They aren't all made like Henry V, who yelled 'Cry, God for Harry,
England and Saint George'. Not many even knew Monday was St George's
Day. The Royal Society of St George, which marks the occasion, is
thought to be a bunch of cranks. Otherwise, England's patron saint is
honoured only by beflagged England soccer supporters. They are not
always England's best advertisement but seem to be the only acceptable
expression of our sense of identity.
While it is perfectly proper for the Scots to celebrate St Andrew's Day,
the Welsh St David's and the Irish St Patrick's, the English would, it
seems, be dubbed divisive and even racist if they marked their saint's
day with anything other than amnesia.
No provision is made in Sunday's census for us proudly to proclaim our
Englishness, though some of us will find a way. We are expected to
tolerate Scottish and Welsh over-representation in the London
parliament, to permit Scottish MPs to vote on English matters even
though English MPs are denied the right to vote on Scottish issues and
to fund the whole devolution mess - as we do, given the proportionately
greater spending of public money on the Celtic fringe. All that the
English are being offered is the break-up of England into artificial
regions, which (with the possible exception of Yorkshire) have no basis
in historical fact or sentient present but will serve the Eurocrats'
purpose of wiping England off the map.
You may well think that the English deserve all they get if they are
prepared to put up with all this. But that is what worries me. It takes
a very great deal to rouse the English, apart from sport. We never exert
ourselves as a people until we've nearly had it. But once we get our
dander up we can be very formidable indeed. And nothing is better
calculated to goad an Englishman out of his effortless apathy than a
sense of unfairness.
There is enough of that developing without all the current careless
party political talk about race, identity and diversity. It is very
dangerous because it is aimed, by process of elimination, at the
English, a sort of public whipping post.
It is time to cool it. The United Kingdom would do well not to provoke
militant English nationalism.
Against this background, we need to devise a way of working our way out
of the dangerous currents in which the British ship of state finds
itself drifting. We need to find a way of eliminating English grievances
and encouraging a responsible sense of English identity and pride. This
is pre-eminently a job for strategic PR. If our industry is in the
business of heading off trouble - of avoiding a crisis - it would do
well to help clients develop a model expression of enlightened
Englishness. We need to bolster the English, the backbone and cement of
our wider nation state.