Happy St George’s Day!

It’s St George’s Day, according to the BBC patron saint of: Aragon; Catalonia; England; Genoa; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Istanbul; Lithuania; Moscow; Palestine; Portugal; and Venice. Also riders; saddle makers; saddlers; sheep; shepherds; soldiers; and the Teutonic Knights. He was adopted by England after Henry V’s victory at Agincourt. Although noteably much lower key than St Patrick’s Day there are a number of related events in London. One Islamic contributor to PM yesterday (the editor of emel Magazine)argued that such a cosmopolitan figure would be a perfect cypher for a more inclusive Britishness.

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  • ingram

    Now that is what you call a Flag.

    Marty

  • “One Islamic contributor to PM yesterday argued that such a cosmopolitan figure would be a perfect cypher for a more inclusive Britishness.”

    If anything surely a cypher for a more inclusive Englishness.

  • Tally

    They can’t get it right can they? England is slowly but surely moving away from the UK Britain or GB, what ever they want to call it, and the establishment are in denial.
    I enjoy your blog Slugger,what do your readers think of an Independent England?

  • English

    As an Englishman I am a strong supporter of an independent England, as the Union is no longer of any benefit to England. In particular Northern Ireland is a strategic piece of land that is of no purpose to the Union any more.

    England seems to get the blame for everything that is wrong with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Historically England must take responsibility for political and economic problems in these other countries. It is by interfering in their affairs that we have caused problems. However English tax payers still have to subsidise these places out of their salaries. It has to stop. Especially as deprived areas of England do not get a penny.

    The growing sense of English self identity is a good thing, because we are a very different people to the Scots, Welsh and Irish – and we are not British, we are English! The European Union is an ideal opportunity for greater economic and political Union between the countries, but with separate national government, greater regional government, and separate national identity and authority.

  • Mick Fealty

    PoI: the journalist on PM suggested an expansion of George’s provenance to include the whole of the UK, which seems in line Darcus Howe’s finding in his C4 series, the White Tribe, in which he found most ethnic minorities clove to Britishness more easily than Englishness.

    Tally,

    I have quite a number of English friend who would quite happily cut Scotland, Wales and NI free of the Union, not least for fiscal benefits arising.

  • “I have quite a number of English friend who would quite happily cut Scotland, Wales and NI free of the Union, not least for fiscal benefits arising. “

    I’m sure the same argument could be made for cutting Liverpool off, or any number of areas. The fact is that the constituent nations of the UK have more in common than they have to divide them. By all means we should all take pride in our distinct identities, but lets not forget the parts of those identities that we share.

    I can see why the English resent being always cast the villain and even subsidising other parts of the UK, but I would hope those problems could be dealt with rather than given up on.

  • Edward Gibbon

    George, surnamed the Cappadocian, was born at Epiphania in Cilicia, in a fuller’s shop. From this obscure and servile origin he raised himself by the talents of a parasite; and the patrons, whom he assiduously flattered, procured for their worthless dependent a lucrative commission, or contract, to supply the army with bacon. His employment was mean; he rendered it infamous. He accumulated wealth by the basest arts of fraud and corruption; but his malversations were so notorious, that George was compelled to escape from the pursuits of justice.

    After this disgrace, in which he appears to have saved his fortune at the expense of his honor, he embraced, with real or affected zeal, the profession of Arianism. From the love, or the ostentation, of learning, he collected a valuable library of history rhetoric, philosophy, and theology.

    Soon the prevailing faction promoted George of Cappadocia to the throne of Athanasius. The entrance of the new archbishop was that of a Barbarian conqueror; and each moment of his reign was polluted by cruelty and avarice. The Catholics of Alexandria and Egypt were abandoned to a tyrant, qualified, by nature and education, to exercise the office of persecution; but he oppressed with an impartial hand the various inhabitants of his extensive diocese.

    The primate of Egypt assumed the pomp and insolence of his lofty station; but he still betrayed the vices of his base and servile extraction. The merchants of Alexandria were impoverished by the unjust, and almost universal, monopoly, which he acquired, of nitre, salt, paper, funerals, &c.: and the spiritual father of a great people condescended to practise the vile and pernicious arts of an informer.

    The Alexandrians could never forget, nor forgive, the tax, which he suggested, on all the houses of the city; under an obsolete claim, that the royal founder had conveyed to his successors, the Ptolemies and the Caesars, the perpetual property of the soil. The Pagans, who had been flattered with the hopes of freedom and toleration, excited his devout avarice; and the rich temples of Alexandria were either pillaged or insulted by the haughty prince, who exclaimed, in a loud and threatening tone, “How long will these sepulchres be permitted to stand?” Under the reign of Constantius, he was expelled by the fury, or rather by the justice, of the people; and it was not without a violent struggle, that the civil and military powers of the state could restore his authority, and gratify his revenge.

    The messenger who proclaimed at Alexandria the accession of Julian, announced the downfall of the archbishop. George, with two of his obsequious ministers, Count Diodorus, and Dracontius, master of the mint were ignominiously dragged in chains to the public prison. At the end of twenty-four days, the prison was forced open by the rage of a superstitious multitude, impatient of the tedious forms of judicial proceedings. The enemies of gods and men expired under their cruel insults; the lifeless bodies of the archbishop and his associates were carried in triumph through the streets on the back of a camel; and the inactivity of the Athanasian party was esteemed a shining example of evangelical patience. The remains of these guilty wretches were thrown into the sea; and the popular leaders of the tumult declared their resolution to disappoint the devotion of the Christians, and to intercept the future honors of these martyrs, who had been punished, like their predecessors, by the enemies of their religion.

    The fears of the Pagans were just, and their precautions ineffectual. The meritorious death of the archbishop obliterated the memory of his life. The rival of Athanasius was dear and sacred to the Arians, and the seeming conversion of those sectaries introduced his worship into the bosom of the Catholic church.

    The odious stranger, disguising every circumstance of time and place, assumed the mask of a martyr, a saint, and a Christian hero; and the infamous George of Cappadocia has been transformed into the renowned St. George of England, the patron of arms, of chivalry, and of the garter.

  • English

    I’m sure the same argument could be made for cutting Liverpool off, or any number of areas. The fact is that the constituent nations of the UK have more in common than they have to divide them. By all means we should all take pride in our distinct identities, but lets not forget the parts of those identities that we share.

    I can see why the English resent being always cast the villain and even subsidising other parts of the UK, but I would hope those problems could be dealt with rather than given up on.

    Posted by beano on Apr 23, 2006 @ 12:47 PM

    Erm Beano, why on earth would England wish to cut Liverpool out of the UK – it is a thriving city and the European Capital of Culture 2008! The GDP per head ion Liverpool is superior to most other areas of Scotland and Wales and most definately Northern Ireland. In any case there is no argument for this, as the people who live there are English and part of the English nation.

    People from Wales, Scotland, and in particular N.Ireland have less in common with England. In fact people from N.Ireland have lots more in common with people in the Republic rather than the English! People in N.Ireland should be concentrating on Irish identity and closer co-operation with the South – after all you are all Irish at the end of the day.

  • Tally

    Edward, are you really Ian Paisley?
    A good response from the others though. Living abroad for many years I’ve noticed a distinct change of attitude from my English country men regarding the Union,and my attitude to the Union Flag has changed. If any one mentions Britain to me nowadays I tell them I’m English not British.
    The ties that bind have been broken for the EU.
    We built ships and all went to sea together, now it has all gone.

  • PHIL

    Having a great day at home with a pint of John Smith’s (hic!) in my hand and my country’s flag draped from my window, grateful that my national day hasn’t fallen on a working day for a change! Tally, absolutely yes, I can’t wait for the day that England declares herself an independant republic but I can’t see the ruling elite letting go without a fight. Beano, so what, we have shared identities and cultures with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Zimbabwe, Barbados etc. etc. etc. It doesn’t mean that we should all live in the same state though does it? Happy St. George’s day to all Slugger readers and to English men and women everywhere.

  • “we have shared identities and cultures with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Zimbabwe, Barbados”

    Are you seriously trying to compare the similarities between the countries of the UK with similarities between England and Zimbabwe? or India?

  • lib2016

    The ‘overseas British’ were conspicuous in Hongkong and Uganda and anywhere else the idea was politically useful. One thing the Brits were was constitutionally innovative, even in Ireland they’ve tried everything from separate kingdom status in the Act of Union to self-governing Dominion. None of them worked of course, and integration was never a runner except for the battier elements in the UUP.

    Glad the whole charade is nearly over.

  • Beano
    I think Phil means the similarities between England and Rhodesia.

  • audley

    Beano, ou probably dont think you are living in the remnants of a colony either..

  • PHIL

    Beano,

    Yes, that is exactly what I’m doing. I am not saying that we have more or less in common with anywhere else, just that elements of a shared culture is not a good enough reason to submurge multi-national identities into a single nation state. I’ll also give you one similarity between English and Indian/Zimbabwian culture that barely exists in Scots or Irish culture, namely cricket.

  • I can see why the English resent being always cast the villain and even subsidising other parts of the UK, but I would hope those problems could be dealt with rather than given up on.

    The problem is that the current devolution setup leaves England with a democratic deficit which will drive the emergence of English nationalism until it is resolved.

    The current Government is refusing to address the issue, since as Lord Falconer has admitted,the ultimate solution would have to be an English Parliament, which would inevitably challenge the supremacy of Westminster.

    Falconer claims this would mean the end of the UK, in his speech to the ESRC which you can find here:
    http://www.dca.gov.uk/speeches/2006/sp060310.htm

    Other, like the Scottish philosopher Tom Nairn argue that it could mean a confederal union, in which the national parliaments will have more power than the centre.

  • Doctor Who

    English

    “England seems to get the blame for everything that is wrong with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Historically England must take responsibility for political and economic problems in these other countries. It is by interfering in their affairs that we have caused problems. However English tax payers still have to subsidise these places out of their salaries. It has to stop. Especially as deprived areas of England do not get a penny”

    It may surprise you to know that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland residents also pay tax, and while you think you subsidise the rest of the UK then we will remain a “little suspicious” of you.

    I´m still actually laughing about your post English, England taking responsibility for political and economic difficulties in these other countries HA! HA! HA!

    On a sadder note my work colleagues 90% of whom are English where completely unaware that it was Saint Georges Day..I work in Spain and they where wondering why the Catalan Spanish where celebrating……after an explanation they where none the wiser.

  • Doctor Who

    “Glad the whole charade is nearly over”

    lib2016, sorry but you should change your name to ?lib2525??. And when are we going to be liberated from the meanderings of your pipe dreams.

    English

    “after all you are all Irish at the end of the day.”

    I have actually no problems with calling myself Irish and wishing better co-operation with the South. I am also British, just in the same way folk in Scotland and Wales may refer to themselves regionally and nationally.

    So after all we are all British at (to coin your favourite cliche) THE END OF THE DAY.

  • PHIL

    Doctor Who,

    Sadly it is ofted the case that many of my fellow countrymen/women are unaware of their own national patron saints day, but what do you expect when the British state demonise all things English and refuse to give the day bank holiday status? I am happy to report to you though that in this part of south-west Essex we are awash with red and white today (and claret and blue as the ‘ammers have just got themselves to the cup final!) and despite the weather there are plenty of events going on to celebrate our nation and culture. The point that you make about taxpayers from outside England contributing to the UK exchequer may be true but the way that it is spent descriminates against the English. Anyway, I must go now, the display of morris dancing is about to start on the green over the road and I’ve got a fresh pint of Tetleys settling in the kitchen. I don’t know how I’m going to get up for work in the morning, wish it were a bank holiday!!

  • elfinto

    Docotr Who,

    I am sure you will make plenty of friends with the locals if you describe them as Catalan Spanish.

  • Doctor Who

    Well said Phill.

    If we look at the contribution of English Culture to rest of the world it is often overlooked.

    Many Irish Republicans will often demonise a culture that has given the world everything from Shakespeare to the Beatles.

    I think it is a sad reflection on England as a whole that this demonisation has been allowed to happen. Most of the English guys I work with celebrate St. Patricks but not St. George.

    Bye the way great result for the Hammers today, I hope ypu trounce the Scousers in the final.

  • Doctor Who

    Elfinto

    “I am sure you will make plenty of friends with the locals if you describe them as Catalan Spanish. ”

    Well you see my un learned mate..the area I live in is outside Catalonia and that is what they refer to themselves.

    You may also be surprised to know that Catalonia is still part of Spain and the official language is still Castellano. Barcelona itself has a about 40% non Catalan population, it is the surrounding Pueblos that are fiercely Catalan.

    The reason the pro Independent lobby do not ask for a referendum on independence is they know they will loose.

    Hope that clears that up for you.

    Fins Ara

  • Doctor Who, The Hammers will have no chance in the final against the five times Champions of Europe so have a good knees up and enjoy yourself tonight. Congratulations on getting this far and Happy St George’s Day!

  • Conor Gillespie

    beano,
    “The fact is that the constituent nations of the UK have more in common than they have to divide them. By all means we should all take pride in our distinct identities, but lets not forget the parts of those identities that we share. ”

    Humanity in general has “more in common than they have to divide them.” Any serious student of sociology can tell you that there are parallel lines of culture that run through every society on earth! However, the point of a national identity is to celebrate the unique permutations that these threads take for a particular group. The concept of “being British” is just as misguiding as the concept of “being European.” There are cultural ties between say, the Russians the Ukrainians, and the Belarusians, but there are also unique aspects of culture that set them apart. Similarly, there are a diverse multitude of cultures and identities occupying the geographical region of the “British” isles. The “British” have never been a national group but rather a political union of separate nations. From 1801 to 1922 the people of what is now the republic of Ireland would have been considered “British.” The whole construct of the UK is no longer necessary in the context of the European union. In fact, a greater percentage of the inhabitants of this continent are comfortable with the concept of “being European” than the percentage of say, Northern Irish who are comfortable with the notion of “being British.”

  • Englsih

    Conor,

    What is more, only a minority of people in the UK would refer to themselves as British. Unless you are from Northern Ireland of course!

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Engish: “England seems to get the blame for everything that is wrong with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Historically England must take responsibility for political and economic problems in these other countries. It is by interfering in their affairs that we have caused problems. However English tax payers still have to subsidise these places out of their salaries.”

    Seeing as it was English rulers and an English dominated Parliment that created these political and economic problems, what is wrong with the English paying for the fruit of their labors? You break it, you bought it.

    English: “The GDP per head ion Liverpool is superior to most other areas of Scotland and Wales and most definately Northern Ireland. In any case there is no argument for this, as the people who live there are English and part of the English nation. ”

    And how badly stunted was the industrial development of these areas by Engilsh economic policy? Its a little like bootstrap levitation — commandeer the their economy, shape it to the benefit of the “home” economic base, then boast that of the “home” base’s economic superiority and whinge about the need to subsidize those other regions.

    Doctor Who: “Many Irish Republicans will often demonise a culture that has given the world everything from Shakespeare to the Beatles.”

    The bad *always* gets top billing over the good, Doctor. It may be unfair, but it is the way of the world — slights are always better remembered than compliments. A sad fact of human nature.

  • Conor Gillespie

    Doctor Who,

    “Many Irish Republicans will often demonise a culture that has given the world everything from Shakespeare to the Beatles.”

    And if you want to know what your beloved Beatles thought of England’s role in Irish history you should find yourself a copy of John Lennon’s “Some Time in New York” and have a listen to the track titled “The Luck of the Irish.” I think you’ll find that the “demonisation” of England is not purely an Irish Republican invention.

  • PHIL

    Doctor Who,

    I agree, it would be great to see the ‘ammers overcome the scousers, but please don’t confuse me with an ‘appy ‘ammer!! I’m Islington born and bred (just can’t afford to live around there now) and support the mighty Gooners! I made it to work this morning (with a sore head) and here in Romford the locals are cock-a-hoop and singing songs about what they get up to with Michael Jackson’s pet chimp!

  • smcgiff

    ‘the same argument could be made for cutting Liverpool off,’

    Liverpool has won 5 European cups and produced the Beatles. What has NI done for England lately? 🙂

  • Observer

    Hammers beware of a team for whom the laws of football do not apply

    fly goalkeppers in Cardiff against Arsenal

    the red submarine in Instanbul

    Steven “Shawn Michaels” Gerrard against Olympiakos

    Important point

    San Siro is the patron saint of Livorno and features on the crest of many “English”teams in Italy such as Genoa, Sampdoria and Milan (AC)

  • Martin

    Conor, I don’t think Lennon and the rest of the Beatles, although quite rightly critical of British involvement in Ireland partly through their own heritage, shared the historic, instinctive, reflexive, Anglophobia of the Republican movement towards ANYTHING perceived to be English/British from sports to culture. Paul McCartney sang “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” but happily played the Queen’s Jubilee concert 4 years ago.

    Anglophobia is an exercise in hate which gives Irish Republicans something to bind them together rather than face a few real issues. Things fall apart without an enemy. It shows through in everything from Sinn Fein’s fantastically petty decision not to support the charitable work of the Legion in Antrim and the “anyone but England” attitude to sports teams.

  • Snuff

    Martin

    The anyone but England attitude to sports teams is entirely the making of Englich people and commentators. How much rubbish are we going to have to listen to over the coming months about England going to win the world cup,
    spirit of the dambusters/1969 they think its all over/ Blitz the Fritz/ Two world wars and one world cup na na na na/ Roo can do it/ Lager louts falling over tables/ incessant coverage on bbc even though 3 other nations are in uk/ the inevitbale rioting and the inevitable quarter final exit complete with backstabbing of whichever player is judged to be at fault.

    Oh and I forgot to mention the band striking up after thiry seconds play with that tune which must be really geting on the players nerves by now. And the cheering whenever they are just passing the ball about.

    I feel sorry for the england team. Unless they win it they will face recriminations. and there’s no chance of them winning it beacuse even if the team were good enough the pressure from the media and fans would make them buckle.

    I supporting Ukraine all the way!

  • Martin

    Oh, come on Snuff…that’s totally off point. The point I was making was about the (real) Anglophobia of Irish sports fans, and the Irish in general, rather than the (also real) excessive expectations of the English Media which are a thorn in any athlete’s side, whatever their discpline.

    I agree with all of your comments about the media in this country but that has nothing to do with the fantastic way Irish people will get behind anyone playing against England, even if it’s to the detrement of their own team. How many of my Irish friends told me they couldn’t support England against France this year in the 6N even though it would give Ireland a chance at the title…

    One of my abiding memories was the barman in the pub I was in in Carrick-on-Suir did when Beckham got sent off in 1998 and it’s not just football…contrast 1994 when England didn’t qualify we decided to support ROI (and were therefore “plastic paddys” by the gloating populace over the sea)…it’s clear to anyone who visits Ireland during any major sporting event that involves England. It’s personal observation based on people I know and (partly) what I read here rather than the media.

  • Snuff

    I guess it comes down to “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. And I don’t think its the preserve of Republicans in Ireland to support Englands opponents either. It’s a tradition to want England to do badly be it in war or games. It’s unashamed anglophobia which is wedged in history. Maybe under a united Ireland we can support Theo Walcott score the winning goal for England in the 2018 world cup final. Until then I’m going to buy a silly hat to support Paraguay.

  • Martin

    Undoubtedly, you have a thousand million reasons, historically at the very least, to hate the English. I just wish you’d stopped pretending you didn’t. Instead we get all this smily friendly crap from Tourism Ireland on the TV which makes me laugh. Then again “Come to Ireland and get dirty looks because of your accent” or “we don’t want you back” won’t get many punters through the door I suppose, so to be expected I guess.

    More immediately, barely supressed hostility and disdain for British institutions will tie the green together more tightly but won’t get anywhere with the orange. On the other hand, about the only thing that will bring nationalists and unionists together is support against an English sports team…

  • English

    The trouble is all the negativity relates to England, not Wales or Scotland. Perhaps it’s because the Scots, Irish and Welsh were sent over the top first during war time!

    Seriously, I do find this strange though, as the majority of British settlers in Ireland were Scottish. I get the impression that the Irish get on fine with the Scots generally, but if it wasn’t for the Ulster-Scots you wouldn’t have a Northern Ireland at all. England on the other hand cannot wait to sever links with Northern Ireland as soon as humanly possible!

  • Conor Gillespie

    “I get the impression that the Irish get on fine with the Scots generally”

    well English, you must remember that Ireland shares a good deal of cultural overlap with the Highland Scots (i.e. Hurling/Shinty, Uilleann/Bag Pipes, Gaeilge/Gàidhlig and in earlier times the social structure of the clan system and a significant degree of shared mythology.) In addition, many Irish and Scottish nationalists have tended to stress the Gaelic elements of their respective cultures. In recognition of these shared roots, the RoI holds an annual hurling/shinty international with Scotland using “compromise rules.” Indeed, in his ‘letters to the Irish Chieftains’, Robert the Bruce referred to ‘Ireland and Scotland’ as ‘Nostra Nacio’ or “Our Nation.” However, most Ulster Scots that I know (and please correct me if I’m mistaken) tend to identify with the Anglian and the Brythonic influences of lowland Scotland rather than the Gaelic. (Although many of the Ulster Scots that I know personally have Gaelic surnames!) The relationship between Irish nationalists and Scotland is a complex and often contradictory one. Although Low Land Scots made up the majority of the planting population, it was English officials who drove away O’Donnell etc. and who organized the system of planting. It was also England (or at least the Anglo-Normans) who first invaded Ireland under the invitation of Dermot MacMurrough. Finally (although I hate to admit it) we nationalists often find it much more convenient to set ourselves in opposition to the ‘immortal antagonist’ of imperial England rather than in the far more complex context of modern national identities and political factors. Also, amongst most sane members of the nationalist community, there is a great line drawn between the historical figure of England and the modern English people.