23 February 2012

Listen to a new podcast on British identity

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Featuring an interview with British Future’s Director 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.

“It’s going to be a very interesting year for Britain, and that’s a good opportunity for British Future as well, because what we’re hoping to do is open up the public debate about identity, about the anxieties that people feel, whether that’s about integration or immigration, about the economy and fairness of economic opportunity,” says British Future Director Sunder Katwala.

This year will be an anxious one, Katwala admitted, but the report has shown that it is also a year that people are excited about: “We found in the polling we did for the Hopes and Fears report that people are feeling rather hopeful and have an appetite for national occasions like the Olympics and the golden jubilee, which I think reflect an appetite for more things that bring us together.”

This support for the upcoming celebrations tells us something important about British people, says Katwala. “People are looking for moments and occasions that bring us together.  We like the individualistic freedoms of, for example, the internet – the ipad, the ipod, and the satellite channels so we can watch whatever we want whenever we want to, and when we have go all those freedoms to be ourselves in whatever way we want, we slightly miss the moments that bring us all together, so we are all doing the same thing, and all talk about the same thing – so I think street parties will probably be as popular in 2012 as they were in 1977.”

An important part of framing British identity is learning history, argues Katwala. “If we say we’ll talk about Henry VIII and his six wives because that is a story that doesn’t create any contention…but it’s not possible to teach the story of Britain and how we became this society because we’ve got a choice between teaching a 1950s  imperialism where we’ve want to paint the globe pink, or saying it was all terrible and shocking.  That would be an odd thing to do because we can have a confidence in the history that has made us who we are.”


To listen to the podcast and read the full transcript from the interview, visit the Pod Academy website here.

Duration: 0:21:24

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

Here are some photos from the British Future launch, held at the Museum of London Docklands:

British Future’s latest activity on Twitter