Monday 16 July 2007

Do We Need Time Apart?

This week's poll is about the future of these isles.
I think we have to agree that our current constitutional arrangements are a little uncertain.
Is our future in Europe, or outside?
Are we going to stay British, or return to our older, some would see more natural national identities?

Myself, I think the problem with the UK is in it's history. The concept of Britishness is something that seems irrelevant today.
The main reason for this, I believe, is that it is impossible to separate Britain from the Empire. Those why try will fail.

The whole concept of Britishness only dates to 1707, by which time it already included an Empire. Britain has always effectively been a Euphemism for the English Empire in practice. And bearing that in mind, the Jamaicans are as British as the Scots. Scotland, conquered and pacified in 1745, was really a colony the English treated nicely because the people were white.
Though they didn't try so hard in Ireland.

Yet on the other hand, no matter what the history, the reality today is England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are culturally similar, much like the Scandinavian countries, recognisably distinct from continental countries. There is logic in political co-operation between the home nations.

My own view is this.
Give Scotland independence, Wales too if the people want it.
Try to bring about a united Ireland- hard to see how, but we can hope.

We already see how disillusioned Ireland has become with the federal European dream of late. Eighty five years of independence have brought England and Ireland closer.

I think we need to kill the ghost of Empire, and in time the nation states of these islands will see sense in a political confederation.

But this time, the terms will be different.
And we all need time to ourselves first. To put the Empire behind us and exorcise its demons.

Abolishing Britain.
Should we or shouldn't we?

Have your say.


Anonymous said...

As you know, I describe myself as "British" or "Welsh" but not "English" here. Italians have little concept of the four nations - they think we are four regions. I think our future lies within the EU and that we would be suicidal to deny it. It's about time we forgot our worst excesses of the 19th century.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading Eric Hobsbawm's The Invention of Tradition of late, and indeed Britains will have to ask themselves how much of what they want to maintain is pageantry and how much of tradition is truly cultural identity (empirical indicators being ideas regarding speech, building, family, marriage, gender, sex, naming, child-rearing, age, death, religion, magic, learning, literacy, food, dress, sport, work, time, wealth, inheritance, rank, association, order, power, and freedom). Many of the cultural identifiers have already been traded.

Anonymous said...

I think our future lies within the EU.

You sure. Where is the referendum to confirm the will of the people.

As for the 4 regions, think again.
England Officially died today.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, it seems to me you should ask another question: if the EU was not there, would we be pushing to invent it?

UK trade with the EU is approx. 49% of the current a/c and this is decreasing. Regulation from the EU is stifling and will only increase.

Legal harmonisation is already underway - goodbye Common Law, Hullo Napoleon.

The euro is proving incapable of being suitable for the whole EU zone, creating massive distortions.

Enough has been said of this new constitution without me repeating it here but would we even consider these terms were we still independent of the EU?

Secondly, your point about empire has the ring of truth but is largely succeeded by the Commonwealth.

Consider where the Commonwealth countries are and the resources we could offer one another were we not tied by EU terms.

The break up or otherwise of the UK into separate countries I propose would make very little difference overall. In fact, were we to all be independent it may hasten a solution in N.Ireland.

I think we will eventually become a confederation and hope it will be outwith the EU but as a ScotBrit I believe the term 'British' may never die out, just as Scandinavian hasn't.


ps conquered and pacified with the fine exception of a certain Mr Smeaton!

Anonymous said...

...Yet on the other hand, no matter what the history, the reality today is England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are culturally similar, much like the Scandinavian countries, recognisably distinct from continental countries. There is logic in political co-operation between the home nations...

The divisions are largely in the mind now.

Anonymous said...

Keep being brittish. EU is NOT USA - we'll never be one people, so why even try?

I wont give up my nationality without kicking and screaming my way through every suggestion of it, that's for sure!

Anonymous said...

There seems to be two possible ways this discussion could go.

1) Should you stay separate/join the EU?
I have no idea. Doesn't affect me.

2)Should you go back to your original English roots and absolving the commonwealth?
I don't care 'bout that one either. Aussies are there as a 'token colony' and we don't break away because it gives us the chance to win the commonwealth games.

I'm happy either way.

Anonymous said...

I would say no... I've got a soft spot for "British", specially the accent... ;)

Anonymous said...

Britain is a relatively modern concept in English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh politics, and has had its day. It was only ever a "policy" and policies can be ditched to suit the prevailing circumstances. I favour a split, because if we keep on pretending that the UK is a homogeneous nation then perhaps the inevitable split will be more violent than would be possible now. Please see Ireland for details. Do we really want a full-scale falling out between England, Scotland and Wales? No.

As for our "future lies within the EU", well, the EU has only existed for 60 years - England has been relatively secure in its borders for 1000. I think we will manage.

If it's suicidal to keep self-determination I don't know what it is to readily ditch our independence in favour of an undemocratic bureaucracy - our place within which has never been voted upon properly.

I suppose the question one must ask is: is it better to be richer but less democratic or poorer and able to determine our own future? The Scots made the mistake of selling out to English gold in 1707, are the British really going to do the same for German gold 300 years later?

Anonymous said...

Welshcakes- The thing is, I can see Europe splitting into two visions. Most of the Eurozone countries seem, happy with a federal vision, the wider EU membership isn't.
I can see an European Free Trade Area including a federal European State, as well as maybe a Federal British Isles.

Helen- This is still a markedly different culture to the continent. In some ways, the English Channel is wider than the Atlantic.

Ian- I would agree with the article, and I think there is a definite need for an English parliament. I don't think a Federal Europe can work, because of the huge cultural differences, and where there are cultural differences on such a scale, democracy becomes meaningless. But there is sense in co-operating at an economic level- and in a NATO way as well. It is the harmonisation that creates problems.

Scots T- Broadly I agree. But I think we have to go our own ways and then re-confederate without the baggage of the past. Britishness can be reinvented, but simply referring to the peoples of the British Isles. The home nations need to feel that the federation is voluntary.

Lord SB- This is quite true, which is why a period apart might bring us all closer. It's not the Union that's wrong as such, merely the current arrangements are unsatisfactory.

Heart- I don't know that I'd say never. ALL national differences are becoming slightly less acute over time. I do think we are coming to the point when nation states are more of a hindrance than a help to human progress, which if you think about, is inevitable one day.
But a nation is more than just a state.
That said, I think the current federal dream is unrealistic.

Phish- The commonwealth isn't a bad idea, in faxct it contains members now, such as Mozambique who were never under British rule.

Crashie- I don't think it'll affect our accents. Though many in the UK would like to see the end of the accent of my part of it...

Ed- My view is that a period of four nations as separate members of the EU will show the four nations how much their interests march in common.

Independence for Wales doesn't mean that border guards will appear at Hay on Wye.

If it wasn't for the six counties, England and Ireland would be in agreement on almost every issue I can think of.
We just need to renegotiate a new Union, 21st century style.

Anonymous said...

I was talking to a friend yesterday who is pro-Europe and when I asked why he said that he'd been on holiday to Turkey and the waiters couldn't believe he was English - why ?

"You're not fat, you don't have tattoos, you don't swear or get drunk."

He went on to say how much he dislikes his fellow countrymen and feels trapped amongst an ever growing sea of scum. And that he felt Europe might introduce something better or at least a bolt-hole to get away from it all.

He has a point, don't you think ?

Anonymous said...

I have no idea, I live in the US and would love to move to Britian!

Anonymous said...

EK I doubt very much whether "exposure" to a more "sophisticated" continental civilisation will make much difference to the oafs who roam England's streets. The way to solve that one is to get people to be more responsible for their own actions. Like if you beat someone up you go to prison, if you don't earn money you don't get a big plasma TV, etc.

Anonymous said...

"Should we or shouldn't we?"

Yes, but in an amicable sort of way. Wales is welcome to tag along with England it it wants.

Anonymous said...

E-K- I'm not sure being in Europe or out makes much difference. to the bahaviour of some Brits abroad.
There is a certain type of Brit who goes on a certain type of holiday, for which there are certain types of places.
Which is why I have no intention of ever going to Magaluf, Fallaraki, or any of these ghastly places.

Jenny- For all its faults, its not a bad place really. I suppose we often focus on the negatives, because those are the things that stand out, but then I look at some of our neighbours.
Come visit, you might like it!

Ed- I think we need to look deeper than that. The fact is that some of the worst representatives of UK culture can afford to go making a nuisance of themselves abroad. In a material sense, we are quite affluent, compared to say, France. We don't get to see the worst elements of other cultures, we send ours to every beach in the Mediterranean.
I think it is about giving people values, but also a reason for people to believe those values.

Mark- That's essentially what I mean. I do think if each of our nations was sovereign for a bit, we'd all find we actually liked eachother a lot more, and the United States of Britain (four members) would be born.

Anonymous said...

You would not forget about the Cornish, would you? ;-)
Seriously: Sometimes I think past is. Is presence. Impossible to let bygones be bygones or even forget about. It’s there. Is presence. And maybe herein lies the reason that we remain unable to learn from the past.
- Anyway, interesting to read your post, CBI, and the following comments.

Anonymous said...

Jenny! 17 July 2007 15:55 said...

I have no idea, I live in the US and would love to move to Britian!

There is no longer a 'Britain' to move to. We are now just one of many provinces of the Multicultural (soon to be Islamic) Euroregion of Trans-Manche or whatever.

Seriously, you do not want to move here. For starters you are the wrong colour and race. Did you know that as a citizen of a non-EU country you have to prove that you can speak English to get a work permit!!!

What is left of this country, like the rest of Western Europe, is already disintegrating. We have Muslim enclaves in many of our cities, where a white person dare not walk. We have gangs of feral (a.k.a. black) youths murdering each other and anyone who gets caught in the crossfire in turf wars. Worse still all arms of 'government' are actively engaged in destroying the very society they are charged with protecting.

Unlike the US, we have no Constitutional right to bear arms - in fact if you defend yourself, your family, your home or your possessions against an attacker YOU ARE THE ONE THAT THE POLICE ARREST FOR CONTRAVENING THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF YOUR ATTACKER!

50 million English people are allowing Gordon Broon, his Scottish mafia, and the EU-sponsored Common Purpose traitors in our public institutions to ruin our country. It is high time we had a Civil War to execute vengeance on them and to expel all aliens from our land.