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Customer Review

on 29 June 2004
Ironically, I disagree with Weight's notion of the death of British national identity, and would argue that his text is evidence of a new, looser and altogether more practical and less emotional "Britishness". It is, however, no surprise that royalist and conservative readers find this alarming and distasteful. The identification of Britishness with royalism is one which has had the most detrimental effect on many Scots' perception of their British nationality (and I would imagine that of many Welsh people), and given the changing balance of ethnicity in this country (Britain), it can surely be of little surprise to anyone that this most lasting symbol of imperialism is most popular with those who most identify with the Empire.
Weight has simply approached the subject from the perspective of the ordinary, the disinterested and the varied citizen of the UK. These are people whose commonality is more likely to be based around sport, music and single issue politics than a uniform identity based on a notion of British nationality. This historical Britishness, Weight argues, has been being systematically made less important by both political and cultural changes which celebrate differences rather than an Anglocentric uniformity.
There may have been Union Flags in London during the Jubilee celebrations. There were precious few on view in the streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow away from Holyrood or the Royal Mile. Nor, it might be noted, in the football stadia of Portugal. Weight, correctly in my opinion, has noted that individuals are now more likely to identify primarliy with the constituent countries that make up Britain and Northern Ireland, and their own perceptions of what that country represents, than with the whole: this does not mean that people necessarily wish to abdicate its benefits at a European or global level. Weight's problem will be convincing those who perceive white, affluent England as being the rule against which "Britishness" must be measured and hence defined.
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