I came up with this question after reading the latest blog article from Derek Bateman (http://derekbateman.co.uk/2014/08/02/my-country-is-britain/#comment-20603)
Derek is well known in Scotland as a journalist, broadcaster and commentator, but I confess wasn’t known to me until the referendum campaign. No matter. He puts a simple question to people in Scotland :
“What’s your country? Scotland or Britain?”
Obviously the issues in the referendum campaign are many and some are complex. But this question boils it right down to the key issue of national identity. If your country is Scotland, then the implied consequence is political independence for Scotland. Vote Yes.
If your country is Britain / UK, then the implied consequence is (continued) political independence for Britain / UK. Vote No.
There is much more that could be said but the question is simplistic in order to make a valid point, and I won’t analyse it further here. But it got me thinking. “What’s my country : England or Britain?” I know my answer straight away. England.
But what if it were Britain or the UK? What would that mean? There is a bit more to answering “Britain / UK” than either England or Scotland, simply because Britain is made up of 3 countries and the UK, 4. Being British doesn’t depend only on England. I have come up with a few questions that I think a person in England who honestly chooses the “Britain / UK” answer should really think about:
- What do people in the other UK countries feel at the moment about being British and being part of the UK?
- What do you feel about each of the other UK countries? How strong is your desire for political union with them?
- Would you feel differently about choosing Britain / UK if Scotland became independent?
- What would you feel if Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all became independent?
- Does your choice of Britain / UK really have that much to do with England’s relations with the other countries of the UK?
I guess you can probably see where I am going with this and I know that the last question is loaded. But I’d be interested to see if anyone in favour of the union takes up the challenge. Any suggestions for other questions?