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5 June, 2007

Quiet pride

Gentle, undemanding viewing, perhaps, but I can't help agreeing with the Guardian that David Dimbleby's new TV series 'How We Built Britain' is a valid "celebration of Britishness" – far more so than the laboured and grossly misguided efforts of ministers to manufacture celebration in the form of a national day.

The key point is that Dimbleby doesn't emphasise the Britishness; his series is about stunning architecture which just happens to be in the UK. The latter aspect becomes apparent without needing to be stressed. Very British.

For the sake of my blood pressure, I'm not going to rant about the proposed 'Britain Day', but a few brief thoughts:

  • It's supposed to be about Britain as a whole, emphatically not only England, so 23 April and the State Opening of Parliament are inappropriate dates. An English 'national' day is of no greater relevance to non-English Brits like me than 4 or 14 July. If, as I expect, the event becomes hijacked by the English, it will actually decrease the (mythical) unity of the UK.
  • I don't like the idea of commemorating the dates of military events such as Trafalgar, Waterloo or D-Day. Saying 'the UK is great' is one thing, but saying 'the UK is better than x, and we proved it in blood' is quite another.
  • The masses might like an additional statutory holiday (I wouldn't), but I doubt so many will be interested in specific community-orientated events; they'll merely be in favour of an extra day to use as they wish.
  • The traits to be celebrated are community spirit and loyalty to the state. **** that.

As I've said before in the context of flags, it's simply not British to affirm 'Britishness'; by its very nature British national pride is understated. It's not something we shout about, and certainly not something to impose on immigrants.

[Update 29/10/08: the idea of a 'national day' has been quietly dropped.]


'Britishness' is such a diffuse concept that I'm tempted to say it doesn't exist. What is British? I've never been able to give myself a completly satisfactory answer.'Fair play' almost ticks all the boxes however there are, of course, things that we have done and are doing that are distictivly unfair; pretty much all the stiff we did when we had an empire falls in this category.

The only thing I see as really British is indifference, and I don't mean this in a bad way. British people really don't care what you do with your life as long as you don't affect other people's lives in a negative way. Homosexual? We don't care. Different race? We don't care. Obviouslty some people do care, Britain can't claim to be a land free of morons however, these religious and political fanatics are so in the minority as to make them negligible in the greater sense of a national identity.

As for a British day, I agree. Stupid idea. I think we should have more holidays to bring us closer to the average amount of holidays however the system you suggest in the blog entry you link to is much better then having another day when everyone stays at home.

Posted by AKALucifer at June 5, 2007 08:24 PM
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