Sunday, 14 February 2010

Restoring Britishness: UKIP Policy

I am an English nationalist and I will make no apologies for that.  As far as I'm concerned, loyalty my country (England) comes before any loyalty I might have to UKIP and so I am equally unapologetic for what follows: a comprehensive fisking of UKIP's new policy entitled "Restoring Britishness".

Before you go any further, read this overview of the policy which is what I'm commenting on.
In England, an increasingly resentful English nationalism is also brewing, often fuelled by perceptions that other parts of the UK are receiving preferential treatment and services and/or that Celtic nation MPs are forming voting blocs at Westminster.
How does b**locks sound?  Scottish, Irish and Welsh nationalism aren't described as resentful despite the fact they're fundamentally built on a hatred of the English.  Other parts of the UK are receiving preferential treatment and services and celtic MPs do form voting blocs at Westminster.  We wouldn't have foundation hospitals or university top-up fees if it wasn't for the Scottish MPs voting as a bloc to impose them on England even though they didn't apply to Scotland.
The 'English Question' is arguably the most serious threat to Britishness.
It's the most serious threat to the union but not Britishness.  The most serious threat to Britishness is atrophy - it was an artificial construct that served a purpose for a while and is no longer relevant.
UKIP would replace members of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies with national Westminster MPs.
There goes the Scottish and Welsh vote ...
An English Executive would be created from British departments that are de facto only engaged in English affairs, headed by an English First Minister. UK national government would be restored at the highest level within this overall framework.
So basically a return to how it was before devolution with grand committees and home offices, the only difference being that England would get one?  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has never had a problem with their British MPs not representing their national interests, it's the English that have always had the problem with British MPs elected in England putting Britain first to the detriment of England.  So England will be disadvantaged again.  And what will happen when there is a conflict of interests in their grand committee?  Will they put British or English interests first?  Exactly the same fundamental stumbling blocks as the Tories' policies.
UKIP would abolish the Barnett formula, which has disproportionately provided some parts of the UK with preferential services to others.
"Some parts of the UK" being Scotland, Wales and NI - the very reason dismissed as a "perception" in the denigration of English nationalists.  But I agree with getting rid of the Barnett Formula, it is an abomination and an insult.
In England, UKIP would replace the May Day bank holiday, and make St George's Day a public holiday in its place.
So Scotland, Wales and NI will still have more public holidays?  England has the least public holidays in Europe.  But a good move promoting St Georges Day although surprising when the policy writer seems to have such an aversion to English nationalism.

I have two problems with this "Restoring Britishness" policy.

Firstly, I'm not British, I'm English and most people in England consider themselves English too.  You can argue with the facts if you want but before you put your red white and blue tinted glasses on and start hammering on your keyboard, check out the research on this first and you will find that more people consider themselves English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish first and British second.

Secondly, who is actually asking for it to be restored?  Aside from a handful of British nationalists (mainly politicians) basically nobody.  The vast majority of people in all four home nations are quite happy with the national identity they have had for centuries.  Britishness is a made-up political identity that has never taken root outside of England and now it's been relegated to the history books in England.  It's only immigrant populations in England, who get Britishness rammed down their throats (in England) from the day they arrive in the country, that have a British identity.

Rather than expending time and energy on trying to keep alive a made-up political identity that has never really been anything other than a pseudonym for English that's been in terminal decline for decades, we should be embracing and supporting the true identities of these isles that the majority of people have chosen for themselves.  If you have to form a committee and hold workshops to try and define Britishness and actually publish a policy on what steps should be taken by the state to indoctrinate children with a different identity to the one that they were brought up with, it's quite obviously a pointless and ultimately doomed exercise.

Let's stick to what we're good at - libertarianism, capitalism and euroscepticism - and stop wasting time on Canute-like proclamations.

More comment in this post.


Anonymous said...

I don't know how old you are, but when I was young, the overall feeling was that people were British. When flags were flown they were Union flags and you very rarely saw an English flag. When asked to state their nationality, people happily said that they were British. Now a lot of people insist on saying that they are English, not British and the English flag is seen everywhere. This English Nationalism has only arisen since the devolution of Scotland and Wales.

wonkotsane said...

I'm 32, I've always been English. My Nan - in her late 70's - has an English flag, she is also English. This Englishness isn't necessarily to the exclusion of Britishness but she is English, as are my parents, as am I and my children (even though my 2 step sons are half Scottish, they still consider themselves English).

English nationalism has always been there - I know people in the Campaign for an English Parliament who've been calling for an English Parliament since before the first devolution bills in the 70's. It has gained traction since devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but I don't see why that is a bad thing (if that was the implication). If people choose an English identity over and above a British identity, or even in place of it, then it is not the place of politicians or political parties to tell them that their choice of identity is wrong.

Andy said...

Celtic? Ancient white tribes. Not the Scots and Welsh. Racist concept.

Anonymous said...

"It's the most serious threat to the union but not Britishness. The most serious threat to Britishness is atrophy - it was an artificial construct that served a purpose for a while and is no longer relevant."

Wonkatsane, all countries are artificial constructs. England is an artificial construct. Scotland is an artificial construct. Every country in Europe is an artificial construct. They did not come down from on high - people invented them.

wonkotsane said...

The UK isn't a country, it's a union of countries. Just like the USSR, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Belgium. The first three have already broken up into their natural constituent parts, it's only a matter of time until the same happens to Belgium. History shows us that the only reliable unions of nations with strong national identities like England and Scotland is a confederation. As the British nationalist parties won't even support symmetric devolution, let alone a federation or confederation then history shows a consistent precedent - the union will break up.

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