January 24, 2007

Britishness is dead. Long live…?

Union Jack The British are feeling less so than ever before. Over the past decade, the number of people calling themselves ‘British’ has fallen from 52% to 44%. And while Scots nationalism has increased, Wales has remained ambivalent about its own identity.

Ask a Scot whether they are British or Scottish, and according to the British Social Attitudes Survey, nearly 80% will say Scottish. Ask a Welshman whether they are Welsh or British, and 60% will say they’re Welsh (the same figure as 30 years ago). And half of Englishmen claim to be British.

This shows a few things…

  • We seem to be heading nearer and nearer completely separate identities.
  • The English identity is relatively weak
  • And the Welsh seem unlikely to want further devolution, even though the Assembly is considered toothless.

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  1. To quote Dara O’Briain, “They asked a thousand people in England if they felt they were English or British… and most said Romanian”.

    The assertion of national identity comes as the world is being shrunk and people are searching for ways of defining themselves. Relatively speaking the Scottish and Welsh are more like the English now than in almost every other era of history, the insistence on a separate identity comes as a reaction to the fact that most Scots shop in the same shops as the English, wear the same brands, and listen to the same music. The weakness of the English indentity comes from the fact that no one really knows what it is to be English – who are the English? For most it never goes any further than supporting the football/cricket/rugby team. It’s certainly hard to define it on this island of immigration and mixing.

    24 Jan 2007, 20:39

  2. Is identifing with a nation a good idea anyway?

    Didn’t the arch nationalist, Adolf Hitler say:

    One people, one state, one leader! Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer

    25 Jan 2007, 13:22

  3. wonkoitsane

    The last poll results I saw said that most English people identified themselves as English, not British. The majority of people identifying themselves as British were immigrants. There are two reasons for this – firstly, it’s drummed into them when they come into the country that English is bad and British is good; secondly, in the wider world England and Britain are mostly seen as the same thing. For example, ask your average American where Scotland is and he’ll tell you that it’s in England.

    English nationalism is on the rise and it won’t stop. Most English people think English, most English people want their own devolved Parliament and most English people have a problem with British MP’s not elected in England interfering in matters that only affect England. Foundation Hospitals and University Top-Up Fees are two examples of where MP’s elected in England rejected an English-only piece of legislation and whipped Scottish Labour MP’s voted it through. The full smoking ban that was proposed for England was watered down to a partial ban by an MP elected in Scotland and was subsequently voted on by MP’s from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland even though it only affected England. Road Pricing has been rejected by almost 2 million people in a petition on the Prime Minister’s website but the British government says it is going to go ahead with it anyway. Why? The Transport Minister – despite his ministry only dealing with transport in England – is elected in Scotland and his constituents won’t have road pricing, won’t have to pay to use English roads and won’t have to have satellite tracking boxes fitted to their vehicles.

    I am English first and British second. I am a unionist but to an increasingly lesser extent as I see yet more and more racism and discrimination aimed at England and English people. If I had to choose between England and Britain I would vote to repeal the Act of Union. The union can’t be fixed but its death can be postponed by turning it into a federal parliament and giving England what the rest of the UK has.

    11 Mar 2007, 07:17

  4. I’ve come across people abroad who think (until corrected) that England is just a suburb of London.
    There’s a lot of resentment amongst people in England who hardly ever go to London, that there’s too much emphasis on London in the mass media.
    Then again most people in Coventry think that the “West Midlands” idea means “Greater Birmingham”

    11 Mar 2007, 11:01

  5. wonkotsane

    Enter the City Region which turns the urban parts of the West Midlands euroregion into suburbs of Birmingham.

    12 Mar 2007, 19:24

  6. To quote from PM Cameron’s speech at Munich Security Conference on the failure of State Multiculturalism:

    “Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.
    We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they want to belong (An inclusive British identity).
    We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values.”

    Britishness is not dead! It’s being badly promoted by our leaders and intolerant nationalists. Therefore what is needed is for us the people of this great country to stand up and clearly define the values which make us British. These inclusive values include freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law and of course equality regardless of race, gender or sexuality. Values which the majority of us believe in no matter where we live on these Isles.

    Britishness is alive but not well. it is up to all of us as citizen to restore the health of our collective identity.

    06 Sep 2012, 17:27


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