Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Monday, 23 April 2007

The Importance of Being English: The Quest for an English Identity

By Rafal Heydel-Mankoo, St. George’s Day, 2007

“If I were not French, I would wish to be English”, said a Frenchman seeking to flatter Lord Palmerston. “If I were not English, I would wish to be English”, replied His Lordship. When Queen Victoria’s steely Prime Minister uttered those memorable words, winning a double-word score by simultaneously managing to praise England and stick it to the French, few Englishmen would have disagreed. Some might have wondered why he had bothered to state the obvious. Palmerston’s England was self-assured and self-aware. The English knew they were blessed by God and by golly it was their duty to spread that blessing as far as they could, from the darkest corners of their own island to the farthest reaches of the globe. It mattered not one jot or tittle that no-one had actually requested their intercession. It was true that the transmission of Albion’s seed was to take place under a recently created “Union” flag, but everyone knew that the English called the shots. Johnny foreigner’s inability to distinguish between “England” and “Britain” was proof of this.

How remarkable then that the English nation today suffers Europe’s greatest identity crisis. Whilst Estonians, Croats, Scots and Montenegrins gorge themselves on lavish portions of national bluster, the English scavenge for scraps. Europe’s finest nation is lost and confused. It is surely the supreme irony that England’s current malaise has been caused by its greatest creation: Britain. Does this mean that England’s survival requires the destruction of the United Kingdom?

As the protagonists in the British story, generations of Englishmen, secure in their identity, were happy to offer up their cherished ideals and values and have them woven into a new British national fabric. The creation of British symbols and institutions blurred the distinction between England and Britain ever further. Elevation of Britishness above Englishness posed few problems whilst there were pink bits on the map and even the retreat from Empire failed to dent the Englishman’s devotion to the Union. But in Scotland and Wales the gradual weakening of British power caused many to question the continuing relevance of imperial symbols and institutions and even of the Union itself.

History tells us that where union between states is achieved, its foremost advocates will belong to the dominant state. The strong exert greatest influence, we all know that. We also know that smaller states, fearing assimilation, are more likely to foster and maintain their pre-existing cultures and traditions. Whilst the English, Serbs and Prussians thought of themselves firstly as British, Yugoslav or German, the same could not be said for their junior partners (Scots, Bosnians, Bavarians). We find evidence of this in the New World as well: many American southerners belong to Dixie first and the USA second; in Canada the residents of Ontario, Canada’s most powerful province, are the most likely to identify with nation before province.

As Scots and Welsh and Irish celebrate their rich cultural legacy and bask in their Celtic identity, dipping into the vast stores of tradition that earlier generations have preserved, the English appear bereft of culture and burdened by the guilt of what is perceived as a racist and imperialist past, thereby ensuring that any budding pride is well and truly nipped. Such is the degree to which England and Britain are entwined in the public psyche that the major role played by the Scots in the expansion of Empire, and in its nefarious excesses, has been forgotten, obscured by the myth of Braveheart and the struggle against English oppression. It is the English alone who are to blame for Britain’s past wrongs and whilst other inhabitants of these isles may celebrate their national pride with impunity, similar English expressions are attacked as racist. Quite what the rest of the United Kingdom was doing whilst England was colonizing, lopping hands off and stripping resources boggles the mind. The bizarre double-standard reached its apogee upon the election of Ken Livingstone as Mayor of England’s capital city. Shortly after attaining office Red Ken turned Green, allocating funds for a parade honouring St. Patrick but banning one in honour of St. George. The celebration of Englishness was deemed insensitive and divisive. Ken has a point though, as any film buff will attest, the English tendency to evil is indisputable. Has anyone ever seen a Hollywood film where the villain did not speak RP?

Partly due to such negative stereotyping, supporters of Englishness have for many decades retreated to that which is cozy and unassertive: warm beer, bicycling vicars, picnicking in front of a car’s exhaust and watching belled and tassled fetishists bash each other with sticks. It is English Lite. For many, to whom overt displays of patriotism are vulgar and decidedly un-English, this castrated hey nonny no has been sufficient. An Englishman’s pride was always serene and personal. And so it remained. And all was good. However the English have finally awoken to the fact that patriotic fervour has enabled the other inhabitants of this island to accrue considerable benefits, often at English expense. And this offends that most sacred of English values: fair play.

The English did not object to the creation of a Scottish parliament or a Welsh assembly, neither have they raised a fuss over the issue of Scottish over-representation at Westminster; but they object vehemently to those same Scottish MPs meddling in English domestic affairs, particularly when they secure the passage of English-only legislation which would otherwise have failed. That’s just not cricket. As the wealthy partners in the Union the English did not mind giving the others a leg up, even if it meant that more money was spent per head in Scotland and Wales than in England. But to see these subsidies lead to vast improvements in Scottish hospitals and schools whilst their English counterparts lay mired in squalor is simply not on. The English see their neighbours rewarded for throwing the rattle out of the pram. Such clear injustices rankle, particularly when those whom the English subsidise add insult to injury by supporting which ever country opposes England on the playing field. That really is too much! Like a baited bear in a Southwark pit, England has been roused and is preparing to defend itself.

Drake’s drum may have yet to sound, but a renewed and invigorated England is reacquainting itself with its traditions, its culture and its symbols. Where once the Union Jack greeted English teams, the St. George’s Cross now flutters. Content to sing God Save the Queen whilst the disloyal Welsh and Scots sang their own “national” anthems, the supporters of English sport are now contemplating Jerusalem. Once an activity of the quaint and eccentric, the exchange of St. George’s Day cards grows from year to year. And, significantly, an Englishman is now as likely to identify himself as English as he is likely to say he is British. Most importantly, that Englishman may be of Asian, Afro-Caribbean or European descent: twenty-first century Englishness reflects twenty-first century England.

Such displays may stiffen the sinews, but they are meaningless without a proper appreciation of England’s contributions to civilization. To truly establish an English identity, its people must reclaim and celebrate as their own, those values and concepts which have become an established part of the British character: from tolerance, justice and the rule of law to the Monarchy, Parliament and the English language, each is as English as it is British. Only then can England be said to have found itself.

© Rafal Heydel-Mankoo, 2007.
(Reprinted here with the express permission of the author)
------------------------------------------------------
About the Author:

Rafal Heydel-Mankoo is the Editor and co-author of Burke’s Peerage & Gentry: World Orders of Knighthood and Merit, a 2,000 page reference work which has been hailed as “the definitive study” and “a classic…unlikely to be replaced for at least a century”. Born in the UK and educated in Canada, Rafal now lives in London. Rafal is one of Canada’s principal royal commentators and pundits. He has provided live television commentary for events including the Golden Jubilee of HM The Queen, the funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and the marriage of HRH The Prince of Wales.

A former director of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada, former Director of the International Churchill Society and a past Ottawa branch Chairman of the Monarchist League of Canada, Rafal is a Trustee of the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust, a Commissioner for the International Commission for Orders of Chivalry and a Council Member of the Royal Stuart Society. In 2002 Rafal was decorated by the Canadian Crown in recognition of his work educating Canadians about the monarchy. Rafal is a Knight of Merit of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George, a Knight Commander of the Order of the Crested Crane (Rwanda) and a Commander of the Order of the Lion (Ethiopia).

9 comments:

Beaverbrook said...

With thanks to the author for allowing me to host it here.

Anonymous said...

English is a language and a type of mustard: I'm British.

There are more than a few problems with English nationalism as described in this article. A lot of conservatives (small 'c') will reject anything which will drive a further wedge between the countries of the Union, and the encouragement of an exclusively English and anti-British nationalism most definitely comes into that category.

In addition, it's all very well saying that 21st century English nationalism encompasses the diverse races of modern England, the only problem being that it is complete nonsense. Most of the Parliament For England herberts whom I've met are either racists or close enough to make no difference, and that's at party conference, let alone the dark corners where net-curtain-twitchers whisper. Secondly, the idea that there are people who identify themselves as Welsh Indians, or Scottish Pakistanis, or English blacks and so on is ludicrous. The hyphenated identity of Britain's ethnic minorities is British. British Indians, black British, etc. etc. Take that away and millions of people's identity compass will have a magnet put next to it and led into a unpleasant place indeed. As the Union is a union between races, the attempt to divide it up along the ancient racial boundaries between Saxon and Celt would lead inevitably into a less tolerant mindset, in which a last-in-first-out process will lead the populace to turn first on the Slavs, then on the Asians, then on the blacks, and, with the inevitability of a Sophoclean tragedy, on the Jews. That train's never late. I don't want to live in a country like that.

Furthermore, the article overlooks the most fundamental reason why the inhabitants of England are more inclined to call themselves British than English. The process of internal migration has poured people from Scotland, Wales and Ireland into England but only to a limited degree in the opposite direction. As a result, 'England' is far more British than the rest of the country. Look at a phone book in any English town and you'll find plenty of people called McLeod and Rhys-Davies and O'Sullivan. In my own case, my accent might be 'English' but half my maternal ancestors were Irish, my step-father is a Scots Highlander, growing up in Shropshire I spent every other weekend tramping round Wales, and I now live on the Isle of Man which is nether Saxon nor Celtic but Nordic. It would never occur to me, nor millions upon millions of other 'Englishman', that we are anything other than British.

Finally: "It is surely the supreme irony that England’s current malaise has been caused by its greatest creation: Britain." Really, really beneath contempt. Ever heard of the European Union? The domination of the teaching profession and the university faculties by soi-disant counter-culturalists who cut their teeth on the student radicalism of the 1960s & 70s? The rejection of the cultural and sentimental ties with the Commonwealth in favour of the dry economic imperatives of globalisation and regional integration? The human rights litigant culture? Get real, Rafal...

Cato

Anonymous said...

This is purely subjective, but I've always thought of the individual components of the UK as tribal, while the nation was Britain. My blood is English and Scottish, among others. I don't see how it could ever be British. That's not to diminish the former greatness of Britain, now a sad, weird New Labour experiment in superstatism. Of course, I'm Canadian, so what the hell do I know?


Burton

Anonymous said...

I have been, and never will be, anything other than British. I'm not European or any other such nonsense. And to put a more finer point to it the true reason for BRITAIN's so called current malaise is the European Union and the P.C. brigade and their all inclusive attitude which does nothing of the kind, in fact doing the exact opposite: making it impossible for anyone to speak their mind and to feel ashamed for the nations accomplishments. The E.U. is responsible for Britain's infrastructure crumbling the way it is: by subsidising the smaller countries in the Union. "Irish Economic Miracle" read paid for by the British tax-payer's while their Health system and Education systems suffer and crumble. The E.U. and it's sponsorship of propaganda is why British children have less knowledge about their own country and it's storied past. As for this debate of will they or won't they leave regarding the Scots and the Welsh, they'll never leave. As with Quebec in Canada, they have it too good. They talk big, but it's all just a big carrot on a stick to dangle in front of us to keep everyone on their toes.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear… Having been notified that comments had been posted in response to my piece on English identity, I have just read, with some stupefaction, the riposte authored by “Cato”; alas, it is so replete with error and falsehood that I feel obliged to post a rebuttal.

Firstly let me clarify one important point: my loyalty to the Union is beyond question. Anyone who knows me or is familiar with my work will attest that my pride in Britain and all things British is second-to-none. Indeed, the Union Flag has flown in my garden for more years than I care to remember – having first requested a flag pole for this purpose when I was 13 years of age.

Nowhere have I called for the dissolution of the Union or for the promotion of an “anti-British” English nationalism. To be slurred as “anti-British” whilst I sit surrounded by books and items that are unashamedly pro-British, has made me chuckle. I fear that Cato’s hot-blooded temper (so much for English--or should that be British?--sang froid) has got the better of him.

Churchill, the “Patron” of this Monarchist Blogspot, once wrote: “There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, which means more to me than any other. That word is ENGLAND." For Cato to glibly dismiss English as “a language and a type of mustard” is silly and contemptible. Churchill would not have been amused. Such a comment derides the work of great Britons whose love of England was often their inspiration: Kipling, Chesterton, Blake, Betjeman, Fielding, Dickens, Browning, Masefield, Brooke, Coward, Elgar, Vaughan-Williams, Britten, Gilbert & Sullivan etc. etc.

Dismissing my arguments as nonsense, Cato writes: “Most of the Parliament For England herberts whom I've met are either racists or close enough to make no difference, and that's at party conference, let alone the dark corners where net-curtain-twitchers whisper.” Is Cato really suggesting that 60% of the population of England is racist? That is a shameful comment from one who claims to be a British patriot. An ICM Poll released this week shows support, by the English, for an English Parliament standing at 67%; this figure has remained consistent over the past year with other polls revealing support for an English Parliament at 61% (BBC Poll, January 2007) and 68% (ICM Poll for Sunday Telegraph, November 2006). For the record, I am opposed to the creation of an English Parliament as I feel it would be detrimental to the Union. However, the current state of affairs, which permits Scottish MPs to vote on English domestic affairs whilst denying English MPs reciprocal rights, is grossly offensive and cannot continue. This can be rectified without the expense of a separate English Parliament: one need simply deny Scottish MPs voting rights on purely-English matters.

Of course I would much prefer that such an arrangement were not necessary. I have opposed devolution all along. Having lived in Canada I could see Tony Blair embarking upon the same failed policy of “appeasement” that his Canadian counterparts had embraced in earlier years with Quebec. Appeasement never succeeds: those whom it is intended to satiate become ever more ravenous. It was clear from the outset that the creation of a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly would stir Scots and Welsh nationalism and place further pressure upon the strength of Union. Were I able to turn back the clock and restore power to Westminster, I would. However I am a realist and I accept that devolution is here to stay. We must consequently make the best that we can from a far from satisfactory situation. As outlined in my piece, the Scots and the Welsh have accrued considerable benefits in recent years. They have changed the rules of the game and the English have been losing. Given that this situation is unlikely to change, it is perfectly natural and acceptable to expect England to play by the same rules as its neighbours.

Cato also writes: “Secondly, the idea that there are people who identify themselves as Welsh Indians, or Scottish Pakistanis, or English blacks and so on is ludicrous.” I fear Cato has been resident on the Isle of Man for too long, for he has clearly lost touch with life on the mainland. A few years ago the Commission for Racial Equality commissioned a detailed study on the ways in which British people of different ethnic backgrounds living in England, Scotland and Wales think about 'Britishness', and about 'success'. Despite Cato’s “ludicrous” protestations, the report demonstrates quite clearly that ethnic minorities do indeed identify themselves with regions of the UK.

Quote from CRE report: “At the most basic level, all British passport holders know they are British citizens. However, not everyone attaches any value significance to being British. In Scotland and Wales - and this is true among both white and ethnic minority participants - there was a much stronger identification with each country than with Britain. We therefore found that most black Caribbean participants identified as black British in England, as black Scottish in Scotland and as black Welsh in Wales....it may be that partial devolution in Scotland and Wales means that Scottish, Welsh or even European identities become more attractive than a British identity.”

It will be noted in this report that minorities from Scotland and Wales are more likely to identify with those nations than those who live in England. This, as I point out in my piece, is due to the inability of many to distinguish between England and Britain. It is also due to the fact that, hitherto, being “English” has always carried racial overtones. To be English was to be white. However this attitude has changed noticeably in the last couple of years – due in no small part to the dramatic rise of English nationalism on the playing field. As one that pays close attention to such matters, I hear many more minorities now identifying themselves as English than was the case even 5 years ago. In a recent experiment in a secondary school in which I was observing history classes, I asked the pupils in one class (aged 14 years of age) to identify themselves as British or English. Whilst I did not count exact numbers, the class was pretty evenly split and, within that split, the ethnic minorities were also equally distributed. This suggests to me that the next generations will not have the same notion of a racially white “Englishness” that has been held by their parents or grandparents -- although it should be noted that Muslims holding particular views are far less likely to identify as English or British compared with Hindus, Sikhs or those who are Afro-Caribbean.

Finally, Cato writes: “"It is surely the supreme irony that England’s current malaise has been caused by its greatest creation: Britain." Really, really beneath contempt. Ever heard of the European Union?” Again, Cato misses the point. The European Union is a THREAT. The EU and its ever-lurking constitution is one of the most sinister threats to our sovereignty that we have ever had to face. But no where do I say that Britain is a THREAT to England. I argue that England’s MALAISE (which is different to a threat) has been caused by the fact that England’s most cherished values and ideals have been woven into the British national fabric. This should not be taken as an attack on Britain, far from it. It is my point, however, that the values that mark out an English identity have become so identified with Britain that the English are no longer able to clearly state who they are. Therefore I call for them to reclaim those same British values as their own. This can be done without unraveling the British Union. It merely requires the English to acknowledge and celebrate their contribution to Britain.

Cato concludes by telling me to “Get real”. I shall try. In the meantime I would advise him to wake up.

Rafal H-M

Scott said...

Interesting article. I must say that the Scots and Welsh getting fat on our money appalls me no end. I see no reason for it, particularly since they are so charmlessly ungrateful in return.

I wouldn't like to say goodbye to the Union flag, though. That would mean Oz, NZ, Fiji, Ontario, etc, etc, having to redesign their flags, and the obvious connections and affections between our countries diminished, and more easily forgotten.

Anonymous said...

All right, all right... Perhaps I was a bit intemperate but I feel that Britishness is so besieged these days that I do get a bit over-excited when people advocate the encouragement of an 'Englishness' which can only drive a further wedge between the Home Nations at a time when we could do without it.

You are quite right that my temper gets the better of me in such circumstances. Like the crypto-Yankee that many Thatcherites are in spirit, I sometimes feel that the shotgun under my bed might have to be employed when the New Labour apparatchiks come round to confiscate my British Passport and replace it with an ‘English’ one. No doubt the Royal Arms would be taken off it and replaced with missing kittens or an image of children of all races holding hands round a rainbow or some such thing.

Nevertheless, while I can and do apologise for any intemperance – words such as ‘ludicrous’ and ‘contempt’ – I stand by much of what I wrote. Rafal’s list of great Britons who eulogised England did so precisely because they did not distinguish between England and Britain. If they had been put on the spot and asked what exactly they meant, I am absolutely certain that they would not have said that they were interested only a particular part of our islands.

Moreover, my comments about the racism of the Parliament for England people comes from deeply-felt personal experience. My first induction into the strange world of English nationalism of this kind was at the annual conferences at Oxford of the Campaign for an Independent Britain, supposedly an anti-EU institution run by Rodney Atkinson and Sir Richard Body, but in fact an exclusively English organisation at which the Scottish UKIP candidate who stood against Malcolm Rifkind in 1997 turned up once and never again. Then at Party Conference in 1998 I attended a fringe meeting hosted by Teresa Gorman on the English Parliament issue, one got the impression that those attending rather hankered after the days when the scarlet cross of St George was unfurled in Palestine prior to the massacre of some swarthy-looking infidels. My final disillusionment came at a rally in Trafalgar Square in 1999 or 2000 - the Crown, Pound and Democracy Rally, whose march from Northumberland Avenue I accidentally led with Michael Farrage, Chris Gill and Sir Teddy Taylor. When we got to Trafalgar Square, we had speeches from Chris, Mr Farrage, the ‘metric martyrs’ leader from Newcastle, and then Sir Teddy. Sir Teddy was shouted down in the most revolting manner by a substantial body of the crowd for the heinous crime of having a Scottish accent. I’ve lived in South Africa under apartheid and I’ve still never been quite so shocked as I was by the foulness of their expression of hatred for his Scottishness.

In a similar vein, as for answering the Midlothian Question by banning Scottish MPs from voting in Westminster divisions on subjects which in Scotland are under the purview of the Wee Parliament, can it really be said that the Union of Parliaments still exists under such circumstances? “Hey, fellahs, this is the Mother of Parliaments, the Imperial Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Territories and Dominions Overseas. Great to see such fresh-looking new members. Oh, and by the way, you and you and you can’t vote on this one because your constituency is in the wrong part of the country.” Nice. You say that you regret that such an arrangement should be necessary, but surely the solution is not tit-for-tat English devolution which just takes the regionalisation of the UK further in the same direction rather than reversing it? It is ‘acceptable’ for England to behave the same way as its neighbours, but is it a good idea? If your husband or wife is unfaithful, is it a good way to save the marriage for you to go out and pick up some drunken slattern at the Coach and Horses in a revenge gesture?

Er, what’s next? Oh yes, ethnic minorities and Britishness. Well, I daresay that your focus-groups and polls have identified a tendency towards the regionalisation of identity amongst ethnic minority Britons. I defer to your more in-depth knowledge. All that I can say is that I am working on the basis of my extremely multi-racial extended family, none of whose non-Anglo-Celtic members would ever consider themselves to be English Iraqis, or Welsh Morrocans (until you have a predominantly Jewish family with a lot of Muslims in it you don’t know what ‘taboo subject’ means, trust me), or Scottish Hindus and so on. Perhaps it’s different for middle-class Brits who live in the ‘English’ part of the UK like we do, or even on the Isle of Man which is neutral territory between the Home Nations as it has never been part of the UK. Anyway, as I say, if the degenerate underclass of whatever race is moving away from defining themselves as ‘British’, then I will take your word for it.

Lastly, I’m not getting into the rather blurred distinction between a threatening malaise and a malaise-inducing threat. There’s probably some blighter at Nuffield or St Antony’s who’s writing a 100,000-word thesis on that subject at this very moment, at public expense, god help us.

Basically, I don’t entirely disagree with you, I think; I just feel that it might be more helpful to postpone any revival of ‘Englishness’ until after the current threat to the Union has died down a bit...

Cato

Scott said...

The revival of some pre-British Englishness isn't what is sought by the English nationalists. Englishness and Britishness, England and Britain, being English and British, have always been essentially the same thing: there was no dimunition or absorption of England, but an enormous extension of it, in Britain. Hence, as noticed by Roger Scruton, Scots would happily refer to themselves as English or British interchangeably a century or two ago. If Britishness and Britain itself still existed in the popular mind and heart, there would be none of this nonsense going on.

Most English nationalists would happily be British ones too: what they are after is any sense of national identity, character or allegiance, and since Britain and Britishness has been so successfully hollowed out, for so many, by the state school system, the BBC and stupid governments, they naturally seek the nearest apparent alternative.

Anonymous said...

I would like to thank Cato for his reasoned and measured reply. It is certainly easier to debate when one avoids an unnecessarily confrontational manner.

Cato, I fully sympathise with your arguments and can appreciate, and indeed relate, to your strongly-held views (we share similar beliefs). I believe that our divergence arises primarily from our differing views of the manner in which the current situation should be handled.

Before I deal with that aspect, however, let me respond to your comment regarding some of the Britons of the past: "Rafal’s list of great Britons who eulogised England did so precisely because they did not distinguish between England and Britain. If they had been put on the spot and asked what exactly they meant, I am absolutely certain that they would not have said that they were interested only a particular part of our islands."

With respect, you couldn't be more wrong. Few would deny that Robbie Burns wrote about Scotland rather than Britain and few would classify bag pipe music as British rather than Scottish. Similarly, whilst the figures I mention were unashamedly pro-British and pro-Union (and indeed unashamedly imperialist in some cases) they were equally proud of their distinct English identity.

Churchill was fully conscious of the distinction between Britain and England and he is on record correcting foreigners who mistakenly spoke of "England" rather than "Britain". It was precisely because he was aware of the difference, and because he was fiercely proud of England, that he said: "There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, which means more to me than any other: the word is: ENGLAND....Today we are scarcely allowed to mention the name of our Country." He also wrote: "I want to revive the grand old name of Englishman!"

Chesterton was arguably prouder of England than he was of Britain. His poems clearly celebrated England rather than Britain. His poem The Englishman commences: "St. George he was for England, And before he killed the dragon He drank a pint of English ale out of an English flagon". No mistake there!

Vaughan-Williams was in love with rural England and his music reflects his passion for specifically English folk music. His travels around England to record English music are well-known.

Similarly it is surely beyond dispute that Britten and Betjeman were inspired by England more than Britain, and this is reflected in their work.

All of these individuals were pro-British and pro-English. Their English pride was a healthy patriotism fuelled by a proper appreciation for English culture and history (rather than a crude, tribal sports-oriented nationalism) and it sat easily, naturally and comfortably next to their British pride. Their English pride was deeply spiritual and personal and struck at the very essence of their being (tied to the land, the music, the literature and their faith) whilst their British pride was often rooted in different areas. Linda Colley's excellent book "Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837" is very helpful for those seeking to understand the development of a British identity in relation to pre-existing identities.

Your experiences with racists in the Campaign for an English Parliament are sad to hear. But I am not surprised. I am very involved in Monarchist circles and I have encountered a great many individuals similar to those whom you descrie. Does this mean that we should suggest that all ardent monarchists should be discounted? I hope not! We find eccentrics, radicals, bad apples and unsavoury characters on the fringes of all movements but this should not have a bearing on the broader subject. As I said, over 60% of the English now support an English Parliament (although I am not one).

The fact remains, however, that the Scots are benefitting from the current arrangement and the English are suffering. Let us take top-up fees as an example. English students are suffering under the burden of top-up fees only because the legislation was passed thanks to the vote of Scottish MPs. They voted this unpopular legislation through (saving the government from a rebellion that may have toppled the PM) as they were not at risk of losing their seats since the legislation had no effect in Scotland, where top up fees are not paid. Situations such as these are grossly offensive and cannot be allowed to continue. If left untreated they will lead to continued resentment in England such that pressure for radical change will become far more pronounced. In my view, it is far better to deal with the situation sooner rather than later.

Rafal H-M