Why Shouldn't We Be Proud to Say We Are English? A Provocative View from the 'Ordinary Englishman' Whose Documentary Has Prompted Charges of BBC Censorship

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), April 18, 1999 | Go to article overview

Why Shouldn't We Be Proud to Say We Are English? A Provocative View from the 'Ordinary Englishman' Whose Documentary Has Prompted Charges of BBC Censorship


Byline: ALAN FORD

I AM white. I am an Anglo Saxon and one of the 84 per cent of Great Britain who is English.

In our newly multi-cultural society every ethnic group is encouraged to seek their identity and celebrate it.

Every group, that is, except the one I belong to, which is sneered at by the media, derided by so-called intellectuals and accused of blatant racism if it causes a fuss.

Well, I believe enough is enough. The silent majority should be silent no more. We are a traditionally tolerant people, we are a nation of absorbers which has long welcomed people to our shores, but we are now being abused and taken advantage of in the name of political correctness. Englishness has become the race that dare not speak its name.

I am a Tory, not a Rightwing extremist. I joined the Army at 15, served for more than a decade and now I am a sales manager. I am 54. I have been married for a quarter of a century and have two children, one grownup and one teenager. The most active I have been in politics was to serve as a Conservative county councillor in Suffolk. I have not, and have never had, any extremist links.

Hitler said if you tell a lie big enough and often enough then people will believe it. I say it is time to tell the truth: there is nothing wrong with proclaiming our English identity.

Examine the anomalies. Nancy Bennet, an interviewee on my documentary, lives in Leicester and collects china pigs. One day she came home and found three policemen on her doorstep ready to confiscate her ornaments because she had displayed them on a windowsill and a Muslim neighbour had been offended by them. Val Bates is the landlady of The Ship in Lea on Sea, Essex. She applied for an hour's extension to her licence to celebrate St George's Day and was refused - yet a pub a mile away was granted an extension to celebrate St Patrick's Day.

Go to your local library and check the shelves for a book called Studying English Culture.

You will find in it 55 references to Scottishness, 27 to Welsh, 28 to Irish and 20 to Afro-Caribbean.

There are just three mentions of Englishness. And they are tucked away in the preface.

Now, with the Scottish and Welsh parliaments looming, we can see even more clearly that the emphasis on the nations of the United Kingdom is grossly unbalanced.

LAST year the Welsh tourist authority received a grant of [pounds sterling]14.6 million, or [pounds sterling]6.36 per capita, and the Scots got [pounds sterling]18.3 million, or [pounds sterling]4.81 per capita.

The English board's budget was cut by [pounds sterling]4.5 million to [pounds sterling]9.75 million that's a pathetic 25p per person.

And if you examine the funding for education and health you'll find that pattern repeated.

Take Glasgow and Liverpool, two cities with roughly the same population and similar problems.

Under the Government's latest spending review Scotland has [pounds sterling]3 billion to spend on Glasgow over the next three years, which translates as an extra [pounds sterling]600 for every Glaswe-gian.

The residents of Liverpool get nothing.

In Scottish primary schools there is a new target of one teacher per 15 pupils by 2002 but no such promise has been made to English children. …

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