From the collapse of the Union with Scotland to scares about the replacement of Christmas by ‘Winterval’, controversies about multiculturalism, outbreaks of Europhobia and expressions of Islamophobia … Almost every week brings fresh symptoms of the confusion and uncertainty about Britain and Britishness.
This book is one historian’s take on the crisis afflicting British national identity that has reached a peak since the Millennium. Martin Pugh explains how the British people acquired a secure sense of their identity in the Victorian period and why that has unravelled since 1945.
He argues that key institutions like the empire have disappeared while others including the monarchy and the Church have largely lost their former relevance and influence on society. He suggests that one remaining aspect of Britishness has retained its relevance: sport which provides evidence of British success and indications of a viable multiracial society.
Finally he considers why the coalition government enjoyed special advantages in reshaping national identity and why it appears to have failed to realise its potential.
Martin Pugh was formerly Professor of Modern British History at Newcastle University and is the author of thirteen books on British political and social history.