Monday, 4 July 2011

The British are Coming .

There have been some interesting articles in the Guardian recently on British Identity

The first was by David Mitchell who maid the claim....

"When I appeared on an episode of Question Time broadcast from Musselburgh, near Edinburgh, the issue of Scottish independence came up. One of my fellow panellists, the SNP deputy leader, Nicola Sturgeon, was at pains to make clear that her party had nothing against England and were admirers of that country.
What I didn't say in response, what I've kicked myself for not expressing ever since, was: "Yes but you've got it in for Britain. You may be happily in cahoots with the morris-dancing English and the Eisteddfod-organising Welsh, but my country, the Britain of London where I now live, of Swansea, my mother's home town where I spent a lot of time as a child, and of Galloway, where my paternal grandparents lived, is something you want to destroy. I'm British, I care about this and I've a hunch I'm not the only one."
Apart for the fact that the usually quick witted Mitchell could only come up with an argument after the actual programme it is a pretty poor statement.

I have great respect for David Mitchell both as Comic and humorous political commentator but he has form on this  and he clearly is blinkered to the extend that he feels National Identity in Wales Scotland and indeed England are based what he would regard as "twee cultural customs",  I suspect his real problem is with English Nationalism and its connection with right wing extremism and racism. Though there is no doubt there are a significant number of English Nationalist who reject both but  find very difficult to find a Progressive Left Party which represents their views.

The other article was by the Labour MP John Crudass   who has written an article which in many ways whilst arguing for a "British" patriotism  fal in  to the trap of failing to distinguish between England and Britain because as he writes.

We are an immigrant nation. There is no going back and we must find ways of living together and creating a new vision of England. We demand that migrants must be like us. But who actually are we? They must share our British values. But what are they? Newcomers must answer correctly the citizens test. But could we? 
So in another way Crudass and his coauthor Jonathan Rutherford view of Britain, may differ from Mitchell's in they can't distinguish between Britain and England . They all fall in to the trap in believing that is a thing called Britain.

The National Movements in Wales,Scotland and Ireland differ from those in say Brittany Catalonia and the Basque Country in that the Celtic countries were conquered or forced into an Union by another country "England ", who together with participants from the other Nations came up with the concept of the United Kingdom and  British Nationality. whereas the others became part of a French or Spanish Identity and the dominant group (Castilain for instance)  were already Identified with this.

But the whole idea of British Identity is something that is manufactured to give some idea of an Union of equal Nations  but in reality is no more than geographical term much in the same way Scandinavian or Iberian is. it is artificial and means nothing in reality

This is reflected in that the British National Party (BNP)  which in truth is ay a English Nationalist Party and one then t reflects only a minority of those who take pride in being English although some may confuse this with synonymous  with being "British".

However for Labour there always been a problem.The Conservatives have no real problem by being sen as largely English party and the Libdems can sometimes have separate identities in Wales, Scotland and England  but whilst   Labour have like the others have party leaders in Scotland and a admittedly confused issue in Wales (Is Carwyn Jones the leader of Welsh Labour or merely the leader of Welsh AM's ? . But they also have no counterpart in has a problem in identifying with England.and this seems to affect them more.particularly than the other parties  with their relevant strengths in Wales and up to recently Scotland,

Gordon Brown probably in effort to divert attention from his Scotishness  tried to promote Britishisness before the last election. but it failed.

If I was  to call Labour  when they are in this  are in this mind A British Nationalist Party . I would be accused of smearing  them. But of course they have no problem in attempting to link Scottish and Welsh Nationalism with the Far Right despite the clear evidence they are not

If Labour  continue in this way in trying to promote this Nonexistent National Identity  out of a misguided notion that it would somehow save the Union then British Nationalist they are British Nationalist and they will remain so.


  1. My feeling is that Cruddas is intellectually leaving his options open when he fails to distinguish between England or Britain. He isn't particularly wedded to British unionism in the same way other factions of the Labour party are. The problem is that he does not have significant influence and Labour's entire project relies on Scotland and Wales being solid and reliable, so they will not adopt a sorely needed progressive English patriotism.

  2. "They all fall in to the trap in believing that is a thing called Britain." I'm frankly amazed that anyone can doubt that Britain exists. I'm a left-wing Welsh-speaker but very much British, as at home in Leicester as in Cerrigydrudion.

    Britishness does not need promoting, it's true. It has been around for centuries.

    Of course there are sub-sections of Great Britain, of which Wales, Scotland and English are three.

  3. Ramblings. I think Cruddas like most in Labour who try to lok at Bitishness is simply confused.

    The modern concept of Britain is largely a 20th century one. Before the First World War the term England was almost entirely used by Political Commentators and Historians to refer to the Great Britain (the Geographical Island) but with the rise of Nationalism and the departure of most of Ireland the Unionist reinvented the name Britain to give the impression of an United and equal nation. But even they dis not consider the term sub-section.