There's a really, really odd article on the BBC website by Mark Easton that attempts to portray the census results on national identity as some sort of good news story for Britishness. I hesitate to call it a propaganda piece, but it has to be said that Easton has in the past made no secret of the fact that he considers himself to be British rather than English or Scottish, and he's not exactly shy in this article of praising his own preferred identity to the skies -
"Britishness is attractive to those with a mixed cultural heritage. It has always been an accommodating label, tolerant of complexity and difference."
Any actual evidence to support that rather grandiose claim? Er, nope. The man's entitled to his personal opinion, but whether he's entitled to shove that opinion down the throats of others on a website that is legally bound to be politically neutral is another matter. And Easton gets well and truly into the realms of fantasy when he tries to discern some statistical proof that "attractive, accommodating, tolerant" Britishness is on the march in census results that are, frankly, nothing short of catastrophic for his worldview. 62% of Scottish residents reported that they are Scottish only, 60% of English residents reported that they are English only, and 58% of Welsh residents reported they are Welsh only. Easton acknowledges that this is the first time that the national identity question has been posed and that it is therefore impossible to make direct comparisons with the past - and yet still feels free to jump to the heroic conclusion that the dismally low adherence to a British identity is probably higher than it would have been in previous decades. Oh, and he expects it to get "higher still" (ahem).
"It may be that our increasingly mobile and cosmopolitan society sees the British identity become more popular than it has been in its 300-year history."
WHAT???? Here's a small suggestion, Mark - take a look at some footage of England football fans waving the flag of the whole UK to celebrate their national team becoming world champions in 1966, then look at the sea of St George's Crosses that have dominated England matches since 1996, and then try telling me that we're on the brink of some kind of renaissance of British national identity.
Much of the article clings to the not terribly impressive statistic that young people in England are fractionally more likely to consider themselves British than their elders - while hastily glossing over the fact that the polar opposite is true in Wales, and that the equivalent statistical comparison isn't even available for Scotland and Northern Ireland. Easton seemingly doesn't think this detracts from his argument much. Tell me, Mark - if three of the four component parts of Britishness don't really count for much in your mind, is this identity really what it's billed to be? Or does it just amount to a fluffier version of Englishness?
For my part, I wholeheartedly consider myself British, but I most certainly didn't tick that box as one of my national identities on the census form - because authentic Britishness (as opposed to Greater Englishness) isn't a national identity at all, it's a multi-national identity.
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This tweet from Better Together made me laugh -
"If you're at #cpc13 [Conservative Party Conference] drop by stall 26 and find out about how you can help keep Scotland a strong & secure part of the UK #indyref"
I wonder if the advice at that stall includes the words "defect" and "disband"? You may as well be brutally honest with them, guys...