the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again
September 15, 2017 10:25 AM   Subscribe

 
In the 2011 census, 32.4 million people (57.7 percent of the population of England and Wales) chose “English” as their sole identity, while just 10.7 million people (19.1 percent) associated themselves with a British identity only.

I'd like to see how that maps on to ethnic / racial lines. My strong hunch is that 1) Most people identifying as English are white, and, 2) it is going to be a tough road ahead for the British-identifying citizens of Pakistani, Indian, Caribbean, etc., heritage.

Not to derail, but as a Canadian it would be great if some of our ethnic nationalists would renew our special Commonwealth trans-Atlantic bond and take this new political climate as their cue to "go home".
posted by Meatbomb at 11:13 AM on September 15 [5 favorites]


Fascinating read, thanks for the post. I'd no idea that the Irish national identity had evolved in such an interesting, even inspiring way.

Hope the English can find the wisdom to follow in their footsteps.
posted by emmet at 11:47 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]


Some are saying that, if Brexit goes from hard to total, Ireland may be forced to leave the EU, faced with the choice of reluctantly following its former colonial overlords and trading partners to some degree of security or otherwise severing ties and committing an act of colossal economic self-harm. Though on closer examination, that is nonsense. Especially when one considers that Brexit itself looks like an act of colossal economic self-harm committed for reasons of febrile xenophobic hysteria and a fear of losing face, and even if severing all economic ties between Britain and Ireland would be as harmful to Ireland as leaving the EU is to Britain, Ireland would have a far better reason (i.e., not wanting to slink back, humiliated, under the old colonial yoke) to pay whatever the price is.

I can't see any Irish person, mindful of their country's history (from the struggles of the Easter Rising to the potato famine against which national hardships would be measured), choosing otherwise. Even the worse-than-worst case of an iron curtain between the UK and Ireland and a permanent airlift from the continent would compare favourably to Ireland's colonial history.
posted by acb at 12:59 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]


Also: previously.

(The part about how the vast majority of Irish people are cool with Britons who have Irish grandparents applying for Irish citizenship, despite the fact that if everyone eligible did, they'd outnumber the population of Ireland, was eye-opening. I cannot imagine such a lack of xenophobic hysteria in either the UK or Australia. I imagine Rupert Murdoch and/or the Daily Mail are largely to blame.)
posted by acb at 1:07 PM on September 15 [4 favorites]


Really the Good Friday Accord was far ahead of what anyof the players could have anticipated when the war inNorthern Ireland began. There was a lot more hope that in time, the North could quietly and peacefully be re-integrated. That would have been nice. It also was nice to see all of that nationalistic ferocity calmed down, to where people could enjoy each other's music and murals instead of killing each other over them, to where being in someone else's part of town didn't have to mean being beat up or worse.
I was lucky enough to spend time in Ireland before and after the EU. I'll be frank, I found Dublin a lot more fun before the EU than after, that said the EU was good for Ireland as a whole, it stopped what was left of the conflict and led to prosperity. I'd hate to see that lost. I also appreciate that the EU did a lot to free Ireland more thoroughly from the stranglehold of the Church than even the dreadful scandals did. It freed Irish people from the chains of religion. They could sleep in on a Sunday and go to the park or the zoo instead of church and frankly we're better for it.
I'd hate to think a narrow English nationalism which is ultimately rather fascist would spoil this welcome progress.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:16 PM on September 15 [4 favorites]


The Irish border is one of the most worrying questions attached to Brexit, not least because the UK government doesn't seem to have grasped it - it keeps saying we can revert to the pre-EU relationship, which is palpable nonsense.

But the strangely pruned England (and Wales?) presented here seems to me just an artefact of the referendum snapshot, and I can't really see how it illuminates any of the Irish questions.

I do also feel that someone who thinks the Good Friday Agreement can be accurately glossed as both sides ceding their claims to Northern Ireland might have a bit more homework to do.
posted by Segundus at 2:14 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]


it keeps saying we can revert to the pre-EU relationship

The one with the bombing campaigns, the one with the arson, or the one with the shelling of Dublin?

J/k it's all the same one.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:34 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]


During "The Troubles", there were 3,600 people killed, over 50,000 injured, and thousands of bombs (this is only a small sample of notables). By the 1990s, the impact and economic damage of the IRA's targetting was increasing dramatically: Baltic Exchange, Bishopsgate, Manchester 1996. These were then close to billion dollar economic hits as well as devastatingly fatal. This was a factor in the readiness of the major parties to come to the negotiating table and hammer out a ceasefire.

By comparison, the mickey mouse efforts of Daesh in the UK recently are relatively insignificant. The fact that some Tory elements have been willing to play ethno-nationalist zero-sum games to fuel their internal political struggles that have resulted in Brexit and are toying with the idea of again erecting a hard border in Ireland that can only add legitimacy back to the rogue splinter IRA elements and risk re-igniting the Troubles are just another sign of their moral bankruptcy.
posted by meehawl at 2:40 PM on September 15 [13 favorites]


I'd like to see how that maps on to ethnic / racial lines. My strong hunch is that 1) Most people identifying as English are white, and, 2) it is going to be a tough road ahead for the British-identifying citizens of Pakistani, Indian, Caribbean, etc., heritage.

Anecdotally, I once sat next to a British Indian woman at a sports match (we met as we sat down), and the subject of the English flag came up. I was curious why some people were waving it vs. the Union Jack (which she had brought to wave). Her explanation basically spoke to your expectations -- she said that while she'd been born and raised in England, she didn't consider herself English but British. She understood "English" to be an ethnicity, particular to white people whose ancestors had roots in England, and so she would never have thought to display the English flag.

I don't know how widespread that understanding is, but it came to mind when I read your comment. (We had a great chat during that game, she'd led a fascinating life!)
posted by mylittlepoppet at 5:54 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]


Language, not "race," is a key to identifying an ethnic group, or "ethnicity." At least that's how professional racists began classifying units of humanity, lo, those many centuries ago homelands and nations. The US census categorical IDs --Hispanic (Spanish speakers, any race), White, Black or African American (continental origin), Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American-- kinda illustrates my point.

current passport. Great Britain is the name of the island and the empire which has pretty much evaporated. Citizens of former colonies in Africa, Asia, the subcontinent, and Caribbean can hold dual citizenship; they identify themselves as British, as is convenient. Others immigrated before colonial independence. All their generations are "natural born" citizens of the UK.

The United Kingdom is the consolidation of the kingdom of England, kingdom of Scotland, and kingdom of Wales. The kingdom of Ireland was a member of the UK until 1921. The heritage languages of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales are unique and somewhat out of practice. (Explore ethnolog.) English -a linguistic cesspool of French, Norman, Saxon, German, Angle, Celtic, Latin, Danish conquests - is also a heritage language and the lingua franca of the nation. Gibraltar and N. Ireland are the empire's final beachheads. There the English are easier to separate from the Brits.
posted by marycatherine at 9:18 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]


My strong hunch is that 1) Most people identifying as English are white, and, 2) it is going to be a tough road ahead for the British-identifying citizens of Pakistani, Indian, Caribbean, etc., heritage.

You might be surprised... you see a lot of BAME people on vox pox etc being pro-Brexit / declaring themselves English and not wanting to see any more East European immigrants. Some seemed to think that it would lead to more immigration from the countries they themselves or their parents etc came from (I've heard representatives from the Indian restaurant trade saying there is a shortage of trained cooks in the country) but I don't see that happening.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:41 AM on September 16


The Gordian knot of the Irish question just seems impossible at the moment - Can't have Brexit without a border, can't have lasting peace with one - without something very left field and 'something something patrol drones / airships something' ain't gonna cut it.

The country just seems to very unprepared for what is going to happen. Someone on twitter remarked that Dover should be a massive building site at the moment to cope with the increased customs checks. There was a news story saying that at the best they can hope is that the time for each vehicle will only double, which as things stand at the moment, will lead to 70mile tail backs. Also I know people in the IT industry and there's been know tenders put out, not word at all, on software projects to cope with it all on the IT side. So either Brexit ain't going to happen or it's going to be chaos on day one.

Be interesting to see what May says in her planned big speech on Brexit on the 21st this month. If, as rumoured, it's to try and side-step the talks and set up some new economic agreement somehow with all the countries individually I think she (and we) are doomed.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:53 AM on September 16 [2 favorites]


Ah, but perhaps I spoke too soon! Boris is back to save the day / set up his bid to be next Tory leader....

Boris Johnson's 10-point plan for a successful Brexit


1 I'll just repeat that lie again, which I totally never did the first time, anyway it's totally true, this time.

2 We ain't paying for the single market

3 Magical immigration that'll be somehow perfect

4 Less taxes! Somehow. (May be not for farmers or fisherman, who voted for brexit - sorry, guys)

5 Free trade!

6 The Empire! Oh sorry... The Commonwealth!

7 I'll just quote this one in full: 'Brexit will be a success. “This country will succeed in our new national enterprise, and will succeed mightily.”'

8 Sort of hints that they'll tax foreign house buyers... yeah, right

9 Infrastructure investment! Especially Boris Bridges/Cable Cars/Riot Vehicles and other white elephants... that current mayor is doing nothing!

10 God knows... mutants? superheroes?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:08 AM on September 16


Anecdotally, I once sat next to a British Indian woman at a sports match (we met as we sat down), and the subject of the English flag came up. I was curious why some people were waving it vs. the Union Jack (which she had brought to wave). Her explanation basically spoke to your expectations -- she said that while she'd been born and raised in England, she didn't consider herself English but British. She understood "English" to be an ethnicity, particular to white people whose ancestors had roots in England, and so she would never have thought to display the English flag.

As a (white/“other European”, for what it's worth) Australian who became a naturalised Briton a few years ago, I feel similarly. I have no connections to Scotland, Ireland or Wales, so I'm not Scottish, Irish or Welsh, which I guess makes me English by default. Except that the unwritten rule is that one can no more become English than one can become Japanese. So I guess I'm just part of the amorphous, ambiguous mass of “other British” who are not of any of the constituent nations.
posted by acb at 8:30 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]


I love #7 in the 10 point plan, 'Brexit will be a success'. Nice! Better than that other previous plan to make it a complete failure. Things are moving in the right direction it seems.
posted by romanb at 9:40 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]


Of course, if it turns out not to be a success, it'll be Dolchstoßlegend time: Brexit would have been a stellar success, if it only had not been STABBED IN THE BACK by a FIFTH COLUMN of TRAITORS in our midst.
posted by acb at 11:22 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]


This twitter thread on how just on the infrastructure side for one thing Brexit is looking like a total disaster.

Still, now doubt, it'll all be the Europeans fault for not giving us everything we want or something.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:21 AM on September 17


marycatherine: "Gibraltar and N. Ireland are the empire's final beachheads. "

The Falklanders would like a word.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:32 PM on September 17


"Split allegiances" from a man who purports to love London and England and Britain and was a dual UK/US citizen until last year.

Which is it going to be, Boris? You can't love the Tory party and Britain.
posted by rory at 5:17 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


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