Is the 'Britishness' debate entirely healthy?
I have an uneasy feeling that a long running virility contest is on the cards over the summer between our party and New Labour about, for want of a better word, "Britishness."
Partly this is a rearguard action by Gordon Brown to get his reply in first to likely criticism about the fact that both he a good proportion of his new cabinet will be Scottish MP's; able to pass laws that affect us in England, but not affecting their own voters in Scotland; but partly it is a response to rising divisions in our society.
Apparently, according to New Labour we are supposed to be proud to be British; but without in any way celebrating British history, ignoring (or even apologising for) the British Empire and not showing any sign of nationalism or jingoism. So 'Britishness' has become a vacuous catch-all term that no-one relates to.
In the real world nationalism and regionalism is on the rise, religious intolerance is rising and more and more citizens say they are 'English', 'Scottish' Welsh' or even 'Muslim' before they would say they were 'British'.
This is a problem of Labours own making. The tendency of the left to only listen to you if you are a member of a minority group have created a society that has become obsessed with what divides us, instead of what unites us.
Instead of being seen as a single nation Labour (ably assisted by the BBC) have been forcing citizens into seeing themselves categorised as 'pensioners', 'gays', 'single parents', 'disabled' , 'immigrants' or dare I say it, 'Scottish' or 'Welsh' instead of being one part of a whole nation of British citizens.
And more divisive still, minority groups keep benefiting from a disproportionate share of attention from Government to the extent that many people feel that the tail has been wagging the dog.
A national identity is the by product of a set of values that apply to all citizens of that nation.
Sadly for the last few years we have been applying different values to different sets of people. Is it any wonder that our national identity is in crisis?