Friday, 4 July 2014

Happy Independence Day. For some at least

Independence: everyone seems to be talking about it these days.

That’s a reflection that feels particularly apt today, the fourth of July, anniversary of the day the American colonists declared their separation from the Mother Country. My country, as it happens. Not that I blame them, as I think you
ll understand from what I say below.

with his draft Declaration of Independence

Today, the Iraqi Kurds have decided to go looking for independence, presumably so they can stop being Iraqi Kurds and become Kurdish Kurds. The troubles in Ukraine are being fomented by people who want independence of the Eastern areas of the country (though possibly only to move swiftly on to absorption into that fine nation of regional and human rights, Russia).

And, of course, in Britain the Scots – some of them at least – are looking for their independence from, basically, England. It’s true that technically they’re seeking independence from the United Kingdom, but I doubt they have much of a quarrel with Wales or Northern Ireland.

In passing, I loved it that David Cameron, our less than inspired (or inspiring) Prime Minister, announced in Scotland today that it would break his heart if the Scots voted for independence. As if that would put anyone off voting in favour. I suspect his statement will, if anything, boost the Yes vote.

Getting away from England is a desire with a long history to it. The Welsh were driven into the union by military force; if the northern part of Ireland is still within the United Kingdom, that’s only because the English colonised it with good solid Protestants, ironically from Scotland, who owed their position in the province to the London government and could therefore be counted on to remain loyal to it. Why, even the Yanks, when they decided to break free were much more concerned with England and above all London, its capital, than with Scotland or Wales.

Nor is it only the Scots who want to get away from us. It’s my suspicion that the rest of the EU is beginning to find its patience running thin. Why, leading figures in Poland were recently secretly taped describing David Cameron as stupid, a sentiment I suspect might well be repeated in the corridors of power of other Continental nations, even though their leaders aren’t stupid enough to be taped expressing it.

It’s amusing to think that this tendency to look askance at England may be a response to the antics of the so-called United Kingdom Independence Party, vile enough in itself, but more baleful in its effects when the intellectually challenged Cameron and his Conservative Party decide the best way to beat UKIP is to ape its posturing.

“You want independence from us?” a lot of European leaders may be beginning to say, “well, go then. Sorry to lose you but maybe it’s time to cut our losses.”

A bit like a quarrelling couple who decide that the kids might actually suffer less if they divorced than if they stayed together: a painful decision, but probably less damaging in the long run.

So, on US Independence Day, I invite my compatriots to ponder a moment on the question of independence. Specifically, why so many people want to be independent of us. Could it be something we’ve done rather than something wrong with them?

Once we’ve answered that question, we might take a look at the Camerons and the UKIPs of our world and at how heavily they weigh in our national discourse. If we could marginalise them a little, might we not find we had more friends abroad? And perhaps a great deal less pain at home?


Anonymous said...

What a load of npatriotic bollocks

David Beeson said...

Ah, patriotism. The last resort of the scoundrel. And if there's no better motive than patriotism for doing something, I'd question whether it's worth doing. After all, patriotism took the US into Vietnam, and us into Iraq. You have to be as blind as a Blair to think either of those actiions did any good.