Norman Tebbit

We are who we are by our parents’ genes, by our inheritance of history and culture and our own experience of life.

That inheritance of history may reach back to a time before one’s family came to this island – in the case of my father’s line, in the 16th century. So, to be English today is to be an inheritor of the most powerful language in the world – literature, art, science and technology, even sport, which have done so much to shape the world, and a philosophy or culture of government which has permeated not just the Anglosphere but great countries such as India.

We English are not an introspective people. We rarely think about England (except in the field of sport) unless something malfunctions. As for Britishness, that wider concept is a way of sharing with others living in this kingdom their history and culture and our own. It provides a banner around which we can all rally for mutual aid and strength.

Since the English have influenced and been influenced by almost every other nation we know that how others see us is as much about what they are as what we are. From time to time, if it seems to affect our interests we become anxious about that, especially if we are seen as weak, a soft touch or an unreliable friend, but being mostly content within our collective English skin we are neither extrovert nor introspective and leave others to make of us what they will.

Tolerant as we are, we do not require outsiders who come to live there to put on an English identity – but we do ask that they respect not just us but our English house – its fabric and its customs. Should they not like it we would not wish to detain them there – but if they and their children wish to join our tribe we see no reason to discriminate either against them or in their favour.

Quietly, as we look back at what the English family has done, what it has given to the wider world, we take pride – not arrogant nor puffed up pride, but honest pride in our history. That pride is patriotism and without it societies disintegrate into no more than crowds jostling for shoulders in one place.

For the English the modern cry for devolution sounds like a struggle to put back the clock and chop up the United Kingdom which has been of mutual benefit to all us British islanders. If that is what the others want so be it, but they should not think that they can have both their independence bun and their halfpenny too.

However, the concept of England is changing. The false doctrines of multiculturalism and the authoritarians preaching the doctrine of the big state ruling a citizenry denied the strengths of family and of religion and of history, has ruptured the English consensus. A growing underclass, the like of which England had not seen for centuries, rootless, feckless, ill educated and violent, has begun to infest England’s great cities. The ballast of the respectable working and middle class families is shifting.

They may look for a while at outsiders from the Continent of Europe to resolve our difficulties – as the Romans and Normans did in their time – and the political classes of Brussels are eager to do today. Or they may look to an English hero – a twenty first century King Alfred – to define as he did what it meant to be English.

His victory at Edington was the birth of England and the English which led through to the Magna Carta, the Tudors, the Empire, the Reform Acts and the 20th century wars to the flowering of an English culture whose power and reach has been rivaled only by that of China at its greatest.
The English must soon choose. To succumb like Italy after Rome – or to rediscover what Alfred found in Wessex a thousand years ago.

The Rt Hon Lord Tebbit, Conservative politician and former Member of Parliament for Chingford.

Will Rhodes

What if England meant as much to everyone as it does me?

Thinking back to when I was a boy – the first thought that always comes to mind is the day we, my family and I, stepped off a DC10 into the frigid air that was London Airport. We had arrived back from Bahrain where my father was stationed, and when I think of the cold, cold air that greeted us, I still think of that as my first recollection of England – but even with that chill, I knew I was home.

Through the long journey back to Yorkshire I knew that this was my land, it was all our land. The history that can be found in England rivals anywhere in the world – but even that was just off the mark.

So what do my fellow Englishmen think of England – for all 50 million of us I would say that each has a different feeling – but for those of us who love England it is something akin to a religious thought. Not that we can quantify it that we have a Messiah – just that we love this land and no matter what, we will stick together through the thickest of problems – for we are, after all, English.

This always leads to a question – even one that is asked to this day – asked, I may add, by Canadians, as Canada is where I now reside. They ask me what it is like in Britain, I always use a generic answer, and that answer is that Britain is a great place. But I still don’t feel the same way about Britain as I do England. I was asked once how it was to be English – that answer lasted almost two hours and drew many people to it, they listened – my friend’s wife asked mine, “How does he do that?” My wife asked her what she meant – “How do all those people sit, stand and listen to him while he speaks?” My wife replied, simply “He is talking about England”

And that is how it is – I am, obviously, British, but I am English first – that is my true love.

The people who were listening to me said, and I did smile at this, ‘That just isn’t the England we hear about’ – and, you know something, they don’t. They do hear about the Queen – they hear about the football violence, some even took the time to look at the internet and find out about England and found ‘our’ castles to be spectacular. Some had been to Scotland and heard how cruel the English were – nothing at all like this guy who was speaking to them. That saddened me to some degree – they had not been to England and seen what England was. London, yes – but very few had left the walls of The Tower and looked at England’s green and pleasant land.

Not only that, you have to look at England for what she is – she gave the world so much, and the world took it – she spread a simple thing called English Common Law around the world – and most countries base their law upon it. England is a place that once you fall in love with – you never want to leave. I have, believe it or not, heard both Welsh and Scot say such things – they saw the England I see.

England was the first melting pot. England was and is made up of so many – we are, as English, ‘a bastard race’ – not the derogatory term but one that joins us at the hip.

England is history, it is modern, too. It is one place that can be said for all men/women. Because once you say – with the pride that many feel is unsophisticated, rhetorical pride – “I am English” – that pride isn’t something that most can have, it makes your heart swell and a tear flow. That pride is uncountable – it is you, it is a part of you that never goes away until your last breath – it is something that calls you home so you can rest there for all eternity.

England is England – I suppose I am one of those who believe that England should be her home country again – one that belongs in Britain, but not to rule others but rule herself. For too long it has been that to be English you couldn’t speak out – you had to be quiet, Politically Correct so as not to upset anyone else – that saddens me more – because that pride of what England is should be felt by all. I must say that I have seen what others are trying to make of my home – they want to tell me I am European – I am not, part of a continent that is Europe, but how can I be European when I am English?

If you are English and love England you will understand every word I type here – if you are not, you will think me a lunatic or a flag-waving Englishman who has too much time on his hands. But that is the part that many around the world never grasp – being English is to love the very ground you walk on because – it is my home.

Will Rhodes is a 47 year old guy who is now living with his Canadian wife in New Brunswick, Canada. For many a long month/year Will and his wife have been planning to go back to England to live. Mainly out of his constant complaint that the butter is right, the weather is way too cold or hot in summer, the slow take up of Yorkshire Pudding and roast beef and they fact that he never shuts up about England, and missing football on TV.
Will is actively looking for a literary agent or publisher so he can get his scribbling out into the world, and make a few quid as well. If you should want to read his bloggings, you can do so here:

Toni Hargis

I’ve been invited to contribute to a Domesday project for the 21st century, and write about “What England means to me”. I am determined to contribute – once I can think of something to say that doesn’t make me cringe.

I was going to write about the smell of an English garden on a summer’s eve, (oh, a tear just dropped), or the pleasure of meeting old friends in a lovely country pub, but it all seems too, well, corny. Then I thought about pointing out to England, that it’s all not as bad as one would think judging by the on-line newspapers – yes, the NHS is in crisis, but at least everyone in theory has access to healthcare. That sort of thing. But that seemed too preachy.

As it happened, on the same day as my attempt at this piece, my son’s English teacher sent him home with an article from the New York Times entitled “Britain Looks for its Essence, and Finds Mostly Punch Lines”. It starts by discussing the recent competition in The Times (of London) to find a five-word motto. I must admit I followed it every day because some of the answers were hilarious. The best included

“Dipso, Facto, Bingo, Asbo, Tesco”,

“Once Mighty Empire, Slightly Used” and

“At least we’re not French”.

But the winner was “No Motto Please, We’re British”. My sentiments exactly. We can’t go around bragging about being British, (or English) although a little less of the hair-shirt would be nice.

Toni Hargis is the author of Rules Britannia, she lives in the USA.