Opinion: The English are more victims than villains

Having taken myself off abroad to talk to cruise liner passengers about the media, among other things, I now feel sufficiently becalmed in the Indian Ocean to broach a sensitive domestic issue: the need for us English to see to our PR. We are clearly in need of it when Home Secretary Jack Straw, who has obviously been talking to too many Celts in the Cabinet, sees us as ’potentially very aggressive, very violent’.

Having taken myself off abroad to talk to cruise liner passengers

about the media, among other things, I now feel sufficiently becalmed in

the Indian Ocean to broach a sensitive domestic issue: the need for us

English to see to our PR. We are clearly in need of it when Home

Secretary Jack Straw, who has obviously been talking to too many Celts

in the Cabinet, sees us as ’potentially very aggressive, very

violent’.



It is true that soccer supporters have given us a bad name, but the

riff-raff minority among them was never unique either to England or the

UK.



Saturday night and Sunday morning have always been somewhat primeval in

industrial and even county towns, but it is not only the English in the

British Isles who have difficulty holding their beer.



As for the Scots, Welsh and Irish being ’over the centuries under the

cosh of the English’, there are lots of English who, over the same

centuries, felt the borders raider’s cosh (and worse) of the Welsh and

Scots. It was a Scottish king who united the English and Scottish

thrones. And while we once exercised a much maligned strategic hold on

Ireland, we (supported by the Scots, Welsh and Irish) did so under the

cosh, bullet and bomb of the Irish over the past three decades only

because the majority in Northern Ireland wanted our protection. We

patsies are now capitulating comprehensively to Irish terrorism.



Unlike Napoleon and Hitler we never set out to conquer Europe, though,

together with the Celts, we have saved it from itself. Our preoccupation

was the balance of power. And across the world we (again with the Celts)

did a better colonial job than anybody else, both at the time and

through our legacy. Witness the modern Commonwealth which, however

imperfect, is scarcely testimony to our utter nastiness. Indeed, if

there are three English characteristics they are passivity, generosity

as exemplified by our tendency to subsidise not only the Scots, Welsh,

Irish and Europeans but the world through the Commonwealth and UN, and a

sense of fairness which is about the only thing that can rouse us - as

Kipling’s Norman baron told his son: ’When he stands like an ox in the

furrow with his sullen set eyes on your own, And grumbles, ’This isn’t

fair dealing,’ my son leave the (Anglo) Saxon alone.’



It will take more than Jack Straw’s unfair dealing to rouse us. We

English are on a long slow fuse over an unfair devolution ’settlement’

incorporating artificial and unwanted English regions which, to be fair,

is what is bugging Mr Straw. Any PRO who can make it fizz faster will

probably do the entire nation a service by preventing that ’settlement’

from festering into worse trouble. He or she will also earn the right to

be called a genius. Aggressive and violent, my foot. The problem with

the English is apathy.



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