Tag Archives: english identity

Can an English identity be a liberal one?

I was intrigued by Chris Bowers’ recent post A slogan you might not expect from the Lib Dems and by the comments on it. It revolves around the question of whether a national identity is or can be compatible with liberalism. Some clearly think not, but the comments thread reveals some blockages in debate that we need to clear up before an answer to the question can properly be made.

The first is that in many instances of the debate people speak past one another instead of to one another. What some people see as a statement of legitimacy, others see as a pitch for superiority. If I wave my St George’s flag, I will inevitably be seen by many as being chauvinistic. “Inevitably” means that that is what the current climate presupposes. It is not inherently so, as many liberals show when they say they want their flag back.

The second is that a claim to patriotism is in common discourse confused with nationalism – a belief in the superiority, the exceptionalism of the native race. This is mixed with the discourse of pride. One of the commentators wrote “I am not proud to be English – I am just English”. And another observed that being properly patriotic includes an ability to acknowledge one’s country’s flaws. Space for that acknowledgement seems to be remarkably small in the current climate. But again, that is the current climate. It is possible to argue that the British Empire was “A Bad Thing” and be patriotic.

Posted in News | 14 Comments
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  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 19th Feb - 2:22pm
    Alternatively, in classic Chancellor obfuscation, introduce the new social contribution on all incomes but simultaneously reduce the 12% NI rate!
  • User AvatarMartin 19th Feb - 2:19pm
    Further to Paul Barker's comment: From our Liberal perspective Brexit is clearly wrong from both principled and pragmatic standpoints. However in terms of what is...
  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 19th Feb - 2:19pm
    One obvious solution is to progressively raise the rate of NI above the upper threshold to 12% . The idea that NI is only progressive...
  • User AvatarPhilip Rolle 19th Feb - 1:54pm
    @Laurence Cox Paying extra income tax does not confer enforceable rights. Paying a social insurance premium would. So if an operation was cancelled, a patient...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 19th Feb - 1:47pm
    The reason for our focus on Brexit is that once things start to happen it will be the dominant issue in British Politics, we are...
  • User AvatarAndrew Tampion 19th Feb - 1:46pm
    As a matter of fact none of the candidates to replace David Cameron did argue for a second referendum so the level of support for...