by Anthony Painter
Is England the new Catalonia? It’s a serious question. We’ve up until this point associated regional pride with secessionist regions in the north of Spain. FC Barcelona, anti-Francoism, pride and fierce independence is how we think of one of Europe’s most vibrant and vivacious regions. It’s easy to see Scotland in the same sort of independent light. But England? Well, a new report into Englishness suggests that we might be entering that territory.
The Dog That Finally Barked published today, by the IPPR, assembles a stack of evidence that suggests that after many years of a predicted rise of Englishness, it is now actually happening. Not only that, but this rising Englishness has a political expression that may become irresistible. This has profound implications for the future of the centre-left. And yet we bury our heads in the sand even more firmly the more difficult questions of identity and nationhood become.
In a selection of European “regions” (or “nation”, cross-national definitions are tricky but bear with it), 45% of Catalans feel more Catalan than Spanish. Scotland is top of the “regional” pride league with 60% saying they are more Scottish than British (only 11% say they are more British than Scottish). Independence is still very much a live possibility.