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The view from London…  July 7, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Here’s a small but perhaps telling thing. In a piece that notes that Justin Trudeau met the Queen in Edinburgh but not Nicola Sturgeon or the SNP – and points to some intriguing aspects of the SNP’s views of Quebec separatism, there’s the following:

It is understood no approach was made to the Scottish government by Trudeau’s office, even though Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, held a series of meetings and official events with the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, culminating in a banquet with Ireland’s president, Michael Higgins, in Dublin on Tuesday. At one stage Trudeau went jogging with Varadkar in Phoenix Park.

As someone in favour of Scottish independence and respectful of the measure of devolution already carved out in Scotland I still can’t help feeling that we’re not talking like and like between the Republic of Ireland, it’s President and Taoiseach and the first minster of Scotland. Perhaps we should, in fact it would be fantastic for Trudeau to meet Sturgeon in either capacity as first minster or ultimately PM of an independent Scotland. But that is for another day.

And without wanting to overstate it too much, it seems to me the comparison implicitly made in the paragraph above is revealing of attitudes on the island to our East.

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1. Phil - July 7, 2017

You just won’t let it go, will you? Obsessed with history, you lot, obsessed…

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2. Joe - July 7, 2017

Or obsessed with what the neighbours to the East are thinking? Yes, let it go – if there’s some people on the island to the East who think our independent, sovereign state is equivalent to Scotland’s devolved status within the UK, who cares?

I thought this paragraph was interesting too: “However, the Scottish National party has distanced itself from the Quebecois independence movement in part because of violent incidents in its past, its adherence to Francophone cultural nationalism and Scotland’s historical ties to Canada as a federal state.”
That’s just gas. Yes to independence for Scotland but eh, no to independence for Quebec because eh, ye insist on speaking French and we’ve loads of cousins all over the English-speaking bit.
It’s complicated!

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Phil - July 8, 2017

To be clear, that was me vocalising a certain kind of British opinion on Ireland (or “refusal to have an opinion” on Ireland), not expressing my own views. Sorry if it seemed like trolling.

My actual view is that (a) nobody over here knows a damn thing about Ireland – politics, geography and especially not history (unless they’re a political activist or have Irish relatives, in which case they look like Rain Man compared to the rest of us) and (b) this is a damn shame. That’s both for the obvious reason (Ireland is literally right there…) and because, if you’re British, spending any time getting familiar with Irish history is the biggest “naked lunch” moment you can imagine. Oh, so that’s what the world’s like… and that’s what we’re like… Which is also why most of us stay ignorant, I guess.

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WorldbyStorm - July 8, 2017

I got that Phil. 🙂 That’s a very interesting point re ‘naked lunch’ moment. I’ve always felt that too, torn between the strands of Englishness (probably more so than Britishness) that I identify with and can claim a link to through family (and the accident of birth being born in London) and then the strands that are… 😦

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Dr. X - July 8, 2017

There’s a strand of ethnic chauvinism in Quebecois nationalism – after they lost the 1995 referendum one of their leaders blamed “money and the ethnic vote”.

That wouldn’t be consistent with Wee Eck’s definition of a Scot as anyone “who lives in Scotland and is committed to Scotland”, which while rather vague at least doesn’t define nationality in terms of blood and soil.

I can just barely remember in northern Ontario in the mid-70s being taken to see bannock being made in a tipi. Thing is, bannock was originally a Scottish dish that crossed over to the First Nations (essentially, a very large scone cooked on a flat stone over an open fire). I wonder, would some of those Scottish cousins be First Nations people? That also, would complicate matters with Quebec, given that as far as I know the attitudes of First Nations people in the north of that province are pretty cool towards the whole separatist idea.

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3. sonofstan - July 7, 2017

“Or obsessed with what the neighbours to the East are thinking?”

Yeah I’m in a ‘let it go’ sort of mood at the moment. Sometimes it can be ignorant, but even so, they’re generally fonder of us than we are of them. Probably because they’ve no idea what we’re really thinking.

You’re right, the Quebec thing is mad.

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4. WorldbyStorm - July 7, 2017

I’m not too worried – just thought it was an interesting way of putting it given it was in the Guardian.

That’s possibly true re them fonder of us than vice versa – though… though… I’ve heard some truly scarifying things in my time said to me given I was afforded part English status due to my birth and background. I hasten to add only by a tiny minority of a minority and no doubt we all have stories of anti-English sentiment by a tiny minority here.

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sonofstan - July 7, 2017

The basic assymetry is this: most Irish people – I’d be willing to bet – have been to England at least once and a fair number have worked or studied here. The opposite is not the case. Most have never been, and are quite vague as to which jurisdiction Dublin or Belfast is in. As to Cork or Galway or Derry….

..although, mind, many irish people who ‘love’ London for the shopping wouldn’t be able to find another UK city on the map.

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WorldbyStorm - July 7, 2017

+1 I’ve a raft of English relatives. I’d think none of them bar two have visited Ireland more than once, and one of those only three times. But as you say, outside of visiting the larger cities most Irish people would be lost. I’ve travelled fairly widely in England and Wales across the last decade and it’s telling how few Irish one will encounter.

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5. roddy - July 7, 2017

The English are not as interested in us anymore.All the shite thrown at Corbyn about the IRA had no effect at all. Ive’ even heard English comedians joke that the provos were “gentlemen terrorists” due to the fact that warnings were given in most bombings!

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Phil - July 8, 2017

To be fair it was Patrick Kielty who came up with that one – don’t think he’d thank you for calling him English. (Well, him and Stewart Lee, independently.)

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6. Dr. X - July 8, 2017

Justin’s da – who was a genuinely strange person – is widely credited with having saved Canadian unity single-handedly, due to his intervention in the last week of the 1980 Quebec independence referendum campaign. Not surprising, then, that Trudeau le petit would shun the Sturgeon.

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