“the better to explain the gathering disunities of the current kingdom”

The English Independent carries a review of a what looks like a fascinating political history, which traces the outline of West Britain, “a coastal littoral from Glasgow and Carlisle, via Belfast, Dublin and Liverpool, to Holyhead, Swansea and Cardiff, whose autonomy – both geographic and civilisational – is insufficiently recognised.”

In its heyday, from 1860 to 1930, this was a littoral whose vigour and sophistication generated great writers, humming trade routes, radical political movements, and world-changing industrial innovations. But this floating commonwealth was not, or not easily, directable from the metropolitan “core” of London and the Home Counties. One of Harvie’s intriguing arguments is that the capital’s semi-landed political elites used the enterprising prole-and-bourgeois energies of West Britain for war and profit, but was surprised when a variety of nationalisms (Welsh, Scottish and of course Irish) emerged from those areas – nationalisms which questioned, until this day, the assumed benefits of Union and Empire.

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  • willowfield

    The “English Independent”?

  • Yeah, I noticed that too (helped, no doubt by the fact that it’s the second word in Mick’s intro).

    Actually, it raises an interesting issue. As the ‘English’ Indo is owned by Tony O’Reilly, should it not be called the ‘Irish’ Independent … except O’Reilly already has one of those!

    Since it’s published in London (England), then ‘English’ Independent is probably correct. I imagine its editorial line is largely London-based, though it’s news is world-wide, and its readership also worldwide.

    Where are papers really from? Their point of publication, the location of their editorial teams, their ownership, their sales, …

  • willowfield

    Its name is “The Independent”, why not use that?

    Otherwise, it purports to be a UK national newspaper: not an English national newspaper, so “English Independent” is inappropriate.

  • A celtic commonwealth – a benelux for the smaller nations on the western side of europe. Not really as far fetched as you migh imagine considering that the three Celtic nations with some chance of achieving self rule are all boundsing the same body of water and there are areas where enhanced cooperation would yield benefits. Political unity would be interesting as an experiment but there is clearly no will or desire for it.
    However get Alex Salmond, Ieuan Wyn Jones and political leadership from Ireland and there might be some interesting areas of cooperation resulting from it.

  • … it purports to be a UK national newspaper …

    willowfield, can you please provide evidence of that. A source, perhaps? Otherwise we will have to discount it as nonsense.

  • willowfield

    Are you serious?

    It’s one of many national UK newspapers, and one of the five “serious” ones, alongside The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and The Financial Times.

    Its domestic coverage is UK-wide.

  • Mick Fealty

    [Shakes head, and walks away…]

  • Garibaldy

    Eloquently put Mick. As for the argument summarised in the review, can’t understand why he calls it west Britain as opposed to the Irish sea coastal region.

  • willowfield

    Sorry, Mick, but it’s an interesting point.

    You’ve chosen to refer to the “English Independent” rather than its actual name “The Independent”. I’ve never heard the newspaper described in such a way.

    That immediately raises questions – do you consider that the newspaper is an English, rather than a UK national? If so, what is your basis for this?

  • willowfield,

    You’re a stickler for accuracy (some say you’re a ‘hairsplitter’). So where in the English Independent does it “purport to be a UK national newspaper”. I see international news, sport and arts, and I see that the paper is published in London by an Irish company. My queestions still holds – on what basis is any newspaper ‘from’ anywhere, in the absence of it stating that (in its title, for example)?

  • Henry94

    The Times is often called the Times of London. It would be an semi-interesting takes for someone to find out which of O’Relliy’s organs is more popular in the north.

    But the concept of a thriving zone based around the cities of the Irish sea is very interesting. Maybe the councils should come together to see if the idea has any benefits in the current age.

  • … the concept of a thriving zone based around the cities of the Irish sea is very interesting

    Sorry, but its one hundred years too late. The sea is no longer the means of communication between the people living around it. A far more realistc 21st century ‘zone’ is that of Ryanair destinations, or EasyJet, or whatever. The days when people in Liverpool felt ‘close’ to people in Dublin are long over. Now they feel close to what they see on their TV, and where they can get to quickly and easily, by car or plane.

  • willowfield

    HORSEMAN

    So where in the English Independent does it “purport to be a UK national newspaper”.

    In its domestic pages. Read the stories.

    I’ve never once heard anyone claim that The Independent is not one of the UK nationals.

    HENRY94

    The Times is often called the Times of London.

    I’ve heard it described as the London Times – but never the English Times.

  • ,

    In its domestic pages. Read the stories.

    It has a section on UK news. But I asked you to tell me where it “purport to be a UK national newspaper”. I note that you are unable to do so.

    I’ve never once heard anyone claim that The Independent is not one of the UK nationals.

    And that is your proof. Pathetic. Try harder.

  • mnob

    FFS Horseman quit your trolling. Just in case you’re not – this from the INM corporate website :

    “In the UK (including Northern Ireland), the Group publishes the quality national titles The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. Londoncareers magazine is the highest distributed jobs magazine in the London area. It also publishes sports magazines in the UK.”

    Keywords – UK and national.

  • willowfield

    So if it divides news up into “UK” and “World”, how is it not a UK national?

  • Greenflag

    ‘In its heyday, from 1860 to 1930, this was a littoral whose vigour and sophistication generated great writers, humming trade routes, radical political movements, and world-changing industrial innovations.’

    ‘Heyday’ Recent ‘heyday’ I’d have thought . A thousand years ago the ‘coastal littoral’ would have been warming with trading ships albeit many Viking and there was even a ‘slave ‘ trade centered on Dublin .

    In Pre Roman Britain the ‘coastal littoral ‘ would also have been a hive of ‘activity’ as it was far easier and safer to travel from one coast to the other than to trek across country through bogs and forests . Historians have noted similar names been given to various tribes living on either side of the coastal littoral.The Neolithic cultures – Stonehenge -Newgrange and others are all located a little inland from the coastal littoral as are many others .

    garibaldi ,

    ‘As for the argument summarised in the review, can’t understand why he calls it west Britain as opposed to the Irish sea coastal region.’

    West Britain is two words .
    and Irish Sea Coastal Regions (Should be regionS rather than region) is four ?

    Our Oriental friends from the land of the rising sun call the sea between Japan and China the Sea of Japan . Japan itself has 4 main islands and oddly enough in Japanese ‘economic ‘ history the earliest significant development was around the ‘coastal littoral’ of the islands .

    And what did the Japanese call the sea between their 4 main islands ? Not the Honshu nor the Shikoku nor Kyushu nor Hokkaido Seas but the Inland Sea .

    Can’t imagine us Irish going for a renaming of the Irish /Celtic Sea to the Inland Sea ?:)

    I have to think that because Japan is 500 miles from coastal China and 100 miles to the nearest point on the Asian mainland -Korea , they ‘feel’ comfortable with naming their group of islands the ‘mainland ‘ and thus the obvious ‘Inland Sea’ .

    Back to the thread- thanks Mick -Harvie’s book is being added to my list – sounds like an interesting read

    Re the newspaper fraca . The Irish Indo can’t make up it’s mind whether it’s competing with the Irish editions of the British tabloids or the Irish Times. I prefer the Independent to any other UK broadsheet .Don’t ask me why 🙂

  • mnob

    Thank you for your contribution.

    The reason for my question was, of course, to pull willowfield up on his unsubstantiated claims. He calls for proof of everything on every other thread, so I feel it is only fair that he is asked to provide the same level of proof here.

    You did it for him, for which I imagine he is grateful, as he wasn’t able to do it himself.

  • mnob

    ah right theres a history that i didnt understand.

    Just like most things in NI 🙂

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Horseman

    Follow Mick’s lead and don’t feed the troll ;¬)

    I heard a scouse guy with the thickest accent on the radio today, if I didn’t already know he was a scouser I may well have taken him as a Dub. The relationship between those from all sections of the north of Ireland and the west of Scotland. And of course our culture, which another pedant on here frowns on the use of Celtic. Really the culture is British and Irish, though not the misappropriated political British used by the ancestors of the Germans and Danes who raided and settled here.

  • Peadar O’Donnell

    Looks like a fascinating book – shame we got bogged down in nitpicking about the independence of the Independent.

    If Harvie is talking about an Irish sea litoral, then do the west of Ireland, and highlands and islands of Scotland, form part of ‘west Britain’ – or are they beyond it and something else. (Becuase they are very much distinguished from the local core regions of the central belt and the Pale/ Belfast area.)

    They were, and to an extent remain, Gaelic, rural and underdeveloped – the object of special relief first from London and now from Brussels. The Irish sea culture by contrast is Anglo-phone and commercial/ industrial.

    On the other hand the ‘far west’ is also taken by ‘litoral’ nationalists to be the true essence of the nation (Scottish and Irish); eg. Walter Scott, or Molly Ivers in ‘The Dead’.

    Must buy the book!

  • Dewi

    “can’t understand why he calls it west Britain as opposed to the Irish sea coastal region.”

    Surely Celtic Sea coastal region….

  • Driftwood

    The Independent online is http://www.independent.co.uk
    I bought a copy of the print edition yesterday. Is there a Scottish Independent, A Welsh Independent whatever? Next time I go into a newsagent and ask for “The English Independent” I wonder what the response will be?

  • Dewi

    “But as the under-resourced rail infrastructure of Wales juddered me to my coastal destination, it seemed possible that this floating commonwealth – or at least a Celtic alliance of nations and regions – might revive its linkages, for mutual benefit. For one thing, a hydrofoil down the littoral would have been an easier trip. As the break-up of Britain continues, Harvie has provided a new mental and historical map for these islands, which could have more than scholarly consquences.”

    Now that’s good – Scotland are rapidly redesigning their transport infrastructure to counteract the London-centricity. About time the rest of us followed their example.

  • Peat Blog

    Could we call it the Celtic League?

    Ah well, if Sammy W gets his way it could always be 1000 leagues under the sea…

  • Peadar O’Donnell

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but this is a non-story. As I have said previously, the sea is no longer the means of communication between the people living around it. The real ‘littorals’ in the 21st century are those along motorways, and around airports. It is not for nothing that we talk of the M4 corridor in England, or the M50 in Dublin, or even ‘Dort-land’. The sea, and the various routes that used to be important are no longer so. Land and air are the current connectors.

  • Dewi

    Horseman – “Land and air are the current connectors” – For people you are correct – I wonder for how long though. For trade and freight in goods sea transport usually more cost effective over medium distances. (I’ll find a source….)

  • Dewi,

    I agree that, especially for islands, ships and the sea carry the bulk of the weight of imports and exports. But Mick quoted some guy twittering on about a “floating commonwealth” that instilled “vigour and sophistication” and “generated great writers, humming trade routes, radical political movements, and world-changing industrial innovations”.

    Sorry, but Stena Line does not instill any poetry in me, and the only politics it moves are strikes aimed at ensuring that the workers get proper salaries. For the rest, we head to the airport to get a cheap flight to another city. We neither see, nor care about, the sea. It fills our supermarket shelves, but in an unseen way for most of us.

    Even at the most basic level, airports are much more a part of our current world than dismal ferry ports. They buzz with life, food, shops, WiFi, people of all sorts, etc. Ferry ports …. (shudder) … don’t get me started.

  • Peadar O’Donnell

    Horseman

    That’s a fair point – bubble burst!

    But…
    though sea travel is not so important the infrastructure and development it produced in the past attracts current infrastructure. eg. compare the Dublin M50 (built) with the western rail corridor in the republic (not built). Shannon loses out to Dublin and Belfast etc.

    Another interesting idea is the ‘exclave’ – cities like Liverpool and Dublin can be seen as carved out of the greater landmass culturally and economically – having more in common with each other than with the hinterland. Everyone knows about Irish and Welsh scousers, but Dubs were similarly disconnected with the rest of the country (eg. going on holidays to Blackpool or the Isle of Man, travelling to England for football – before the Sky era at least).

    On strikes, you might remember Jim Larkin as an organizer on both sides of the irish sea.

  • … On strikes, you might remember Jim Larkin

    Do I sound that old?

    You may be right in some of what you say, Peadar, but it refers always to the past. One hundred years ago the sea may have been a key connector for people and communities, but it isn’t any more. The Dubs who went to Blackpool (Dubh Linn to Blackpool .. cool, huh?) don’t go any more – they go to their villas in Spain, by plane. They might meet Scousers there, and even get on with them quite well, but it is strictly a holiday romance these days.

  • joeCanuck

    A celtic commonwealth – a benelux for the smaller nations on the western side of europe.

    What about Brittany? Anyone know if there is any independence movement there?

  • Rory

    What’s all this kerfaffle about The Independent? Save your breath.

    Hardly anyone reads it and even fewer pay any attention to what it says. Even the Barclay Twins’ new pouting, gorgeous Daily Telegraph commands more credibility (and that’s not much).

  • Peadar O’Donnell

    OK Horseman – you win!

  • jer

    joe – certainly not forgetting our friends in Breizh but they are quite distance from getting any level of independence. there are independence movements getting about 2-3% of the votes. Also some militant aspects bretons ofter work with basque separatists. Still a strong cultural identity but the Bretons seem to regard themselves as a region now rather than a subsumed country.
    they have an inspirational language movement called Diwan which teaches Breton but its a nascent movement and oftens receives attention from the police even though its solely cultural.
    if the basques get their independence then that might help break the grip of paris but we wuld have to wait and see

  • joeCanuck

    Jer,

    Thanks for the info. We never hear anything about the Bretons.

  • Dewi
  • Dewi

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diwan_(school)

    Sorry – this one works I think

  • All this sounds like the same old argument. If only the Unionist/Protestant Ascendancy could see how it is a spanner in the works of a fruitful relationship between Scotland, Wales and Ireland.I read the review of that book in The Independent. Sounds to me like a case of another ‘author’ exploiting the new insecurity cause by Devolution. Moaning about the train service (as he does in the piece) between England and Wales is a typical English moan.
    The problem with ‘West British’ concept is that while the Welsh and to some extent the Scottish HAVE to live with the English, for Ireland England is an irrelevancy (as long as it doesn’t send over invading armies.)
    But I can see the day when our cousins in Scotland and Wales can enjoy a HEALTHY relationship with Ireland – and indeed our cousins in England.

  • Gregory

    There still is slavery, in Dublin & elsewhere, I was rubbished for whining about WP-UK permits being sold for 3 to 5 grand each, that’s six months ‘free’ slave-labor to the sleve-town of your choice, call it Ballymoney wherever.

    I’ve been harassed, threatened with whack jobs, for being a fly in the ointment of prsperity. That’s Northern Ireland for ya. There is nothin’ worse than a few culchie fascists feeding at the trough of compromised labor.

    G.