Englishness and Welshness in the Battle of Britons

adidas-beau-jeu-euro-2016-ball-2 (1)Mark Perryman previews England v Wales as competing versions of nationhood

The traditional ‘Battle of Britain’ match is of course England v Scotland, the very first recognised international football match dating back to 1872 and the most intense of rivalries ever since. The last time two ‘home’ nations met in a major tournament it was again England v Scotland at Euro 96. The spark in so many ways for the break-up-Britain agenda that was to follow the Blair government devolution referendums a year later and latterly transformed into the SNP ‘tartan landslide’. Once derided by Jim Sillars as ‘ninety-minute nationalists’ Scots today are so busy building a nation they can call their own they haven’t much time left over for their under-performing football team, ouch! Continue reading

The tent that couldn’t stand up – a reply to Kezia Dugdale

Inside Labour Scotland“We need a big tent plan, not a core vote strategy, to win again in Scotland.”-Kezia Dugdale, 7th July 2015

That foremost authority on Scottish Labour politics, Antonio Gramsci, once gasped, “The old world is dying away, and the new world struggles to come forth: now is the time of monsters.” Scottish Labour has now moved even further on the road of the withering old and the failing new. The monstrous period of Jim Murphy has passed, yet the fairy stories and fantasies of Murphy’s politics remain. Kezia Dugdale, the anointed successor, exemplified this with her prescription that Labour’s core vote has dwindled to the point of electoral disaster and must instead be replaced by a ‘big tent’ strategy. Scottish Labour has an image problem – it has become branded with representing ‘the most vulnerable’ and must now pivot towards those who wish to ‘better themselves.’ Continue reading

On socialism, nationalism and anti-English sentiment in Scotland (part 1)

BraveheartHow would you feel about being rich? As Scottish Finance secretary, John Swinney, says, Scotland would be the sixth richest country in the world, while the rest of the UK would be a mere 16th if they are lucky. So that is one up on the Southerners, who we have apparently been subsidising.

Even if this was true, how are so many people on the left lined up with such an appeal? The plan is that we take the resources, then leave the de-industrialised areas and dispossessed classes of the rest of the UK to cope with the uneven development of capitalism as best they can. How did we get into this state where an appeal which is so obviously divisive in terms of working class unity, is presented as progressive independence? I hear people on the left say we will set an example to the rest of the UK, but what example is it to the people in Durham or South Wales, except to dig for oil? Continue reading

Now Israel annexes all the Jews of the world

Can a law be both ridiculous and dangerous?

It certainly can. Witness the ongoing initiative of the Israeli government to enact a law that would define the State of Israel as “The Nation-State of the Jewish People”.

Ridiculous 1 – because what and who is the “Jewish people”? The Jews of the world are a mixed lot. Their only official definition in Israel is religious. In Israel, you are a Jew if your mother was a Jewess. This is a purely religious definition. Continue reading

Britain could be a model unhappy family

Like so many others, the history of my family straddles the nations of mainland Britain. My father’s north Wales relatives have been Welsh-speaking nationalists for generations. And yet my grandfather was a hero in his village when he joined Britain’s merchant navy at the peak of the empire. A proud Welsh identity meant something very different to my great uncle, who played for the Independent Labour party’s football team in the 1930s. He represented a passionate blend of Methodism and socialism; class solidarity had the edge over national allegiance. Continue reading