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Subject:What is it all for?
Time:09:07 am
Don't worry, this isn't a long depressing rant. I sat down with Tom last night and talked about the world and politics and where are we all going and it got me thinking. I warn you some of what I am about to say may seem a little controversial but I am not a raving right winger or commie for that matter.

Right, lets start with the point that politics in this country has now become very narrow. The big issues have been settled for the most part with the middle ground, surprise surprise, being what the majority of British people agree with... How did that not get spotted earlier. The problem with all the political parties in the country agreeing broadly with each other means that what you get left with is politicians having to argue over percentages and wording. Everyone agrees we need to improve the health service and everyone knows that good schools need to be provided for everyone, the problem is in the how we get there and who pays. but lets face it, so long as they do not end up taxing us white or destroy these corner stone institutions that make up the bedrock of our country we really are not going to tune in or care about these shades of grey differences.

What I think I want, and I suspect many others in this country do too is an idea of what are we actually working hard and raising our children for. What world are we building. Before 1990 it was all linked to fighting communism. It might not have invaded every aspect of our lives but it was there as a touchstone of what we are doing in the world. Since then sadly, all we have had is the pursuit of wealth for self aggrandisement and satisfaction. Now, don't get me wrong. I worship the mighty pound as much as the next man and wouldn't say no to a lottery win but even with a really great lifestyle and no money worries and no need to go to work anymore I would still, or perhaps to an even greater degree, want to know what is it all for?

What I think this country could really use is an idea of where we are actually trying to go. What is Britain actually trying to do in the modern world? How would we like to be seen in modern world, what are we trying to achieve and how the hell can we get there? No-one asks these questions really. Gordon brown proposes Britain day assuming that the brand will create the substance of the day but unless people believe or even understand the in principles behind the event it will become just another public holiday with a few fly passes and maybe some fireworks.

Now if you have made it this far, (yes, thats you Tom and Lindsay, though I imagine one of you has your head in your hands at the number of typos while the other is now wondering what typos) and congrats if you have, I would love it if you could post a few lines on what you think Britain could be in the modern world. I have ideas of my own but I actually would love to see what other people out there think. And if, god forbid you found this at all interesting please invite your friends to have a read too so they can post. If I get a response I may at some point write what I think we could being doing.
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majic13
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-06-20 10:04 am (UTC)
I'm going to use a few buzzwords, but hopefully in a fairly tolerable manner.

What I'd like is for Britain to stand as an example of a prosperous and vibrant multicultural society, in which the various ethnicities, religions and cultures in the mix get along smoothly and amicably - everyone is able to accept and enjoy the differences of others, rather than viewing them as grounds for fear, resentment or hatred. This requires compromise - both on the part of existing British society to accept newcomers, and on the part of newcomers to make some effort to adapt and fit in, rather than attempting to impose their own cultural values on everyone else.

That's not to say minorities should surrender their backgrounds and cultures, but that they should be flexible and considerate enough to realise that it's just not polite to wander in and start demanding that changes be made to accommodate them without being willing to make changes of their own.

Basically, I'd like to see Britishness as a unifying factor, so while people might consider themselves to have Nigerian or West Indian or Bangladeshi or Polish or whatever heritage, once they've moved in and settled and become part of society they're proud to consider themselves British.

Britain Day would thus be a celebration of the diverse heritage that makes up British society, as well as the cool historical stuff that Britain has been involved in over the years and centuries, particularly with regard to innovation, science and technology. Lots of "here's some cool things that British people have done" stuff.

That's what I'd like to see in an ideal world. Don't know how likely it is to happen, but it's something to aim for.
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filthylucre
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-06-21 07:30 am (UTC)
Steve, I agree with almost all of what you have said here. You look at the cultural mix that exists now in the UK and you cannot help but think we are fast becoming a minature version of the world. If we can get it right then there is hope for the wider world.

If we can get people to acknowledge Britain as a concept of which they are proud because of what we are doing in the world and crucially not because of what happened in the past, we might be getting some where. When I pluck up the courage I will post how I think we can get there.

I don't want people to forefit their history. I want people to know everyone should be proud of their cultural heritage but be invested in a common goal to small or large degree.
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lucifermourning
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-06-20 10:11 am (UTC)
i'm just posting because i'm intrigued by the question. it also calls to my mind the question of the value of patriotism. which is to say, there's this general sense that one ought to be proud of one's country, which is somehow divorced from the idea of that the country should stand for something worth being proud of...

i don't necessarily have a strong point, just meandering thoughts.
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nemy
Subject:Britishness
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-06-20 12:23 pm (UTC)
You know most of my views on this but just to reiterate I think broadly speaking we have lost a sense of what it means to be british. With all the buzzwords and the vaguesness of multiculturalism we need to be a bit more concrete about our aims. Its a brave step but something solid has to be presented to the public as anything less is just too ephemeral, vague and lacking in any substance. Perhaps some of this will be unpalatable but its just my view:
Everyone wishing to be a bristish citizen must>
1. Learn to speak English to a common standard. You dont want to learn and youll be asked to leave. - Affirming the fact that English is the language of the land.
2. You must vote at least once every three years. I may go as far as saying every two but that MPS and people who work in local government are exempt in that they are already contributing to British society - Affirming the value of democracy.
3. You must attend jury service once every 30-40 years (exact figure to be decided). This isnt particularly controversial as Im sure you know. - Affirming the value of justice.
4. My main idea - You must provide 1 weeks worth of community service throughout your life. I'm still thinking about the in and outs of this. But broadly speaking it will be like the VSO. I want people to build stuff together and make this country better no matter where you come from. I reckon it would work like jury service ie companys would still pay employees. Perhaps tax breaks for people who do more than a week voluntarily but limit it to a month. - Affirming the idea of building and maintaining a better future.

so what do ya think?


(Reply) (Thread)


babylil
Subject:Re: Britishness
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-06-20 05:30 pm (UTC)
I think compulsory voting is a bad idea, personally. I think people with no interest in politics, and no knowledge/opinions on which party or candidate is actually better for the job, shouldn't be made to tick a box at random in order to fulfil some kind of civic duty. It doesn't encourage democracy, it encourages random voting that doesn't reflect the true opinions of those voting.

Also, I think it's absurd that in Australia people can go to jail for not voting. I really don't want to see that happen here. Surely it's part of our democratic right to say that we don't like any of the candidates and so we're not voting at all.

I'm with you on the learning English thing though *g*
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


nemy
Subject:Re: Britishness
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-06-20 06:44 pm (UTC)
Whilst I'm not fond of the idea of compulsory voting I'm not suggesting its every year. Voting in council elections would just be as vaild as a general election. It need only be once per 2-4-6-8 years? Surely being informed enough to vote once over that period isnt too much to ask? Perhaps this needs to be another excuse to have "none of the above" on ballot papaers
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babylil
Subject:Re: Britishness
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-06-20 06:48 pm (UTC)
Okay, I could perhaps go for that with either the 'none of the above' option, or requiring some kind of compulsory education about the issues before voting. I can't say as I'm thrilled with either option though, just because forcing people to learn about politics seems too paternalistic, whilst a 'none of the above' option doesn't really solve the problem because it's barely even different from not voting at all...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

ex_thankyouk577
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-06-21 12:35 am (UTC)
I agree with you completely about not putting the cart before the horse: Gordon Brown's idea does indicate a hope that the brand will create the substance.

I would also go so far as to say that issues of citizenship and "British-ness" are not the keys to creating national pride and a sense of identity for the people of this country. When do people most talk about and make an issue out of patriotism? When a country is divided. When a society is strong, its citizens will uphold it out of genuine interest.

Citizenship issues, such as ensuring that the citizenry all speak English, might serve to drum out those who live in the society but do not want to contribute to it, but it won't soothe the concerns of those who are part of society and contribute to it, but feel restless or unfulfilled.

I think that the first thing that needs to happen is a media revolution. Arguably the most negative influence on modern Britain is a media that is prepared to attack any achievement, raise and subsequently destroy people as role models and destroy our ability to perceive what has truth and merit.

We have a media that is prepared, for example, to create health scares out of nothing (such as MMR injections), and acts like Big Brother is a more important issue than war. It's fickle nature is either a poison or a stumbling block for anything that should be portrayed to the nation as a reason to be proud of British achievements.

I would also argue that British people need a sense that we are inventing something. If someone asks where the nation is going, what is more likely to reassure him - a Britain Day, or being told that we are at the forefront of some form of technology or industry?

Or, let me put it another way... which of these three terms do you think actually most describes something in which Britons can take pride:

1. Multiculturalism
2. Mandatory voting
3. McLaren

For all of our ideas of political correctness or citizenship, my guess is that it's McLaren, but correct me if I am wrong. I don't think that I'm just playing on the fact that you like F1, either. What Britons like is to look at the world stage and be able to think - "we made that" or "our country's at the cutting edge in this field".

It's a productive national image to have, especially if it means that people are inspired to gravitate towards rewarding crafts, rather than growing up with idle dreams of being the next media darling.
(Reply) (Thread)


filthylucre
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-06-21 07:39 am (UTC)
The country being proud of McLaren. Hmmmm, god help us when Ferrari start winning again. We'll go into another depression for a decade again.

Seriously though I think you have totaslly got what I am wanting to see. The media strips heros down because policies are not interesting anyone because they are only covering the shades of grey which is in now inspiring or able to sell papers or getting people to tune in. Give them some real red meat of policy they will cover it properly.

Its the old, if you build he will come cenario. If you give people something to be proud of they will sit up and take notice and probably start wanting to engage with the rest of society and maybe even learn English. So this brings me back to the point I made about the direction of the country and what is it all for.
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nemy
Subject:F1ck all :)
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-06-21 11:54 am (UTC)
Hmm whilst an interesting idea I'm not sure I agree that Mclaren represents britishness. The problem of using a corporate logo and "the solid british company" is in one way thats reason why we have arrived at this lack of a common identity. Mclaren is a mostly britsish firm. Today. But in 6 months who knows? I'd like to remind you of British Leyland, Jaguar and MG Rover. Sturdy british brands that now.......arent. The transitory nature of business ensures that these brands we rely on are just that, products with a label on and little else.

I'm thinking that we need to concentrate on the public domain. People like Francis Crick and Tim Berners-Lee. Discovers and inventors that changed everyones world.

In short dont trust to business to help Britain. Business looks only after one interest - its own.

On a side note and one that I hope illustrates my point. Mclaren was founded by a New zealander. Its also now just a small part of the Mclaren Group. Which includes Vodaphone and that well known british company..Mercedes.
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lawrencegillies
Subject:Re: F1ck all :)
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-06-21 03:32 pm (UTC)
Vodaphone are sponsors.

Mercedes as well as being the engine supplier do own a large chunk of McLaren.

McLaren have for some reason never seemed to reach the levels of popularity that a team like WIlliams have had in the past. It may be that this was due to Williams having home grown drivers such as Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill.

Actually F1 in general has been dominated by teams based in Britain. Williams , Spyker, Honda, Mclaren, Renault, Red Bull, are all based in Britain. The teams that I can think of based outside the UK are BMW (Switerland), Toyota (Germany), Super Aguri (Japan, I think) Ferrari (Italy) and Torro Rosso (Italy I think, althought they may be based in the UK as well - Filth would know) So more than half the teams!
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ex_thankyouk577
Subject:Re: F1ck all :)
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-06-21 11:50 pm (UTC)
The point is not necessarily whether McLaren is British by precise definition; perception is the key. The perception is of F1 cups being raised to the sound of the British national anthem.

If a nation can see itself as productive, its citizens can feel proud. As a further demonstration, I could point out that, in three words, we have a well-known phrase about a point of pride for a nation: Fine. German. Craftsmanship.

Similarly, Americans would take pride in the idea of a productive USA. Multiculturalism may not impress the conservatives, and mandatory citizenship requirements may not please the liberals. But I think that, if you want to make any American proud of their country, then show them a product that is useful or pioneering. Then show them the words "Made in America".

Invention, industry and productiveness win the hearts and minds of a nation.

Even if McLaren could easily be in the hands of foreign owners later, it still has value as a national inspiration while it is seen as a success story for British design. And it doesn't have to be McLaren; the important thing is that the British keep inventing and innovating, in whatever context.
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[icon] What is it all for? - Filth
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