The United Kingdom. Four countries joined/linked/coerced/invaded Ok whatever the historical connection. The sixth largest island on earth but still pretty small compared to many of our European fiends, tiny compared to USA or Australia. Under 900 miles from top to bottom and less than 150 miles at its widest. If you are rushing to Google in order to prove me wrong on the facts then you may as well stop reading this.
I was born in York. An ancient city which was once briefly the capital of the Roman Empire. It’s in Yorkshire which is an amalgamation of 3 ridings or nowadays several counties and authorities. It starts about 170 odd miles north of London and 150 miles south of Edinburgh approximately. I grew up in Kent which is south east of London. I have a hybrid accent that reflects both counties. I can be understood in both hopefully. This is all background so you know where my rant is going.
I have no interest in defining where ‘Up North’ or ‘Darn Sarf’ start or end. I don’t care if the midlands begin at Northampton or Coventry. I don’t think southerners are soft or northerners tight. I don’t exercise much energy wondering if all Geordies go out on the lash without coats whatever the weather. You see it’s all so tiresome.
We live on an island which views it’s own citizens with suspicion and mystery. Some people I grew up with have never ventured as far north as I live now. I know folks who have never been to Scotland. This requires no passport, ferries or even flights. You can drive into Scotland and even use English money. It was not uncommon that before the invention of the motor car , some villagers would never travel further than the boundaries of their own village. Now much has changed since the 1890’s but that mentality still prevails in some. So there is maybe no surprise that the home nations occasionally view each other with suspicion born of ignorance.
Division has existed throughout the centuries. The division of wealth and its lack of distribution. The division of work. The old industries were centred where the raw materials were to be found. These are largely defunct with thousands left to reinvent themselves and their region. However many schemes set up to decentralise government and finance from London, the capital retains the vast majority of both. It’s the capital of Great Britain and England although Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast are national capitals. That United Kingdom controlled hundreds of miles away from millions of its citizens. Admittedly the USA is governed from Washington DC but it’s formation is a nation of states. The UK is a nation of nations annexed by England. The English took control of their neighbours over the last few hundred years. By fair means and otherwise.
We stand at a crucial point in our history. The UK has narrowly voted to leave the European Union. Scotland and Northern Ireland actually voted to remain in the EU but our lords and masters in Westminster fail to recognise the validity of this argument. This is driving more wedges between our nation of nations. That is also driving wedges between itself and our partners on the continent of Europe.
Far right politicians across the European Union have seized the lurch away by the UK as a means of further fracturing the EU. This organisation was set up to partly help heal the wounds caused by the Second World War. The conservative and right wing politicians use Winston Churchill as their figurehead but he was an advocate of European Union. He fought against his own party’s insular suspicion of Europe because he wanted it to learn from the lessons of division and nationalism.
Whilst I still can, I shall proclaim myself to be a proud European. To see what unites us and what we can achieve by working collectively. Our diversity is not a reason for mistrust but a reason to celebrate. That mistrust creates fear, bigotry and hatred. The UK feels a nation divided more so than in all my 50 plus years on this planet. We surely are grown up enough to throw our arms out and share with all.
But what do I know. The little Englanders are in charge, dragging the islands further towards the orange tyrant over the Atlantic and away from friends a mere 22 miles away in mainland Europe. We are returning to our village mentality where mistrust of our neighbours is preferable to inclusive cooperation. I just hope the regression is worth it for you small minded insular nationalists.