There have been some plaintive pieces appearing in the Press recently from English people on the need to express themselves over the referendum and yet feeling excluded from doing so.
They have a point. I was trying to imagine what it would be like if was They who were discussing leaving Us and wondering how I would feel. My first thought was that I would regard it as their democratic right but almost immediately I had the more human response of disappointment and the question: Why am I being rejected?
We can talk as much as we like about this not being a separation at all except in political terms…that there will be no border, no limits on trade and movement, shared currency (?!) etc…but when you’ve only ever known your country as one unit, faults and all, it seems a natural reaction to resist it being changed under your feet when you don’t even get a (direct) say.
Scots like me have never truly bought into the idea of a United Kingdom, seeing Scotland as an individual member of a Union which we can leave, but to most – I guess 90 per cent – of English people it is just Britain and always has been. It’s the price of the traditional conflation of England with Britain in their mind and a benign acceptance of a celtic fringe, so long as it remains generally on side.
To be truthful, it IS a rejection. That isn’t our impulse, it is not the origin of the Yes movement, but it would be naïve and insensitive not to acknowledge that an ordinary English voter would interpret a repudiation of the country they love as also a mark of disapproval for them.
I don’t think any of this is helped by the overbearing posturing of our so-called equal partners in Union who have unilaterally decreed that everything belongs to them, unless it’s nailed down north of the border. That just creates the impression of a fringe area with few rights of their own upping stumps and leaving, rather than a partner dissolving a relationship.
Nevertheless, I think many of the letters and emails I see are genuine and well-meaning. They also don’t have a way out as we have through independence and are left contemplating a vote for Nigel Farage as a means of demonstrating.
I wonder if I should compile a simple list of Reasons for Independence designed for an English audience in an attempt to explain what I at least think is going on? They aren’t going to get logic from the politicos, are they? One of the reasons some English people are dismissive is that they firmly believe their tax pounds keep us afloat and not one Unionist MP has taken the trouble to tell the truth and deny that.
If you have some points I should include, post them in. I’ll compose a message of respect to go with the reasons England should relax about independence and think of ways of getting it out to a wider English audience. (We can also do jokes to make the point but I mean this to be a genuine statement, as in a kind of manifesto of independence for our English friends). Don’t laugh, but I may call it England, My England. And before you start, I’m not going soft. I have been touched by some of the messages from those who perhaps don’t understand too much about Scotland – as I don’t Cornwall for example – but who don’t want to think of Britain without us.by