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Scotland and a question of identity

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Robin Lustig | 11:15 UK time, Friday, 27 January 2012

When I was at school, long, long ago, I studied a subject called English literature.

And when I was old enough to get my first passport, it was issued on behalf of a country called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The word England, or English, didn't appear anywhere.

How much simpler it would have been if I'd been born in France, or Germany: French literature, French passport; German literature, German passport.

As far as I know, there's no such thing as "British literature", and there's certainly no "United Kingdom literature".

(Of course, English is a language as well as a national and cultural identity -- which is why we can also study American literature, or African literature, written in the same language but from a very different cultural background.)

So do labels matter? I suspect they do, because they help us describe who we are, who we feel ourselves to be. And surely that's an important part of the newly-invigorated debate over Scottish independence.

I've yet to meet a Scot who doesn't bristle indignantly when some ignorant foreigner describes them as "English". To be Scottish, or indeed Welsh or Irish, is, in part, to be not-English -- and perhaps we not-Scots need to recognise that more than we sometimes do.

Incidentally, while we're on the subject of national identities, I'm reminded of how the author and Anglican priest William Inge, who served as dean of St Paul's a century ago, defined what constitutes a nation: it is, he said, "a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and by common hatred of its neighbours."

Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister, is going to great lengths these days to say that he's not an England-hater. Far from it, he says: he wants Scotland to be a good neighbour to England instead of a surly tenant -- and a confident, independent Scotland would help England to become equally confident, equally independent.

For now, all the opinion polls suggest that he has not yet convinced a majority of Scots that going it alone would be in their best interests. If he held an independence referendum tomorrow, he'd probably lose. Indeed, there seem to be more people in England than in Scotland who would be happy to see the two nations cut the ties that bind them.

If we look around the world, we can find other examples of countries that have split up, and we can choose which one to focus on, depending on what point we want to prove.

Czechoslovakia? The "velvet divorce" of 1993 -- Generally speaking, a success.

Ethiopia? The independence of Eritrea, also in 1993 -- Not a success at all, leading to continued conflict over borders and thousands of deaths.

Serbia/Kosovo? The unilateral declaration of Kosovan independence, 2008 -- a highly controversial example, of course, as it was done without the agreement, indeed, against the furious opposition, of Serbia. Not how it would happen if Scotland were to vote for independence.

But here's one aspect of the debate that perhaps hasn't yet received as much attention as it should. If the Scots want to feel more Scottish, and the English want to feel more English, where does that leave the people who insist that they really do feel British, rather than Scottish, English, Welsh, or Irish?

What about the child of immigrants from Cyprus, born here, English as first language, UK passport -- British, yes, but English?

Or the grand-child of immigrants from Jamaica, or India -- British, yes, but English?
(Declaration of interest: I am myself the child of refugees.)

National identity is tricky in a world of mass migration -- but it's going to be a fascinating debate.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Robin,

    At University we revelled in a three year holiday at the seaside, and paid next to nothing for our education. The taxes that paid for our three year holiday came from the Her Majesty's Treasury - not the English or even the British Treasury, but I do concede that is was the local borough (local to your parental home) that paid most of the cost. But the borough was subsidised by the whole or her Britannic Majesty's taxpayers. Our passport says, 'Her Britannic Majesty requires...' by the way.

    Nationality divides. I'm really from Wessex not England, by the way I forget where in England you come from! Most of the people in these islands are/were refugees one time or another. So in my case the hierarchy of place /group related nomenclature goes something like ,,,,Wessex, England, UK, Europe, Earth. Ones allegiance is a hierarchy of subsidiarity as are ones loyalties. Loyalties are even more complex and change throughout ones life. The football team you support for example is a tribal allegiance that you can acquire or adopt.

    I would say that National Identity is mostly dangerous as are many of the tribal and heritable identities that we possess or adopt. They are dangerous becasue they form the basis of exclusion and the creation and fostering of difference. I actually do not think that identity is a fascinating debate at all, but a trivialisation of the complex set of divisions in every society.

    The reason that the Scots want independence is directly related to the over dominance of the establishment in London and the arrogant way they bully everyone else. On the same basis everyone outside London wants independence to a degree dependent on their distance from London. This is that fault of the London centric establishment. If they really governed for the whole of the UK they would have left London years ago. Mediaeval Kings knew this and the Court traipsed around most of the time. The fact that not even the BBC has left London shows what is deeply wrong with the structures and systems that run and perpetuate the London establishment.

    [Are you going to Salford ! I guess not as the people you need to interview will still be in London! See what I mean.]

  • Comment number 2.

    My son-in-law is a Scot. His home has his Coat of Arms, his marriage had kilts & Scottish tradition, his child has a Scottish name, his Scottish pride shines upon his face. He likely only married my daughter because she was partly Scottish.
    Anyway, I believe that the day ill come when we see people as people - not black, white, red, or whatever; and not Muslim, Christian or Jewish, or whatever; and not British, Scottish, or Irish, or whatever...
    And on that day, someone will raise a rifle or scope a drone, or consider dropping a bomb..and not be able to follow through because in the potential victim, the potential killer will see his own face, his own humanity. He will see the universe as one...And he will lay down his arms...

  • Comment number 3.

    A bit totalitarian there BluesBerry. The elimination of diversity, erosion of identity, cultural uniformity and the death of distinct societies to further globalisation. Sounds dull.
    Robin, my passport has "European Union" on the front cover, you gave that one a swerve. Not sure what a travel document has to do with national identity though. Don't quite think identity is something supplied by a state bureaucrat. And if you never had a passport would you not have a nationality?
    A UK nationality is of course ridiculous, never once when asked their nationality, have I heard anyone reply "Ukanian" The UK is the name of a state a realm, not a nation. British, well that denotes geography not nationality, like Iberian or Scandinavian. Some folk say they are British and English/Scots etc but that is now a bit old fashioned and should disappear into history, alongside American and British, Australian and British or British and Canadian.
    As you say Robin, it's not simple as in some continental lands and there are a lot of folk confused as to just who they are.

  • Comment number 4.

    Bluesberry: It is about time we had a celebration of difference! Humans are 99.9% similar, despite what racists claim, and if we didn't have a world of different ethnicities the world would be a very boring place.

    Besides, I don't think the Scottish question is one of identity, but rather a protest against centralised government. In my opinion the more local the State the potentially better it can serve its citizens.

  • Comment number 5.

    3. rochcarlie

    All this business about the very recent invention, passports! [ I, and I think Robin, were referring to the old dark blue covered British Passport before accession to the EU.] Before the Great War it wasn't really necessary to have any form of passport. They are a modern invention and not even 100 years old!

    OK very very few people travelled before the Great War, but nevertheless passports were not required and any traveller was an honoured guest to be treated with utmost hospitality! With the advent of the passport nationalism reared its very ugly head and so did xenophobia, and worst of all the sanctimonious celebration of difference that has had such a die consequences.

  • Comment number 6.

    The Feudal system will continue to exist even after any Scottish independence --so the average Scot should not begin to jump up and down and clap hands.

    --Salmond has already said the ´Queen´ will be retained --and therefore the `System´.

    --Perhaps a Disney world for ´foreigners´ --but reality for the citizens.

    http://clanmurray.org/septs.html

  • Comment number 7.

    The Scottish identity is an important issue for a lot of people inside and outside the United Kingdom but I think that the Scottish question in the end is more a question of money than a question of identity; the most of Scots would not vote for independence if they are not sure to be better off outside the empire. And now in Scotland there are a lot of people arguing about whether they would be better off or not.

  • Comment number 8.

    The words "England, or English" still don't appear anywhere in any official capacity.

    "where does that leave the people who insist that they really do feel British, rather than Scottish, English, Welsh, or Irish?"

    Why don't they feel Scottish, English, Welsh, or Irish? They live in Scotland, England, Wales or Ireland so why don't they identify with those countries?

    My view is that the people of England are the English. It's as simple and inclusive as that.

    "What about the child of immigrants from Cyprus, born here, English as first language, UK passport -- British, yes, but English? "

    Yes English, why not English? The vast majority of Cypriot immigrants live in England so I see absolutely no reason why they should not feel as English as anyone else.

    Apart from of course under the current arrangements no-one is allowed to be English in any meaningful way. There are no English institutions and no English parliament. The UK denies the English their identity. Immigrants can't be English in any meaningful way any more than those who have been here for centuries or who go way back. Under the current arrangements Englishness is not allowed.

    The vast majority of Immigration into the 'UK' has been into England. It's England that's multi ethnic. Englishness then should be the plural identity of the 'UK'. There is nothing in Englishness that excludes although there are it seems people living in England who do not wish to be English. Hard to see this as anything other than an insult to those of us who know we are English in England.

    Whether people regard themselves as English or not the UK government still discriminates against them because they live in England.

  • Comment number 9.

    "To be Scottish, or indeed Welsh or Irish, is, in part, to be not-English"

    This is a perfect example of the ignorance purposefully encouraged by the Anglo-British establishment that has so angered the smaller nations of these Atlantic isles over the centuries.

    This "group" of islands" contains 6 historically attested national groups. The English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Manx and, well, I'll let you do the necessary studies to fill in the hole in your education.

    Here is a clue: http://cornish-census2011.org/

  • Comment number 10.

    #8

    I suspect this goes back to the days (not so long ago) when the words England and Britain were, in England, effectively interchangeable.

    Indeed, the official FIFA logo for the 1966 World Cup was not imposed on an English flag but a Union flag.


    P.S. West Germany wuz robbed.

  • Comment number 11.

    Also SG, furth of these isles the minor nations are erased. It is les Anglais, der Englander, ghi Inglisi. In many languages a distinction is not in their vocabulary.
    Englandrise is correct, the celtic nationalists are the anglophones, supporters of English identity and sovereignty and the Union State the anglophobes.

  • Comment number 12.

    Robert what about the child of immigrants from Cyprus, born here, English as first language, UK passport -- British, yes, but Scottish?

    Or the grand-child of immigrants from Jamaica, or India -- British, yes, but Welsh?

    Why did you only make those comments about being English?

  • Comment number 13.

    #8 Englandrise
    "The words "England, or English" still don't appear anywhere in any official capacity.

    Whether people regard themselves as English or not the UK government still discriminates against them because they live in England."

    During a bout of Scottish nationalism in the 70´s when the SNP claimed the recently found oil was ´Scottish oil´, a Scottish friend was rather upset. The reason was her passport.

    She, as previously, gave her place of birth as Edinburgh, Scotland -- but her new place of birth was Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

    -- Her Majesty´s Governments response to the discovery of ´Scottish oil´.

    Probably the most important (and opportune) factor was Britain joining the EEC. This allowed Britain to discriminate against the millions of Commonwealth citizens who had the right of abode in Britain --especially from those countries that were not yet independent. The ´Right of abode´ was then restricted to those who had one grandparent with British nationality -- most non-whites with British passports were then discriminated against --- until today it continues.

    --I trust this link may put your complaint into perspective ?

    http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/othernationality/britishsubjects/

  • Comment number 14.

    9. TheCornishRep

    You may be self styled, but, is there much/any appetite for an independent (greater) Cornwall? There may be a good economic case to be made, but if one asses matter through the Cornish Language - so far as I am aware the Cornish language (Kernowek or whatever) has no large number of speakers (about 300), but 'Dydh da' (trans. good day) to both of you.

    More seriously I can see a very good (! = bad) argument for an independent currency for Cornwall so that like the Greeks you can reinvigorate your economy! Away from the dominance and stultifying effect of London. [That is if I argue from the Redwood anti-EU fringe!]

    Even more seriously there are few Cornish left in Cornwall. How do you propose to drive the uptake identity and enhance difference? How do you propose to re-establish Dumnonia since it was taken over by the perfidious English state by the time of Edward the Confessor (1050 ish - well into time immemorial). I can trace no mention of an Act of Union similar to that of the Scots some 650 odd years later.

    The subject of association and difference is well illustrated by Cornwall. So many of the population are immigrants, in face a vast majority so how can you create Cornwall again - do you, for example, force the teaching of Cornish history in Schools and force all teaching to be done through the medium of Cornish? Assuming you and the fellow Cornish, want to?

    But would this 'difference' be of a real commercial and cultural advantage to you and your fellow countrymen?

    So many questions - but if you praise difference you had better be prepared with answers!

    Also on the whole I think 'Passports' are a bad thing because of the way they entrench difference - a 100 year old experiment that has largely failed!

  • Comment number 15.

    I do not know enough about the Union of Scotland and England which took place three centuries ago though I know that there were several centuries of warfare between the two peoples prior to the Union. As far as I am concerned this is a historical fact speaking as someone from outside the region. The Scots have retained a cultural distinction as evidenced by the Scottish brogue in their pronunciation. They also have a reputation for tight fisted values and a passion for conservatism and integrity though I have recently become aware of a certain roguishness in their past which belies this reputation. The drama over the future of the Eurozone is of a different character compared to the struggle over Scottish independence however. It is concerned almost exclusively with economic union. We shouldn't confuse the two dramas over national identity and other complex questions at the cost of misunderstanding either.

  • Comment number 16.

    15. smartsceptic wrote:

    How are you on the advisability of promoting difference?

    Do you think that magnifying social division is a good thing?

    Do you think that stressing how different one individual is from another is a good thing and that it generally leads to a good outcome?

    You name suggests you see yourself by what you dislike and are an anti-everything campaigner and support the fostering of division and hatred generally so I think I should ask these questions.

  • Comment number 17.

    #15 Smartsceptic

    "-They also have a reputation for tight fisted values and a passion for conservatism"

    -- Tight fisted perhaps as some believe ´your best friend is a Pound in the bank´ however ´conservatism´ is rather malleable. I remember visiting a museum in Edinburgh where on display were the old documents demanding their ´Freedoms´from oppression.

    --the sight would have brought tears to the eyes of both the ´Tea party´and the ´Occupiers´ -- many protestors signed with their own blood.

  • Comment number 18.

    Another one of my ´claims to fame´is having seen the ´Auld Alliance´ document in Edinburgh -- now that one really is special.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auld_Alliance

  • Comment number 19.

     
    Mais oui!

  • Comment number 20.

    18,19

    On the same basis: was it not Churchill that offered a co-dominion of France and the UK just as the last war stated? What of Guillaume le Bâtard!

    We are all the same people divided by passports and petty nationalist politicians who are themselves only after feathering their own selfish nests!

    By the way we are all actually related to Charlemagne! (do the arithmetic!)

  • Comment number 21.

    JfH

    -- By now you should know (to misquote W.C.Fields)

    -- I love nationalists -- Fried.

    However Scotch Git´s position is at times questionable ?

  • Comment number 22.

    #21

    The Scottish psyche is full of contradictions.

    Especially when you drop some Irish into the mix!


    ;o)

  • Comment number 23.

    #22 Scotch Git

    --not a potato famine descendant refugee ?

    --or from a long line of respectable horse thieves ?

  • Comment number 24.

     






     

  • Comment number 25.

    I would really liked to have made this comment on the previous topic of "Is anyone really a European?" but it was closed so I make it here instead on the closely related question of Scotland's quest for independence and identity. Several years ago, I bought a large number of collegiate level lectures from the Teaching Company. One of the most interesting was Prof Jonathan Steinberg's lectures on "European History and European Lives." He taught at Cambridge for many years though an American and is now teaching at U of Pennsylvania. Lecture 7 is focused on Maria Theresa, the famous monarch of the Hapsburg Empire, aka the Holy Roman Empire (HRE). She succeeded to the throne about 1740 and ruled for 40 years (?) and was one of the most remarkable rulers of European history. Because of the complex dynastic rules of the HRE and the rivalries within her family, she could only become the head by a special law of her father, Charles VI, called the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713. The HRE was an indefinable concoction of tiny bishoprics, margraves, duchies, free cities, and kingdoms with staggering diversity. There were 11 different nationalities and hundreds of jurisdictions jealous of their sovereignty. This led to an nearly impossible to rule empire with immense resistance to change. Such an entity could not survive a modernizing Europe made of larger unified entities like England and France. This led to the so-called Wars of the Austrian Succession which were fought between Austria and Prussia under Frederick the Great. Prof Steinberg claims that the Wars of the Austrian Succession finally ended at the end of WW I although officially it was Napoleon Bonaparte who dissolved the HRE in 1806 after defeating Austrian forces at Austerlitz and the Italian provinces. Maria Theresa was a larger than life figure whose personality based on common sense and the common touch was immensely popular and gave the sprawling HRE a sense of solidarity at a time of tremendous change in Europe. Her son Joseph II was a more modern figure, efficient, rational, liberal, but lacking the common touch who started the final disintegration of the HRE in its long decline. So in a sense Maria Theresa (or Theresia) was the last bastion in the attempt to preserve the old regime which started in about the mid-1400's. As Europe struggles with its problems of how to unify and preserve its status in the world it may be instructive to view the history and problems of ruling from Maria Theresa through the modern era in whilch we are living.

  • Comment number 26.

    25. smartsceptic

    Why historic parallels are not parallel at all...

    The question boils down to who is your neighbour now and who was your neighbour then. Consider the vast increase in travel. Consider the present dynamics of communication.

    The Austrian Succession was in a time when loyalties were measure in ten of miles at most, now we live in a world where even individual families can be spread all over the planet.

    The other error in your thinking is that the nature of war in the 18th century was an exercise undertaken on a seasonal basis by the aristocracy essentially against each other. The non-combatants and peasants just looked on.

    Yet another reason why your 'example' does not apply is that the royal families of Europe were extremely inbred this led to the predominance of basically insane or marginally insane individuals whose overweening arrogance and pride was itself a casus belli.

    In short the World has moved on and the ancient village we used to live in is now the size of Europe (at least).

    Get used to it, live in this century, in this World and stop inciting hatred!

  • Comment number 27.

    26. John-from-Hendon: You miss the point. Certainly Europe of the 21st century is not the Europe of the 18th century. It is more educated, distances have been conquered, communications is instant, not months nor weeks nor days nor even hours separate Europeans between the core and the periphery. It is the sort of rational Europe that Joseph II would have given his empire for. But the nations are still historical not rational entities. The economic state of Germany is so far beyond that of Greece despite their closeness in all other ways that the question of monetary and fiscal union simultaneously is still a very vexed one. A single monetary union is still too ambitious an undertaking as we know now between the historical states of 21st century Europe. Perfect rationality still eludes us. Benn Steil of the Council of Foreign Relations wrote an article in Foreign Affairs (The End of National Currency, May/June 2007) in which he argued that the world needs to rationalize its multi-currency confusion by incorporating into fewer currency zones like the Eurozone. Notice that this was published before the financial crisis of 2008 and before the Euro crisis of 2010-11. Someone should ask him in light of the Eurozone crisis whether he still believes in the claims he made for rationalizing the currency diversity of the larger world.

  • Comment number 28.

    27. smartsceptic wrote:
    "The economic state of Germany is so far beyond that of Greece"

    But then so is that of the City of London beyond Birmingham/Newcastle/Bristol etc.

    The point you make is fallacious and based not on anything at all except prejudice against your neighbours it is not economic yet you seek to clothe your prejudice in economics - why?

    Why do you seek to create difference? Why possible advantage can it be to point out that my income is far greater than yours? We are neighbours and are the same and need to strive to more equitable neighbourly outcomes.

    What we must not do is to seek extract reparations from our friends and neighbours. Would we do the same to the people of Glasgow after the economic collapse of their shipbuilding industry - and would it have been economically rational to do so for either our or their benefit?

    the pseudo economic justification of xenophobia which you use is specious and erroneous and damaging to everyone.

    A single currency for the UK works because we accept wealth transfer (albeit begrudgingly if you are a southern Tory) and that is the purpose of the EU, to unify the neighbours and friends and that includes the UK. Please do not claim that the UK has democratic institutions any more than the EU has such institutions as both are defective, but both exist and both can and do work despite arrogant selfish politicians.

    The single currency is a good, indeed a necessary step and feature of a level trade playing field in Europe, without it the present debacle would have been far far worse and the economic collapse far far deeper. Beggar-my-neighbour economic policies have a dramatic deadening effect of economic activity and will lead to a deep global economic collapse.

    At this time of banking solvency and liquidity collapse (cause by the inevitable and predictable effects of exponential debt expansion which relied on exponential asset price and wage expansion coming to an abrupt halt) we all need to work towards more neighbourliness and not less. Most banks are dead-men-walking. We have to prevent the casino capitalism collapsing the total system and in particular that that lubricates global trade.

    We, in the UK, need to show our faith in Europe by joining the single currency ASAP as this will act to prevent currency speculation. Best of all we need to enforce of a global scale exchange control that prevents currency gambling which is not supported by actual trade in goods. If we do not do this the gamblers, who are actually already in fact bust, will inevitably create a far deeper depression than the one we are in now.

    From the UK's point of view being outside the Euro will prove to be a disaster for our recovery. So what we all need to do is to foster harmony in Europe and the people and politicians of Europe. (Cameron and his loonies are doing immense damage to the economic prospects of the UK.)

  • Comment number 29.

    JfH

    Boy, is this an upward battle !

    -- I can´t even get the acceptance on these blogs that WWll is over.

    -- Americans bathe in every glory possible (and impossible) and the Brits wave every flag as the ship sinks.

    -- logic and facts are the last thing anyone wants to hear -- they only complicate any simple discussion.

  • Comment number 30.

     
    WWII?

    There are bars in Glasgow where dropping Cromwell's name into the conversation will result in an invitation to continue the aforesaid conversation in the carpark.


    >8-D

  • Comment number 31.

    29. quietoaktree wrote: "I can´t even get the acceptance on these blogs that WWll is over."

    Perhaps this is due to some of the contributors being unaware of both the realities of war and of the joy and relief of its end. I wonder how long it will be before peace is appreciated by the 'ultras' who battled their friends and neighbours, injuring over 1000 and killing more than 70 tonight in Egypt over football! It is not just ignorance of the consequence of violence that propels these people for they cannot be personally unaware of the consequences. Is it I wonder, as in Yugoslavia, that when a society is freed from oppression it fails to remember that self control is vital for a functioning society when it has for so many years been intimidated into good behaviour. (I am aware that this is akin to the 'spare the rod spoil the child thesis'.)

    Mutual butchery is an appallingly uncivilised way to conduct ones life and this is taught by all of the World's religions, yet why do societies when they move to being more theocratic also tend to move to become more bellicose and generally violent when such action is directly opposed by their theology? Is Britain becoming more theocratic because it appears to have moved towards violence and xenophobia? Or is it just the result of economic depression, which I suspect. Should the Egyptian armed forces issue automatic weapons to the supporters of both teams and leave them to it and by so doing get this insanity out of their system or at least remove the problem of the attending supporters or is that a too cruel and unusual punishment?

    Back to your point about why so many, I presume quite young, contributors seem to think the last war is not yet over? Is this the result of the school syllabus teaching them this period as almost their only 'history'? I fear it is. So it is a conspiracy, or a convenient juxtaposition of events and ideas, between the popular tabloid press and the right wing establishment. One has to conclude the the establishment wanted to perpetuate the idea of everlasting war an idea much reflected upon by Clausewitz et al. in order to explain politics.

    The Establishment needs foreign enemies when it is weak at home. If not foreign enemies then immigrants and xenophobia. So it is reasonable to conclude that the Establishment is scared and more scared that it has been for a long time. Scared that its support system is critically undermined and about to collapse or indeed has already collapsed.

    As an aside I read the IFS Green Budget published today with particular interest in the word 'depression'. I scanned all 261 pages and it did not appear anywhere. Odd when so many commentators are using it. My guess that this was a deliberate decision becasue by doing so the elephant in the room becomes all too visible and the Establishment will have to find more Fred Goodwins to defrock to distract the ill-educated peasantry. They must be desperate, as once the idea of public humiliation for the culprits starts the problem will be to prevent it taking down the whole Establishment. When the guillotine has efficiently dispatched its first victim the question is who will be next?

    Summing up all of these runes I can only see more trouble for the Establishment - teach war to the peasants and they want more war! Perhaps we need to persuade the war TV channels to show more newsreels of real way, particularly that first silent newsreel of the First World War that so shocked audiences and above all war channels should be dissuade from showing almost exclusively pro war propaganda. A close relation of mine saw that first First World war silent newsreel on its first showing in all its brutal honesty as a young child and still today remembers the awful and unimaginable detail getting on for a century ago. The sanitisation of the brutality of war needs removing from all media and education. Instead we need to drum the brutality into the young even if it gives them nightmares for life - in fact it should give them nightmares for life! If war education does not give children nightmares it is not 'good' war education! Keep up the fight!

  • Comment number 32.

    I am not sure what they speak in Scotland, but it doesn't sound like English to me. This is no time to be defending the illusion of empire. The English should be worrying about England.

  • Comment number 33.

    32. ghostofsichuan wrote: "The English should be worrying about England."

    Cameron's speech-writers put words in his mouth and he speaks them, but without understanding. Listening to him is like listening to the radio under the misapprehension that the radio is itself a sentient being. What an I moaning about well Cameron said yesterday that the UK has a single currency becasue we understand that we have to and do show solidarity with the poorer parts of the country and transfer wreath to those parts.

    The only problem with the Prime Minister's statement is that it is not true from the perspective of anyone outside the Westminster bubble. It is the lack of real solidarity that is fuelling separatism and regionalism. It is all to do with égalité or the actual lack of it. Bankers (and the overpaid generally) get far far too much of the Nation's wealth and everyone knows this, except those inside the Westminster bubble (aka the Establishment). Until this situation is actually remedied the rise of separatism will remain unstoppable.

    It is very simple Dave take back the ill-gotten wealth and pay of the bankers/footballers etc. and separatism, regionalism and nationalism will subside. There is only one way to prove to the people that you have done this and done this effectively - that is to explicitly do so through the tax system.

    England will also start to break up soon, unless the establishment acts. If it is incapable of acting it will be sidelined and everyone will suffer.

  • Comment number 34.

    JfH

    -- Thanks for your moral support-- but the more I think of ´nationalism´ --the more depressed I become --that it is here to stay.

    As Scotch Git remarked-- the `Cromwell´problem is not yet resolved in Glasgow.

    While living in Edinburgh I was surprised at the Scottish ´regionalism´. The ´Trade Holidays´ ( at the time) brought many Glaswegians to the Edinburgh, Portobello beach - a general dissatisfaction at the influx was often heard.

    -- considering at the time, Edinburgh pumped its raw sewage directly into the sea untreated --and it returned to the beach --I really had difficulty understanding this ´tribalism´.

    But to return to the European issue, the BBC has an interesting 3 part radio program on events since the fall of Communism and the Berlin Wall -already I disagree slightly with some statements but has good potential -- I advise it.

    I hope the link functions ?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b01b8yy6

 

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