The new British Social Attitudes Report finds a decline in Britishness caused not by the Scots and the Welsh but by a rise in the number of er British people throwing off that title. Sloughing off the Union Flag cocoon, they’ve found new colouring in the St. George cross.
Like most surveys, this probably comes as no surprise. On driving down to Cardiff, via Blackpool in the run up to the world cup last year, our in-car entertainment was counting the thousands of English flags draped over pubs, hanging off balconies, adorning vehicles.
I welcome the English discovering their nationality. I don’t have to engage with it more than I want to, but perhaps we can learn something from them. They can also learn from us. What makes Scottish Nationalism (not the same as the SNP) so bearable is that it is fairly broad minded. Whatever you think about the SNP it’s not the BNP (though I assume they’ll be rebranding as the ENP shortly). The pettiness, the hatred, the xenophobia, all are absent from the Scottish picture. No doubt this is because the possibility of Scottish independence keeps the SNP sensible, wheras the BNP are still at the renegade/persecuted/outcast phase of political development.
Or, perhaps its because we absorb too much news. One of the reports other findings is that people who conume more news have a greater respect for people with different political convictions. By seeing the English as part of the equation that will unlock the Union, I’m happy to give them just as much respect as they want, and as much encouragement to find themselves as they need. All I ask is they don’t let their residual Britishness get in our way.