2014 will be the Year of Identity, argues Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, in his Ralph Miliband memorial lecture at the London School of Economics. Addressing the theme ‘Is there a progressive case for national identity?’, Katwala looked at how identity will help to shape key choices about the future of the United Kingdom, Britain’s place in Europe, identity and immigration. Below is the full text of his lecture.
The Discovery Museum in central Newcastle was full with over 100 engaged local people who had travelled from Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough on a cold night to debate what – if anything – it means to be English in the 21st Century north-east, writes Matthew Rhodes.
The issue of northern identity has resurfaced recently. Since the deindustrialisation of the 1980s – and with social mobility reversing at a disturbing rate over the last 30 years – the gap between north and south has grown bigger. With London’s rise as a political and cultural superpower, what are the chances today of another Eddie Waring breaking through and rising to the top, asks Anthony Clavane.
On 10th November thousands of bikers dressed in red rode around the 117-mile clockwise carriageway of the M25 to pay tribute to the war dead on Remembrance Sunday. Anton Shelupanov was one of the participants. Here he tells British Future about what it was like to join the so-called M25 poppy and why commemorating the first world war remains important today.
On Monday 11th November, I have been selected to read The Exhortation at my school’s Remembrance Day service. Are the sufferings of those who lived during the first world war lost on my generation, who are living almost 100 years after its outbreak, asks Matilda Neill.
A year ago, I was angry. Female genital mutilation (FGM) had started to appear in the UK news more and more. In my community though, no one spoke about it. Back in Sierra Leone, where I come from, 94% of girls are cut; I wasn’t an exception. FGM changes you. They say they cut you so you become a woman. In a way it’s true: you lose your innocence in that one moment, writes Sarian Kamara.
Last week British Future director Sunder Katwala wrote an article in the Guardian arguing that people should not feel uncomfortable about celebrating their Englishness, in response to David Edgar's piece about the Festival of Englishness making him feel "queasy". In this guest blog Eddie Bone, campaign director for the campaign for an English parliament, challenges Katwala's article and offers his own argument on the future of Englishness.
The public is often portrayed as opposed to migration, and opinion polls do show it is a key issue for voters. But new research by NIESR, published today, finds that members of the public who work with migrants recognise the need for skilled migration. They also willingly acknowledge that they have benefited, writes Dr Heather Rolfe.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles yesterday announced the winners of a nationwide competition to design a special paving stone to commemorate each of the Victoria Cross (VC) recipients of the first world war, writes Steve Ballinger.
The most surprising aspect of David Edgar's engaged but sceptical take on the Festival of Englishness hosted by British Future and IPPR is his fear that anxious public debates about immigration may reinforce "the idea that deep down, there still ain't no black in the union jack," writes Sunder Katwala.
As part of the Festival of Englishness co-hosted with IPPR, British Future commissioned ICM to conduct polling about English identity to decipher how people feel about the England flag and other hallmarks of English identity. The headline figures make for interesting reading.
This Wednesday 20th November I am going to the People’s History Museum in Manchester. The reason for the visit is to explore Englishness in the north at an event hosted by British Future and IPPR North. As a student of anthropology and a born-and-bred Midlander living in the north, I am fascinated to hear thoughts on whether a national identity pervades across England’s regions, writes Sarah Dickson.
The English see themselves as a nation of charming chancers battling against the odds, misusing French to sound ‘posh’ and sipping cocktails in the local boozer, but certainly no longer snobs. At least that is what our latest polling says ahead of today’s festival of Englishness - with Derek Trotter of "Only Fools and Horses" named as the comedy character that best represents Englishness, writes Steve Ballinger .
According to a poll conducted by ICM for British Future entitled “Is Englishness changing?” the English like to discuss the weather above all else. What other character traits define being English, if anything, asks Jemimah Steinfeld.
England and Arsenal footballer Jack Wilshere this week suggested that only English-born players should be eligible to play for England, pitching into a media debate about which national team the young Manchester United player Adnan Jaznan should play for. His views are out of step with most of the country's sports fans, writes Sunder Katwala.
As a single white man in my twenties, going to see a play about four mothers dealing with their children, relationships and mixed race families was not something I thought I was going to relate to. But thanks to a healthy injection of humour and some sharp social commentary about the UK in general, Adult Supervision had myself and everyone else in the audience engrossed and laughing from start to finish, writes Douglas Jefferson.
Are you a Grumpy Nostalgic or part of team Jam and Jerusalem? Are you a Northern Soul or a Post-National Cosmopolitan? In an article in the Observer, Sunder Katwala outlines the main tribes that reflect our attitudes towards Modern Britain. They divide along various lines according to criteria such as class, place and age, but significantly unite at other points. It is this unity which says a lot about the country today and which should be built upon, writes Katwala.
English identity has become a much more inclusive and welcoming identity, but different attitudes towards Europe now form one of the major differences between English and Scottish nationalism, said Conservative MP John Redwood at today's Englishness festival.
The Conservative Party will never win their first majority in a quarter-century unless they attract new support. This will have to come from new voters whom they traditionally haven’t thought were with them or like them. This challenge, of reaching and winning the support of such voters – in the north, in cities, among young people and ethnic minorities – was discussed at the “Future majority: how can the Tories win in a changing Britain?” event at the Conservative Party Conference, writes Steve Ballinger.
New research published by British Future and ConservativeHome projects that David Cameron could have secured an additional 500,000 votes and formed a majority government in 2010 if he had appealed to ethnic minority voters. Steve Ballinger offers analysis.
Another packed fringe event saw shadow justice minister Sadiq Khan MP, former Lib Dem MP Dr Evan Harris, Zoe Williams from the Guardian and David Lammy MP tackle the question What's the answer to populism?, chaired by British Future's Sunder Katwala, writes Steve Ballinger.
As a practising Muslim I don’t believe that covering a woman’s face is something that Islam requires of her. I also don’t believe it’s fair to say that people who find the face veil threatening or intimidating are simply being racist or Islamophobic I don’t even believe that covering the face is particularly conducive to the country we live in. But then neither is the idea of banning it! writes Rabiha Hannan
The populist challenge comes in response to a political elite that is seen as out of touch and refuses to do what common sense demands. It is an argument about "them and us". And it demands a response which neither changes nor concedes the argument. That was the message of the 'Populism: have the politicians got the message?’ fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat conference earlier this week, writes Steve Ballinger
Retired Wimbledon footballer Vinnie Jones, star of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, has spoken out about England being “past its sell-by date.” In a Radio Times interview, Vinnie says that he would not return to Britain from his current home in Los Angeles as immigration has made the country “unrecognisable”. Steve Ballinger sends him a postcard from England.
Immigration is often among the most heated of public debates. Lord Ashcroft’s new report captures why immigration is such a challenging public issue, for governments of any party, and offers clues too as to how to engage the public constructively in the choices Britain makes about immigration, writes Sunder Katwala.
As the first world war centenary approaches, how should we commemorate those who lost their lives in service of this country? It’s a question that has attracted some controversy of late, amid claims that recipients of the Victoria Cross from Commonwealth countries are not being recognised, writes Steve Ballinger.
Modern Britain has provided a vibrant canvas for young British Chinese to explore their identity. This can be seen through their leisure pursuits, which present an interesting hybrid. While Hong Kong culture remains important, due to the migration history of the majority of British Chinese families, living and growing up in the UK has more than made its mark, and the importance of media from mainland China, Korea and Japan is growing, writes Dr Alex Tan .
If asked for an example of typically English music, you might think of Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams or Henry Purcell. But some amongst us would instead opt for the operatic heavy metal of Iron Maiden, argues Helena Stroud, who recently saw the band live as part of their tour entitled Maiden England.
The general reader can choose from thousands of books published on the war, in our publication Do Mention The War we have produced our own bookshelf with 5 fiction and 5 non-fiction books we recommend,Which books have you learnt most from? Share your recommendations at #WWI books
On Sunday 21st July 2013, 12,000 people flocked to the Olympic Stadium to take part in a five mile run, which traversed the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park before reaching a thrilling conclusion on the track inside the stadium. Annabel Harbord was one of the participants. It was a very memorable day, Annabel Harbord reflects.
Over at The Building Centre in central London, We Made 2012 covers how the design and construction industries in the UK worked hard and thought outside the box to produce a truly memorable Olympic Games. Featuring before and after images of the site, alongside models and videos, the exhibition looks at key challenges met along the way, such as how an area that was previously barren by overcrowded London standards was given an Olympic-standard water supply and transport network, writes Jemimah Steinfeld.
Britain’s economic success and social mix has been built through the efforts, creativity and talent of migrant entrepreneurs. Given their ability to create wealth and jobs, David Cameron promised back in 2010 to reform the immigration rules to allow more foreign entrepreneurs to set up in the UK. The prime minister pledged to "put out the red carpet" for those with good business acumen through the Tier 1 route. But how well is it working asks Heather Rolfe.
As artistic director of Northern Lines Community Theatre Project, Javaad Alipoor recently made a play called City Stories: 120 years of City, 120 years of Bradford, which responded to Bradford City’s epic season. Bradford City was a natural choice for theatre, since the club's history reflects the history of Bradford at large, writes Javaad Alipoor.
As the NHS prepares to celebrate its 65th birthday, I’m reminded of how many of my own birthdays I celebrated at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston Lincolnshire, writes Douglas Jefferson, whose story of the first few weeks of his life in hospital offers a shining example of the efficacy of the NHS.
A scan across social media, blogs and opinions among Muslims following a public incident like Woolwich yields similar shameful confessions about their first thoughts: “I hope it’s not a Muslim.” If the perpetrator turns out to be Muslim, how much then should other Muslims condemn the attack, asks Shelina Janmohamed.
The MV Empire Windrush started its life as a vehicle for the Nazi Party and ended its life under the control of the Allied forces, transporting 493 passengers from Jamaica to the UK, thus transforming it into a symbol of multiculturalism and tolerance. Patrick Vernon OBE, founder of 100 Great Black Britons, was the first to call for a national celebration of Windrush Day. Here Vernon explains why it matters.
The Leeds Big Bookend brings together writers old and new and describes itself as a "rock festival for words." The most encouraging thing was the celebration of writers from the past, with the present and future being well represented too, reflects Matthew Rhodes on a fascinating weekend in his home town.
It’s not difficult to understand what attracts people to rural Scotland, but for many, the west coast and the Hebrides have a special charm. Thanks to a mild climate and beautiful scenery, more English people choose to move to Argyll than any other part of Scotland. But despite the area's many positive attributes, establishing a permanent home there is not for everyone, explains Duncan Stewart Muir, who was brought up on the island of Islay.
While the whole world flocked to London to witness the buzz of the Olympic summer 2012, north-east England felt somewhat excluded and not just in terms of geography. However, an Olympic legacy lives on, even if not as pronounced as hoped, writes Next Generation blogger Matilda Neill from Whitley Bay.
In a letter published in the Times newspaper, a mix of parliamentary, military and campaigning voices welcome the government's commitment to offer asylum to some of the interpreters, but are concerned that the terms will arbitrarily deny protection to many who need it.
In 1953, the sociologist Michael Young, in a famous essay, described the Queen’s coronation as a “great act of national communion.” He and his co-author Edward Shils were struck by the galvanising effect the coronation had on family and community life. In which ways does the monarchy continue to unite people within the UK, asks Zaki Cooper, who used to work in the press office at Buckingham Palace, ahead of this week's 60th anniversary of the coronation.
Most people believe that far right groups like the English Defence League stir up hatred and violence in Britain in a way which increases the risk of future terrorist incidents. A rising proportion of Britons say they would never join the EDL - a view held by 84% of people who have heard of the group - according to new polling released this weekend.
"English to me is the sum of synchronic and diachronic evolution of other mixed languages" and "English is the medium through which I experience people, news, literature, culture and my own consciousness." These are just two posts dangling from the Thought Wall in response to "What does the English language mean to you," a question posed at the British Council's latest exhibition, The English Effect, writes Jemimah Steinfeld.
Over the past year, crime in general has fallen in Hammersmith & Fulham, but race and religious hate crime has risen, with the Muslim population particularly affected. There are several reasons behind this discrepancy, writes Phil Cooper of Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum (HFRF).
One of the most pressing issues today is the sheer amount of young people in need of employment. Since the recession, the rate of people aged 16 to 25 not in work has been steadily increasing, with over 979,000 young people unemployed nationwide between December 2012 and February 2013. The north-east has the highest rates of youth unemployment. What then can be done to help today’s youth, asks Next Generation thinker Matilda Neill.
Peckham has not always enjoyed the best reputation, often being associated with Del Boy, Damilola Taylor and destitution. In the show Peckham Finishing School For Girls, the area was presented as a sprawling, inner-city nightmare where people ought to wear bulletproof vests upon visiting. But this reputation conceals some of the area’s more positive elements, elements that Nicholas Okwulu wishes to highlight through organising The Big Lunch in Peckham, writes Jemimah Steinfeld.
On Friday afternoon Next Generation blogger Bryn Lewis arrived in Butetown, a small community on the edge of Cardiff, for Finding Your Future, an event co-hosted by British Future and National Theatre Wales. The impression initially given of Butetown was of a community under siege, left to wither against a backdrop of moneyed developments. But after a night of animated discussions and activities with people from the area, this view was challenged. Here he explains exactly why.
Football in the Welsh capital has always come second fiddle to the much-loved national rugby team, and with Cardiff City's glory days being in the 1920s, it's no surprise. But the pride the Welsh show for rugby exhibits itself in the football stand as well. The rise of Cardiff City to the Premiership will boost pride in the Welsh sporting legacy further, argues Dan J Lloyd.
When Stephen Lawrence died on that tragic evening of April 22 1993, I was merely three years old. Yet the legacy of his death reverberated throughout her formative years and continues to plague the police force, writes 23-year-old Promise Campbell.
The information age, when messages can be sent across the globe in seconds, and packages from thousands of miles away arrive within days. This is the state that many believe Britain has already achieved, a near liquid society where movement of people, goods and information is as easy as a short walk or a click of a button. If this is the case, then why does even a simple task in north Wales seem like swimming through tar? And how will this impact the opportunities that come my way, asks Bryn Lewis, who lives in north-west Wales.
What do 18 to 25 year olds think about mixed marriages? How have their views changed from past generations? Far from viewing interracial marriage as a concern, they view it as a source of celebration, writes Sarah Cottam.
Limited opportunities for young people, based on a disconnect between education and employment, was of much greater priority than concerns around race relations for attendees at the Stephen Lawrence: 20 Years On event in Eltham, writes Richard Miranda.
Zimbabwean refugee Cynthia Masiyiwa has been selected for the Woman of the Year award at The Migrant and Refugee Woman of the Year Awards. Last year she helped loads of young people get involved in the Olympics, writes Jemimah Steinfeld.
A lover of Iris Murdoch novels, I noticed recently that in my faded 1960s paperbacks her author’s biography proudly boasts of Anglo-Irish parentage. Perhaps her publisher wanted to emphasise a background evocative of literary greats, from Jonathan Swift to Samuel Beckett? That hyphenated identity, Yeats’ “no petty people”, dominated public life in Ireland for centuries. But today, are they still a people at all asks Paul Evans.
Americans don’t get sarcasm, the British love queues and the French like cheese. Stereotypes are often inaccurate, but can also be useful way of finding a common identity. In his sketch show comedian Erich McElroy draws on these stereotypes to describe his long-running struggle between being American and being British, writes Georgia Hussey.
After the performance of the National Theatre of Scotland’s Glasgow Girls, the audience jumped to their feet and roared their approval and wouldn’t stop. The cast looked slightly stunned by the audience’s reaction, but it was a reflection of a truly exciting musical play, writes Rachael Jolley.
"Bradford needs more than just one cup final. It needs more winners. People are desperate; people want change.” These words, articulated by one member of the audience at British Future’s Beyond Wembley: What can bring Bradford together? event, struck a chord with many.
Bradford City versus Swansea City is not the Wembley League Cup final that anybody expected at the start of the football season, with supporters of both clubs looking forward to their first major Wembley final. Days before British Future holds a debate in Bradford, Sunder Katwala asks residents of the city, including season ticket holders, an imam, and the curator of the club museum, what they think about the final and its impact on the city.
There are many things people think of when they hear the name Wales. Mountains, singing, sheep, leeks, harps and, of course, rugby. I myself am from Wales and I definitely see rugby as somehow particularly Welsh. But is this merely a stereotypical view of this little country or are there some intrinsic elements of national pride and identity locked inside the sport? writes Bryn Lewis.
Trendsetters from around the globe descended on Britain’s capital at the end of last week for the bi-annual London Fashion Week, which saw a blend of long-established designers showcasing their latest sartorial output next to lesser-known up-and-coming talent. But London Fashion Week symbolises far more than perfect pouts and seams sashaying down the runway. As representative of the British fashion industry on the whole, it was and is incredibly important to the country, writes Jemimah Steinfeld.
An exhibition at the National Maritime Museum on the East India Company is just as much about our past as it is our present, and just as much about Britain as about Asia. After all, things that we regard as quintessentially British were not always, like the curry and the cup of tea, writes Jemimah Steinfeld.
Does being Jewish mean I should take offence towards the alleged antisemitism in Gerald Scarfe’s recent cartoon, which features Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paving a wall with the blood and limbs of Palestinians? Not necessarily, writes Jemimah Steinfeld.
The referendum on Scottish independence will be a major political event in the UK in 2014. Yet the relationships and bonds between people from different parts of the UK are unlikely to be hugely affected, writes Mark Diffley.
The bigger picture suggests the Monarchy ended 2012 more secure than ever. Even when things went wrong, as the Thames river pageant turned into a grey and cold test of endurance in the driving rain, it was the BBC which seemed to cop the flak. The Queen's surprise Olympic contribution to a James Bond stunt helped to seal Danny Boyle's great fusion of the traditional and the modern in the Olympic opening ceremony, writes Sunder Katwala.
It’s good news for those of you in a relationship with someone much wealthier than you, especially if you’re planning to announce it to the family this Christmas: 74% of those questioned in our recent polling would have absolutely no concerns about hearing this news from a family member. Perhaps this is unsurprising – however, our poll also shows that 68% would not be concerned about a family member being in a relationship with someone much poorer, writes Zoe Tyndall from BritainThinks.
With parents from Gujarat in India, but born in Kenya and Zambia, EastEnders actor Himesh Patel has been able to draw on his heritage, as well as his own British identity. Himesh, who plays the part of Tanwar in EastEnders, as well as writing and directing for the show, talks about his British identity and his Indian heritage.
BBC London journalist Warren Nettleford talks about his British identity. Coming from a small town and being quite aware of his Jamaican heritage, Warren says that the Olympics reminded him that, no matter how different you are in some respects, a shared British culture of things like books, music and food, gives us common identity.
I’m a white girl from an academic middle-class Russian family and he is a black French man, born in France to Senegalese immigrants. When I told my mother my boyfriend was black, the first thing she said was: “Will you be able to put up with what the world will think of it?” “It is a different world,” I replied. So far, I have been (almost) right, writes Liza Bel, a radio journalist who now lives in London with her boyfriend.
The 2011 Census results show that those of mixed ethnicity are among the fastest-growing groups in the population. But how will this change the way we think and talk about race in Britain? Bristol University's Professor Tariq Modood, Runnymede Trust's Omar Khan, and writer and broadcaster Kenan Malik offered their answers to this question.
Twenty years ago Time magazine put a composite photograph on its front cover. It was generated by an IBM 486 computer and fused together the phenotypical features of the world’s six main racial groups. The face that emerged was that of a woman with a striking, yet blended, appearance. The purpose was to sneak preview a mid-twentieth century future in which growing global migration and cross marriage would produce Global Woman, writes professor of political science at the University of Sussex Shamit Saggar.
As a senior leader in a secondary school I have become used to schools and the education of our young people being used as a political football, as part of a tiresome debate about standards, that rarely acknowledges the tremendous work of most teachers and young people, writes Jonny Uttley, Head of South Hunsley School in Yorkshire.
The Olympics, Paralympics and the Jubilee...has 2012 seen a new patriotism emerge in Britain? British Future and thinktank Bright Blue held an event where the debate spanned from discussing Olympic pride to how to deal with the spectre of the Empire to Conservative attitudes to the NHS. The panel included Isabel Hardman, Editor of the Spectator blog Coffee House, Conservative MP Kwasi Kwarteng, and British Future Director Sunder Katwala. The event was chaired by Ryan Shorthouse, Director of Bright Blue.
I can’t really pinpoint an exact moment when I stopped feeling British; it was more of a process than a single event. There was a time just a few years ago when I remember feeling very proud to be both English and British, though always in that order, writes Ben Alltimes.
The largest collective acts of commemoration this remembrance weekend will take place at sporting events. The Millennium Stadium at Cardiff Arms Park, Murrayfield and Twickenham will fall silent ahead of the rugby internationals, and more than half a million supporters will pay their respects at club grounds, large and small, around Britain, with red poppies embroidered into football shirts in the English and Scottish premier leagues, writes Matthew Rhodes.
With the centenary of the commencement of the Great War approaching, an opportunity presents itself to remember, to reflect, and to renew our national understanding of the shared histories that draw us together, as well as the way we pass on those understandings and identities to our children, says school teacher Michael Merrick.
Anthony Clavane's Does Your Rabbi Know You’re Here? is, as the book’s subtitle makes plain, “The story of English football’s forgotten tribe,” laying out the story of one particular immigrant community’s successful integration into British society, writes Matthew Rhodes.
At university we constantly receive a barrage of e-mails notifying students on all variations of ‘employer activities’ and ‘careers and employability’ opportunities that are happening on and around the university campus. So there is no plausible argument, in my opinion, where a student could say 'this university didn’t give me enough skills to get into the workplace,' writes Loughborouogh University undergraduate Sarah Cottam.
It is often noted that the English do not do so much to mark St George's Day, though there is a gradual trend towards celebrating it more. Not everybody is clear about when it is, argues Sunder Katwala.
British Future went to Stratford, the Olympic borough, to launch its Generation 2012 project with a debate asking young people want they thought were the big issues facing them in 2012, and what they thought government should do about it.
Young Britons struggling to find work in austerity Britain find themselves at the sharp end of immigrant competition, so you might expect them to be tougher on this issue than their parents, says one of the author’s of the new BSA report Rob Ford.
Back in the Balkans and tuning in on television, Londoner Almir Koldzic was surprised to find his Serbian family understand the story and celebrate Britain after watching Danny Boyle's Olympic ceremony.
The British public see skill and education levels as more important than cultural background in thinking about which migrants will contribute positively to the UK, a major new British Social Attitudes study shows today.
2012 has brought Britain together. The Olympics, Paralympics and the Jubilee combined to provide the most inclusive celebration of who we are that anyone can remember, says Sunder Katwala. But what happens when the flame goes out?
The Olympics has sparked a significant shift in how the Scots and the Welsh feel about the Union Jack by giving the whole country an opportunity to come together, says British Future editorial director Rachael Jolley.
One in three of Team GB's record medal haul were the product of Britain's history of immigration and integration. That's because our Olympic team reflects the country that we have become, says Sunder Katwala.
There's been a great Scottish contribution to the Team GB medal haul, but just 5% of the Team GB medals were won by Scots alone, with the others being made up from teams from across Britain, according to new British Future research.
Up to 6,000 people fly to Pakistan from Britain every week. Anwar Akhtar says attitudes in the Foreign Office to working with the Pakistani diaspora in Britain are changing and it could open up great opportunities for the countries to work together.
August 4 1972 was an unforgettable day for thousands of Ugandan Asians. It was the day that Uganda’s dictator Idi Amin ordered 70,000 Asians to leave the country. Forty years on, in an interview with British Future, Girish Mehta tells of his family’s flight from the country and how they settled in Britain.
This matter of being "British" OR "English" has never concerned me. I live in England and my parentage is predominantly English, hence I am "English". England is part of the United Kingdom, hence I am also "British". I see no contradiction in this.
Unbelievably, the Olympic opening ceremony takes place two weeks today. Even amidst last minute concerns about security and the weather, there is still a growing excitement about what the first two weeks of August will bring, both in terms of sporting achievement and national esprit de corps.
Conservative private polling leaks suggest that voters are just as disappointed with its immigration performance as they were for the previous Labour government, says Britain Thinks pollster Deborah Mattinson.
Sport has much to tell us about who we are and can be a celebration of our diversity, says author and playwright Anthony Clavane, author of Promised Land, ahead of a British Future debate at the Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds.
Danny Boyle has tapped straight into the heart of the national psyche, and what makes Britain distinct, with his colourful countryside concept of the Olympic opening. British Future polling shows that across Britain, not just in England as some sceptics argue, there is immense pride in our green pleasant lands, from the Lake District, to Snowdonia and the Highlands.
The upsurge in belief in an English identity over the past five years is not the threat to modern Britain that many English believe it to be, says British Future director Sunder Katwala in a new interview.
The great British sense of humour and its difference from other nation's can help people define themselves. Humour was just one of the characteristics three women writers identified as making them feel distinctly British in a recent magazine article.
Recent graduate Richard Miranda argues that although job vacancy growth being at an eight month high and the government's Youth Contract are steps in the right direction, more must be done if youth unemployment is to be significantly reduced.
If the Toulouse killings do turn out to change the course of French democracy, that ought to trouble us as democrats. The identity of a violent murderer should not decide a major democratic election, argues Sunder Katwala.
Is Martin Amis' dispiriting 'state of the nation' novel trying to dampen Jubilee joy? It looks like his new novel, about a young lottery-winning criminal, will paint a bleak picture of broken Britain. Sunder Katwala asks if Amis is Britain's chief miserabilist.
Long-time teacher of English to new arrivals in this country Jo Thorp finds the rewards are great for both students and society, but following funding cuts, there are massive waiting lists for most courses.
The Daily Mail is campaigning against Plastic Brits, but the ugly term, being used to describe people who the newspaper thinks shouldn't represent Britain, misrepresents the nation's sporting history.
There’s a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to British identity. Almost everyone I know has a separate ethnic identity which means we often don’t think about what it is to be British, or it can mean that we tend to appreciate it less. I went to Ethiopia in 2010 and personally didn’t enjoy myself. I was so used to being wrapped up in this blanket of multiculturalism that I didn’t realise being in a whole city full of people who looked similar to me would feel so unsettling. However what was even more surprising was that people were judgemental when I spoke in English and some even laughed. Immediately I was defensive of being British, which was unusual as I was used to complaining daily about almost everything in Britain. At the end of the trip I was glad my parents decided to raise me in London. There are a lot of things we can be grateful for: the underground or the education system, for example. There aren’t many people in the world who can say they can get miles around a city in less than an hour.
The Conservatives, according to an article in The Economist, are much less likely to win non-white votes than socio-economic indicators would predict. What's going on - and how could the party reverse the pattern, asks Sunder Katwala.
British Future went to York this week to to join the cast of the play Bed in a passionate debate about British identity. The debate, held on the set of Bed in the York Theatre Royal, saw York University lecturer Mike Savage, Charles Hutchinson of the York Press and the director of Bed Cecily Boys discuss Scotland, the British Empire and Yorkshire pride. Watch our video to hear some of what they said.
Channel 4's Make Bradford British defied the expectations and took risks to explore how we want to live together or apart, but left Sunder Katwala feeling more hopeful about a Britain that we want to share.
British Future headed off to Stratford this morning to get a sneaky peak inside the Olympic stadium ahead of this summer's crowds. Even the journey to the stadium is exciting, if you take London public transport options, the Docklands Light Railway or the Jubilee line. Both sweep past the edge of the park allowing arrivals to catch sight of the striking new buildings, the swoop of the aquadrome and the butterfly of the velodrome in the distance.
Featuring an interview with Sunder Katwala, a Pod Academy podcast discusses Britain, identity and our new report, Hopes and Fears. In the podcast you can also hear some clips from the British Future debate held at our launch, where the Spectator's James Forsyth, political commentator Matthew D'Ancona, novelist Christie Watson, graduate Promise Campbell and British Future's Sunder Katwala discussed identity and class, British values, and the London borough of Brent.
The Department of Communities and Local Government has launched its long awaited new strategy on integration – simply entitled Creating The Conditions For Integration. It follows a relative vacuum in this area of policy left open as the coalition has sought to develop its own approach to this often controversial issue.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has called for people to start “concentrating on what unites the British people”, against the backdrop of a country which has a “proud history of migration and tolerance is well placed to meet the challenges of integration”.
This is reflected in the DCLG findings about how strongly the vast majority of people from outside Britain feel a sense of belonging here. Indeed Eric Pickles will find that immigrants and refugees have just as strong an appetite for playing a full role in national occasions, like the Jubilee and The Big Lunch, as the British-born.
The government is also certainly right about the importance of tackling all forms of extremism coherently and robustly, against any part of our society, whether anti-semitism or Islamist extremism, anti-Muslim prejudice or homophobia.
But the risk is that government speaks clearly about integration, yet retreats to doing less about it. The local matters, as does personal responsibility, but an argument that national government will act ”only exceptionally” is arguably too hands-off and hollows out what government needs to do to break down barriers. As the government rightly sets out why integration matters, it must not duck its own role in helping to achieve it.
Of course, integration is a two-way street. There is good evidence that well-designed projects to support integration – for example in the English language – are effective and cost-effective. The excellent recent report and initiative Operation Integration – The Making of New Citizens also shows how grassroots organisations working with refugee and migrant communities see encouraging and talking about integration (or “belonging”) as an important part of their work in supporting newcomers to Britain.
Some will be concerned that talk of integration at all means we are returning to the bad old days of “assimilation”. However it is worth remembering the Prime Minister’s words in Edinburgh recently when talking about the United Kingdom:
“I think many people in the UK absolutely feel that you can have all of these identities together, and that is the strength of the UK… United Kingdom which is not monoglot, monochrome and minimalist but multi-national, multi-cultural and modern in every way.”
Twenty-first century Britain is irrevocably multi-ethnic and is a better place for it – but that does not mean that we shouldn’t work together to uphold and celebrate the values that bind us all together as citizens – what the government calls “core values” such as democracy, the rule of law, equality of opportunity and freedom of speech.
If the government’s “new” approach does anything to foster Britain as a true “university” culture (able to find unity in our diversity) then it is to be broadly welcomed.
The government had made a mistake in not having a proper judicially-led inquiry into the summer’s riots, former Met police commissioner Ian Blair said today, giving the inaugural Stephen Lawrence criminal justice lecture to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust in London.
When you’ve no stable family network, an area becomes home. The prospect of leaving Brent, a decision I had to consider last year as the call for independence intensified, proved far more unsettling than I had anticipated. My obsession with the area, Willesden in particular, mirrors Zadie Smith’s passion in her bestseller White Teeth; even the author’s American polemic On Beauty makes its way home.
The 1948 London Olympic torch was a feat of British craftsmanship. It had to stay alight through all weather conditions, and be cheap for a war damaged Britain to make. But it also had to be something Britain could be proud to display to countries across Europe as the runners made their way from Olympia to Wembley - across the Mediterranean, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, France and finally across the English Channel.
The government is right to want to deport Abu Qatada. He is a threat to community relations in Britain. The Home Secretary is right to want to use her powers to exclude him, say Shamit Saggar and Sunder Katwala.
"When you go into school, or into college, you meet people from everywhere - from America, from Poland, everywhere - in one day", says one Hackney Community College student at a British Future debate. British Future went to Hackney to talk to students about whether they defined themselves as British, English or something else. The students' debate, chaired by Anthony Painter, also focused on integration - in terms of the diversity they could see around them in London, and how they thought that was mirrored in the rest of the country.
Ipsos Mori research for British Future has found that the Welsh are more enthusiastic about the Queen's Diamond Jubilee than the English and the Scottish. 70% of Welshpeople expect the jubilee will lift the mood of the British public compared to 69% of English people asked, and only 55% of people from Scotland. But, when asked about the Olympics, English respondents were the most positive with 66% believing it would be good for the mood of the British public, compared to 57% of Scots.
Ever since the Home Secretary announced her plan for the new integration strategy in June 2011, we have been waiting for it to materialise with a mixture of excitement and anxiety, says Zrinka Bralo. Excitement because it might be different and better from those preceding it, and anxiety because of recent government announcements about further immigration restrictions. The rumour in the blogosphere is that a draft integration strategy called ‘Creating the Conditions for Integration’ has been circulating in Whitehall since November 2011. At The Forum, the organisation where I work, we are curious to see what’s in store for the future of integration as this is what we do and we need a constructive environment to be able to keep doing it.
The launch of British Future saw panelists including Matthew D'Ancona and Christie Watson join British Future's director Sunder Katawla in a debate about identity, integration, migration and opportunity. In a nod to the iconic year ahead for Britain, the launch was held at the Museum of London Docklands, where the Olympic flame will take course pass this year. Those attending the launch had a chance to hold the 1948 Olympic torch - don't miss the photo of journalist and cricket commentator Mihir Bose holding the flame.
The challenges of unemployment and rising living costs can be particularly damaging to young people. Providing them with support is essential and effective, argues Sarah Webster. At City Gateway, I work with some of the toughest young people from the seemingly hopeless estates in Tower Hamlets. Each day we deal with cases of physical or sexual abuse, homelessness, illness and bereavements as well as concerning CRB checks. They have been written off by their teachers and would be considered unemployable (usually having less than 5 GCSEs). Yet when given education, support and encouragement - with the end goal being a link with job opportunities in city firms through our apprenticeship programme - they are transformed.
Britain did not have a brilliant Olympic Games when London last hosted the Olympics in 1948, in terms of the medal table at least. The host nation won just three Olympic golds , all in rowing or sailing, which along with 14 silver medals and six bronzes left Britain ranking 12th at the end of the games. But those first post-war Olympics since Hitler’s Games in Berlin 1936 was a time when the value of taking part was never better understood. The Houses of Parliament figured prominently on the official Games poster designed by Walter Herz, a Czech refugee from fascism, as Dr Cathy Ross of the Museum of London has noted.
Scottish independence is not the only question surrounding the future of the Union, says guest blogger Glenn Gotfried. As the United Kingdom embarks on a probable two year discussion surrounding Scottish sovereignty we will likely see questions surrounding the future of England arise out of the debate. A new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research shows that devolution is not only a matter for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but may be transcending into the minds of the English as well. Using the results from the Future of England (FoE) survey, an IPPR/YouGov commissioned poll focusing on the English public, the report explores the link between an emerging English identity and its possible consequences on England’s political future.
One of the original 1948 Olympic torches will be on display at the launch of British Future this week, ahead of its display in an exhibition this spring. Below Dr Cathy Ross talks about the importance of the torch as an historic icon.
“A patriotic extra has revealed how he set Madonna straight on UK royal history during the filming of her Wallis Simpson biopic W,” reports the i newspaper this morning. It is an amusing tale of how north Londoner Ben Goodman, 69, hired to play a newspaper vendor who hands a ‘Royal scandal’ newspaper to the actress playing Mrs Simpson.
The British Future state of the nation poll found that 50% of people in the north-east feel that they belong to Britain. The figure is 66% across Britain, 67% in England, and 60% in Scotland, making the north-east the place where people identify least with a British identity.
British Future trustee Shamit Saggar, and a contributor to today's Migration Advisory Commitee report, says robust evidence should help to inform a public debate that recognises both benefits and costs.
Both the Olympic Games and the Jubilee are expected to lift the British mood in 2012, but the British Future poll suggests Seb Coe's Olympic spirit may just be pipped by Jubilee pride in the Queen, if only by a short head. 68% of people expect the Queen's diamond jubilee to lift the national mood, while 64% say the same about the Olympics, according to the Hopes and Fears poll published by the British Future think-tank on Monday.
Do we need to accept a trade-off between tackling racism and addressing the marginalisation of white working-class communities? My own experience of living in Eltham gives me some hope that we do not.
So, why dotdotdot? Dotdotdot picks up the ellipses in the British Future logo. What I hope those dots are saying is that our future is unwritten, that it is up to us to shape it, and that we want to extend an invitation to you to join our conversation about how we could choose to shape it together.