Most people in England, of all ethnic backgrounds, would support doing more to mark St George’s Day (23 April) as a way to bring people together and promote a shared English identity in our multi-ethnic society, according to new research by Number Cruncher Politics for British Future.
Yet more needs to be done to ensure everyone feels invited to the party: only 4 in 10 ethnic minorities currently feel that a St George’s Day event belongs equally to people from every race and ethnic background. One in five feel that it does not.
Two-thirds (66%) of white people in England and 56% of ethnic minorities agree that “Doing more to mark St George’s Day, ensuring those from all ethnic groups are invited to take part, would be a positive way to foster a shared identity in England today.” Just 5% of white respondents and 8% of ethnic minorities disagree.
English identity feels more open today to ethnic minorities than a decade ago – but there is more work to do, with many ethnic minority citizens in England not yet feeling part of St George’s Day celebrations.
Only 39% of ethnic minority respondents to the British Future poll in February agreed that a St George’s Day party belongs equally to people of every race and ethnic background in England today, however, with 21% saying they disagree. White respondents felt more confident that St George’s Day is for everyone, with 54% agreeing that England’s patron saint’s day belongs equally to us all and only 11% in disagreement.
The findings suggest that more needs to be done if we are to make St George’s Day a moment that brings people together across England.
Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future, said:
“St George’s Day could be a moment when people from every background come together, across all of England, to celebrate our nation and who we are. Yet that just isn’t happening right now – and it’s not just because of Covid. We need to ensure that everyone feels invited to the party.
“We’re going in the right direction. English identity is more open to people of all ethnic groups than it was a decade ago. But there is more work to do.
“Many people do mark St George’s Day with pride, but on the whole its been neglected and that’s a great shame. More of us in England will have had a Guinness on St Patrick’s Day than will raise a glass for St George today.
“The recent support for David Lammy MP, when he was told he couldn’t be English because he is black, shows that Englishness can be an inclusive identity that is shared equally by people of every creed and colour in England. The 23rd of April could be a day to celebrate that – so it’s time to show how St George can bring us together.”
Previous St George’s Day research for British Future has found that:
- Only 40% of people in England actually knew when St George’s Day is, compared to 71% who know when US Independence day is (ICM 2013).
- Two-thirds of people in England (66%) feel that St Patrick’s Day is more widely celebrated in England than St George’s Day.
British Future Director Sunder Katwala is speaking today at The Future of England: A St George’s Day Debate, alongside Ailsa Henderson, co-author of ‘Englishness: The Political Force Transforming Britain’, Andy Mycock of the University of Huddesfield and Joanie Willet of the University of Exeter. The event starts at mid-day.