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By Jason Michael
WE ARE TERRIBLY CAREFUL in Scotland not to offend English people when we talk about Scottish independence. Coming across as anti-English or Anglophobic has come to be seen as the deadliest sin in every area of our national constitutional discussion, and this has grown out of a political environment in which the British media and our unionist opponents in Scotland have thrown the accusation of prejudice and anti-Englishness at us at every turn. During the 2014 independence referendum campaign the BBC and much of the rest of the British media was at pains to frame the discussion in Scotland as coming simply from Scottish people’s dislike for England and the people of England – as an ancient hatred, when in fact the conversation about independence in Scotland has nothing whatsoever to do with England. This is Scottish people talking about the future of Scotland, and we can do this without reference to any other country.
The care we have taken to keep England and the English people out of this discussion has not served us well, and neither has it served England well. This self-imposed limitation on our discussion has compelled us to remain silent on a number of pertinent issues which affect both the cause for independence in Scotland and England’s better understanding of itself and of what is actually happening over its northern border. Until this past week I have been content to endure this pressure to self-censor. Until recently, the question of England – as it relates to our discussion in Scotland – could wait. It was more important to win Scots to the cause than it was to run the risk of upsetting people and potential allies south of our border. But today, what has happened in England – what has been brewing and happening for quite some time – has brought me to the point where I feel morally compelled to bring England into this discussion and say exactly what needs to be said.
At his trial in Dublin in 1798, following the defeat of the rebellion of the United Irishmen, while dressed in the uniform of a French officer, Theobald Wolfe Tone, the Irish Protestant lawyer who led the rebellion, said this of Great Britain:
From my earliest youth I have regarded the connection between Great Britain and Ireland as the curse of the Irish nation, and felt convinced that, whilst it lasted, this country could never be free nor happy.
Britain’s domination of Ireland was truly the curse of the Irish nation; leading to the utter destruction of its economy, the horrors of famine, and ultimately to the decades of bloodshed we know as the Troubles. At the end of the eighteenth century, the consequences of this imperial domination were as clear to Wolfe Tone as they were to the leaders of the American and the French revolutions and as they are to us today in the early twenty-first century. In 1916, when the Irish people rose up to expel Britain from Ireland, the problem was not that the Irish people were violent. The world over, the Irish are known as a measured and peace-loving people – no doubt a characteristic which has given little independent Ireland a place on the United Nation’s Security Council. The problem was England.
Likewise, in Scotland, the problem is England. Now, what I could do for the next half hour is explain that ‘not all English people are bad…’ but that goes without saying. We are not talking about all English people. We are talking about England and the effect England as a national state entity has on Scotland and the Scottish people. Until recently, we have obfuscated this reality behind a wall of carefully guarded language, saying that our problem is not with the English, but with ‘Westminster,’ ‘the British state,’ and ‘the wealthy conservative establishment.’ Yet, to a greater or lesser extent these are all synonyms for England. Our problem is England.
Westminster is not the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as it pretends. The massive democratic deficit in the House of Commons – in which English seats more than double the combined seats allocated to Scotland, Wales, and the occupied counties in Ireland – ensures that Scotland is not represented in what is mathematically and for all other intents and purposes the English parliament. Westminster is where the democratic will of the Scottish people – an entire nation – is dominated and so silenced by the will of England and its people. The same its true of the British state. All of the various dicasteries of the British civil service, the military, and what have you are overwhelmingly dominated by English people trained into a British imperial mindset by a very English public school system. The ‘establishment’ – or whatever that means in reality – is served by these English instruments of government and state and perfectly reflect the ambitions and designs of this establishment.
Westminster, as the English parliament, cannot function – cannot operate and legislate – without the support and consent of the English people. Britain is a democracy for England. It is not so for Scotland. Scotland, Wales, and the occupied six counties can vote for whichever representatives they choose, but England always decides which party will form the British government; meaning that the British government always represents England over and against the democratic will of Scotland, Wales, and the occupied six counties. To argue that England is not the problem is to deny the undeniable, that this is exactly how Westminster works and how it has always been intended to work. Westminster is the instrument by which England continues to dominate Scotland, and this – and only this – is the cause of all our political woes.
England’s present political leadership has brought us in Scotland to a point at which we can no longer censor ourselves. England and the pro-British faction of unionists in Scotland promised the people of Scotland that a vote to remain part of the United Kingdom would safeguard our place in the European Union. This has proven to be a lie. Scotland and the Scottish government, which rejected Brexit, are now entirely powerless to stop this process. Now, against the democratic will of the whole of the Scottish nation, England is forcing Brexit – and all the evils Brexit has unleashed – upon us. In order to affect this conservative revolution in England, the British qua English Prime Minister and his advisors have deliberately stoked up, emboldened, and encouraged racist and even neo-Nazi sentiments which are right now being played out on the streets of England and so spilling into Scotland where unionists are taking to the streets with union flags and violently attacking Scots they deem to be the wrong race or colour.
This development threatens the very fabric of English and Scottish society, but while Westminster reflects the democratic will of England and not Scotland, we must conclude that this is indeed what England and a large proportion of English people want. This is not Scotland and not the country we aspire to be. Remaining shackled to Westminster makes it impossible for us to close the door on this ghastly foreign influence, and so we must continue to seek the end of our union with England – because England is the problem. It is well understood that not all English people want this for their country and we can only be sympathetic to their plight. But this is their fight, and it is up to them to struggle to make their country a better place – and we wish them well. But Scotland has no say over English politics. Because of our union, we have precious little say over Scottish politics. Our chief and only concern, in light of what is happening in England, is to go our own way.
Far-right protesters clash with police in London
64 thoughts on “Dear England”
Measured , fair and needed to be said. Scotland’s divergence from England’s direction of travel is so pronounced that it can no longer be glossed over by MSM. Perhaps Nicola Sturgeon ‘s scathing take down of the pathetic camp follower Carlaw yesterday in parliament signals that the gloves are finally coming off.
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The “fear of offending the English” is a rouse. Any statement that does not acquiesce to all England demands can (and will) be twisted to be an offence. You can’t win that battle as no comment that supports Scotland will ever be pious enough. We don’t even need to go back to 2014, England and their press supporters’ behaviour during the Brexit discussions are the perfect illustration of the one sided bully crying at any and all reasonable comments from their negotiating partner.
Why does YES accept to work within a limit designed to be so one sided? This looks so alike to the tool palette of abusers. “England as Britain” deliberately construct language and their institutions to protect their empire. I fear YES will remain trapped until they start thinking, acting and speaking from a Scottish perspective and let the English deal with the country that is their neighbour as a country.
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I quite agree.
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I worked down south for years and there is an English mentality that derides all foreigners and that includes Jocks ,Taffies and Micks .By and large they are a decent bunch but their way is increasingly not ours and the the current domination by clueless right wing spivs elected by the English has brought matters to a head .Such people even take advantage of a pandemic to further their economic aims and destroy workers rights .Its time to go and let England wallow in regret for lost empire and the like before we are sucked down to
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Spot on, best article on this subject I’ve read. We are so easily frightened by the English parliament because we have been conditioned be frightened. 2014 the train load that came north, you will lose your banks, supermarkets your pensions etc. I have wanted independence since the day we had the nuclear subs and American base foisted upon us and I’m 72 one of the generation that keep getting blamed for voting no. Before I die please.
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Great article. Gloves off now, we need to take our country back.
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Honest question, is YES’s position:
Scotland needs to “take its country back”…i.e its sovereignty is being suppressed (or removed)..
Scotland remains fully sovereign and the Union is just how it chooses to use its sovereignty.. Therefore, Scotland can chose to end the Union as part of that same Sovereign right.
YES has yet to form a clear position from which to fight and this is the true waist of the last 3 years and SNP’s biggest failure. From what I see, the YES community’s current messages are a total mishmash of inconsistent arguments mixed with refighting 2014 losses. This blurriness means YES’s arguments fail to cut like a scalpel and there is no clear rallying cry.
YES needs to pick one – are you Sovereign or not – then fight that battle. Otherwise Westminster and their backers will make you pay for every inconsistency and it will be like watching Westminster make YES run in circles over that currency furfy all over again…only on steroids.
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Please try and get your history right. Theobald Wolfe Tone was not tried in 1792. The United Irishmen were only formed in 1781. The “trial” took place in November 1798
That is sloppy
Clearly a mistake, Edward. Fixed now. So thanks for the heads up. There was absolutely no need to be such a total prick, but this appears to be your thing now. So, let me put it this way: Fuck off. My patience for your thinly veiled sectarian shit is exhausted. Thanks for reading.
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And you, sir, are rude.
When campaigning in IndyRef1 I too was at pains to make it about Westminster and Whitehall. Whilst manning a street stall on a summer Saturday a very nice English guy who was a doppleganger for Corbyn and my Uncle Alan came up to me and introduced himself and said how much he admired our joyous civil festival of democracy and how much he wished us well free of the malign hand of Westminster. He took time out from having fun on holiday to do that.
I think of him and of my fair minded English parents. But as you say the bloody English will keep bloody voting for bloody Tory governments. Yes their media is almost as bad as ours. The Graun has been captured by the security establishment leaving only the Indy who make it harder and harder to read their stuff. I run an ad blocker because the advertisers abused and are abusing their privileges to make browsing a confusing and ridiculously dsistracting process.
So true, and well written, I 100% agree, we must break free from this toxic union, if we are to be the fair and tolerant, nation we aspire to.!!!
Reblogged this on Ramblings of a 50+ Female.
It’s long past the time where Scotland etc are completely separate from England. Why can’t the people of Scotland see this, namely the Tories. Why do they not have the pride of themselves & the country they were born in. We shy be Free from Westminster, and live a better life.
My sentiments , also wish I could put them down in paper as you have
My sentiments exactly.
Im an English born Scot. I emigrated from England to get away from the English. We need to end this rotten union.
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I also am English born. My Scots born mother insisted we come to live in Scotland, from Somerset, as my cousin was doing so much better at an Edinburgh school than I was in Taunton. We came in 1960. 60 years later im still here and always will be. It may not be my country of birth, but it is my country of choice. We need away from England and it’s ways.
Clear concise statement. Nailed it. Get the message out there
Well said. Every word !
Very well said and very true
I agree with all that is written here about England’s suffocation of Scotland my beloved country
For once, someone telling as it is!
We should not be so timid that we feel we must not upset England and the English.
This is about Scotland and it’s people.
England and the English should have no say in it.
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This is the Truth of the matter, has been for years but it has taken a Global Pandemic, to Highlight the Facts that show the Hypocrasy, Disregard and Contempt that the English (Westminster) Govt hold the Other Devolved Nations and their countrymen/women. We are Not all Equal Partners in this United (?) Kingdom, the “Union” has been destroyed. Not by Scotland, Wales or N. Irelands Govts desires or actions towards their Separation or Independance but by the Nationalism of the English Govt,
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Very honest and couldn’t agree more. I’m Irish, and now live in Scotland and know too well of the attitudes many folk here have to not wanting to upset anyone from south of the border, verging on some being apologetic for wanting an Indy Scotland. I hope the failures of Brexit will help those people break free from that fear and stand firm on their beliefs, and knowing that their story too is valid, important and needs to be heard and is far far far from being divisive, albeit the opposite. Being from Derry, I’m heartened that you do refer to the farce that is the north of Ireland as the six occupied counties and glad you made the important correlations to the United Irish Men and Wolfe Tone. However, I will mention that in this process of wanting recognised, and rightly so, of being wronged and by England in a broken union, Scotland also needs to hold itself accountable for it’s role in British interference in Ireland. It wasn’t just England. We can all heal together as the union is starting to crack. We all need to take inventory, as we prepare for an independent Scotland and a United Ireland.
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The view of an Englishman, and therefore to be treated with caution!. I am saddened by the reality and fundamental truth of this article. ‘The Union’ in its current form is not a democracy – the will of the people, but a system of oppression by the majority – ie the English. (Although I suppose it could be argued that Scotland were represented when Labour were in power in Westminster) With the English apparent obsession with economic destruction and their complete inability to see the importance of working properly with other nations, on these islands and beyond, we deserve to lose the diversity and wealth brought by Scotland, Wales and Ireland to the table. If only we could develop an ever closer Union of sovereign nations, where all voices are heard, ….. maybe a something like a European Union! :-). It will be a sad day for me when Scotland breaks free, but you deserve better!
Your contribution, David, is most welcome. The injustice of the union has created a reality in which we all deserve better.
Beautifully measured and accurate piece of prose about what many Scots people instinctively know, but find hard to articulate, because nationalism is perceived to be the preserve of right wing fanatics. Scottish nationalism good, English nationalism bad, is a tough circle that Dear England manages to square!
Great read. Fully agree .
I’ve recently started using “english” in comments instead of Westminster….
1 thing that gets me is – ” thanx , from Bath, UK 🇬🇧” … its never – ” thanx from York ,England 🏴” …. I kinda don’t blame english folks, coz I think they have been indoctrinated into this way of thinking.
You speak for me. Beautifully written. Thank you.
Excellent & so true, Unification for Ireland 🇮🇪🇪🇺& Independence for Scotland 🏴🇪🇺 both in the European Union & Eurozone. The end of the English dominated so called “ United Kingdom”.
Excellent article. And so very true.
We need independance now.
This is so truthful in every aspect.
Our quarrel is NOT with English people who have the same aspirations as us Scots,Welsh,or N Irish.
It is with the power brokers of the Government.
For too long we have been told we are a drain on the rest of the Union- if that is the case WHY are they so keen to keep us in the Union?
It’s not just because they like us!
Its financial as we as a nation contribute to
government MORE than we get back as a GRANT.
I I’m sorry to say that the English government thinks it’s better than every one and it has the right to do as it pleases to expand its empire and dominate and there bully boy tactics is the only way they know they are self serving and spiteful
As an English woman who has lived And worked in Scotland for over thirty years, I have to agree with the writer of. This article. I feel ashamed to be English and know that the so called British government has lied continually about everything of importance from Brexit to Covid 19. I am a European and lived in the Netherlands for 8 years and am now contemplating moving to France. Scotland needs to be free of this catastrophic union which it never assented to willingly but was bribed and coerced into.
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No Susan, you should not be ashamed to be English. Reading this, England should be proud of you.
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The yes movement and other fractions need to unite for any hope of gaining independence ; a united clear and precise rallying cry has to be seen and heard throughout our nation. The SNP and people of Scotland have to become one just as the English are one.;fighting among ourselves with cautious words rather than positive action only fuels unionist and English argument thus creating the fear.
It’s time we all stood up together and let the whole of England and Alba that enough is enough and be more concise and forceful in letting all know that we want our country back. Re- install the pride to conquer the fears …..unite the clans in whatever form they now are and incite the independant marches in England as well our home nation. Become the mass …break down the negative resolve and let’s be a nation again !
What a great article and it’s conclusions are undoutably true Scotland deserves a second referendum and freedom from this decadent failed tyranny called the union who’s lack of any understanding of history has led them to believe that the Scots are literally a possession to be treated as second class citizens and denied a voice in their own affairs is akin to slavery
We have being saying this for years, when we have an election for the UK we are out voted.
Brilliant article, couldn’t agree more.
This is by far the best article I have read . It clearly outlines the horrendous effects the controlling imposition the English government has had on the nations of Scotland Wales & Northern Ireland. It would be a great if it could be printed out cheaply and posted to every household in those countries.
Thank you, Maggie. By all means, feel free to share it on your social media.
Totally agree with your article.
We here in Scotland and I suppose England too.
Have been educated for centuries now,about Great Britain and the empire.
We have been conditioned to believe this propaganda.
This has now manifested itself with the inherent racism we were spouted.
Sadly it will never change due to monarchy and the class system.
No mention of Eton and private schools going back,only working class children who’s parents are needed in factories and workplaces.
Cabinet ministers will be seeing their shares and their investments diving
So get them back to work.
Yes Scotland will be free of this if the people can have faith in in our country and of course themselves.
Kenny Johnston Paisley
Well said the truth in black and white no sensationalism just the plain truth
An interesting and thought provoking read. One of the major issues with representative democracy in the UK is that on paper it’s actually very fair. Every constituency is broadly equal in population and elects their MP on the same basis. This would actually be ok if the landmass of Great Britain (I will leave out Ireland for this purpose) was a single country with a long established sense of nationhood and collective interest.
However, for historical reasons, Great Britain the nation hasn’t ever gained full traction as a concept. England, Wales and Scotland may have successfully subsumed their own former kingdoms (Mercian independence, for instance, is considered a mad fringe movement); but the national identies of Scotland, England and Wales have proven entirely resistant, to the extent that the UK doesn’t follow the example of countries made up in far looser federal bonds in fielding a unified national football team.
Again this wouldn’t be too much of a problem if it weren’t for the fact that population wise, Scotland and Wales are so small as a proportion. This creates two issues, one for them in that they don’t usually have enough representation to have a strong voice, and two from the point of view in many in England, when the balance of power is quite fine there is a perception those small numbers have an undue influence; it’s a lose-lose.
I don’t think the UK runs in a way that’s merely harmful to Scotland, I think it’s harmful to the vast swathes of the North and also the Southwest of England itself, but that’s a matter of how the Tories have perfected the fine art of hoodwinking the working class into electing them, and a lack of a perceived alternative that stands up for ordinary people. The SNP has unquestionably done this well (better than Plaid Cymru, which a lot of working class English speaking Welsh people have yet to really rally behind).
Despite this, I concede I’m a reluctant supporter of the Union, although not in it’s current form. I really feel that we need a much looser federal structure (maybe even break up England into regions to blunt the power of Westminster over people in places like Newcastle or Plymouth), where day to day government occurs closer to the people, and only things like defence of the realm come under a slimmed down British government.
Having said that, if in a referendum for independence, Scottish membership of the EU was presented as the aim, that would probably swing me in favour.
Given such a coherent argument for independence, why were we only offered to be tied to the economy regulated by the bank of England and still to be subjects of a crown. Ireland didn’t accept either.
Sgoinneil! Math fhèin! That was brilliantly written and you hit the nail right on head. I hope Scotland aswell as Ireland can be free of Anglo/Saxon rule. The rich and elite tories want the wealth of resources from Scotland and North Sea and will lie cheat and steal to make sure that nothing changes. The establishment delight in black v white, catholic v protestant. In the independence movement I seen everyone coming together and not caring about race religion or colour. The unionist so called protesters seem to be white supremacist skinheads who tolerate nobody but fellow racists. They remind me of Hitler’s SS. Hopefully we can be free one day and make our own decisions and chose our own path that is hopefully alot more tolerant. Alba agus Èireann gu brath 🇮🇪 🏴
Well written and explains exactly how we as ordinary people are wrapped up in a web
The SNP government has a perfect storm of a once in a generation happening, to enact a way out of this
But they have decided to I fight over, trans gender issues, running down the credible Plan B, route to Independence.
Our FM is doing a good job on managing the country.
Is she in denial though over her and our future.
Tough times bring out the best and worst in people.
Thanks Jason for clarification that England will give Scots and Scottish people nothing.
As I said SNP government has the perfect storm situation of a pandemic, disastrously managed in England, highest respect for our FM, and people crying for Independence.
We need to go soon or its gone for 50 years or more.
Very well written and truly a testament related to our history and current affairs.
We in Scotland need our independence now more than ever as the racism is spreading upon our streets.
We have seen a down turn in the violence associated with the ‘Orange Walk’, but I fear this year may see a more violent time, and we do not want to go backwards into sectarianism. Westminster has robbed us for years and it’s time to stop. We are fed up with being the guinea pigs of the UK. Westminster may have our money but they will never have our blood.
Political separation from GB, (with social and cultural Union between people remaining in place of course), is the imminent future for Scotland.
Brexit and the Westminster handling of C19, on top of everything else, are most certainly the latest (and greatest) catalysts for Scottish independence going forward.
While indyref1 was a No, indyref2 will be a YES for me.
One of the best articles yet on this very topic. As Scotland stands at present, we will never be allowed to shake off the shackles of serfdom and slavery which bind us to this imperialistic, self-deluded master. Democracy is dead in this now dysfunctional Union. Scotland must adopt a unity of purpose and solidarity in their desire to be free in order to gain international recognition as an independent state!
the discontinuities for me have been highlighted during the COVID-19 crisis. As one born In Westminster, felt discriminated when living in Scotland age 7 to 23 because of my accent, it felt worse when retuning ‘home’ as I was judged by my accent. In many sports there are five NGBs who need to work together, but in government there are four. There is an over complicated way of governing on this island, and the other bits, which means it doesn’t work very well. Do we really need an ununited kingdom?
I agree “Not all English people are bad”. Trouble is enough of them are.
As can be seen by the actions of those pro union politcle partys. Scotland can either join the gang and vote in a varying shade of English or English supported politicians and be given a unvalued and unheard voice amongst the english Parliament or we can vote in a majority representation of Scottish supporting voices (and be the 3rd largest politcle party represented in the HOC) and remain powerless (mocked and derided). A token representation of “House jocks” and still be unable to direct policies in the directions that would be representative of the Scottish voice, desire and politcle perspective.
As recently seen they can’t even be bothered to remember the token representative house jocks that support the union (Carmichael) to their “rebellious Scots” brethren.
It is a parliament of English representation, for Englands benift, ran by England with the doors of the building held open by a token representation Scots, Welsh and NI servants (I refer to the positions, not the people that currently fill them)
I think this article is excellent and would like to reproduce it on my own blog site Yoursforscotland.com with appropriate crediting to your own site. Please contact me By the email I have provided if this would be acceptable to you.
Please, do feel free to repost it.
Hammer. Nail. Wallop!!