Friday, 19 September 2014

You ended up with a No? Think how we feel!

Scotland, we knew the #indyref wasn't personal. You were sick of our government, not of us. We get it. Most of us feel the exact same way.

For the most part the referendum was an exciting display of how democracy can work in the 21st century. Citizens of a free country were revelling in the street over the important decisions they were about to become party to - doesn't it make the world seem like a marginally more livable place?

There's a part of me that feels upset about the whole thing though. Scotland have their own parliament, their own voice and their own strong identity which itself is a link to an ancient past filled with warriors, settlers and lore. I want that.

Being English is generally considered an insult to anyone not concerned with how many English flags are displayed from the front-facing windows of their house at any one time. Displaying Englishness is not only fraught with difficulties - how does one act English? - but identifying as an English person in 2014 brings with it so much baggage we tend not to bother.

I'm not just English though, I'm a Northerner, and being Northern in England is tough. For a country so small it has a Napoleonic complex, England has a vast variety of cultures within it, and barely any of these are fairly represented.

For once I'm not talking about multiculturalism because there are hundreds of people who can write about this important issue far more articulately and knowledgeably than I can. What I'm referring to is the total lack of respect for the North of England. Yeah?

When I look at Scotland now in a post referendum haze, I see something I'm jealous of. I felt the same way when I visited Wales over the summer. These countries are part of the UK but they have separate identities, separate voices, unique cultures and ancient languages. Their populations are made up of people proud to share that individuality, who have a reason to be proud. That's the difference isn't it?

I'm not proud to be English. My country does a lot of things I find despicable and even if it didn't, I wouldn't feel any less unresponsive to the worn-out cliches it calls culture.

The world views England as a country split between posh-speaking moneyed stuttering suits and pissed-up sunburned union-jack swimming shorts. I view it as a North-South divide and despite a near constant reminder that such a thing doesn't exist anymore I can't help myself. It just appears to be getting starker.

People who aren't Northern view us two ways: Patronisingly and with reproach. Northerners are on the whole treated as though there isn't much that goes on in the UK that concerns us, from local concerns like shale gas extraction to global issues like whether or not we go to war with Russia. As part of England it's generally assumed that whatever the government say, we're alright with. We voted them in after all.

Except that we're Labourites for the most part, hell bent on ruining the world with our Unions demanding safer, fairer working conditions and care for the vulnerable. Working 12 hour days for 150 years to fuel the Empire was what we were good for - now as the leaders in British manufacturing we're still seen as unskilled rabble-rousers, good for nothing except a bit of a laugh. Aren't our accents funny?

Viewed as perpetually having a chip on our shoulder, Northern views on Northern issues are generally treated as though we haven't got a bloody clue. The thing is, openly admitting that you think an entire population of 14.5 million people's opinions are null (and that they probably just want to steal your tyres or eat chips and pies anyway) is just a bit xenophobic and we're all pretty sick of it now, if we're completely honest.

I want to live somewhere I feel proud to be a part of. In the North, I do have that, it's just not officially represented. Scotland, you've given me ideas above my station. I want a separate Northern government. You can join if you like. You can teach us all how to be proud of a country for the right reasons again.


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