‘Move to another country.” So suggested Lia Nici, Tory MP for Great Grimsby, to anyone not “proud to be British, or of our flag or Queen”, in response to the kerfuffle over BBC presenters mocking the size of the union jack in communities secretary Robert Jenrick’s office.
No, Lia Nici, I have no intention of “moving to another country”. Or even, as many used to say to me, and some still do, of “going back to where I came from”. But nor have I any intention of being “proud to be British, or of our flag or Queen” in the simple way you want.
I have no personal feelings about the Queen, but I’d be far prouder of a nation that was fully democratic without a hereditary head of state.
I’m not going to wave the flag to celebrate every war that Britain fights or every migrant it locks up
As I write this, England are playing India in the decider of the cricket T20 series. I’m rooting for them against the country of my birth. I pass the Tebbit test. But I’m not going to wave the flag to celebrate every war that Britain fights or every migrant it locks up. Unquestioning flag-waving is too often a substitute for thinking about what is actually good for Britons.
There are many aspects of British life and British history that make me proud, many I abhor. I love the Britain that helped develop the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. I hate the Britain that maintains such mean levels of sick pay, even in a pandemic. I identify with the Britain of Thomas Paine and Sylvia Pankhurst, but not that of Cecil Rhodes and Lord Rothermere. You probably disagree with me, Lia Nici, about the traditions that make you proud, and those that you detest. That’s fine. Attitudes are open to debate.
I’m puzzled, though, as to why you think those who disagree with you should “move to another country”. This government, I thought, believed in free speech? Or is it just free speech for those who think as you do? And how British is that?