Thursday, 18 September 2014

Come on England, have some pride!

As the Scots go to the polls, I'd like to direct attention back home for a moment. The fact is, there have been some pretty unedifying scenes down here. We've seen political leaders and celebrities begging Scotland not to leave the union. I really don't understand why these people are so worked up. Perhaps they should put some effort into having pride in being English.

After all, in the grand scheme of things, England has a lot to be proud of - whether it's in cities and countryside, culture and heritage, literary fields, science or whatever. Take universities. It's interesting that the Guardian reported on Tuesday that 'Four British institutions ranked in top six of world's universities.' This is true - but it's also true that four English institutions ranked in top six of world's universities - because those four were Cambridge, Imperial College London, Oxford and University College London.

The fact is that England has around 90% of the population of the UK. For most of the world, England is the UK. Even if the entire union split up, England has the same population now as the entire UK had in 1961. By losing Scotland we're talking less than 10% change in population. Hardly makes us a tiny nation.

Of course there would be losses if Scotland went independent, but there would be plenty of gains too - including the chance for English people (and Welsh and Northern Irish too - I just happen to be English) to feel like they have more of a proper identity. This is not about nationalism. One thing I've learned from the interviews of Scots during the run up to the vote is how many said something to the effect of 'I'm not a nationalist - but I am proud to be a Scot.' For too long we've been scared that the only people who are proud to be English are right wing thugs. But it shouldn't be like that.

It's too late to change what has happened already - but politicians and celebrities, shame on you. Let's let Scotland make the best decision for itself, and start to think about ourselves with as much pride as they do.

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