Roy Hattersley

I am English, not British but English.I am very proud about it, very patriotic about England.

Hattersley: Peak District is home

But it’s not the England that once ruled the world – or at least half of it – that I feel proud of, it’s a gentler England, an England that’s kinder than that.

It’s an England that’s associated with Shakespeare, with Elgar, with cricket, and, above all, the landscape.

I live in the Peak District. It’s where I call home. The history has got something to do with it. It’s got so much history you could cut it with a knife, but it is what England stands for as you see it now, beautiful, and gentle and at peace.

This is my England, the only place I could possibly want to live.

I look at my passport and it says citizen of a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and I say well that’s legally what I am. But what I feel, what I know I am in my bones, is English, not British but English.

I like our diversity, different weather, different sorts of country and different people. We are all mongrels in England and I like the idea of a mongrel nation, not one that says it’s special because it’s particular, because it comes from one blood line. We came from all over the world and we made one country and it’s called England and I like living here.

I don’t make any special claims about the English. We didn’t invent democracy. We are no more tolerant than other countries, we are no freer than most of the countries in Europe and certainly no more prosperous.

It’s just the sort of place I want to be, I even like the weather. It is rain that makes it a green and pleasant land.

I’d hate to be somewhere were it didn’t rain for six months of the year.

If there’s one thing that makes us different we don’t go on about being English. We don’t go on about our nation except on St George’s Day, but that’s special.

This is the truth of it: When the chicken hatches it’s infatuated by the first hen that it sees. Well, England is the first thing I saw when I came out of the egg and I’m infatuated by it. Always have been, always will be.

Roy Hattersley, Journalist and former Labour minister