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Brexit Unleashed a Nationalism That Has Damaged the Union for Good
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Brexit is English nationalism made flesh, but the English underrate its destructive potential as a form of communal identity. Concepts like “nationalism” and “self-determination” have traditionally been seen as something that happens to foreigners. An English failing today is an inability to recognise the egocentricity implicit in such nationalism and the extent to which it alienates and invites confrontation with other nations in the British Isles and beyond.

A classic example of this blindness to the consequences of this new type of nationalism came this week when Theresa May denounced Nicola Sturgeon for “playing politics with the future of our country” in demanding a second referendum on Scottish independence. This immediately begs the question about the nature and location of this “country” to which such uncritical loyalty is due. If the state in question is the UK, then why do the advocates of Brexit ignore the opposition – and take for granted the compliance – of Scotland and Northern Ireland in leaving the EU?

It is worth recalling the degree to which British politics was divided and poisoned by fierce disputes over Irish independence for the whole of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, right up to the moment that Ireland achieved self-determination in 1921. What used to be called “the Irish Question” has now been reborn as an all-consuming issue by “the Scottish Question” and, whatever the timing and outcome of a second Scottish referendum, it is not going to go away. Supposing that Theresa May really believes, as her patronising rejection of another poll in Scotland might suggest, that “the Scottish Question” can be indefinitely delayed, then she will be joining a long dismal list of British leaders down the centuries who made the same mistake about Ireland.

English politicians have frequently had a tin ear when it comes to other people’s nationalism, imagining that it can be satisfied by material concessions or rebutted by arguments about independence inflicting unacceptable economic damage. English people often have an equally muddled or myopic vision of their own nationalism, using the terms “English” and “British” as if they were synonymous or marked a distinction of no great account. They therefore do not see how their nationalism has changed significantly in the last few years and is making the continuation of the UK less and less likely. The transformation is also obscured because the ingredients of nationalist identity are in any case hazy since a successful nationalist movement becomes the vehicle for all sorts of grievances and protests.

British nationalism was in the past more fluid than Irish or continental nationalism because it did not face such intense pressures. It needed to be adaptable and inclusive enough to meet the needs of empire and a post-imperial world. It was primarily territorial within the island of Britain, rather than ethnic, religious or linguistic, and was so successful and self-confident that it did not closely define exactly what made somebody British. Strident assertions by Ulster Protestants about their “Britishness” sounded foreign and rather embarrassing to people in the rest of the UK.

The new English nationalism that surfaced so strongly during the Brexit campaign is, ironically, much closer to continental traditions of nationalism. It is much more ethnically and culturally exclusive than the English/British tradition, which developed when British politics stabilised after prolonged turmoil and civil war at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

What makes the new English nationalism so dangerous post-Brexit is that it is deeply felt but incoherent and comes with little self-knowledge. It is more dangerous than the elephant in the room, whose presence nobody will acknowledge, because in this case the elephant is scarcely aware of its own bulk and impact upon others. As a system of beliefs the new nationalism is much more appropriate to an English nation state than to a more diverse United Kingdom. Yet there is genuine bafflement among English people when the Scots apply the same arguments as Brexiters used to justify leaving the EU to justify Scottish independence. It takes a good deal of cheek for Theresa May, as she initiates Britain’s withdrawal from the EU – the consequences of which even its protagonists admit nobody knows – to accuse Nicola Sturgeon of setting “Scotland on a course for more uncertainty and division, creating huge uncertainty.”

It should be quickly said that there is nothing wrong with there being an English nation state. The left tends to denigrate or suspect nationalism as a mask for racism or, at best, a diversion from more important social and political issues. It can be both, but nationalism has also been the essential glue for progressive and liberal movements since the American War of Independence. If it has fallen into the hands of the xenophobic right in England and the US in recent years, that is the fault of those who saw it as illegitimate, obsolete and irrelevant in a globalising world.

Because the new nationalism sees itself in a vague way as seeking to return to a mythical England, which seems to have had its terminal date in about 1960, it is not good at seeing that its project is new and different from what went before. The old British state, as it developed from the end of the seventeenth century, was known – and often detested by other states – for its acute sense of its own interests. The new English nation state stretching from the Channel to the Tweed seems to have little idea of its own strengths and weaknesses and will be much less capable of charting an independent course in the world, whatever its pretensions “to be taking back control”.

ORDER IT NOW

One of the curiosities of the Brexit referendum was that, while the Leaves frequently beat the patriotic drum and spoke of the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and the Battle of Britain in 1940, they showed little interest in or knowledge of history. Before the eighteenth century, English governments spent much of their energies and resources fighting the Scots, Irish and Welsh. In the years before Agincourt, Henry V learned to be a soldier suppressing Welsh uprisings. Scottish and Irish rebellions played a central role in precipitating and determining the outcome of the English Civil War. An end to this disunity through repression or conciliation launched Britain as a great power. A return to instability in relations between the nations living in the British Isles will have the opposite effect.

Britain is already weaker as a state than it was two years ago because its government is wholly preoccupied with Brexit and the prospect of Scottish secession from the UK. All other pressing problems facing the country must wait, possibly for decades, until these issues are dealt with. The break-up of Britain is not something that may or may not happen as the result of a second referendum, but is already upon us. The confrontation between English and Scottish nationalism is not going to moderate or evaporate. The one certainty is that “The Scottish Question” and Brexit have come together to destabilise Britain for years to come.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Brexit, Britain 
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  1. A discussion of Brexit without any reference to the EU. Sad.

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    • Replies: @Miro23

    A discussion of Brexit without any reference to the EU. Sad.
     
    It would be sad if Cockburn thought that the EU was not an issue influencing the vote, but that's not the case, and he didn't mention mass immigration either - so it's deception.

    He's aware of why the UK public voted for Brexit, but in best CCP (Counter-Cultural Progressive) style, he's trying to stir up divisive trouble within the U.K.

    The best guide to the methodology is Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radical - A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals" https://www.amazon.com/Rules-Radicals-Practical-Primer-Realistic/dp/0679721134/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489857554&sr=8-1&keywords=rules+for+radicals%2C+alinsky
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  2. Randal says:

    An exercise in blaming the victim on Cockburn’s part, even though on some level he clearly grasps the real culpable parties: “If it has fallen into the hands of the xenophobic right in England and the US in recent years, that is the fault of those who saw it as illegitimate, obsolete and irrelevant in a globalising world.

    Of course, the existence of Britain as a sovereign state (and therefore the Union) is incompatible in the long run with either the EU’s inevitable end state as a United States of Europe or the continuance of mass immigration at the levels of the late C20th and early C21st (and especially after Blair opened the floodgates in 1997 in order to “rub the right’s noses in diversity”, and Cameron continued the open door policy).

    So, far from Brexit “damaging the union for good”, it is grasping the only remaining possible route to long term survival of the Union. People like Cockburn spared no effort during the C20th to demonise and suppress British nationalism, which was the only other route than English nationalism to national survival.

    If the only way to save our existence as a free, sovereign nation is as an English state (because the likes of Cockburn have successfully removed all the alternatives), then so be it. Scottish influence has been far from universally positive anyway, and the Scots largely replaced loyalty to Britain with Scottish nationalism and loyalty to the EU long ago.

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  3. The Welsh also voted for Brexit and only Glasgow voted for independence in the Scottish independence referendum.

    Certainly, Glasgow is a big city, but I suspect the rest of the Scots will resent being dragged into total independence – free of the EU and UK – by a bunch Rab C Nesbittts and Braveheart fantasists.

    Unfortunately there exists minorities in our Celtic neighbours, and also amongst our leftwing betters who imagine the awakened English will be somewhat like WWI British propaganda depictions of the savage Hun running amok bayoneting babies and raping nuns – given half the chance.

    But the reality is we are more like the Hobbits in the Shire. We are not interested in the tragedy of Gondor or whats going on in Mordor.

    In George Orwell’s Lion and The Unicorn there are numerous uses of the words ‘gentle’ and ‘gentleness’ to describe the English. Certainly we’ve changed, but we are not really interest in invading the world.

    Most of our borders are sea, and the Welsh and the Scots were never a threat and only an occasional pain in the a*se if you lived near them. Its quite possible American isolationism has much of its roots in the English character.

    When were part of the British Empire, it was the Scots who disproportionately took advantage of its opportunities.

    This article sounds like Guardianista wailing.

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  4. will be much less capable of charting an independent course in the world, whatever its pretensions “to be taking back control”

    The first step is to take back control (though I prefer ‘sovereignty’) and roll back the neoliberal globalist project.

    Hopefully, the task of “charting an independent course in the world” will become clear when once we discover what the new world looks like…

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  5. Meanwhile, Carwyn Jones, the Welsh First Minister, has been visiting Norway and discussing how the EEA works (Wales voted Brexit much more narrowly than the English provinces). If Scotland goes, Labour’s prospects in a rump E&W are dismal. The Welsh Labour Party will quickly convert to independence (I listen to them thinking aloud about it now).

    Meanwhile, here’s to St Patrick, the world’s most famous Welshman.

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  6. Cockburn exposes his ignorance like the old hack he is. As a Scot living in Scotland, I can correct his assertions. The SNP won their first seat in Parliament as long ago as February 1945. Yes, during the Second World War – when Unionist assured us that the British People were never more united. They weren’t.
    In a First Past The Post Political System, the other parties could ignore the SNP and take all the seats. But this leads to the Grievance Factor, and it did. Then the Unionist parties started antagonising their voter base – one issue at a time. First, Ted Heath’s Conservative Govt took Britain in to the EEC without a referendum. This was very unpopular with Conservative voters north of Edinburgh. They defected to the SNP.
    I could give you a 4,000 word essay on this, but I won’t ( not unless Mr Unz pays me ! )
    The salient points are these: the SNP coalesced in the 1930s. Unionist Parties have been in charge at Westminster since then. It has been their fault that the present situation has arisen

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    • Replies: @Anonymous Nephew
    Scots (and Ulstermen) were at the heart of the Imperial adventure as administrators, soldiers, engineers. But Britain ain't a global power no more ...

    As Glubb Pasha so wisely notes in The Fate Of Empires


    While the empire is enjoying its High Noon of prosperity, all these people are proud and glad to be imperial citizens. But when decline sets in, it is extraordinary how the memory of ancient wars, perhaps centuries before, is suddenly revived, and local or provincial movements appear demanding secession or independence.
     
    http://people.uncw.edu/kozloffm/glubb.pdf

    Scotland's unofficial anthem, 'Flower of Scotland', is a fairly recent production, which celebrates those who defeated Edward II at Bannockburn some 700-odd years ago.


    Svigor - Cockburn's basically saying "nationalism for the Scots, Irish and Welsh, but not for the English".

    , @unseated
    It is not only with respect to Scotland that Cockburn fails to understand , or at least articulate, the divides within the respective "countries". To see the England of the post-industrial North and Midlands (once, through wool, cotton, steel, engineering, and coal, the engine of English prosperity) that now has massive unemployment and discontent as the same England as the relatively affluent South East is at best facile. Largely disenfranchised under the regular election process by the adoption of neoliberal policies by both major parties (at least until recently) and unable to afford to move South because of the relative cost of accommodation, these are the people in England who voted for Brexit. Many there, were it not for the waving of the flag, would be more at home with the policies of the SNP than with those of their "representatives" in Westminster. They would be politically closer to the people of South Wales than to their Southern English fellow countrymen. Anyone who lumps these people together as "the English", "the Scots" or "the Welsh" is missing the point of Brexit. As Samuel Johnson said, "patriotism is the refuge of the scoundrel."
  7. Sean says:

    still) Thanks to the frackers the seriously large oil revenues no longer exist. What was and 5s destabilizing was EU immigrants flooding into every corner of the UK , including Scotland. And the SNP are relentlessly pro immigrant.

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  8. martin2 says:

    England has been enriched by diversity and politics in England is divided along racial or ethnic lines, with the Labour Party being the party for non-whites (thus their support for Pakistani rapists of white girls) and the Tories and UKIP vying to be the white party.
    Scottish politicians in Westminster have made sure that Scotland has remained white – Gordon Brown lives in an all white village in Scotland so that his own children attend an all white school and can avoid the diversity he inflicted on English children – and as a consequence politics in Scotland is still centred around ideologies and manifestos, and not race. Therefore Scotland needs to become independent because the two polities are not compatible.

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  9. Jason Liu says:

    Ireland and Scotland are politically left precisely because they are part of the union, and therefore get to wield leftist rhetoric in attacking England, their historical oppressor, without suffering any of the downsides.

    If Ireland and Scotland were to secede, their newfound nationalism will be forced into conflict with their traditional anti-English leftism. It wouldn’t be good for the UK, but it would be a boon to the ideological right in those countries.

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    • Agree: Fredrik
    • Replies: @Joe Walker
    Most of Ireland left the UK decades ago.
    , @Alden
    I can't see how the tiny 6 counties of British occupied N. Ireland could ever stand alone. It would have either to join with the Irish Republic or stay with Britain. Why is this third generation communist anti White racist posted anyway? He hates Britain and the English, Scots and Irish people.
  10. Jason Liu says:

    Is Brexit really English nationalism, though? They might have that intention, but I don’t see how Brexit would make England more English. They would need mass deportations to do that, and that just isn’t part of the plan.

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    • Replies: @Fredrik
    They are thinking out loud of how to get the excuse to evict Europeans from the country. Note that that EU is quiet on what to do with the British in EU because nobody who is sane would suggest throwing them out. Then the English start to wonder out loud why there are no assurances from EU and "don't forget there are millions of you over here".

    I was at Heathrow airport today. The Border Force was majority non-white(and customer facing jobs almost exclusively non-white) which is typical of today's England. You rarely hear any Brexiter say anything bad about that. The talk about Pakistani rape-gangs etc is by Americans on sites such as this one, not by the English.

    That's why I'm not sure Cockburn is right. The English nationalism isn't based on genes at least.
    , @Joe Walker
    Maybe not now but plans can always change.
  11. 5371 says:

    If Scotland was independent, Scots serving the British empire would no longer create trouble in other empires as a psychological displacement mechanism, as they have often done, for example, in Russia.

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    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    The Scots in Russia have routinely served the established order from 1612 onwards. How is that making trouble.
  12. Working Class already pointed out the bizarre feature of an article on Brexit without any reference whatever to the EU, and particularly to the structure of governance.

    The UK’s government is very easy to understand: two houses of parliament, a prime minister and cabinet – whereas the EU is an obtuse, confusing structure that has no precedent in ten thousand years of human governance. You need to make an argument about how the structure of governance with the EU is superior somehow for the citizens of Britain. Hard to do when you don’t even mention the EU. Flower power, holding hands and singing “we are the world” isn’t going to cut it.

    The one thing people did understand is that decisions were being made that affected their livelihoods, and for which they had no remedy other than leaving the Union.

    The article seems to try pointing out some monumental hypocrisy: that leaving the EU is hypocritical because there are people who would like to separate from Britain. So?

    But the real juicy argument is that the people who just took control of their destiny by removing themselves from the EU have in fact done the opposite! lol. Next time I see a really hot co-ed I am going to tell her that allowing me to take her clothes off demonstrates what kind of power she has over me. If she says no – why that just proves how she’s completely lost control over her destiny.

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  13. This just comes over as the usual anti-English pro-EU screed.

    The reality is that going by their actual votes the Scots are a lot more pro-UK than pro-EU.
    The Welsh like the English are pro-UK and pro-EU.
    The Northern Irish are bimodal, the Catholics are pro-EU and anti-UK while the Protestants are pro-UK and anti-EU, but there is a substantial Protestant pro-EU minority and very few anti-EU Catholics so they end up pro-UK pro-EU overall.

    Northern Ireland & Scotland would prefer to stay in the EU, but there is little sign they would vote to leave the UK in order to be able to rejoin the EU. If anything anti-UK feeling in Scotland & Northern Ireland seems to be somewhat on the wane.

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    • Replies: @Maj. Kong
    A part of me wonders what will happen when Sinn Fein realizes that it will almost never hold power in the 26, but will probably keep sharing power in the 6. They did use to be an anti-EU and social conservative party, after all.

    Given the drift of the ROI towards CultMarx, I dream about a "re-Unionism" developing on the right-wing.
  14. Renoman says:

    Sometimes it is necessary to make financial sacrifices to keep ones Country from turning into a third World shit hole.

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  15. Fredrik says:
    @Jason Liu
    Is Brexit really English nationalism, though? They might have that intention, but I don't see how Brexit would make England more English. They would need mass deportations to do that, and that just isn't part of the plan.

    They are thinking out loud of how to get the excuse to evict Europeans from the country. Note that that EU is quiet on what to do with the British in EU because nobody who is sane would suggest throwing them out. Then the English start to wonder out loud why there are no assurances from EU and “don’t forget there are millions of you over here”.

    I was at Heathrow airport today. The Border Force was majority non-white(and customer facing jobs almost exclusively non-white) which is typical of today’s England. You rarely hear any Brexiter say anything bad about that. The talk about Pakistani rape-gangs etc is by Americans on sites such as this one, not by the English.

    That’s why I’m not sure Cockburn is right. The English nationalism isn’t based on genes at least.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    "The talk about Pakistani rape-gangs etc is by Americans on sites such as this one, not by the English." See also the non existent mass sexual assaults and rapes in Cologne at New Year. All made up by the press. (Rotherham wasn't but it is blown up out of proportion).
  16. Miro23 says:
    @WorkingClass
    A discussion of Brexit without any reference to the EU. Sad.

    A discussion of Brexit without any reference to the EU. Sad.

    It would be sad if Cockburn thought that the EU was not an issue influencing the vote, but that’s not the case, and he didn’t mention mass immigration either – so it’s deception.

    He’s aware of why the UK public voted for Brexit, but in best CCP (Counter-Cultural Progressive) style, he’s trying to stir up divisive trouble within the U.K.

    The best guide to the methodology is Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radical – A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals” https://www.amazon.com/Rules-Radicals-Practical-Primer-Realistic/dp/0679721134/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489857554&sr=8-1&keywords=rules+for+radicals%2C+alinsky

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  17. Svigor says:

    Brexit is English nationalism made flesh, but the English underrate its destructive potential as a form of communal identity. Concepts like “nationalism” and “self-determination” have traditionally been seen as something that happens to foreigners. An English failing today is an inability to recognise the egocentricity implicit in such nationalism and the extent to which it alienates and invites confrontation with other nations in the British Isles and beyond.

    More horseshit from Cockburn. “Acting like the rest of the world will uniquely doom England.” Like we haven’t all grown up hearing this scheisse from leftist racists and murderous oligarchs.

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  18. @Verymuchalive
    Cockburn exposes his ignorance like the old hack he is. As a Scot living in Scotland, I can correct his assertions. The SNP won their first seat in Parliament as long ago as February 1945. Yes, during the Second World War - when Unionist assured us that the British People were never more united. They weren't.
    In a First Past The Post Political System, the other parties could ignore the SNP and take all the seats. But this leads to the Grievance Factor, and it did. Then the Unionist parties started antagonising their voter base - one issue at a time. First, Ted Heath's Conservative Govt took Britain in to the EEC without a referendum. This was very unpopular with Conservative voters north of Edinburgh. They defected to the SNP.
    I could give you a 4,000 word essay on this, but I won't ( not unless Mr Unz pays me ! )
    The salient points are these: the SNP coalesced in the 1930s. Unionist Parties have been in charge at Westminster since then. It has been their fault that the present situation has arisen

    Scots (and Ulstermen) were at the heart of the Imperial adventure as administrators, soldiers, engineers. But Britain ain’t a global power no more …

    As Glubb Pasha so wisely notes in The Fate Of Empires

    While the empire is enjoying its High Noon of prosperity, all these people are proud and glad to be imperial citizens. But when decline sets in, it is extraordinary how the memory of ancient wars, perhaps centuries before, is suddenly revived, and local or provincial movements appear demanding secession or independence.

    http://people.uncw.edu/kozloffm/glubb.pdf

    Scotland’s unofficial anthem, ‘Flower of Scotland’, is a fairly recent production, which celebrates those who defeated Edward II at Bannockburn some 700-odd years ago.

    Svigor – Cockburn’s basically saying “nationalism for the Scots, Irish and Welsh, but not for the English”.

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    • Replies: @Maj. Kong

    Cockburn’s basically saying “nationalism for the Scots, Irish and Welsh, but not for the English”.
     
    That's what Labour and the SNP(!) want. England isn't allowed a devolved parliament for fear of a near-permanent right-wing majority. Instead, they got the promise of "Regions".

    The SNP is nothing more than the sEUp.

  19. Zoodles says:

    It would be more accurate to say that mass immigration has unleashed the energies that damaged the Union. Exactly as the right has been saying since Operation Vortigern began

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  20. Maj. Kong says:
    @Simon in London
    This just comes over as the usual anti-English pro-EU screed.

    The reality is that going by their actual votes the Scots are a lot more pro-UK than pro-EU.
    The Welsh like the English are pro-UK and pro-EU.
    The Northern Irish are bimodal, the Catholics are pro-EU and anti-UK while the Protestants are pro-UK and anti-EU, but there is a substantial Protestant pro-EU minority and very few anti-EU Catholics so they end up pro-UK pro-EU overall.

    Northern Ireland & Scotland would prefer to stay in the EU, but there is little sign they would vote to leave the UK in order to be able to rejoin the EU. If anything anti-UK feeling in Scotland & Northern Ireland seems to be somewhat on the wane.

    A part of me wonders what will happen when Sinn Fein realizes that it will almost never hold power in the 26, but will probably keep sharing power in the 6. They did use to be an anti-EU and social conservative party, after all.

    Given the drift of the ROI towards CultMarx, I dream about a “re-Unionism” developing on the right-wing.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Joe Walker
    Keep dreaming. Here in the real world, British unionism will continue to decline.
  21. Maj. Kong says:
    @Anonymous Nephew
    Scots (and Ulstermen) were at the heart of the Imperial adventure as administrators, soldiers, engineers. But Britain ain't a global power no more ...

    As Glubb Pasha so wisely notes in The Fate Of Empires


    While the empire is enjoying its High Noon of prosperity, all these people are proud and glad to be imperial citizens. But when decline sets in, it is extraordinary how the memory of ancient wars, perhaps centuries before, is suddenly revived, and local or provincial movements appear demanding secession or independence.
     
    http://people.uncw.edu/kozloffm/glubb.pdf

    Scotland's unofficial anthem, 'Flower of Scotland', is a fairly recent production, which celebrates those who defeated Edward II at Bannockburn some 700-odd years ago.


    Svigor - Cockburn's basically saying "nationalism for the Scots, Irish and Welsh, but not for the English".

    Cockburn’s basically saying “nationalism for the Scots, Irish and Welsh, but not for the English”.

    That’s what Labour and the SNP(!) want. England isn’t allowed a devolved parliament for fear of a near-permanent right-wing majority. Instead, they got the promise of “Regions”.

    The SNP is nothing more than the sEUp.

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  22. “If Nicola Sturgeon gets her way, and Scotland holds a second referendum on independence before the UK leaves the EU, Theresa May will be forced to do the following.

    On the one hand, she will have to warn voters that to walk out on a longstanding union with their country’s most important trading partners would be an act of economic self-harm. In fact, it would be a disaster. Anyone who tells them otherwise, the Prime Minister must argue, is not living in the real world.

    On the other hand, she will simultaneously have to reassure voters that to walk out on a longstanding union with their country’s most important trading partners will not be an act of economic self-harm. In fact, it will be a success. Anyone who tells them otherwise, the Prime Minister must argue, is engaged in baseless scaremongering.”

    – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph, 13th March 2017

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  23. Anyone who has spent any time in the constituent countries of “The Union” aside from England knows there is little love lost for the English in the rest of the Union. It is at best a marriage of convenience for all involved, and if you ask the less than willing partners of England, you will hear a tale that sounds more like battered spouse syndrome.

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    • Replies: @Expletive Deleted

    sounds more like battered spouse syndrome.
     
    "Fine! Go ahead! Leave, you'll be nothing without me. I pay for .. everything. Don't think anyone else will even look at you, you decrepit old penniless scumbag! And when you come crawling back, there'll be a price to pay ..."
    I think you nailed it, Alarmist.
  24. unseated says:
    @Verymuchalive
    Cockburn exposes his ignorance like the old hack he is. As a Scot living in Scotland, I can correct his assertions. The SNP won their first seat in Parliament as long ago as February 1945. Yes, during the Second World War - when Unionist assured us that the British People were never more united. They weren't.
    In a First Past The Post Political System, the other parties could ignore the SNP and take all the seats. But this leads to the Grievance Factor, and it did. Then the Unionist parties started antagonising their voter base - one issue at a time. First, Ted Heath's Conservative Govt took Britain in to the EEC without a referendum. This was very unpopular with Conservative voters north of Edinburgh. They defected to the SNP.
    I could give you a 4,000 word essay on this, but I won't ( not unless Mr Unz pays me ! )
    The salient points are these: the SNP coalesced in the 1930s. Unionist Parties have been in charge at Westminster since then. It has been their fault that the present situation has arisen

    It is not only with respect to Scotland that Cockburn fails to understand , or at least articulate, the divides within the respective “countries”. To see the England of the post-industrial North and Midlands (once, through wool, cotton, steel, engineering, and coal, the engine of English prosperity) that now has massive unemployment and discontent as the same England as the relatively affluent South East is at best facile. Largely disenfranchised under the regular election process by the adoption of neoliberal policies by both major parties (at least until recently) and unable to afford to move South because of the relative cost of accommodation, these are the people in England who voted for Brexit. Many there, were it not for the waving of the flag, would be more at home with the policies of the SNP than with those of their “representatives” in Westminster. They would be politically closer to the people of South Wales than to their Southern English fellow countrymen. Anyone who lumps these people together as “the English”, “the Scots” or “the Welsh” is missing the point of Brexit. As Samuel Johnson said, “patriotism is the refuge of the scoundrel.”

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  25. .. see the England of the post-industrial North and Midlands .. that now has massive unemployment and discontent as the same England as the relatively affluent South East is at best facile.

    As a Warsaw-based poster on another forum remarked, the urbanised parts of the North now resemble Eastern Europe even more than … Eastern Europe.

    Those people have been basically jettisoned, made to walk the plank since, I dunno, Sheik Yamani and the oil shock, or the Wilson/Callaghan administrations grovelling to the IMF. Generations.

    I suppose the plan was they’d just leave. Or drown, in one of the periodic floods. There’s always a crying need for more golf-courses and grousemoors for the City set, and the EU-funded landowners. Trouble is it’s still covered in filthy peasants, for now.

    tl;dr would be better off throwing in with the Jocks. At least the sweaties don’t have any (current) ambitions to supplant/deport/effectively genocide them, though eternal mass unemployment, infrastructure degradation, and taxation.
    [Northern] unemployment is a price worth paying to curb [Southern] inflation, as Norman Lamont, Thatcher’s Chancellor, remarked.

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    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    It was Eddie George Governor of the Bank of England when considering an interest rate rise. Maybe Lamont said it too.
  26. @The Alarmist
    Anyone who has spent any time in the constituent countries of "The Union" aside from England knows there is little love lost for the English in the rest of the Union. It is at best a marriage of convenience for all involved, and if you ask the less than willing partners of England, you will hear a tale that sounds more like battered spouse syndrome.

    sounds more like battered spouse syndrome.

    “Fine! Go ahead! Leave, you’ll be nothing without me. I pay for .. everything. Don’t think anyone else will even look at you, you decrepit old penniless scumbag! And when you come crawling back, there’ll be a price to pay …”
    I think you nailed it, Alarmist.

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  27. Orwell was an ex-colonial policeman and in talking about the alleged “gentleness” of the English, I think he was inclined to cut them a little too much slack. He could in his own way be quite the English nationalist.

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  28. JohnDough says:

    The immigrants and refugees are invading hordes brought in to undermine our societies by the rich warmongering elite. All they care about are profits and becoming richer. They are out of touch in their own luxury spa echo chambers. They are being used as private armies to lower wages, disrupt social services to tax payers, cause sedition and ruin schools.

    In the US it’s illegal to hire illegals but essentially against the law to enforce it. Even Trump, a hotel and golf club owner with lots of land to garden and lots of toilets to clean won’t enforce employment checks and fines to employers. The wall is just showy propaganda. No jobs would stop illegal immigration right away.

    But the way these immigrants are being exploited under the guise of humanitarianism is truly evil. What about stopping the killings and wars for Israel and oil that create them where the ploy is bringing them freedom and democracy. Simply despicable.

    The EU is a money scam with no logic beyond commerce. Open borders are not a right. It’s time for people to take matters into their own hands against the financial war profiteering exploiters.

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  29. @JohnDough
    The immigrants and refugees are invading hordes brought in to undermine our societies by the rich warmongering elite. All they care about are profits and becoming richer. They are out of touch in their own luxury spa echo chambers. They are being used as private armies to lower wages, disrupt social services to tax payers, cause sedition and ruin schools.

    In the US it's illegal to hire illegals but essentially against the law to enforce it. Even Trump, a hotel and golf club owner with lots of land to garden and lots of toilets to clean won't enforce employment checks and fines to employers. The wall is just showy propaganda. No jobs would stop illegal immigration right away.

    But the way these immigrants are being exploited under the guise of humanitarianism is truly evil. What about stopping the killings and wars for Israel and oil that create them where the ploy is bringing them freedom and democracy. Simply despicable.

    The EU is a money scam with no logic beyond commerce. Open borders are not a right. It's time for people to take matters into their own hands against the financial war profiteering exploiters.

    The EU doesn’t have open borders. Straw man.

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  30. @5371
    If Scotland was independent, Scots serving the British empire would no longer create trouble in other empires as a psychological displacement mechanism, as they have often done, for example, in Russia.

    The Scots in Russia have routinely served the established order from 1612 onwards. How is that making trouble.

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    • Replies: @5371
    Can't you even read one sentence carefully? I plainly spoke of Scots working for HMG.
  31. @Fredrik
    They are thinking out loud of how to get the excuse to evict Europeans from the country. Note that that EU is quiet on what to do with the British in EU because nobody who is sane would suggest throwing them out. Then the English start to wonder out loud why there are no assurances from EU and "don't forget there are millions of you over here".

    I was at Heathrow airport today. The Border Force was majority non-white(and customer facing jobs almost exclusively non-white) which is typical of today's England. You rarely hear any Brexiter say anything bad about that. The talk about Pakistani rape-gangs etc is by Americans on sites such as this one, not by the English.

    That's why I'm not sure Cockburn is right. The English nationalism isn't based on genes at least.

    “The talk about Pakistani rape-gangs etc is by Americans on sites such as this one, not by the English.” See also the non existent mass sexual assaults and rapes in Cologne at New Year. All made up by the press. (Rotherham wasn’t but it is blown up out of proportion).

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    • Replies: @Fredrik
    Who said it was made up by the press? I certainly didn't but you did.

    Rotherham is a problem for White Nationalist Americans, not for White English.

    It should tell you that the UKIP and the whole Brexiter movement has nothing to do with white people or their rights to their own country.
    , @German_reader
    "See also the non existent mass sexual assaults and rapes in Cologne at New Year. "

    lol, what are you talking about? Are you one of those liberal cretins who thinks the mass assaults of 2015/16 have somehow been disproven? Not true at all, they happened, there have been hundreds (by some reports more than 1000) of reports to police for crimes on New Year's eve 2015/16, in more than 400 cases for sexual assault, up to women having their underwear torn off and being digitally raped.
    Here, German mainstream media reporting on it:
    https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article152018368/1054-Strafanzeigen-nach-Uebergriffen-von-Koeln.html
    Some minor allegations (which never had gotten much publicity anyway) about assaults in Frankfurt on New Year's eve 2016/17 were quickly proven to be unfounded...but that's in a different city, in a different year! That some liberals in the US/UK have jumped on this as evidence that nothing at all happened in Cologne in 2015/16 just shows how terminally stupid you are. You seem to lack even basic reading comprehension.

  32. @Zoodles
    It would be more accurate to say that mass immigration has unleashed the energies that damaged the Union. Exactly as the right has been saying since Operation Vortigern began

    Gildas was right and Right.

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  33. @Expletive Deleted

    .. see the England of the post-industrial North and Midlands .. that now has massive unemployment and discontent as the same England as the relatively affluent South East is at best facile.
     
    As a Warsaw-based poster on another forum remarked, the urbanised parts of the North now resemble Eastern Europe even more than ... Eastern Europe.

    Those people have been basically jettisoned, made to walk the plank since, I dunno, Sheik Yamani and the oil shock, or the Wilson/Callaghan administrations grovelling to the IMF. Generations.

    I suppose the plan was they'd just leave. Or drown, in one of the periodic floods. There's always a crying need for more golf-courses and grousemoors for the City set, and the EU-funded landowners. Trouble is it's still covered in filthy peasants, for now.

    tl;dr would be better off throwing in with the Jocks. At least the sweaties don't have any (current) ambitions to supplant/deport/effectively genocide them, though eternal mass unemployment, infrastructure degradation, and taxation.
    [Northern] unemployment is a price worth paying to curb [Southern] inflation, as Norman Lamont, Thatcher's Chancellor, remarked.

    It was Eddie George Governor of the Bank of England when considering an interest rate rise. Maybe Lamont said it too.

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  34. 5371 says:
    @Philip Owen
    The Scots in Russia have routinely served the established order from 1612 onwards. How is that making trouble.

    Can’t you even read one sentence carefully? I plainly spoke of Scots working for HMG.

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    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    And I pointed out that your argument was a particularly exaggerated case of one sided cherry picking in the Russian case. Inability to pick up context is rather American (which you are not but you are heading that way).
  35. Fredrik says:
    @Philip Owen
    "The talk about Pakistani rape-gangs etc is by Americans on sites such as this one, not by the English." See also the non existent mass sexual assaults and rapes in Cologne at New Year. All made up by the press. (Rotherham wasn't but it is blown up out of proportion).

    Who said it was made up by the press? I certainly didn’t but you did.

    Rotherham is a problem for White Nationalist Americans, not for White English.

    It should tell you that the UKIP and the whole Brexiter movement has nothing to do with white people or their rights to their own country.

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    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    If you need to use the term White to discuss UKIP then it's not the case, true. It's the American far right attempting to co-opt them. More than a few Indians and Pakistanis voted UKIP/Leave to stop the competition from Eastern Europe. And UKIP are cool with that.
  36. @Fredrik
    Who said it was made up by the press? I certainly didn't but you did.

    Rotherham is a problem for White Nationalist Americans, not for White English.

    It should tell you that the UKIP and the whole Brexiter movement has nothing to do with white people or their rights to their own country.

    If you need to use the term White to discuss UKIP then it’s not the case, true. It’s the American far right attempting to co-opt them. More than a few Indians and Pakistanis voted UKIP/Leave to stop the competition from Eastern Europe. And UKIP are cool with that.

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  37. @5371
    Can't you even read one sentence carefully? I plainly spoke of Scots working for HMG.

    And I pointed out that your argument was a particularly exaggerated case of one sided cherry picking in the Russian case. Inability to pick up context is rather American (which you are not but you are heading that way).

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  38. Joe Walker says: • Website
    @Jason Liu
    Ireland and Scotland are politically left precisely because they are part of the union, and therefore get to wield leftist rhetoric in attacking England, their historical oppressor, without suffering any of the downsides.

    If Ireland and Scotland were to secede, their newfound nationalism will be forced into conflict with their traditional anti-English leftism. It wouldn't be good for the UK, but it would be a boon to the ideological right in those countries.

    Most of Ireland left the UK decades ago.

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  39. Joe Walker says: • Website
    @Jason Liu
    Is Brexit really English nationalism, though? They might have that intention, but I don't see how Brexit would make England more English. They would need mass deportations to do that, and that just isn't part of the plan.

    Maybe not now but plans can always change.

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  40. Joe Walker says: • Website
    @Maj. Kong
    A part of me wonders what will happen when Sinn Fein realizes that it will almost never hold power in the 26, but will probably keep sharing power in the 6. They did use to be an anti-EU and social conservative party, after all.

    Given the drift of the ROI towards CultMarx, I dream about a "re-Unionism" developing on the right-wing.

    Keep dreaming. Here in the real world, British unionism will continue to decline.

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  41. Alden says:
    @Jason Liu
    Ireland and Scotland are politically left precisely because they are part of the union, and therefore get to wield leftist rhetoric in attacking England, their historical oppressor, without suffering any of the downsides.

    If Ireland and Scotland were to secede, their newfound nationalism will be forced into conflict with their traditional anti-English leftism. It wouldn't be good for the UK, but it would be a boon to the ideological right in those countries.

    I can’t see how the tiny 6 counties of British occupied N. Ireland could ever stand alone. It would have either to join with the Irish Republic or stay with Britain. Why is this third generation communist anti White racist posted anyway? He hates Britain and the English, Scots and Irish people.

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  42. @Philip Owen
    "The talk about Pakistani rape-gangs etc is by Americans on sites such as this one, not by the English." See also the non existent mass sexual assaults and rapes in Cologne at New Year. All made up by the press. (Rotherham wasn't but it is blown up out of proportion).

    “See also the non existent mass sexual assaults and rapes in Cologne at New Year. ”

    lol, what are you talking about? Are you one of those liberal cretins who thinks the mass assaults of 2015/16 have somehow been disproven? Not true at all, they happened, there have been hundreds (by some reports more than 1000) of reports to police for crimes on New Year’s eve 2015/16, in more than 400 cases for sexual assault, up to women having their underwear torn off and being digitally raped.
    Here, German mainstream media reporting on it:

    https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article152018368/1054-Strafanzeigen-nach-Uebergriffen-von-Koeln.html

    Some minor allegations (which never had gotten much publicity anyway) about assaults in Frankfurt on New Year’s eve 2016/17 were quickly proven to be unfounded…but that’s in a different city, in a different year! That some liberals in the US/UK have jumped on this as evidence that nothing at all happened in Cologne in 2015/16 just shows how terminally stupid you are. You seem to lack even basic reading comprehension.

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  43. There isn’t going to be a second referendum for Scotland.
    .
    The first one lost 45/55%, the Scots may not like England – but they like the EU less. The prospect of leaving the UK and then going to the back of the queue to re-enter the EU is NOT appealing, particularly since all the nonsense about economic collapse after BREXIT has not come to pass.
    .
    The only one who wants a second referendum is Nicola Sturgeon – who wants it because she knows she is going to be chucked out otherwise.
    .
    “English politicians have frequently had a tin ear when it comes to other people’s nationalism” – exactly right, and this “tin ear” is currently being exhibited by the elites ignoring the complaints of the British people that they don’t want any more muslims in the country.
    .
    Once Brexit is over the first British politician who does a full “Geert Wilders” and promises to chuck the muslims out, will stay in power for twenty years or more.

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  44. In the case of the UK, they mostly arrived before we joined the EU. The Commonwealth had free movement to and from the UK until 1968. At the time, the Scandinavians were rather critical of British racism in our efforts to reduce immigration. In France their original entry was even before WW2. Many came from Algeria in the 1950′s. Germany has been importing Turks since the mid 1950′s. These people haven’t materialised overnight.

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