This year I've seen several attempts from decent people to reclaim the day from the fascists, to take pride in England being the diverse place it is. After all, St George was Palestinian so he seems a bit of an odd role model for the EDL to revere.
The trouble is that I couldn't be less proud of being English.
- Universities in England are charging ever increasing fees, this is not true for all other parts of the UK. The exorbitant amounts are a major disincentive for people from a background like mine to get an education.
- English older and disabled people are having to pay more for less home care. This isn't true of all of the UK, Scottish older people get free care.
- People living in care homes are facing bigger bills for less safe care homes and DLA recipients living in care homes will be losing their mobility component from 2013.
- The government are completely dismantling the welfare state. Disabled people are killing themselves because they can't afford to live.
- The government is planning to completely dismantle the NHS in England. I had one experience of NHS outsourcing to private healthcare providers; I waited a year to have my bust ankle MRIed.
- Stories of police violence seem almost daily while hate crimes against disabled people are frequent and rarely appropriately handled by the authorities.
- It's the 21st century and gay people can't get married.
- The government is considering scrapping our anti-discrimination legislation.
- We have misogynists, homophobes and disablists in parliament.
- Our newspapers tell daily lies about benefits claimants, which results in an increase in the aforementioned disablist hate crime.
And that list barely scratches the surface.
You could argue that the decisions made by the government don't necessarily reflect those of the populace as a whole, that the lies printed in the press aren't emblematic of the opinions of the nation. Except they are. We're a democracy, we voted for this government. Look at the sea of blue across England. It's the English that voted Tory rather than other parts of the UK. As for the press? If people stopped buying the lies, the papers would stop printing them.
So could someone, please, tell me why I should be proud of England when England so clearly isn't proud of me?