23 Apr 2015

Is St George now trying to slay the Sturgeon dragon?

I write from Inverness on St George’s day at a time when Westminster, London and England have rarely seemed so distant and foreign to so many – and that cuts both ways.

SNP Launch Their Manifesto In Edinburgh

Not least because the main English parties are playing the nationalist card at every turn now in their St George-like attempt to slay the Sturgeon dragon.

Tricky ground for the English parties and the SNP, playing the nationalist card – especially for many north and south of Gretna Green.

Many Scots (and I am half English, half Scot) are enraged when they hear English politicians talking about a “constitutional crisis” should the SNP end up holding the balance of post-election power in Westminster.

You what? Seriously?

Here you will quickly be reminded that few English voices were ever raised when a Tory government was elected by other nations, to rule over Scots who never voted for them.

Again, and again, and again.

Many here will chuckle on St George’s day at the possibility that the English may get a taste of their own democratic medicine, should SNP MPs unelected in England, N Ireland and Wales, wield influence after 7 May.

Their good humour only warms at the sight of the John Majors, Boris Johnsons et al being wheeled out to talk Armageddon. It’s funny. It’s ironic.

Read more: the Channel 4 News Election 2015 Live Blog

And it is very echoey – the reverb of the Wave of Fear released by London during the referendum campaign back in the autumn.

Equally many here will cheer on English nationalism of the devolution kind. There’s enormous sympathy for Geordie, Scouse, Brummie, Mancunian or Cornish frustration with Westminster for obvious reasons – for those pushing regional English identity and regional devolution in England along the lines Nick Clegg has pushed recently.

Because they have tasted the Holyrood flavour here, and Scots of all parties and persuasions broadly approve its vintage.

Donald Dewar may or may not be spinning in his grave at what his limited Scottish devolution has become and how nationalism and national identity has developed.

Limited it was – past tense. The momentum has rolled on somewhat since then however. But its basis is not so much nationalism, Scottishness versus the English and Englishness, as that simple irony: Scots have had years of “constitutional crisis” to deal with.

Should it now be England’s turn then? As St George could have said but didn’t: “Saddle up and deal with it.”

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