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New Labour, new British nationalism

Gareth Young
2 February 2009
Gareth Young (Lewes, CEP): Gordon Brown’s British nationalism project has been seriously struggling of late. The recommendations of Citizen Goldsmith were remorselessly mocked, a British Football Team now looks unlikely and plans for a museum of Britishness have been scaled back.

But amidst all the gloom there are encouraging signs for Gordon Britishness Brown, as the green shoots of a nascent British nationalism appear on the picket lines of oil refineries, construction sites and power stations the length and breadth of Britain. Bonds of belonging, common purpose and shared values are all evident in spades, and the decision of Scottish and Welsh workers to come out in a display of British solidarity with their English counterparts, and to Gordon’s clarion call of “British Jobs for British Workers“, is a delicious irony.

As someone who has lost about 50% of his colleagues to an Indian call centre over the past year, I have a certain sympathy for those British workers fighting to protect their livelihoods, and I will shed no tears for a prime minister hoist by his own petard.

But are there any lessons for Gordon? Yes, I think there are.

1. Don’t steal BNP slogans.
2. Leave British nationalism and economic protectionism to the BNP. They are more left-wing than you, and for all their faults they have a clear idea of what it means to be British - when they say “British Jobs for British Workers” they mean it.
3. Put emphasis on a pragmatic unionism: economic, not cultural, solidarity.

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