Thursday, 18 November 2010

An ode to joy

“oo are yuh?”.  I’m not sure really.  May be that answer speaks volumes.  How does one define oneself in the modern world?  Is it by the nation state to whom we pay tax, to whom owe allegiance and in whose borders we reside?  Is it some socio political class probably given a dreadful acronym by the marketeers?  I’m not a DINKY, no really, I’m not.  I’m not “Mondeo man” and last time I looked my pound was neither grey nor pink.  Is it some racial or genetic label that defines us? I’m freckly, my hair has a sort of reddish tint, I enjoy “the beer” and I like swirly patterns, I must be a Celt.  Really, has it ever been so hard to define who you are?  I was listening to the news tonight, confident in the knowledge that I am British.  I believe this to be short hand for a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  This, I have been led to believe, is my country, and is the source of my nationality.  So why do the BBC insist on presenting Scottish and Welsh stories as if they were a separate country.  Short pause whilst I read the Scotland Act 1998. zzzzzz.  Oh yeah, that's why, it's a separate country.  What!  was I asleep? Next you’ll be telling me Wales isn’t a principality and has it own government.  Short pause whilst I read the Welsh devolution referendum of 1997.  Oh.  

So ok, Wales is its own country, Scotland is its own country, what about England?  for that matter what about Yorkshire (population 2.2 million) considering that Wales has c. 3 million residents, is it that daft?  How far will devolution go?  Minority interests fragmenting the Nation.  So we are devolving power to local government, in many ways this is a good thing.  Local people raising taxes and deploying those funds locally but understanding they are part of a larger collective that must collaborate to survive but this is not how government works for us.  So we are not creating mini nations.  Scottish sailors wear the British army’s uniform and go to see on British aircraft carriers (for now), Welsh shoppers spend British pounds (it’ll buy you 1 Euro 15 cents today) and English or Cornish athletes sing the British national anthem.  God save the Queen.  Yes, I know we enter a whole new realm of confusion here, the Queen is English as she burnt some cakes once or was that Alfred, or is she Scottish since she is descended from James the I  or is she Welsh from Henry Tudor.  Actually she’s German, as evidenced by her clear descendency from George of Hamburg or French from our all time favourite King, Guillaume le Bâtard.  
Sovereignty lies at the heart of it.  Again though this is not as clear to me immediately as you would have hoped.  Who has supreme power of authority in the UK?  The Scotland Act deals with this in relation to devolution, clearly retaining sovereignty in Westminster but in reality will economy not drive this, will the size of the economy not dictate that not only will Scotland remain British but eventually Britain will become European?
So there you go, I’ve rambled for a while and decided I’m a Europhile.  Shocking.

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