Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why you should not blame foreigners for mixing up England, Britain and UK.

UK  England Exports. 
For years it was just an annoyance, then it got worse. As I traveled to various countries over the last 12
years, I found that England was the nation I was from. Except it isn't, I'm from Scotland.

This is nothing new of course and many of us are all too aware that many people consider England to be the same thing as Britain and the UK. So that means these are just ignorant foreigners right? Wrong.

We like to make fun of Americans and their challenges with geography, but why do Americans never fail to call Canada anything other than, Canada? Why do they never refer to Australia as anything other than by it's name, Australia? or What about South Africans, Japanese, Chinese? Have you ever heard them refer to Germany as anything other than Germany? You'd think that if this mistake frequently happens with the UK, that someone would have accidentally called Germany 'Bavaria' perhaps. I've never heard anyone refer to Germany as anything other than by it's actual name, either in English or German.

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 former country, just like Scotland and England was. Yes I know we call Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England countries, but regardless of what they are, like Bavaria or Ontario they are still components of a single nation state. The UK.

So, given that the UK has diplomatic representation across the entire world and via the worlds largest empire has had great influence upon the globe, you'd think that people from the UK would be quite proficient at 'recognising' the UK as a whole right? That's what I thought too.

You see, the UK has a monumental challenge, a challenge they have never actually bothered to take on. That challenge is to tell the world about the UK, not just England, not just Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, but the UK as a whole.

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 those people 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 the UK England this way, how else do you expect a Kiwi, Aussie, Canadian, American or anyone else to decipher it all? It's a convention, it's just normal, forget the UK, it's just England.

So we are talking about mislabeling here and that in itself is not a terribly awful crime. But I am of the firm belief that perception equals reality. If so many millions of people perceive it this way and they heavily outnumber the rest, that informs their opinions, their actions and in recent years their anger and frustration towards a country which might vote to leave the UK England in the next six months. Their perception is that the UK equals England so the so called union doesn't even exist.

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 and accepted even among more learned and educated people, including UK High Commission diplomats, university lecturers, school teachers and politicians.

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, where could they have possibly got that impression?

Saor Alba.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

British Unionism: An exercise in 'cringe'.

So I came across this little gem on my Facebook feed the other day and I'm happy to report that my computer monitor is still intact, but only just.

My keyboard on the other hand took a little while to reassemble after my fist pounded so violently upon it, sending an impressive fountain of of letters spiraling into the air.

Satire it may be, but having seen a lot of these clips before, there's no doubting that these things were actually said.

I wrote about this topic a while ago, explaining why, as a unionist I changed my mind in the first place from supporting union to independence. This video serves to confirm, in the most cingeworthy way, just how futile my exercise in unionism was, and how embarrassed I am to have once been a part of it.



Link to video.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Jim Sillars on Scottish Independence.

Jim Sillars speaking passionately about Scottish Independence and his book In Place of Fear II.