:: Tuesday, August 03, 2004 ::

Take down the Union Jack


Slaying the Racist Dragon

Returning to a theme that this blog discussed during the Euro 2004 tournament, Billy Bragg has an article on England, nationalism and the reclamation of the St.Georges Cross in Red Pepper this month. Well worth reading.

I am well aware that this is a difficult subject. Over the years the left has declined to contest this ground with the far right. Unfortunately, this has had the effect of allowing the racists to define who is and who is not English. Our approach to this issue needs to change because, whether we like it or not, the rise of Ukip has put nationalism on the agenda. When the working classes raise the flag of St George to express their identity, have we nothing to say to them except to condemn them as bigots?

Over the next few years, as Ukip continues to define its idea of society in terms of what it doesn’t like, a space will open up in which to create an alternative identity that exemplifies the things that we do like about ourselves. Just as our Scottish and Welsh neighbours have always defined themselves against the negative aspects of their big neighbour, we now have an opportunity to do something similar.

In Scotland minority political parties have already embraced a new sense of nationalism to draw voters away from the big three parties in support of progressive ideas. The Scottish Socialist Party sees no contradiction in being both nationalist and internationalist. Compare the anti-racist nationalism of the Scottish National Party to the very different position taken by the BNP.

Could a similar transformation occur in England? Obviously, it is a larger country than Scotland and has a far higher degree of multi-ethnicity. On purely demographic terms, the English identity is highly diverse; this is a historical fact that gives us something to build on.

Because of our diversity, it is impossible to imagine a contemporary vision of England that does not reflect the multicultural nature of our society. Equally, we have to accept that multiculturalism, by its very nature, must make room for everyone to express their culture, including the English.

:: Alister | 3:20 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | |


Billy Bragg worries this topic (from the gritty urban surroundings of Dorset) like a dog with a bone.

I have a large post on the subject at


By Blogger Laban, at 3:33 pm  

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