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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11 reader comments

  1. George Peel says:

    Ha! So this is what Schadenfreude feels like. Chuckle!!

    Feels good!!

  2. Mike Harland says:

    As an old Yorkshireman who has lived in Scotland for over half my life, it is good to hear some balance in your blog today, Alex.

    I have never felt any hatred or heard any bile from Scots towards the English in the whole 36 years I’ve been here, yet since the Referendum all I read from the English MSM and hear from southern politicians is the stream of abuse and loathing the English have for us up here – so much so, that their Scottish editions have to be ‘censored’ so as not to upset the Tory scots too much, like Forsyth showed in his retort to Major’s hypocritical speech.

    As somebody quipped about St George, as a Syrian soldier he wouldn’t get through immigration control into England today … whereas up here we would welcome migrants that make a profit for the UK of £55.23 PER SECOND (Rapid Formations report out today).

  3. Yorkshire Lass says:

    Seems to me that if you were begging Scotland to stay in the Union in September 2014 you can hardly deny their elected Westminster MPs their seats in May 2015.

  4. Philip says:

    The problem with the St George thing is less that it’s being used by the Tories as an attack on the SNP (& their fear of losing office to a Labour government supported by the SNP), but the cover it gives for xenophobes who seem to believe that the only true England is white (largely male) and xenophobic, like them.,,,failing to realise that the world has moved on.

  5. Philip Edwards says:


    Every time the tories and Cleggies attack the SNP Nicola Sturgeon must be laughing all the way to the ballot box.

    The Scots suspect, and they are right, the tories have NEVER been unionist in the real sense of the word. The inevitable rise of Scots nationalism has exposed the tories for what they are: public school London yahoos (see Boris Johnson) who couldn’t care less about the rest of the country. Which is also why Osborne’s and Cameron’s “Northern Powerhouse” claptrap has been greeted with hoots of derision everywhere outside the M25 ghetto.

    It will be a tragic and sad day if and when the Scots leave the union. Any “independence” they think they have will be crushed eventually by international capitalism. They will be faced with the same old lying propaganda muck from the IMF, the World Bank and the ECB. And if they don’t toe the line they’ll suddenly find all kinds of things going “wrong” with their economy. They’ll be back to less than where they started. In the end nothing good ever came out of nationalism. Historically, it is a short lived heady intoxicant – nothing more.

    This country would do well to bear in mind Salmond’s threat that, “If we don’t get what we want we’ll simply take it.” If that ever happens the political consequences for Britain could be utterly catastrophic. With that as precedent, who knows where it could lead?

    And if it does come to the worst case scenario we might as well get it clear NOW who is to blame. And that is the gang of neocon politicians of all parties who during the last generation have destroyed any sense of national unity we might once have had. All so they could feather their own corrupt London nest.

    What an avoidable tragedy it all is. Shameful, too.

    1. Nicola says:

      As a Scottish voter I had always thought I would vote to stay in the union. I have family living all around the UK and love them all dearly. I also spend lots of time in North/ Mid England visiting friends and would have hated for a divide to go up between us. However, having followed politics avidly, I recognised the insincerity of Cameron and his pact to the Scottish people. Don’t be mistaken I don’t want to take away from the rest of the British public, I simply want the same rights and respect for my daughter. I’ve spent 34 years of my life reading in the English media how awful I am, how ugly the Scots are, how violent and war mongering we are and how lazy we are. The fact of it is I live here, I know it’s all a lie. The people who believe and spread these things about the Scottish don’t know us; haven’t visited Scotland. They are taking the opinions of the English Government as fact. I do feel for the English public and did consider voting Labour in the election. I felt what was best for Britain would be to get the Tories out, only Miliband then showed the same bigotry and fear as Cameron! It was obvious that there is only one voice available to speak for the Scottish people and that is Nicola Sturgeon. I realised the only way things will improve for my daughter is to have Scottish seats in parliament. I’ll vote for my daughter’s right to self confidence, her right to be proud of her roots and her right to be heard. If the only way to do that is in an independent Scotland so be it. I do wish we could take our English (working/ lower and middle class) neighbours with us if we leave. We’re all for immigration here, they can always come join us :)

  6. Bruce67 says:

    The problem they don’t grasp is that since the death of Rangers and the Indy referendum the word armageddon has been so utterly overused we’ve become immune to it. They say armageddon, all we hear is blah, blah, blah…

  7. Bill Fraser says:

    “It’s only Great Britain because of the greatness of Scotland, and the thinkers, writers, artists, leaders, soldiers, and inventors who have made this country what it is. So a NO vote means faster, fairer, safer and better change. And this is a vital point: Scotland is not an observer in the affairs of this country. Scotland is shaping and changing the United Kingdom for the better … and will continue to shape the constitution.”

    David Cameron Sept 16 2014 (two days before the Referendum)

  8. Raymond Bell says:

    I find it odd you conflate Cornwall with industrial cities like Birmingham and Manchester. While the cities have genuine grievances, the Cornish have a continuous claim of non-English nationality going back over a thousand years.

  9. Alex78 says:

    I live in s small village. Here we have people English,Irish,Indian,Pakistan,German Polish,Hungarian and of course us Scots. We all get on well together .We are all friendly to each other. So why are the English parties calling the SNP English haters and why do the try to invoke the English to hate Scots.
    Bloody awful state when hatred is created That would be a certain recipe to break up the UK

  10. G says:

    The author’s apparent amusement at the fact that SNP MPs can vote on English-only affairs (which, incidently, has been the case for Scottish MPs for decades) makes his rather blatant hypocrisy clear to see for even the most left-leaning of ‘useful idiots’. I suppose it is little wonder the author neglects to mention the Barnett Formula (for the simple-minded people who’ve commented below, this is the extra money Scotland gets, courtesy of the English tax payer).

    There was a time when, as a proud Englishman and unionist, I would have spoken out against independence for any member nation, but honestly, after reading this thinly-veiled anti-English attempt at journalism, I’ll be one of an increasing number of Englishman cheering when Scotland finally secedes.

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