Sunday, 5 April 2009

Speak for England!

As noted on the Chelmsford Anglican Mainstream blog, one of the disturbing things to me about the imminent departure of the Bishop of Rochester is that, ironically given his origins, he has been one of the few public figures to speak powerfully for this country.

On Saturday last, I was speaking at our Men’s Breakfast. As we were eating, one of our number remarked on how much he enjoyed visiting Scotland: “There’s something about the atmosphere there,” he said, “the people are proud to be Scottish — not like here, we’re not proud of our country at all.”

And it is true. This must be one of the few countries — no, surely the only country — in the world, where to speak of national pride is to invite moral opprobrium.

At one stage I started sending out circular e-mails with a small logo of the Union Flag on them. I was soon told to stop as it looked ‘right wing’ and might offend people.

What? Are Finns offended by the Finnish flag, or Russians by the Russian flag, or Tobagans (if that’s what they are called) by the Tobagan flag?

The truth is, Great Britain as an entity, and England as a nation, have been systematically and deliberately dismantled and undermined from within. And I hate it!

I am reminded of the words of Leo Amery in the House of Commons on 2 September 1939, when Arthur Greenwood stood up to speak for the Labour Party following Neville Chamberlain, and Amery called across the floor to him, ‘Speak for England, Arthur!’, implying Chamberlain had not. Who, now Rochester is going, will ‘speak for England’?

And by the way, I know that is the Union Flag, not the flag of England (duh!), but it was undoubtedly England that held together the Union, not Scotland, Wales or Ireland. Thus it was taken for granted that if Arthur Greenwood had spoken ‘for England’ he would have spoken for the whole nation. And hence it was essential, in dismantling the British ‘project’ that the English element should be diminished at the same time as the other elements were elevated. A weakened England was necessary, otherwise the whole thing might have continued to hold together.

Revd John Richardson
5 April 2009

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  1. Actually, England is not the only country. Here in Austria, in certain circles Patriotism is also looked on askance -- except when it comes to alpine skiing or football games against Germany.

  2. I think the problem lies in the English, apologetic psyche. Be proud of England and its achievements, the flag, its history etc. How about doing away with RE and teaching English History instead?
    Here you conflate Britain and England, which would get you no thanks from the Celtic nations.

  3. Here in New Zealand we are not very patriotic apart from sport. We often admire Australian patriotism but do nothing to enhance our own pride in our nation. But then we are very small and insignificant and perhaps should not entertain any thoughts of our own importance in the greater scheme of things. 'The meek shall inherit the earth' is our motto!!

    Here is a cheeky thought, John: perhaps if the English cricket team and the English football team won more consistently ...

  4. But... you guys did beat the rest of us up for a coupla centuries...

    I did very much enjoy reading Roger Scruton's stuff when I was in the UK though. Warm beer, cricket and steam trains...ah, England, my England!

  5. It looks like Archbishop Sentamu is flying the flag.

    Shaun Clarkson, East Yorkshire.

  6. Blame it on revisionist historians. What we have seen in the States is the systematic de-mythologization of our national heroes and founding fathers. I personally like to have a full view of history, but this can lead to a loss of national pride when one focuses on the negatives.

    Let's not be afraid to speak of the positives of John Bull and Uncle Sam too!

  7. Why are you using the British flag when talking about England?

  8. Dear Anonymous,

    Because the article is about British identity, not just English identity, and if you actually go back and read it you will see this sentence:

    "And by the way, I know that is the Union Flag, not the flag of England (duh!), but it was undoubtedly England that held together the Union, not Scotland, Wales or Ireland."

    I hope this answers your question! If I sound a bit tetchy it's because you don't seem to have read the article very carefully before posting your comment.

  9. Let me offer you a nice option - this is the cover of the book "Speak for England" in Israel (translated to Hebrew).

    Speaking for myself - I love my flag and I love the star of David and I see it as part of my ancestors heritage. And even as a left wing Israeli I cannot see myself living here without the core faith that Israel is my only land and Jewish poeple must be here - If you will call that patriotism then I'm a patriot.