Proud to be British?
Three weeks ago, just after the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, HOPE not hate asked its supporters what the Jubilee meant to them. We asked whether they felt the celebrations had made them more proud to be British and for their views more generally on Britishness and identity.
We had an amazing response with over 2,900 people filling out our survey.
There were a wide range of opinions, from those who totally hated anything to do with the monarchy to those to who thought it was a positive event and enhanced a positive Britishness. Of course, there were many in between.
We ran this survey because streets, town centres and the newspapers were awash with the Union flag and many commentators saw this as a celebration of a positive Britishness. We wanted to know if our supporters agreed.
The survey results clearly show that our supporter’s view on identity is complex, fluid and multi-layered. Almost two-thirds of respondents believe a national identity is important but then a majority believe a local identity is just as important. Many people who described themselves as Republicans thought a positive modern Britishness was essential.
There were others, of course, who were opposed to the Jubilee celebrations, the monarchy as an institution and any notion of Britishness whatsoever.
Many respondents from Scotland and Wales refused to identify themselves as British and most of these people thought the Jubilee celebrations had nothing to do with them.
Interestingly, however, over 90% of respondents believed that it was important for HOPE not hate to help foster togetherness and positive shared identities in local communities, something we have made a priority in recent years.
Amongst the public at large there was certainly a ‘feel good’ factor about the celebrations. According to a MORI poll 80% of the population support a monarchy, with just 13% opposed. This last figure is interesting as most polls over the last 20 years has shown opposition to the monarchy at roughly 20% and perhaps reflects a positive attitude of people towards the Queen and her Jubilee. This of course may be short-lived as the memory of the Jubilee fails.
There were over 10,000 organised street parties, with probably many smaller events. Over 11 million people watched the BBC coverage of the Thames procession, capturing a 61% TV share. Just over 17 million watched the Jubilee concert.
Of course, what was clear from our survey, many people attended a street party event because it was about the community coming together rather than just a celebration of the Queen.
There were some really interesting comments which summed up the complexity of defining a proscribing a single definition of our identity. While the Government appears fixated about coming up with a rigid definition of Britishness they might be more advised to accept that identity is fluid and multi-layered and more to do with shared identities and life experiences than institutions, pageantry and top down generalisations.