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Fields of England

If PM doesn't fly Union flag, the separatists win - Telegraph
What it means to be British will swing centre stage this week, and we may, in hindsight, see this question, in one guise or another, as the big issue that comes to dominate Gordon Brown's premiership.
Scottish independence is now one of the big questions that the English, who make up more than four fifths of the electorate to Westminster, will have to face. They can only sensibly do so by developing, in response, a clear statement on what it means to be English as distinct from simply British.

The Brown Government therefore must engage with the Scottish question while, at the same time, ceding yet more British sovereignty to the European Union - which will most affect the English. And it is here that the interests of the English and the other nationalities of the United Kingdom divide.

Voters in the past reacted with hostility to each and every government's attempts to bind the country more closely with the EU. And every government has wrongly dismissed this reaction by dubbing it as nothing more than another outbreak of Europhobia. Hostility was not simply a negative reaction to closer union. Integration was opposed for the most fundamental of reasons: voters believed it ran counter to what they saw as their British identity, and it was this identity that they wished to protect.
A realignment will be much easier for voters in Wales and Scotland. Here, a significant proportion of the electorate see their main identity coming from their separate status as countries, and not from being British. Greater integration in Europe is for them the easiest way they can separate themselves from the Union. They wish to become sovereign powers in a greater Europe.

What then will there be left of the Union? For the English, the question of the great institutions that have bound the United Kingdom together, and particularly the monarchy, will be issues they will find hardest to solve......

Immigration will give a further twist to this debate on identity. It has been mainly to England that the great waves of post-war immigration have come. Until recently, British governments of both parties tried to limit the scale of immigration, accepting that there could come a point where the sheer weight of numbers threatens the identity of the host country......

There was, ominously, one major item missing from the bevy of announcements that Mr Brown made in his first weeks in office. He seems reluctant to confront this most fundamental of political questions on identity: what basic beliefs do we still hold in common and how should our primary loyalty to the country in which we live be expressed in tangible terms?....

Mr Brown thinks a bit of flag waving will help but he has no feeling for loyalty to a country, he is a professional politician who sees countries as power bases. And whether it is Scotland, Britain or the EU all he sees is more power. It is up to the English voters to tell him what needs to be done. Then maybe, just maybe, he may slow down the sell out to the EU that the Scots are happy to see, thinking that sucking up to a bigger gang will save them from their neighbourhood bully.


I agree with the above, but it is afterwards that I think will be more interesting. I think we will get independence and then there will be a period where, probably, the SNP will be in government for 2 terms. Then the questioning will start and that will be the test of who becomes the dominant parties. Labour, despite their sullen dismissal of the SNP (wherefore art thou, UK majority vote?) may well find themselves as the outdated party and in no position to do a 'Blair' repositioning: no one now would believe a word. And their candidates (the Kellys anyone?) will be seen as the preposperous idiots that they are. I do not believe that Labour's cream will decide Scotland is now the place to be, they will still want to indulge in 'Big Boys' politics and will go for safe English seats: though how popular they will find themselves after independence is a moot point.

There is going to be a large realignment in Scottish politics soon and there is all to play for. Salmond is so ahead of the Labour lightweights that it is hard, now, to see anyone coming up with a decent answer to him.

There will, again, come a time when those with instinctive conservative (deliberately small case) values will cease to be impressed by the political zeitgeist and speak out. My only concern is that it takes too long.


p.s. Apart from the obvious Hooray Henries and Chavlike I have always found you Englishires totally entertaining. Thoughtful. Concerned. Thinkers who are worried about where their country is going. Wanting, above all else, to maintain standards, and I, and (trust me) and a lot of other Scots/Jocks value that. STB.

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