It is not every day that this humble blogger is called ‘indomitable’. It is still less frequent that his writing is described as being ‘tosh’ (this is not to say that all my work has been met with universal praise… far from it, in fact!) But seeing as it’s a respected fellow blogger, Mr Michael Merrick, I may let him get away with it.
“Since the time of George Orwell, the hatred and fear of England by the left has been a decidedly unguarded prejudice. My documentation of the phenomenon is merely a brief synopsis of some of the permutations that it has taken recently. Now, the logical conclusions of devolution – a scheme entirely concocted by the left and advised and warned against by anyone with a modicum of common sense – are provoking new swathes of histrionic fear and implicit anti-Englishness.”
In making a distinction between the sort of sweeping generalisation of ‘The Left’ and ‘the real left’, as it were, Mr Merrick asserted that I was misguided in my synopsis:
“[‘Most’ ordinary lefties] take pride in being English, and are quite often supporters of the monarchy. They fight for their country and their Queen when asked to, partake in public displays of patriotism and pride for which they are routinely ridiculed, and make little effort to hide the identity that is the source of such pride – the flag of St. George is more likely to be draped out of the windows of Labour strongholds than it is in the quads of Oxbridge or the sleepy villages of the Cotswolds.”
I understand Mr Merrick’s point. I agree that some lefties are very keen to assert their national identity – though it is usually British rather than English. I also agree that I have seen Crosses of St. George flying above Labour Clubs across England- but it must be stated, however, that ‘Labour strongholds’ are very different places in the twenty-first century than they were even in the late twentieth century.
However, I do believe that Mr Merrick failed to grasp the wider concept of the aforementioned blog.
For example, I cited the example of devolution for a purpose. It is apparent that due to the imagined spectre of an unConservative Party hegemony, the Labour Party and its acolytes do legitimately fear the possibility of an independent or devolved England. I will repost the quote from George Eaton’s article in the original blog:
“Finally, the Tories and the Lib Dems introduce a cap on party donations, depriving Labour of much of its trade union funding and bankrupting the party. Labour is consigned to permanent opposition and a new age of Tory hegemony is born.”
By the same token, leftist writers do express a constant fear of the potential of a rising, organic English nationalism or national sentiments. I have quoted Madeleine Bunting before on the left’s perspective on Englishness, but here she insightfully exposes her flagrant fear of a resurgent English identity:
“British is seen as the inclusive, accommodating civic identity for a multicultural society and, by default – dangerously so – English has become a racialised political identity of resistance, resentment and grievance.”
Quite aside from the matter of The Left making convenient ideological distinctions between the glorious resistance & struggle of some political movements and the ‘unsavoury’ struggles of others, their first question is “How do we solve this?” They then answer their own question. “We stipulate how English people can express their Englishness! We must model how English people can be English!”
“English history is littered with material that can be fashioned as a backstory for a confident, small, multicultural nation…”
“The nationalism that urgently needs definition is Englishness…”
“If we don’t start shaping an English nationalism – just as the Scots started doing in the 1970s – that is outward-facing, optimistic and progressive, we’ll end up with a traumatic politics of decline.”
‘Fashioned as a back story’? Orwell would be proud of writing such a line.
But only are these points wholly inaccurate – quite how Bunting equates questions of nationalism with tangible national decline is beyond me – but they evince a fear of the potential for an identity that is not micromanaged by the state, not easy to pigeonhole alongside the imported cultural identities of the other myriad ethnic groups in ‘Britain’.
So. To use Mr Merrick’s distinction, there is a clear difference in views on Englishness between ordinary people who hold leftist views and the out-of-touch, paranoid, hateful political institution that is ‘The Left’ that perhaps I did not make explicitly clear in the original article (despite using the appropriate capitalisation in the blog’s title).
But it is clear, in my view, that due to ‘threats’ from the possibility of a devolution that will improve this country’s democracy and from a rising English identity that the left and right cannot or do not know how to control, The Left fears and thus reviles the ordinary English people who wish to express their national identity.