Sunday, June 11, 2006

flagging up the identity crisis

I've written a piece about how the devolution of the other UK countries has pushed the English away from confusing the terms 'English' and 'British', and how all those World Cup England flags are helping the English to understand their national identity.

Here's some excerpts:

Slovenian or Polish governments may sell EU membership to their electorate as an equal footing with Germany and France, there may even have been the odd Uzbek who thought they’d get a good bargain from Soviet status, but if there’s a clash of interests there’s little doubt who’ll get the benefit. In the same way, for all the talk of integration, there has always been one dominant nation in the British union.

This has discouraged the English from thinking clearly on the issue and differentiating between England and Britain. Intelligent and educated English people will use the terms English and British interchangeably, often switching from one to the other in a single sentence, even though the words refer to very different bodies of land and people...

The English having their own national symbols and a clear sense of what they are (and what they are not) goes some way towards sorting all this out. The flags on the cars are a welcome catalyst.

The full thing (and the place to leave any Comments) is over on The Sharpener under the title Flagging Up The Identity Crisis.