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Define 'britishness'

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Monday 8 August 2005 11.42pm

I've been listening with growing incredulity to the claptrap being spouted by our elected representatives on the subject of 'britishness' and, as yet, I haven't heard anything which could be seen to be exclusively 'british'.

Can anyone help me out? What is this 'britishness'?

The usual warm greetings to all.

Tuesday 9 August 2005 9.43am
Claptrap it may be, but at least for once they are not promoting devolution - or rather federalisation. Londonishness, or something.

A belief in the free market and small government would be my starting definition. Something tells me that you might not agree...
Tuesday 9 August 2005 10.21am

Interesting idea but, given my previous rant, you are right that I certainly wouldn't agree that 'small government' is something practiced here. As for the free market, Japan? America? I'm sure that free market aspirations are common to many countries although we only discovered (possibly re-discovered?) it post-Thatcher.

But it does make the point - how are we differentiated from other countries? Not by these features.

Oceans of smoochies.

Tuesday 9 August 2005 10.28am
'britishness'; isn't that just a typo for 'brutishness?
Tuesday 9 August 2005 10.36am
May I recommend an excellent book by Kate Fox called "Watching the English" which goes into this subject at great length? (Including why it's called "Watching the English" and not "Watching the British")

I think she summed up British people's defining traits as having a sense of humour, a sense of fair play, and being passive aggressive, . Or something like that; I can't remember all of the details. But it was very thought-provoking.

(Maurits recommended it to me.)

Tuesday 9 August 2005 11.20am
MORI did an international survey for the Royal Society of Arts last year, which came up with:

Overall, there were several values or characteristics which were seen by the vast majority of participants as most likely to reflect “Britishness”. These are:
• Humour;
• Politeness;
• Reserve/uptight/snobbishness;
• Individuality;
• Pride/ bulldog spirit; and
• Tradition/history.
Tuesday 9 August 2005 11.27am
I have noticed that London kids have a real need to know what they are. My own seem to cling to the fact that they are 37.5% Irish, even though this is some way back. There seems to be an assumption that being English is sort of being nothing. A friend's child, who was the only 'English' child in her class, became quite distressed about the fact that she wasn't anything.

On the otherhand there can be real problems when completing monitoring forms for publically funded projects. The funders inevitably want to the ethnicity of participants, yet when you ask kids they tend to say they are English. Fair enough in that this is probably the only country they know. One Albanian kid, who had only been in the country four weeks, did this. I let it be. If he is here and wants to be English, why argue.
Tuesday 9 August 2005 12.55pm
Now, Niall, you see I think that belief in the free market and small government is most definitely a feature of Englishness. That the current Scottish-dominated government may be taking the country away from this is another matter.

I think Sarah is hitting on an interesting aspect where we appear to have failed to instill into our children the feeling that it's good to be British/English. This removal of pride in our nation (encouraged by the Government's desire to federalise the country) is a feature that has led to the allegedly treasonable actions of those bombers.

I do not believe that scattering oceans of smooches wherever you go is an element of the stiff upper lip that is so characteristic of our nation.

I remain et cetera

The Mapmaker
Tuesday 9 August 2005 2.21pm
"the current Scottish-dominated government"

I count 4 Scottish cabinet ministers out of 23 (the list is here: - though I'm unsure about Lord Falconer so maybe it is 5?).

Hardly Scottish-dominated I would have thought.
Tuesday 9 August 2005 7.19pm
Blair (Fettes), Brown (some Gorballs comp?), Falconer (Glenalmond).

That's enough Scots at the very top, given that the Scots have given us the boot! I have no problem with Scots, some of my best friends are scots etc. etc.; it just seems a bit rich that they devolve themselves and insist on running England & Wales too.
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