Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why I created my e-petition for a referendum on whether England should leave the United Kingdom

I'm not a nationalist of any kind. I don't think that England would be better off without Scotland, and I wouldn't necessarily call for separation from Scotland if I did. I don't bear Scotland any ill-will – like a lot of people in England, I'm quite sympathetic to Scottish independence. I like Scotland, and on my visits there I have been increasingly aware how much it is already a separate country.

I'm aware of the dangers of letting nationalist genies out of bottles, as happened in Yugoslavia. I'm aware of the danger that England without Scotland will be even more weighted towards the Tories.

I am, though, fed up with shoddy, ramshackle constitutional arrangements that sometimes pretend that the 'United Kingdom' is a federal state, when it so clearly isn't. The collection of 'nations', 'principalities', 'provinces' and what-not that make it up are not treated in anything like a common or symetrical way. If there is a Scottish Office, why isn't there an English Office? Why isn't there an English Parliament?

The United Kingdom is no longer a sensible working arrangement. Political manoeuvring and the games between Cameron and Alex Salmond might allow it to be preserved even further past its sell-by date, but that would be shame when there is a chance to put something better in its place.

I'm fed up with not even knowing what to write in the 'nationality' section on forms, and not knowing where to find my country on drop-down lists – is that United Kingdom, or Great Britain, or England...?

I'm also mildly fed up with the hypocrisy of politicians who pretend that they care what the electorate think, and go through the charade of these e-petitions, but don't really give a toss.

So creating an e-petition on an English referendum gives me the opportunity to have a go at all of this.

If any of this resonates, please sign the petition. It will at least be entertaining to hear the excuses that 'unionist' politicians come up with as to why Scotland can leave the United Kingdom, but England can't.