When should we use the word British?

The following is an email we received. We invite you to leave your comments.

There is no such nationality as British, it is simply a flag of convenience like the tired old colonial flag (union jack). Britain is a complex constitutional and political construct designed to weld the disparate and often antagonistic nations of England, Scotland, Wales and N, Ireland into unit to further the interests of Empire after the ‘Act Of Union in 1707’. There never was a British nation. In fact the meaning is further made meaningless post 1997 devolution when Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland broke away from the union to create their own parliaments and assemblies.

What does British mean to you?

When should we use the word British?

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3 comments for “When should we use the word British?

  1. Hilary
    29/09/2013 at 21:49

    To me British means living in one of the nations of the United Kingdom. You can come from any ethnic background. I think many teenagers would refer to themselves as British rather than English. In contrast I believe any one like me in the older generation would still consider themselves as English, Scots or Welsh first.

  2. George
    01/10/2013 at 10:40

    I strongly disagree with the writer of the email saying that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have broken away from the union- they have not. As for the sneering reference to the Union flag as the ‘colonial flag’, how many colonies did Britain actually have in 1707? Apart from America and the odd Caribbean Island, not many. And for Scotland the Union certainly wasn’t merely an arrangement to further Empire building- it saved them from bankruptcy.

  3. Maud
    10/10/2013 at 14:35

    I was interested to hear recently that we can call the British flag Union Flag as well as Union Jack. Apparently, it is ok on dry land to say both.

    It was 400 years ago today that King James VI of Scotland – James I of England – announced by Royal Proclamation the introduction of what was to become the Union Jack. You can read more about the history and the meaning behind the colours on our website.

    In America, you are not allowed to use the national flag as part of any clothing, you can’t hang it on the ceilings and you can’t use it on napkins. In Britain, it is common to see our national flag stamped on anything from bedspreads to items of clothings including underwear. The Union Jack is not something we pay any formal homage to to retain our validity as citizens.

    “The Union Jack represents the country as a whole, but also a community of individuals, with shared values and a long and often troubled history. It symbolises our ancient freedoms and traditions; the Crown in Parliament, trial by jury, habeas corpus, the presumption of the innocence and freedom of speech, our defence of the weak and defiance of the mighty.”
    George Courtauld author of The Pocket Book of Patriotism.

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