I began to note some ideas of what I actually want to discover in this project as well as beginning to gather some shoot ideas. I found that newspapers were really interesting for me when looking into ‘Britishness’. They have such strong views in what they believe in.
I also looked into definitions of British, English and Britishness to get the basic understanding of my theme title. The main terms that I recovered were, ‘bind and distinguish the British’, ‘unity’, ‘habits and behaviour’ and ‘Britain or any natives, citizen or inhabitants’. I found the last one particularly interesting.
So after getting these dictionary definitions I then did a little bit of research on National Identity. I found Robert Colls beliefs was very thought-provoking one of the quotes really captured my attention, ‘If you want a national identify, people have got to want to identify and have a reason for doing so’, do we want to be British? However, the one thing that really changed my mind-set on my project was, ‘it is a feeling more than an opinion and not a policy statement’. I was in belief that we had to define our culture and I thought that the government decides this but actually what Coll is saying is that this isn’t a legal binding contract that we have, it is a thing that we choose to have.
I also did a bit a research into Linda Colley’s ‘Britons’ book as it gave me some interesting points of views to consider. Colley says that we don’t have ‘Britishness’ anymore, ‘British national identity was no more’, she believes that this craze to be British was present during 1851 to 1951 and that the conditions of believing in Britishness has gone away.
The final main body of research that I studied was looking into political parties. Specifically the BNP really shocked me. Nick Griffin was quoted saying, ‘were not racist. We just don’t like… any British persons whose nationality does not date back to 500BC’, although looking at their belief that they have I am in disagreement. It makes me wonder if it’s the fact a person is a different colour to “white” or if their born in Britain that makes them British?
Linda Colley (1992) Britions, Forging the Nation. First edition; Yale University Press
Robert Colls (2012) British National Identity. History today. Volume 62.