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Ian

Hasn't there been an exodus of'true blues'from Britain for the last 50 years?It's a pity Gerald Howarth doesn't join them.

Blimpish

Yes, quite so, because our way of life is wholly made up of a few minor microeconomic features of domestic policy which can never be meddled with, at all. Obviously, when people on the Left share their lifelong agony at the continued existence of the monarchy or the insidious grip of Christianity through the Church and the law, they're actually stating a deep patriotic commitment to our way of life. Makes me want to go out and fly our national flag - it's the rainbow one, right?

Shuggy

Ha ha - NHS an interesting example given that it's the second most popular institution in the country. However, since the most popular is the monarchy, your argument - which I assume you meant in a spirit of levity - is really of the same species as that made by the various Tories who have used this opportunity to call for a bit of loyalty and royalty.

The concept of a national identity that has components that everyone can agree on is obviously highly problematic but anyway, I think it's a mistake for people to link a lack of any such identity with terrorism. After all, we have rather a lot of people up here who don't even think of themselves as belonging to Britain at all, but have so far managed to avoid blowing themselves up.

Even if it were desirable, I think people are being rather over-optimistic about what selling a shared notion of Britishness could achieve. The historical trend in Islam, which has rather blown the secularisation thesis out of the window, is that is has proved to be stronger than nationalism.

Blimpish

Shuggy - yes, was meant in a spirit of levity.

There is a difference, though, between (1) somebody who doesn't have any national identity or allegiance, (2) somebody who is more loyal to only one part of that identity; and (3) somebody who openly despises the whole shooting match, favouring foreign loyalties over this country. (1) and (2) is all fine - if not particularly appealing to me, I admit - but (3) is a different matter entirely.

And the secularisation thesis has been blown out of the window by lots of things - it's almost a perfect example of Eurocentricism... Not that I worry about such things, obviously!

Shuggy

Hmmm, while I do agree with you on point 3, I'm concerned about the context of this debate: the concern that people have about British subjects having a loyalty that transcends national ones is a wee bit reminiscent of Bismarck's fear over the loyalty of Catholics to the German state. Apart from anything else, the subsequent Kulturkampf had the opposite effect; it strengthened the sense of religious identity.

I was wondering if you'd agree that the importance of *suffering* for one's faith - a persistent theme in all monotheisms - has been ignored, or at best underestimated, by those proposing the various anti-terror/British identity measures?

This is not to say the nettle shouldn't be grasped, but my present feeling is it needs to be done more *carefully*.

I have a hightened interest in this because of my own attitude towards the question of Scottish nationalism. I am, as you know, unionist. I have English relatives and would be happy to live there, but if I did, no doubt some would question my allegience. For one thing, I'd fail Norman Tebbit's infamous cricket test :-)

Karol

Obviously deportation is ridiculous but I think there should be some shunning or at least disapproval of people who are so at odds with British values. I'm a conservative but I'm actually looking at this from the liberal standpoint: if someone thinks it's proper to consider whether gays should be killed by dropping a wall on them or whether they should be buried up to their head and stoned to death, they don't embrace British values. Don't kick him out but don't pretend it's ok, and it's just a different culture. It's wrong. Say so.

In the book Freakanomics, the author writes a lot about the KKK in the US and how it was ultimately peoples' disapproval that brought them down. If we're walking on eggshells, trying not to hurt any groups' feelings, you can have a situation like the Klan. It's the rejection of the idea that everything is ok that works to end extremism.

Shuggy

"Obviously deportation is ridiculous"

Is it? Personally, I thought that was the *least* ridiculous part of the government's suggestions.

The Digester

Shuggy - Scotland have a cricket team???

Shuggy

"Scotland have a cricket team???"

Apparently - the whole national team plays against English counties, which illustrates the state of the sport up here. Actually, I was thinking more of football: much as I like the English, I never want them to win the world cup - not least because we'd never hear the end of it :-)

Blimpish

Shuggy: closer to home, all the way through the Gordon Riots and into the twentieth century there was the dual loyalty charge against RCs here. Yes, it is potentially problematic - but, that would only apply here if Howarth (or anybody) said that being Muslim was incompatible with British citizenship; but as far as I could see he was referring to the loons who go on TV and say their citizenship is a convenience and they hate this country, etc. So although I agree with you that we have to be careful, I'd put the emphasis on 'openly' in (3) above - indifference I can tolerate, but open hatred and favouring of external groups against this country is not ok.

Very good point you make about avoiding 'suffering', by the way. And 2006 will be a great year for British football, as all the nations celebrate a victorious English campaign... ok, maybe not.

Karol: is it the gay-bashing in general that's the problem, or the method? If a senior Christian churchman advocated criminal penalties for sodomy would that count too? This is where the 'British values' stuff runs aground for me, but I think it applies in the US too - those values often smack of today's mores, which are liberal in origin rather than necessarily part of the national tradition (this isn't to say they're wrong, only to point it out). I recall reading that Thomas Jefferson was a progressive on sodomy, because he favoured castration rather than exectuion as the other Founding Fathers did - where for him?

dearieme

"state-funded". Balls; they are funded by me - all the state does is run them badly and take a grotesquely large rake-off on the costs.

Phil Hunt

Blimpish: indifference I can tolerate, but open hatred and favouring of external groups against this country is not ok

I'd go along with that. (If we deported people for being indifferent to Britain's institutions, we'd have to deport about 10 million people).

Shuggy: I'm concerned about the context of this debate: the concern that people have about British subjects having a loyalty that transcends national ones is a wee bit reminiscent of Bismarck's fear over the loyalty of Catholics to the German state.

Indeed. There are lots of Catholics in Northern Ireland who probably don't have a great deal of loyalty to the British state. And we have the leader of the opposition, who is Jewish: does that mean some of his loyalty will be to Judaism and Israel? Perhaps not, but with Britain having a role on the Middle East, if Howard were PM, some people would raise questions aboujt his loyalties.

I would also like to distinguish between loyalty towards the British state and the British people/nation. I have a good deal more of the latter than the former, and I expect many others do too.

Blimpish

Only 10 million?

EU Serf

You forgot one very important institution.

Westminster.

We can kick out of the country those who thing it can be replaced by Strasbourg.

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