the British Isles (if that is what the English, Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish want - which I believe it is) then I think that sovereignty should reside with the people and be ceded up to the Union Parliament, rather than sovereignty lying with the Union Parliament and being devolved down. I suspect that you feel similarly about our relationship with the EU; if we have to be in the EU then you would prefer it if national sovereignty is maintained. Ditto me vis a vis England's position within the Union.

    Now there are English nationalists who use English nationalism as a means to an anti-democratic end, but I call myself a civic nationalist because I want England to have some of the trappings of democarcy and statehood in order to help inculcate a feeling of English national identity (which is something connected to, but different, from English ethnic identity).

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  65. Yes, Toque, I understand! But I'm pleased to see that you have lost none of your skill in argument, tired or not. :-)

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  67. Brendano,
    Where have I missed anything? I'm well aware of the content of the blog. Or have you taken to revising inner thoughts as well as the written word?

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  71. "My solution isn't for further Balkanisation but for less."

    I hate to break it to you, but you don't have a 'solution'. Your solution, as you endearingly call it, is - like the UKIP solution - a non-solution. Unachievable and therefore pointless. The 'balkanisation' of the UK has already occurred and won't be reversed, get over it and move on.

    "England doesn't need the petty, juvenile trappings of a statist England to regain our culture."

    And neither does Britain.

    "I am not a nationalist--I am a Unionist--how many times must I say this."

    Well your writing on your blog belies that statement, and makes a mockery of "statist England" comment. For example:

    "That being in an EU that is run by Britain’s traditional enemies, is a dangerous prospect for the cultural survival of the British nation"

    It is for this reason that what remains of the free British nation-state, must say to the EU, we want out.

    You're a British nationalist who believes that his nationalism is superior to the nationalism of other people, but for no good reason.

    There's nothing criminal about being a British nationalist, so you should come out the closet and embrace it.

    "I do not believe in popular sovereignty. I am a believer in great states."

    That's just tragic. You should go and work for the EU, you'd fit in well.

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  72. 'The UK was founded organically and transparantly'

    Not really, Adam ... it's a matter of record that the Irish parliament was bribed to vote itself out of existence in 1800 (not that it was a paragon of democracy in any case).

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  77. Adam, I completely agree with Toque here. If one dismisses popular sovereignty, which has nothing at all to do with Marxism, pseudo or otherwise, then there is no argument left against the bureaucrats of the EU, no argument left in defence of democracy and the nation state. It does not matter what you say or how you vote, we, the Guardians, know what is best for you.

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  80. On the Falklands my position is quite clear: if the people want to remain British then they should remain British. Otherwise Argentina can have these worthless rocks, and welcome! Salisbury understood precious little about democracy, not that I would expect him to, though I'm not quite clear what he meant by 'sovereign right'. Europe, the European Union, represents a serious challenge to our sovereign rights as a nation. And if out sovereignty is undermined so, too, is our democracy.

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  84. It's yours, Adam, yours and the last goat, with socialist blessings. :-))

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  86. Actually, I almost never describe myself as British. I'm English and proud of being English; I can think of no greater accolade.

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  89. It's simple: for me it ends with being called English in describing my nationality.

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  92. Mister Garrie, you're railing against the zeitgeist. Government's need to rule with consent, and much as you may dislike the fact, Parliament still has a role but it is not an absolutist role. 'UK supremecy', as you put it (presumably in reference to Crown sovereignty), stopped being absolute when power was devolved on the basis of popular sovereignty.

    There is no going back.

    The UK solution of abolishing members of the Scottish Parliament and installing dual mandate MPs won't work because it won't happen, the Scots won't have it and neither should the English. A man cannot serve two masters; dual mandate MPs will be a recipe for constitutional chaos. For a start you would be introducing nationalism into the Union (Imperial) Parliament, expecting English MPs to act as a national bloc in the interests of England, when previously MPs have always divided along party (not national) lines. And what would happen when there is a Conservative majority in England and no Labour majority across the UK? Have you thought about the psychological impact of restoring Westminster to its original role as an English parliament; what effect would that have on the Scots (many of whom already regard Westminster as the English parliament); do you suppose that excluding their MPs from 70% of the business of the House (English domestic affairs) will make them feel more or less British?

    The Union Parliament needs to be based on the principle that all members are equal. As Prof Bogdanor correctly points out, to be British is to wish to be represented at Westminster. Remove that desire by making Scottish politicians irrelevant would, given a few years, destroy the Union and peoples' sense of Britishness altogether.

    The Union if it is to survive will need to be a union based on the consent of its constituent people/nations. And a union based on the consent of its constituent parts in one in which sovereignty rests with the nations rather than the centre. The Crown in Parliament will only be sovereign by having sovereignty conferred upon it, not be divine right.

    "The EU has taken sovereignty based on a supine pack of lies. You cannot compare the transparency of the Acts of Union to the conflated language of Rome, Massachusetts or the Lisbon Constitution."

    I hate to break it to you but the Acts of Union were imposed on the populations of both Scotland and England against their will and without their consent. I'm no fan of the EU and the modus operandi of the EU Establishment, but they're a damn sight more democratic than King James I England (II of Scotland), a widely despised King who did his popularity no end of good by catching Guy Fawkes in the act.

    I think you should write your piece decrying popular sovereignty and at the same time explain why you are not a British nationalist, explaination of which should entail on what basis the British state should continue if not as a nation and if not with the consent of its constituent nations.

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  93. Should Lord Pearson and his wife, should Sir Malcolm Rifkind and me really be divided in this way?

    Who is talking about dividing Lord Pearson and his wife, or you and Malcolm Rifkind (I hadn't realised that you and Malcolm were so close)?

    Rifkind is a carpet bagger parachuted into a safe English seat after his native people rejected him. He's also a hypocrite because he supports for his own Scotland a solution that he does not support for my England. I have little time for the man, an intelligent but dishonourable man, like most who infest Westminster.

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  94. My blog is about the English nation, not English nationalism. I'm English; I don't want to be anything else. I love my country. It's been submerged for far too long. It was alright for the Celtic nations to express pride and national identity, but not us; we were expected to carry the Union, we were expected to be British. Not any longer; not so far as I am concerned. I should make it clear, though, that I'm not arguing for any form of exclusion.

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  96. It's not 'ironic' that a particular Scot speaks better English than a particular Englishman, Adam. English is an international language, and is not the province of the English. Joyce said that the best English in the world is spoken in Drumcondra.

    Incidentally, on the abolition of the Irish parliament to extend the UK in 1800, two votes were required, with extra bribery, as the first one didn't go the way the British government wanted. Some irony there, in view of certain criticisms of the holding of two Lisbon referendums in Ireland.

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  99. As an outsider, it seems to me that the reason England did not differentiate itself from the UK was that it approximated to the UK, in terms of having the vast bulk of the population. English people tended to confuse the terms 'England', 'Britain' and 'UK'. When England won the World Cup in 1966, the flags being waved were all Union flags.

    Adam's case is not helped by the fact that there is no adjective corresponding to 'UK', hence the inaccurate 'British' is generally applied to it. I think Neal Ascherson suggested 'Ukanian' once.

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  100. Thanks, Adam; I recognise and admire your ideals, admire you for holding them with such tenacity, but the One Nation has gone. Disraeli also spoke of Young England. Time to look at that afresh perhaps. :-)

    I really don't want to take a specifically anti-Union position, but I could if I was so minded. Looking at the sevententh century, my period, the Union of the Crowns was a cause of considerable misery in England.

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  103. Brendano, really? OMG Let's have an Orange Revolution. Oops, that wouldn't go down to well in some parts of this Disunited Kingdom. :-))

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  104. "What I'm talking about is the absurdity of people who live, work are schooled and travel cross the Fourth throughout their lives being forced to be members of different states. Can you honestly not see the absurdity of this?"

    As I'm married to a Canadian and have previously lived in Scotland, Canada, Germany and Ghana - in addition to England - no, I can't say that I do see the absurdity of it. But there you go again, insinuating that English nationalism is the same as separatism and English nationalists want to create a separate state. In the unlikely event that England became an independent state I'd be quite happy to see Malcolm Rifkind and his wife given English citizenship or to see them hold dual citizenship, or even to be treated favourably as Irish citizens were (see Ireland Act 1949).

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  105. Yes, Adam, I know, but thanks for reminding me. :-) I used to think England and Britain were interchangeable. Not any longer.

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  107. It's just I used to believe that they meant one and the same thing, nothing more complicated than that. I suppose I've been taught that they are not. I only ever use British now to describe my passport.

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  109. When the ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke in 2006 about multicultural Britain he said
    that we are “no longer the stuffy old Britain that used to be sent up in the comedy
    sketches of the 1970s.” That Britain has always been a nation that accommodates cultures rather than alienating them. Britain has always been a welcoming country. He set out 6 guidelines on how this standard can still be maintained in the light of 7/7 and Islamic
    radicalism. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, he failed to realise that there are limits to freedom and common human feelings need to be channeled in a certain way in order to be beneficial rather than detrimental to society.

    An essay by writer Iain Sinclair recently appeared in the London Review of Books. Subsequently, Hackney Council decided to suppress his work. I agree with Sinclair wholeheartedly in his concerns for Britain losing that which is precious and am glad that the move by Hackney Council to ban his work will only serve to promote it all the more. We need more people like him raising their voices against the organised destruction of this country and everything it represents, in the name of flimsy and empty terms such as 'Regeneration Project.' Sinclair has actually spent hundreds of hours walking the streets of London and talking to real London people, instead of being wined and dined by squalid apparatniks.

    It is faith, dare I propend, which uplifts and preserves cultural values and national cherished traditions. Societies that promoted traditional values and culture have been closed down by the government by starving them of funding and in its place we have so-called Support Groups for this and that, pumped-up with money and full of illiterate people in every sense of the word. History bears witness to the fact that a rapid decline in national beliefs and customs has always gone hand in hand with a rapid decline in traditional values and the things that make a nation. A rebuttal to the Blair speech was given by the Conservative Party stating as much but even they got it terribly wrong. Britain is not a country that can be run like the U.S. (arguably the biggest mistake of the Labour Government). We are a small island where diversity needs to be concentrated and society needs to be united via specific methods and means. Labour poured millions of pounds into what it thinks would have created such particulars but we are today an traditionally poorer country than we were so many years ago. Cultural diversity is one thing but there is also alienation probably no less different from racial prejudices of the 1970s. This, in turn has given rise to a boost in BNP votes in towns such as Barking which were previously rich in local traditions. Alienation is rife in the name of integration and, I think, racism and a refusal to accommodate differences are particularly marked.

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  111. Rehan, thanks so much for that considered view. I take issue with nothing you have written here.

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