Teaching Britishness

The government’s has announced its a review of whether to make Britishness lessons compulsory for 11-16 year olds. The lack of community cohesion was first highlighted in the Bradford riots reports, the growing criticism of multiculturalism and in particular, the 7th July bombings has further focused minds. A patriotic Britishness is also a conerstone of Brown’s vision for government. A range of contributors offer their thoughts on the idea of teaching British values.

  • The People’s Front of Judea

    I think there might be something in this. I’ve lived in England for 8 years and feel reasonably qualified to recognise ‘Britishness’ and, you know what?, it bears precious little resemblance with the hamfisted attempts ‘Britishness’ that I encounter when back home.

  • elfinto

    What a load of rubbish? How to hell do you ‘teach’ Britishness? It is a totally nebulous concept. As over 50% of English voters polled do not believe that a Scottish MP should become Prime Minister it’s unlikely Brown will have the opportunity to put his gimmicky ideas into practice.

  • bootman

    Russification failed so will britification

  • elfinto

    PFJ,

    The ‘Britishness’ in Norn Iron is totally foreign to people in England.

  • The Judean People’s Front

    One is tempted to say “f**k off”!

  • Manc

    Presumably this won’t be compulsory in NI?

  • The People’s Front of Judea

    elfinto,

    Exactly. You can see some parallels at the minute as this place gets hyped up for the World Cup (flags and all that nonsense – I even saw one on a lamp post the other day FFS!), but in the general run of things its like a diferent world.

  • BogExile

    elfinto:

    We are the original Little Britons – we just haven’t had the sketch written yet.

  • The People’s Front of Judea

    The Judean People’s Front

    Splitter!

  • PHIL

    When will this government learn? The people of England want English values to be respected yet Brown and co. keep peddling their “Britishness” nonsense in a cynical attempt to convince us that they are one of us. I’ll bet that they don’t try to impose this on Scotland, Wales or NI.

  • Mardy Bum

    PHIL-

    What are these “English values” that you say English people want to be respected? I must have missed both the memo explaining what they are and your phone call asking us all whether we wanted these values respecting.

  • If we did this in Ireland (ROI) how many unionists would be calling us monocultural/xenophobix/other nice buzz words? Just curious, a rough figure?

  • Shuggie McSporran

    I welcome this move.

    The first step should be to introduction of compulsory teaching of all the British languages – Scots, Gaelic, Irish and Welsh – in all schools throughout the UK.

  • TheVoiceOfTreason

    It seems the only people who care about “Britishness” these days are the unionist types in Norn Iron and they aren’t even British !

  • BogExile

    Shut UP! We’re as British as Basra

  • elfinto

    It seems that Blarite spin and half-baked policies driven by focus groups are set to be replaced by Brownite spin and half-baked ideas.

  • fair_deal

    maca

    “how many unionists would be calling us monocultural/xenophobix/other nice buzz words?”

    Very few because Unionists believe the internal affairs of the Republic of Ireland are its own business.

  • Pat

    Shuggie

    Why have you not mentioned the ancient language of the Broons, is that 10year old language not worthy of being accepted as British and funded to the tune of many millions. After all there are over 1 million Ulster Protestants that have grown up speaking the Broons as their first language!

    If the Broons is not accepted as an equal language it is nothing less than a smack in the mouth to the loyal sons of Ulster, and would suggest you are treating it as nothing more than a hard to understand dialect – like a Newcastle Geordie brogue!

    The ancient language of the Broons should be fully supported to the tune of about 1 billion pounds a year, which can easily be subsidised by the English exchequer.

  • Stephen Copeland

    I think it would be a good idea if those residents of the north of Ireland who consider themselves British (in the spirit of the GFA I respect that choice) were taught actual British values and encouraged to aspire towards a British way of life.

    That way we might finally see the end of the bigotry, sectarianism and medieval cultural practices that some of them still practice, but which are largely absent in Britain.

    I’d be even happier if they would learn Scandinavian values, but I guess that isn’t on the menu.

  • PHIL

    Mardy,

    They would be largely the same values that the government would describe as “British” values, but they can’t call them English as that would let the geenie out of the lamp that the British “nation” no longer exists.

  • The People’s Front of Judea

    Pat,

    I went to school in Ballymena so I nominate myself as the new Broonspeak Tzar.

    SC
    ‘I’d be even happier if they would learn Scandinavian values, but I guess that isn’t on the menu’

    There’s a nightclub in Belfast known as Sweden due to the amount of peroxide on the go so there’s hope yet.

  • crataegus

    Ensuring all children can properly speak the language in common use is sensible. Teaching children to be good citizens and respect for others is wonderful, but when you start to package it in a flag then what it shows is a government in decline and in trouble, so time to be patriotic.

    Good citizenry is simply that and it has little to do with Nationality. All nations have saints and demons.

    Cohesion is produced by mixing, living together, being educated together, marrying people from other backgrounds it is a separate issue and takes generations.

  • Fair Deal

    “Very few because Unionists believe the internal affairs of the Republic of Ireland are its own business.”

    Not quite true is it? Most unionists are quite generous when it comes to giving their opinion on our state 🙂

  • Katinka

    Nobody on this thread seems to want to be bothered to attempt to define what ‘Britishness’ might be….not easy but there is no point in slagging it off without doing some homework first. I would offer some ideas…
    ‘Britishness’ is an over-arching term for much that we take for granted. It is knowing something about the history of the countries that make up the ‘British Isles’; knowing something of the peoples of these countries, their culture, patron saints, national emblems and so on. This would obviously include the ROI – but I am not suggesting they are ‘British’, just that they have a shared history, and above all, shared values.
    Then there is British democracy, the rule of law, the common law system, the separation of powers, the primacy of parliament, the electoral system, and a civil service that is independent (despite the efforts of the present government). Armed forces and police that are answerable to parliament.
    I am sure I have forgotten to mention other important things. I know that ‘British’ is not perfect, and I know that many will say that these things exist in many other countries, quite right, the British exported them.
    We are, if you like, a family in these islands. Like it or not we quarrel like a family, often passionately, but come together when threatened by outsiders.
    Some thoughts for starters.

  • Brian Boru

    This should not be extended to NI for obvious reasons.

  • stephen

    English values?

    That’ll be talking shite about your football team’s chances at the world cup, and bringing up 66, (groan), in fact, the english bring that up more times than prods bring up 1690 and taigs bring up bloody sunday.

    The only other English ‘value’ would be to have baked beans with every bloody meal.

    No wonder they are so full of hot air. lol.

    Katinka, a thought provoking post and a good analogy to boot.

    Yes, Britishness used to stand for decency, but in years gone past, Blairs government have distorted that view, and the influx of foregners, as warned by Enoch Powell has further diminshed the nationalistic pride of some, due to fears about being labelled right wing, or non pc.

    I for one am proud to be an Ulsterman, proud to be British, and proud to be Northern Irish.

    To even begin to try and teach this to my children takes time, and to teach it to outsiders (within our country) would be a challenge to say the least.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Good craic boys/girls, wonder if the two above me failed to pick up the IRONY.

  • heck

    Katinka

    “Then there is British democracy, the rule of law, the common law system, the separation of powers, the primacy of parliament, the electoral system, and a civil service that is independent (despite the efforts of the present government). Armed forces and police that are answerable to parliament.

    The rule of law—don’t make me laugh, that is one of the daftest comments I have seen on this site -see threads on collusion!!

    The separation of powers–I don’t mean to be pedantic but this is an American concept not British. Under the unwritten British constitution there is no separation of powers and the queen (in effect the prime minister) is all-powerful. There is no separation between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. This is based in the history of monarchy and Honest Tony exercising power in the name of the sovereign.

    The queen is head of state, head of the church, head of the judiciary and head of the armed forces. In effect this is Honest Tony. He can run a government with just over 30% of the vote, he appoints the bishops of the established church (under the queens name.) The supreme court is the house of loads, which is one (undemocratic!!) chamber of the legislature. With regard to the armed forces Honest Tony can send them where he wants without a parliamentary vote.

    The primacy of parliament–again you make me laugh. Because the executive and legislative functions are part of the same body and party discipline is needed to keep the government there is no independent oversight of the government.

    As to the civil service –well look at Nor Iron.

    While people think the idea of abolishing the monarchy is trivial it is the concept of an all-powerful sovereign (the concept that gives Honest Tony his power) that we need to abolish.

  • joeCanuck

    Copy of my post on another thread:

    I don’t think there’s any such thing as “Britishness”, or “Frenchiness” or whatever.
    There are cultural differences such as the difference between French cuisine and English cuisine (please stop laughing at the latter).
    Everyone of us is an individual and deserves to be treated as such.
    Somehow I don’t thing this idea is going to make much of an impact on potential suicide bombers.
    The kids (and adults) just need to be continually reminded that a core value that most people hold is “Respect for others”. You can disagree with their opinions but you don’t have to be nasty when you do so.

  • smirkyspice

    joeCanuck, thanks very much for that thought

  • stephen

    Being a seasoned traveller, I will take english cuisine any day…along with French, or even Spainish wine….

  • joeCanuck

    Well Stephen,

    Ive travelled quite a bit around the world and have enjoyed a mulitude of cuisines.
    I have to admit, though, that when I go to london, I really enjoy an ale pie, as long as it’s washed down with a pint of good old Liffey Water.

  • joeCanuck

    And talking about Britishness, 30 years ago, coming out of a pub and feeling a bit peckish, what were you choices? Fish and chips or fish and chips. (Well maybe you might find chicken in a basket).
    Today, even in the smallest towns in N.I., where can you not find curry and chips?

  • heck

    joeCanuck

    comming out of the pub did you ever have the great british delicacy “spotted dick” or were you even luckier and had “toad in the hole”

  • joeCanuck

    Heck

    I indeed had both. But not coming out of the pub. I grew up in N.I. before I emigrated and, back then, had only been to london on brief business visits.
    However, both those delicacies were served during lunchtime when I was at Queens (65-69) and i loved them.
    My earlier remark about English cuisine was just a jest.
    My mouth salivates at the thought of going to a carvery at an English country inn followed by awesome cheeses.

  • English

    What a load of new Labour piffle! British History + Culture = English History + Culture (predominantly), what more do people need to know? How to be British! What a joke.

  • Katinka

    By heck, you don’t seem to understand the system by which the Brits are governed!
    ‘Collusion’ – lots of hot air, an attempt to tar the whole security system with the misdeeds of a very few. The ‘separation of powers’ is certainly supposed to be American, but where do you think they got the idea from? It works in a different way here because we have a head of state who is not the head of the executive as in the USA. I didn’t mention any personality, but you do – the Queen may be the head of the state, the judiciary, armed forces etc, and Tony may appoint to these bodies, but once there they are independent of him. They owe their allegiance to the Queen, not Tony. Small but extremely important points!.
    In your penultimate point, have you not seen how the legislature can defy the executive?
    Finally, I forgot in my earlier post the greatest aspects of ‘Britishness’ – the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom to do as you please within the law.
    There is a lot you can teach in ‘Britishness’ And you can start by pointing out the ‘Britishness’ is not ‘Englishness’ (This might be difficult in the so called ‘home counties’)!

  • elfinto

    By heck, you don’t seem to understand the system by which the Brits are governed!
    ‘Collusion’ – lots of hot air, an attempt to tar the whole security system with the misdeeds of a very few.

    Au contraire, katinka. It is you, along with the vast majority of the British people, who don’t appear to understand the system by which the powerful are not held to account for the misdeeds of the security apparatus.

  • heck

    “‘Collusion’ – lots of hot air, an attempt to tar the whole security system with the misdeeds of a very few”. You have got to be kidding me!!—there are none so blind as those who will not see. If this was just a “few bad apples” why did parliament vote for the inquiries act to cover up the murder for Pat Finuciane? If you think this is hot air then you have definitely met the standard for Britishness

    “I forgot in my earlier post the greatest aspects of ‘Britishness’ – the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom to do as you please within the law.” Man –now you have gone of the deep end into fantasyland. (pardon the mixed metaphor)

    There is no right of freedom of speech in Britain. –try glorifying terrorism. This is not new. I remember when I worked in London someone being arrested and prosecuted for selling the Republican News in Hammersmith, I remember Mary Whitehouse (is she still alive?) seeking prosecutions under Britain’s blasphemy laws, try being a Moslem and defending the resistance in Iraq. Freedom of religion—with an established church(!), freedom of the press (now you really are nuts!) I remember internment when numerous detainees were tortured (that great British value). Irish papers reported what was going on but British newspapers were subjected to a D notice. I even remember in the mid 80’s the exposure of MI5 vetting of BBC employees. Free press in Britain my ass.

    I think, dear Katinka, that you have confused the US with Britain—probably from watching too much imported American TV shows. Although imperfect the basis of the American constitution is that the government derives it power from the people. In Britain the basis is that the people have their rights at the will of the sovereign and they can be taken away at the will of the sovereign. This power is exercised by parliament (Honest Tony). Parliament (the sovereign) has no check on its power. You know so and called it “the primacy of parliament”

    By the way I realize George Bush seems to think differently about the us constitution than I but there will be a democratic congress to stop him in a few months. Now he is my idea of britishness. He, like the british aristocracy is the not very bright off spring of a well to do family – he inherited the position, he has contempt for the concept of checks and balances, thinks the executive can do what it wants, he favors an established religion, he wants an empire, he wants a tax system that favors inherited wealth—good god he sounds like Blair. It’s no wonder his opponents refer to him as King George.

  • It’s all tea and crumpet!