David Rickard's article Capital E Nationalism versus little e (and €) capitalism notes that David Marquand "characterises the resurgent post-summit euroscepticism as a peculiarly English, rather than British, phenomenon, arguing that it has been transformed from ‘scepticism’ to ‘phobia’: a visceral, in-the-gut reaction of hostility rather than rational, constructive-critical engagement."
I could not agree more. Let's take a look at some of the more hysterical sections of Marquand's recent Guardian article:
Europhobia is English. It was English Tory MPs who told Cameron to behave like a bulldog when he got to Brussels and who sizzled with hatred for the Lib Dems after his return. English red top papers have been stoking the fires of Europhobia ever since Margaret Thatcher's defenestration. Indeed the Tory party itself is now an English party, not a British one.
Indeed, the Tory Party is an English party, not a British one (if only in numbers, not ideology); so it's rather difficult for non-English Tory MPs to make themselves heard over the cacophony of 'English' voices. But even if we accept that English Tory MPs and English red top papers are Europhobic, rather than merely Eurosceptic, does that mean that "Europhobia is English"? I wouldn't say so. Re-read the papers, listen to those MPs again, and tell me whether they exhort Cameron in the name of England or Britain. Without exception the MPs and red tops in question are British, defending what they see as the British national interest.
The crisis in Britain's relationship with mainland Europe has its roots in a peculiarly English identity crisis with no counterpart north of the border or west of the Severn. The Scots and Welsh know who they are. For centuries, they have had two identities – their own, and a wider British one. They are unfazed by the discovery of a third European identity as well. They are at home in Europe, where multiple identities are becoming the norm. To them, it seems only right that Europe's once monolithic sovereign states now have to share power, both with a supranational union and with rediscovered nations, principalities and provinces within their borders. Along with Catalans, Basques, Flemings, Walloons, Corsicans, Sardinians and even Bretons, the Scots and Welsh are emerging from a homogenising central state of the recent past.
Certainly the Scots and Welsh differentiate between their national identities and their British identity to a greater extent than the English do, but given that England has 84% of the UK population, while Scotland and Wales have 8% and 5% respectively, this is hardly surprising. The assertion that the Scots and Welsh are more keen to share power with the EU is not an evidence-based assertion. A recent ComRes survey found the Scots to be more Eurosceptic than the English, and YouGov found those who self-identified as Welsh to be more in favour of leaving the EU altogether (though the headline writers focused English 'insecurities') than those who identified as English or British.
If Marquand wanted to inject a dose a objectivity into his article he need look no further than the Scottish Government website, from where he would learn that "There is very little difference between Scotland and the UK as a whole on attitudes to Europe."
[England] too was a European kingdom before it merged with Scotland, and had close links with the continent. But the English myth is one of heroic separation from the mainland, not engagement with it: of England as a providential nation summoned by a higher power to defend freedom from continental assault.
It wasn't so long ago that Marquand was arguing that "There is no English national Myth comparable to the Scottish Myth of popular sovereignty or the Welsh Myth of Celtic socialism". Well perhaps he's now found one.
In very simple terms for the Scots and Welsh the English are 'the other'. Whereas for the English the Germans or the French play the role of 'the other'. This is explained in a more academic way in that same paper on the Scottish Government website:
the Scottish can draw upon a pre-Union history quite different to England i.e. they have a different collective memory of Europe. He [ Ichijo] suggests that the Scottish do not define themselves in opposition to Europe but rather in opposition to England, because of historical alliances with France and Baltic trading partners. As a result of this, people in Scotland today have different raw material to work with and can project different futures.
The English doctrine of absolute parliamentary sovereignty runs against the grain of the rediscovered provincialism of modern Europe. Above all, the English of the 21st century no longer know who they are. They used to think that "English" and "British" were synonymous. Now they know that they are not. But they don't know how Englishness and Britishness relate to each other, and they can't get used to the notion of multiple identities. Until they do, I don't see how the crisis in Britain's relationship with continental Europe can be resolved. If it isn't, the most likely prospect is of further European political union and the break-up of the UK, with England staying out and Scotland and Wales going in.
Here I find myself agreeing with Marquand, slightly. The English do understand how Englishness and Britishness relate to each other but the British state cannot accommodate or reconcile that relationship (and acknowledgement of difference) for fear of upsetting the Union, consequently the English are left in limbo, unable to be both English and British in a political sense. So it is a British problem with its focus on England rather than a specifically English problem, as I explained in my recent article on Our Kingdom:
Those who might otherwise be English nationalists are forced into an absurd Anglo-British nationalism in defence of Westminster sovereignty, which prevents any appeal to popular sovereignty or anything else which might further challenge or undermine parliamentary sovereignty.
We've had the Arab Spring and the Scottish Spring, and now - at least according to Tory Eurosceptics - we're on the verge on the 'English Spring'.
The idea that English Euroscepticism will lead to a break up of the United Kingdom has been floated by many astute political commentators over the past week, and also by Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones:
First Minister Carwyn Jones has warned David Cameron’s decision to exclude Britain from a new European treaty could lead to the break-up of the UK, with a Yes vote in a referendum on Scottish independence.
Although English Euroscepticism undoubtedly puts the Westminster Coalition on a collision cause with the SNP and Plaid Cymru, I don't believe that the break-up of the UK is a forgone conclusion, even in the event of an In-Out referendum on our EU membership. In fact, as I explain in Euroscepticism: A very English disease? there is the potential for Euroscepticism to act as a unifying force.
ComRes recently found Scotland to be the most Eurosceptic part of Britain. And Lallands Peat Worrier has an interesting break-down of Scottish public opinion, from which comes the revelation that even among those who support independence, 37.5% would like independence from both Westminster AND Brussels.
Food for thought for Salmond's campaign team.
What a shocker. I honestly thought Cameron would sell us down the river, ignore the 'referendum lock', and go with whatever Merkel and Sarkozy told him. Instead he has walked away from the table and consigned Britain to a role as a second-rate EU member.
Cameron and his cohorts will try to deny that a fundamental change in our relationship with the EU has occurred, but he's wrong. We - the people - must be allowed a referendum on our continued membership of the European Union. They will tell us that, given the economic instability, now is not the time for a referendum. But it never is the time. If we don't push for a referendum now we will never be permitted one.
The fact that the Eurozone members were unwilling to accept Cameron's demands illustrates that our influence was negligible anyway. The Eurozone members only want our money, money that would be better spent on our own public services rather than frittered away on a currency that will stand or fall irrespective of how much money the UK taxpayer pumps into its failing states. I bear no grudge towards Merkel and Sarkozy, they have decided that the Euro must not fail, and under those circumstances they are right to form a caucus of Eurozone countries to try and implement structural reform. Personally I think they will fail and that their failure will be disastrous for us all, but that's another story.
UPDATE: Nigel Farage, interviewed on the BBC, says that had Cameron made his demands on the basis that if they were not met Britain would hold an in/out referendum on EU membership then they would have met his demands. As it is, says Farage, Cameron has walked away having gained absolutely nothing.
Farage is right. Cameron and British interests (as Cameron sees them) have been shoved off the stage so that Eurozone members can get on with their vital work of destroying the World economy.
UPDATE II: A very good piece by Bagehot, Britain, not leaving but falling out of the EU
In my version of the English language, when one member of a club uses his veto, he blocks something from happening. Mr Cameron did not stop France, Germany and the other 15 members of the euro zone from going ahead with what they are proposing. He asked for safeguards for financial services and—as had been well trailed in advance—France and Germany said no. That's not wielding a veto, that's called losing.
I've just signed the People's Pledge and have been asked to distribute this email.
I have just signed up to the People's Pledge, a new campaign that will force MPs to give us a referendum on our relationship with the EU.
The People's Pledge is supported by people with a wide range of views on the EU: those who are enthusiastic about British membership, those who are sceptical and those who actively seek to leave the EU. The campaign is cross party too, with supporters from all the main political parties.
Please add your name to theirs.
Go to http://www.peoplespledge.org/ and sign up to add your name to others in your constituency who want their MP to support a referendum on our EU membership. You will also be able to see whether your MP has yet pledged their support for a referendum, along with details of how they voted on every major EU-related issue over the last few years.
Remember, many MPs have majorities of just a few hundred votes, so every person that signs the People's Pledge WILL make a difference.
English nationalists should sign up to this and abide by their pledge when it comes to the next general election. It is the professed view of many in the Euro-sceptic right (Conservative Party and UKIP) that the Campaign for an English Parliament plays into the hands of EU-federalists by undermining Britishness and the Union. I have a lot of correspondence to support this, but this one from Jeffrey Titford is a classic example:
We share your concerns about the undemocratic regionalisation of England and understand your desire for an English Parliament. However, we don’t believe that now is the time to campaign for a separate English institution because it would play into the hands of the European Union, which is behind the drive for regions. It is the EU that wishes to see Britain divided up into euro-regions, each reporting to central command in Brussels for funding. May I recommend Lindsay Jenkins’ excellent new book ‘Disappearing Britain - The EU and the Death of Local Government’ (published by Orange State Press) for further details of that particular plot.
I believe that Britain should firstly withdraw from the European Union before debating the issue of whether England should have its own Parliament. Brussels would certainly welcome another institution to deal with, that further undermines central government in our country.
Thank you for letting us know of your concerns.
Political Advisor to Jeffrey Titford MEP
I say 'professed view', it may not, of course, be their actual view - politicians are famously adept at fobbing people off with invented obstacles to proper representative democracy (see AV referendum).
However, if the EU question were to be resolved one way or the other I believe that we would suddenly see a hell of a lot of previously silent English nationalists appearing from UKIP and Eurosceptic Tory ranks. Presently the question of Europe holds back resolution of the English question.
And in a less obvious way I suspect that the lack of an answer to the English Question has delayed any answer as to our relationship with the EU - post-imperial England is yet to decide what manner of nation it wants to be, which fact, whether by accident or design, also leaves the British question unresolved.
Anyway, if what you want is a public discussion on Britain and its democracy, sovereignty and identity, please sign the People's Pledge and force our political class into having that discussion instead of their continuous piecemeal constitutional fudges and sleights of hand that diminish our sovereignty and democracy.
What's really galling is not that Daniel Hannan and Nigel Farrage speak an unpalatable truth, no, what's really galling is the fact that the Scottish twat with no mandate just sits there laughing...
That's one right royal shooing for Gordon Brown, onto the next...
And Farrage is right, the latest poll tells us that 55% of Britons would like to leave the EU. That's not just 55% who say "non" to further integration, that's 55% who say "non" to the EU.
Regardless of your views on the EU, if you believe in democracy you should sign this:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Respect the result of the Irish referendum and abandon the attempt to ratify the Lisbon Treaty.
The Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty has resulted in a decisive no vote.
However, politicians across Europe are calling for the ratification of the Treaty to go ahead.
The British Government are planning to put the Lisbon Treaty to its third and final reading in the Lords next Wednesday 18 June. This would complete its ratification in the UK.
We believe that the Prime Minister should respect the result of the Irish referendum and abandon the attempt to ratify the Lisbon Treaty.
It's scenes like this that Gordon Brown wanted to avoid in England.
But in Ireland at least democracy has won through. Tough luck Brown. The EU Constitution is dead, for now.
I once met Nigel Farage and he seemed like a bit of a slimeball to me. Nevertheless he has done a job on the slimeball-in-chief here.
Blair's enemies are moblising; Spring is returning to Narnia.
Add my name to the list.
And this is just beautiful:
Last Friday Mr Blair attacked “the political and legal establishment”. He said that it “didn’t understand”, that it was “in denial”, that it was “out of touch”. And he argued the Establishment was letting down everyone else, “ordinary, decent, law-abiding folk”, and failing to get the balance right between victims and offenders.
It was a curious speech. But not because Mr Blair was wrong. Many of the things he said were right and needed saying. No, it was curious for entirely different reasons.
First, consider the man making it. Mr Blair is Prime Minister, a barrister, married to a human rights lawyer and best friend of the Lord Chancellor. Who, then, is the “political and legal establishment” exactly?
English artist Michael Dickinson faces up to three years in a Turkish jail for exhibiting this work - entitled 'Best in Show' - in Istanbul.
It depicts the Turkish prime minister geing awarded a dogshow rosette by George Dubya Bush.
And we are letting Turkey into the EU? Why not annoy the Turkish government by featuring this stupid satirical collage on your website?