Scotttish, English v British: Which one are you?

15 Mar

If it were relevant to yourself and someone were to ask: Are you English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, or are you British or do you even feel British? For the Scottish Premier, Alex Salmond, the answer he would have on your lips, is that if you are from Scotland you are Scottish and cannot be British. In pressing for greater change, Salmond believes Scotland deserves its independence, and rightly so, you might agree. But what of the potential political turmoil and economic instability that may well ensue, you might ask? Although very much an integral part of the question of devolution, this is a separate consideration.

Continued unity, is, for some, a futile pursuit of a long forgotten and archaic British Empire. It appears that some believe attempts to maintain the last remnants of an empire and to hold in to it is something that only exists in the minds of politicians and stalwarts. David Cameron, UK Prime Minister’s comments that,“we’re better off together”, seem to echo this belief. However, of the ordinary people, the Scottish appear indifferent on the matter, and the English do not necessarily consider such a union as a matter of great importance.

Alex Salmond, and those who share his opinion to assert independence, are the ones suggesting the idea of a united Britain is a figment and a relic of an imperialistic and often brutal past. The idea that the people of British Isles- whether new migrant settlers, celts, or otherwise, are all the same- and believe in the same ideals of a united Britain- has become an anachronism. But a complete dissolution of the union appears a long way off. As we have already seen in the case of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland has so far refused reunification.

The hope of Scotland’s independence, is Alex Salmond’s endgame, and legacy to himself in the annals of modern history. Whether this is a deeply personal matter from Salmond, or a righteous crusade, is not exactly clear. But this brings us back to the question of who are we, and how we define ourselves? Can a Scottish person be English, a Welsh person, or an immigrant ever be English?

The simple answer is no. But why? Because that’s how the old English guard would have it of course. Although the Welsh, the Irish, the Scottish, and others far a field, were brought into the fold, civilized, and forced to discard customs and languages, only the English are English, and everyone else is British. And what it means to be British has never been clear.

Author: Jason Schumann

Tags: Cultural Analysis, Debating Culture,Alex Salmond, David Cameron, British Politics, Scottish Independence, United Kingdom, Scotsman, Being British


6 Responses to “Scotttish, English v British: Which one are you?”

  1. wobsy March 30, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    I think I’d say British though I’m not much of a patriot.


  2. naveedkhalidchaudhry April 21, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    I used to believe British, a term that describes me and all persons of the UK without discrimination.

    I never felt I could describe myself nationally as English because I have duel heritage. This is not due to the way I view myself but because the way English society has viewed me in the past because my father came from Pakistan. To add to this my great Grandmother was Scottish my brother in-law is Irish and my wife’s maiden name is Welsh.

    Truly I am English in the same way my grand parents was, due to it is the geographic border that defines nationally what I am, but many of us have links to Scotland, Ireland and Wales, links we feel proud to share.

    I feel it is hard for some to find identity in being English, originally our patron saint was Edward the Confessor until he was replaced by Saint George in 1348.
    Saint George not even being or ever been to the British isles.
    Sadly flying the Saint Georges cross is associated with the crusades, racism, football hooligans and the oppression of wales, Scotland and Ireland.
    Patriotic holidays like Saint Patrick’s day and Saint Andrew’s day are celebrated with pride while saint Georges day seems widely to be ignored in England.
    In London there is more focus with saint Patrick’s day than saint George, most people in England could not even tell you the date.
    To be patriotically English seems to repressed, other than when it suits the cause of support of England’s football or Olympic teams. So you cant wounder why people in England feel either confused or a little uneasy when calling their self English.


    • debatingculture April 22, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

      Aside from what some may consider a ‘London-centre view’, I can agree that most people could not recall the day; however, most people (especially in the regions!) fully appreciate and celebrate St. Georges day!

      Perhaps we should do away with the term ‘English’ all together! Although up for some debate, being ‘British’ is more inclusive of a diverse and multicultural society, such as this little island is!

      But, if devolution in Scotland goes ahead- then we may have to revist this: to include all of those (us) who were previously excluded from being, and are not currently “permitted”- to be called English!


      • naveedkhalidchaudhry April 23, 2012 at 11:01 am #

        Totally, we need to review and promote our identity in England, As if and when devolution in Scotland happens it will leave a big whole in our national identity in England.
        For me personally i believe its time for us to put away our nation pride in the past based on our feelings about the British Empire, World wars, and move forward and build on the identity we have as a country today.
        Our pride and stubborn national feelings about England stops as looking at what truly defines us as being English and stops us asking questions like: does our national anthem or patron saint truly reflect who we are, should Cornwall have its own identity separate from England.
        We call our nation The British isles,Great Britain, The United Kingdom, Britain, England, Scotland, Wales
        so many names for a tiny island.


      • debatingculture April 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

        In the same way as ‘multiculturalism’ is itself becoming; such terms of describing this island nation of nations, as you mention, have been held as anachronistic for at least the last decade!

        To continue to think in these terms today may be considered in the same way as facing and discussing relevant issues of integration and marginalization of migrant communities!

        It’s more than ‘pride’ that allows these perceptions to persist; it is a sense of loosing one’s past and identity, that perpetuates what Charles Taylor called a ‘blocking-thinking’ mentality.

        This kind of approach makes it difficult to discuss issues of identity meaningfully and erects new barriers that work against constructive integration, in arriving at and agreeing an appropriate and modern conception of a collectivist identity.



  1. Jack Wilshare Debate: Can Foreign Football Players and Sports People Represent England? | debatingculture - October 11, 2013

    […] For further thoughts on identity, please refer to this article: English and British Identity […]


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