Sunday, November 01, 2009

A further note on being British

In a comment on Saturday Morning Musings - on being British, Marcellous wrote:

I've never thought that the Irish were British: cf the United Kingdom of Great Britain and [later: Northern] Ireland.

Now Marcellous is right and then again he is not!

Until I read Norman Davies I had no idea just how complicated things were. I should do a post drawing from Davies on the changing title of that constitutional entity currently known as the UK.

Note to Readers: for a full list of posts in this series see Train Reading - Norman Davies The Isles: a history 1.


Noric Dilanchian said...

Please do write that post. I've never understood the "U.K." term nor found resources to explain it.

Perhaps it will also help build the argument that the U.K. was or is a "rogue state" or "failed state" (terms so often used by English-speakers about nations they oppose) ;-).

Jim Belshaw said...

Wilco, Noric, although I don't think that it will help your failed state argument.

Hels said...

I have been thinking a lot recently about a problem relevant to your post: the internment camps on the Isle of Man during WW1 and WW2.

Under British law, the Isle of Man is a Crown dependency and not an integral part of the United Kingdom. The UK Parliament has paramount power to legislate for the Isle of Man on all matters but it is a long-standing convention that it does not do so on domestic matters without the consent of Isle of Man’s Tynwald/Legislature. So far, so good.

But the REAL differences between the Isle of Man and the UK is murky. Within the British Government, the Secretary of State for Justice has prime responsibility as Privy Counsellor for Manx Affairs. So when shove comes to push and the UK government needs to intervene to ensure the good government of Man, the island is as controlled from Westminster as is any other part of the UK.

Internees on the Isle of Man couldn't get access to courts ostensibly because the UK government had no jurisdiction over the island, but that doesn't seem to be exactly correct.

Jim Belshaw said...

That's an interesting comment, Helen. One of the fascinating things about the Empire was the huge variety in constitutional links in which the crown rather than the UK was central. There are similar situations in Australia - Norfolk Island, for example.