2007 - 2021

Becoming British

The latest fit of colonial semiotics needs a bit of deconstruction. First up, politics aside, football isn’t Great Britain. Plenty of people aren’t interested and are bored senseless by the vast sums of money poured into it, the overwhelming media saturation, the obscenely overpaid pundits and players and the bloated Premiership. Then of course there’s the fact that Britain isn’t England, nor is England Britain. Then there’s the “for sporting experiences like no other, choose the UK”, which seems to confuse Great Britain with the UK.

This is tedious and desperate, but it’s not a mistake.

This is a government department operating at a time of a profound crisis of English identity. As English nationalism fuses with Conservative economic dogma the result is a contemporary colonialism recapturing Wales, Ireland and Scotland back into a New England. This is Britannia Unchained and the visual form of the Power Grab: Make Britain Great Again, Make England Britain Again.

This is anglo-normative thinking out of control.

It won’t go well. I remember an American friend who was a devout atheist (of the Jewish variety). He said that anti-semitism was the only thing that motivated him to defend a faith he didn’t believe in. Absorbing peoples cultures and identities into a new one is a form of social control.  To subsume a nation into another is an act of nationalism.

This iconography shows that the old-2014 arguments are dead. The whole Love-Bombing, Family of Nations, Partnership of Equals stuff is in the ditch. In its place is a desperate euphoria pronouncing endlessly how ‘great’ we are as the government stockpiles food in warehouses.

But who is this aimed at anyway?

Having created a Hostile Environment and now overseeing EU nationals leave Britain at the highest rate for a decade (Brexodus) – who on earth do they want to “choose the UK”?  and to do what? We certainly don’t want people actually coming to live and work here, so this is just be an exercise in vacuous propaganda?

We are the intended consumer of this poster.

To create this neo-colonialism you have to do some heavy-lifting and re-write history. Thankfully Toby Young chips-in here with some wonderful retro-commentary…


No colonialism, no back-flow.




Comments (30)

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  1. Abulhaq says:

    We know there is only one solution to this. Only Scottish fear, the handmaid of the cringe, is getting in the way. Unionism like colonialism has made mugs of all of us. We’ve been had….and it hurts, for ‘we’ have constructed the cage that confines us. With collective effort and on our own terms we alone can smash it down. That will be messy but independence was never going to be squeaky clean, was it?

    1. Abulhaq says:

      Troll, someone who says something you don’t like.
      Free speech, only on your narrowly defined terms?
      Too many Scotnats, sadly conform to your mentality.
      Scared of their own shadows or just incapable of thinking outside the box?

      1. Graeme Purves says:

        Time to pull the plug on this ludicrous troll, surely, Bella?

        1. Graeme Purves says:

          Oh, and your use of the term ‘Scotnats’ is a glaring tell. You are such an amateur!

  2. Welsh Sion says:

    We never got this, as one of the “family of nations”, nor calls for a knighthood for Chris Coleman and vanity dead-Empire gongs for his team when my nation reached the semi-finals of the European Championships, barely two years ago. In fact, there was vociferous support from factions in Ingerlund that Cymru/Wales should lose – not really what you’d expect when *they* insist you support *their* national team, coz we’re neighbours, friends, share a common history [cont. on p.92].

    And what did Ingerlund achieve, anyhow? 4th place via a fairly easy passage (pity they didn’t face Iceland, again) and a record of P 7 W 3 D 1 L 3 F 12 A 8 Pts 10 (out of a possible 21). Not really World Champions material, is it?

    Incidentally, who also noticed that Mr Helm referred to the French team as “Les Blues”? Is he mistaking them for those from Oxbridge? Or Members of the Tory Party? Nul points, Toby.

    1. Abulhaq says:

      It could have been Les frogs…
      We all know that the French only won because Macron went to Russia. Mrs May was apparently otherwise engaged. Tant pis!

      1. Welsh Sion says:

        Apologies. I called him “Mr Helm” (must be thinking of him as a policemen’s helmet or something). He is of course “Mr Young”. Not quite a glaring a mistake as his “Les Blues” though, I trow.

        1. john burrows says:

          If I may, I believe that is Mr. Small’s point. Not only are the autocrats redefining what Britain is, but also what it is not.

          They are not interested in celebrating our diversity. Quite the opposite. For their vision to succeed, we must all share the same vision.

          This is why they label Scottish self determinists as nazis, the Irish as terrorists and the Welsh as useful idiots. Before you destroy your enemies, you must first dehumanize them.

          Like Trump, we must all be brought to accept that England, Great Britain and the UK are synonymous. We must accept that the anachronisms that are Scotland, Ireland and Wales should be placed in their true light – as useful sources of revenues, and a plentiful source of cheap labor and cannon fodder.

          When I see fellow Scots standing with the likes of Ruth Davidson, Ross Thompson, and of all people, Tommy Robinson, I just want to shake them.

          Independence is the only cure for this malady. If we fail, the group think these forces spread will just metastasize and kill the host.

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @john burrows, in Shakespeare’s play Henry V (you may have seen England players sporting the famous bowl haircut), the English monarch is starting out on an imperial adventure to conquer territory in France. He has to deal with Scottish, Welsh and Irish elements in his army, who are among his best warriors perhaps because of pagan warlike tradition beneath their shallow Christianity. Worst still, these elements look to Europe for tradition (specifically ancient, possibly republican, Roman arts of war). Henry also has to contend with a domestic 5th column element representing an overseas superpower, the Church of Rome.

            Henry V does not label these elements as enemies, he needs them for his imperial projects. Instead he co-opts them into his war crimes (apparently the execution of French prisoners doesn’t make the cut in many productions, certainly not Olivier’s wartime propaganda film).

            As an aside, so nobody bit my earlier comment, some English commentators at the World Cup were quite aware that the issue of fairness haunts the 1966 event. This extends far beyond the refereeing decisions.

    2. john burrows says:

      But in Henry IV Part I, the Scots and Welsh were indeed open enemies of the Plantagenets.

      Archibald, Earl of Douglas and Owen Glendower, led their Scots and Welsh rebels respectively in alliance with Hotspur, son of the Earl of Northumberland against Henry IV.

      Only with their fall, and the subsequent fall of Hotspur in Henry IV Part II, was Henry V secure enough to turn his attention to his imperial adventure in France.

      The fact that Henry V had a few loyal adherents from Scotland, Ireland and Wales in his army only proves my earlier point – that the other ethnic peoples of these islands are viewed by the English establishment as simply a useful source of cannon fodder.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @john burrows indeed we see competing views of unity and disunity. But rather Celtic biting edge than pure fodder (this pre-cannon). Also complicity in acts of humanitarian outrage that shame all thoughts of chivalry (threats to murder and rape all within besieged cities, for example). My Scottish grandfathers fought in British wars and confided their forces’ war crimes.

        Henry V learns from Falstaff how to parry accusations of guilt. But he also stresses his Welsh roots when convenient.

        Scots, Irish and Welsh therefore have to acknowledge and regret their part in Imperial crimes before they can make any distinction between and English culture which still celebrates them.

        1. john burrows says:

          But again, SleepingDog, isn’t that the point. All societies contain within them a broad range of points of view. The Celtic nations have always had their very own spivs. The Bruce himself murdered his rival Balloil in a chapel. The Thane of Cawdor murdered his own King when he was a guest in his house. I don’t claim otherwise. But within these societies, the spivs have had to deal with people who share a deep sense of social justice. They send few Tories to Westminster. But these same Tories now decide their fate.

          England by far is the source of the Tory vote. The English Tory Party has been hijacked by the spivs. They don’t give a damn about anyone else but themselves, and they will willingly destroy us all to get what they want. It is in the very nature of the spiv.

          Strong social safety nets have historically allowed us to limit the damage they can do to us, but the last forty years of neglect and outright vandalism have fatally weakened these structural defences.

          My main problem with our latter day spivs though, is that they have allied themselves to an Ayn Rand cult, hell bent on creating some weird free market utopia. Like all fanatics, they are as great a danger to themselves as they are to everyone around them.

          They are financed by dark money and secret donors. They flout parliamentary conventions and openly lie to all and sundry. The public broadcasters and newspapers are full of their card carrying cheerleaders and apologists. They will also be the first to send in the tanks to supress any dissent.

          They should all be in jail for conspiring to bankrupt these islands and its peoples for their own benefit.

          The fact is, only a minority of Celts in Wales, N Ireland and Scotland, and the polyglot of England, have bought into this one nation nonsense, because they see it for what it is – forced assimilation.

          The “one nation” these people are babbling about is England and/or Great Britain and/or the YooKay. Take your pick. They all mean the same thing. There is no place for Scotland, Wales or Ireland in this vision. Just ask Trump, he’s their best buddy. 🙂

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @john burrows, yes, it is striking that during the Cold War the UK mainstream culture fixated upon 5th columnists supporting the Soviet Union superpower, yet the 5th columnists who support the USA, its multinational corporations or other effectively-criminal USAmerican organisations go unremarked. As does the undemocratic nature of having UK foreign policy slaved to that of the USA.

  3. Big Jock says:

    England were 4th in the world cup. However they were not the 4th best team! It just so happens that they managed to avoid some of the teams higher up than them. Would England have beaten Argentina, Japan, Brazil…No absolutely not. So at best this over inflated team are 8th or 9th in the world.

    They are clinging onto something to prove they are not a complete failure. England is dying and they want to take Scotland to the funeral with them. There is nothing scarier than a dead mans grip when you are lost at sea.

    We need out before they drown us.

  4. SleepingDog says:

    I imagine, having watched the World Cup throughout and going by the final, we could as easily have had Croatia as winners as the French. That would put rather a different spin on such commentary. However, the overall analysis suggests that teams from small countries have an unusually high chance of beating teams from military, economic, population or cultural superpowers. There was a strong emphasis throughout on fairness, epitomised by the introduction of video assisted refereeing.

    If world politics and diplomacy was as fair as the World Cup, we wouldn’t have five permanent members on the UN Security Council. And if UK politics and diplomacy was as fair as the World Cup…?

  5. Alf Baird says:

    In 2014 ‘No’ voters made Scotland thus. As The Corries used to say, ‘if the hat fits, wear it’: http://newsnet.scot/archive/brexit-vote-underline-scotland-not-country-colony/

  6. Big Jock says:

    Alf – Yes we are a colony. The only difference is some shysters sold Scotland to the colonists and dressed it up as a union.

    It’s never been more than a colony for the last 300 years. As Wallace might have said. We want ” a country of our own.

    I have Britishness forced upon me. I don’t feel it, I don’t recognise it and I am certainly not proud of it. I feel much the same as any Irishman did before 1921. I feel like they own me and it hurts inside.

    1. Welsh Sion says:

      Big Jock – We are subjects, not citizens. Nuff sed.

      Some of us, (fortunately, perhaps), do not even figure on the Butcher’s Apron nor on the Royal Arms, as an ‘equal’ (aye, right) in this ‘family of nations.’ Ergo, I ain’t British.

    2. Alf Baird says:

      Aye Big Jock, Scotland exhibits all the characteristics and more and the UN nailed it well by labelling colonisation a ‘scourge’ and calling for states to end it, most notably still the UK, though everyone (including the SNP) has so far failed to ‘List’ Scotland. I expect the supreme court decision will more or less confirm our colonial status, no doubt describing Scotland’s constitutional ‘capture’ by some other less contentious term. Without ‘permission’ from our ‘administrative Power’ for Scotland to hold indyref 2 and/or avoid Brexit that leaves only one option; Blackford and his Scotland majority of MP’s to withdraw Scotland from the ‘union’ charade, which is their/our sovereign right, now or after the next UK general election, which perhaps will not be very far away. Wid thay dae it? A hae ma doots, but ye nivver ken. Whit’s tae lose? As you say, they own us onywey an aw weys, an can dae wi us as thay want. Or so they think.

  7. Josef Ó Luain says:

    In my Berlin hotel during the World Cup, alongside the national flags of the other competing nations England was symbolised by a union-flag.
    Much nearer home, though: what about those fucking awful Vauxhall posters with their stylized union flags screaming “True Brit” and “Drool Britannia”?

  8. Iain McIntosh says:

    “As English nationalism fuses with Conservative economic dogma the result is a contemporary colonialism recapturing Wales, Ireland and Scotland back into a New England.”

    Excellent, sums the uk up in a sentence.

    Meanwhile, canny Nicola sees the uk tearing itself apart and waits her and Scotland’s turn to push for independence!

  9. Big Jock says:

    Aye Josef. The irony being Vauxhall is General Motors an American company trading as Opal everywhere but the UK. They need to stop with this Brit nonsense.

    My skin crawls when someone Scottish describes themselves as Brits.

  10. Lochside says:

    Brexit is the cover for the ‘final solution’ by the neo fascist little Englanders of Westminster and the City of London to extinguish Scottish identity with blanket propaganda conflating uk/british/english as the ‘country’s identity.

    Once we are out of the EU and the ‘UK Supreme Court'(sic) has annulled the legitimacy of the Continuity Bill, then the Scottish Parliament, and Referenda for Indy will be ruled out, forever, under the new ‘UK Constitution’. Sadly, 30% of our population will support this: the settlers and the deluded slave-minded bigots and fearties. Probably another 25% will be too self absorbed to realise what has occurred.

    Reality will only kick in when the English begin a civil war with themselves. Like the 17th century, the arrogant absolutism of the English parliament will ignite civil disturbance throughout these isles.

    Apocalyptic?…yes, but because of the adulteration of our population by ruk immigration, plus relentless propaganda, combined with a rigged referendum, we voted to remain in the middle of this sovereignty shit storm from which we seem incapable, due to spineless leadership, to escape from.

    The SNP have pointedly refused to assert our Sovereignty despite all the democratic mandates given to them by the electorate. Instead resorting to prostrating themselves at the mercy of the Remorseless English Dictatorship and playing the Westminster ‘game’ of ‘ignore the jocks’.

    At no time have I seen a rational explanation by the SNP as to why they lost 1/2 a million votes while the Unionist LAB and tories got 340,000 plus, other than the ludicrous explanation that ‘SNP voters stayed at home’. No they did not. A third of them voted Unionist because they were frightened by Ruth Davidson , and had no idea of what Independence meant anymore. They still don’t.

    Because political education, by our leaders, the SNP, of our Sovereign status; natural wealth; historical subjugation ; combined with sustained counter attacks on bogus British bullshit narratives have been found wanting, we are floundering, vainly grasping at straws that May and her ugly band of greedy Imperialists will fuck up so badly that our ill-informed voting public will somehow become enlightened and brave enough to throw off the English yoke once and for all.

  11. AndyS says:

    Aside from the virulent anglophobia this article is nonsense. Scotland alongside Wales is not a colony. Both have been free to vote for independence at any time since 1918. Wales voted for Brexit and in absolute numbers more people in England voted remain then people in Scotland did.

    1. What’s remotely anglophobic about this article?

      1. AndyS says:

        You don’t see anything anglophobic about accusing the English of being a colonial power in respect of Scotland ?

        There are perfectly good reasons to argue for independence, fantasies about the English is not one of them.

        1. I was talking very specifically about the colonial semiotics of the image in question and the deliberate fusing of British and English identities which, by definition excludes other nations within the ‘UK’. If you want to argue that the Union and the UK is a marvellous ‘family of nations’ and ‘partnership of equals’ as we heard ad nauseam in 2014 then you cant simultaneously exclude and airbrush Scotland NI and Wales from the picture. This has nothing to do with anglophobia. We are in the grip of a resurgent English nationalism and its perfectly reasonable – some would say essential – to talk about it.

        2. john burrows says:

          You conflate critique of the pretentions of the current ruling class as Anglophobic bigotry. You are a rogue.

          The current government represents only itself. It is at war with its own people. Brexit is whatever they say it is. The English people, much less the Scots, Irish, Welsh, Cornish, Lancastrians, Yorkists, etc., etc., are hardly worth consulting on these issues.

          The Tory party only represents the interests of the Tory party. Your inability to acknowledge this fact, by accusing the author of English bigotry, is dishonest and intellectually bankrupt.

  12. Mrs iCrichton says:

    Where has my comment gone? It took me 1.5hours to write it !

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