A figment of our imaginationSQA has previously had cause to express concern about the handling of English issues by the EU, UK government and the various quasi-governmental bodies dealing with archives issues (see Anyone Remember St. George?)
Well, as if to reinforce our concerns and justify our entire raison d'etre we have come across evidence of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) participation in the arcane process of dismantling England. It comes from a web site that appears to be organisationally separate from the official HLF web site identifying itself as Heritage and Identity Org UK and is subtitled heritage and identity in the UK today. This apparent difference in branding is perhaps for the fringe site to act as a vehicle for controversial views without directly further alarming critics of the HLF.
We in SQA are of course concerned with the HLF as a funder of archives projects.
The fringe HLF web site, which is more politicised then the official HLF web site, is hostile to the notion of a homogenous English or even British national identity, in favour of a multicultural mish-mash clearly suited to the level of knowledge of Britain of the average member of the substantially non-indigenous London intelligentsia or Metropolitan elite. Surprise, surprise. On top of this the tone is typically that of one sided intellectualism which as usual dominates politically correct versions of heritage and official history.
Putting aside the subterfuge involved in this quasi-HLF web site we appear to have a new manifestation of the process of disinventing England as part of the EU regionalisation process. Readers interested in the background to the Euro Regions can read our blog Re-writing History.
Let us look a little more closely at the site.
Our interest mainly lies in the branch page entitled Who do we think we are: National Conference July 2004. From here we find a further branch page inroducing us to several talks which formed part of surely the best example of heritage Groupthink we can find: click here
A group of melancholic Englishmen
We will open the batting with comments made by
Professor Paul Gilroy of Yale University. He talks of a post imperial melancholic nation struggling to achieve a balance of multiculture and deindustrialisation, in increased inequality and insecurity. Really. Professor Gilroy may be a professor of sociology but how much does he know about British history or the British people? Has he ever travelled in Britain outside London, Birmingham or Leicester? Is he aware 90% of the British population are indigenous and that most of us don't live in such big cities and that to many people in Britain multiculturalism has no practical meaning? Is he aware that so-called post imperial Britain is the world's biggest outward investor? Or that most people in Britain were not even indirectly involved with the Empire, had no vote and that we had only a small professional army? And melancholy? Has he ever heard of the 60s? Seen Morris dancing? Does he understand the Blues come from the USA not Tonbridge Wells?
Prof. Paul Gilroy: limited horizons
We have a one word response to Professor Gilroy: Bollocks. And one piece of advice: to find out what the real British people are like, when you book your next next flight to Britain arrange to stay somewhere like Taunton, Truro, Oakham, Much Marcle, Tonbridge Wells, Gretna Green, Abergavenny or Elgin. And expect a rude awakening because you won't be cushioned by the false impression of our big inner cities.
We reserve our most critical remarks for Patrick Wright's talk Last orders for the English Aborigine. In this talk Wright fails to address what does actually constitute Englishness. He has nothing positive to offer. It is a shibboleth of political correctness that England is denied. After all, it is England which spawned representative and accountable government, freedom of the press, trial by jury, presumption of innocence, the Common Law, Magna Carta, the Declaration of Rights, the United States of America, the Commonwealth and the Anglosphere. Our enemies in the EU and within have good reason to hate us.
An interesting illustration of Wright's ignorance, or an illustration of cynical manipulation of his audience, is his reference to the term Anglo-Saxon as proof of the English having been mongrels since time immemorial. The term Anglo-Saxon was coined retrospectively as a term of convenience by the historian Paulus Diaconus c.775 to differentiate the peoples who settled throughout the British Isles from the German Saxons i.e the Saxons of mainland Europe. Thus the term denotes precisely what Wright says it doesn't, a clear national grouping rather than a mongrel race. Actually, the English had a common culture and language, called themselves the Englisc and were known as Saxons only to Latin, British and Irish speakers of the period.
Patrick Wright: confused about historical facts
The English of course gradually mixed with the British or perhaps more accurately the British, in the majority, adopted the English language and English laws and customs becoming English by a gradual process by which we now forget who our ancestors actually mainly were. In any case it is not clear how being mongrels makes the English less English or less likely to have a monolithic culture. He fails to mention that the Scots, Irish, Welsh and French are substantially of English extraction, as evidenced by their surnames and placenames, how the Welsh are a mongrel mixture of the Irish (who colonised the western peninsula nowadays known as Wales between 450 and 550), the English, Normans, Scandinavians, Romans and ancient British.
We asked Benedict Crumplethorne, SQA's principal spokesman to offer some thoughts on the HLF's assault on England (and for that matter, Britain).
We are dealing with the usual outpourings of half-baked, politically correct metropolitan elitists. They are partly inspired by limp communism and collectivism and partly by Blairite wealth creationism but don't really understand or subscribe to either.[Editor: on minorities, see Christopher Booker's Notebook in the Sunday Telegraph of 18 September 2005.]
The comments made by the American professor typify the views of foreigners who are briefed by Europhiles. Refer to an article by Andrew Moravcsik in Brussels Diary entitled Brussels is at its best when it's boring. He writes:
One must never forget, however, that American conservatives receive an unhealthy portion of their information about the EU from Tory Eurosceptics and their journalistic allies. Libertarians avidly ingest tales of metric martyrs and 48-hour weeks—without reflecting that their informants comprise only a faction of an unelectable minority party in a country itself part of a perpetual minority in Europe.
We have no option but to conclude from this site that the HLF does not recognise England or the English, is prepared to sponsor inaccurate portrayals of history and is cleverly confusing heritage and history. Whatever history is, it clearly isn't regarded by the HLF as being in any way the basis of heritage or vice-versa.
This is a fascinating example of misinformation. It is not clear to me which is the minority party he refers to. Does he mean the Conservatives or UK Independence Party? The latter won 17% of the vote in the European Parliamentary elections in June 2004. We should contrast this with the upalatable fact that Tony Blair was returned to power in May 2005 with less than 25% of the vote. So much for minorities.
We thanked Benedict for his insights.