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Cardinal O’Brien is surely right about Scottish independence from England: but what about English independence from the Scots?

Just as between England and Ireland, our relationship after independence would be less distorted by mutual resentment

By on Monday, 16 January 2012

England flag and statue of Sir Bobby Moore at Wembley Stadium (AP Photo/Tom Hevezi)

England flag and statue of Sir Bobby Moore at Wembley Stadium (AP Photo/Tom Hevezi)

I don’t know if there is any link between the current controversy over Scottish independence and the views of Scottish Catholics. To put it another way; what proportion of Scottish Catholics support the SNP, and is it higher than the proportion of the Scottish population at large, just as it used to be said of Scottish Catholic support for the Labour Party? Did Scottish Catholics follow the late Cardinal Winning in his disenchantment with Labour?

And how typical of the Catholics he leads are the views of Cardinal O’Brien, who in an interview in this newspaper in October 2006, conducted by Professor John Haldane, declared that he would be “happy” if the Scots voted for independence, and predicted that independence is coming “before too long”. He drew parallels with the independence of the Catholic Church in Scotland: “It is difficult to argue that ecclesiastical independence is acceptable but political independence is not.” I have to say that Cardinal O’Brien’s views sound logical to me. Certainly, I would vote for Scottish independence in the forthcoming referendum if I were a Scot. What irritates me is that the Scots will get a referendum next year, but I won’t. The question the Scots will answer will be whether they should be independent of the English. The question I would like to answer is whether the English should be allowed independence from the Scots.

We need to ask the question: why is it that support for Scottish independence is so much higher in England than it is in Scotland? The polls are unanimous and their results are very striking; they are, indeed, staggering. The ICM survey for the Sunday Telegraph, published yesterday, shows that there is a narrow majority, 43 per cent, of Scots against independence, compared with 40 per cent in favour. Far fewer English, however are opposed. Forty-three per cent are in favour: but only 32 per cent are against. Why is that?

There are in fact very good reasons for it. I hope that my Scottish friends will be patient if I am frank. What the English are really shown to be in favour of in that ICM survey is not so much Scottish independence as their own liberation from the increasingly irksome burden of the relationship between England and Scotland. Do not mistake me. I (we) admire the Scots and Scottish culture. But frankly, on this side of the border we are getting seriously fed up with post-Braveheart Scots chippiness for one thing, and with the results, for another, of the coming home to roost, within our now seriously mutilated constitution, of the so-called West Lothian question – thus named by the late Enoch Powell, as a somewhat ironic dig at the former member for West Lothian, Tam Dalyell, who was constantly raising it in debates on Scottish devolution in the Westminster Parliament. The West Lothian question, for those who don’t know, was not so much a question as a prediction, of a dire problem that would arise (and did) for the post-devolution governance of England: that though no Westminster MP, including Scots MPs, has any right to vote on questions within the purview of the Scottish assembly, Scottish MPs can and do vote on questions to do uniquely with England. This is more than irritating: it is just wrong. With Scottish independence, these frankly underemployed Scots Westminster politicians would simply disappear, to the regret, I suspect, of very few.

The question remains. Why shouldn’t I have a referendum asking whether I as an Englishman would be in favour of independence from Scotland? BBC Radio 4’s Question Time last Saturday, broadcast from Edinburgh, was particularly irritating. The panel, all Scots, were asked whether they felt British (answer, no: they all felt Scottish). Nobody ever asks the English if they feel British. Many Englishmen feel English a long time before they “feel” British: but they’re not allowed to. They go to Sainsbury’s and are told that they can buy British strawberries (from Herefordshire) or British lamb from Dorset. But if it’s Welsh lamb, it’s called Welsh, and if it’s Scottish beef it’s called Scottish.

Why is that? Not being allowed to describe things, and ourselves, as English is a nuisance we have to put up with because of the Scots. I once wrote an article for the Sunday Times during the editorship of the very Scottish Andrew Neil, in which I referred to “English culture”. It was changed by a sub-editor to “British culture”, which wasn’t at all what I had meant (there’s no such thing as “British culture”, any more than there’s any such thing as a “British accent”). When I asked why, I was told “sorry, under the current editor that’s the house style”. Infuriating.

These are not the only sources of the current English groundswell of opinion in favour of the Scots taking themselves off: but they will do to start with. None of this, of course, is to say that the Scots have no reason for their own irritations and resentments against us (and please, don’t anyone point this out indignantly as though I hadn’t accepted it myself). There is no question that we currently feel very badly about each other, and that the relationship between our two nations is currently in a very bad state. We English now have a much better and warmer relationship with the Irish Republic than with the Scots, despite the fact that historically the Irish suffered infinitely greater injustices at our hands – and for much longer – than the Scots ever did. I look forward to Scottish independence because, paradoxically, I think that English-Scottish relations would then be much closer, even warmer. There will be a hard-fought settlement. But once that has been achieved and accepted on both sides, our relationship could then be freed at last from its current state of mutual resentment. I think that needs to happen: and the sooner the better.

  • Anonymous

    I wish the English could have a referendum about leaving the union. The vote to leave the UK would be a landslide. It is surely the most efficient solution to the problem. 

    I suspect that without England in the United Kingdom, the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish would get along quite happily with each other, indeed perhaps they could invite the rest of Ireland to join as well, so then all those who had “suffered for hundreds of years” at the hands of the English could finally break the yoke of oppression. Good luck to them.

  • Craig

    Small correction: Its the West Lothian Question not the Midlothian Question.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Lothian_question

  • http://lxoa.wordpress.com/ Shane

    William, you are mixing apples with oranges. England is not a nation, unlike Ireland, Wales and Scotland. In many large ‘English’ cities and towns the population is substantially (and sometimes mostly) comprised of people of African and/or Asian descent. Overwhelmingly these people see themselves as British, not as English. (For example, one never hears of ‘English Asians’, unlike Scottish Asians – because Asians in Scotland overwhelmingly identify as Scottish.) Cities and regions with a high non ethnic English population would not be disposed to an independent England and may instead want to pursue independence, or even join into a political association with other nations, such as, for example, Pakistan. If people in the Falkland Islands (whose population is equivalent to the size of a small village) are entitled to self-determination, then the much higher numbers of Muslims in Leeds, Leicester or Bradford (for example) must enjoy the same right. Regional tensions are also much more prominent in England than in any other country in ‘these isles’. As Charles Kennedy, former leader of the Lib Dems said, the regionalisation of England calls “into question the idea of England itself”. The north of England votes Labour and would not want to come under a Home Counties, perpetually Tory, dominated English Parliament. Many northern English counties may well opt to join Scotland.

    England is not a nation at all. It is rather a land mass composed of a multitude of nations and could never function as a unitary entity. It should be partitioned after Scotland secedes (as indeed happened to this country in 1921; what’s good for the goose…). Also I think you rather romanticize the nature of England’s historic relationship with the rest of ‘these isles’. According to Jack Straw, former Home Secretary and himself a proud Englishman, the English used their “propensity to violence to subjugate Ireland, Wales and Scotland” and are “potentially very aggressive, very violent”. Cornwall, which sees itself as a distinct Celtic nation, should also be given to Ireland. Indeed large parts of ‘England’ rightfully belong to Ireland and Wales anyway.

  • http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/ The Catholic Herald

    Thanks for pointing that out. The article has been corrected.

  • Anonymous

    I care not one whit for how the immigrant population sees itself, Shane. England, and the English, are EVERY BIT as much a nation as the Scots, or Welsh , or Irish, notwithstanding the immigration which has been foisted upon us. Got that?

  • W Oddie

    This is simply utter drivel, almost certainly intended to be offensive (where are you from “Shane”? What precisely is your agenda? . The notion that England could never “function as a unitary entity” is utterly ridiculous as you know well: it did until the unioun with scotland, and the even more ill-advise union with Ireland. .  But I don’t know why I am replying to this illiterate person.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joel-Pinheiro-da-Fonseca/100001070571681 Joel Pinheiro da Fonseca

    If anyone cares to inform an interested foreigner: what are the obstacles to this (seemingly mutually beneficial) independence? Who is against it, and why? On what grounds? Does Scotland, being the poorer part of the union, gain some kind of benefit from England that would cease if it were to become independent?

  • http://lxoa.wordpress.com/ Shane

    William, you criticize my thoughtful and constructive comment as ‘offensive’ but you then procede to describe me as illiterate. What hypocrisy. In response to your questions, I am from Ireland and have no agenda at all. Indeed the fact that I am Irish probably allows me to give a more objective insight into the situation than someone who is from there and may not be able to perceive these things accurately. I don’t deny that England may have been a nation in the past; it certainly is not one now. It has no distinct, coherent culture or shared sense of national identity. None of these things are true of Wales, Scotland or Ireland. The ‘English’ language is the closest thing England has but even it is largely French derived, as a result of the Norman Conquest. Indeed the Anglo-Saxon civilization and aristocracy were wiped out as a result of the Norman Conquest; most of England’s leaders up until modern times were descendants of the Norman conquerors. By contrast the indigenous cultures of Wales, Scotland and Ireland survived and were not totally wiped out by the Normans.

    At most English nationhood is an idea, not something that actually exists.

  • http://lxoa.wordpress.com/ Shane

    Sorry but you are totally mistaken.

  • Jcstubbs

    I sympathise with Fr. Oddie, as it seems to me that Scottish independence is primarily motivated by anti-Englishness than any political need. Of course the Scots can be anti-English if they want to be, I bear no grudge. Why I am for the continuation of the Union is that I believe it would fatally weaken Britain, politically, militarily and culturally. How many former Imperial powers have descended into oblivion after internal chaos and division? Also, as the U. K. is the nation we’ve all inherited, it should be a matter for the whole nation to decide whether one of its constituent parts should secede. So-called Scottish independence affects every citizen of the Union, not just the Scots.

  • http://lxoa.wordpress.com/ Shane

    Is it just me or does Sir Bobby Moore strongly resemble Bl. Cardinal Newman? 

  • Mike_docherty

    Mr Oddie, if you and your fellow compatriots want to arrange to have your own referendum to decide as to whether you England wishes to secede from the UK please feel free to start your campaign. As far as I’m aware none of the major parties in England have such a policy or commitment, so plenty of scope for you to start on fresh ground with no competitors. Good luck. 

  • Mike_docherty

    As a Scot who spent much of his childhood growing up in England I find the idea that this is simply about anti-Englishness ludicrous. From my perspective this is about the right of nations to self-determine, a right enshrined by the UN. It is also about a view that the Union has not benefitted Scotland greatly and that we would be best governing ourselves. 

    As for the issue of the rest of the UK having a say, I will ask you this. Do you believe the Serbs should have had a vote on Kosovan independence or the French/Germans/et al on the UK’s membership of the EU? If England wants to vote then it needs to organize its own independence referendum to secede from the UK.

  • Mikethelionheart

    No Shane, you are mistaken.
    But please carry on talking garbage it is most fun.

  • Dave29

    What a load of nonsense. Northern English counties may opt to join Scotland? Leaving aside the ridiculous idea that they could even do that, why would they want to? Because they tend to vote labour more than conservative they must want to be Scottish? Please.

    England is as much a nation as Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. No country in the world has a completely homogeneous culture. Including Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. North Walian and South Walian culture and language are quite different for example. The fact that there are regional differences in a country doesn’t mean that there is nothing that unites them as a nation. As for England “not being able to function as a unitary entity” – this is plainly false. It managed to function as a unitary entity pretty well for nearly a thousand years.

    You say Cornwall sees itself as a distinct nation and should therefore be given to Ireland. In what world does this make any sense? Cornish nationalists want their own country, they don’t want to be part of Ireland any more than they want to be part of England.

    In your last sentence you say that large parts of England rightfully belong to Ireland and Wales anyway. That’s a bit of a u-turn from your first paragraph where you talk about the rights of people to self determination. The majority of English people don’t want to be part of Ireland or Wales.

  • Mikethelionheart

    Fantastic article William.
    England demands for independence are being much more clearer and vocal, thank God.

    I have no English blood in my whatsoever, both parents are Irish.
    But I consider myself totally English.
    As did all the people I went to school with (who mostly also had Irish parents).

    In the school were I work there is a large amount Black and Asian children and they all consider themselves English and not British (nor Asian or African, most kids from these backgrounds seem to have horror stories about being taken back to these countries for long holidays and hating them). 

    So, amongst my enormous variety of friends and acquaintances – Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Latin, Slav, African, Chinese, Indian, Arabic, Filipino, Jew, Protestant, Mormon, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist and members of the glorious Catholic faith- there is one thing that unites us; our Englishness.

    Of course, some people will hate our love of our country, but who cares what they think.

    For God, England and St George!!!!!!!!!

  • Mikethelionheart

    Fantastic article William.
    England demands for independence are being much more clearer and vocal, thank God.

    I have no English blood in my whatsoever, both parents are Irish.
    But I consider myself totally English.
    As did all the people I went to school with (who mostly also had Irish parents).

    In the school were I work there is a large amount Black and Asian children and they all consider themselves English and not British (nor Asian or African, most kids from these backgrounds seem to have horror stories about being taken back to these countries for long holidays and hating them). 

    So, amongst my enormous variety of friends and acquaintances – Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Latin, Slav, African, Chinese, Indian, Arabic, Filipino, Jew, Protestant, Mormon, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist and members of the glorious Catholic faith- there is one thing that unites us; our Englishness.

    Of course, some people will hate our love of our country, but who cares what they think.

    For God, England and St George!!!!!!!!!

  • W Oddie

    “I am from Ireland and have no agenda”. Is this likely?

  • The Big Fella

    Shane, An Irishman objective about England? I hardly think so. Ireland a nation, but England not so? Hardly defensible. Maybe when we have reunified our own country, we can then ask England if they would like to give us Cornwall! In the meantime, we should leave England to the English.

  • Derp

    So, let me see if i’ve got this right. Northern England should become part of Scotland. Large parts of the rest of England should become parts of Ireland and Wales. You now have a Scotland with a population that is mostly English, an Ireland with a population that is mostly English, and a Wales with a population that is mostly English. Since most of the populations of these countries are now English, and you believe in self determination, these three nations are each going to be dominated politically by the English. You now effectively have 3 United Kingdoms. You said Cornwall should be part of Ireland because they’re both Celtic, so I suppose that the new Scotland, Ireland and Wales, each being Celtic (even though they now have majority English populations) should unite. So now we have the United Kingdom as it was before Ireland split, plus Brittany (Celtic too, you see) minus the small part of England that’s both not in the north and doesn’t “rightfully belong to Ireland and Wales”. Im not sure what part you think that is but im going to go with London. So London will be an independent nation, with Borris Johnson as President, in a political union with Pakistan, surrounded by The United Kingdom of Great Britain, Ireland and Brittany (lets call it Great Britainy). Amidoinitright?

  • Anonymous

    I have really never read such utter drivel. Far from being basically a dialect of French, English is overwhelmingly Old English and Old Norse (40% of English words are Old Norse). A veneer of words relating to food and culture are from French, and others from Latin, but a veneer only.

  • Anonymous

    The Normans didn’t wipe anything out – and I speak as someone of Norman origin. The Normans adapted to the kingdom they conquered. They utilised the administrative structures already in place. Within a three hundred years English had reasserted itself as the language of the ruling class and there were no distinctions between Norman and non-Norman any longer. Rather than the Normans wiping out England, England assimilated the Normans.

  • Anonymous

    Unlike you, I am English. I know my nation. We may have lost large areas of our cities, but that does not negate our nationhood.

  • stephen mccall

    What a well written piece,and i a Scot think so!

  • Anonymous

    “Does Scotland, being the poorer part of the union, gain some kind of benefit from England that would cease if it were to become independent?”

    Oh yes: google “Barnett Formula”.

    Also of course the UK PM is keen to prevent it not because anyone particularly likes the Scots, but because the UK is a greater world power with Scotland than without.

  • Parasum

    “And how typical of the Catholics he leads are the views of Cardinal
    O’Brien, who in an interview in this newspaper in October 2006,
    conducted by Professor John Haldane, declared that he would be “happy”
    if the Scots voted for independence, and predicted that independence is
    coming “before too long”. He drew parallels with the independence of the
    Catholic Church in Scotland: “It is difficult to argue that
    ecclesiastical independence is acceptable but political independence is
    not.” I have to say that Cardinal O’Brien’s views sound logical to me. ”

    It could be convenient if present-day political and ecclesiastical divisions matched – but they do not; nor need they. They do not match in what is now Italy or in the US, or in mainland China; why must they match in the UK ? Since York has not had even a claim to jurisdiction over any see in the Kingdom of Scotland for many centuries, & since the restorations of the two hierarchies, of England in 1850 & of Scotland in 1878 did not revive those claims, but  recognised the complete independence of these two provinces of the Church, and since there is no basis in politics for requiring either kingdom to dictate to the other in ecclesiastical matters; and since each has its owm established Church anyway, it is impossible to see what possible foundation there can be for the Cardinal’s implication. Ecclesiastical independence & national indepedence are completely unrelated, now at least in these islands, even though this has not been and is not always the case as an actual fact; but in principle as well often in fact, there is no longer any connection. If the Church in Scotland could be independent of English authority both lay & clerical for over 300 years before Knox & Co. Protestantised Scotland, & if Scotland could have its own ecclesiastics even afterwards (apart from the occasional Vicar Apostolic), and if there are two hierarchies even today for the two nations, & not just the one for both; it is hard to see what force there is in the argument. Logic is no good when it collides with historical fact. Scotland has its own universities, its own legal system, even its own Protestant Established Church; to say nothing of its own political history. It is not North England – even though the Hanoverian invaders tried calling it “North Britain” after the suppression of the ’45.

    The Cardinal doesn’t speak for me. I would vote to maintain the Union – unless there were some impossible condition attached.

    As to England: why not have a consultative poll, as a test of English opinion, before holding a Scottish referendum, in order to help Scottish politicians satisfy the desires of all parties in as collaborative a manner as possible ? What needs to be avoided like the plague is any spirit of opposition, as far as is possible. Then no-one, South or North, would have any reason to feel hard done by.

  • Parasum

    The hair-line’s wrong; so are the eyes. Newman had a more sensitive expression. J.H. Newman winning for England in 1966 ? Fr. Robert Moore finishing the “Essay on Development” in 1845 & being written about by Fr. Ian Ker ?  Sounds like a more complicated version of “Quantum Leap”

  • Guest

    The problem appears to be the difficulty in
    defining what counts as English, and what, indeed, is “Englishness” – minus
    the outdated and distorted caricatures that are thrown around

  • Guest

    [For combox contributors in general] I can understand that debates such as these can get heated, but we should remember that we are supposed to be Christians, and we should aim towards charity, even if we disagree with other people. In fact, name calling and other uncharitable comments weaken our arguments by making us look unreasonable and fanatical. Surely, fraternal love can exist even in the combox?

  • W Oddie

    But that’s more or less what I said. Read the article, why don’t you?

  • lee christian

    Your you some kind of person who is anglophobic, for sake of hate! We English just want you lot to go Independent and leave us alone thats all we are asking !

  • lee christian

    You got to be some kind of nutcase lol.
    England is the oldest Nation state in the World 1500years The irish Scots and Welsh have just as much mixed past as the English read your history If you read the latest findings by Oxford Professors Stephen Oppenhiemer and Bryan Sykes in the” Origins of the British” which tracks the English, Irish ,Welsh , Ulster/Scots  through DNA and Archaeology your find the “ENGLISH were here first
    Your quotating the spin and  untruths of politicians ! dangerous game lol.

  • Evan Davis

    Actually England didn’t exist as a country 1500 years ago. After the Romans left and the Anglo-Saxons settled, the area that is now England was divided into seven different kingdoms – Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex and Wessex. They weren’t unified into the Kingdom of England until 927 under King Æthelstan. Scotland is older, being united in 843 by King Cináed I.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your response Dr O, but if you look at the response of mine that you are replying to I think you will find that it was a response to Jcstubbs earlier post.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Lee, until you can put together a coherent post I will not trouble to attempt to respond.

  • South Saxon

    The number of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms was not always seven: a number of smaller kingdoms existed including Hwicce, Lindsey and Magonset (which all became part of Mercia) and Bernicia and Deira (which united to form Northumbria).

  • South Saxon

    For a number of reasons, including the West Lothian Question and perceived unfairness in the distribution of funds, the present framework is probably no longer fit for purpose. Separation is not the only answer. What about a proper four-country federal system?

  • Anonymous

    It is an interesting poit that you make. The LibDems have traditionally supported “home rule” (their language not mine) for Scotland and the Scottish Lib Dem leader (Willie Rennie) hs made a few remarks about this in the last few months, however, it seems to have completely disappeared from their discourse in the last fortnight. The idea of “devo max”, is arguably related to it.

  • theroadmaster

    Perhaps  a greater maturity in the relationship between Scotland and England will result from the divorce proceedings which will inevitably follow in the wake of Scottish independence.  300 years of a sometimes troublesome union may have served some purpose in the past e.g common interest in the creation of a British empire through commercial opportunities overseas etc, but the present realities beg questions over the definition of “Britishness”.  Gordon Brown during his tenure as Prime Minister, favored setting aside a day to celebrate the defining characteristics of it but ingloriously abandoned the attempt when none of his advisers could come up with any satisfactory answers to this vexing question.   Some might point to constitutional respect for inherent rights, such as the freedom of speech, worship etc but any number of Liberal, Western Democracies can boast of those same legal protections which are present in their legislative frameworks.  A reconfiguration of the UK will come sooner or later with Scotland in the vanguard to help enforce this change.  This will have repercussions for the other constituent parts in the UK and may mark a reinforcing of the respective national identities on what commentators call the “Celtic Fringe”.  It may also provided a liberating experience for English people and encourage them to explore their own national identity in greater depth.

  • W Oddie

    I’m not a priest: so not Fr Oddie.

  • Fard0123

    Wow..half of England all upset because an Irishman sent the lot of you home to think again.Good on you Shane. I have been reading all those anti Scots comments, no wonder Scotland wants shot of England.
     

  • Tomcarty

    Mikethelionheart, you have a similar background to me and I always knew at primary school that when we sang ‘Hail, glorious St Patrick, dear saint of our isle’ on 17 March we meant a different island than the one we lived on. Our parents tried very hard to be English and we were not indoctrinated into Irishness but like most second-generation immigrants from any country, we were curious about where our parents were from.
     I respect your unequivocal expression of identity but can’t identify with it: I don’t feel completely English because I’m not. My upbringing and cultural background in a 1950s ghetto (‘No Irish need apply’ ) means I’m as much Irish as English, indeed a little more Irish.The problem for England is its conflation until recently with Britain, an imperial state without an empire which has existed in its present form only since 1922.Anyway, it shows the advantage of being members of an international church!

  • Tomcarty

    Amen to your very last last point, Parasum.  Despite the petulant tone of some English contributors to this debate, a velvet divorce is surely possible, as Sweden and Norway demonstrated at the beginning of the twentieth century and The Czech Republic and Slovakia at its end.

  • Anonymous

    A great opportunity arising from Scottish independence is for England to remember herself, Mary’s Dowry. This is the significance of the Ordinariate. England was a sovereign nation, forged at the Battle of Brunanburgh under Aethelstan. The line of the Wessex kings gave rise to a civilised culture of grace and learning which was taken north of the border to Scotland for safekeeping as it were, when Margaret of Wessex married Malcolm III. She reputedly took good manners to the Scottish court, becoming a saint in the process, while England groaned under the yoke of Norman aristocracy ( a tradition continued by the English political classes). Their daughter Mathllda replanted Wessex values when she married Henry I, reviving England with the Plantagenet line and commencing a 900 year struggle by the mothers and wives of England to civilise their oafish foreign kings (a process which fractured spectacularly with Henry VIII and broke down completely in 1689. This process is now completed. Witness the affectionate welcome of the Queen in Ireland and the obvious natural affection between Prince William and commoner Kate). William of Normandy did an effective job of airbrushing the Saxon land registry and replacing the management of England but he did not erase the Saxon memory completely. Spot the TV programs which are reviewing Saxon ecclesiastical manuscripts. Even David Cameron’s ‘big society’ is a search for the bottom up community Saxon culture which was inverted in 1066 – he just doesn’t recognise it as such. When Prince William ascends the throne England will have a new William, connected to the people, who through his mother can claim Stuart descent. The government have just this week set up a commission to study how to address the West Lothian question, albeit within the existing framework of the House of Commons. If not physically this must result in a logical English parliament. Indeed for those look carefully, the despair of the glorious revolution is being replaced by hope. it was not for nothing that the Pope prayed at the tomb of Edward the Confessor. He was praying for England. And for the resurrection of the Spirit of the Wessex Kings.

  • Mr J Roche

    Mr Docherty is correct. The two prior kingdoms of Scotland and England became the United Kingdom. Should either nation secede, the UK ceases to exist. It would be unlikely that either would retain the seat on the UN Security Council, the Nuclear Deterrent would be scrapped, the positive influence of Britain’s contribution would be much reduced. We ar estronger together, so I hope that England will remain in the UK

  • awfy tired

    Good evening, William.

    Here is a (working class, middle aged) Catholic Glaswegian’s
    response to your article.

    I have many English friends. I have no axe to grind against
    “The English”.

    I do, however, have an axe to grind about political
    representation and misrepresentation in the press.  As you have just proved, propaganda
    works. 

    My grandfathers, great uncles, father and uncles fought in
    the first and second world wars in the British army.  Those who survived the First World War were,
    by all family reports, never the same again- this surely the same for their
    English, Welsh and Irish compatriots. My father was very proud of the time he
    spent in Service during WW2. (as are al his children).

    All the men in my extended family worked in manufacturing
    industries.  In 1979, a Conservative
    government came to power in the Westminster Parliament.  Fair enough. 
    At that time I was 15 and my father was 5 years dead.  I then lived through the systematic
    dismantlement of every single manufacturing industry in my country.  I saw the men of my father’s generation
    suddenly unemployed.  My Mother actually
    said that it was best that he hadn’t lived to see the factory he worked in
    closed, because he couldn’t have borne to be unemployed. I am the youngest of 6.   She got up at 5a.m.
    to do a cleaning job.  Our house had no
    central heating, so she asked each of us if we would mind if the £100 we were
    all due from his insurance policy went to getting us a (by the way utterly
    terrible) central heating system (Glasgow Council house, 1980’s).

    I could go on about how difficult life was, but it was the
    same and worse for everyone I know, and possibly many people you know.  The boys of my generation had no jobs to go
    to when they left school. I saw my peers take to drugs and drink.  Many of them are now dead- 5 of the boys I
    was at primary school with.  Thanks to my
    father’s emphasis on education, my Mum badgered us to study (very much against
    my will, at that time)

    We all benefited from a (free) University education and went
    on to work in (the now vilified) public service industries.  If we had had to pay fees, there is
    absolutely no way any of us would have went to university; we wouldn’t  have seen a way out of debt; how would it be
    possible to pay fees when your Mum is a cleaner and you get by on hand-me-downs
    and cheap food?. 

    It now looks likely that I won’t live much longer than my
    father (I have 2 years to go); despite my educated preoccupations with a
    healthy lifestyle, I have had a mini-stroke- I have obsessively taken vitamins,
    followed what the telly tells me is a healthy lifestyle and  I still have high cholesterol.  I now take a statin and a blood thinner.  Must be my fault, eh?- I live on poached
    fish, nothing fried and follow all the health advice I can get.  My guess is that God has a wee part to play
    in all our lives, despite our intellect and choices.

    We can argue until doomsday about the necessity of reforming
    the Unions, updating industry etc. Unless you lived thorough the catastrophic
    change that this country underwent you will never understand why the Tories are
    so unpopular here.  It felt like utter
    vindictiveness, because, as has just been proved, up here, we can vote en-mass
    for any party we want and end up with a government that does not need our
    votes.  That party then has a mandate to
    do whatever it wants to do to keep its support base happy.  If that means shifting every viable industry
    in Scotland to England,
    that’s exactly what they will do –we know that does not make them
    anti-Scottish, it’s just politics.  No-one
    is more disappointed in the last Labour government than the traditional
    Scottish Labour voter (me)- What the heck? A war in Iraq?
    Why? Weren’t the 9/11 bombers all Saudis? Not to mention that the Labour party
    has been in power in the local councils up here since 1979, and we have seen them
    to be terribly rotten.  How can Glasgow
    still have such areas of urban deprivation, such horrible housing, when we have
    “socialists” running the council? 

    Priests up here have always passed on their views on how they
    think we should vote.  They have always
    said vote Labour, until now.   As a
    Catholic teacher, I can see why.  The SNP
    is the only party defending Catholic schools (by God, that’s incredible, but
    true)- the labour party, traditionally drawing its support base from poorer
    catholic families is essentially Marxist- it would love to see catholic schools
    abolished.  Why? The best thing poor
    Catholics up here have going for us is the catholic schools system.  I have worked across the system, and, believe
    me, there is a difference between the ethos in a Catholic school and a
    “non-denominational” or “multi-faith” school. 
    I have passed PHSE classes in a multi-faith school and learned things
    about sex that I didn’t know were common or acceptable.  The Catholic Church has always had the final
    say in what is taught in Catholic schools here.

    Bottom Line? I was always a devolution-max person, but
    seeing how much the English want to get rid of us, I am now for full
    independence.  This will, of course, mean
    some kind of conflict over the oil in Scottish territories that we are being
    told “is about to run out” hmm .  If that
    is true, you all won’t mind us taking it with us, will you?  I think you should watch the press for an
    awful lot of anti-Scottish propaganda in the future.

    Me? I’ll just be glad to be represented in a parliament for
    a change.

     

  • Mr J Roche

    Mr Oddie
    Sadly, your article misses the fundamental point that the United Kingdom would cease to exist if either of the founding kingdoms secede. I believe that such a split would be bad for both kingdoms and for the world. Neither England nor Scotland would retain the UN Security Council seat; both would squabble over the ownership of assets such as Embassies, Military, etc.

    If you puruse this line of argument, then England secedes from the United Kingdom. This would be a bad thing.

    By the way, when I travelled with an English friend in the eighties, I (a Scot) would record my nationality as British, while he would always write English.

  • Tomcarty

    A moving post: I challenge anyone to argue that it doesn’t make a powerful case for Scottish independence. To be selfish for a moment, here in the North of England we will feel very isolated if the Scots depart and England keeps the first past the post electoral system. Like the Scots we would be governed permanently by a party we we didn’t vote for and which has hardly any Parliamentary or Council seats to lose in the cities and former industrial towns. In the 1980s we recently learned leading Tory ministers seriously put forward a plan for an unacknowledged policy of malign neglect to be imposed on Liverpool. There are 2 Englands and the poorer one is getting poorer all the time.
    I agree about the Labour Party ( which I left the day we invaded Iraq): it’s simply not doing its job of defending the disabled and the poor. It grew complacent over decades and then lost its working-class base, hence the importance of middle-class causes such as aggressive secularism.It’s the equivalent of CND a generation ago.The fact is there is nowhere to go: the Liberal Democrats and Greens are even more committed to the secularist social liberal agenda than Labour. What we need is a strong principled mainstream Social Democratic presence which Catholics and other Christians will feel welcome in.Such a party or faction would be better placed to defend the weak and condemn the greedy. is there any chance of such an initiative?In the meantime, good luck to Scotland whether it goes for devolution max or independence, it’ll be better off than now and better off than the north of England.

  • Tomcarty

    Wessex! Athelstan! The Saxon memory? William and Kate?!

  • Anonymous

    “England is not a nation, unlike Ireland, Wales and Scotland. In many
    large ‘English’ cities and towns the population is substantially (and
    sometimes mostly) comprised of people of African and/or Asian descent.
    Overwhelmingly these people see themselves as British, not as English”

    England is probably the most stable of the four home nations. Ireland. Well need I say more. Scotland? Many examples of sectarian divide. Possibilites that the Shetlands et al will decide not to stay with an independent Scotland. Wales? The two languages and much resentment in N.Wales at rule from English speaking Cardiff.

    Your assertion regarding ‘Asian ‘ people is clearly unfounded in fact.  A recent report by British futures found that ’62% of ethnic minorities (including 69% of Asians) feel strongly
    English, which leads the authors to muse that Englishness is now
    considered a civic rather than an ethnically defined identity’.

    http://www.britishfuture.org/articles/news/british-future-launches-hopes-and-fears-report/

    I hope that we English of all ethnic backgrounds and religions will be given a referendum on English independece. I predict an overwhelming YES vote