The time has come to reforge what it means to be English and celebrate our long island story. Those of us who are truly good citizens of England understand that our ethnic and nationality identity has been under constant attack. To many on the Left, Englishness is a source of embarrassment and ridicule. I say let them mock, let them insult, I care not. I will celebrate St. George’s Day in the true patriotic English manner by going to the pub and having some fantastic English produced cider. I call upon fellow citizens of England to do the same. I call upon fellow Unionists outside of England to demonstrate their faith and support for the English and their right to self-expression. I am mainly from Irish, Welsh, and Scottish backgrounds, and I can hardly be called a ‘Little Englander’. I can feel equally English and British and still feel an affinity to Ireland. The Conservative Government have been in power for 11 years, and they are yet to make St. George Day a public holiday in England. Meanwhile, Scotland, Wales and Northern are granted a public holiday for their respective Saint. The English people should have the right and the opportunity to celebrate their history and rejoice in their past, present and future.
Our English history can be traced back to the Fall of Roman Britain in the 5th Century AD. A close friend of mine who is a brilliant academic in Medieval English History informed me recently that there is a robust debate in academia about dropping the term ‘Anglo-Saxons’ and simply using ‘English’. According to the literature of the time, the people did not call themselves Saxons or Anglo-Saxons but viewed themselves collectively as English. Furthermore, modern DNA genetics has given an accurate indication that the vast majority of native English people are descended from the Brittonic population that inhabited the British Isles before the Romans. Interestingly A DNA study of Britons has shown that genetically there is not a unique Celtic group of people in the British Isles. According to the data, those of Celtic ancestry in Scotland and Cornwall are more similar to the English than other Celtic groups. This defeats the Celtic ethnic nationalist arguments that somehow the Anglo-Saxons arrived and killed the native population. Instead, they mixed with the local people. The breakthrough in DNA and genetic clusters has given us a more transparent window into what happened post-Roman Britain. Therefore, Roman Britain is a part of our English history too. The famous red-haired Queen Boudicca and Julius Caesar, and the Roman world can be associated with our English story. The ancestors of the English people lived throughout Roman Britain. Most English people have a direct lineage to the first peoples who arrived in the British Isles after the Ice Age. The English people have a long-standing ethnic connection with these lands, going back at least 1500 years. Our ancestors lived during Roman Britain, and before, we English can include the Druids and the historic site of Stonehenge into our national story. The English have a remarkable military history unrivalled at sea and on land. Our English Kings have a long tradition of being military heroes. From Alfred the Great to Richard the Lion Heart to the remarkable, courageous Henry V who inspired the English victory at the Battle of Agincourt. Along with Drake defeating the Spanish Armada to Nelson Victory at Trafalgar – our Island home has given rise to the beautiful Royal Navy. Unequalled in its victories. England has been slow to quarrel, but when we fight, we fight to win. From the defeat of Napoleon to the Kaiser to Hitler, we have made sure to protect our European neighbours from despotism and tyranny.
St. George Day is an opportunity to celebrate English culture and sport. The English created modern sports such as Football, Cricket, Rugby, Tennis, Golf, Rowing, Badminton and Water Polo. This inspired American Football and American baseball. Our English contribution to the cause of sport helped encourage and foster the notions of competitiveness and fair play. Let that be worthy of celebration. Our music dominates the international airwaves; David Bowie, Elton John are global icons and great English bands that include the Beatles, Oasis, Rolling Stones, Queen, the Smiths and One Direction. Great English play and story writers include William Shakespeare, George Orwell, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, J.K. Rowling and J.R.R Tolkien. The English have made an enormous contribution to modern science and industry. Where would humanity be without Charles Darwin and his Theory of Evolution or Isaac Newton discovering the Force of Gravity? What about Alan Turning, who is considered to be the Father of Computer Science, and who cracked the Enigma code, helping the Allies free Europe from the yoke of Nazism. In the age of covid, we look to vaccines. Therefore let us remember those who pioneered the concept of a vaccine-like Edward Jenner in 1796, another brilliant English scientist. Let us celebrate Oxford University for inventing a covid vaccine and making sure it is being sold none-for-profit.
The English people can be proud of their contribution to modern politics, from Edmund Burke, the founder of Conservatism, to John Locke, the father of Liberalism. Great English philosophers have inspired nations to rise, and empires to fall. The Magna Carter and the English Bill of Rights alongside English Common-law have enshrined our liberties for generations. Thomas Paine and Thomas Hobbes laid the philosophical foundations for creating a US Nation and the English right of ‘No taxation without representation.’ The American Revolution can undoubtedly be considered a civil war between Englishmen over English rights. As virtually all of the founding fathers were of direct English extraction, including the first US President George Washington -named after the Saint of England. The English can undoubtedly be proud that the United States is an English-speaking, democratic nation with a legal system based on English Common Law and individual rights. The English can be proud of their legal and parliamentary system, which remains in place throughout the Commonwealth. Countless countries remain associated with the UK and the Royal House of Windsor.
As a working-class Northerner from the city and region of Greater Manchester, I feel a strong attachment to the English cause of liberty, justice and history. All our regions in England have strong local identities and accents, which is a beautiful thing. England experienced the first Industrial Revolution, and we have a proud social history of Trade Unions and workers’ rights. Karl Marx wrote most of his Communist doctrine based on events in Manchester during the Victorian Period. Therefore, Socialism, Liberalism and Conservatism are political concepts developed in England. We English have a lot to be proud of, our nation is ancient, and our people are the descendants of Empire builders and Empire destroyers. Our small country and people have punched above our weight and made a fantastic contribution to science, industry and sport. We have a long-established connection overseas with friends and family in the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and other English-speaking nations. We are a people that deserve an opportunity to celebrate being English and to reflect on our national achievements. Historically St. George was a Christian Greek-speaking Roman soldier during the 3rd Century AD. St. George spent his life defending the Roman Empire, and England (Britain) was a province within that Empire. Saint Patrick was British, but that does not stop the Irish from celebrating their Saint’s Day. By England adopting a famous Christian Roman soldier as our Saint, it is a beautiful reminder that England is an open and tolerant Christian nation. I will be celebrating St. George Day, irrespective of the BBC and the Guardian headlines.
We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven;
that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate,
but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
I can feel the thrill in invoking the prayer and the anthem ‘God Save The Queen’ and Happy Saint George’s Day