IF you’re looking for Anglophobia, this isn’t the column for you. In the age of outrage, the fact that an Irishman living in Scotland has the temerity to raise questions about England’s political direction is undoubtedly enough to trigger right-wing snowflakes and have them reaching for their cancel culture canons.

I can actually hear the trolls on Twitter already: "If you don’t like it, then go back to Ireland, Paddy!". The trouble is, the part of Ireland I’m from, those troublesome six counties in the north, are, to quote Mrs Thatcher, "as British as Finchley". At least for now. So I’m not sure where I’m supposed to go back to … do I leave Britain and simultaneously return to Britain? But then online right-wing hate never did make much sense.

Also – and sorry to disappoint – I’m very fond of England. I was born in London and my mother is English, so I’ve as much affection for England and the English as I do for Ireland and the Irish or Scotland and the Scots. And I don’t need any family connections to feel just as well disposed to Wales and the Welsh. Here’s a secret: if you’ve a brain in your head and a heart that’s not filled with weird hate based on the patch of earth another human being was born on, you really can like all people, no matter where they’re from; it’s governments and political ideas which are "bad", not ordinary folk. We’re all citizens of the Earth. And isn’t it a sign of our thin-skinned, weak-minded times that such caveats even need to be made before a discussion starts?

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Still, in our climate of culture war, right-wing hardliners will always concoct some brain-distorting sense of offence out of nothing. So if people are going to be upset then fine, be upset, the rest of us have adult conversations to conduct, and I’ll leave xenophobia to the likes of Boris Johnson, who when editor of the Spectator once published a “satirical” poemcalling Scots a “verminous race” and “tartan dwarves” who should be kept in a “ghetto” and deserve “comprehensive extermination”.

Anyway, with that in mind, the conversation I’d like to have – in as adult a fashion as possible – is prompted by Mr Johnson’s reign, and centres on the imbalance that England, as a political entity, not an ethnic grouping, has on the British state.

It’s clear that England has markedly different political "values" to the rest of Britain. Self-evidently, we’re not talking about all English voters. Many oppose Mr Johnson. However, overwhelmingly he wasn’t elected by the British people, but by English voters. As we await his departure – though some doubt he’ll actually leave and will rather manufacture anti-democratic reasons to stay in power – it’s necessary to discuss how England’s political needs inflicted him on the rest of the nation; a thought that doesn’t seem to enter the English political psyche very much. But if ever there was a moment which underscores how Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland play second fiddle in the Union to England it’s now.

Just look at the election map: England is Tory blue. Brexit was fundamentally an expression of English nationalism. Mr Johnson then turned the Tory Party into a vehicle for English nationalism. If the UK’s ruling party is motivated by English nationalism then I’m afraid that’s just incompatible with the notion of union. Just ask the majority of voters in Northern Ireland, where I’m from: anti-Brexit and pro-protocol, their lives and aspirations – not to say, sense of peace – are toys for an English nationalist party.

Essentially, these last few years have been an exercise in English Tory voters forcing the worst Prime Minister in history onto the other three nations of this Union, without care or contrition. For proof of how out of tune England is with the rest of the UK, just watch those strange BBC vox pops where voices from the shires gloriously eulogise Mr Johnson. You’d be hard pressed to throw a stone on a Saturday afternoon in Glasgow and hit a Johnson supporter.

Layered onto this is the frankly offensive sight of the Tory Party now huddling together to chose Britain’s next Prime Minister – a decision which will be taken mostly by its English members. What say does Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales have in this? What say does anyone in England who’s not a member of the Tory Party have, for pity’s sake? It’s a display of contempt for democracy.

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The Tory candidates – a horror-show if ever there was one – won’t engage with the Scottish Government. It’s just "No" to another referendum, and a refusal to discuss how Scotland can ever have another referendum. This is incompatible with democracy. If Scotland votes in majorities of pro-independence parties, then that mandate must be respected. Did the Tories not use their "mandate" to "get Brexit done"?

Equally, Sir Keir Starmer point-blank refuses another referendum – the same man who’s now committed to Brexit. Clearly, then, his concerns for the views of England’s electorate trumps the cares of the majority of Scottish voters. If you’re pro-Europe or pro-independence, Labour is saying it doesn’t give a damn about your opinions. The Labour Party is now obviously tilted towards English needs.

Sir Keir has wrapped himself in the Union Flag. If the Tories are English nationalists, then Sir Keir is taking Labour on a path towards British nationalism.

England’s size now dangerously imbalances a sense of "fairness". Unquestionably, this isn’t a union of equals. Federalism is the only solution, but federalism is never going to happen. England would have to be balkanised into smaller component parts for that to work equitably – as would Scotland to some extent, if we’re to achieve federal balance, given the smallest constituent of the union is Northern Ireland. So dream on. Essentially, we’re all trapped in an English psychodrama.

This sense of injustice underpins my support for independence. I cannot see how to adjust the essential inequalities of the Union. There’s no will for reform. If unionists have an answer, then please tell us. But unionists don’t have an answer, and so with no other options, independence becomes the only solution.

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