When anyone asks me: ‘Are you British?’ I want to say “No! I’m English.’ Why? Because I’m proud to be English. I’m also proud to be British, but first, I’m English.
So what does being English mean? Yes, of course, you’re English if you are born in England, but not just that. To be proud to be English is to be proud of what England stands for. The problem is defining what England stands for. Less and less, I hear people saying. That’s too true in some ways. We seem to be giving away all the things that made England a wonderful place to live in. But that’s true of Britain as well.
Britain is a small collection of kingdoms. A united kingdom. But how united is it. Day on day we hear from the Scots who want independence from Britain. Ireland wants to reunite with the North. Wales has rediscovered its identity and its pride. Only England has yet to stand up and be counted.
Why is this, when we still have so much to be proud of? Not just nationalistic jingoism, but pride in the country and all it stands for and has stood for, for generations.
My family arrived in Britain in the early 1900’s. Britain took us in when so many would not. The family worked and thrived as most immigrants did in those days. They did not come for free handouts, but to flee persecution and build a new life. Over the decades since, our family members have become English. My wife and I live in a country village of thatched cottages and old world charm. A typically English village! It’s even got a village pond.
England has always been an entity within another entity. Being British has not stopped us being English, no matter how hard various political parties have tried to prevent the feeling.
Being English is more of an emotional thing than a practical one. You can’t say it’s about the language barrier because the Cornish have their own language and regional jargons all would seem to divide us. But it does not divide us. If anything it unites us as English men and women.
The industrial revolution started in England and swept the world. England’s empire was second to none in size or wealth. OK, that empire is gone, now. Like all empires, they have had their day. Maybe Great Britain has had its day, too. But should England be lumped in with that? No! Undoubtedly – no!
England will still have much to offer for centuries, if allowed to do so. English culture and heritage was once its pride. It can be so again. We only need a voice. A voice to equal the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh.
We need an English Parliament to speak up for the English. Without it we will descend into mediocrity. We do not deserve that. Not now! Not ever!
The EU denies our heritage as it does the other member states but, while the others kick against the demand of the centralised government, Britain drags England into line. Our tail between our legs.
Everything that we once prided ourselves in our Englishness, has become anathema to our masters. While France and Germany flout the rules they don’t like, Britain accepts. But nowhere is that acceptance felt more than in England.
For we are being denied our very identity.
Of course change is always painful. We’ve dragged ourselves, kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century but if we can keep it England’s twenty-first century, we can grow with it.
We must always take in the down trodden of other countries. That is part of our custom. However, taking in all who can get on a boat and sponge off us is not good economics. Nor is it right and proper. Our very Englishness will be swamped and overridden.
We, who love England, want to keep on loving it. If the rest of the world don’t like that in us, we’ve lived with that before. We can live with it again.