The Great Debate UK
from John Lloyd:
The opinions expressed are his own.
The peoples of the United Kingdom, for most other peoples, are habitually “English.”
Not unnaturally. The English part of the UK accounts for close to 90 per cent of the country’s population; the language is English; the capital is London, long the English capital; the accents heard are overwhelmingly English; the long-held stereotype of the country is an upper-class English gent, snobbish, prudish and insular.
This suits at least some of the English, who often do the same as foreigners when referring to their nation state. Frequently, without any malice, they have assumed that Britain is co-terminus with England (until recently, England supporters waved the Union Jack—which represents all of the British nations--at international football matches). Once, years ago, when speaking to a former senior Royal courtier, I mildly corrected his use of “England” to “Britain.” He wagged a humorous finger at me (a Scot) and said: “Now now, none of that Scots nationalism!” – which is, when you think of it as an answer to my objection, incomprehensible, except in terms of a certain English mindset. Yet, though illogical, it was also thoughtlessly generous: the English nation had dissolved itself into the state, and by waving the Union Jack, gave an implicit invitation to the other nations of the British state to do likewise – though only the Northern Irish did.
- Paul Henderson Scott has written numerous books on Scottish history, literature and affairs, including ‘A 20th Century Life’ and its sequel, ‘The New Scotland’. He has been Rector of Dundee University, President of the Saltire Society and of Scottish PEN and a Vice-President of the Scottish National Party. The opinions expressed are his own -
The recent election has revealed more clearly than before the profound divide between Scottish and English opinion. The Conservatives have 297 seats in England but only one in Scotland (plus eight in Wales). As Joyce McMillan said in The Scotsman, “Our pattern of voting increasingly marks us out as a nation apart”.