Proud To Be English?

How English do you feel today?

According to a YouGov poll of 20,081 adults we are confused…well, sort of.

The poll found that 72% of over-65s are proud to be English, compared with 45% of 18-24s.

50% of those surveyed think England was better in the past and 1 in 6 think our best days are coming.

English pride is felt by about two thirds of people in coastal and former industrial towns with parts of Lincolnshire and the Midlands being particularly strong but this is less so in major cities like Liverpool and Manchester.

The poll says that pride in being English is felt by less than four in ten people in London boroughs such as Hackney and Lambeth.

The poll was conducted for the BBC’s The English Question project by YouGov with a margin of error of plus or minus 1%. 

You can find out how people feel about things by typing in your postcode on this page. According to this postcode search where I live in Nottingham, 55% of people are proud to be English which is 2% below the England average of 57%. I can’t say I’ve noticed. Perhaps ask again after the World Cup. 

The council level estimates shown in the search box above are based on the poll and a statistical procedure called multilevel regression and post-stratification or MRP …..which sounds really impressive.  

The poll has been widely reported already with an explosion of opinions and all manner of insights from sociologists to shopkeepers. It seems we’ve all got something to say when it comes to  identity and belonging even if we think we don’t have either.

Unsurprisingly the sorts of things we associate with Englishness include humour, tradition and good manners….not to mention having a good moan.

But things have been skewed and twisted as always.

The headlines are keen to tell us that ‘the majority of young people do not feel proud to be English’.

When it comes to wording like this then ‘the majority’ can sound like an awful lot. It makes you think more towards the 90% of the spectrum except in this case, the majority is not far of 50%.

Let’s go back…45% of young people feel proud to be English – that’s nearly half. Why didn’t the headlines play fair here and say that it’s about half.

This puts a different spin on things especially when we say that almost 50% of 18-24-year olds are proud to be English.

Then of course we have to blame someone and who better than ‘schools’ and ‘teachers’.

In a swashbuckling sweeping statement, Frank Furedi, emeritus professor of Sociology at Kent University, reckons that schools have failed to teach children a “sense of pride in the country’s past”.

“In schools they have [practically] stopped teaching history, and the history they do teach tends to be very sceptical of Britain’s past…Instead of seeing the Victorian era as the height of progress, change, industry and the abolition of slavery, it is seen as very negative. Even the Magna Carta is presented as a bunch of feudal lords.”

Furedi thinks that teachers are instilling a sense of scepticism in children about the country’s past but I’m not sure that he has surveyed every teacher in the land to make this statement. He thinks “We are socialising children to regard England as this undistinguished and oppressive nation.”

Really? Where is Furedi getting this from? He has a big brush.

If this poll illustrates anything then it shows us that

1. we can’t rely on the polls

2. the media will pick away at the body of something, choose something meaty and season it with a pinch of drama or devastation

3. talking heads are embarrassing and should not be left unattended

4. schools can never win and teachers get blamed for everything

5. if we win the World Cup then even the Scots will say they are proud to be English.

Hear the debate on talkRadio:

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