English for Yes

BqmgkRGIgAAbABBNext week we start a series of articles by English people supporting independence, telling the story of their journey to Yes, or why they think a Yes vote will benefit the whole of the rUK.

If you’d like to take part, email us with an outline of your idea.

The referendum affects everybody.

As Jonathan Freedland writes debating English national identity:

“I have slipped seamlessly from English to British and back again. Since those who live in England account for 85% of those who live in Britain, it can be hard not to. Come 18 September, that habit will surely have to be broken once and for all, whether the Scots vote yes or no to independence. The referendum asks a question of the English as well as the Scots, demanding they define more precisely who they are, beyond being citizens of the UK. “

The consequences for individuals aren’t just about national identity, though, they’re about politics. Deborah Orr has written (‘Scottish independence would change England more than Scotland‘):

“If Scotland leaves the union, the collapse of political stability in England will accelerate. A pro-independence vote is a pro-democracy vote, and it’s a shame that it falls to the Scots to shake England from its slumber.”

Whatever your reason, whatever your story, we are keen to give space for your voice.

The result will have a lasting impact, North and South of the border,a and the decision has more to do with what values you hod than where you were born. Iain Macwhirter writes:

“Scotland’s referendum is a defining moment for UK social democracy, a make or break moment for a civilised society. It has fallen to Scots to make a decision that will resonate cross the entire UK. Far from abandoning England to the mercies of neo-Liberal Tories, a Yes vote will show that social democracy is still alive in North Britain. It wil show that prejudice and xenophobia need not be the driving forces of politics; that the power of capital can be challenged and that countries can depart from the nuclear club”.

The series launches on Tuesday and we ask for contributions of between 600-800 words.



Categories: Commentary

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16 replies

  1. That has expressed exactly what I’ve felt and thought for years…thank you, and I’m Scots born and bread

  2. The identity question will be become “keen” in England. Many minorities Hindu, Muslim, Sikh. Jews etc define themselves as …../British but never …../English; in Scotland it is nearly always…../Scottish. There is concern that redefining as English would be for many a step too far. After the British state ceases to be can the term British still have validity in a contemporary context? Westminster might well argue yes but we ought not to be taken in by this manoeuvre to claim some degree of political “superiority” during independence negotiations. When we go Britishness, pace Mr Salmond, ought to be despatched to the history books.

    • “Many minorities Hindu, Muslim, Sikh. Jews etc define themselves as …../British but never …../English”

      Not so. A poll by the Ministry of Justice, under Labour found the majority of BMEs considered themselves to be English above British. Yet this myth is still doing the rounds.

      • I’m surprised that such a result of said poll was published.

      • Pete , you can read more about it here. It’s an old poll, but I’ve not heard of one since and you can see the way the Govt at the time spun it to conclude they favoured British as an identity.

        The myth has perpetuated and grown over time…

        http://toque.co.uk/bme-black-and-minority-english

      • Never heard of an English Asian, English Muslim or English Jew always British. Shami Chakrabarti wrote Asians felt more comfortable being British than English and was worried about the disappearance of the denomination should Scotland become independent. English identity, unfortunately, has got tied up with the image of the EDL, BNP and the like. The St George’s cross flag has similar resonances.

        • “Never heard of an English Asian, English Muslim or English Jew always British”

          I have, you haven’t, but my opinion is backed by a Government poll. Why Asians or Muslims would want to associate with a symbol of the Empire, or sectarian violence in Northern Ireland and Scottish football doesn’t make much sense to me.

          “English identity, unfortunately, has got tied up with the image of the EDL, BNP and the like. The St George’s cross flag has similar resonances.”

          I think you’ll find that the “B” in BNP stands for Britain, not England, and the EDL continually conflate England with Britain. The SGC flag tends to be waived in support of the likes of Johnson, Stirling and Sturridge and before them Ferdinand, Barnes and Cole. Our rugby and cricket teams are also far more ethically diverse than any other home nation, where you’ll see similar situations… and it has been like that for decades.

      • Terry
        the poll didnt ask if they identified with the term “english” simply if they felt they belonged to england or britain. for many the two are the same. even the text notes that identifying with england does not mean feeling “comfortable” with the term “english”. ref Shami Chakrabarti in prev comment. in all a rather poorly conceived poll where terms do not appear to be well defined.

      • Abulhaq

        Yes, of course you are right, people outside the UK and citizens new to it, will conflate England and Britain.

        However, there is so much more for BMEs (not sure I like the label) to identify with England, rather than Britain. I purposely omitted Jews from my analogy because they didn’t suffer from the empire, the way Asians and Muslims in general did.

        The British establishment have attempted to label England bad, Britain good: but I really don’t understand why Asians, Orientals, Jews and Muslims (in general) would ever raise the butchers’ apron as their flag.

        Just look at the diversity of the England teams, whose fans wave the English flags and not the British one. Look at the Councilors and MPs that represent their local and national electors in England and compare them to those in Scotland and Wales. Look how many BNP/EDL MPs we have (the former are bankrupt and the latter disbanded) returned from England

        I understand the reticence to call yourself English, given the establishment’s propaganda, but pause for a moment and ask Panesar how many lions are on his shirt? Ask him what he thinks about the colour of the flags waved at him (in support) when he’s running up to bowl. Is he English or British?

        I get the anti-British thing, but I really don’t get the anti-English one., yet it seems the opposite is true.

      • Terry
        Scottish sovereignty has sharpened up the focus on identity. It has made some people seriously examine what is meant by British, English, “Asian” (an unsubtle portmanteau term) and so on. The conflation of English and British has tended to obscure what the former would existentially signify as an identity “choice”. The symbols of England are as likely to be the Union flag as the St George’s and few give any thought to the significance of the respective totems when being happily supportive and patriotic. People’s sense of the multi-ethnic history of these islands is generally quite weak. The imperialist ascendency oxbridge school of English/British history still goes relatively unchallenged. In fact it is enjoying something of revival. I hope, should Yes be victorious, circumstances will give birth to a new school of historians on both sides of the border. In Scotland in particular there are so many comfortable myths to scotch so many layers to uncover.

  3. HELLO ALL YOU GOOD FOLK
    My name is John and i am part of YES Proven and English for Yes. I live in Balornock Glasgow in the house where my wife was born. I am originally from Wigan in Lancs, Which like Glasgow is hard core labour. As a Englishman when the issue of independence came up i though i must be fair to the people of Scotland and study the matter. I have spent my Entire life in Wigan believing that the English subsidize the Scottish. Since the union was formed only twice has the been figures been take about the Scottish contribution to the UK treasure-1900-1921 and 1982-2014.
    In the first period 1900-1921 only in 1 year did Scotland paying less than they returned and in some years as little as 29% of what Scotland played in was returned .finaly stopped in 1921
    In the second period 1982-2014 every single year Scotland got less than they gave. This struck me as very odd you see i started to ask myself why if this is true has labour never ever informed the English people that they do not subsidize the Scots, why have Scots labour MPs not made the Labour press tell the English people that well no Scots actually subsidize you. Well you see if the Labour party allow the myth to persist that England pays for the Scots subsidy junkies, Then the Scots believe it to. OH no we are to wee to poor to daft . last month Scotland opened its Second oil field, the dana or Shetland field , not report in any paper or any TV channel,400 people demonstrate out side of the BBC and you can see it in Russia, USA,CHINA FRANCE AND DENMARK TO NAME A FEW BUT IN Scotland nothing.
    The biggest deceit in Scotland is by the very party that is mean to represent Glasgow and Wigan, the Labour party , So the next time a politician comes to your door, make sure its one that represents you, in a government you vote for. Don’t let it be a labour member who disappears to another country and comes back every 5 years so you can blindly vote for them again, stand up, take your country back and VOTE YES on September 18.
    John Yes Provan and English for YES

    • Good article and I do hope my friends and colleagues from England who reside in Scotland get an opportunity to appreciate their importance in this democratic process. I had the opportunity to visit the Scottish parliament on a guided tour recently and I recommend everyone to get along there before the referendum and marvel at both the architecture externally and internal heritage reflected on the walls, doors and roof space. it just opened our eyes to Scotland’s democratic heritage and it was brill. the tour guide was great. Why such an exciting visit ? Well like others we were told over the years it was over budget, it was folly, badly designed and constructed etc etc mainly from the press and media. We were apprehensive before we even stepped in the door as to what lay inside. That negativity, similar to the narrative used by Better Together continuously since the referendum debate started.The reality is its fit for purpose, we are all fit for purpose as voters and the folk that work there are up for the challenge both elected representatives and officials to run our country and us with dedication, pride and equality of purpose. We need to make sure each and everyone of us are stimulated enough to vote YES and although I have never had any doubts the catalyst for some in my

    • “I have spent my Entire life in Wigan believing that the English subsidize the Scottish…”

      The facts of who subsidises whom have always been obfuscated. What is a fact is the richest area outside London and the South East (Scotland) receive more identified public spending than every English region.

      Needier areas in N. England have been ignored by the Tories and taken for granted by Labour. One of the main benefits for England, should Scotland become independent, is that the North will finally get the attention it deserves.

      That’s why I, as an Englishman, really hope the vote is Yes.

  4. Will the Scottish referendum really assist the UK in waking from its slumbers? Here is a possible agenda for the kingdom of England and NI to reform itself once it wakes on 19 September:

    A people’s constitution: enshrine inalienable rights
    Rebalancing of corporate/individual interests: through legislation
    /regulation/taxation
    Reform of taxation: progressive, no exceptions, no offshore,
    wealth tax
    Citizens rights: freedom, fair open trial, habeas corpus,
    Minimum mandatory financial support level for all citizens
    Judicial review of unworkable ideological policies eg bedroom tax
    Multicultural understanding: guidance and statutory provisions
    on tolerance, encouragement of diversity
    Default for peace: constitutional limitations on war making
    Genuine, wholehearted participation in a reformed Europe
    End of the royal prerogative
    Restructuring of parliament
    Proportional representation everywhere
    Obligatory MP personal link with constituency [residential or
    business] and restriction to two terms for all MPs
    Constituency manifestos, linked to elector recall if breached
    Radically diminish the power of parties: abolish them altogether?
    State bank to direct worthwhile infrastructure investment into the
    appropriate sectors and regions
    Radical banking reform: separation of retail from casino banking
    Decentralisation of powers/authority: principle of subsidiarity to apply
    Reform of the BBC: proper taxpayer control, end of propaganda function

  5. I have long thought that a “Christopher Seton Society” would be a good idea; long before “YES” arrived.

    “English for YES” sounds better though.

    Good luck!

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