Local pride as patriotismJanuary 1, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Posted in British Politics | 5 Comments
Because it’s New Years Day and I missed The Sound of Music, I’m going to tell you a love story.
This is Yorkshire. I like Yorkshire and Yorkshire likes me. We’re made for each other.
There’s a lot about Yorkshire that I like. I like the barren beauty of the Pennines, the lush pastures of the Dales & the neon glint of Sheffield and (grudgingly) Leeds.
I like trivia. I like that Sheffield has more trees per person than any city in Europe, and can stretch from just 30m above sea level to more than 500m.
I like the pick ‘n mix possibilities of our cities, and the rustic monoculture of our countryside. I like that folks from Leeds don’t like people from Sheffield. I like that people from Barnsley don’t really like anyone. I like that none of ’em really mean it.
Lastly, I like the fact that if I’d been born anywhere else, I would be just as gushing about that.
Whilst reading Sunder Katwala’s excellent piece on patriotism and the search for some shared symbols which identify us as English, I was struck by the following thought: what if we’re looking at this whole thing from the wrong angle? Instead of trying to boil down this great vat of difference & eccentricity into a few platitudinous bromides, why can’t we anchor our patriotism in a deep sense of local pride?
From my own experience of teaching, exploiting the inherent attachment most kids have with their surroundings can be absolute dynamite, and watching the enthusiasm they put into something like fundraising for a local charity would quickly dispel any gloominess you might’ve had about a loss of citizenship and a ‘broken society’.
Sure, all this difference is difficult to write a song about, and even harder to accept if you’re looking to reattach patriotism to an antiquated vision of what it is to be English. But it does at least do away with the old conundrum of how you reconcile the more traditional ‘Englishness’ with our increasingly eclectic society.
I don’t know, it’s a thought which might need expanding upon a bit more. But for me, my sense of patriotism comes from a deep love for where I’m from, and the happy acknowledgement that there’ll be millions of people who feel the same way about wherever they live or come from.
In fact, I suspect even Lancastrians feel some affection for their own strange, backwards part of the world! And if you can find common ground between two old enemies, then you know there’s something to it