by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Most Yessers will be only too familiar with England often being equated with the UK, and also with the UK Government’s habit of promoting the UK as a country instead of a sovereign state comprised of three countries and a province. This is so widespread that it is often impossible to know which country or countries politicians are talking about when they say "this country".

We are also very much aware of the habit of Union Flags being plastered over our foodstuffs even when those products are produced in Scotland. This is very much in line with the One Nation view so beloved of Tories.

Not that Tories are alone in promoting this view of Britishness. Sir Keir Starmer, Knight of the Realm and lover of all things British, often seems to be trying to outdo the Tories when it comes to British nationalism.

Then we have the recently announced request for more singing of God Save the queen, plus the desire for the National Anthem to be played by the BBC at the end of each day. This is, of course, the English National Anthem which, funnily enough, also doubles as the UK National Anthem.

Recently, I came across another example of this British nationalism that I wasn’t aware of. The NHS is often portrayed as UK-wide by the media and UK politicians, but many of us know that there are separate NHS organisations for each of the three countries and one province of the UK. Imagine, then, my surprise when I went online to order Covid Lateral Flow Tests and was directed to a website which, according to my screen reader, was very much labelled as being part of NHS UK. I didn’t think there was any such organisation. However, if you open a web browser and type in "NHS.UK", you’ll find there is a website presenting itself as being a UK-wide NHS.

The thing about this is that it is clearly not a UK website. While there are some general health tips and links to details of medication which will apply everywhere, the site is very much an English one. If, for example, you try to book a Covid vaccination, or try to find your nearest GP by following the links on the NHS.UK main page, it is immediately apparent that this is only available to residents in England.

Now, it may seem a small thing to get worked up over England once again portraying itself as the UK, but this is yet another warning that the UK Government’s policy of promoting One Nation is creeping into every aspect of our lives.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the latest rumours are that free provision of Lateral Flow Tests will be withdrawn before long. This is very much in keeping with Tory policies of not caring about the poorer members of society, but the worst thing about it is that it confirmed that NHS.UK is in charge of distributing these test kits. All that Nicola Sturgeon has been able to do is issue a protest because Scotland apparently does not source its own supply of LFTs. If that is indeed the case, it is a ridiculous state of affairs. No nation should be dependent on another for a supply of equipment which is essential in combating a global pandemic, especially if that other country is going to insist on charging ordinary citizens for the provision of these kits. Once again we see that the best solution for Scotland is to become a normal, self-governing country. Let’s hope we don’t need to wait much longer.