No need for new “Britishness”

Dropping “British Day” is a relief because of the pointless controversy it would have created. Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day are commemorations enough. The move marks a gradual retreat from the more vacuous notions of trying to market ideas of nationality and common bonds that run far deeper than today’s politics. The Constitution Unit goes further and recommends an end to attempts to stick neo-patriotic labels onto values common to most democracies including the UK and Ireland: “It is not necessary first to have a debate about a British statement of values. At best that will be a distraction; at worst it could prove an impenetrable thicket, from which the government will never emerge”.

Instead we should work towards improving the institutions that should work better for us all. The nest stage is for the British Government to drop calling it a British” Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. The penny has to drop that the overall Bill has to be compatible with NI and Scottish ideas for their own Bills of Rights and calling the Westminster version “British” doesn’t help.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London