Blog

David Cameron. Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Russavia

Parties need joint ‘British position’ to reform EU free movement

David Cameron has set out his reform agenda on EU free movement. Securing support for reform across the European Union will require the British parties to work together.

Poppy Moat Aug 2014

Let the poppies return to the Tower in 2018

Would it not be enormously popular and poignant to see this fantastic installation recreated once again in 2018, in the run up to the centenary of the 1918 armistice itself?

Photo: Rooful Ali, Aliway Photography

‘Poppy Headscarf’ launches to mark centenary of first Victoria Cross for Muslim soldier

A new ‘Poppy Headscarf’ launches today, backed by the Islamic Society of Britain, to raise money for the Poppy Appeal and offer British Muslims a new way to mark Remembrance.

Indian soldiers preparing to depart for France from New Milton, Hampshire. Photo: Flickr via Hampshire and Solent Museum.

Legacy of Sikh and Muslim soldiers of WW1 explored

British Future’s recent study into public attitudes to the First World War centenary showed that the single biggest increase in public knowledge about WW1 relates to the contribution of soldiers from the Empire and the Commonwealth who fought for Britain. Things Unseen produced two radio programmes looking at the contribution of Muslim and Sikh soldiers, why they fought, and the importance of that historical legacy now.

Unveiling of the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, November 1920. Photo: Flickr via Marion Doss

New study finds strong appetite for learning WW1 history

A new study by British Future shows that the media, government and public bodies have set the right tone for the First World War centenary, and an appetite remains to learn more about Britain’s history.

Clacton Pier. Photo: Flickr via Paul Dennis

Douglas Carswell, UKIP’s optimistic moderniser

Douglas Carswell’s “Bright Purple” venture, to create a future-facing UKIP, may be the most audacious modernisation project in British politics, writes Sunder Katwala.

Photo: Flickr via David Morris

UKIP joins calls to take students out of immigration target

UKIP has joined calls to remove international students from the immigration figures, while they are here to study, writes Sunder Katwala.

Flag of Scotland. Photo: Aly1983 via Flickr

Scotland has spoken – will England respond?

Scotland thought seriously about whether to end the United Kingdom - and chose to mend and save it instead. England must also now find its voice, writes Sunder Katwala.

London Central Mosque. Photo: AwayWeGo210 via Flickr

British Muslims unite to condemn ISIS as “Un-Islamic State”

Muslim leaders in the UK have come together to urge Prime Minister David Cameron to help de-legitimise the extremist group ISIS, starting with refusing to acknowledge their preferred title “Islamic State”. The open letter to the Prime Minister was, coincidentally, published just hours before ISIS released video footage of the murder of British aid worker David Haines,a dreadful reminder of the senseless violence that the group employs, writes Joe Cryer.

Union Flag flies above Edinburgh Castle. Photo: generalising via Flickr

Scotland: Five reasons the No campaign should (just about) win in the end

The referendum in Scotland is shaping up to be a nail-biter. Scotland will, quite rightly, get whatever the majority of Scots want. While the margin will be tighter than many expected, writes Sunder Katwala, that still looks like the Union.

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Cross-party support for international students

Politicians across the political spectrum voiced support for the new joint report by British Future and Universities UK, ‘International students and the UK immigration debate’, released on Bank Holiday Monday.

Belgian refugees in 1914. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

100 years ago Britain welcomed Belgian refugees to our shores

100 years ago today, the first of many Belgian refugees fleeing the German invasion began to arrive in Britain. It was to become the largest ever single refugee flow from one country to the UK, with over 250,000 Belgian refugees, many of them children, arriving on our shores, writes Joe Cryer.

Poppy Moat Aug 2014

‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ – WW1 Commemoration

The installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, designed by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, which commemorates those fallen during the First World War already covers a huge swathe of the Tower of London’s dry moat, writes Joe Cryer.

The inscription on the top of the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium. Photo: Colorgrinder via Flickr

Centenary will offer us all a chance to learn forgotten histories

It is perhaps because most of us know less than we would like about the First World War that there is much public appetite to engage with the centenary. The armies of a century ago more closely reflect the Britain of 2014 rather more than that of 1914 in their multi-ethnic and multi-faith make-up

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Poster for True Brits. Photo: Vinay Patel

The making of True Brits

New play True Brits explores two national events - 7/7 and the 2012 Olympics - and one man's journey of identity and integration between them, explains its writer Vinay Patel.

British values

Our schools must teach British values, for Britain’s sake

Nations are held together by the common bonds between their citizens. Without British values, what is to stop Britain drifting apart?

Indian bicycle troops at a crossroads on the Fricourt-Mametz Road, Somme, France, in 1916. Photo: Public Domain/Imperial War Museum

REVIEW: Empire, Faith & War: The Sikhs and World War One

A new exhibition highlights the pivotal contribution of Sikh soldiers to the Allied war effort. Through their stories we don't just learn what life was like for these soldiers; we learn a lot about ourselves as a nation a century on, writes Jemimah Steinfeld.

MemorialtoIndiansoliderWWI400

Public support teaching British values in schools

Almost eighty per cent of the public support using Commonwealth contributions to the Great War to foster shared British values and boost integration, a new poll reveals.

The inscription on the top of the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium. Photo: Colorgrinder via Flickr

The battlefield summit: Cameron at Ypres

Twenty-seven European leaders will observe Thursday 26th June the Last Post at Ypres before getting down to business as they haggle over the priorities and personnel for the European Union, writes Sunder Katwala.

queensjewelvault.blogspot.com

Our national honours can give Britain a proper place in devolution

The devolution of the national knightly orders could bring honours closer to the people and inject a British dimension into devolved government, writes Henry Hill.

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An open letter to Nick Griffin

At our "funeral for fascism" Edie Friedman, Director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, read out an “Open letter to Nick Griffin.” It was both punchy and to the point. Read it here now.

Ukip supporters. Photo: Euro Realist Newsletter

Ukippers you can talk to – and those that you can’t

The European elections look likely to be the closest political contest in recent memory and all eyes on Ukip. But what happens afterwards, asks Sunder Katwala.

The Melting Pot Generation

Less racist, but more anxious

Sunder Katwala looks at the sharp decline in racism in British society, and sets out why attempts to label UKIP as a racist party will fail.

People wave the English flag at Glastonbury music festival. Photo: Stew Dean

‘Drinks on St George!’ – Can tax-free beer bring English together?

More can still be done to make St George's Day a truly national event that brings everyone together to celebrate, writes Steve Ballinger.

The London Marathon 2014. Photo: Malcolm Murdoch

Marathon brings out best of London

Last Sunday I ran the London Marathon to raise money for Shelter. I increasingly loved training for it and enjoyed aspects of running the marathon itself, but it was the atmosphere in London on the day that really made the experience, writes Helena Stroud.

Nigel Farage. Photo: Euro Realist Newsletter

Is Nigel Farage hurting the Eurosceptic cause?

As Farage makes the political weather, he worries pro-Europeans and cheers up those who would like Britain to get out of the EU. But should that be the other way around, asks Sunder Katwala.

Photo: Coventry City Council

New report: The rise and rise of the outsider election

The 2014 European elections may take place across a continent, but the big question in British politics will be what the UK result means for 2015, writes Sunder Katwala.

Hanns and Rudolf jacket cover. Photo: Amazon

The Jewish refugees who fought for Britain during WWII

Thomas Harding’s book, Hanns and Rudolf, is a gripping second world war story, as well as an interesting peak into Jewish immigrant life in the UK, writes Jemimah Steinfeld.

Nick Clegg on left. Photo: Liberal Democrats. Nigel Farage on right. Photo: Euro Realist Newsletter

Clegg-Farage debate shows limits of using facts over stories

If Nick Clegg takes one lesson from the first debate against Nigel Farage into the BBC second leg next week, it should be to spend less time on "what the real facts show" and more time on anecdotes to illustrate his arguments, argues Sunder Katwala.

St Patrick's Day celebrations in London. Photo: xpgomes10

English should learn from St Patrick’s and celebrate own saint

Liberals who still fear that the St George’s flag is associated with far-right groups should take a lead from the Irish and celebrate their patron saint, writes Steve Ballinger.

Polling station

Your first vote – use it or lose out

With the next general election approaching and my generation one by one becoming eligible to vote, it is incredibly important that the political awareness, or lack thereof, of my peers and myself is questioned, argues Matilda Neill.

Foreign student visas blog (primary)

Clamp down on fraudsters, not foreign students

A company contracted by the government to conduct English language tests for foreign students has been fraudulently passing students. This needs sorting out quickly before it erodes public confidence in the student visa system, writes Steve Ballinger.

Bite the Ballot blog (primary)

How young voters could transform this country’s politics

Engaging young people in the political system could have ramifications which are exciting, unexpected – and urgent, argues Henry Hill.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Alderman Gavin Robinson lays a wreath at the Cenotaph at Belfast City Hall to mark the 96th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, 2012. Photo: DUP Photos

Rest of UK can learn from Northern Ireland WW1 commemoration

As we enter the period of 1914-18 centenaries, Northern Ireland offers some pointers as to how to tackle some of the more difficult issues the rest of the UK will face, such as the nature of the war and how it should be commemorated, writes Richard Grayson.

War Grave at Tyne Cot Cemetary, Belgium. Photo: UK Ministry of Defence

Britons prefer solemn centenary to marking Great War victory

The British public strongly prefer a solemn remembrance of the lives lost in the first world war to a centenary commemoration which places a central emphasis on Britain's victory of the war, according to new Ipsos MORI polling for British Future.

Commuters on London tube. Photo: Mike Knell

Pragmatic public wants immigration mended, not ended

It shouldn’t come as surprise that people’s anxieties about immigration aren’t eliminated by being told it’s good for the economy, argues Sunder Katwala.

Sign at Heathrow airport. Photo: dcmaster

Romanians and Bulgarians who contribute will be welcomed by most Brits

More than two-thirds of Britons say that Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants who work hard, pay taxes and fit in to the community should be welcomed to the UK.

Christmas tree and menorah. Photo: Kevin H.

From Chanukkah honey to Santa baby: a jolly Jewish Christmas

I have been on a campaign for Christmas. It started many years ago, when I was at primary school. The school was located in West London and Jewish students were few and far between. I quickly realized there was something different about my family and myself. Namely when December rolled around, we would celebrate Chanukkah while everyone else would enjoy Christmas, writes Jemimah Steinfeld.

Four Four Jew

REVIEW: Four Four Jew puts the matzah ball into football

I have two great loves in life: my mother’s chicken soup, aka Jewish penicillin, and football – more specifically my team, Queens Park Rangers. The exhibition Four Four Jew allows me to unite these two passions, which wasn't easy until now, writes Jonty Steinfeld.

British public wave flags at Queen's 2012 Jubilee. Photo: xpgomes10

Why national identity matters

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.

Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk

A million British Muslims reject extremists on poppy wearing

One million British Muslims support wearing a poppy to mark Remembrance Day, showing just how marginal the views of “anti-poppy” extremists like Anjem Choudary are, writes Steve Ballinger.

Giant Olympic rings, Tyne Bridge, Newcastle. Photo: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Appetite to discuss Englishness alive and well in north-east

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.

Playing the Joker, Rugby League and Leeds, Photo: Reinhold Behringer

Yorkshire identity forged on the rugby field?

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.

M25 poppy bikers. Photo: Old Banger

M25 poppy bikers encapsulate values of freedom and respect

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.

School children wearing poppies. Photo: UK Parliament

Today’s youth must not forget those who suffered during WW1

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.

School girl in Kenya. Photo: The Advocacy Project

UK should protect all girls at risk of FGM

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.

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Parliament. Photo: Tom Bream

Will Englishness have a political dimension?

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.

A tribute to the NHS at the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Photo: Sum_of_Marc

Employees see skilled migration as a workplace success story

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.

Muslim student wins prize for designing first world war paving stone

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.

St George's dragon. Photo: Johnny Vulkan

Liberals should not be uneasy about Englishness

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.

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Child celebrating St George's DAy 2010. Photo: garryknight

English identity – British Future poll findings

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.

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British Future at the party conferences 2013

British Future completed a busy party conference season, visiting Glasgow, Brighton and Manchester as we attended all of the main party conferences in 2013. Here is a brief summary from our events.

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Train coming into Manchester. Photo: TheJRB

Many different textures of Englishness from north to south

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.

David Jason as Del Boy, our English comedy charcter, Photo: Crystal Hendrix Hirschorn

Lovely Jubbly – Del Boy speaks for the English

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 .

Weather. Photo: Ell Brown

Am I English because I like to discuss the weather?

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.

Jack Wilshere Training Photo: Wonker

England’s favourite foreign-born sports stars

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.

Olivia Poulet, Susaanah Doyle, Amy Robbins and Jacqueline Boatswain. Photo: Mark Douet

REVIEW: Adult Supervision pokes serious fun at idea of ‘beige Britain’

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.

Map of UK. Photo: Lenny&Meriel

Which British tribe do you belong to?

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.

John Redwood MP, Suzanne More and Jon Cruddas MP

English and Scots differ over Europe, says Redwood

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.

Margot James

Conservative conference fringe: how to win in a changing Britain?

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.

David Cameron. Photo: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Minority vote is a prize worth fighting for

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.

Labour Party Conference

Labour conference fringe: the challenge of populism

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.

Photo: Scott Smith

Question and debate the veil, don’t rush to ban it

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

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Liberal Democrat Party Conference

Populism: have the politicians got the message?

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

The Cape Panel: Vinnie Jones and Keith David. Photo: uncle_shoggoth

Dear Vinnie: a postcard from England

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.

British public wave flags at Queen's 2012 Jubilee. Photo: xpgomes10

Ashcroft report finds middle ground in immigration debate

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.

Lawrence Carthage Weathers VC (1890-1918) from New Zealand, was awarded the VC for gallantry at Peronne, France on 2 September 1918. He died of wounds on 29 September and was buried at Unicorn Cemetery, Vendhuille, France. Photo: Community History SA

“No hero will be forgotten” assures government amid controversy

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.

Street scene Soho. Photo: dailymatador

Young British Chinese pick and mix cultures in UK

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 .

Iron Maiden at Soundwave 2011 in Melbourne. Photo: Doctor Grondo

Iron Maiden sing anthems of Englishness on and off stage

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.

Photo: First world war soldiers

First world war bookshelf

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

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Running in the footsteps of Jessica Ennis-Hill

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.

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We Made 2012

REVIEW: We Made 2012

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.

Raymond Blanc from France (right) among key figures from the British restaurant and food industry who gathered at Downing Street in 2012 to celebrate British culinary talent. Photo: Crown Copyright

Has UK rolled out red carpet for foreign entrepreneurs?

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.

City Stories

Recent play about Bradford City resonates beyond stadium

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.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond presents Andy Murray with his commemorative stamp, September 2012. Photo: Scottish Government

Scottish and British: why Andy Murray brings a fragmenting UK together

It is a sign of the health and maturity of civic Scottish nationalism that sport matters so much less to nationhood than it did a generation ago, writes Sunder Katwala.

A tribute to the NHS at the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Photo: Sum_of_Marc

“So many of us owe our lives to the NHS and I certainly do”

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.

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People lay flowers at spot Lee Rigby was murdered. Photo: BritIslam

The dilemma of condemnation: When is too much not enough?

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.

Patrick Vernon (second left) alongside Sam King, 1948 passenger on the Windrush

Why Windrush Day matters

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.

Tony Harrison at the Leeds Big Bookend

Leeds Big Bookend celebrates city’s rich cultural heritage

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.

Inner Hebrides. Photo: SteveInLeighton

Incomers and castaways in the Inner Hebrides

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.

Giant Olympic rings, Tyne Bridge, Newcastle. Photo: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Olympic legacy patchy but palpable in north-east

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.

Afghan interpreter. Photo: isafmedia

Afghan interpreter deal will fail to protect enough, says David Davis

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.

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Image: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives

What can we learn from 1953′s “great act of national communion”?

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.

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EDL. Photo: billsdead

EDL stir up hatred and make terrorism more likely, say most Britons

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.

The English Effect

REVIEW: The English Effect

"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.

The start of King Street in Hammersmith. Photo: House of Hall

Islamophobic hate crime up by 62% in Hammersmith & Fulham

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).

Job Centre Plus. Photo: HelenCobain

What next for youth in the north-east?

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.

Big Lunchers in Peckham. Photo: Nicholas Okwulu

Big Lunch recipe of success for Peckham

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.

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Muslim women in Hyde Park, London. Photo: Roberto Trm

Black Muslim immigrants among most disadvantaged, Oxford academic argues

The black Muslim community is experiencing the highest levels of prejudice in the country, Professor Anthony Heath told a meeting at the House of Commons.

Firepower in Woolwich

REVIEW: Firepower, Royal Artillery Museum

Tracing family history, and hearing about the stories of soldiers in the world wars is just part of the Firepower Royal Artillery Museum, says Doug Jefferson.

Finding Our Future event

REVIEW: Finding Your Future, Cardiff

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.

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A Cardiff City fan. Photo: milos.kravcik

Year of the dragon boosts Welsh spirit

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.

The Parisian neighbourhood of Le Marais houses various Jewish communities, including two synagogues in the house pictured. Photo: cicilief

A good move? French Jews relocate to UK amid rising antisemitism

In light of antisemitism incidents in France, and new British polling on discrimination, Jemimah Steinfeld investigates the French Jewish community in the UK.

UK policemen. Photo: estherase

“Change way stop and search carried out”

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 hills above Llanbedr, in north-west Wales. Photo: Welshdan

Can’t drive, can’t email: Life in north Wales

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.

Sporting star Lewis Hamilton, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, has a white mother and a black father. Photo: ph-stop

Why young people are embracing mixed marriages

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.

A British Future workshop and debate in Eltham

More vocational skills vital for our kids’ future say Eltham residents

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.

Times coverage Lord Ahmed

The case of the peer, his antisemitic comments and how not to do diversity in politics

Lord Ahmed's comments blaming his imprisonment for dangerous driving on a Jewish conspiracy are absurd and extreme, says Sunder Katwala.

Cynthia Masiyiwa

Award winner helped young people get involved in Olympics

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.

Dick with his mother and two sisters, shortly before they left Ireland. Despite being minor gentry, things had obviously got quite tough, as they’re wearing home-made clothes.

Remembering the contributions of the Anglo-Irish

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.

Erich McElroy on his American and British identity

REVIEW: Comic McElroy on becoming British, pessimism and pubs

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.

Production image from Glasgow Girls. Photo: Stratford East

REVIEW: Glasgow Girls receives standing ovation

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.

From left: Anthony Clavane, Maureen Grant, Sunder Katwala, Riz Rehman and Jason McKeown.

Bradford’s cup run must stimulate more city pride

"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.

A Wembley Cup themed beer tap at the Corn Dolly pub in Bradford

How the Wembley fairytale has brought Bradford together

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.

Welsh rugby players Rhys Priestland and Ryan Jones at the 2012  Six Nations Grand Slam. Photo: mattappleby

Tackling the question of Welsh pride in rugby

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.

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London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week models British innovation

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.

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Where are you from? Interviews from our video series

As part of our British Histories series, British Future asked actor Harman Singh and political assistant Mario Creatura what it means to be British and which forces have influenced their identities.

National Maritime Museum

REVIEW: Traders: The East India Company & Asia

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.

The outside of New West London Synagogue, one of the oldest synagogues in London, which opened in 1879. Photo: Emmanuel Dyan

Being Jewish and being Israeli don’t mean the same thing

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.

Photo: The Laird of Oldham

How will Scottish referendum outcome affect feelings of national identity?

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.

Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, visiting Birmingham as part of their Diamond Jubilee Tour. Photo: West Midlands Police

Even JK Rowling wouldn’t have made it a more magical year for the royals

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.

The New Patriotism: Beyond the Spirit of 2012

Farewell to 2012, the year of British exceptionalism

The spirit of 2012 challenged the core instincts of both left and right, argues Sunder Katwala. But will that optimistic sense of what is distinctive about Britain survive into 2013?

Photo by J. Nathan Matias (Rubberpaw)

Don’t make race a barrier to adoption, say public

Britons from ethnic minority backgrounds are most likely to say that race should not be a factor in finding adoptive parents for children in care, new polling shows.

Mixed race marriage

Love across divides: what matters?

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.

Bangor in Wales

Welsh country life: what’s there for young people?

Living in pretty north Wales might be idyllic appearance for some. But for the youth of the area there are many issues lying beneath the wondrous setting, writes Bryn Llywelyn Lewis.

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VIDEO: Himesh, Britain

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's Warren Nettleford

VIDEO: Warren, Dudley

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.

Couples in Paris

England, France and Russia: Living as a mixed race couple

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 Melting Pot Generation

Mixed Britain: Changing the way we think about race?

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.

The New Face of America

“Mongrel nation”: How is the face of Britain seen now?

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.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Forever India

‘Challenge idea of white British WWI’ says teacher

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.

Is there a new patriotism in Britain after 2012?

VIDEO: A new patriotism in 2012?

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.

Hull University Odyssey; 400

To Hull and Back Again: Poles connecting

University of Hull Professor Martin Goodman describes how Polish migrants have become integrated into the Hull community, and how the university is even home now to a Polish consulate.

St George's Day

“I’m English, but not British”

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.

A video about Northampton's shoe industry

VIDEO: Marching through Northampton’s shoe history

It's the town where Dr Marten's first made their mark, and Oliver Cromwell got his marching boots; British Future's Rachael Jolley returns to Britain's shoe town Northampton.

WWI sporting hero Jack Harrison

Who was greatest sporting hero who died in the Great War?

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.

Crosses on Remembrance Sunday

“Centenary will help bring a new insight into WWI”

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.

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“Lack of knowledge of Indian soldiers in WWI must change”

Britain must learn more about Indian soldiers in WWI British army, argues Shiraz Maher.

Does Your Rabbi Know You're Here? by Anthony Clavane

The hidden stories of Jews and English football

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.

University careers fair

You can get work skills at university, if you want to

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.

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What Bond’s Skyfall tells us about Britain: A review

With a strong theme of old versus new, the latest James Bond epic, which premiers tonight, tells an interesting story about Britain today, writes Georgia Hussey.

Lauren: Swindon

Growing up abroad only made me feel more British

From her Brazilian classmates admiring her accent to living the British ex-pat lifestyle in Malaysia, Lauren says that living abroad through her childhood has only made her feel more British.

Flag of St George

Stereotyping the English

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.

Belfast riots, Northern Ireland

The Belfast riots: Why they happened

Youth unemployment and a failure of multi-culturalism have fed into the current troubles in Northern Ireland, writes Dr Robin Wilson.

Generation 2012 audience voting

VIDEO: Generation 2012 debate in Stratford

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.

Audience at Generation 2012

What do generation 2012 think about immigration?

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.

British identity and the Olympic Ceremony

The Olympic ceremony: As seen in Serbia

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.

British Social Attitudes cover on social attitudes

Skills trump culture in migration attitudes, BSA shows

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.

A flag at the Stratford Olympic Park

Report shows public want legacy of 2012, not just feelgood moment

British Future's latest publication TeamGB report: How 2012 Should Boost Britain shows that most people want the spirit of 2012 to last - and asks what we can do to bring about a positive change.

The entrance to the London Olympic Park

We need a 2012 legacy that lasts

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?

Olympic gold postbox in Watford

What Watford thinks of their golden boy

British Future’s Binita Mehta in her hometown of Watford speaking to local residents about the Olympics and their newly painted gold postbox.

London 2012 and British identity

Will Olympic pride inspire more British Asians to compete?

Binita Mehta attended the London Mela, to ask British Asians what the 2012 Olympics had meant to them.

British identity and the Olympic Ceremony

Have the Olympics ushered in a new, positive Britain?

Britain is beaming following the Olympics, with 58% agreeing that the Olympics will leave a long-lasting positive impact on British society. What needs to be done to make sure this happens?

Olympics merchandise on sale at the London 2012 Olympic park

Flying the flag for Britain

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.

Wales and British identity

“Jade Jones: Welsh national hero”

Celebrating her victory with the Welsh flag and the Union Jack, Olympic gold medalist Jade Jones's success brought British patriotism and Welsh pride together, writes Daniel Lloyd.

A volunteer at the Olympic Park

How Team GB reflects the making of modern Britain

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.

Andy Murray commemorative stamp

Great Scot teamwork pushes up GB medal haul

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.

Supermarket aisle

Vouchers and ready meals: a lesson in student economics

Rising food prices and a lack of part-time jobs is pushing student bank balances to the brink, writes Loughborough University student Sarah Cottam.

Photo: openDemocracy

Why Foreign Office needs to engage with British Pakistani community

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.

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Girish Mehta

Flight from Amin, 40 years on

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.

“No contradiction in English and British”

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.

2012 Olympic rings in Scotland.

Olympic games is not an Anglocentric affair

As Chris Hoy bids for gold on the cycling track today, Robert Outram taps into the Scottish Olympic sentiment.

Robin Linnecar, director of the City of London Festival

The heart of London: celebrating art at the City of London Festival

London may be known as a great financial centre, but it’s the arts that are at the heart of London life, says Robin Linnecar, one of the directors of the City of London Festival.

Windrush at the London 2012 opening ceremony

Our island story

Sunder Katwala reviews the Olympic opening ceremony, and says that it shows an inclusive Britishness can be pretty irresistible

Flags sporting the Olympic rings

Fans at Olympics say good chance for “everyone to come together”

Young football fans Rana and Hannah from Birmingham said the Olympics were a good chance for everyone to come

The London Olympic 2012 park in Stratford

Humour is great part of British Olympics

It's all just about to start, the Olympic moment is here, but this is also a time to assess what the Games mean to us and what they say about modern Britain, says Sunder Katwala.

Stats about the 2012 London Olympics

The real Olympic opening ceremony?

Most people think the Olympics will begin with Friday's Olympic Opening ceremony. But London's 2012 Olympiad will actually begin in Wales.

Generation 2012 cover

Generation 2012: optimistic and practical

British Future's new report Generation 2012 speaks with an age group who have been dubbed by some the “lost generation” to identify the challenges facing them.

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Jerusalem is David Cameron’s choice of English anthem

David Cameron would be tempted to choose Jerusalem as an English anthem for England’s sporting teams, the Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader has said, when asked by British Future.

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Olympic torch journey has touched many hearts

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.

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Hackney Community College interviews

VIDEO: Generation 2012 interviews

British Future interviewed students aged between 18 and 24 about their concerns, hopes and fears. We also talked with them about their thoughts about Britain today.

Photo: .craig

The rules of love

Binita Mehta reports from an event protesting new visa regulations that will disproportionately hit families, women and the poor.

Promised Land panel discussion

Review: Promised Land

Matthew Rhodes reviews Promised Land, a play about Leeds, its football team, identity and belonging, which is followed by a video of the discussion that ensued.

Photo: gigijin

Politicians’ approach to immigration is “too predictable”

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.

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Why do non-white Brits feel that little bit more British?

New research shows a strong sense of minority patriotism. Might it be time to stop being surprised, says Sunder Katwala?

La Gazzetta dello Sport Balotelli cartoon

Can the Balotelli generation change Italy?

Mario Balotelli will not change how Italians think about nationality overnight but he does show how the symbolism of sport helps us to talk about who we are, says Sunder Katwala.

Photo: Andrew M Howe

Tribalism can be a positive way of uniting communities, says author Anthony Clavane

Author Anthony Clavane spoke to British Future about Leeds, identity and the positive and negative aspects of tribalism in football.

Photo: Kaustav Bhattacharya

“Miliband forgot to talk about integration”

Ed Miliband forgot to address the public's worries about integration in his big immigration speech, argues Max Wind-Cowie.

Ed Miliband

“Ed Miliband’s immigration mea culpa is mistake”

The Labour leader's focus in his immigration speech was a mistake. Voters are not hung up on what has happened, they want to know what needs to happen next, says Shamit Saggar.

Are we still Leeds Flyer

Why “We are Leeds” was a source of Jewish pride

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.

Kolbassia for Refugee Week

Unsung Hero helping to make London 2012 a reality

One of Refugee Week's Unsung Heroes Kolbassia speaks about his support for Team Great Britain and his long-term involvement with the Olympics.

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Powell: “best understood as part of our history”

Enoch Powell, born a hundred years ago tomorrow, was perhaps the most significant twentieth century British politician who was never Prime Minister, says Sunder Katwala.

Photo: TempusVolat

Boyle’s vision taps British pride in countryside

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.

Photo: jpeepz

Black Power icon inspires young British filmmakers

The Pod Academy's Director Tess Woodcraft speaks about meeting Dr John Carlos, one of the men behind the iconic Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics, and the new generation of Brits it has inspired.

Photo: Aliya Mirza

“It means a united people,” says celebrity chef Cyrus Todiwala

Chef and restauranteur Cyrus Todiwala spoke to British Future over the Jubilee weekend about what the Jubilee meant to him and the monarchy's role in modern Britain.

Photo: Paul Foot

“Everybody has two flags”

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.

Big Ben bunting

Refugees get bunting out to celebrate Jubilee

"I'm looking forward to celebrating my 55 years in Britain," said refugee Bob Vertes, who will be attending a street party in Brixton this week.

Great British Breakfast

What makes Britain and the Brits what we are today?

British Future hosted a breakfast debate in a London pub on what has been the most influential factor on modern British society.

Big Ben bunting

How many republicans are there really?

Support for the monarchy has been remarkably stable for decades. With the Jubilee around the corner, Sunder Katwala says it is time for the republicans to get real.

Radman Hussain Great British Breakfast

Why the Queen is great value for Britain

Fourteen-year-old Radwan Hussain of King Solomon Academy in London spoke at British Future's Great British Breakfast event, explaining why he thinks the monarchy is a positive influence in Britain.

Moving abroad can make you feel British

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.

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The Scotsman coverage

A timeline of This Sceptred Isle discussion

Read on to see the discussion generated by British Future's This Sceptred Isle report and An Anthem For England campaign.

Photo: Sean Wallis

Far right suffer “death blow” in British local elections

British Future interviewed leading academic expert Matthew Goodwin who says the BNP will consider abandoning "ballot box strategy" after their worst election results for a decade.

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The myth of “planet London”

The media increasingly suggest London has a very different world view from the rest of the nation. Sunder Katwala argues it really hasn't and that there is a widespread national pride in London too.

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British Future’s new report This Sceptred Isle released

British Future’s new report This Sceptred Isle aims to open up public debate about how we could do more to create a shared and inclusive pride across the nations of Britain.

Interviews: Do you want an anthem for England?

British Future's fearless video reporter Richard Miranda went out on the streets of London to ask the general public if they felt England needed its own anthem, and if so what it should be.

Spanish protesters Indignados

Lost Generation speaks out on unemployment

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.

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Olympics can be exceptional moment

London's Olympics can be an exceptional moment to show the ties that bind us to Britain, and show off an enthusiasm for the country today,says Rachael Jolley.

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Muamba: Symbol of refugee struggle and success

The plight of footballer Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a cardiac arrest while on the pitch on Sunday, has brought his dramatic life story into public view, says Sunder Katwala

“Electorate should not be influenced by Toulouse”

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.

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“Amis: Britain’s chief miserabilist”

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.

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Rubbish Jubilee message for Queen from Greenwich

Royal Greenwich needs to clean up its act, and clear up the Silver Jubilee's Thames Path in time for this year's celebrations, says Rachael Jolley.

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“Cuts to English courses could impact integration”

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.

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Who are you calling a “Plastic” Brit?

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.

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Review: Migrations: Journeys into British art

The Tate's new Migrations exhibition doesn't communicate the complex experiences of migration, but does have a varied display of art, says Georgia Hussey.

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Being British

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.

How could the Conservatives reach out to non-white Britons?

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.

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In Bed with British Future

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.

Making Bradford British

Reviewing Bradford’s message of hope

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.

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Sneaking into the 2012 stadium ahead of Olympics

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.

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Listen to a new podcast on British identity

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.

Integration Matters

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.

 

Paul Dacre, Editor of the Daily Mail with Doreen Lawrence

“Government needed judical inquiry into riots” ex Met boss

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.

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My London Borough of Brent

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.

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Why the 1948 Olympic torch tells a story

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.

Grasping the thistle

Sunder Katwala reviews a week of thorny debates over the Union, human rights and the role of faith.

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“Government would be right to deport Abu Qatada”

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.

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James Forsyth on British identity and history

Rather than being created by grand declarations of Britishness, British identity has grown organically through history, says James Forsyth, political editor of The Spectator.

Trevor Phillips talks to British Future about manners

British identity is about how we treat each other, and a civic sense of fairness is at the heart of Britishness, says Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

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Hackney students debate integration

"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.

British Future research finds Welsh are most excited about Queen’s Jubilee

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.

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The business of Scottish identity

Robert Outram considers how Scotland’s unique selling points are attracting businesses, and how this could be affected by the direction of the Scottish Government.

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New report highlights what works in integration

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.

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Photos from the British Future launch

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.

Supporting the success of young people

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.

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Forgotten Olympic heroes of 1948 should be honoured

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.

“Devolution doesn’t end with Scotland”

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.

1948 Olympics torch helps launch British 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.

My Leeds – Football, Identity and Belonging

Despite leaving when he was a toddler, Matthew Rhodes has a strong sense of being from Yorkshire...

Why Britain should be grateful to Mrs Simpson

“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.

Geordie nation? Does the north-east feel least British?

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.

Migration evidence should deepen public debate

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.

Jubilee pride to pip Olympic spirit in 2012, says poll

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.

The Eltham I knew

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.

Hopes and Fears for 2012

Today's Observer sets out what the British Future poll shows us about Britain's hopes and fears for 2012.

Welcome to dotdotdot

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.