Benedict Anderson in his work ‘Imagined Communities‘ , defined a nation as defined a nation as “an imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.” he goes on to state that is is imagined as “is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion”.
This week, Ed Miliband made a speech on Englishness, defending the Union by stating that having to choose between being British and English, or British and Scottish is a ‘false choice’. However, he rejected calls for an English devolved parliament, But instead of setting up an English Parliament, which would involve “more politicians”, he didn’t ‘detect the demand that there was in Scotland, for a Scottish Parliament, in England.’ thus this would seem to be a contradiction, as Anderson would define a nation as an ‘imagined political community.
I get wary when nationalism gets marshalled in politics and it would seem to ignore the fact that there are more divisions in Britain than national borders such as the haves and have nots. So can embracing a sense of Englishness really bind the whole nation together, or would it serve to deepen division? In the wake of the jubilee featuring flag waving multitudes and Ed Miliband’s speech on ‘Englishness’ , I wonder whether we are truly are ‘united kingdom’, or is it a facade?
This kingdom disunited,
an island divided,
the spectre of poverty and despair tearing bonds asunder.
A nation divided between the haves, the have nots
Old loyalties awaken,
Long suppressed or forgot,
Flags, symbols issue orders
People building up borders,
Higher than Hadrian’s Wall,
Behind banners, speeches,
behind the grand facade,
This kingdom is divided,
Not united after all.
Dedicated to a woman who is many different things to different people, who elicits different emotions from different people, a woman ever present for 60 years.
Who is this woman,
Who’s face I see everyday,
on coins of gold silver and bronze,
on paper notes of red and green,
To some a malign despot,
to others a benign queen.
Who is this woman,
who’s face as familiar as my mother’s,
this mother, grandmother, wife, lover,
A master striving to serve.
Maybe she’s all of us,
maybe she’s none of us,
so while the buntings raised,
boats sail, some people sing in praise,
Who is she, I ask myself,
This lady who stares up at me?