[Paleopsych] TLS: (John Gray) Treaty of Union

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Fri Jun 17 01:21:44 UTC 2005

Treaty of Union
The Times Literary Supplement, 95.11.18

    Sir, In his review of Julia Stapleton's Englishness and the Study of
    Politics (November 4), John Gray describes the Union of Scotland and
    England in 1707 as "an act of annexation whose antecedents were in

    The antecedents of Treaty of Union lay indeed in war; in much the same
    way that the antecedents of the Treaty of Rome lay in war; and
    "annexation" is laying it on a bit thick. The Scottish Parliament's
    reasons for voting for Union were fundamentally comparable with the
    British Parliament's reasons for voting for Maastricht; the debate in
    both cases was that which Aesop recorded between the dog and the wolf.
    The value of comparison between the two Unions goes further; that of
    1707 at least respected contemporary ideas of representative
    government, unlike the European Union. Furthermore, 1707's
    constitutional guarantees of "subsidiarity" have, after three
    centuries, permitted to Scots and English law more diversity than will
    be allowed to any of the member-states in the emerging projects of
    Europe's unelected bien-pensants. It is therefore as intemperate to
    claim that Scotland was annexed by England, as it would be to claim
    that Britain has been annexed by Europe.

    Dr Gray's description of 1707 and his denial that Britishness is
    anything but a "political artefact" are clearly linked, but both are
    mistaken. There are in fact many thousands of inhabitants of Scotland
    and England who are first or second-generation immigrants from the
    other kingdom for whom there is no other accurate adjective than
    "British". The prominence of such individuals in public life is
    notorious in both countries. They cannot be wished away by political,
    national or racial purists. Moreover, "Britishness" is no more a
    political artefact than is the idea of being European; both ideas are
    used for political ends, but only one of them is based on the reality
    of a common popular culture, common media and a common language.

    MICHAEL UPTON Department of Law, European University Institute, Badia
    Fiesolana, Florence.

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