Patriots should show pride in our islands’ common heritage

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From: William Snowden, Dobrudden Park, Baildon Moor, Baildon.

WHILE registering as a new patient at the doctor’s surgery, I was asked to fill in a PC questionnaire. There was an extensive list of racial and sexual, national and ethnic variants to choose from; and yet...

“I’m not represented here,” I informed the practice nurse.

“Why? What are you?”

I was tempted, sorely tempted to respond mischievously: “Oh, just your regular, trans-galactic, Vulcan multi-sexual”. But I didn’t.

“English,” I replied prosaically.

“Oh”, she said. “White British.”

“Oh no,” I responded. “That covers a multitude of sins.”

So, I added another category, and wrote in bold, capital letters White English Gentleman.

Provocative? A friend thought so. “If the forthcoming referendum was about English independence, you’d vote yes?”

No. I’d vote to remain a part of the United Kingdom. The reasons are deep and complex, because life is deep and complex.

History records the past, but also informs the present and guides the future.

The “kingdom of England” was formed in the Dark Ages, but Albion stood before her. And when ancient scribes like Pliny and Ptolemy wrote of Albion (Latin “Albion”, from Celtic “alb”) they meant the whole island, and not just England.

Great Britain was formed by the political union of England, Scotland and Wales in 1707. The United Kingdom was formed by the Act of Union (1801) between Great Britain and Ireland – from which Southern Ireland (Eire) seceded in 1921.

And throughout the preceding centuries, many internecine wars and bloody battles were waged between us. But, in the last great clash between the “English and the Scots” at the Battle of Culloden Moor (1746), more Scots served in Cumberland’s army than that of Charles Stuart.

Those Scots fought not for England, but for King George II, for the protestant ascendancy and, moreover, to uphold the Act of Union (1707).

I bear an old, West Riding of Yorkshire surname. And yes, I am proud to be an Englishman. But a variant of my name is Welsh (Snowdon) and I have ancestors who were born, bred and buried in Dublin, and in Dundee – a common lineage. We are all patriots, proud of our heritage – but it is a common heritage. And when it matters, when we are threatened, we come together as one nation, to face the common foe.

As Lord Nelson observed: “Such a gallant set of fellows! Such a band of brothers!”