Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Not a Brit.

If you come from the UK, it is very common to be called ‘A Brit’, especially by Americans and Canadians. But it is easy to overlook the fact that Great Britain is made up of four very different countries. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have different cultures and traditions, varied histories, and also languages other than English.

It may say ‘British Citizen’ on my (expired) passport, and I have to state my nationality as ‘British’ on many official forms and documents. But as anyone born and raised here will tell you, I am English. If I travel to any of those other three countries, I would be regarded as such too.

The United Kingdom is far from being united.

At least half the people in Scotland would like that country to be independent, and to rejoin the EU. Wales also has a Nationalist political party advocating independence and the use of the Welsh language, though it has moderate influence there. Northern Ireland has a complex and tragic history, intertwined with religion and over one hundred years of struggle in the modern era.

Those other three countries also have their own devolved governments. Their powers are different in each one, but generally allow them to make many of their own rules and laws with having to refer to the national government in London. Scotland and Northern Ireland also have different banknotes, though the currency is still The Pound.

We don’t have a ‘Great Britain’ football team either. Each of the four nations has its own team, with dedicated fans and followers. The national Cricket tean is the ‘England’ team, not British. Playing any of the home nations (as they are called) in any sport carries the same rivalry and nationalistic fervour as if we were playing Brazil or Germany.

I am not able to state my nationality as ‘English’ in any offcial capacity, but I have never thought of myself as anything else. In the same way, someone from Scotland or Wales would call themselves Scottish or Welsh, wherever they happened to live.

In my remaining lifetime, I am unlikely to see a total break-up of Great Britain. Even if Scotland voted for- and was granted – independence, Wales and Northern Ireland are unlikely to follow. But given the choice, I would advocate that.

Because we are different, so it makes sense to me to be separate countries.

68 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

  1. The last weeks i had more than one time read about this difference, Pete! It seems the football game has brought it up again, because – as you wrote – there is only an English team, but not one from Great Britain or the UK. I hope the difference does not force a secession. We love you all, the same way. 😉 Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I still remember when we covered that topic in sixth grade or so – the chapter was titled “Wales isn’t England” and was about a Welsh Family who had made friends with a German family during the holidays. The German family had sent them a letter (this was in the 90’s) and the postman rang the doorbell to deliver the letter personally, because he was so enraged that they put “England” instead of “Wales” on the envelope. MAN.

    As someone who was very sad about Brexit (I still sort of am), I’d love for Scotland to come back to the EU! I sure haven’t seen enough of GB and would love to come back easily.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Interesting Pete. You’ve posted before about the British/English distinction and it helped my understanding. I’d always considered people from England to be British, rather than English. But when asked about my own ancestry, I’d say I’m roughly half German, with the other half a mix of English, Irish and Welsh – I would never say British.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was born in Wisconsin. I spent my childhood in Wisconsin and Indiana. I have lived in New York state, South Carolina, Virginia, Michigan, and Washington state. Each of those states either joined the United States of America at its conception or petitioned to join later. Virginia and South Carolina did both—they joined at conception and again in 1868. (Yes there are some issues with the way they rejoined under President Andrew Johnson.) Unlike union by consent, the bulk of US states held elections to join, (Again there are issues with the Confederate states rejoining, but given the blanket pardon and reestablishment of political rights and citizenship President Johnson gave all but former officials and other officers, they did seek admission). So I am an American. Yes, we call folks living in different states by different titles: Badgers, Hoosiers, New Yorkers (or Empire Staters), South Carolinians, Virginians, Michiganders (or Michiganians), and Washingtonians (or Toners), but we are all Americans—one nationality and divided by a common set of languages but predominantly English.
    There are those who advocate a white homeland or a black homeland, or some other enclave. However, the USA is not actually defined by race, ethnicity, religion but by a concept of “all {people] are created equal.” We do not all behave as if that is true, but we all state it in some form and at the core, it is the idea that we strive towards. Unlike the UK any differences in culture, language, beliefs and even equality among the various States do not sufficiently permeate any given state to make it unique and certainly, there is no historical basis for any state, not even Texas or Hawaii to have a claim for independence. Here, any claims for separation are based upon concepts such as racial superiority or other such nonsense.

    Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been reading a lot lately about Texas threatening to secede. Given the shambles of their state administration, I wonder if it would be a shock to them to be allowed to go it alone.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. An interesting idea, Pete. From an economic point of view, I think unity for Great Britain is better. There is strength in unity. My mother and I are English, my husband is of Scottish descent, my dad (stepfather) is of Irish descent. We are all happy together [smile].

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And you live in South Africa, which adds another element. When you come back to England full-time, you will spend a lot of time explaining your accent, believe me. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting post. My husband is from Northern Ireland I am American. We lived for many years in Dublin. Our children were all born in Dublin. We are now in our 80’s and live in America. Well where is our allegiance? You guessed it. I am American. My husband is Northern Irish.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Don’t worry, Pete. It’s still not as crazy as the US. If you follow the news, you can tell nobody here ia “American” any longer. They are something-American. Native-American, Afro-American, Native-American, sovereign citizen, Moor-American. Most of us are just mixed muts, but we should all call ourselves “Americans” but most won’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I met many Americans in London. Some described themselves as ‘Irish’, ‘Swedish’, ‘Italian’, ‘German’, and ‘Dutch’. At least here we only have 4 options. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Politics is complex. If given the authority, India would be 200 different countries, each with dedicated armies because that is where India started from in 1947. I think, having different culture and histories is not a reason to break up, because when you are small, you are vulnerable. But suppression is a good reason. For example, several North Eastern States of India and Kashmir consider themselves captives. I think an honest poll is required but will never happen because smaller India would be vulnerable… Sigh! Not sure what I want here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You do indeed have a complex situation, Shaily. But we have a tiny country by comparison, and a much (hugely) smaller population. In the UK, the break-up could work, even if the smaller countries found it hard to finance their independence in the long-term.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

      1. So, we recently saw a surge in the number of states when several states split into two because they felt they were being suppressed by the mother states. Now they are out of money and out of favour too… I guess, becoming a separate nation would be worse for the smaller states…Well, only time will tell.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. We have centuries of history to deal with here. Wales and Scotland were both invaded and eventually conquered by the English, and Northern Ireland was divided after the original uprising, with many Scottish families settling in the six counties. Resentment has never gone away for some people in those three countries.
      I hope the US can stay united, but it is looking increasingly as if some states really do want to secede, especially Texas.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree. I was born in London. I am English and even though I only ever spent a total of 10 years in England, I shall always call myself English, though sadly I would be a stranger there now.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The United States are not so united anymore. If we can’t heal this nation politically, there may well come a time when it breaks into two or more pieces. And north of here, Canada has its separatist province, Québec.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I think of the words British and English as a synonym. That’s because I’m not English or from Britain. Any British friend I have comes from England… Anyway, I will do my best not to refer to you as a Brit. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Until more recent years I thought of being English as totally interchangeable with British, but it obviously isn’t. Cyberspouse, like lots of Scots, lived twice his years in England than in Scotland. When there was trouble in The Balkans my young daughter said ‘Why don’t people go and live in their own countries.’ I replied ‘So are you going to live in England or Scotland.’ When we were in Dundee days before the Scottish referendum there was a real buzz for independence and I felt on their side, despite not wanting us to split. With so many a complex mix of all four nations ( not to mention everyone with mixed heritage from around the world ) can we really be separate? Of course if you ask an English person if God is an Englishman they will certainly reply Yes, because we know being English is a bit special!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t ever feel anything special about being English, Janet. But I have never identified as being British, even before I was in my teens. I agree about Scotland. I think they should be allowed their ‘freedom’ after all this time.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  13. As a Canadian, I understand the differences, but I had to explain it to an American friend the other day as she thought everyone in the UK was English. (and that English and British meant the same thing)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. In the days when I travelled abroad, when people asked if I was British, I always said, “No, English”. Living quietly here in Beetley now it doesn’t seem so important, when almost everyone else in also English.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I think if I lived in Scotland, I would want to be independent, though maybe not back in the EU. They certainly have a lot of history, at least equal to ours further south.
      Thanks, Julie.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  14. As a Yorkshireman 🙂 I often point out to students that I’m English and that Great Britain is only used at the Olympics. Of course now I consider myself European 🙂
    As for the split in the future, I have a funny feeling that Ireland may be unified in the next decade or so, all part of Boris’s cunning plan!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I have to confess I am ambivalent about this. Whilst I know that nationalism can bring out the worst in people, as we’ve seen in the past, I also understand the desire of nations [often smaller than their neighbours] to assert their self-determination, especially when their culture & language are significantly different from those of the controlling nation [England, in our case]. Finding our commonalities and working with them, rather than focusing on our differences and letting them divide us is the goal, but it’s not easy, as much now as it’s ever been. I think I’ll leave it there…….. 😉 Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s fair enough, Jon. I just don’t think many of the Scots and Welsh are interested in focusing on commonalities, and I fear that will become stronger as time goes on. If I lived in Scotland, I might well vote SNP, as I can see their argument.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

    1. I have never liked how being ‘English’ suddenly attracted racist slurs and somehow inferred many things that were not true of me. I suppose I have to blame the National Front for that though.
      Cheers, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Absolutely agree. I always refer to myself as English, I am not Scottish, Irish or Welsh, just English and it is frustrating that as you said, there are no official forms that take account for that. Living abroad we are considered British by our host country, oh well!

    Liked by 1 person

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