Sunday, April 05, 2009

Bishop Is Right to Blast 'British' Bull

Spring is in the air and a young man's fancy turns to - England. But will St George come on down from the terraces and return to his rightful place at the heart of the nation? The Archbishop of York reckons the time is right. 

The flag of St George is hidden, buried, defiled and downcast in a crusade against the nation. Time to do more than just lie back and think of England. 

The country is being force-fed a diet of Britishness, with only the occasional outing for the nation in the sports stadiums and on the towers of the churches of England. 

The Orange Party has never bought into this Britishness thing and suspects some nasty little political motives at work behind the scenes. 

But St George isn't dead. He's the proverbial Monty Python parrot. He's only resting. Trotted out as English pride in football and ruby and holding its own alongside similar Welsh, Scottish and Irish pride in the sporting arenas of England and everywhere else. 

Now the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has heaped praise on the England football team and fans for rescuing the flag of St George from the bigots, turning it into a banner of unity. A symbol of modern Englishness.

Once a year it's begrudgingly let out of its Britishness box for St George's Day. But the Bishop reckons England’s patron saint is now such a positive national symbol, it could be time to recognise his day as a public holiday.

Not too long ago anyone flying the flag for England was instantly branded a racist as the wave of misguided multiculturalism swept the country and anyone whispering Englishness branded a bigot. 

The Orange Party does not, cannot and will not accept that argument. Why can't an old leftie have a dose of English pride in a liberal democracy? Britishness doesn't exist. Never did. It's a figment of the politically correct NewLabourspeak imagination. And so-called "Britishness" is as illeberal as the pseudo-liberals can get. 

Nothing to do with Britishness, it was spun to bolster Brown, as New Labour's support evaporated in swing English regions. New Labour's cack-handed attempts to resuscitate a British 'national' identity were desperate, motivated by self-interest rather than national pride. 

Britishness can be viewed just as much a sign of exclusion tinged with racism, as the flag of St George, the saltire of Scotland or the Welsh dragon. 

Sentamu offers a ray of hope. The Orange Party has a lot of time for the Uganda born archbishop. He wears his Christian heart on his sleeve, speaks with humility about humanity. Most of all he's not afraid to speak out. Even if that does get up the nose of the pseudos. 

Go along to any football or rugby game. The songs on the terraces are sung by children and adults, men and women, minority and majority ethnic groups belonging to all faiths and religions. You cannot get more inclusive than that. A "shared narrative" if you like the New Labour lingo.

The penny finally dropped when Brown's half-baked plan for a British Day was declared dead in the water. There never was such a thing as Britishness, expect in an ad man's dream and in the minds of smart alecs who dream up television programmes and political soundbites.

Sentamu, the most senior black Anglican, warned that it was vital for the country to find a sense of identity by looking deep into its largely Christian history using symbols such as St George.

It was vital he said “not to forgo our appreciation of an English identity for fear of upset or offence to those who claim such an identity has no place in a multicultural society. Englishness is not diminished by newcomers.”

Those who smell a scent of nationalism and the destruction of the United Kingdom in Sentamu's sentiments have nothing to fear. This has nothing to do with the constitutional monarchy of a United Kingdom. No one is arguing that should change. But the danger it is may not be united for much longer. 

Without this, Sentamu warned, more dangerous influences could fill the vacuum, “whether it be the terror of salafi-jihadism or the insidious institutional racism and bigotry of the British". 

A liberal democracy? Brown's plan to celebrate Britishness had nothing to do with national identity or pride. It was motivated by pure self political interest, an attempt to recreate Blair's 'Cool Britannia', a nostalgic throwback to days of Empire and a belated attempt to get naturalised UK citizens 'on side'.

The Orange Party has long argued that St George's Day should be a national holiday, sitting alongside a St David's Day national holiday for Wales. Scotland and Ireland already have one for their patron saints. 

Shakespeare placed St George at the heart of the national conscience, Spenser too in the Faerie Queen. As St George's Day approaches, the calls will be made once again for a St George's Day but will fall on deaf ears. 

With a twisted irony, the biggest stumbling block to Englishness is the English themselves. That English temperament prefers to sit back, fall down and let political correctness trample all over us, do nothing, look awkward and hope it will all just go away. 

Lie back and think of England but do nothing about it while the country is raped and ravaged and the English heart is ripped out. 

It's time for the English to wake up and take a lesson from Sentamu's heartfelt plea.

The Bishop rounded off his English sermon with the words of 'Land of Hope and Glory' and everyone joined in singing a verse of 'Jerusalem'. Now that's pure Heaven.

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