Wednesday, 17 September 2014

My (Unwritten) Constitutional Patriotism

I attended the Unity Rally in London on Monday, where I took the above picture. Geldof spoke well, and movingly, about the opportunities he found in the UK that he could not find in Ireland, and how it seemed crazy to him, as an Irishman, given the things that drove Ireland to independence, that Scotland should seek it over matters so much more minor and temporary. "If I were Scottish, I might ask myself 'why not?'" he said, "But I'm Irish, so I ask 'Why?'".

 I have to say the last two weeks have left me surer than ever that I am, first and foremost, British, and a Unionist. Some authors on the left have spoken of this kind of sentiment as somehow "fake" or as a kind of evil nationalism (normally whilst ignoring or dismissing the genuine nationalism of the SNP). I can only speak for myself, but I see it as something closer to what the Germans call "constitutional patriotism", but in country with no written constitution. It would be a great shame if this is the last 24 hours in which I can claim it to be so.

  [You can read the BBC report on the rally here. I'm standing to the right of the guy with the sign in the bottom-most picture]


justrecently said...

Re patriotism, isn't there reason to be proud that there's a referendum of this kind, even if it should go "wrong"?

And if Scotland says "No" to independence, there'll be more devolution. Looks to me as if the UK is showing the EU the way, concerning the often stated, but rarely practiced, principle of subsidiarity.

What is practiced in your country is a degree of self-determination that would make most other countries' leaders shiver with fear. Not only dictators.

Gilman Grundy said...

British people, with what I'm sure people from outside the UK are right to regard as a measure of self-flattery, pride themselves on belieiving in "fair play". Not having held the referendum on the basis of constitutional technicalities, as the Spanish have refused to hold a referendum in Catalonia, would have been unfair, and wrong.

Britain will be, undoubtedly, a poorer, smaller, weaker place if Scotland votes yes. The British identity, the one I hope I will be able to raise my children to admire, will wither. It will still be better off than a country in which a clear mandate for independence is ignored and denied.

I'm personally still hoping for a 'No'. The last six polls all point that way, but who knows if they are right? Whatever happens we will have to work it through.