The right to be English

“We knew that it was going to be a struggle coming back to the UK, Eurovision or not and we thought we might as well use this and represent our country and hope that England gets behind us.”

That’s Lee from Blue talking about the band getting back together for the Eurovision song contest. I’m sure to most of you, that is a completely ordinary (let’s stretch the meaning for a second) statement.

It kind of is an ordinary statement. Lee is from England, as are his bandmates, so England is indeed their country. However, there is the small point that for Eurovision, acts are there to represent Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland too. Not England alone.

That may seem extremely picky of me to bring up but it happens every day, both on television and the radio. Last month, Radio 6 had a “songs about Britishness” special. Eight of the 10 songs had “England” or “English” in the title.

When I fill in a form that asks me what region of the UK I’m from, every single county of England is there, with “Scotland” listed as a whole. As if we, a whole country, have the same merit as Devon or Lancashire.

I am not writing this to slam England or English people at all. Two of my cousins and many of my friends are English. I’m actually moving there in the summer. They are extremely welcome to their patriotism and feeling proud of their country. It’s well deserved. I don’t want them to have to apologise for it, which seems to be more and more the case. Being patriotic about England is considered anti-British, whereas to be nationalistic in Scotland is the norm. How unfair.

When there are issues such as trident, currency and pensions being discussed, a quote from a member of a boy band seems irrevelant. But it is this tiny drip, drip, drip of Englishness disguised as Britishness that makes the people of Scotland feel completely separate from the UK already. It could  be enough to Give Alex Salmond the tip of the vote he needs to make Scotland an independent nation.

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