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English and Englishness, continued

On 16 Feb 2010 at 10:28pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
Toque - I thought at first you were a rampant racsit, but you have some valid points. Re posting what I found interesting.

"Just to elaborate on why I think it is important to make a distinction between an ethnic identity and a national identity >>> Not everyone can be English by ethnicity (and would not want to be) but everyone can be English by allegiance, loyalty and by having a sense of belonging, which is national identity.
The BNP and others like them would have us believe that only certain people can be English. I disagree, I want everyone who lives here to be English and to be proud to call themselves English, even if they are not ethnically English. The political denial of England by Labour and the Tories, and their obsessive focus on Britishness (mostly in England), is an obstacle to this."

I think you might be interested in what Billy Bragg has to say on this - he too is questioning the whole question of what it means to be English and trying to reclaim that identity from the BNP and John Major cricket/village green ideal into something that is more approximate to what you talk about and also in terms of white working class/ 1950's etc, but to trying to forge a modern English identity that is definitely also part of the British experience.
It's also very potent ideas in terms of imagery and has been influential and appropriated into much recent popular culture - see Morrisey and The Smiths and also see Doves for their use of what constitues Englishness and a particular northern working class Englishness in the imagery they use in their videos.
What's also interesting to me is what is the rural image and experience of Englishness, given the depressed state of farming and the demise of many market towns into yet another homogenous satellite of major cities ? Maybe it's the natural conclusion of the industrial revolution ?
On 16 Feb 2010 at 11:47pm Toque wrote:
Thanks for not thinking I'm a rabid racist. Having been featured on the BNP's website as a figure of hate, I think it's safe to say that I'm not that. Though it's a shame that being passionate about the culture and democracy of your country arouses such suspicions in people.

I've read Billy Bragg's 'Progressive Patriot' and although it's interesting, from a practical political standpoint it's mostly b0llocks.

At one point Bragg describes an anti-BNP march in Shaftsbury in which 200 anti-racists marched with anti-racism placards against a lone BNP member who was walking backwards up the hill waving a couple of plastic-moulded English car-flags. Bragg wondered what the effect on the BNP supporter would be if he had seen 'two hundred people coming towards him, half of them holding anti-BNP placards, the other half carrying their England flags'. Later Bragg muses upon the reclamation of the English flag from racists by English sports fans but we are left totally in the dark as to how his "progressive patriotism" might help speed this process. I imagine that the effect of confronting the BNPer with a sea of English flags would have been devastating - leaving him with no ideological bolthole, no point of reference - but unfortunately the limits of Bragg's progressiveness mean that we will never know. Anti-fascists don't carry English flags because they are embarrassed by them, which is part of the problem - they cede ownership of Englishness to the likes of the BNP. It's all very well to believe in reclaiming the flag but leaving the job to be done by sports fans - leaving the definitive English icon to be waved only in moments of sporting tribalism or racism - whilst failing to offer any case for civic patriotism in which Englishness can be expressed through citizenship and involvement in English political and cultural institutions leaves me extremely underwhelmed at the scope of Bragg's ambition.

Don't get me wrong, Billy is a nice bloke, I met him at the Convention on Modern Liberty last year, and I like some of his music. But if he wants to create a progressive 'new' England he needs to stop yapping on about it and come up with some solutions. We need (by we I mean the English in all our diversity), like any modern nation, our own national parliament and government. We should all be English in one crucial respect - through the ballot box in elections to an English parliament.

The one thing that I agree strongly with Bragg about is the need for a specifically English anthem. And like Bragg I believe that the English national anthem should be Jerusalem (Blake's "England's Mountains Green" are the South Downs for those who didn't know). I don't arrive at this position because I'm a republican (I'm fairly ambivalent towards the Monarchy) but because I find it ludicrous to sit at Murrayfield listening to thousands of Scots booing the British national anthem because it is also the English national anthem. It's just so stupid! I also find the forlock-tugging dirge that is God Save the Queen completely uninspiring.

We have to start being English first, and British second.

This is good for us as 'the English' but it's also good for the Scots, Welsh and Irish because it allows them equal ownership of Britishness. At the moment most things British also fulfill an English function.

Ed Can Do, at the end of the last thread, is correct. England should stop subsidising Scotland to the extent that it does. As a United Kingdom we have a responsibility to each other, but the Welsh Assembly's recent Holtham Commission calculated that Scotland is over-funded to the tune of 4.5bn a year. In other words, if instead of the population-based Barnett Formula we had a needs-based formula (based on what people actually need) Scotland would receive £4.5bn less than it does now.

Let me put that in context. 4.5bn is over twice as much as Gordon lost selling off the country's centuries-old gold reserves, and more than the Tories' "Black Wednesday" that cost the taxpayer 3.3 billion.

Brixtonbelle, if you want to read a great contemporary book on England, then try Paul Kingsnorth's "Real England: A Battle Against the Bland". That's my kind of English nationalism. If you're interested less in cultural nationalism and more inclined towards political nationalism, then Richard Weight's "Patriots" and Tom Nairn's "After Britain" are excellent.
On 16 Feb 2010 at 11:50pm Toque wrote:
BTW, Bragg was on the Review Show the other night over-intellectualising an essentially simple problem.
On 17 Feb 2010 at 12:45am Billy Bunter wrote:
That well known crusader of the working class, now living in a two million pound house on a cliff top in Dorset. How very urban.
On 17 Feb 2010 at 5:10pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
and why should it be ?
On 17 Feb 2010 at 7:23pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
He still drinks in the village pub though!
On 17 Feb 2010 at 10:15pm Norman Tebbit wrote:
I'm afraid Bragg and all the other wealthy commies (Scargill et al) are totally out of touch (and always have been) with the working class. Most do not sympathise with left wing ideology in the slightest (why does the BNP do well in northern working class town?). They certainly don't like being lectured by middle class lefties who live nice middle class lives far removed from life on crime ridden estate infested with immigrants. Union membership has dwindled to such an extent that they've had to amalgamate. Stripped of all power by Thatcher, now no more than a laughable relic of the disasterous Seventies.
So, let's all listen to Comrade Bragg and all that he has to say about being English, 'cause let's face Bill, the 'lefty' thing is dead.
On 17 Feb 2010 at 11:19pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
As I said before - nothing's too good for the workers. I'm all in favour of 'champagne socialism' for everyone.
We all want to live in decent houses, in a nice environment, with good schools and opportunities for our kids, no hungry mouths, decent health, etc. Who wouldn't ? Doesn't mean you have to be a rampant right wing to enjoy that. And you don't have to be poor to be a 'commie' or to empathise with the poor and want to improve living conditions for everyone. There is no contradiction, it's about getting the best for everyone, not the worst.
On 18 Feb 2010 at 8:14am Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
I agree, BB. Ideally, everyone should be able to live somewhere as nice as Burton Bradstock, or Lewes (not that they'd all want to). If less inequality means a better standard of living for more people, I'm all for it.
On 18 Feb 2010 at 9:11am Margaret Thatcher wrote:
Yes Brixtonbelle, it would be wonderful if we could live in some kind of Utopia where everyone has everything they could possibly want. The problem is finding the means to that end. Socialism does not appear to be the answer. As I am alleged once to have said:
"The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money".
Our current prime minister has demonstrated this simple fact most admirably.
On 18 Feb 2010 at 10:43am Sherlock wrote:
Yes Margaret, but that's because you mistakenly believe the Labour party's watered-down version of socialism - capitalism with reforms paid for out of taxing business. Socialism is an entirely different system from capitalism. Perhaps you could read a book or two in your spare time.
On 18 Feb 2010 at 1:08pm Prick Stein wrote:
Lets, to quote those well known philosophers Aerosmith, "Eat the Rich". There you go problem solved!
On 19 Feb 2010 at 1:36am Smiler wrote:
A bubble of an interesting thread burst by one prick with nothing to say
On 19 Feb 2010 at 1:08pm Prick Stein wrote:
Interesting?! No just pretentious and pompous!
On 19 Feb 2010 at 1:10pm Normal person wrote:
Quite agree...all this politics twaddle is middle class smeg
On 19 Feb 2010 at 1:18pm Taff wrote:
MT, since when has this current Labour government been socialist!
Can our schools have their milk back please?
On 19 Feb 2010 at 2:36pm Bored wrote:
shut it...
On 19 Feb 2010 at 9:18pm Margaret Thatcher wrote:
Well, the above experiment didn't turn out too well did it, Sherlock? Or maybe that was the wrong kind of socialism? I am a very busy lady, so there is a limit to how much I can read in any given week. But if you could point me towards a book that explains how socialism can deliver us from evil and make everyone happy, then I will do my best to fit it in.
On 19 Feb 2010 at 10:06pm Norman Tebbit wrote:
That's a great piece of video propagander. Unfortunatly the reality was rather different. Queue up for hours to buy anything, everything they manufactured was cr@p (lada anyone?), a space program that now relies on weathy 'space tourists' to pay for it self, and not forgetting the lethal nuclear power program. I'm not supprised the people of the Soviet Union were in tears when it all ended.
On 19 Feb 2010 at 11:04pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
"The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money".says Magaret Thatcher.
I want the best for everyone. Unfortunately it's not working in the current system, which I would call 'capitalism with knobs on' given how in thrall to 'the market' we are. You can hardly call 'New Labour' socialist. Trouble is capitalism doesn't work for the majority of people...so what else can we try ?
Oh and for anyone who doesn't like talking politics, start another thread about something you would like to discuss. Hmm why not try, parking, planning, bonfire for starters ?
On 20 Feb 2010 at 12:38am Fast Tony wrote:
The system works for those that are prepared to make it work. Nothing's free, nothing's for ever. If you're one of the bottom feeders then life will be sh1t, living off goverment charity (my tax dough), watching daytime tv. You get what you deserve (fu.ck all). Opportunity exists for everyone, it is not exclusive. It's your life and it's quite short. Forget all this 'equallity for all' b0ll0x 'cause the real world 'aint like that. Don't wake up one morning in thirty years time and wonder why you're still living in a council flat, change your life now.
ps. people like brixtonbelle really couldn't give a fuc'k about you, despite what they say. Trendy though. innit.
On 20 Feb 2010 at 11:36am Local wrote:
I suppose one of the worst by-products of capitalism is that it produces bitter and spiteful people like Fast Tony, who clearly has a lot in his past that he's ashamed of.
On 20 Feb 2010 at 12:23pm Another local wrote:
Fast Tony seems to talk a lot of sense and doesn't sound at all spiteful or bitter, you get what you work for in this life!!
On 20 Feb 2010 at 6:49pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
No, fast Tony, I couldn't give a flying fu.ck about you, but basic humanity means I DO care about people who genuinely can't help themselves. And frankly saying these sorts of things is extermely unfashionable and not trendy at all...
I also believe we need a complete overhaul of our political system and am pretty cynical about the role and effect politicians have in our society. I don't have any easy solutions but truly believe that with basic decency, basic humanity and true oppurtunity for all in a democratic society, we can all improve our lives.
There are those who need extra help out of the starting blocks though. If every child was given the advantages and investment in their lives that David Cameron has had, that would be a start. Despite the credit crunch and national debt we are still one of the richest nations in the world and it's a disgrace the 30 pc of children are still living in poverty.
On 20 Feb 2010 at 10:24pm Fast Tony wrote:
Ok BB you say you don't have any solutions. Well, as you live on a nice Edwardian terrace overlooking a picturesque park in one of the more affluent parts of town, I'm guesssing you are well above average in the wealth department. Behind your house live many 'disadvantaged' people. You could probably say that most of the residents of Ousedale flats are either on benefits or earn well below the average wage. So, why don't you spend a morning sticking a fifty pound note through every letter box on the estate? That would help most of them for a day or two. Rather than spouting on here how unfair the system is why not do something positive?
I think Cameron is a complete knob, but you can't complain about what he was born into. You obviously want every kid to go to Eton then Oxbridge.
I grew up in a household where my parents had low paid jobs (though above the benefit threshold) and spent most of their lives struggling financialy. Thus I quickly realised if you want a better life you've got to go and get it, it won't be given to you by anyone.
Yes we are one of the richest countries, but our poor aren't quite the same as the poor in, lets say, India. And as the benfit system currently eats up 7.25% of GDP I think that's quite enough money paying people to watch television. Uncomfortable reading for you BB, all true though.
On 21 Feb 2010 at 6:56pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
Fast Tony - it's disturbing to say the least that you think you know where I live. FYi I don't live in a nice Edwardian terrace, I'm renting. You presume I sit here and pontificate without knowing how I earn my living or how I spend it, nor what I do for other people. You also presume I have plenty of disposable income, which I don't. Stop guessing and attacking me and make a point without it being personal.
On 21 Feb 2010 at 8:59pm Fast Tony wrote:
So, you don't live in Bradford Road (or very near) then?
Amongst the drivel that you mostly post, now and again you reveal personal infomation (like most do) on this forum. Easy, really.
As for personal attacks, you seem to be quite good at them when refering to Mr Sugarman. What's he done to you? I think you're a hypocrite, like all socialists. Nothing personal, dear.
On 21 Feb 2010 at 10:05pm Alert wrote:
You are obviously a potential stalker, deeply suspect and very very sad. How much time did you spend tracking BB's posts on this forum to come up with your information ? Weirdo.
On 21 Feb 2010 at 11:51pm The Tooth Fairy wrote:
Even I wouldn't stoop that low!
On 22 Feb 2010 at 12:55am The Tooth Fairy wrote:
No, but you obviously stoop low enough to post under my moniker. Get your own, faggot.
On 22 Feb 2010 at 9:49pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
Aha. Fat Tony, you are really Fat Tory.
By the way I live in Neville. And Pells. Or maybe Southover. Or Landport. Or Winterbourne. Or Wallands. Hmm Maybe its Cliffe or Malling. Who Knows ? Only me
On 23 Feb 2010 at 8:40am Fast Tony wrote:
You live in Landport? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahhahahahhahah
I grew up there dear, and believe me there 'aint no middle class pussies like you down there!
Bradford Road, I could tell you the number if you want me to ?
On 23 Feb 2010 at 11:46pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
Do tell - as you seem to be completely obsessed with me. Then you can hang around outside whilst the occupiers of that residence call the police for having a suspicious -looking fat tory lurking outside. They might even take you to a very nice place called the loony bin if you ask them nicely...

On 24 Feb 2010 at 10:56pm Oh Dear wrote:
'the loony bin'? I didn't realise people still used terms like this. Quaint and offensive. Do you call your black neighbour 'chalky'?
On 25 Feb 2010 at 11:14am Brixtonbelle wrote:
It was 2010 last time I looked. I don't claim to be pc, but then us cliched 'middle class leftie knit your own string guardian readers' can't be perfect. And no I don't call my black neighbour 'Chalky', that's not their name.
I apologise to anyone with mental health issues reading this who may have taken offence....that's probably 1 in 3 people on this forum if national statistics are anything to go by....
On 25 Feb 2010 at 10:28pm The Tooth Fairy wrote:
No bb, it's not 'string knitting' it's yogurt knitting. Therefore you are a Guardian reading, left wing, middle class, down from London, YOGURT KNITTING, stick your nose in everything, have to get the last word in, live in the Wallands, work in IT, Audi driving sort of person Lewesians really tend to like.

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