You never appreciate what you’ve got until you lose it. I most appreciate England when I am in another country. It’s the little things you miss – the green landscape, the village shop, the pub, the Daily Telegraph. But summing up what England means to me in a few sentences is quite difficult. There’s no one thing – it’s the sum of many things. Having been brought up in a small Essex village in the 1960s and 1970s it’s the village atmosphere which, to me, sums up what it means to be English – a respect for tradition and institutions, a sense of belonging, an affinity with the earth.
The English are a proud people, patriotic without being nationalistic. They are also understated, not quite comprehending what they have given the world. They are not given to overt outbursts of emotion. Being English still remains having a stiff upper lip, albeit that it has become a little more quivery in recent years. Above all, being English means having a sense of fairness and a perverse liking for the underdog. My Englishness is part of who I am. And it makes me proud to have been born in the greatest country on earth.
Iain Dale is an author, political commentator and one of the country’s top political bloggers.