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Competing national identities… May 14, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Some intriguing thoughts in the Guardian as expressed by Ciaran Martin, who “created the framework for Scotland’s 2014 independence poll as the Cabinet Office’s constitution director” but is now outside government. He strongly criticises the UK government and notes that currently it pursues ‘England first, flag waving politics and policies’.

This was “Greater Englandism”, he added. “But it’s not a unionism of partnership. It’s a unionism where England sets the rules because that’s enough for a governing majority. If Scotland doesn’t like it, it gets overruled or ignored. If Northern Ireland doesn’t like it, it gets told nothing’s really changed but here are some special, highly destabilising arrangements to make sure you don’t mess things up for England.


“What sort of UK is the government building and what is Northern Ireland’s place in it? Because at the moment it seems that the UK government wants to build a post-Brexit UK based on a very 17th-century English notion of parliamentary sovereignty. It was delivered with English and Welsh votes but we are talking about a very singular sense of identity rooted in the English tradition.

“There has been a dramatic removal of the acceptance and appreciation of the subtleties of national identities within the United Kingdom, particularly in Northern Ireland at a time when identity there is becoming much more complicated,” he said, adding that the forthcoming census results were likely to be fascinating.


There had been no acceptance on the part of the British government that Brexit had been highly disruptive to both communities, he said. “The government has a general duty to promote stability in Northern Ireland. You can undermine the delicate political and social balance in Northern Ireland without breaching the letter of the 1998 Good Friday agreement.”

His point about English national identity coming to the fore is crucial. Because not merely is this potentially in contradiction with the interests of nationalism and republicanism, but it is emphatically in contradiction with that of unionism too. As he notes, this isn’t unionism but the domination of the UK by England. And that generates alienation on the part of those who are in opposition to the UK, but also alienates those who are nominally in alliance with it. Perhaps this was inevitable, that at some point a government would come to power in London that had near enough no interest in the union in other than purely rhetorical terms – which is not to say they seek to jettison it, but rather that it functions essentially for the good of England and from the perspective of England. With one crisis, say the gathering support for independence for Scotland, that would be problematic, with multiple and overlapping crises – Brexit, Northern Ireland and a Border Poll, and additional sub-crises such as the fault lines within unionism this becomes perilous. 


1. Roger Cole - May 14, 2021

Excellent piece. The Brexit vote was won by a substantial English majority, and the ruling Tory Party, whatever about the English people, wants to ensure English domination of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, under the common name of British. The Tory Party gives its nurses a 1% wage increase, so it can pay for the increase its nuclear weapons by 40%, send it naval fleet to threaten China, and backs apartheid Israel to the hilt, all to project British Imperial power.
It will not stand. The British Imperial state is just a purgative institution, that steadily declined since its height of global domination, a process started by Ireland, and which cannot be reversed.

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