“I am an Englishman and a subject of Her Majesty the Queen.”

On the European level there is a bizarre, but understandable consonance between the Euro sceptic English Tory and dyed in the wool Sinn Fein supporter. Neither is comfortable with the proposed disaggregation of their nationality to Brussels, and the potential deepening of the democratic deficit. David Vance links to a particularly empassioned cry from the heart of Simon Heffer:

I am not a citizen of the bloody European Union, except on a technicality. I am an Englishman and a subject of Her Majesty the Queen. I intend to remain that way, and when I go abroad I wish that last point to be made abundantly clear on my passport.

I do not wish to have what remains of my national identity, of which I am inordinately proud, subsumed into the sovietised European empire by these menacing Orwellian bureaucrats whom I have never elected and who have never had the manners or the decency to ask me what I feel about these important matters.

As the Libertas blog notes, scepticism is on the rise, and national parties are expected to continue to be punished with increased representation from Eurosceptic MEPs. And of course battle has barely yet been joined over when is a treaty not a treaty, but a constitution in disguise debate.

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  • Otto

    The English conservatives and the Shinners are really two of a kind although they can`t stand each other…they are both nationalistic and economically speaking very right wing. The SDLP represent the more socially liberal/socialistic segment of our nationalist population just like Fianna Fail do with the people of the Free State across the border…they support the EU and social justice. Sinn Fein probably wants to see Ireland as a client state of the Vatican and the abolition of all workers rights laws such as the minimum wage for example. I imagine they vehemently oppose abortion too. Irish Republicans are our version of the American Republican Party.

  • Ciaran

    And this would be on what planet otto?????????

  • sportsman

    “Brittannic Majesty” ? Hmmm. Should that not read ” Germanic Majesty” ?

  • PaddyReilly

    Sinn Fein probably wants to see Ireland as a client state of the Vatican and the abolition of all workers rights laws such as the minimum wage for example.

    Am I right in imagining that your alien name and questionable grasp of Northern Irish political realities indicate that you are not actually very familiar with the North of Ireland?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Jesus, pass me a bucket.

  • Rory

    With apologies for plagiarism to my Spurs supporting neighbours I nevertheleless must retort, ” Simon Heffer – he’s gotta heart? “

  • DK

    There was a point once where SF were anti-EU, but the obvious role of the EU in the celtic tiger and the massive support in the Republic for the EU ended up with them ditching that policy. Lest we forget, it was also the supposedly anti-EU tories that got the UK into the EU as well, although they keep their anti-EU rhetoric to debate about limits of centralisation, rather than leaving the EU.

    I am also sure that there must have been some in SF and in the wider republican family that may have noticed that the power of the EU in reducing borders between countries has weakened the case for a United Ireland: are too many people on the Island coming round to the thinking that if we are all just part of a big happy Europe, why are we bothering with removing the border? In short, is apathy a unionist, and the EU the biggest Union of the lot?

  • Rory

    P.s. Nice fellow, Otto. This had never occured to me before.

    A refreshingly different viewpoint. Well done, Slugger, the great wide world is not only listening – it is sending out emissaries to participate.

  • Sean

    hmmm Otto I am Canadian and I have a better grasp of northern Ireland politics than you do!

    Sinn Fein want to be a client state of the Vatican? they are decidedly a-religous and are only associated with the Catholics because thats the back ground of most of their supporters.

    Sinn Fein right wing? thats probably why they call for a 32 state socialist republic i mean socialism and right wingers are after all synonymous

    I re-read your post and as near as I can figure you have transposed the values of the DUP onto Sinn Fein

  • oTTO

    hmmm Otto I am Canadian and I have a better grasp of northern Ireland politics than you do!

    Like hell you do Sean! You probably are a third generation Canadian who thinks you know anything about Ireland but you don`t.As for Irish politics Sinn Fein may talk the talk over progressive politics but as far as their opposition to Irish EU membership is concerned they don`t walk the walk! They are no different from the American GOP.As for Canadian politics my contacts over there tell me that your recently elected new government are assholes as far as the environment for example is concerned. I`m 19 and think your Prime minister …Steven Harper is a total dick!
    David Sazuki would make for a way better national leader over there. That guy rocks!

  • pith

    Someone should tell Heffer the subject that Her Majesty the Queen has signed him up to membership of the European Union.

  • Kevin

    Looks like Otto has no grasp of American or Canadian politics, either. Sinn Fein like the GOP? what a hoot!

  • kensei

    “I am also sure that there must have been some in SF and in the wider republican family that may have noticed that the power of the EU in reducing borders between countries has weakened the case for a United Ireland: are too many people on the Island coming round to the thinking that if we are all just part of a big happy Europe, why are we bothering with removing the border? In short, is apathy a unionist, and the EU the biggest Union of the lot?”

    Or maybe they think it has really helped the case, by largely negating the border, removing one of the key economic planks for the Union: access to markets and helped build a prosperous and more attractive Republic? Excetera.

    Swings and roundabouts, isn’t it?

  • Rory

    “Swings and roundabouts innit?”, if you please, Kensei. Do have some respect for the nuance, if you please.

  • Rory

    Good man, Otto, you tell ’em.

    It wouldn’t surprise me that that there George Bush Jr. was the secret leader of the IRA. Have you had a close look into his eyes? No? Neither have I. Just goes to show you.

    His dad was always blowing up people and not letting on as well you know. He was the leader of the CIA, which I suppose is just like the IRA only with a ‘C’ and an ‘I’ – Church of Ireland IRA probably, which just proves my point.

  • Dawkins

    It is 2007 isn’t it? Not 1507?

    How extraordinary then that a mammal named Simon should consider his identity to be complete only when he prostrates himself before another mammal named Elizabeth and declares himself her subject.

    Of course it’s impossible to know whether he wrote these lines with a straight face:

    “I do not wish to have what remains of my national identity, of which I am inordinately proud, subsumed into the sovietised European empire…”

    But assuming for a moment that he did, surely he realizes that by declaring himself a proud subject of QE2 he’s admitting he’s proud that his personal identity is subsumed into that of another.

    I shall never understand monarchists.

  • Harry Flashman

    I’ve never quite understood how it is that Irish nationalists who vehemently rejected a Union with a traditionally hostile neighbouring land mass which was forced through by unashamed bribery, slight of hand and downright lies feel so unable to accept that English people should also feel the same about the union in which they now find themselves.

    Irish nationalism; a good thing, a native pride in their own nation’s history.

    English nationalism: a bad thing, ugly, nasty sometimes laughable, worthy of no respect.

    Nope don’t get it either.

  • Dawkins

    Well, blame it on the lateness of the hour but last night I neglected the most absurd part of Simon’s diatribe. Compare if you will:

    “I am an Englishman and a subject of Her Majesty the Queen.”

    with

    “… these menacing Orwellian bureaucrats whom I have never elected…”

    Simple Simon’s evidently forgotten that he’s never elected QE2 either.

    Er…

  • DK

    Ken: “Swings and roundabouts, isn’t it?”

    I did think that, but the border that the EU is eroding is not between Northern Ireland and the Republic, it is between the UK and the Republic. This is in favour of Unionists – who as usual never understand when they are winning and do their best to try and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • foreign correspondent

    The UK historically tried to force everyone into the same cultural mold of English-speaking monarchists. The EU does not force everyone to adopt the same culture and contains monarchies, republics, even Grand Duchies. Give me the EU any day.

  • Harry,

    Maybe it’s the way in which English Nationalism manifests itself that makes it different. Right wing football hooligans rampaging through Europe and abusing every different type of culture and nationality that they meet . The BNP stirring up racial confront in Bradford, Oldham etc… The Mail, Tories and the right wing establishment using the issue of Europe to covertly increase racist tensions particularly towards the Muslim population.

    This aggressive attitude to National identity is not only different to Ireland, but also to most other European countries….

  • Otto,

    Can you say what you actually mean, rather than resorting childish insults?

    Dawkikns,

    “Simple Simon…”

    And you’re long enough in the tooth to know better…

  • Rory

    I suppose the one great benefit of Heffer’s writing, albeit a side effect, is that beside his output the scribblings of Paul Johnson appear sane and composed. Johnson should be grateful to him.

  • pith

    MacSwiney,

    I don’t know much about nationalism. Would there be many English people voting for the sort of extremism you outline in your posting? What sort of percentages would we be talking about? Is there any chance that those nationalist fellas could end up running the country over there?

  • snakebrain

    What a jerk. Doesn’t he see the void that he’s filling with his stupid nationalism?

    Sinn Fein are frankly more like the Blackshirts than the Tories.

  • Dawkins

    Mick,

    “And you’re long enough in the tooth to know better…”

    I believe you are too. You know as well as I do that journos like Simon smarm publicly over the royals and secretly share my disdain of the whole institution of monarchy. But hey, a chap never knows when a bit of sycophancy can advance his career eh?

    Monarchists can be divided into two strains: the great unwashed who know no better, and the cynical who do know, but exploit the royals for personal advancement.

    But that aside you’ll have to agree that Simon was behaving like a simpleton in this case, in not realizing that he’s espousing an unelected ruler on the one hand and vilifying another unelected ruler on the other.

  • Pith,

    I very much doubt that the extremism of the BNP will ever gain any sort of meaningful power, however their percentage vote has increased significantly. They polled nearly 200,000 votes in the 2005 General Election – an increase of 75% on the 2001 election.

    It’s not so much the question of power itself, rather the alarming rise in support for a blatantly fascist party.

  • Dawkins,

    Just keep to the rules of the site, and we can get somewhere. You don’t like monarchists? Fine, just tell us why and leave the sneering remarks for the wingnuts and moonbats.

  • nmc

    From Wiki:

    Nationalism is an ethno-political ideology that sustains the concept of a nation-identity for an exclusive group of people.It is the discrete or implied doctrine which holds the preservation and independence of its distinct identity, in all its aspects, and the “glory and wellbeing” of the nation as core aspects of its fundamental ethos.

    The problem comparing Irish Nationalists and certain British Nationalists is that while both groups fall into the category outlined above, they do not have exclusive rights to the term Nationalist.

    For example there are many English Nationalists who aren’t racist and don’t support the BNP, or watch football. In the same respect there are Irish, and Northern Irish Nationalists who wouldn’t consider themselves part of the group normally defined as Nationalist here.

  • Dawkins

    Mick,

    The rules of the site as I understand them are that we the people comment on the subject of your posts and the posts of others.

    Simon Heffer makes a foolish statement, using the language of the schoolyard. I show up a major discrepancy in his statements. May I not sneer at such public idiocy?

  • Mick Fealty

    You may not. Disprove, undermine, or ridicule all you like, so long as you do it through erudition.

  • Dawkins

    Mick,

    “Disprove, undermine, or ridicule all you like, so long as you do it through erudition.”

    You just won’t let it go will you? And there I was thinking my previous posts were fairly erudite.

    However, let’s recap shall we?

    You put up a post quoting Simon Heffer in the Daily Telegraph. Neither you nor Simon appears to notice a major flaw in his argument — an argument I might add that instead of being erudite is replete with sneers such as “the sovietised European empire” and “these menacing Orwellian bureaucrats”.

    The flaw is that Simon fails to see that his grovelling to an unelected ruler, i.e. QE2, is just as dubious as being governed by an unelected EU.

    I do hope that’s clear now.

    You ask me to explain why I don’t like monarchists. I should have thought the patent absurdity of monarchism was self-evident without any further help from me. But very well.

    I don’t like monarchists because their idiotic subservience to a dysfunctional family leads to the clogging up of my newspapers and television with mindless reportage in place of genuine news. I’m paying for this space and airtime. If the monarchists wish to behave like medievalists, let them join their local Knights in Shining Armour and Belles Dames Sans Cervelle Club and have their silly mock jousts etc at weekends, and preferably out of my sight.

    I’m unashamedly an English republican, a son of the Enlightenment who holds that all peeps are born equal. If anyone can make the case to me for the persistence of monarchy in AD2007, I’m all ears.

  • Wilde Rover

    “I do not wish to have what remains of my national identity, of which I am inordinately proud, subsumed into the sovietised European empire by these menacing Orwellian bureaucrats whom I have never elected and who have never had the manners or the decency to ask me what I feel about these important matters.”

    Reminiscent of the cave man with his back to the lion’s den staring out with relief that he isn’t out on the plains with those nasty saber toothed tigers.

  • Harry Flashman

    Oh I get you macswiney.

    The reason that English nationalism is bad and Irish nationalism is good is that some English nationalists vote Tory read the Daily Mail and occasionally behave badly at football matches, but Irish nationalists on the other hand are famous for their peaceful, non-violent behaviour, intelligent choice of reading material and refusal to vote for extremely violent political organisations.

    Did I get that right?

  • Mick Fealty

    Dawkins,

    What you are or are not should come out in the quality of your argument. If it is true you are both an English Republican and a son of the Enlightenment, you should not have to feel the need to state it. Rather it should be evident in your argument. It is not.

    What you (and others) have posted on this thread is a very limited (and limiting) emotional response to the broader material offered above for debate, not an intellectual one. I’m not in the least interested in the first, but am all ears for the second.

    Now, do you ‘get it’?

  • me

    O dear…!

    Mick is so right. And he even says it in very proper English.

  • Dawkins

    Mick,

    Oh dear, indeed. I’ve posted my argument three already. You haven’t noticed or you don’t wish to. Fine by me. I don’t have an ego that needs bolstering, and always apologize when I’m wrong.

    It’s a very liberating thing, admitting one’s mistakes — and could be practised with profit by many peeps in Northern Ireland.

  • Dawkins

    three already = three times already.

    I admit I made a mistake there :0)

  • I Wonder

    I was wondering when the “postnationalist” phase began to kick in. (UK or Ireland, take your pick.)

    Anyone take a guess?

    1997, perhaps?

  • Mick Fealty

    Dawkins,

    How about: three sneers and you’re out? 😉

    You’ve given us a reason why you don’t like Royality, rather than a rational response to the substantive material presented above.

    It’s a emotional riff that assumes your audience agrees with you (and therefore doesn’t require explanation). And it is riven with contempt for anyone who disagrees with your feelings.

    Nothing wrong with strong feelings, or bluntness, of course. But I think it was David Ervine who once said that you cannot argue someone out of a position that they have arrived at emotionally. So, yep, as well as just being plain rude, it’s a conversation killer.

    To repeat myself from another thread a few days back, good discourse depends upon a mix of civility and bluntness. Too much civility without the bluntness leads to dull, anodyne consensus. Too much bluntness without civility is just war by other means.

    You want a verbal war? Fine. But do it on your own patch. I’m interested in contributions from people who are willing to engage, be it competitively or co-operatively, with each other’s arguments.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Dawkins: “You put up a post quoting Simon Heffer in the Daily Telegraph. Neither you nor Simon appears to notice a major flaw in his argument—an argument I might add that instead of being erudite is replete with sneers such as “the sovietised European empire” and “these menacing Orwellian bureaucrats”. ”

    And how, precisely, do you think an intrusive and un-elected bureacracy of limited efficiency, efficacy and ethical ability should be characterized, Dawkins? That he sneers does not make him inaccurate.

    Dawkins: “The flaw is that Simon fails to see that his grovelling to an unelected ruler, i.e. QE2, is just as dubious as being governed by an unelected EU. ”

    Not factually accurate, Dawkins. The monarchy has become the national equivalent of a brand-name, like the hood ornament on a rolls-royce. Sure, there is a certain amount of pride and ceremonial function, but what does it really do? The EU, on the other hand, is intrusive, meddlesome and seemingly bureaucratic for bureacracy’s sake. Hardly the same thing, really.

    To simply, one is a choice, the other the ugly reality of a series of poorly thought-out treaties. A “united states” of Europe, bound together not by a common ideal or manifesto, but by vast swaths of red tape.

  • me

    You have to admit Dawkins, when you fight with Fealty either know your stuff or go down at the first hurdle. I’ve been posting here for a long time, and have always found him fair, and uncompromising in his not to play the man/emotional card.

    he’s a good host and a fair moderator.

  • Dawkins

    Mick,

    “You’ve given us a reason why you don’t like Royality [sic], rather than a rational response to the substantive material presented above.”

    Er,

    “You don’t like monarchists? Fine, just tell us why…”

    Posted by Mick on Sep 13, 2007 @ 11:20 AM

    However, Mick, you’re right. So right. Righter than right even.

    Happy now? Dawkins signing off. I’ve important work to do. Matter closed as far as I’m concerned.

  • While we’re on the subject of ‘Europe’ and those who hate it, here’s the text of my latest screed in AgendaNI magazine, a response to a familiar growl by one of our MEPs:

    ‘It was always only going to be a matter of time. Like nuts in May and Cookoos in spring, John Redwood was returned to ensure that Labour stay ahead in the opinion polls. Redwood has drawn up a list of ‘red-tape’ that can be cut so as to unshackle British business from the chains forced around them by smug bureaucrats. This is “as good as a tax cut”, say the dynamic duo of Mr Redwood and the Shadow Chancellor, the very posh George Osborne.
    A short examination of what is involved in this bonfire of workplace vanities reveals the usual targets. The Health & Safety Act is too namby-pamby – Real men don’t mind losing an eye or a limb as long as their company makes a profit. The Working Time Directive – If a 60 hour week was good enough for Thomas Gallaher’s Mill Girls a century ago then its good enough for call centre workers today.
    There is something sad about this thought process, as well as being lazy and mean. It implies that we in little Britain are so weak against the wily French officials in Brussels that we cannot ever get a deal that suits the interests of the whole UK. Where does this inferiority complex come from? It is lazy because the same whinge has been going on for 30 years, and is usually accompanied by “this isn’t what I voted for in 1975”, the last referendum on UK membership of the EU. It is mean because it infers that the only way to have a productive workforce is to work them to the bone and feed them scraps.
    Sadly, we have the same whitterings here in Northern Ireland, most distressingly from all three of our MEPs, who all exhibit various degrees of what some call ‘euroscepticism’. Bairbre de Brun was wont to exclaim about ‘neoliberal’ policies and intentions in the last attempt at an EU Constitution, and Jim Nicholson still complains about the 2004 enlargement of the EU, but the reservations of the Ulster Unionist and Sinn Fein MEPs are some way short of the Independent MEP Jim Allister.
    In the last issue of AgendaNI, The ex-DUP MEP went off on a familiar riff about how “the EU has failed the UK”. To back this claim, he asserted that opinion polls show “significant support for a British withdrawal from the EU.” When you consider that for three decades, a largely foreign owned press has laid down a constant barrage of lies and abuse about ‘Brussels’ while successive governments, Labour and Tory, have let those distortions go unchecked, it is amazing that not one reliable poll had ever shown a majority in favour of leaving the EU.
    Jim Allister’s website links to such gnarled old loons on the fringe of the anti-European far right as the Bruges Group and the Democracy Movement, who are the closest thing the UK Independence Party have to think-tanks. Such bodies are the source for whoppers like “it is estimated that the UK economy is cost £6bn a year due to red-tape and regulation emanating from the Brussels bureaucracy.” That’s your holidays he’s talking about, by the way. Most UK ‘red-tape’ emanates from Whitehall, and is tacked on to EU regulations – a well-oiled practice known as ‘brass-plating’, whereby things that the CBI like are claimed by the national government, and things that the IoD whine about are blamed on, y’know, Brussels.
    Trade Unions like more of what the EU does than we dislike it. Thatcherism reminded us of the virtues of international co-operation and supranational protection of citizens’ rights. Like all sensible business organisations, we too lobby in Brussels through the ETUC. We like the EU’s Charter for Fundamental Rights, especially Article 28:
    “Workers and employers, or their respective organisations, have, in accordance with Community law and national laws and practices, the right to negotiate and conclude collective agreements at the appropriate levels and, in the cases of conflicts of interests, to take collective action to defend their interests, including strike action.”
    It is a pity that the UK government drew a ‘red line’ through that one, and consequently workers in the Irish Republic can have an underpinning of such rights as workplace consultation, protection against unfair dismissal, to safe and fair conditions, to decent social assistance and the protection of children against exploitation and human trafficking. Surely a proclaimed Christian like Jim Allister cannot object to the articles protecting family life and the freedom to worship?
    Most of those rights we have in our national law already. To keep them there, however, we need to be properly engaged with the EU and our fellow citizens in all 27 member states to ensure that they too, benefit from such ‘luxuries’.’

  • The English conservatives and the Shinners are really two of a kind although they can`t stand each other…they are both nationalistic and economically speaking very right wing. The SDLP represent the more socially liberal/socialistic segment of our nationalist population just like Fianna Fail do with the people of the Free State across the border…they support the EU and social justice. Sinn Fein probably wants to see Ireland as a client state of the Vatican and the abolition of all workers rights laws such as the minimum wage for example. I imagine they vehemently oppose abortion too. Irish Republicans are our version of the American Republican Party.

    Posted by Otto on Sep 12, 2007 @ 07:12 PM

    This is a wind up isnt it?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    J O’F: “It is a pity that the UK government drew a ‘red line’ through that one, and consequently workers in the Irish Republic can have an underpinning of such rights as workplace consultation, protection against unfair dismissal, to safe and fair conditions, to decent social assistance and the protection of children against exploitation and human trafficking. ”

    I know… all those damned work-houses and debtor’s prisons, filled to the brim…

    J O’F: “Surely a proclaimed Christian like Jim Allister cannot object to the articles protecting family life and the freedom to worship?
    Most of those rights we have in our national law already.”

    Then why, I simply must ask, do you need redundant laws from Brussels, if there are already national laws addressing the matter? If, as you would seem to suggest, it isn’t broken and the debtor’s prisons aren’t being dusted off and little match-girls are freezing to death in the snow as they walk to school up-hill, both ways, why must some work-order from Belgium to “fix” matters?

    J O’F: “To keep them there, however, we need to be properly engaged with the EU and our fellow citizens in all 27 member states to ensure that they too, benefit from such ‘luxuries’.’ ”

    Bollocks. It is far easier to withdraw from a treaty than to overturn national labor law in as extreme fashion as you darkly fantasize in your piece.

    The EU is a likely failed experiment. Brussels is corrupt and inefficient, the larger nations seek variances on regulations, such as France and Germany on government spending, and are, influence-wise, a paper tiger. A grand show of external unity seeks to paper over vast internal gulfs and fails. A roundly rejected Constitution is resurrected zombie-like as a “treaty,” so pesky things like the consent of the governed can be avoided.

  • Rory

    The really obnoxious thing about Heffer’s rant lies in its arrogance and total inability to consider that there might be Englishmen out there who do not share his view of what it means to be English (if indeed such a thing means anything at all other than an accident of birth).

    Andrew Marr currently is hosting a series on Radio 4 that seeks to address this very question of “Englishness” and in the first programme he and his panel considered London mayoral no-hoper, Boris Johnson. The concensus of the panel was that, whatever Boris’s ideas of Englishness (and how he might exemplify it) were, they most certainly were not ones they subscribed to. “A stage Englishman” and an embarrassment was the general feeling.

    It would not be difficult to interpret Heffer’s latest outburst in the same light. It is hardly a coincidence that he fails to draw attention to the words of that quintessentialy English writer (or so the Heffers of this world would have us believe) Dr. Johnson that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”. As the sainted Pete Baker might say, “Indeed”.

  • Harry Flashman

    Rory couldn’t everything you say about Englishness and the definition of being an Englishman just as easily be said about Irishness, Frenchness, Australianness or any other nationality?

    Why is English nationalism so uniquely illegitimate? Why is every ‘progressive’ meant to sneer in derision or warn of ominous threats when an Englishman expresses his profound nationalism?

    You don’t like Boris Johnson and Simon Heffer because they are Tories and ipso facto because they are also English patriots you therefore feel you must disparage English patriotism. The same is evidenced by macswiney above who believes that Irish nationalists are principled patriots of the highest virtue whilst English nationalists are little more than Daily Mail reading, football brawling Tory/BNP voting scum.

    On the same grounds therefore Ulster Unionists would be perfectly justified in sneering and deriding Irish nationalism because they don’t like the politics and personalities (and past behviour) of Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness but when unionists here do resort to lampooning Irishness (I think of recent comments like “leprechaun language”) you are usually among the first to condemn such behaviour and perhaps even accuse the posters of racism.

    Sauce for the goose?

  • Rory

    Rory couldn’t everything you say about Englishness and the definition of being an Englishman just as easily be said about Irishness, Frenchness, Australianness or any other nationality?” – Harry Flashman

    Well of course it could. It is Heffer’s arrogance in defining Englishness as being necessarily pro-Tory, pro-monarchist, in favour of blood sports, opposed to social progress, knowing one’s place etc. – all that hoary old guff that was ever only acceptable to that class that benefited and their hangers-on and sycophants and despised by the mass of decent thinking Englishmen who worked hard to consign such attitudes to the backwaters of reaction where they belong.

    Do Senator Joe McCarthy or Billy Sunday or Jimmy Swaggart or J Edgar Hoover have a greater claim to being American patriots than Joe Hill or Woody Guthrie or Cesar Chavez or Martin Luther King Jr.? I don’t think so. Nor is Terry Wogan or Jimmy Cricket more Irish than me, although I admit they have greater entertainment value – just as I suppose Heffer is more laughably entertaining than Jack Jones or Watt Tyler but he is no better Englishman than either and, I would argue, no role model.

  • Harry Flashman

    **Well of course it could. It is Heffer’s arrogance in defining Englishness as being necessarily pro-Tory, pro-monarchist, in favour of blood sports, opposed to social progress, knowing one’s place etc.**

    I’m fascinated as to where you read this in Heffer’s piece, it bears no relationship whatsoever to the article in question which is actually about passports and weights and measures.

    Heffer may well believe in those things that you quote as being what Englishness means to him but I am afraid you will have to produce a little bit of evidence if you wish to assert that he is “arrogantly” enforcing his views on anyone else, he isn’t, he is stating his views of what Englishness means to him and his views are every bit as valid as those of Alan Bleasdale, Joe Strummer or Inayat Bunglawala.

    He has never claimed that he is a better Englishman than anyone else, indeed it appears that it is you who arrogantly dismiss his views of his own nationality because you don’t happen to like them (and despite your being a guest in his country).

  • Rory

    “…it appears that it is you who arrogantly dismiss his views of his own nationality because you don’t happen to like them (and despite your being a guest in his country). ”

    But the missus doesn’t like him either and she is from Somerset.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Harry Flashman: “Why is English nationalism so uniquely illegitimate? Why is every ‘progressive’ meant to sneer in derision or warn of ominous threats when an Englishman expresses his profound nationalism? ”

    Mayhap its due to the fact that English nationalism is wedded so fully, at least in the minds of some to English Imperialism, Harry? Take a look at the problem-children of Africa and the Middle East — how many of those are the former beneficiaries of English rule?

  • DavidD

    Perhaps Dread Irish Nationalism, at least in the minds of some, is wedded fully to terrorism. Except that would be special pleading wouldn’t it? Harry’s point stands.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    DavidD: “Perhaps Dread Irish Nationalism, at least in the minds of some, is wedded fully to terrorism. Except that would be special pleading wouldn’t it? Harry’s point stands”

    And what does that have to do with the question at hand, DavidD? Useless whataboutery having nothing to do with Harry’s question and tangential at best to my answer. Now, to indulge you for a moment,there is the small matter of cause and effect. Would Irish terrorism arisen without British Imperialism?

    Neither argument stands particularly well. Rory’s problem, although I suspect he’d be loath to admit it, is not with English nationalism, but with British Imperialism. And, while I give Harry full marks on his defense of English nationalism, his willful ignorance of its relationship with British Imperialism does not do him credit.

    Your failing, by the way, is assuming I was picking a dog in this fight. Harry asked a question, I provided an answer. I stand by that answer — English nationalism is bound up with British Imperialism and confuses the issue. That you can do naught but bring up irrelevancies unrelated to the questions at hand does you no credit. Likewise, your smoke provides no light and precious little heat. The historical fact of the matter is British Imperialism, along with its French and German cousins, drew a number of arbitrary line on the map, the consequences of which we are still “enjoying,” almost all of which have nothing to do with Ireland.

  • Rory

    I do not think that English (not British – there is no British nation ) nationalism is inerradiacibly linked with British imperialism although what manifests itself as such (Heffer’s for example) is a negative feature of it.

    I have had the experience of mixing with English men and women who love their country and detest what those that Heffer admires have inflicted on its people and, in their name, on the people of other lands. It was Englishmen who first pointed out to me that while the nationalism of a repressed colonial people was progressive, the pseudo nationalism of an oppressor colonial power was not only reactionary but a lie.

    There are of course ugly sides to pretend nationalism that are not linked with imperialism – chauvinism, xenophobia and similar manifestations which I have seen observeded down to the level of parish and townland in Ireland, Wales and England and am told is common in Scotland. The domestic experience of the USA, or any part thereof confirm that such attitudes are alive and well.

    My argument is simply that they are unhealthy and need be discouraged and, in this regard, Heffer does not help.

    In any case, given that miscegenation and all the cultural intermix that inevitably will follow is unstoppable why ever not simply joyously embrace it and go forward together positively. Besides which the children will be much less ugly and not feel obliged to search in vain for self esteem within the sad old ranks of Toryism.

  • DavidD

    Dread, I probably didn’t develop my argument in sufficient detail. Nationalism to me means a simple pride in one’s own culture, heritage and history and in the uniqueness of its contribution to humanity. I would imagine that you would not argue against any of this with respect of Irish nationalism. But, with English nationalism, you associate with these universal characteristics a number of your own subjective and unpleasant connotations, none of which appear in the article by Simon Heffer. I did the same to show how this could be worked, subjectively, with Irish nationalism. You seem to be creating a hierarchy of nationalisms – some good, some bad. For example you might maintain that Turkish nationalism carries the mark of Cain because of the Armenian massacres or that the people of Japan should never be allowed to celebrate national pride because of the atrocities of the era 1937 to 1945. Your argument seems to be that some nationalisms, English being your example, are so tainted as to be eternally less worthy than others. I simply cannot accept this and I trust that on reflection you cannot either.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    DavidD: “Dread, I probably didn’t develop my argument in sufficient detail. ”

    Actually, I think you are laboring from a flawed base, but we shall see…

    DavidD: “Nationalism to me means a simple pride in one’s own culture, heritage and history and in the uniqueness of its contribution to humanity.”

    Not the textbook answer, but close enough for blog work…

    DavidD: “But, with English nationalism, you associate with these universal characteristics a number of your own subjective and unpleasant connotations, none of which appear in the article by Simon Heffer.”

    I said that English Nationalism is wedded to British nationalism, DavidD. A great many of the things which English take pride in gloss over some of the nastier things those accomplishments required.

    DavidD: “I did the same to show how this could be worked, subjectively, with Irish nationalism. You seem to be creating a hierarchy of nationalisms – some good, some bad.”

    Are you suggesting that all nationalist feelings are uniformly good, DavidD? And your example was flawed on several levels, none of which you have addressed.

    DavidD: “Your argument seems to be that some nationalisms, English being your example, are so tainted as to be eternally less worthy than others. I simply cannot accept this and I trust that on reflection you cannot either.”

    Actually, I was right — your argument is flawed, since your thesis is based on something that I did not say, but what you wished I said. I carefully made a disctinction between English nationalism and British imperialism.

    You seem to be laboring under the notion that the past is a foreign nation and that the sins committed there should not be accounted. English nationalism should be allowed to celebrate its successes, but should not be allowed to forget what it has done to accomplish those successes — concentration camps in Africa, famines in India, the use of primitive germ warfare against indigenous peoples in North America, with the associated suppression of the Indian, Irish, Kenyan, Rhodesian and other peoples. The good must be accepted with the bad, DavidD.

    For you examples, until Japan and Turkey come to grips with their deeds, no, they should not be allowed to forget them. The past is not a foreign country and our best hope is that past misdeeds can be redeemed.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Oh, you never did answer the question…

    Do you think that Irish terrorism arisen without British Imperialism?