The English Guardian has been undergoing one of its periodic bouts of agonising over the future of the cherished Union. With Scotland gearing up for an independence referendum and more powers slowly percolating across Offa’s Dyke to Wales it looks like the writing is finally on the wall for the British Jacobin state.The choice for the English is obvious. Either embrace a properly federal UK and grant the maximum autonomy and equality to the non-English nations of these islands. Or ungraciously and stubbornly resist devolution into the last ditch and beyond.
Adopt the latter and they’ll wake up to find themselves living in a bitter, spiteful and vitriolic Little England led by the likes of Nigel Farage and with a majority population of rabid racists and xenophobic Europhobes living on the fading glories of their past. A population addicted to its daily fix of bile from the Daily Mail.
Unfortunately at the moment it looks as if they’re blindly stumbling into choosing the latter. Nothing better indicates this than the fear and confusion of the English metropolitan classes when they are confronted with the fact that there is a fifth nation in the British Isles – the Cornish.
The Guardian came up with a survey of national identities in Britain. Go to the Guardian and express your national identity. Except that if you’re Cornish you’re not allowed to. The other nations of Britain have the right. We don’t.
Instead, we are consigned by the erudite liberals of the Guardian to the category of ‘others’. How inclusive of them! As a result its map of identities has a large swathe of ‘others’ inhabiting the far south west tip of Britain. This embarrassing blot on their pretty map was memorably described by the Guardian on Wednesday as ‘Cornwall: a strong turnout for the ‘others’’.
More than a strong turnout surely. In fact 78% of respondents in Cornwall described themselves as ‘other’ and only 20% as British or English. Across the UK 58% described themselves as British or English and just 8% opted for ‘other’. In Orkney and Shetland the Guardian wrote ‘Could those ‘others’ view themselves more as Nordic than Scots’? In fact, in Orkney & Shetland only 10% described themselves as ‘others’. In Cornwall it was 78%.
The only other mention the Cornish got in the hard copy Guardian was in a discussion of ‘English devolution’. Where we were described as ‘truculent’. According to my Thesaurus truculent means ill-disposed, evil-minded, spiteful, surly, treacherous, untamed, barbarous, malevolent among other glowing attributes.
What sins could we possibly have committed in the past to be singled out for this treatment? Or is it just the sin of being the smallest nation in terms of numbers and easy meat for the English playground bully as it lashes out in furiously and ignorantly?
As English self-loathing and confusion mounts and as the Scots and Welsh escape their wrath we’ll have to expect a lot more of this nonsense. Such is the penalty of being England’s first and last colony.
Postscript: The Guardian did deign to mention the Cornish in its online guise - see here.