Sunny Hundal has written a couple of posts berating HMV's decision to stop selling 'Anyone But England' World Cup T-shirts in their Scottish stores, following a complaint from the Campaign for an English Parliament. The gist of his argument is that by regarding "anti-Englishness" as "racism", the CEP are defining the English as a race, and thus implicitly suggesting that people from ethnic minorities cannot legitimately hold an English identity.
I know where Sunny is coming from, but it has to be borne in mind that there are serious instances of anti-English prejudice in Scotland (and of anti-Scottish prejudice in England) that ruin lives and even end in violence. There has to be proper legal protection for the victims - and if we can't call it racism because of problems of definition, what do we call it? Is a beating inflicted by a thug who hates English or Scottish accents really less worthy of note than a beating inflicted by a thug who hates Asians?
The issue here isn't so much that anti-Englishness is not racism, it's that wanting England to lose at football is not an example of anti-Englishness, let alone racism. This nonsense comes round every time England play in a major international tournament, with even Andy Murray being outrageously branded a racist by Tony Parsons in one of the most offensively misconceived newspaper columns ever written by someone not called Jan Moir. The 'anyone but England' impulse is in truth perfectly natural given the hopelessly unbalanced media environment we live in. If English people were only able to watch the World Cup via a Europe-wide German TV network, and the commentators and presenters insisted on talking at those English people as if they ARE GERMAN (because, after all, there's not that much to choose between 'Germany' and 'Europe'), what do you think the reaction would be? If people are to be branded bigots simply because they've had a gutful of the insufferable Clive Tyldesley and his ilk...well, it looks like I'll just have to live with being a bigot.
What's really revealing about the HMV incident is what it tells us about the true nature of the Campaign for an English Parliament. Can you imagine the old Campaign for a Scottish Assembly - let alone the Scottish Constitutional Convention - wasting its time over such froth? It sounds suspiciously like the CEP are more interested in wounded English pride and petty score-settling than they are in pursuing the noble aim of a national parliament for England.