I love Britain

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I love Britain. The Daily Mail hates it.

by Symon Hill


What is Britain?...A beach in Wales (© Lydia James)

What is Britain? There have been a lot of arguments after the Daily Mail’s attack on Ed Miliband’s father, but no-one asked this question. The Mail said Ralph Miliband 'hated Britain'.

Is 'Britain' only a geographical area? Or does the Mail mean the United Kingdom, a political group of countries? Or the British people? We talk so much about countries that we can easily forget that nationality is an abstract idea. It is difficult to define.

The Daily Mail's deputy editor Jon Steafel has given a definition of Britain that not many British people would agree with.

Steafel defended what his newspaper wrote, and he said Ralph Miliband had negative 'views on British institutions, our schools to our royal family to our military, to our universities to the church (of England)'.

So Steafel is saying that if you do not agree with the powerful institutions in Britain, you hate Britain. This is not true. Britain is more than its rulers. It is possible to love a country's people, to love it as a place and to be against its political and economic systems. If you love the people of a country, you should want to help them, and try to end the unjust institutions that are bad for them.

I do not really like the United Kingdom as a political group of countries, but I love the places and people in it. Also, I love many parts of its politics.

I love British traditions of free speech, religious freedom and fair trials (although they're not always fair). We have these things because people fought for them, not because our rulers kindly gave them to us.

I love the radical traditions of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. “Radical egalitarian” forms of Christianity became popular in Britain in the seventeenth century, just after England had ended its monarchy (over a hundred years before France did so; this did not last, sadly).

I love the amazing scenery in Snowdonia and the Antrim coast. I love the mix of cultures, languages and religions on the streets of London. I love the friendliness of Cardiff and the way I feel at home when the bus goes over Magdalen Bridge in Oxford. I love the rural Midlands roads that I walked down as a child, cafes in Birmingham, the castle in Edinburgh and the passion of people – all people, even the poor, fight against injustice. I love the British people.

The Daily Mail makes people hate the British working class, British Muslims, British LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people, British people who were born outside the UK and British people who get benefits. It is the Daily Mail that hates Britain.

Symon Hill is an Ekklesia started Christianity Uncut. You can buy his latest book, Digital Revolutions: Activism in the internet age in the New Internationalist bookshop.

As this article has been simplified, the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed. For the original, please see: http://newint.org/blog/2013/10/04/i-love-britain-the-daily-mail-hates-it