Voyage to Albion

Englishness may be coming back into fashion.  After the union of the English and Scottish crowns and the foundation of modern Britain in 1603, the idea of Englishness was increasingly submerged in, and confused with, the idea of Britishness.  It now looks as if the English may be becoming self-conscious again.  Three centuries of outward-looking expansionism are being succeeded by a new mood of introspection.

The empire has gone, leaving only the purposeless Commonwealth.  Scottish and Welsh devolution has left behind the running sore of the “West Lothian Question.”  This partial evisceration is to be followed—if the government has its way—by the division of England into regional assemblies that would not only obviate the need for England’s traditional parish and county councils but undermine the whole concept of England as a unitary territory.  As well as losing powers to the devolved parliaments and (soon) the regional assemblies, Britain’s parliament at Westminster has also handed over many of its prerogatives to Brussels, with a corresponding loss of prestige.  Since 1948, large-scale immigration (almost all of it to England) has been taking place, and the idea of being British has been diluted so much that it is increasingly meaningless.  When viewed in conjunction with the above phenomena, the fact that the tercentenary of the union of the crowns passed...

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