Tuesday, June 05, 2007
National Day Idea Likely to end up a Turkey
So a national day, along the lines of Australia Day (see picture) is suggested. Will the idea fly? I can see the rationale and support the underlying sentiments of promoting integration but all I can think of at the moment is reasons why it won't work:
1. The idea of Britishness is currently threatening to disintegrate as a result of nationalism in Scotland and Wales, not to mention the ever more emergent English variety.
2. Most countries with national days use them to celebrate some signal moment in their history, for example Norway's May 14th national day, celebrates its constitution drawn up in 1814 when it split from Denmark; in the same way, the 4th July marks American independence from Britain in 1776. Because Britain now has a longish history of unity such celebrations seem much less appropriate.
3.'Nationalism' is not a sentiment that comes naturally to the British; our history gives us a sense of identity which is quite secure and, often in a somewhat superior fashion, we tend to deprecate those younger nations- especially the USA- which we feel indulge in slightly vulgar displays of over the top nationalism(eg 'USA!, USA!').
4. British people are anything if not perverse. Tell us to feel something we are not inclined to feel- like visiting the Millennium Dome for example- and we'll titter and sneer and the laugh the idea into oblivion.
I suspect that achieving the ends of integrating immigrants and bolstering a national sense of Britishness will have be pursued along more promising lines than this turkey of an idea.
Anybody with political nouse will recognise this idea is borne from Brown's attempts to pacify the English over his identity. Brown's identity is not the problem for me as much as the unfair constitutional settlement the English people are subjected to. Better he put his effort into changing this settlement - ie abolishing the Scottish and Welsh pseudo-Parliaments and bringing disloyal elements into line - than messing around with such silly ideas as British National Day.
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