Loving England Again

Scotland wouldn’t be what it is today without England. That much is obvious: England is our neighbour on the largest of these islands; we’re more or less the same age; a northern branch of their ancestors, the Angles, are among the four peoples who founded Scotland.

It’s nigh impossible to live in Scotland and not have some sort of regular encounter with England. Our public broadcaster is primarily focused on England, with English opinions and interests and accents on the main news, the continuity announcements, all the way to the soap operas and property shows; we elect MPs to a Parliament in Westminster which controls a great number of our laws, frequently against our own representatives’ wishes; the vast majority of newspapers are owned outside Scotland, and regularly headquartered in England. While most folk in England can live their lives largely untroubled by Scottish opinions and interests and accents, we in Scotland cannot avoid England and the English even if we wanted to.

That’s our lot as part of a United Kingdom of England Plus Three.

As a lot, it could be worse. I grew up with a great fondness for England and the English: from the Liverpudlian-toned Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends to David Attenborough’s stellar documentaries; the art & literature of William Blake to the screaming guitars of Iron Maiden; classic Pinewood and Pathé cinema as well as Hammer horrors and Ealing comedies. I loved so many hallmarks of English history, literature, art, culture in general, almost as much as my Scottish heritage, not yet perceiving the imbalance in education which haunts me in hindsight. Visiting the Natural History Museum in London was a lifelong dream, the absolute pinnacle for a dinosaur-loving laddie, back when Scotland was believed a largely unproductive wasteland for Mesozoic studies. There was even a time, heavens above, when I saw the Union Flag in some film or game and would think “that’s us!” – mostly it only lasted through my time in the Scouts, and even then, I still liked the idea of independence. So, contrary to the stereotype, I liked everything English.

But it’s difficult to do that when England and the English – or, more properly, the politicians who so poorly represent them – seek to impose what they want on us, because Britain is England Plus Three – not England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, four distinct polities with distinct needs. The entire UK is leaving the EU because England’s politicians decided it: even though the vast majority of Scottish MPs voted for their nations’ Parliaments to have an equal say, the majority of English MPs said that only the UK Parliament – their Parliament – should have control.

European Union Referendum Bill — Decline Second Reading — 9 Jun 2015 at 18:45

That this House declines to give a Second Reading to the EU Referendum Bill because … the Bill does not include a double majority provision to ensure that no nation or jurisdiction of the UK can be taken out of the EU against its will.

59 for, 339 against (UK MPs)
For: 54(+2) SNP, 3 PC, 2 SDLP
Against: 332(+2) Con, 6 DUP, 4 LD, 3 Lab, 2 UUP, 1 UKIP, 1 Ind
Absent: 252

56 for, 2 against (Scottish MPs)
For: 54(+2) SNP
Against: 1 Con, 1 LD
Absent: 1

That’s the circular fallacy of “we voted as one UK, we leave as one UK” – the only reason that’s happening is because the country with the most MPs said so. For so long as England’s populace outweighs those of the other three many times over, that will be the case.

European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill — New Clause 26 — Agreement of Representatives of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Administrations — 6 Feb 2017 at 12:07

The majority of MPs voted against only allowing the Prime Minister to give notification of the United Kingdom’s intention to leave the European Union a month after the approach to, and objectives for, withdrawal negotiations have been agreed by representatives of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland administrations.

62 for, 332 against (UK MPs)
For: 51(+2) SNP, 3 PC, 3 SDLP, 2 Lab, 2 Independent, 1 Green
Against: 319(+2) Con, 7 DUP, 3 Lab, 2 UUP, 1 UKIP

55 for, 1 against (Scottish MPs)
For: 51(+2) SNP, 2 Independent
Against: 1 Con

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill — Clause 1 — Repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 — Consent of Devolved Legislatures — 14 Nov 2017 at 18:45

The majority of MPs voted against requiring the consent of the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

52 for, 319 against (UK MPs)
For: 33(+2) SNP, 12 LD, 4 PC, 1 Green, 1 Independent, 1 Lab
Against: 306(+2) Con, 10 DUP, 3 Lab

39 for, 13 against (Scottish MPs)
For: 33(+2) SNP, 4 LD
Against: 13 Con

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill — Clause 11 — Power for Devolved Administrations to Amend EU Law Retained as UK Law on Withdrawal — 4 Dec 2017 at 23:45

The majority of MPs voted not to allow the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to modify EU law retained as UK law following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

290 for, 316 against (UK MPs)
For: 240(+2) Lab, 34 SNP, 10 LD, 4 PC, 1 Green, 1 Independent
Against: 306 (+2) Con, 10 DUP

44 for, 13 against (Scottish MPs)
For: 34 SNP, 7 Lab, 3 LD
Against: 13 Con

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill — Clause 9 — Regulations to Implement Withdrawal Agreement — Report on Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements — Veto for Devolved Administrations — 13 Dec 2017 at 21:25

The majority of MPs voted against requiring the approval of MPs and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

294 for, 315 against (UK MPs)
For: 245 Lab, 32(+2) SNP, 11 LD, 4 PC, 1 Green, 1 Independent
Against: 305(+2) Con, 10 DUP

45 for, 12 against (Scottish MPs)
For: 34 SNP, 7 Lab, 4 LD
Against: 12 Con

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill — Clause 11 — Devolved Administrations — Amendment of Retained EU Law — 4 Dec 2017 at 12:30

The majority of MPs voted not to give the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland a veto on if they should prevented from ammending EU law retained as UK law following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

290 for, 316 against (UK MPs)
For: 242 Lab, 32(+2) SNP, 10 LD, 4 PC, 1 Green, 1 Independent
Against: 306(+2) Con, 10 DUP

45 for, 13 against (Scottish MPs)
For: 32(+2) SNP, 7 Lab, 3 LD
Against: 13 Con

If only Scottish MPs were allowed a say on whether their nation’s own Parliament should be consulted on the UK leaving the EU, then they would. Instead, a bare majority of English MPs overwhelmed Scotland’s almost 3/4 majority, reflecting a majority of the Scottish electorate’s wishes whether in the 2015 or 2017 UK Governments.

I want to love England again. I want to watch one of David Attenborough’s brilliant documentaries, and not think of his role directing a BBC that has done everything in its power to toe the UK Establishment line against Scottish nationhood. I want to hear English accents without gritting my teeth about a programme filmed in Scotland and paid by Scottish taxpayer money having a minority of Scottish accents – if at all. I want to appreciate the work of writers, artists, actors, musicians, and creators without being overcast by the memory that they took an active part in denying my country’s nationhood.

Alas, for as long as Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, I cannot dissociate – not when this vast democratic deficit is in place. It’s difficult to be friends when we don’t have a choice in the matter: if you’re part of a unitary state, you don’t get the luxury of being “friends” with the biggest country. Only when Scotland is independent once again can I love England and the English on our own terms, as all good countries should – not as our superiors, our imperial masters, our colonial overlords, but as our equals, our partners, our friends.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Loving England Again

  1. bowanarrow says:

    Thank you…… !!!
    You have said it all, everything that needs to be said.
    Again… Thank You.

  2. Donald Urquhart says:

    This resonates with my own thoughts and experiences. I resent England for behaving in a way that makes me resent them!

    Right now, for me, they can take their jellied eels and Carry them On up their Khyber.

    If you can love England, again, on Scotland becoming independent, you are most generous of spirit. I don’t trust myself not to harbour an ongoing resentment that will last long after our independence celebrations are over.

What're your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.