Finding our national identity

 

            Let me surprise my readers. I think one of the best things the left has done over the last couple of decades is persuade  more people in the UK that racism is unacceptable. The UK is a more tolerant and better place today.

         If   The Prime Minister’s speech is to succeed, it needs to be seen as a call for strong moderate British values to unite a nation. We condemn extremism of all types – we should dislike the religious and political fanatics who think their creed is the only right one to be pursued by violent or dishonest means, but we should also dislike those who think there is a single or pure British way which they wish to enforce.  The values I most admire in Britian are the values of tolerant democracy.

           We do need to appreciate a common history and a common inheritance. Of course I feel proud of the conventional sucesses of our island story. 1588 and the defeat of the Spanish Armada, Trafalgar and Waterloo in 1805 and 1815, and Berlin in 1945 were proud moments. They have something in common. England, then the UK, stood against the tyranny of a dominant continental power. In1588 they fought for the right of the English nation to choose its own religion and government, and for the right of the Dutch to be independent of Spanish rule. In the 1800s  they fought to prevent France determining the government and rules of much of Europe and enforcing her decisions by military power. In 1945 we were a crucial part of an alliance against fascism and ugly anti semitism.

             I also feel proud of the bigger story, the progress of Britain as a pioneer of democracy and human rights. The landmarks in this journey include Catholic Emancipation, the abolition of slavery, the invitation of Jews into civil and political life, the enfranchisement of working men and women, and the wider ownership movement of the twentieth century. No-one who studies British history and who wants to help promote the best of our values can deny there have been murkier times and attitudes in our past that had to be vanquished by the  brave. Catholics were oppressed for many years, and there were bad cases of extremist violence by some Catholic groups. The UK exploited the profits of the slave trade, before better judgement led to its end. There was a long period of anti semitism in Britain, finally ended by a nation that had to confront the horrors of extreme anti semitism in 1940s Germany.

               So what is the essence of Britishness, what are the UK principles that we should believe in and enforce. I think they are these:

We believe in tolerant democracy.

We believe that we settle our differences  by  wrestling words and votes, not arms and bullets

We believe that the majority has the right to prevail, but it does not have the right to oppress the minorities

We believe that the minorities have the right to free expression and the quiet enjoyment of their differences. They do not have the right to resort to violence or illegal means to try to get their way

We do not believe that any creed or ideology has sole right to lord over us all, but we do believe we all have the right to our creed and ideology to enjoy without upsetting others

The sovereign principles are those of tolerant democracy, the best way to try to live in harmony, to settle disputes, and reach some common purpose.

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48 Comments

  1. CHEESED OFF
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Like myself – from the moment I heard of The Big Society before the Election – most people can’t get their head round the concept. It should be put back into its box and not be brought out again duting this Parliament. And if then under a completely different and understandable name.
    My guess is that this one was dreamt up by Sam & David around the dinner table one night and it’s too personal to them to drop it!

    Peter Oborne writes in today’s Telegraph, extracts below:

    “Eight months on and Cameron’s enemies – inside the Tory Party as well as the Labour opposition – smell blood. They believe that his Big Society idea is in ruins.”

    “They reflect a growing disillusion inside the charitable sector – the very engine room of the Big Society – with the Prime Minister. To be blunt, charities are deeply concerned that they are being taken for a ride.”

    “So it is reasonable to ask the question: is David Cameron’s signature plan to build the Big Society on the verge of collapse less than a year after he has taken power?
    If so, it would be a crushing blow to the Conservative Prime Minister. It could even signal the beginning of the end of his premiership. “

  2. Stephen Almond
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Let me guess. You don’t live in Blackburn/Burnley/Oldham etc.
    It’s amazing how tolerant a person can be when the issues don’t affect that person.

    • rose
      Posted February 5, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      It is worse than you suggest, Stephen. The ruling class isn’t just indifferent to others’ suffering: it actually likes mass immigration because it provides unlimited supplies of polite and subservient 24 hour service in its inner capital at very low cost. Inner London has never looked more civilized. Rather as it must have been for people of European descent in South Africa before the revolution there, or in India before Independence. The tax payer then pays for the many subsidies needed to bring these hardworking and conscientious first generation immigrants up to the standard of living of the rest who have chosen not to provide service at that price.
      For the ruling class this has been what the media like to call a win/win situation. But for the rest of us it is lose/lose/lose/lose/lose. Of the establishment, only Sir Andrew Green has been honest about the cost, and they have tried to silence, smear, and disown him.

    • Andrew Johnson
      Posted February 6, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. That’s the problem. Its the Marie Antoinette Syndrome. She was so ignorant of how the peasantry lived, she truly believed that if they ran out of bread, they could simply resort to eating cake. None of the political classes and the expensively educated middleclass movers and shakers live on sink estates, hellish highrise tower blocks, or experience being a minority in their own country. That’s why they say the things they do. They believe them! Not far from where I live there is a Secondary school where 95 different languages are spoken! And even informed, logical, sensible, John believes there is a sensible immigration policy in force!

  3. StrongholdBarrcades
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Does this mean the government will now persue a policy of removing “ghettos” from our towns and cities?

  4. R. Goodacre
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Your list of principles would be accepted with little demur in France and other European nations, among others. Nothing here fundamentally distinguishes the UK from other civilised nations, and as such could be used to reinforce the arguments of those who are now pushing for closer political union in Europe.

    Having lived for more than 30 years in three continental European countries, I believe that the UK has a significantly distinctive cultural identity and values, which are gradualy being eroded. One of the most pertinent is the belief, sorely tested these days, that government is ultimately the servant of the people; whereas in France, and other European nations, the citizenry more or less willingly accept the regulation of every aspect of their lives by government.

    Reply: The EU does not practise what I am preaching – it is intolerant of those who disagree with its big government ethos.

  5. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    My philosophical starting point is individual freedom under the necessary constraints of laws established through a democratic process.

    Which in my view cannot mean a transnational process, it being impossible to operate a “democracy” in the absence of a “demos”, and that in turn means that we must leave the EU and restore our national democracy founded upon the sovereignty of our national Parliament.

  6. Posted February 5, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure that racism has decreased, listening to a couple of ex-work colleagues of mine. One, who came from Barbados, told me that when he first came to this country, and served in the RAF, some people made nasty remarks from time to time, but most ordinary English would “take people as they found them” and he made some good friends. Now he said, people aren’t openly nasty, but there is more of an “undercurrent” of dislike which he felt was increasing as more and more groups were insisting on their “rights” and getting what many see as preferential treatment. The other who came originally from Ceylon says more or less the same thing; he used to feel reasonably comfortable here thirty years or so ago, but now he feels more isolated and less welcome. This isn’t only with respect to racism, but with other issues such as female rights and gay rights, where as far as I am concerned, the campaigners are alienating many of us. Certainly, at one time, I wouldn’t have been interested as to whether someone was gay or not, but following recent prominent cases, I am starting to develop a positive dislike for them and every other group which are insisting on some “rights”. I’m sure that there are many belonging to minority groups who feel similarly to my friends and feel that the “rights movements” have gone to far.

    • Andrew Johnson
      Posted February 6, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Agree completely

    • Winston Smith
      Posted February 7, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      You are correct. I say this as someone with an Asian grandparent and in a mixed race relationship. Mass immigration and Marxist multiculturalism is directly responsible for the segregation and divisions I see developing all around me. I fear for my children.

  7. Bill
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Completely agree. We found our tolerance the hard way after spilling English blood in the Civil War, and we won our political liberties by fighting against an over mighty monarch and an over indulged aristocracy. Of course we should value religious and ideological freedom, but we have to do this within the agreed framework of Parliamentary democracy. The one freedom we cannot allow is the freedom to abolish Parliament, as Charles I discovered to his cost.

  8. michael read
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    All very worthy. But the evidence suggests that decent British instincts to protect the rights of minorities has been used to subvert and undermine the host culture.

    The primary purpose of Labour’s immigration policy was to ensure its electoral advantage. Multiculturalism ensured continual support for that purpose. To hell with the indigenous communities.

    Extremism isn’t the problem. That’s easy to disavow. The low-intensity cultural colonialism, however, is a more subtle subversive threat. (argues against different dress codes)

    There should be no tolerance of that intolerance. The French have recognised this. Britain should too.

  9. rose
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    You surprise me in using a worn out sloppy word like racism which has done so much harm to our country. Which of its various meanings do you mean? It is a word like fascist, which serious people would do well to avoid if they are trying to enlighten others. Do you mean xenophobia? Or the belief that some races are superior to others? Or that there are differences between nations wrought by years of heredity and custom? Or just the awareness of the concept of foreign? We have reached a point of such confusion now that it could be considered racist to turn back an invading army, especially if it had the sense first to ask for asylum.

    Until we get back the concepts of “nation” and “foreign” we will be wasting our time on your list of values. As Enoch tried to explain to a baffled Mrs T: “You cannot use the verb defend with values as the object: that is an abstraction. You can only defend territory.” To which she retorted “Of course we can defend our way of life, our values…if this country went communist, I wouldn’t fight for it!” And the answer came back logically, “I would. I would defend the United Kingdom.”

    That is what you have all failed to do. And we have allowed you to fail.

    Reply: I mean by racism, discriminating against people or treating people badly, because of their origins.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted February 5, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      “discriminating against people or treating people badly, because of their origins” oh like everybody with a working class accent suffers from the public school crowd every day?

      oh that doesnt count does it?

      • rose
        Posted February 6, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

        That sort of rudeness and unpleasantness works both ways.

    • rose
      Posted February 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      You have been brainwashed. “Discriminating” used to be a laudable thing to be. “She’s very discriminating,” people would say, in admiration of someone’s wisdom, judgement, and good taste.

      People who don’t discriminate to the fullest extent possible in making appointments are not doing their duty. Where someone comes from is bound to come into it in some way. As is their sex, their age, their state of health, their general appearance, their intelligence, their religion, or lack of it, and their education. It might be judged a strength, or a weakness, or neither, but the consideration is not irrelevant, and it is very foolish to pretend it is.

      Treating people badly is wrong whatever their origin, not because of it. This is one of the most worrying aspects of the law now: if a thug beats someone up because (the law alleges) they are a from a “minority”, then that is automatically to attract a heavier sentence than if they are not. Ditto for all crime; but not apparently if the thug is from a minority himself. Hence the crazy phrase “Hate crime”. People are now accused of encouraging or being likely to fall prey to the temptation to commit a “hate crime” if the police have had a complaint made to them about their alleged attitude, because of something innocent they may have said or written. The complaint may be stupid, malicious, or paranoid. That doesn’t matter: it is the perception of racism that decides that investigation, and possibly prosecution, will be undertaken.

      • rose
        Posted February 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        The law has in effect decided there are now two classes of victim and therefore two classes of crime and punishment: how can we all feel equal before the law as long as this pertains, and what are you going to do about it? And we haven’t even got shariah properly established yet.

    • APL
      Posted February 6, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      JR: “because of their origins.”

      That does not describe racism.

      It is not racism to discriminate, I would have thought you an educated man would recognize ‘discriminate’ has no pejorative meaning without context. ‘Discrimination’, in the sense the fascists of the left use it, is to systematically disadvantage another simply because of his or her racial characteristics.

      Your use of discriminate in that manner illustrates just how much the language has been corrupted by the left.

      The problem is the left believe the racial characteristics are the sole determinant that should be considered when selecting a candidate for a job or position.

      That is itself racist.

  10. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    On European similarities:
    – While I could subscribe wholeheartedly to all your “UK principles” (as typical “Britishness I might have added “sense of fair-play”), it is important to acknowledge that these principles are shared on much of the European continent. (they could be as typically Dutch as they are British)
    – Likewise, British culture and heritage is dominantly European.
    – Similarly, both Angela Merkel and David Cameron have stated that earlier “multiculturalism” hasn’t worked.
    There is a lot that you share with the rest of Europe, not just economically. Something to remember when, as some in your party dream of, the UK is cut loose from the EU and drifts away to the Mid-Atlantic.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 5, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      This is from somebody whose countrymen were invited to approve the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe but instead voted 62:38 against it, in the first and last national referendum they have ever been allowed to have on any of the EEC/EC/EU treaties, but whose country still seems as firmly attached to the continent as it was before.

      It’s about international treaties and their nature and consequences, Peter, not about cutting off all ties with geographical neighbours and floating off into the Atlantic.

  11. Martin
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Might I suggest that the Berlin Airlift during 1948-49 is a splendid example to add to your list.

    • Michael St George
      Posted February 5, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      Wholeheartedly agreed.

      As would have been the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

  12. Michael St George
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I would, I think, have been happier had your first bullet-point read “..a tolerant, secular democracy”.

    Iwould also have preferred to see something about universal equality under the law, the latter being that decided by national democratic process. The phrase “quiet enjoyment of differences” does seem to leave open the possibility of a particular community deciding (and possibly deciding through non-democratic process) that it should be governed according to some alternative, and not necessarily tolerant, dispensation.

  13. Eric Arthur Blair
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Did you choose to end this article with the words ‘Common Purpose’ for any particular reason, John?

    You say:

    “…but we should also dislike those who think there is a single or pure British way which they wish to enforce.”

    But within that sentence, are you not advocating doing what it is that that sentence says others should not be doing?

    Isn’t that, actually, one of the problems? That the political class, for decades, have been stamping their feet and telling British people what they can and cannot think…. without listening to or engaging with their concerns, insecurities and complaints?

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted February 6, 2011 at 5:25 am | Permalink

      “without listening to or engaging with their concerns, insecurities and complaints?”

      When was it ever different?

  14. Posted February 5, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Very rare for me to agree with something a) a Tory would write or b) John Redwood in particular, but this is well argued.

    However, what it exposes is that these tenets are not embedded into a constitution which is the guiding light for all the people of Britain. Such a document would also have to embed the separation of the Church and State, which is not something that happens at the moment.
    As an atheist, I have no desire to see the Church make/comment on law in this country nor should there be a law of Blasphemy. But there also should be no discrimination against other religions (as occurs with the Catholics not having rights to succession).
    There are so many anomalies as to what constitutes England/Britain that it makes sense to me to tidy things up in these troubled times.

    • Winston Smith
      Posted February 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      A leftie wanting “tidying-up” legislation. Where ahve we heard that before?

  15. lifelogic
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    You say “I think one of the best things the left has done over the last couple of decades is persuade more people in the UK that racism is unacceptable. The UK is a more tolerant and better place today.”

    But it was not the left that did this the left have incubated the problem. All right thinking people judge people as individuals. The left on the other hand wants positive discrimination (which is blatant negative discrimination for the non selected groups). They want laws against free speech to prevent people passing comments on others beliefs lest they are offended. They want different planning law for some groups and silly forms everywhere with intrusive ethnic questions. And all administered at huge cost by state employees with the main result that racism increases as people think, often quite rightly, that some are treated better by the state than they are due to state racism.

    • lifelogic
      Posted February 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Some good news at last I hear that CRB check are (in part) going so that is hip packs, the M4 bus lane and CRB checks. Better than nothing I suppose for 9 months.

  16. backofanenvelope
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    It’s interesting isn’t it – listening to politicians lecturing the third world migrants to get “integrated”. Integration is a two-way sort of thing. What if the ordinary people of this country don’t want to be integrated. Perhaps someone should ask them.

  17. Posted February 5, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    “So what is the essence of Britishness, what are the UK principles that we should believe in and enforce. I think they are these:”

    May I suggest the words of Mrs Patrick Campbell:

    “Does it really matter what these affectionate people do — so long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses!”

    It is not my place to interfere in the law-abiding private lives of others, immigrant or otherwise, nor too is it the immigrants place to interfere in my private life, particularly in advocating change to what constitutes law-abiding activity.

  18. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    And ABOVE ALL we don’t to God.

  19. Helen
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    The British are too anti-English to pretend they have England’s best interests at heart.

    • Posted February 6, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Totally agree. It’s amazing isn’t it, even the Conservative party are afraid to speak up for England and have proved they are no less anti-English than the Labour Government. David Cameron’s speech on reform of the public services recently did not mention the word England once even though 95% of what he said only applies to England. This is quite deliberate as it then implies that the whole UK will be affected, which it will not of course. Not one MP with an English seat has got the guts to stand up and ask why only students in England will end up with crippling debts if they go to university, or why only students in England will lose their EMA, nowhere else, or why only English forests are to be sold off. What’s more, not one of them has ever stood up and asked what right those MPs with non-English seats have to vote on these matters when they only affect England and not their constituents. The Scots have their own parliament, the Welsh & NI their assembly, all standing up for their constituents’ interests, and theirs alone. The English? Well we have a UK parliament putting the inerests of the UK before England. It would seem there is no-one standing up for England. The Conservative Party are treating England with the same contempt as the last lot.

  20. Mr J Leslie Smith
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    We need a sense of “Spirit” back in our Society, something bigger than one person, being part of a huge Nation, the British. As a Celt, I know who I am.. I hold close emotional and cultural ties to the Celtic Tigers of Wales, where I was born, to Ireland, where my Father was born to Scotland, where my Grand Father was born and worked in the ship yards of Glasgow. Four Generations back my Tribe come from Islay, again Celtic. It is the English who are confused, who have had their language hi jacked and changed by International Media and Trade. Our Politicians need to learn a new language, a new form of communication which toches a common chord ansd spirit across the British Nation as a whole. Few of you touch the “Pulse of the Nation” as Enoch Powell once did. There was a great Communicator, a man who truly knew the meaning of language. Your words will only have juice when your own conviction and deep understanding is behind them

    • Winston Smith
      Posted February 7, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      The Scots and the Irish owe more to Nordic descendents than they do to the Celts. The mythical Celtic divide between Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and England is propagated by the Left to cement victimhood and allow for discrimination against English residents, of which we are all aware of.

  21. rotund
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood Sir…

    If I may post two quotes, the first being Mr Cameron and the second a quote from your article above and I have a question to follow.

    1.’…Not for the first time, I found myself thinking that it is mainstream Britain which needs to integrate more with the British Asian (moslem) way of life, not the other way around. If we want to remind ourselves of British values – hospitality, tolerance and generosity to name just three – there are plenty of British Moslems ready to show us what those things really mean”.

    – David Cameron May 2007

    2.’If The Prime Minister’s speech is to succeed, it needs to be seen as a call for strong moderate British values to unite a nation.’

    I may not be seeing this the ‘right’ way of course but what would this unified amalgam look like? or be hoped for given the above?.

    I may be seeing shadows where none exist of course but there is a distinct collision of ideology here somewhere surely?

    How can any stance be taken in opposition to the current form of multiculturalism whilst continuing to accept a flood of unassimilable people?

    Reply: I do not accept your emotive language about current immigration policy. The aim is to control the numbers of new arrivals who are welcomed here. Many who come here to work and settle want to be part of the UK and wish to enjoy the British way of life.

  22. Posted February 6, 2011 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    There is something else that I believe that stands out about the British, that is distinctive. We play by the rules and are (traditionally) honourable in upholding contracts on a handshake. It works to our disadvantage where rules and taxes are onerous, or only where rules that can be fully enforced are adhered to.

  23. Posted February 6, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    So John Redwood is keen on “identity” all of a sudden. Yes, that why one of the main BNP publications has been entitled “Identity” for the last decade.

    He “condemns extremism of all types”. What, so he’d have condemned the idea that the World went round the Sun in the days when everyone thought the World was at the centre of the Universe?

    He claims that minorities do not “do not have the right to resort to violence”.( argues that UK has been giving in to undemocratic pressures-ed)Anyway, congratulations to David Cameron and the Tory Party for making substantial moves towards the ideas that the BNP have been promoting for years. Though of course the Tory Party are far too hypocritical to admit that this is what they are doing. Sometimes the peasants possess more wisdom than Oxbridge educated pseudo sophisticates.

    Reply: It would have been great to challenge the idea that the sun went round the world, if uncomfortable at the time. The Conservatives are not moving towards the BNP, as we disagree with many of their statements and approaches to politics.

    • Posted February 6, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      A sure sign of extremism is to point to superficial similarities, over the substantive ones. In this case the use of a word – Identity – over these points of difference with the BNP.

      1. Praising the left for making racism unacceptable.
      2. “we should also dislike those who think there is a single or pure British way which they wish to enforce.” Sounds like a dig at the BNP.
      3. The ideas of Britain having emerged into a tolerant democracy.
      4. Anyone who was moving towards the BNP position would not have written this posting:-
      http://www.johnredwoodsdiary.com/2011/02/05/the-tyranny-of-ideas/

      I categorize extremism as falling two types. The first is the numerical type – those who hold ideas distinct from the numerical majority, or mainstream. The second is those who hold ideas that cannot be substantiated by rational argument, or who are highly intolerant of others.
      I believe that John Redwood has sometimes taken extreme positions of the first type – usually for well-argued reasons. The BNP falls into the second category.

  24. Alte Fritz
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    The decline of racism is due not to legislation and governemnt agencies, but to people living far more open lives and experiencing the outside world in peace rather than at war.

    One contributor speaks of Lancashire towns with big Asian minorities. I live in one such town. Whilst there is still bigotry, the suspicion with which the muslim population is viewed is manifested by people who are not, as a rule, bigotted. There is next to no social interaction between white amd muslim populations.

    No government can force different groups to share values. The best it can do is remove obvious sources of friction such as the type of faith school recently highlighted on Panorama. I am pessimistic about the long term because I think that we are destined to be a fragmented society of the sort not really known in England, at least, since pre Conquest times when mutually hostile communities lived in relative proximity.

    What price progress?

  25. John B
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    The Left does not persuade it browbeats. When has bullying ever had a positive result?

    All it has succeeded in doing is driving racism, which now has such a wide definition as to be almost meaningless, underground and provoking the tolerant to contrariness.

    In a democracy, laws should not and cannot drive the public mood, they should only ever reflect and endorse it: supposedly that is what Parliament is for.

    That politicians are incapable of understanding this is clear, and means they confuse dictatorship with leadership.

    Thus we have no true democracy or justice, even these nouns are qualified by the adjective “social”, used to imply we are getting the real thin whereas we are getting a substitute.

    The adjective “social” means that which is determined by an intellectual elite for the benefit of the Masses, too stupid to think, say, do and want the right things for themselves.

    How deep the Socialism virus runs in all the political parties.

  26. a-tracy
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I grew up believing that our national identity was our British work ethic; banding together in times of adversity (whether personal or national); our desire to help our offspring to advance a step or two up the social ladder; our right to speak our mind; our right to celebrate our national pride; our right to celebrate our institutions (Monarchy, Christianity, just the successes of our nation and the people that have made it great) our common language (even with it’s regional dialects that give people their local clan identity).

    Our work ethic has been diluted by the social state there is just no need to work any more, this was added to with the European social chapter with rights but no responsibilities.

    One reason my daughter didn’t choose to study history was that the history topic was the American West and Medicine through the ages and she’d read through most of that when her brother had studied the topics a couple of years before, she is self studying the history of music instead.

    We’ve removed our industrial icons, our designer icons, our great merchants, our traders, explorers, and replaced them with the x-factor and individuals like Kerry Catona who should be admired for turning her life around having wasted many of her opportunties.

    If the only thing left of our English pride that binds us as a full inclusive nation is sport then I feel sorry for us all (our nation is divided more thanks to devolution), how will we get great athletes when their skill is seen as less desirable. The English football team have been a shower they just don’t have the need to win.

    Our music industry is one of our top exports yet we can’t find any top musicians willing to perform in the Eurovision song contest – it doesn’t matter if the other nations don’t vote for them if they perform a top rate song that is good enough to sell millions in the UK – the fact UK acts won’t enter to represent our Country is shameful they should be fighting each other to represent the UK and I just believe this sums up our collective apathy. This is what the Eurosceptics should be concentrating on, creating a positive UK identity for our people to feel proud of instead of just talking negatively all the time.

  27. Bazman
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    The identity of Britain can be seen as a conservative hegemony. The Conservative party having been in power for the most time in the last hundred years. Britain has fought most of the major powers of the world at some point usually in alliance with other countries except the Falklands war which was a pretty close call. France being the traditional enemy despite being inextricably linked. God created the English channel to keep the French out of England and then some fool went and built a tunnel. French market sellers in England often look at me like a long lost brother and my real name is instantly recognisable as French.

  28. Posted February 6, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    “We settle our difference through wrestling words and votes, not arms and bullets” – How conveniently are we forgetting the Iraq War? I guess there needs to be added a caveat to your idea of Britishness – as and when it suits us.

  29. Winston Smith
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Mr redwood, I have come to respect your writings on this blog, particularly on economic issues, but here you are appear a little out of depth. You have already conceded righteousness to the Left in the first paragraph. Yours, is a typical middle-class response to an issue where you fear to express your normal logic and intelligence. By believing the Left have created a change in attitude towards racism, you are conceding that their construed myths are true. The Left revise history with the rhetoric that the British people were racist and this has been diminished – not eradicated, as this would mean a reduction in their race industry – through the use of legislation. The British people were and have been extremely tolerant of other races and cultures, far more than virtually any other nationality. The Left use individual examples and revisionist social history to create an atmosphere of prejudice that did not exist. They hypocritically seek to smear a whole population and generations by the actions of a minority at the same time as slandering others for criticising the actions of a minority within their ‘victim’ communities. You should always remember not concede an inch to the cultural Marxists for whimsical expediency. You’ll regret it.

    As for British identity, I believe it is in irrevocable decline. I site a populist example. The Union flag was predominant at England football matches until the 80s. Its is now a rarity and its display will sometimes provoke abuse. Amongst us English peasants, the ‘British’ are now seen as the ruling elite.

  30. John
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    “Find our national identity”

    This article is couched very much in British propagandistic terms although it does , remarkably, include references to English history.

    The fact is I gave up on any attachment to the word British shortly after 1998 when the Scotland and Wales Acts provided Scotland and Wales with parliaments but England was very pointedly excluded from equivalent recognition. England remains effectively an occupied country, occupied by the British state.

    Whenever I see that word British/Britain nowadays I am suspicious . I suspect a con coming on from the London political class and am nearly always correct. The con is usually perpetrated on England.

    I know what my national identity is and its English and not British.

    • Posted February 13, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      Totally agree John, I too used to be British but I now consider myself English. Try and put the English Question to any MP with an English seat and it will draw a blank, they refuse to recognise England except for a very few honourable MPs. If the Conservative party refuse to stand up for us against this discrimination, what chance has England of ever being given equality with the rest of the UK. It seems they are happy for Scotland, Wales and NI to have their own parliament/assembly, making decisions in their interests alone whilst England continues to be governed by a UK government made up of MPs with non-English seats, putting the interests of England last.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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