Ed Miliband starts to embrace Englishness


8:30 am - June 7th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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In a speech at the Royal Festival Hall in London today, Ed Miliband will call for a new era of progressive patriotism embracing Britain’s plural identities.

He will say that in particular ‘Englishness’ had been neglected too long by Labour.

The speech sounds like it had direct influence from Jon Cruddas – who has been talking about Labour’s need to talk about Englishness for years.

Ed Miliband will say Labour mistakenly believed that to assert an English identity risked undermining the Union or connecting us to a narrow nationalism of our own.

The Labour leader’s view is that the case for the United Kingdom must be heard in England and Wales, as well as Scotland.

Drawing on his own background as the son of Jewish refugees from the Nazis in the Second World War, he will say that Britain gave his parents the chance not only to live but also to live as themselves without having to fit an identity imposed upon them.

EXTRACTS:

On narrow nationalism:

In Scotland, the narrow nationalists of the SNP pose a false choice. They ask: are you Scottish or British? I say you can be both.

And here in England there are people like Jeremy Clarkson who shrug their shoulders at the prospect of the break-up of the Union.

A narrow view of identity would mean concern for the young unemployed in Scotland does not reach Newcastle or that we in England would care less for the pensioner in Edinburgh. What a deeply pessimistic vision. It’s a mistake wherever you find it. Having to say: Scottish or British, Welsh or British, English or British. I don’t accept any of that. It’s always a false choice.

On his own identity:

I am the son of a Jewish refugee. A Leeds supporter, from North London. A baseball fan. I am proud to lead the Labour Party. I am proud to represent the people of Doncaster North. I am proud to be English. And I am proud to be British too.

To me, Britain is a country where it is always possible to have more than one identity. More than one place in mind when you talk of home.

English Identity

We in the Labour Party have been too reluctant to talk about England in recent years. We’ve concentrated on shaping a new politics for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. But some people in England felt Labour’s attention had turned away.

That something was holding us back from celebrating England too. That we were too nervous to talk of English pride and English character. Connecting it to the kind of nationalism that left us ill at ease.

In the 1970s/80s, the Union flag was reclaimed from the National Front. Since Euro 96, the flag of St George has been reclaimed from the BNP. But somehow while there is romanticism in parts of the Left about Welsh identity, Scottish identity, English identity has tended to be a closed book of late.

For too long people have believed that to express English identity is to undermine the Union. At the same time we have rightly helped express Scottish identity within the Union. This does not make sense. You can be proudly Scottish and British

And you can be proudly English and British, as I am.

On a related note, I wrote about my own move towards an English identity a few years ago.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


And Ireland? Have we to care about people in Belfast too?

Or the Commonwealth? Or the Isle of Man and all the other English tax havens?

The Conservative Party is united by its suspicion of foreigners. Does the Labour Party want to define itself in the same way?

I thought being English was all about:

Clocking off at your Indian employer, jumping into your German car, calling in to your local Australian-theme pub for a couple of pints of Belgian lager, before calling at your Turkish kebabi for a snack to enjoy on your Swedish sofa, while watching Italy play Russia on your Japanese TV

Because Englishness is really something worthwhile to embrace: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/panem-et-circenses-in-britain/ NOT

4. Chaise Guevara

@ 2

…And? You’re more than welcome to only apply for jobs at English employers, drive a Morris Minor, drink Carling at traditional pubs followed by fish and chips to enjoy on your locally made sofa, while watching Dr Who on your British TV set.

You know, if you want to truly live as an insufferable bore instead of just pontificating like one. Or perhaps you do this already and are annoyed at the rest of us for admitting that a world exists beyond the white cliffs of Dover?

5. Alisdair Cameron

For too long people have believed that to express English identity is to undermine the Union.

Not so.
For many though, the elision of the distinction between English and British irked, and undermined the union. In the same way that an overbearing dominant partner in a marriage can undermine that very marriage.

Watching television (BBC) and government policy it would seem that England may be measured from say Canterbury in Kent to about Hemel Hempstead in Herts.
One might be led to believe the rest is an irrelevance.
Mr Milliband represents a constituency in Doncaster, yet lives near another Labour ‘worthy’ the pretend Welshman Lord Kinnock in Hampstead Heath.
Which brand of Englishness proves more enticing, that lived in Hampstead or Doncaster?

Englishness; if people want heritage, tradition and a culture then they will fight to keep it, much as the other home nations have.

Will we re-invent strolling players, Mummers, Herne the Hunter and the Green Man.
Maybe public houses will be forced to host Morris Dancers or risk losing their licence?
Will Englishness embrace Hindu and Islamic festivals and the rainbow of cultural and religious events that may be a part of the lives of the newly arrived English?

I suspect this is just another politician looking for a bandwagon with a few votes on it.

The Scots have an identity – it’s defined by hatred of their larger neighbour, which they blame for stealing THEIR oil and manufacturing wealth. This conveniently allows them to sweep the Highland Clearances (manufactured by Scots against Scots) under the carpet.

The Welsh have an identity too, defined by hatred of their larger neighbour. The northerners hark on about the “Welsh Not” and what it did to their language and culture: the southerners blame their neighbour for stealing THEIR coal and manufacturing wealth. This conveniently allows them to sweep the fact that they are two separate nations linked by a single-track lane under the carpet.

The English have the same problem – people on Teesside and Merseyside, in Cornwall and the Midlands, all of them know the wealth they generate doesn’t remain in their communities. But they don’t have a larger neighbour to blame. They know it’s English people doing the thieving, and there isn’t a carpet to sweep it under, because the b*ggers stole that, too!!

8. christof_ff

He’s just desperately trying separate England from Britain to win back alienated Scots, as Scottish independence will deprive him of a huge wedge of parliamentary seats.
I would quite welcome Scottish independence as the remainder of the UK would surely have to abandon any remaining pretence of being a world power and concentrate on matters at home.

I don’t think Miliband is a guy to take much notice of when he talks like this.
He sounds so unconvincincing. He says he comes from Britain when asked abroad.
I always say England, even though I’m happily British – mostly because it’s a clearer answer.

10. Shatterface

There are two kinds of English people: those who take their Englishness for granted and don’t need to make a point of it, still less have someone define their Englishness for them; and those who like to bitch about other people having a good time at sports events, or on national days, and like to pretend that if they did the same they’d be called racists. Which they might be, by the Guardian, but nobody reads that now anyway.

And here in England there are people like Jeremy Clarkson who shrug their shoulders at the prospect of the break-up of the Union.

Ah, so Clarkson supports independence more than New Labour. No wonder they need to wrap themselves in the flag.

In relation to Miliband’s line:

“In Scotland, the narrow nationalists of the SNP pose a false choice. They ask: are you Scottish or British? I say you can be both.”

Well yes, you can be both; de jure it’s a simple fact, but the vast majority of Scots will I suspect self identify as Scottish first, British second. In itself however that reluctance to “own” the British identity except in a strictly legalistic sense doesn’t get us very far.

I have no problem with the English “re-discovering” their own sense of nationality. There is much for the English to feel proud about, just as there is much for the British to feel proud about in their shared history. Similarly there is much in our past which is less positive, as would be the case for any other nationality.

As a Scot who has lived in England for 20 years, married to and English woman, I find it interesting to see the on-going development of the debate about what Englishness actually means.

As others have pointed out, it is perhaps rather easier to encapsulate what it means to be Scottish or Welsh or Irish; all too often it has related to the desire by the inhabitants to resist (whether physically or later culturally/socially and to some extent linguistically) assimilation and assert their separate identities.

The problem for the Labour party, and the UK project more broadly, is how they preserve the Union in the face of the growing popularity of devolution in the celtic fringes, how that squares with the West Lothian question, and whether they can promote a sense of English nationalism without tearing the Union apart.

The Union is a rather unique institution, with few if any parallels. The fact that it has endured for 300 years and has many positive aspects is no guarantee that it will endure, or indeed that there are not better alternatives.

From a Scottish perspective, the issue is that 2 years out from a referendum the people of Scotland are fairly evenly split; roughly one third oppose independence, one third support it, and one third haven’t made up their minds. Convincing the last will be the key for either side of the debate, and on present form it isn’t going to be done by Miliband harping on about narrow nationalists in the SNP.

Scottish Labour bears a heavy responsibility (its handling of the issue so far has been so abjectly awful that it is difficult to be hopeful of their chances of contributing to a victory for the “No” campaign in 2014) for convincing the undecided third of the Scottish electorate that they are better off remaining in the Union. The SNP only have to convince them that a “Yes” vote isn’t a vote for the SNP, it’s a vote of no-confidence in the current system, and a demonstration that they don’t believe they will be better off with the status quo.

Thus far the Labour party (whether in Scotland or UK wide) has signally failed to promote a positive case for the Union. I would venture that calls like Miliband’s above contain a very real risk of actually promoting the dissolution of the Union rather than protecting it.

12. Trooper Thompson

It never rings true when Labour goes on about ‘Britishness’ or ‘Englishness’. I don’t think they understand what it’s all about. Maybe because it doesn’t fit into their class-based understanding.

My advice with regard to the ‘no’ side of the independence referendum is say nothing, and let the other side blow it. Politicians only annoy people.

13. Chaise Guevara

@ 12 Trooper Thompson

“It never rings true when Labour goes on about ‘Britishness’ or ‘Englishness’. I don’t think they understand what it’s all about. Maybe because it doesn’t fit into their class-based understanding.”

I may be overextrapolating here, but this sounds like it means “middle-class people understand Englishness but working-class people don’t”. Is that what you’re going for?

If Labour’s shied away from nationalism in recent years, it’s probably because it makes liberals uncomfortable due to the connections with fascism, jingoism, xenophobia and so on. The NF appropriated the St. George’s Cross, the BNP tried to do the same with the Union Flag along with pretty much every informal British WWII symbol.

14. Trooper Thompson

@ Chaise,

“middle-class people understand Englishness but working-class people don’t”. Is that what you’re going for?

You think Ed Miliband is working class?

The problem for Labour (and this is indicated in your misunderstanding of what I wrote) is that they see everything in terms of class, but when it comes to Englishness, it cuts right across such categories, so they struggle to know what to do with it.

If someone says ‘I am English’, they can be working class, middle class or whatever and no less or no more English. However the Labourite can deal with Welsh or Scottish identities, because these can be fitted into the class analysis (they are the poor, struggling masses exploited by the evil, conquering English)

“… due to the connections with fascism, jingoism, xenophobia …”

Yeah, I get that, but you should also take into account the anti-patriotic intellectual attitude which George Orwell attacked back in the ’30s and ’40s:

“It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention to attention during ‘God Save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box”

15. Chaise Guevara

@ 14 Trooper Thompson

“You think Ed Miliband is working class? ”

No, but I think if we look at the classes associated with Labour and the far more patriotic Tories, Labour comes off as more working class. Their policies certainly tend to reflect such a split, not sure about the voter base.

“The problem for Labour (and this is indicated in your misunderstanding of what I wrote) is that they see everything in terms of class, but when it comes to Englishness, it cuts right across such categories, so they struggle to know what to do with it. ”

What’s your basis for this? Seems like a sweeping generalisation to me. And no, you can’t use my misunderstanding as evidence as 1) you introduced class to the discussion, so it would be silly to claim I see everything in terms of class simply because I didn’t ignore the word in your post, and 2) I am hardly representative of Labour and have voted for them only once out of general, local and EU elections.

“If someone says ‘I am English’, they can be working class, middle class or whatever and no less or no more English. However the Labourite can deal with Welsh or Scottish identities, because these can be fitted into the class analysis (they are the poor, struggling masses exploited by the evil, conquering English)”

Agreed with the first sentence. The second seems back to sweeping generalisations, with a bit of villification thrown in for good measure.

“Yeah, I get that, but you should also take into account the anti-patriotic intellectual attitude which George Orwell attacked back in the ’30s and ’40s:

“It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention to attention during ‘God Save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box” ”

Fair enough. In reality it’s hard to distinguish whether individuals are turned off by nationalism due to intellectual smugness or a desire to disassociate themselves with xenophobes, and odds are it’s a mix of both in most cases. Probably a vicious circle too.

16. Trooper Thompson

@ Chaise,

I’m only giving my view. To me it always comes over as false when Labour does its periodic ‘let’s reclaim patriotism from the evil rightwingers’ thing, and I think it is related to the class-based nature of socialism and leftism, which makes it difficult to accept patriotism, because it cuts across the class struggle at the heart of socialism.

(btw I would have had much more respect for G Brown if he’d taken the authentic Scottish position on England in the football, as Andy Murray did, although I accept that winning my respect is not necessarily a signpost on the road to political victory!)

17. Chaise Guevara

@ 16 Trooper

It always comes off as false to me when politicians start pushing patriotism. It always seems like a manoeuvre rather than a heartfelt belief. I agree it seems even falser when Labour do it, but that’s because they don’t use that ace all the time like the Tories do.

I don’t see how patriotism nullifies class struggle, or vice versa. And incidently, right-wing economic philosophy is just as class-based as socialism. It’s just that the former tend to keep quiet about it. It doesn’t do to say you’re advancing upper-middle-class interests over those of the working class, any more than it does to loudly identify with being rich, intelligent etc. Overdogs bark quietly.

18. Trooper Thompson

@ Chaise,

“right-wing economic philosophy is just as class-based as socialism. It’s just that the former tend to keep quiet about it.”

I think you are confusing economics with Karl Marx’s critique of economics, or rather his retort at economists who showed up his ideas to be incorrect.

Working on the assumption that by ‘right-wing economic philosophy’ you mean liberalism, a broad subject, it is distinct from socialist thinking because it believes in a harmony of interests, as opposed to a class struggle. Certainly liberals did not deny that there were strata in society, they just didn’t believe that their interests were mutually exclusive, but rather, through peace and the division of labour, we could all benefit. You may reject this thinking, but to suggest that all the classical liberal economists put forward these ideas as part of a conspiracy to delude the masses is foolish.

19. Chaise Guevara

@ 18 Trooper Thompson

I’m not suggesting a conspiracy. It’s not one of those things I often do.

What I’m saying here is that economic liberalism often does hurt the poorer and less powerful, regardless of the fantasy world created by libertarians where beer would be a penny a pint and we’d all die happy aged 120 if only we got rid of all the pesky rules.

Now, some liberalism is a good thing. As with socialism, it’s when you stray too far into one end or the other of the axis that you get problems. Many right-wingers want to move into the libertarian end of the axis, and the Tories are making moves in that direction now.

It’s not a conspiracy. But if someone says that we should (for example) get rid of the NHS and the welfare state and claims that this will help, not hinder, the working class, they’re either lying to themselves or lying to everyone else.

So right-wing economics are de facto a class issue, at least in part. The difference is that socialists are more inclined to use the class issue as a selling point, probably because “sticking up for the working class” sounds better than “looking after the interests of the middle class”.

Although some right-wingers are borderline honest about it. Hence all that stuff about defending the “squeezed middle”.

20. Trooper Thompson

@ Chaise,

“socialists are more inclined to use the class issue as a selling point”

It’s not a selling point. It is the foundation of their world view, whether or not they tip their caps to Marx.

“Many right-wingers want to move into the libertarian end of the axis”

They may want to steal some of our clothes, the same way the socialists have, but they certainly don’t want to wear the whole outfit.

“if someone says that we should (for example) get rid of the NHS and the welfare state and claims that this will help, not hinder, the working class, they’re either lying to themselves or lying to everyone else.”

Or else they are putting forward a rationally-justifiable view (that you may nevertheless dispute), that there are better ways to achieve what the NHS and the Welfare State are intended to achieve. If you reject a priori and out of hand the possibility that there can be a better way to provide health and welfare than the one that we have inherited, then you have made sacred cows of these institutions. Taking the NHS, there are other systems, such as the Dutch or the German or the French etc. Are you telling me that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Aneurin Bevan and dictated the whole thing?

Economics should not be right-wing or left-wing, any more than physics or chemistry should be right-wing or left-wing, BTW

21. Chaise Guevara

@ 20 Trooper Thompson

“It’s not a selling point. It is the foundation of their world view, whether or not they tip their caps to Marx.”

Sorry, but you’re making broad generalisations and are ending up flat wrong as a result. I would call myself a socialist, and I imagine most would agree with the label. But I have no special interest in class. It’s certainly not foundational to my world view. Unless you’re reducing class to the “haves” and the “have nots”.

“They may want to steal some of our clothes, the same way the socialists have, but they certainly don’t want to wear the whole outfit. ”

I think that metaphor got lost somewhere between your lips and my ears. Could you unpack it?

“Or else they are putting forward a rationally-justifiable view (that you may nevertheless dispute), that there are better ways to achieve what the NHS and the Welfare State are intended to achieve.”

Justifable or justified? The fact the libertarians can rationalise their own sacred cow does not mean that it magically becomes rational.

“If you reject a priori and out of hand the possibility that there can be a better way to provide health and welfare than the one that we have inherited, then you have made sacred cows of these institutions. Taking the NHS, there are other systems, such as the Dutch or the German or the French etc. Are you telling me that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Aneurin Bevan and dictated the whole thing?”

No. Use of the specific term “NHS” in my post was shorthand and can in restrospect be ignored. Narrow it to “get rid of the welfare state”, i.e. kill all or nearly all state-funded welfare. Many libertarians like to pretend that this would leave the poor BETTER off, as if solid state support can be effectively replaced by charity and the Magic Fairy Dust of Unfettered Capitalism. Sacred cows indeed!

See what I mean about avoiding either extreme? Extremes, generally, are where you find people who don’t want to listen to the evidence because they’re obsessed with an idea.

“Economics should not be right-wing or left-wing, any more than physics or chemistry should be right-wing or left-wing, BTW”

Agreed, but there’s a big difference between “should” and “is”. Ecomonics either isn’t an exact science, or it is an exact science but we’re spectacularly bad at getting solid answers from it. Either way, obviously, it’s politicised, so whatever *should* happen, the world is not perfect and we have left- and right-wing approaches to the issue.

Is that the new face of the English?

23. Trooper Thompson

@ Chaise,

“Sorry, but you’re making broad generalisations and are ending up flat wrong as a result.”

Put the rhetorical games aside for a moment. You know as well as I do that the issue of class, and class struggle is a central part of socialism and always has been. If you at least admit that, I’ll accept it doesn’t loom very large in your thinking.

You asked for an explanation of:“They may want to steal some of our clothes, the same way the socialists have, but they certainly don’t want to wear the whole outfit. ”

Right-wingers are happy to talk libertarian when it comes to cutting state welfare, but are not consistently libertarian. If you consider the opposite of libertarianism to be authoritarianism, there are plenty of times when right-wingers lean towards the latter – basically whenever they are in power. It is usually in opposition that they temporarily rediscover their libertarian side.

“Justifable or justified? The fact the libertarians can rationalise their own sacred cow does not mean that it magically becomes rational.”

‘Rationally justifiable’ means that it can be justified rationally, even if you disagree. In rational debate, people disagree, but do so on rational grounds. You are implying that people who disagree with you are dishonest or deluding themselves. Why is it so hard to accept that people might genuinely disagree and for rational reasons?

“Use of the specific term “NHS” in my post was shorthand and can in restrospect be ignored”

Pardon me for not knowing which parts of your argument to ignore.

“Extremes, generally, are where you find people who don’t want to listen to the evidence because they’re obsessed with an idea.”

Or people who don’t want to listen to an idea because they’re obsessed with the evidence. Not all science is empirical, you know.

You should watch out for the beam in your own eye, because from what you say above, you seem to deny the possibility of someone disagreeing with your opinion on a rational basis.

“Either way, obviously, it’s politicised, so whatever *should* happen, the world is not perfect and we have left- and right-wing approaches to the issue.”

Yes, there are different approaches and people have different values and priorities, but we have to try to use reason and logic, even though we will disagree.

24. Chaise Guevara

@ 23 Trooper

“Put the rhetorical games aside for a moment. You know as well as I do that the issue of class, and class struggle is a central part of socialism and always has been. If you at least admit that, I’ll accept it doesn’t loom very large in your thinking.”

“A central part” is an unclear phrase, so I won’t be hanging my hat on it. But class has had a massive historical influence on socialism and was probably the reason it was invented. Sure. That doesn’t mean one has to be obsessed with class to agree with socialist ideals.

“Right-wingers are happy to talk libertarian when it comes to cutting state welfare, but are not consistently libertarian. If you consider the opposite of libertarianism to be authoritarianism, there are plenty of times when right-wingers lean towards the latter – basically whenever they are in power. It is usually in opposition that they temporarily rediscover their libertarian side.”

OK, this is not what I thought you were saying. Who wants to wear the whole outfit, then?

“‘Rationally justifiable’ means that it can be justified rationally, even if you disagree. In rational debate, people disagree, but do so on rational grounds.”

Fair enough; specious of me to interpret it otherwise there.

“You are implying that people who disagree with you are dishonest or deluding themselves. Why is it so hard to accept that people might genuinely disagree and for rational reasons?”

It’s not. However, there are certain arguments that I long ago worked out were rationalisations. “Libertarianism will make the poor all better off” is one of those arguments.

I’m totally fine with people rationally disagreeing with me. Doesn’t mean I can’t call a specific rationalisation when I see it.

“Pardon me for not knowing which parts of your argument to ignore.”

I didn’t actually have a go at you for it, so kindly stop being so precious. Is it somehow offensive for me to clarify what I mean?

“Or people who don’t want to listen to an idea because they’re obsessed with the evidence. Not all science is empirical, you know.”

It’s all empirical and rational. What does “don’t want to listen to an idea because they’re obsessed with the evidence” even mean?

“You should watch out for the beam in your own eye, because from what you say above, you seem to deny the possibility of someone disagreeing with your opinion on a rational basis.”

See above. You seem to be in a position where you’ll ignore evidence if it contradicts an idea you hold dear. At least that’s my best guess as to what that “obsessed with the evidence” thing means.

“Yes, there are different approaches and people have different values and priorities, but we have to try to use reason and logic, even though we will disagree.”

Yup.

25. Trooper Thompson

@ Chaise,

“kindly stop being so precious”

I should have put a smiley face, so you could have seen I was pulling your leg.

“OK, this is not what I thought you were saying. Who wants to wear the whole outfit, then?”

Libertarians of course! We’re libertarian all the time on all subjects.

“there are certain arguments that I long ago worked out were rationalisations. “Libertarianism will make the poor all better off” is one of those arguments.”

I detect a little bit of straw man in that. I personally wouldn’t make such a simplistic, sweeping statement. I would however argue for economic liberalism and free trade, and do so on utilitarian grounds, i.e. that they are for the greater good of the greater number, but libertarianism isn’t just about material wealth.

“It’s all empirical and rational.”

Not all science is empirical. Some of it is theoretical.

“You seem to be in a position where you’ll ignore evidence if it contradicts an idea you hold dear”

I don’t want to ignore evidence, but when we are dealing with complex social issues, we can’t treat them the same as experiments in a lab. Hence the importance of theory. It’s usually because people disagree on the theory that they argue over the evidence and what its significance is. Take an issue such as drug prohibition. Some say ‘look at the evil of drugs. We must keep them illegal’. Others say, looking at the same evidence, ‘it’s the prohibition which causes most of the evil’. That might not be the best example, but I’m sure you get my point.

26. Chaise Guevara

@ 25 Trooper Thompson

“I should have put a smiley face, so you could have seen I was pulling your leg.”

OK, fair enough.

“Libertarians of course! We’re libertarian all the time on all subjects.”

Most (possibly all) aren’t, I know. Although this hasn’t stopped some libertarians *claiming* that they are perfectly consistent, then backpedaling to explain that asking the state to enforce contracts “doesn’t count”.

“I detect a little bit of straw man in that.”

No. I’ve come across a lot of libertarians who think that harcore libertarianism would end all of our problems if only it were given a chance, because all avoidable evils (and no benefits) are created by state interference. Not that it’s workable at the kind of anarchistic extreme they want anyway.

But I’m not saying that *you* are making that claim, if that’s why you think I’m straw manning.

“I personally wouldn’t make such a simplistic, sweeping statement. I would however argue for economic liberalism and free trade, and do so on utilitarian grounds, i.e. that they are for the greater good of the greater number, but libertarianism isn’t just about material wealth.”

Which is fair enough, even if I would probably disagree with the specifics. This comes back to being wary of extremes: economic libertarianism and socialism are different ends on a sliding scale. Almost all real-world philosophies are X% libertarian and Y% socialist (well, it’s not that quantifiable, but you get my drift) rather than purely one or t’other.

“Not all science is empirical. Some of it is theoretical. ”

Hence “…and rational” in my post.

“I don’t want to ignore evidence, but when we are dealing with complex social issues, we can’t treat them the same as experiments in a lab. Hence the importance of theory. It’s usually because people disagree on the theory that they argue over the evidence and what its significance is.”

Then you’re not talking about “obsession with the evidence”, you’re talking about people placing more weight on the evidence than it deserves. Which is a very different thing. It’s *misuse* of evidence. Evidence itself is not the problem there.

“Take an issue such as drug prohibition. Some say ‘look at the evil of drugs. We must keep them illegal’. Others say, looking at the same evidence, ‘it’s the prohibition which causes most of the evil’. That might not be the best example, but I’m sure you get my point.”

I do, and see above. Assuming both sides have the same end goal (e.g. reducing the human cost of drugs) and quantify it the same way, if two people look at the same evidence and come to different conclusions, one of them is misinterpreting the evidence. “Rationalists cannot agree to disagree”, as they say.

If they have different end goals (e.g. one also values people’s right to take drugs) or quantify the same goal differently (e.g. one only counts the number of drug deaths, the other uses quality-of-life-adjusted life years) then they could come to different conclusions having both interpreted the evidence perfectly.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. sunny hundal

    Significant speech from Ed Miliband today: 'Labour was too nervous to talk of English identity' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  2. Liberal Conspiracy

    Ed Miliband starts to embrace Englishness http://t.co/JgQ8kuAH

  3. Steve Reed

    Significant speech from Ed Miliband today: 'Labour was too nervous to talk of English identity' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  4. sunny hundal

    Ed Mili to refer to his Jewish background and say he's proud to be English. About time Labour discussed 'Englishness' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  5. Tristan Watson ™

    Ed Mili to refer to his Jewish background and say he's proud to be English. About time Labour discussed 'Englishness' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  6. Jason Brickley

    Ed Miliband starts to embrace Englishness http://t.co/XQHVG2v6

  7. Jonathan Reynolds MP

    Ed Mili to refer to his Jewish background and say he's proud to be English. About time Labour discussed 'Englishness' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  8. Keiran Macintosh

    Significant speech from Ed Miliband today: 'Labour was too nervous to talk of English identity' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  9. Al Barrett

    Significant speech from Ed Miliband today: 'Labour was too nervous to talk of English identity' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  10. Martin Robinson

    Significant speech from Ed Miliband today: 'Labour was too nervous to talk of English identity' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  11. Will Porter

    Significant speech from Ed Miliband today: 'Labour was too nervous to talk of English identity' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  12. mellonicoley

    Shame EdM couldn’t be as vocal about cuts to benefits & mistreatment of disabled as he is about ‘Englishness’: http://t.co/aBo46dtQ

  13. Just Counsel

    Not a Mili-fan but agree with him on this. Ed Miliband starts to embrace Englishness | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/IWJVofCQ via @libcon

  14. theaandnatesmam

    Ed Mili to refer to his Jewish background and say he's proud to be English. About time Labour discussed 'Englishness' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  15. Nigel Watson

    Ed Miliband starts to embrace Englishness | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/OF2ziaRa via @libcon

  16. measured

    Ed Miliband today: 'Labour was too nervous to talk of English identity' http://t.co/Y606f12T < bandwagon JUMP! (h/t @sunny_hundal )

  17. Colin-Roy Hunter

    Ed Miliband starts to embrace Englishness http://t.co/JgQ8kuAH

  18. Chris Paul

    Ed Mili to refer to his Jewish background and say he's proud to be English. About time Labour discussed 'Englishness' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  19. cloud busta

    Shame EdM couldn’t be as vocal about cuts to benefits & mistreatment of disabled as he is about ‘Englishness’: http://t.co/aBo46dtQ

  20. Elliott Haworth

    define: 'Englishness' – it sounds like a phobia of identity through fear of perpetration to me #Politics http://t.co/PCYnv2QJ

  21. Andy Emmerson

    Ed Mili to refer to his Jewish background and say he's proud to be English. About time Labour discussed 'Englishness' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  22. Laura Coleman

    He reads better than he sounds: http://t.co/kZ9UMyFK

  23. Alex Smith

    RT @sunny_hundal: Significant speech from Ed Miliband today: 'Labour was too nervous to talk of English identity' http://t.co/NWO0NyHF

  24. Vauxhall Labour

    RT @sunny_hundal: Significant speech from Ed Miliband today: 'Labour was too nervous to talk of English identity' http://t.co/FeOLI1TI

  25. motogooroo

    @sunny_hundal Ed m. < patriotism = irrationality : nation nebulous and imagined. Playing to media fuck that shit
    http://t.co/aSZQT8Tv”

  26. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Ed Miliband starts to embrace Englishness http://t.co/g7atkYZu

  27. British Future

    Ed Mili to refer to his Jewish background and say he's proud to be English. About time Labour discussed 'Englishness' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  28. British Future

    Ed Miliband starts to embrace Englishness | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/fc792aoz via @libcon

  29. Xanno M

    Ed Mili to refer to his Jewish background and say he's proud to be English. About time Labour discussed 'Englishness' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  30. Peter Pannier

    What the fuck is EdMilliband on? "Since Euro 96, the flag of St George has been reclaimed from the BNP" http://t.co/dweOI8FE

  31. Grahampats

    Ed Mili to refer to his Jewish background and say he's proud to be English. About time Labour discussed 'Englishness' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  32. Lee Butcher

    Significant speech from Ed Miliband today: 'Labour was too nervous to talk of English identity' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  33. sunny hundal

    Key extracts from Ed Miliband's speech on Englishness today here: http://t.co/0do0hIAl start of a much needed debate

  34. Mark Silver

    Key extracts from Ed Miliband's speech on Englishness today here: http://t.co/0do0hIAl start of a much needed debate

  35. sujatin

    Key extracts from Ed Miliband's speech on Englishness today here: http://t.co/0do0hIAl start of a much needed debate

  36. Angie

    Ed Miliband starts to embrace Englishness | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/HfXOSFHP via @libcon

  37. Urmee Khan

    Key extracts from Ed Miliband's speech on Englishness today here: http://t.co/0do0hIAl start of a much needed debate

  38. Ali B

    Ed Mili to refer to his Jewish background and say he's proud to be English. About time Labour discussed 'Englishness' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  39. Martin Shovel

    RT @sunny_hundal: Key extracts from Ed Miliband's speech on Englishness today here: http://t.co/0QevpPja start of a much needed debate

  40. Neil Payne

    What's Englishness? http://t.co/8d5p7jsP Would love to know if you know…

  41. Neil Payne

    What's Englishness? http://t.co/8d5p7jsP Would love to know if you know…

  42. Neil Payne

    What's Englishness? http://t.co/8d5p7jsP Would love to know if you know…

  43. Kwintessential

    "To me, Britain is a country where it is always possible to have more than one identity." http://t.co/2CTlotlx What is Englishness to you?

  44. Kwintessential

    "To me, Britain is a country where it is always possible to have more than one identity." http://t.co/2CTlotlx What is Englishness to you?

  45. Kwintessential

    "To me, Britain is a country where it is always possible to have more than one identity." http://t.co/2CTlotlx What is Englishness to you?

  46. Kwintessential

    "To me, Britain is a country where it is always possible to have more than one identity." http://t.co/aIY5CFhT What is Englishness to you?

  47. Kwintessential

    "To me, Britain is a country where it is always possible to have more than one identity." http://t.co/aIY5CFhT What is Englishness to you?

  48. Kwintessential

    "To me, Britain is a country where it is always possible to have more than one identity." http://t.co/aIY5CFhT What is Englishness to you?

  49. Kwintessential

    "To me, Britain is a country where it is always possible to have more than one identity." http://t.co/qa0kL52l What is Englishness to you?

  50. Kwintessential

    "To me, Britain is a country where it is always possible to have more than one identity." http://t.co/qa0kL52l What is Englishness to you?

  51. Kwintessential

    "To me, Britain is a country where it is always possible to have more than one identity." http://t.co/qa0kL52l What is Englishness to you?

  52. Robert CP

    Ed Miliband starts to embrace Englishness http://t.co/JgQ8kuAH

  53. BMetAlevelPolitics

    A2 Nationalism – From Ed Miliband's speech on Englishness today here: http://t.co/OCTOfchX start of a much needed debate #A2Politics

  54. BevR

    Ed Miliband starts to embrace Englishness | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/URk3XMcl via @libcon

  55. Richard Murphy

    Key extracts from Ed Miliband's speech on Englishness today here: http://t.co/0do0hIAl start of a much needed debate

  56. Monsieur Tolatop

    Key extracts from Ed Miliband's speech on Englishness today here: http://t.co/0do0hIAl start of a much needed debate

  57. Laura

    Ed Mili to refer to his Jewish background and say he's proud to be English. About time Labour discussed 'Englishness' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  58. Matthew Rhodes

    Ed Mili to refer to his Jewish background and say he's proud to be English. About time Labour discussed 'Englishness' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  59. Kilsally

    Ed Mili to refer to his Jewish background and say he's proud to be English. About time Labour discussed 'Englishness' http://t.co/S2daf7wG

  60. The SNP’s Weak Cultural Case for Independence | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] Weak Cultural Case for Independence by Robert Sharp     Following Ed Miliband’s speech on national identity Thursday, we were given a good look at the SNP’s communications strategy […]

  61. The SNP’s Weak Cultural Case for Independence |

    […] Ed Miliband’s speech on national identity Thursday, we were given a good look at the SNP’s communications strategy […]

  62. The SNP’s Weak Cultural Case for Independence | Robert Sharp

    […] Ed Miliband’s speech on national identity on Thursday, we were given a good look at the SNP’s communications […]

  63. The England I love is defined by its spirit « On The Webb

    […] Ed Miliband starts to embrace Englishness (liberalconspiracy.org) […]





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