years, I found that England was the nation I was from. Except it isn't, I'm from Scotland.
"Hey, do you remember back in England when..." was the start to many a conversation around the common table at hostels all throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia. I'd sometimes respond to such questions with "well, it was actually the UK I think, not just England, but yes I...." and so on. But admittedly, often I didn't even bother.
This is nothing new of course. Many of us are all too aware that people often consider England to be the same thing as Britain and the UK. So that means these are just ignorant foreigners right? Wrong.
|Good ol England seems to have grown somewhat...|
Ok I know what you're thinking, most of those are single countries and the UK is not. The UK is FOUR countries, so it's different. Well, I mostly dispute that. Bavaria was a country in its own right, just like Scotland and England were long ago. Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland like Bavaria or Ontario, are just components of a single nation state. In this case, the UK.
So, given that the UK has diplomatic representation across the entire world and via the worlds largest empire had great influence upon the globe, you'd think that people from the UK would be quite adept at 'recognising' the UK as a whole right? That's what I thought too.
So what's the problem here?
The problem is, it's just too damn difficult. You see the majority of people in the UK are English, and for whatever reason, many of them go overseas and refer to their home, their government and even sometimes their passport as 'English'. So when just about every other English person you meet talks about
|This person needs a wee bit help to renew their English Passport|
I have never, ever experienced this type of thing with a person from ANY other country. I was going to label this behaviour as quite bizarre, but it's just not.
So we are talking about mislabeling a country and of course that is not a terribly awful thing to do. But I am of the firm belief that perception equals reality. If so many millions of people perceive the UK itself to be England and English and they heavily outnumber the rest, that will inform their opinions, their politics, their actions and in recent years their anger and frustration towards a country which might vote to leave
I hear all too often, even here in NZ, that the Scots will likely never survive without funds from the English taxpayer. And so round and round we go. Hardly a week goes by where I don't hear someone mixing up England, Britain and UK. It's just normal even among learned and educated people.
I will admit, that over the last few years, there's been an attempt to address some of these issues, but that's surely no coincidence that it's happened at a time when there's a serious threat to the fabric of the UK.
Mark my words, if and when there's a 'No' vote, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will soon return to it's traditional worldwide name. England.
So next time you're about to give the stink eye to some stupid foreigner who just referred to the UK as England, stop for a second and ask yourself, how could they have possibly got that impression?
England confused with UK / Britain / Is Scotland a part of England? / UK and England the same thing.