Andy Beckett: Brexit may spell the end of the tabloid version of Englishness. Can Labour redefine it?

Interesting commentary:

For too long, one version of Englishness has dominated British politics. Proud, white, both confident and defensive, often xenophobic, always anti-Europe, this Englishness has changed as little as the tabloid front pages that have bellowed it out for decades. Brexit is one of its greatest victories. The continuing Conservative ascendancy is another.

Even formidable politicians of other parties have struggled to popularise a different national identity. Gordon Brown got lost in well-meaning but unconvincing generalities about the British national character: in 2007, he praised our “tolerance”, “decency”, and love of “fair play” and “liberty”.

Tony Blair tried to adopt the language of conservative patriotism for Labour’s own purposes. One of his election broadcasts in 1997 intercut promises of a national revival with footage of a waking bulldog. Labour won the election, but the idea that national pride could only be expressed through such dated Churchillian symbols was left unchallenged.

Source: Brexit may spell the end of the tabloid version of Englishness. Can Labour redefine it?

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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