Scilla Cullen

For someone who was born during the war and brought up in the 1950s England was a geographical part of Britain. There seemed no anomaly that the Battle of Britain was fought over the fields of Kent or that “England” stood alone against Hitler. It was a matter of geography, England faced the continent. There’ll always be an England and the White Cliffs of Dover were reflections upon the fact that that part of Britain that was England did, and had always, faced threats coming from the Continent. We admired greatly the Scottish Regiments whose courage and reputation did so much for Britain and also Welsh musicality and eloquence. So it came as a great surprise when I discovered that these sentiments were not returned.

Awareness and surprise that the rest of the British Isles did not feel so suffused with Britishness came at my senior school when girls were allowed to sport the emblems of their country on their Saint’s Days. I remember particularly those girls who claimed Welsh and Irish identities sprouted shamrocks and daffodils. We weren’t told, nor were encouraged to speculate, on what our Saint’s Day was nor of our own national emblems, indeed to the extent that I began to claim Irish identity on the grounds of one grandfather. We were encouraged to recognise Empire Day which later morphed into Commonwealth Day and died entirely somewhere along the way.

As I lived my adult life I was not interested in politics, and particularly not in party politics but on a visit to Glasgow in the ’70s I was aware of the push for separation and considered it a daft proposition. After all I believed, and still do, that the sum had been greater than the parts.
So what does England mean to me now? England must never be confused or conflated with Britain. The Scots, particularly, find that offensive and so do I. England is a separate country and over a millennium old. It is my ancestral home and defines my identity. England is a country of local loyalties and identities, villages where people look after one another, pubs that you can walk into and strike up a conversation, pub gossip; the unique change ringing of our church bells and the church as the focal point of a community, less so nowadays unhappily. Clichés such as the sound of wood on leather on a lazy summer’s afternoon are just as evocative whether or not they are clichés. England means quiet country lanes and villages and that green and pleasant land; a connection with the soil and the farming community; food production, the basis of life.

England means the spirit of enterprise that established trading colonies in America and the far east; the seafaring adventures of Drake and Raleigh. England has produced great inventors, scientists, composers, writers and poets such as Thomas Savery (steam engine), Jethro Tull (seed drill), Newton, William of Occam, William Harvey, Thomas Tallis, Purcell, Shakespeare, Dryden, Kneller, Gibbons and many, many others too numerous to mention.

England means innovation, the industrial revolution, a questioning of the status quo but a sure knowledge of our basic identity and a shared knowledge of our heritage. That heritage includes the sacrifices of our forefathers (and mothers) to bring us equity under the law, parliamentary democracy, the common law, the jury system and who stood together to face threats from outside this country.

I am proud that England in the UK has mainly been the asylum for those persecuted in their own countries for their religion, Huguenot Protestants, and the Jews fleeing Eastern European progroms and Hitler’s holocaust. Their children and grandchildren have attained positions of power and influence in the British Establishment. We ask of them only that they respect us and this country, its culture and traditions as we gave them or their forebears succour.

England was the origin of the mother of Parliaments, Magna Carta and the Bill of rights. These are English, not British, achievements despite what Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister elected in Scotland, has said. England ceased to be a constitutional entity after 1707 and all our subsequent history is British history. England must not be used as a scapegoat for subsequent British acts.

Above all the sense of fair play, singularly denied us in the asymmetrical devolution Acts perpetrated by an anti-English establishment, is an ideal that has deep roots in England. Indeed that sense of fair play was so affronted in me that I joined the Campaign for an English Parliament and shall continue to campaign until England is once again recognised politically and constitutionally. But England is a survivor. We survived and re-invented ourselves after the French takeover in 1066. It may have taken 300 years but we got the ruling class to adopt our legal system and speak English, somewhat modified, in the end. We survived the centuries of domination by French speaking monarchs and their descendants and the usurping Welsh Tudor dynasty which bequeathed our country to the Scottish dynasty that had supported invasions of English soil. We survived and will survive still.

Scilla Cullen is the Chairman of the Campaign for an English Parliament

Charlie Marks

The British ruling class has not only tried to stifle the national culture of Scotland and Wales: the radical tradition of the English working class is in dire need of popularization. For example, I did not learn in school about the Diggers, the Levellers, the Luddites, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the London Corresponding Society, or the Chartists, though the Suffragettes got a mention. Focus on events specific to England in the mainstream media did not stretch beyond coverage of sporting events.

It was no wonder that for a long time I confused England for Britain, and vice versa. Coming from an immigrant family further confused matters: could you be English if you were born in here but your parents were not? If my family came from Ireland but I was born here, did that mean I wasn’t Irish?

Unlike my Black and Asian friends at school, I did not face racism for being the child of immigrants, but I understood the hurt caused by jokes directed at the Irish and their use to divide people and prevent opposition to colonialism. Unlike my white friends, I knew a bit about the history of the British Empire, and could shoot-down claims that immigrants came to steal jobs or scrounge.

I have never experienced any animosity in Ireland for being English – and that is always the description, no one has ever said “Are you British?” upon hearing my accent.

As I grew up and became interested and involved in left-wing politics confusion over the issue of nationality returned. When New Labour allowed the creation of a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly, it looked as if the contradictions inherent in the dual English-British identity held by most people in England were about to become antagonistic.

To this day, the idea that those “British” people in England might choose an English identity is rarely countenanced. If it is considered at all, it is as a threat. The reason for the denial or denigration of identity is that the development of an English national culture discrete from that of “Britishness” does in fact pose a threat to the British establishment. As Richard Weight wrote in his book Patriots,

“Over the coming decades, everything possible will be done to ensure the survival of the British state, some of which we shall never know about. The Empire may have gone, but capitalism – the economic system which helped to give birth to it – remains in existence. So too does the matrix of power relationships which evolved out of that economic system. It is highly unlikely that those who benefit most from capitalism would lose their privileges if Britain were to break up. But very few are prepared to take that chance.”

I would argue that the break-up of Britain is likely to pose a threat to power of the capitalist class. Would the independent nations of England, Scotland and Wales combine to pursue imperialist wars and colonial occupation in the Middle East as a junior partner of the United States? Would they have remained in the EU, and signed up to the establishment of a European capitalist super-state? Would the ruling class have succeeded in selling off public utilities and eroding the public provision of housing, healthcare, and education? Would there have been the policy of “managed decline” of the productive economy? I don’t think so.

The “matrix of power relationships” that evolved out of the demise of the British Empire have insured that Britain remains an imperial power – the process of decolonization did not result in Britain losing influence over its former colonies, and the close alliance with the United States is not just in recognition for the assistance provided during the Second World War, which itself came at a price.

It should be needless to say that what is essential to capitalists is detrimental to working people, and Britain’s role as a junior partner to the US, its membership of the European Union, and continued interference in the political affairs of former colonies, are essential for the capitalist class.

As a socialist, I do not seek an imperial or capitalist England, or a nation defined by religion or race. The abandoned Clause Four of the Labour Party’s constitution is probably the most famous affirmation (in the UK, at least) of what socialists seek, namely, “the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service”.
In addition to this, socialists seek fraternal relations between nations and support the right to self-determination. At home, this should mean active support for the struggle to establish political representation at a national level for England – a cause which complements the movements for self-government in the other nations of the UK and would greatly improve the prospect of a united Ireland.

The nationalisms of Wales and Scotland are now reaching hegemony in the devolved institutions by implementing and supporting social democratic measures, stepping back from the neo-liberalism of New Labour.

The response to this from the capitalist press is to announce with outrage that inequalities in funding under the Barnett Formula allow this to take place, but to whisper that to increase the free provision of healthcare, etc., is simply not possible. In other words, their intention is not to see reforms that are beneficial to working class people implemented in England, but to see the reversal of these gains.

And there is a problem here – for as the former Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted before his departure, the Barnett Formula has been retained because it holds the union together. If funding is levelled down in Scotland in the next few years, the nationalist-led Scottish government would have a stronger case for independence.

The concept of England as a nation is unfamiliar to many English socialists, just as it is often imprecise for people in England. Socialist organisations encourage members to study the history of the working class internationally, often neglecting to examine and learn from the history of the working class in England, its radical traditions, and its struggle for political representation.

Just as the labour movement remains tied to the Labour Party, despite New Labour being recognized by workers as the party of capital, socialists in England (and some in Scotland and Wales) remain attached to the notion that the working class will come to power through the maintenance of the United Kingdom.

I hope that this will change, and that English socialists will come to realize that devolution completely rules out a multinational road to socialism and that devolution in England, far from being an irrelevant or reactionary development, would actually empower working people across the world.

Charlie Marks blogs at Rebellion Sucks!, he lives in London.

Tony Linsell

The territory that is called England is the homeland of the English. The English gave their communal name to England and have lived in it ever since. England means “land of the English”.

The English
By “the English” I mean the ethnic / indigenous English. They are members of a community that has a recorded history that goes back nearly 2000 years. That community – that nation – migrated from Jutland to Britain about 1500 years ago. People who have since then merged into the English population, and are indistinguishable from the English, and claim no identity other than English, and are accepted by the English as being one of their own, are English – and England is their homeland.

A Nation
The English are a nation. By “nation” I mean a group of people bound together by a shared history, culture, ancestry, language and communal identity. A nation is a group of people who feel that they naturally belong together – they share common values, perceptions and interests. A nation is an extended family – a group of people who are willing to endure hardship and sacrifice in defence of each other and their communal interests. Our instincts have been shaped by natural selection to enable us to live and flourish in a community. Our instincts are not suited to an atomised existence in a disorderly society.

A National Homeland
All nations seek to establish or preserve a homeland because it provides a physical space in which the nation can govern itself and live according to its own laws and customs. Freedom and democracy are impossible without core shared values and a shared physical space in which to live by those values. Democracy is about a community freely and fairly electing people from within the community to govern the community according to rules that are acceptable to the community. A government is expected to do all it can to maintain a healthy, peaceful, sustainable community. The more distant a political and economic system gets from communal self-government and the pursuit of communal interests, the less democratic it becomes and the less freedom its members enjoy.

What England Means to Me
England is my communal homeland; a physical space in which my community has from time to time been able to more or less govern itself. England is a place that has been physically shaped by my community. Its landscape, whether in town or countryside, tells the story of my community’s history and achievements; its good and bad times; its values and traditions. The landscape of England reflects the social, political, and economic history of the English. Pubs, churches and people are part of that landscape, they indicate English territory. When they disappear, as is increasingly happening in towns and cities, it indicates that the territory has ceased to be occupied by the English – the English have moved out.

Landscape of the Mind
In addition to the physical England there is the England of the communal imagination – a place where no outsider can go. This is the England of our mental landscape – imagined but nonetheless real in that it is moulded from a very early age and affects how we live in the real world. It is an accumulation of the informal prompts that permeate everyday life and which teach us the worth of certain values, perceptions and behaviour. The prompts are in such things as how others greet and speak to us – the food we eat and, how it is cooked and how we eat it – the sound of our language and how it both shapes and reflects the way we think and see.

Our mental and physical landscapes are the product of those who lived their everyday lives and the few who did exceptional things. Each generation leaves its mark on them.

Proof of Title
Hostile outsiders (and misguided or foolish insiders) often scoff and say, “I suppose you think you are Anglo-Saxon” or “Do you have a family tree that shows your ancestors where here a thousand years ago” or worst of all – and from the certifiable – “But we’re all Celts” . The answer is that I don’t have to prove my ancestry by means of formal records and bits of paper. It is enough that I am a member of the English community – its history is my history. As a member of the English community I am linked to the communal history and imagination of those who have for over a thousand years called themselves English and regarded England as their homeland. I have no more need to prove my ancestry than does a Sioux, a Maori, or an Irishman.

So, I am English and there are two Englands that are meaningful and important to me – both are an essential part of my communal and individual identity – both are my homeland.

Tony Linsell is the editor of Steadfast Magazine

John Hemming

Going back to the year 600 my family invaded what became Mercia and is now the Midlands. The local emperor Offa who was part of the Hemming clan and a descendant of the Danish emperor Hemming (see Beowulf) expanded the empire until it stretched as far as London.

To that extent I am perhaps a typical Englishman with ancestors born in all sorts of places (including Ireland and Uttar Pradesh). What England means to me beyond the geographical boundaries and what it means to be English has to be seen from that perspective.

It is said that the Far East has a perspective of life that is known as the “sticking out nail” that means that people varying from the norm are forced back into line.

To me England is a country which has since 1066 been independent and has developed a tolerance of variety and a desire for individual freedom. At the same time, however, there is value given to altruism and a respect for people who live their lives on the basis of principles rather than obedience.

Although in the 1850s the UK had perhaps 50% of the global GDP, I see England traditionally as a country that does not overvalue money. The willingness of clerics and others to work for the intrinsic value of what they do rather than because of pure cash is part of that.

Similarly a respect for the rule of law and a desire to do things that are “in order” is something that I see as linked to England.

The willingness to trust strangers has been described by Robert Puttnam as “social capital” and has been linked to the willingness to do voluntary work. England established many of the worlds international voluntary organisations such as the Scouts and developed many sports. I believe that arose from a weaker state allowing individual creativity to thrive.

Sadly many of these values have decayed. Parliament does need to accept some responsibility for the way in which it leads and responds to changing attitudes. The white collar corruption in some professional services that is driven by financial priorities has effects wider than merely the spheres in which it occurs.

Obviously there are traditional concepts of the village green and cricket that are seen by some to be typically English. However, the English have been mainly town dwellers for some time so it has to be the values of England that are key.

I think it is possible to change the direction of travel back towards a more traditional English set of values. The first step, however, has to be to recognise the need to change and that some changes are not irreversible.

John Hemming is the Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley.

Gareth Young

What knows he of England who only England knows? asked Kipling. The retort Perhaps, after all, we know most of England ‘who only England know’ came several years later from Enoch Powell. Having lived three times outside England I can attest to the truth behind Kipling’s rhetorical question. Living abroad forces you to look at yourself and England as others might see you and your country: What is it that I love about England; what is it that makes me English, and; are their stereotypes justified? Comparisons are made, parallels are drawn, and a more self-conscious and self-aware Englishman emerges.

The England of the mind’s eye, that England that exists in our imaginations, is a schizophrenic construction drawn from often conflicting ideas of England. There is the Romantic’s England, that of the bucolic shire, the pastoral idyll of stone cottages, winding lanes, parish churches, hedgerows and patchwork fields; there is the Imperialist’s England of Imperial institutions like Monarchy, Parliament, Civil Service, Military, and then; there is the Idealist’s England, the idea of England itself, Habeas Corpus, Freedom of thought and expression, Individualism, Tolerance, Democracy. All too often these imaginings contrast with the reality of England, a place in which we not only fail to build a new Jerusalem but seem to move ever farther from the England of our mind’s eye.

All of you reading this will have your own evocative idea of England and the extent to which it marries with mine is less a measure of your Englishness and more a measure of the fact that England means different things to each of us. If Englishness exists, if England exists in any meaningful sense, then it is the product of our collective psyche, a sum of parts, the national consciousness and self-awareness of the nation of England. The England of today is ephemeral because England is ever changing, transmitted like DNA through the generations and related to, but subtlety different from, the England before.

When I fly home after a long absence and look down upon England’s system of enclosed fields my heart quickens. The quickening is tempered by Gatwick or Heathrow – undeniably the most depressing places in England, and national disgraces both – but as I proceed at haste into England’s green and pleasant land I experience the closest that I will ever come to a religious experience. It is not pride. It is not relief. It can only be faithfully described as love. This is my country, my land. Evidently it is the romantic pastoral idea of England that resonates most strongly in me. It’s difficult for me to describe because my love for England seems to me to be innate, almost genetic; but of course it is not, it is familiarity and nurture, and a lifetime of imbibing English culture that has instilled this in me.

But despite this feeling of love for England I don’t yet feel that I am home. For there is something I’ve missed more than the English countryside, it is the defining English institution. It is The Pub. I never feel that I am truly home until I have sunk a pint of English ale in an English pub, preferably with friends and family, but if needs must without. Anglo-French poet Hilaire Belloc wrote, When you have lost your inns drown your empty selves, for you will have lost the last of England. It is a quote that that adorns a thousand beams, usually in gold italics, in pubs the length and breadth of England, and its marketing appeal lies in its simple truth. To sit in a traditional English pub is to connect with generations that have gone before. The pub is redolent of Englishness; from its architecture; to its furnishings; to the peculiar etiquette of the inhabitants, the games they play, the way they interact and the language they speak. To understand the importance of the English pub you need only to watch our three main soap operas (Queen Vic, Rovers Return, Woolpack), the pub is the main set in each and the heartbeat of the community.

It would be fair to say that my Canadian wife grew weary – bloody furious actually – over my complaints about Canadian beer, my yearning for “proper sausages” and my frustration at not being able to buy pickled onion flavour crisps or English cheeses. But though I hankered after these creature comforts it was the pub whose absence in my life I most bemoaned. We now live in Lewes, a town and locale renowned for Harvey’s Brewery and traditional real ale pubs. I’m in seventh heaven and the wife likes it too, and not just because I’ve stopped my belly-aching. She also appreciates the aesthetic and cultural appeal of the English pub and enjoys seeking out new country pubs, or popping down the local, to sample their wares every bit as much as me. Sitting with friends outside a country pub on a summers’ day, supping a pint of ale and picking over a ploughman’s: That’s What England Means to Me.

David Rickard

How can I answer such a question?
Can a man truly tell his lover what she means to him,
Or a daughter her mother?

England. There is no other.

Words are not enough,
Not even those English words
Good, honest, simple;
Not always Anglo-Saxon
Even when we think them so,
But English, all the same;
Replete with history and tradition.

And yet in some ways,
There are too many words
How rich our vocabulary!
So many possibilities of expression;
Such a forest of meaning to get lost in
When language extends beyond its roots
And we cannot see the wood for the trees.

It is as if the whole world
Has poured its scattered meanings
Into our dictionary;
Just as now the whole world, it seems,
Has taken refuge on our shores
And seeks to make its home in England
Or is it, makes England its home?

For we are no longer sure
If we invited them – England, that is –
Not even those we truly welcome to our land.
That choice was taken from our hand:
England, the home of freedom,
The Mother of Parliaments,
Is not free to define the limits of its nation,
To have a destiny not just be a destination;
And be truly called by its own name.

England, the one and only.

Instead, the stranger is invited
To view himself as British:
In fact, an alien not sharing common values
But sharing our alienation;
For we, too, are called
To quit the foolish things of youth
In the name of a universal truth
That we are “British”:
Rootless wanderers of the global age,
And strangers in a land that belongs to all
And so belongs to none.

England: there is none other.

Words are meaningless if there is not heart;
And where there is no heart, there cannot be a home.
I have not always loved her, my England,
When I have travelled far abroad;
But I did not love myself when I despised her,
And always I have called her home.
And always, she has called me home.
She is, in so many ways, my very ground of being;
The wellspring that set my heartbeat racing.

Much that defines me defines England, too;
I belong to England and England belongs to me.
The rhythm of her language speaks in me;
I am the product of her history,
A part of her present
And the guarantor of her future.

For as long as my heart beats,
England, too, will not be beaten.
They can take our nation in name only;
But while I live, they cannot take her soul.
And that is what “England” means to me.

David blogs at Britology Watch.

John Warwick

In 2003 British Asian writer, lecturer and broadcaster Kenan Malik met and interviewed BNP leader Nick Griffin for Malik’s critique of multicultural Britain in the Channel 4 documentary ‘Disunited Kingdom’. He started off by asking Griffin to define ‘English culture’. His reply was ‘You can’t describe it, you just know it….its like being in love, you either are or you are not’(1). Not only is this the mother of all cop outs on behalf of Nick Griffin, a man who attempts to vehemently defend and protect something he cannot even define from dirty foreign influence, but in itself it says something about English culture. English culture is something that is difficult to describe, but not for the reasons that Nick Griffin gives. English culture is indefinable for the very fact that it is an open ended, living entity. The English culture of today is not the English culture of the 50s, as the English culture of the 50s was not the English culture of the nineteenth century.

For Nick Griffin would look at the example of curry becoming the national dish as a sign of weakness within English culture, a sign of loss. However the English are merely doing as they’ve always done. That is seamlessly assimilating something foreign into its entity without losing its own identity, and even reinventing itself in the process. By the time of the mid 1990s the new movement of British musicians were deliberately recreating a form of music that to most seemed as English as Yorkshire pudding, as a backlash to American dominance of pop culture. The irony didn’t seem to dawn on others that while they were trying to ape the Beatles, back in 1963 they and all their ‘yeah yeah yeahs’ were the epitome of Americanization within England.

In fact Liverpool’s ascendancy to being the first city of British rock and roll was no accident. The Maritime city of Liverpool had many sailors who had made frequent trips to America often bringing back records that the rest of the country couldn’t get hold of. Also a major part of Merseybeat that has had a lasting effect on the culture of the city is the adoption of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, number one hit for scouser Gerry Marsden in 1963, as its unofficial anthem. However this Rogers and Hammerstein number originates from the Broadway musical ‘carousel’, not the pen of any Liverpudlian wordsmith.

Also as a direct result of the Britpop movement of the 90s, the ‘Mod’ culture of the 1960s had come to be defined as the archetypal English cultural style. This is despite the fact that it was heavily influenced by black culture, particularly black American and West Indian music and style, which had came to Britain with the migrant populations. As explained by Paolo Hewitt ‘as second generation Caribbeans moved deeper into British society…Braces, pork-pie hats and the return of the Crombie coat were some of the clothing items that were taken from the Rude Boy by his white counterpart’(2).

This is not the only part of English pop culture that has been taken from the New World Blacks. A vital part of the birth of white sock wearing Essex man with his Escort XR3i complete with furry dice was on the dance floors of the Lacy Lady or Goldmine nightclubs. The Essex Soul Boy scene was built with a soundtrack straight out of Black America. As is the case with today’s most famous Essex man – David Beckham. In his 2005 Channel 4 documentary ‘Black like Beckham’, British afro-caribbean journalist Paul McKenzie refers to this modern day icon of Englishness as ‘Britain’s most famous black man’ because of his incorporation of ‘Black’ Urban style and culture within his public persona. McKenzie states that in turn Beckham has ‘got black style and he’s accepted by black people as a hero’(3). Not only is this something that only the soft southern soul boys did, in the 1970s an entire culture of 24 hour party people sprung up across the north of England, playing obscure soul tunes by obscure soul singers. From the dance floors of the Wigan Casino and the Flaming Torch in Stoke came ‘Northern Soul’, an entire genre of Black American music whose sole definition is a geographical reference to the part of England where it finds its popularity. This despite the fact that barely any English Northerners played a note on those records!

This is also not a phenomenon of the 20th/21st centuries, even William Shakespeare did this back in his day. A quick browse through Shakespeare’s complete works shows settings such as Florence and Marseille in All’s Well That Ends Well, Athens in ‘Mid Summer Nights Dream’, Verona in ‘Romeo and Juliet’, and of course the self explanatory ‘Merchant of Venice’. Shakespeare had used the imagery of cultures foreign to England, the result of which centuries later is that his work epitomizes ‘English culture’ in the eyes of others around the globe.

The main conclusion that we can come to here is that the English are among the most misrepresented peoples on earth. Far from being the insular conservative reactionaries that we are often portrayed we are among the most receptive of peoples on god’s earth. People often note the rudeness and bad behaviour of English tourists and yet not only fail to note that this is a minority of people who get disproportionate coverage, but also the fact that once a European holiday came within the financial means of most English people a caravanning holiday on Canvey Island or St. Osyth was never going to cut it ever again. In fact over one million people from the British Isles have emigrated around the med, so contempt of foreigners surely cannot run that deep.The high number of people who emigrated from these shores have recently been misconstrued by the right wing press as a sign of decline and, even more ridiculously, because so many foreigners are coming here. Again the English are doing what they’ve always done, emigration out of Britain was higher than immigration into to Britain for over 300 years, England has after all repopulated entire continents in its time. This had only changed in the 1980s because countries such as Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and the U.S., who had always received immigrants from Britain started to restrict our entry. In essence the English are a people that do not believe that the world ends at the white cliffs of Dover and that rather than shut the world out would rather see what it has got to offer.

This is isn’t the only part of England’s historical culture that the right wing has misconstrued, for when the least pleasant of those who follow the fortunes of our national Football side are singing ‘with St. George in my heart keep me English’, they might want to dwell on who St. George actually was. He was non-white Palestinian born in Modern day Turkey and a soldier of the Roman Empire, who had not even set foot in England. The reason for his sainthood is that in 303AD the emperor of Rome had authorized the systematic persecution of all Christians across the whole empire. George was ordered to participate in the persecution but instead confessed to being a Christian himself and criticized the imperial decision, which in turn lead to his torture and execution. George is also the patron saint of Aragon, Canada, Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Russia, Palestine and also the cities of Genoa, Beirut, Ljubljana, Freiburg and Moscow. So why is George the patron saint of England then? The answer to that one is simple – the actions and ideals of the man meant more than his place of birth.

And that Mr. Griffin, is the explanation to the secret to England’s culture, and why that culture is so enduring. If you take into account that an incredible number of the world’s inventions came from these shores, you know that the English have always appreciated the merits of a good idea, regardless of where it came from. After all we would not have been able to have stayed ahead of the game for as long as we have if we did not. Also the title of this site says it all – a doomsday book of the mind. William the Conqueror was not English at all, he was born in modern day France. The fact that he came here and invaded us should fill us with revulsion if we were anywhere near the Daily Mail stereotype of what we are. The fact we took on board a lot of what he brought speaks volumes about the English and what the English actually are.

John Warwick is a Professor of Political Science

2) Hewitt, Paolo, The Soul Stylists: Forty Years of Modernism, Mainstream Publishing 2000:76

Robin Tilbrook

Many English people have probably despaired about the way things have been handled over the last few years. Thousands of us feel betrayed by Labour, misled by the Liberal Democrats and confused by the Conservatives, who have all provided very little in the way of good ideas and leadership over the last 10 years.

But the encouraging thing is that England is awaking.

The English Democrats were launched in 2002 at the Imperial College London. Many of the founding members were also members of the non-party political pressure group ‘Campaign for an English Parliament’ . It was increasingly obvious to the founding members of the English Democrats that the Westminster political establishment was not listening to anyone unless they posed an electoral threat to their careers. This was as true of Labour, as of the Conservative party, both of which has spent years denying that England is a nation, or that a national identity and a distinct culture actually exist. For the Conservatives, the UK consists of Wales, Scotland and Britain – which is news to 55 million English people who find themselves without any effective national representation.

Will there always be an England? Don’t bet on it. One of the sinister plans from the Labour Government which remains is to break England into nine European Regions. This plan is not to give England a vote on devolution but to create nine Regional Ministries, nine lots of bureaucracies, new flags, regional identities, nine different offices in Brussels and generally trying to break England into bits.

They are already beavering away changing the structure of local County based police into ‘Regional’ police forces. They are removing local ambulance and fire brigades to the Regions and have even tried to set up Regional Assemblies, despite the fact they are unelected and have been rejected by the people in the North East in 2004.

The Conservatives have been almost silent on the issue of the break up of England – why? Because it was the Conservatives who designed the Regional blueprint. Labour are busily implementing it and the Liberal Democrats support the break-up of England. Here you see England’s dilemma – all three of the main political parties are pro- European, pro-Union and pro- breaking-up of England. One has to ask the question why?
One intriguing insight comes from the Scottish Claim of Right: “We” Do hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberately (the) interests (of the Scottish people) shall be paramount. This was signed approved by Gordon Brown – Prime Minister, Menzies Campbell – Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Alistair Darling – Chancellor, George Galloway – Respect Party Leader, Charles Kennedy – ex Leader of Liberal Democrats, Michael Martin – Speaker of the Commons and John Reid – ex Home Secretary for England. Scots appear to dominate our political life, either as leaders of all of the three main parties, as funders and as senior figures in policy making.

The English Democrats believe that until the English have a parliament of their own within the UK the English nation is not represented. We consider it is an outrage that Scotland and Wales have been given devolution but the English have not only been left out of any consultation on the issue, but now find themselves ’sharing’ the UK Parliament with MPs from Scotland and Wales who regularly vote on English only matters when English MPs are barred from voting on Scottish and Welsh matters. We are also furious that since last September, English university students will be the only ones having to pay £3,000 in top up fees, whilst the Scots and Welsh pay nothing – as their national Governments have rejected fees for their students, but their MPs nevertheless used their votes in the UK Parliament to make the English pay!

England must have her own voice and great strides are being made to reinvigorate Englishness through the celebration of St. George’s Day, English culture and history. But we need more people who care about England to join in this enterprise.

England is a great country and we want to see a rejuvenated and liberated democratic England – and I encourage all my countrymen to ensure that there will really always be an England!

Robin Tilbrook is the Chairman of the English Democrats Party.

Paul Watterson

My England was never really the one of “long shadows on cricket grounds”, “warm beer”, “invincible green suburbs” (Colliers Wood doesn’t really count, I suppose?), “dog lovers” or “old maids cycling to Holy Communion”.

My England was more Carlisle v Rochdale on a freezing November night, early dawn in Liverpool docks, a curry in Rusholme, a pint of Theakstons in a Keswick pub on wet Sunday afternoon and buying sweet potatoes down Brixton market.

Ask 100 Anglophiles about ‘Their England’ and you’ll get answers and images offered as diverse as the ones above…. England is a jigsaw puzzle of many diverse and disparate parts, but any like any jigsaw puzzle, the picture is only truly complete when all those parts are present and fitting together.

Moving to England from Belfast as an eighteen year old was technically speaking a return to my roots, my forefathers left North Yorkshire for Ireland over 300 years ago. But it was also the birthplace and stomping ground of almost all my political, literary and musical heroes and the home of my favourite football team.

More importantly though, it was moving to a place with an atmosphere as far away as could be possibly imagined from the stifling political and cultural homogeneity of my home city. It took a while to get used to the concept of open debate, people pushing ideas beyond the normal boundaries without fear of physical retribution, but once I did, I took full advantage of the intellectual freedom offered by new home.

I’m still fascinated with the conflict of ideas which exists in English life, a “conflict” which exists almost entirely in name only, but one which is continuously taking place in the House of Commons, university debating chambers, newspapers, blogs, pubs, work-places and over the garden fence. But whereas this debate in my teen years centred on political ideology and the issues of class, the chaos of N.Irish, Scottish and Welsh devolution has undoubtedly caused a re-awakening of English national identity and maybe even a questioning of England’s role within the wider nation that is the United Kingdom. For the first time, perhaps since the Home-Rule Bills of the Nineteenth Century, Unionists in the other three parts of the UK can no longer take their English compatriots for granted- this is no bad thing. I strongly suspect the main “conflict” in the years ahead will not be along the old stale conservative/liberal, socialist/capitalist fault-lines, but on matters of national identity; can we, simultaneously, be both British and English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh? I believe so, but I also acknowledge it will not be an easy job convincing the rest of my fellow Britons of this fact; the debate has just begun and I’m looking forward to playing a small part in the future discussions and arguments on this topic.

I’m proud to be an Irishman from N.E. Ulster, I am also proud to be a citizen of the greater British nation. The United Kingdom is a jigsaw puzzle of many diverse and disparate parts, but like any jigsaw puzzle, the picture is only truly complete when all these parts are present and fitting together; I consider England to be the biggest piece of that jigsaw, its focal point.

Paul Watterson, ex-Belfast, now residing in New Europe