Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Pride and prejudice

Of all of the results from the BBC's The English Question project, perhaps the most telling is the fact that more than 60 per cent of the Leave voters surveyed felt that the country's best days are firmly behind it, as opposed to around 35 per cent of Remainers. Brexit might regularly be framed as a pathway to a brighter future by its supporters (or at least it was in the run-up to the referendum), but in fact they're predominantly driven by wistful nostalgia for a receding past: cricket on the village green, warm beer, unlocked doors, blue passports, no brown faces...

In addition, two thirds of over 65s felt that England is "better" than most other countries in the world (whatever that means). It's this combination of smug superiority (and attendant arrogance) and nostalgic reverie that has brought people to the conclusion that cutting ourselves off from Europe might somehow bring about a return to those halcyon days - which would be laughable if the actual consequences weren't so awful.

The statistics about national identity are also revealing - or, at least, helpful in corroborating the anecdotal evidence that, when it comes to being English, young people are less likely to be proud and more likely to be embarrassed. It always struck me that national pride seemed to be strongest in the Midlands, for whatever reason, and that too is confirmed by the survey.

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