Greater England Or Great Britain

Journalist Ed West has an interesting article in the (former?) British establishment newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, examining the controversy raging around the attempts by the British government to dictate the form and circumstances of the Scottish referendum on independence. The most interesting, and honest, part of it is this:

“…the English will suffer very little psychic damage from the break-up. All the ideas of “Britishness” we have are basically Englishness by another name; when the English think of Britain they are essentially imagining Greater England, which politically and demographically the United Kingdom has always essentially been. An independent England would not see itself any differently…”

Which sums up three centuries of English and Scottish history rather neatly.



  1. It’s only around 100 years since the taught our children in Irish schools “I am a little English child!”

    Now of course our “native” Government closes ’em down especially in the Gaeltacht where 50% plus are scheduled for the chop…then we will all be little English children. “Won’t Mother England be surprised….”

  2. The DT is quite right.
    The United Kingdom is an English empire which is in process of breaking up. That is why the Greater Englanders dislike ‘Little Englanders’ so much. The Greater Englanders fear any mention of the word England and they produce no election manifestos for ‘England’. Little Englanders do not wish to rule over other peoples nor do they wish to be ruled over by them. Hence, those who say they are English rather than British tend to be Eurosceptic as well.
    The original reasons for creating the Union have disappeared. The Brits have created a new reason of their own: ‘stronger together’ which is demonstrated by ‘punching above our weight’. That says it all.
    David Cameron has said, more than once, that he does not want to be PM ‘just of England’ so presumably when Britain breaks up he will not apply for the job.

  3. @ Tartanrock. Well put Sir, as an English nationalist who wants an English Parliament to level the democratic playing field, I agree with all that you said except that what you call then “Greater Englanders”, we prefere to call then “Little Britishers”

  4. I’ve always felt that Scottish and English nationalists should have more in common than they do. I know a couple of English nationalists who favour very strongly the break-up of the UK and the creation of a separate English nation and I’ve always found them very open-minded and generous in their nationalism. Both come from a strong, centre-left position, both see their nationalist roots in an ethnic form of Englishness that is also quiet accommodating of other traditions in England itself, and look to the likes of the Levellers etc. for inspiration.

    I should say they both favour a British withdrawal from Ireland, independence for Scotland and Wales, and recently self-rule for Cornwall inside or outside of any new English nation.

    The hi-jacking of English nationalism by racist, xenophobic or neo-fascist groups is something Scottish and Welsh nationalist should help to combat by reaching out to similarly-minded progressive English nationalists.

    Separatism should not equate with enmity but rather friendship on equal terms.

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