In an age of devolution, England must rediscover its national pride

Today is St George’s Day. I think I should remind you of this since, unlike St Andrew’s, St David’s and certainly St Patrick’s Day, it usually slips by unremarked except by the Royal Society of St George, which gathers this evening to celebrate our glorious history. If it isn’t careful, this England will soon be erased from our maps in the devolved UK. According to the Sun, the EU has already done for Shakespeare’s ’blessed plot’ by carving England into eight regions without acknowledging its continued existence as a country alongside Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Today is St George’s Day. I think I should remind you of this

since, unlike St Andrew’s, St David’s and certainly St Patrick’s Day, it

usually slips by unremarked except by the Royal Society of St George,

which gathers this evening to celebrate our glorious history. If it

isn’t careful, this England will soon be erased from our maps in the

devolved UK. According to the Sun, the EU has already done for

Shakespeare’s ’blessed plot’ by carving England into eight regions

without acknowledging its continued existence as a country alongside

Scotland, Wales and Ireland.



We English are, of course, a notoriously relaxed pack of mongrels.

According to the late Ted Hughes, the Poet Laureate, who was brought up

in the next village to mine, those of us from the Pennines are the

product of Celts who sailed up the Mersey, Vikings who pillaged up the

Humber and rogues and vagabonds who sought refuge in our Bronte

vastnesses. Those who know this mongrel say that explains everything.

Yet throughout England, you get a similarly explosive GM cocktail which

is curiously slow to anger and swift to turn a blind eye.



Dr Gallup has just discovered that four out of five of us English

couldn’t care less that Tony Blair has seven Scots in his Cabinet and

well over half of us don’t see the need for an English Parliament just

because the Scots, Welsh and, we hope against hope, the Northern Irish,

are each going to have one. True, over two-thirds of us don’t think that

Scottish MPs at Westminster should be able to vote on English

legislation when English MPs can’t express a view on Scottish Bills. But

that only goes to show how fair-minded as well as tolerant we are.



In a dissolving Britain, we have reached the stage when everybody else

is proud to be Scots, Welsh, Irish or one of a rainbow of other races

and nationalities while the English are frowned upon if they unusually

exert themselves and honour their patron saint. They are accused of

being ’little Englanders’ with minds to match and over-reacting to the

Government’s untidy pattern of devolution. Only soccer hooligans wrap

themselves in St George’s flag. Only Yorkshiremen, the Anglo-Saxon

awkward squad, demand their own Parliament.



In short, we English are being sat upon and, being English, are

disinclined to do much about it. Being a Yorkshireman, I feel we must

rescue the English from themselves. This is pre-eminently a challenge to

the PR industry which demonstrated its mettle by recovering the nation’s

pride in the fallen by observing a two-minutes Armistice silence.

Perhaps, however, I should warn whichever agency takes on this work that

its greatest problem will be in overcoming the effortless superiority of

the average Englishman, who consequently fails to see what on earth

there is to worry about.



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