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7 February 2013

English nationalism
could destroy
the rest of us

Ian Hamilton

EU headquarters

And nation shall speak unto nation

It was not with these words that Winston Churchill admonished the nations of Europe in 1945. He drew a parallel with the warring city states of Greece and their self destruction and suggested a union. Slowly year after year the European Union grows. Now England is on course to try to destroy it.

England was once the prime state of Europe. Its aim was to hold the balance of power. No union of states must be stronger than England. The names of the wars tumble out heedless of their dates. The seven years war. The war of Jenkin's ear. The war of the Spanish succession. The Napoleonic wars. The Crimean war. The twentieth century wars. The second one became a fight for decency but the balance of power was its first cause. Now David Cameron tries to unite Germany and France against us, the very thing that past statesmen have fought to prevent. What is the reason?

The reason is for narrow political advantage in England. The English still see themselves in the uniform of 1940. They still shake a fist across the English channel. On any national occasion they have a fly-past of two ancient fighters and a Lancaster bomber. Glory days, I know. I'm one of the few left to wear an RAFVR tie. But we Scots preferred Concorde for the opening of our devolution parliament.

It is so easy to stir up discontent among a people once strong, now so weak we have to scrap most of our arms. Only Trident remains, too dangerous to be berthed in England, where it would be near centres of population. It's safe in the outer conurbations of Glasgow. Scots don't count. Only England does. No trifling regulation from Europe that seems hurtful goes without exaggerated comment in the Telegraph, England's nationalist daily.

In one recent issue, every reported crime was committed by a Pakistani or a man with a Baltic name. ‘We're swamped with criminal incomers', cried a friend. When I suggested that the Telegraph newsdesk might have been name-selective to please little Englanders he took my point and cancelled his subscription. The Telegraph only looks back when we should look forward also. I do not blind myself to the great days of the past. I was part of them, but they are past. Maybe we should look further back than 1940.

Look at Scottish history. The only communication we have in the hand of Sir William Wallace is a message to the Hanseatic League. The league was the first European Union. It was a collection of medieval trading ports along the Baltic. Wallace said: 'We have expelled the English and are open for trade again'. Fast forward a few centuries and we have a Scottish king describing his country as a cloak with a fringe of gold. The fringe of gold was the east-coast ports and the trade they carried on with Europe. Even Edinburgh knew this trade. Burdiehouse is a contraction of Bordeaux House. A wine merchant had his cellars there and it was there we went for our claret if we were toffs.

Toffs or not we are reminded of our European connection by the pantiles on our east-coast roofs. They came as ballast and were seized eagerly to replace thatch. They are only found within the distance a horse and cart can travel from the east coast in a day. Don't be put off by this for Perth and Stirling were both European ports in my childhood.

That trade must be revived. It can only be revived when we have Scottish trade representatives in the EU. So long as we are submerged in England these are denied to us. In the community of the world nations are the individuals. We Scots are individualists, not isolationists. We will negotiate our own entry to the EU. We will have our own trade representatives.

There is no doubt about our admittance. While the unionists shout, 'Ye'll no' get in', the EU quietly prepares for our entry. In July it is holding a summer school in Scotland for 60 of its civil servants. They want to get the feel of us. While we Scots press on towards another and better union, the eyes of Europe are on us. Indeed the Scottish Review has become a European journal. What I write is read from Brussels to Catalonia. My correspondence tells me this. Yet there is danger ahead.

Sooner or later the little Englanders will form a United Kingdom Government. It may be as early as 2015. We will be torn from our fellows in Europe. God save us from the United Kingdom Independence Party. God save us from the Tories in their guise. They are doing what English statesmen for 400 years have fought to avoid. English nationalism may have saved the world in 1940. In the 21st century it could destroy us all.

Ian Hamilton QC