Opinion

The Great Debate

from John Lloyd:

No Union, please, we’re English

The opinions expressed are his own.

In France, it is les Anglais. In Germany, die Engländer. In Italy, gli Inglesi. In Russia, Anglichane.

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.

Ironically, had I held the views he ascribed to me, I would not have corrected him. From the point of view of  the nationalists of the UK – Scots and Welsh nationalists, Irish Republicans – the more that people at home and abroad think Britain is England and vice versa, the better they like it. It underscores their belief that the Union is an artificial thing--England with a few possessions historically acquired by conquest, trickery or both.

from The Great Debate UK:

To satisfy its aspirations, Scotland needs independence

paulscott1- 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 (SNP). The opinions expressed are his own -

My most recent book of essays had the title, 'The Age of Liberation', because many of them considered the transformation of the world by the recent dissolution of all the empires and most of the multi-national states into their component parts. So far Scotland has been left behind.

This is surprising since Scotland is one of the oldest nations of Europe with a strong cultural and intellectual identity. We have made a remarkable contribution to the world. The American historian, Arthur Herman, in his book, 'The Scottish Enlightenment', said: ”As the first modern nation and culture, the Scots have by and large made the world a better place.”

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