by Alan D. Harvey
Probably the most mystifying - and indeed most disturbing - development in post WWII British society has been the upsurge in Scottish, Welsh, and even English, "nationalisms".
Wales was united with England as long ago as 1536 to form
the embryo United Kingdom, and the parliaments of England and Scotland were
officially merged in 1707 - though the de
facto union had actually taken place in 1603 when the crowns of Scotland
and England were united, the term Great Britain first came into use to describe
our nation, and our beloved Union Flag was first introduced. In 1801
That should have been the end of the matter, for all logic
and common sense shows that
Alas appalling government mishandling of the Potato Famine
and meddling from the Vatican produced a growth in Irish
"nationalism" during the latter part of the 19th century,
which reached its tragic conclusion in 1922 when 26 counties broke away
(hopefully temporarily) from the rest of Britain. In spite of this disaster,
Viewed in such a context the upsurge of regional
"nationalisms" during the recent few decades has been an enigma, and
runs counter to the historical imperatives of our global age. The Italians and
Germans, after all, were united as nations far later than
It is the contention of this writer that the main reason for
the growth of regional "nationalisms" within the
The fact that the four basic regions of the
There is of course a historical reason why
Be this as it may, there has never been any uniform
structure for British teams competing at international level. In both soccer
and the Empire/Commonwealth Games the four component parts of the United
Kingdom have always competed independently, whereas in both lawn tennis and the
Olympic Games there have always been united Great Britain &
Ireland/Northern Ireland squads. In both rugby union and golf, however, there
has traditionally been a mixture, with the four home nations competing
independently in some competitions, but united in others. Prior to the
introduction of the Rugby World Cup the highest pinnacle of the game took the
form of the British Lions' tours to the three great southern hemisphere
Commonwealth nations, when united teams from the whole of the British Isles
were selected - and here perhaps lies the most hopeful example for the future.
In golf there always used to be a similar structure, with united British Isles
teams being selected for the biennial Ryder, Curtis and Walker Cup competitions
against the United States - though regretfully in more recent years a united
British team has been superseded by a united European team in the Ryder Cup, an
unpopular and ridiculous step which must be reversed as soon as possible.
Cricket has always been an anachronism however, for although the national team
has always played under the archaic name of "
In many other countries all sports fall under some form of central control. In New Zealand the white fern badge is common to all sports at international level, and likewise in South Africa during the days of civilised rule the springbok badge was awarded to all those who represented their country. Britain should clearly therefore adopt a similar system, with a central authority sanctioning the awarding of a common national symbol to all recognised sports (i.e. not pseudo-sports such as synchronised swimming and model aircraft racing!) at international level, with selections for such teams being opened not only to citizens of the United Kingdom, but indeed to all Britons from throughout the British Isles.
As for the nature of this common national sporting badge it seems obvious that rugby's precedent should be followed, and it should therefore be the lion. A common design must be agreed upon, but hopefully this will feature a realistic lion emblem surmounted by a crown, rather than any more abstract stylised form.
It must be emphasised, however, that the advent of united
British sporting squads will not mean
the end of separate Scottish, Welsh and English teams etc., as the component
regions of the
The advent of such a united system under a common badge would seem to have many advantages :-
1) It will inspire greater British unity and patriotism, and thereby will undoubtedly strike a deathblow to regional "nationalisms".
2) It will help to re-emphasise the fact that all of
3) As far as golf is concerned, the end of a united European team in the Ryder Cup may prove to be yet another nail in the coffin of the EU.
As far as disadvantages are concerned - well, there don't appear to be any!