Patriotism has become a dirty word to some and a nostalgic exercise for others. For many on the left, it is a problematic concept, seen as the gateway to jingoism, nationalism and arrogance. For the right it is equated with outdated symbols of Britishness like the battle of Trafalgar and the Union Jack. On both sides of the spectrum, patriotism has been misconstrued, misrepresented and its significance undervalued.
A Place for Pride finds that there is disconnect between political narratives of patriotism and ordinary citizens’ pride in Britain. Drawing on qualitative research with over 2,000 British people from England, Wales and Scotland, this pamphlet argues that patriotism does not, and should not, come from either top-down narratives about Queen and country nor from so-called ‘progressive’ notions based on values. Instead, modern British patriotism is founded in a profound, emotional connection to the everyday acts, manners and kindnesses that British people see in themselves. This research also demonstrates, for the first time, the links between greater levels of patriotism and civic pride and pro-social attitudes and behaviours – those who love their country most are shown to volunteer more and to trust their neighbours more than those who are either ambivalent or ashamed about Britain.
In order the remedy the uneasy relationship the public has with patriotism, this pamphlet recommends overhauling the ‘Life in the UK’ citizenship test and radical changes to the way that history is taught in schools. Finally, it recommends new narratives about pride, patriotism and the Big Society – explaining how politics can reconnect with the emotion and the practice of pride.
The raw data of the polling commissioned for this report is available here.