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Home Rule for England?

The links lead to two articles in advocacy of an English parliament. In the wake of devolution to varying degrees for the other constituent countries of the UK, such calls were inevitable. But are they driven more by rose-tinted romanticism than practicality? Perhaps we ought to test these notions with a spot of devil’s advocacy and scepticism. It should be noted that the dictum “power devolved is power retained” has already proved to be the case, at least in Scotland. The first two actions of the Scottish home government involved losing the country several thousand square miles of its territorial waters, and the politicians awarding themselves a hefty pay-rise (just carrying on in the spirit of their predecessors, the cynical might say). If Scotland were to depart the Union altogether it could, contradictory though it may seem, be in disgust at the antics of those infesting the Scottish parliament, and in particular Millbank’s squad of wire-guided zombies — not that this might really solve anything, as the Scottish people would like as not still be encumbered with the same rotten and sanctimonious (albeit more localised) Establishment after secession.

One potential pitfall within such home rule sentiments is that many well-intentioned people seem to think of England as a monolith. That is not the case; the north-east for example is every bit as resentful as many Scots of the so-called “home-counties” affluent according themselves preferential treatment; indeed, some have even observed that in the event of an English parliament being set up, Northumberland might just as well look to its ancient historical connections with the south of Scotland and jump accordingly.

One article takes the “British” anthem being booed to be a recent manifestation of a feeling of non-Britishness on the part of the Scots. Wrong. There has always been a degree of resentment at a so-called UK national anthem that calls for the crushing of “rebellious Scots”, and as for the rest of it the English should complain as well, for it is no more than a brown-nosed grovel to the monarch and Establishment, with no place in its verses for ordinary people. Not that the “Jerusalem” dirge that many suggest for England is any improvement — how could one fail to laugh, as they warble of their desire to turn England’s green and pleasant land into a middle-eastern city rife with ethnic antagonisms?

Which rather epitomises a contradiction within one article’s endorsement of an English parliament. There seems to be approval of the UK separating into its component parts, yet a reticence to allow for an England itself dismantled into regions; but then perhaps that is uncomfortably akin to the EU’s administrative ambitions. There is a call to reassert (a presumably monolithic) “English” identity — but what exactly is that? The author admits it is hard to define. Is it John Major’s famous vision of elderly ladies wobbling their bicycles across the village cricket-pitch, in pursuit of a warm beer?

Historical “fairness” and “stability” is cited of a land once notorious for its dark satanic mills; a system that would transport, brand or hang a starving peasant for such dreadful insubordination as the eating of a wild rabbit; and a class system not all that dissimilar to the much criticised caste system in India. Where does one draw the English identity-line anyway — might it for instance be now, or 1940, or 1066, or 55BC? If not based on now, then would it be exclusivist, and if so of whom? Saxons go home, England for the Celts! As for “an absence of self-righteous zeal” one can only wonder if it refers to the same hypocricy-riddled, smugly supremacist Establishment and self-righteous middle classes that prior to the rise of the USA enjoyed a reputation for aggression and ruthless exploitation against all others (not to mention the bulk of its own population) unparalleled since the days of imperial Rome.

To conclude, we note the assertion, quite widely held amongst English middle-class southerners, that “only an English Parliament is likely to defend these values…”
Errr… yes, it might well do.




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