Sunday, November 27, 2005

What The Labour Party Think Of England

When I first saw this I thought it was a hoax, but there really does seem to be a Terry White in the Communications Unit of the Labour Party.

Dear Correspondent,

Thank you for your email.

Neither the Labour Party nor the Labour Government are pursuing the policy towards England or the English that you claim.

England, as opposed to Britain, has an unfortunate history around the world and within the British Isles and please do not say that it is all past.

It is a fact that the right and extreme right in Britain cloak themselves in the English flag, the cross of St.George and claim to be the true representatives of the English.

Wherever there is hooligan behaviour, usually linked to extreme right-wing political groups e.g. at football matches here and abroad, it is the flag of St.George that is displayed and that, I would imagine, is the reason why the MP referred to this type of 'Englishness' as a threat to democracy.


Terry White
Communications Unit
The Labour Party

We know this is how they really feel about England, but I'm surprised they're so upfront about it.

Of course, England does have an unfortunate history. Just as democracy has many defects and drawbacks.

English history has the same relationship to the histories of other countries as democracy does to all other systems of govenment. It's the worst history - apart from the histories of all other major nations. Or, as Peter Hitchens put it "Britain is the only virgin in a continent of rape victims".

Gareth at the CEP hits the nail on the head.

As I mentioned previously, the failure of the UK Government to build a civic national identity for England, whilst actively building civic identities for Scotland and Wales, contributes to Englishness being exhibited in moments of tribalism and xenophobia.

Rather than addressing the problem the Government are actually the cause of the problem. The longer they stick their collective heads in the sand, ignoring English identity, the more culpable they are in the appropriation of English nationalism as a vehicle for the 'far-right'.

I have a feeling that in years to come this email may hang round the neck of the Labour Party is a dead albatross stylee. I hope Michael Howard is raising this with Mr Blair at next Wednesday's PMQ.

It would be "a useful contribution to moving the debate forward" if all concerned individuals faxed their MP, asking them if they agree with this view of England.

UPDATE - the more I read that mail, the more I wonder what he's on about.

"England, as opposed to Britain, has an unfortunate history around the world and within the British Isles and please do not say that it is all past."

Uh ? Around the world, England and Britain have been synonymous for the last 400 years. Hitler and Co routinely talked of the struggle against 'England'. And 19th century Scots and Irish adventurers were proud to bear the name 'Englishman' all over the world.

Within the British Isles ? Does this mean we need to apologise for Edward I and Cromwell ? If not, can you tell us what it does mean ?

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