Tag Archive for English

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.

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.

Why don’t we celebrate Englishness more?

St Patrick's Day has firmly established itself on the annual calendar in England, with the help of a certain brand of stout, but England's own patron saint’s day, St George's Day, is a much more sedate affair. Why isn't it bigger? What is stopping those in England from celebrating Englishness?

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.

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.

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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.

“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.

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My Leeds – Football, Identity and Belonging

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

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National Conversation: England

For Stanley Baldwin, Conservative prime minister of the 1920s and 1930s, Englishness was a sensibility, writes Anthony Painter.

Its essence was a series of sights and sounds:

“the tinkle of the hammer on the anvil in the country smithy, the corncrake on a dewy morning, the sound of the scythe against the whetstone, and the sight of plough team coming over the brow of a hill, the sight that has been in England since England was a land … the one eternal sight of England.”

It is a beautifully constructed political speech. Unfortunately, it describes an England that no longer exists: there is no longer a tinkle of the hammer on the anvil; we don’t hear the scythe on the whetstone; the corncrake is on the RSPB’s red alert list, occasionally glimpsed only in western Scotland and Ireland; and the plough team is now mechanised – not so eternal after all (and already a very partial view of England in Baldwin’s day). As evocative as Baldwin’s speech was, it describes an England that we can only now access through the words and art of the past.

When Englishness assumes a monocultural form, when it is idealised and amplified, tightly defined and dissected, it quickly slips from grasp. Soon after, there is little option but to pursue an elegiac course and inevitably declare its death.

Thus Conservative philosopher Roger Scruton has declared England dead – what else is there to do? His England includes parlour songs, the Saturday-night dance, the bandstand, and so on. And yes, those cultural forms and institutions have almost entirely gone. Sir Roy Strong, in an iconographic account of England, locates Englishness – as an ideal – in rural traditions exemplified by landscape and social order. With breath-taking and unjustified boldness, he argues that this is the England we went to wars for: ‘They did not fight for Manchester or Birmingham but for the likes of Chipping Camden and Lavenham’.

England currently faces threats to its economic, cultural, and constitutional order both within and beyond its borders. Scottish nationalism is ascendant and independence cannot be ruled out. British nationhood is being distorted by constitutional change in the EU. Aggressive and violent forms of English nationalism are asserting themselves to a troubling degree. It’s hardly surprising that while Britishness has assumed pluralistic and inclusive form, Englishness has become a toxic dumping site for chauvinism and exclusivity.

The degree to which it is able to confront these threats will depend on a new political settlement and a more honest and inclusive national dialogue. There isn’t a single view of England. It will be a many-faceted thing: different in Yorkshire to Great Yarmouth, Camden to Chipping Camden, Leicester to Lavenham. And yet, Englishness does have meaning beyond just birthplace and waving a flag, supporting a sports team, and the bulldog icon. There are predominant traits. There is shared history and culture. An English political community does exist even if it doesn’t have its own formal institutions. It has an overlap with Britishness but many of…

For Stanley Baldwin, Conservative prime minister of the 1920s and 1930s, Englishness was a sensibility, writes Anthony Painter. Its essence was a series of sights and sounds: “the tinkle of the hammer on the anvil in the country smithy, the corncrake on a dewy morning, the sound of the scythe against the whetstone, and the