Sunday, 15 March 2009

The United Kingdom...and Rugby

Once again, watching yesterday's rugby, I was struck by the bizarre mix of countries that make up the anachronism which is the United Kingdom. Rugby, in a very small way, highlights this nicely.

The English turn up and sing the British National Anthem which is as much the national anthem of Scotland as it is of England (presumably this is because the English are the dominant country and this is an exercise in imposing sovereignty over the opposition?). The Scots turn up and sing a national song which is not their national anthem, as do the Welsh.

Then the Irish turn up and they appear to have two anthems because they are actually two countries but everyone kind of forgets that and so we all agree in a 'buddy-buddy borders don't exist' way to have a united Ireland team in which a foreign country, Eire (as independently sovereign of the UK as,  say, Spain) combines with a part of the UK to play against England. 

And by the way they all sing their national songs in English.

Hhhmmmm....there are countries of many sizes in the European Union and one of the reasons why I do actually support membership of the EU is the fact that it creates a market in which states of all sizes can co-exist and trade peacefully and profitably. I think if England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland want their own identities then it's time to give them those identities.

History is wonderful, I'm a historian and I love it. But history is the study of change and it's time to change.

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