The dog that hasn't barked


When I filmed an episode of Dinner with Portillo last summer, Timothy Garton Ash, the author and historian, referred to English nationalism as ‘the dog that hasn’t barked’. We were talking about Scottish independence.

Well, if things go the way the media are speculating, I doubt that particular dog will stay quiet much longer. Imagine the scenario: the Conservatives came first in the election, and have the overwhelming majority of the seats in England, but a Lib-Lab minority coalition with an unelected leader is kept in power by Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs, in return for no spending cuts in their territories – which already get more than their fair share, courtesy of English taxpayers. And while the English continue to pick up the tab for sovietized Celtic economies, Scottish, Welsh and Irish MPs would be voting for unpopular policies that couldn’t possibly affect their own constituents, who have their own devolved parliaments or assemblies, and will only impact upon the English.

Already one can feel a palpable sense of anger building, but my guess is that English nationalism could very easily ‘go mainstream’ before too long. And frankly, I’m not sure I would have a problem with that.