Monday, 18 May 2009

The United Kingdom?

The following is a sort of distillation from an article by Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph: "Nationalism is a divider. Patriotism is a multiplier. In Britain today we have too much of the first and too little of the second. On the face of it, nationalism might seem to be simply the political version of patriotism. What is wrong, you might ask, with a creed that puts your own country first? Certainly all nationalist politicians exploit the genuine love of country which most people feel. But nationalism is not just a way of mobilising positive feeling. It also mobilises resentment and makes a fetish of difference. Nationalism is obsessed with definition - whether you are "really" Scottish, Irish, etc. In extreme forms it turns such definitions into a matter of life and death. It is obsessed with possession. It has an endless need for enemies. The English do have real grievances. There are too many Scottish and Welsh MPs, compared with English, per head of population. The failure to answer the West Lothian Question means that Scottish MPs vote on English laws (but not on Scottish laws!) while English MPs cannot vote on Scottish ones. Above all, there is the problem of money. As the English see it, we pay the Scots so they can exercise the privilege of complaining about us. We now seethe with resentment when we hear (as we do every day) a Scottish accent among our political rulers. We let them have their own parliament, we tend to think, so why are they still cluttering up ours? These anomalies can be addressed within the context of the Union. A Tory government could deal robustly with all of them. David Cameron is trying to build modern politics in a way which is truly national, rather than pettily nationalistic. Because of the growth of the European Union - a well-meaning attempt to combat nationalism which has gone so far that it does the opposite - the British state has lost its authority. Disaffected places within the UK can now appeal over its head." We do not want the break-up of the United Kingdom, but it is essential to address the problems that worry the English. And to my mind it is also essential to have a referendum on whether we want to remain in the undemocratic, profligate, overbearing, corrupt European Union.

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