James Marston: I won the lottery of life when I was born an Englishman

St George

St George - Credit: Archant

So did you celebrate St George’s day?

I didn’t – partly because I don’t really think it is necessary to shout about how wonderful England is. I already know that I’ve won the lottery of life being born British and an Englishman to boot and I don’t need a day marking the death of a pious middle eastern soldier to tell me that.

And, in fact, I don’t really think nationalism is a very English emotion.

Our country is so old, its institutions so historic, its way of life so admired that we are not insecure enough for such fripperies.

Or are we? Before the late 1990s few even knew when St George’s Day was and I wonder if devolution in recent years and next year’s vote on Scottish nationalism hasn’t resulted in all this silliness.


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If so I am not sure whether to be worried or not.

I don’t much like the idea of the break up of the United Kingdom but in recent months, after listening to how Scottish nationalists seem to foster and encourage antagonism towards the English, I am beginning to not much care either.

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And I suspect I am not alone.

And, if this is so, then I am worried. I am worried that an independent Scotland will bring with it conflict between the two nations.

History has shown that, usually, the break-up of a political union often ends up in violence – think Yuogslavia, and the Soviet Union – and though every situation is different I think my concerns are valid as well as being the issue no one dare mention.

No union has been more effective and successful then the union of Scotland and England and, though I do not count myself as Scots I am still British and it is still my country too.

I am far from convinced Scottish and therefore, effectively, English independence – and if this week’s debate on currency union is anything to go by – has really been thought through.

St George’s Day might have passed off peacefully this year, but in recent years the idea of celebrating English nationhood on April 23 has grown and grown.

St George’s flag already has connotations of the uglier side of nationalism.

I for one am a British patriot first and foremost and St George’s Day, St Andrew’s Day and St David’s Day – celebrated with lots of drink and silly hats despite ever increasing secularism and little idea of who these men really were – are little more than hypocritical and dangerous diversions which encourage at best tribalism and at worst racism

Let us instead celebrate, and not on an obscure church feast day one day of the year, those things that bind us all together instead – fair play, the rule of law, democracy and liberty, concepts which are far more edifying and have proved to be so for at least the last three centuries.

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