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« Will Liam Fox be damaged by Saatchigate? | Main | Should David Cameron be old pope Clarke's young cardinal? »



Nice to see Liam Fox regard Christianity as a part of British life. Truth is whether we attend church of not our life style originates from Christian values. Indeed I have heard it said that minority groups prefer us to be open about our Christianity than trying to be secular. The Christian approach to other ethnic groups is tolerant and charitable, we should be proud of our Christian heritage and it should not be a roadblock to good relations with those of other faiths. Well Done Liam.

Simon C

Follow this link for Liam Fox's article on Britishness.


David Cameron discussed this subject of Britishness at some length during last night's Radio 4 Westminster Hour. His observations included:

(1) There is a difference between a multiracial society and a multicultural society and Britain has allowed a certain understanding of multiculturalism to grow up that does not allow for a discussion of what we share as Britons.

(2) Britain is not a 'community of communities' - it is a nation.

(3) Britishness, he said, lay in our respect for the law, a sense of fair play, help for the underdog, and in our shared history, values and institutions.

(4) The way we teach history in schools, citizenship and world faiths all have a role to play in introducing a new generation to Britishness.

(5) He supported the continuation of faith schools - noting the good results of such (Christian) schools. He supported Muslim schools and noted that being in the maintained sector meant that they were inspected and had to follow the national curriculum.

(6) Those who come to Britain as asylum seekers but then threaten Britain in a serious way should be deported.

Selsdon Man

Faith schools are not a good idea. Separate schools for Protestants and Catholics in Scotland only promotes sectarian bigotry. As a Protestant who attended a Catholic School for a year (with the rest of my year), integration promotes religious tolerance. Separate schools for different faiths promote divisiveness.


Faith schools should be supported. Just consider this for a second: because I went to a church school I had to do RE up to GCSE level, where as most schools make it optional at the end of year 9 (form 3). GCSE RE is half on Christianity and half on another religion, the year I did it it was Judaism, the following year I believe it was Islam. So by being in a Church school I came out far less ignorant about other faiths than I would have in a secular school.

James Hellyer

For more on faith schools and why they should be considered a "good thing" (no matter what faith they espouse), I recomend this post on James Bartholomew's blog:

As far as the discussion on Britishness is concerned, I think that identity is now very problematic due to the assertion of Welsh and Scottish regional identities.

Too many people see "British" as a synonym for "English". For it to have a truly national appeal, we would have to stress our shared history and avoid the London-centric nature of a lot of our history.

Of the defintions offered by the leadership contenders above, Liam Fox's is boldest and comes closet to the mark. David Davis's is a bit of a nothing (one might argue that tolerance of other cultures got us into this multicultural mess). David Cameron's is a little better, but still suffers from seeming checklist like and anodyne (though I grant that this may be due to the way Tim wrote it up).

The Political Thinker

Selsdon Man, why on earth should faith schools be abolished?
If you're Catholic, you're not forced to go to a Catholic school – You can attend a CoE or secular one.

It's important to note, as has already been said, those who attend faith schools are usually more clued up on other faiths, and let's not forget more often than not the pupils tend to be better behaved (and better members of society later on) and often do better academically than their counterparts in secular schools.

I say let's abolish secular schools!


My school was a private school with a C of E "core" ie twice weekly chapel, resident priest etc.

I wanted to do Theology A-Level but didn't because it was all christianity, and a very sanitised version. You could discuss interpretations of Hippo & Acquinas, but not any of the fundamental concepts involved.

Absolutely pathetic.

Selsdon Man

Our Political Thinker should note that religious segregation was compulsory in Scottish schools when I attended my secondary schools. Catholics had to go to Catholic schools. The Roman Catholic church did not want their children indoctrinated by the Proddies.
Even now, I find that the keenest advocates of faith schools are either Catholics or evangelists. They have clearly have not witnessed the disgraceful fights that can occur between neighbouring Protestant and Catholic schools.

My friends who attended Catholic schools (even private ones) in the 1970s were regularly beaten by sadistic priests. Some of the stories I heard defied belief. Thank god that corporal punishment has been abolished!

I also suggest that faith school advocates attend a Rangers-Celtic match to hear the vile sectarian bigotry that results from religious segregation. It still goes now even though Catholics play for Rangers. I stopped supporting Rangers aged 11. They withdrew their offer to sign my friend when they learned he attended a Catholic School.

As for knowing more about other faiths, I learned much by mixing with those from other faiths (including Hindus and Moslems) than I did by attending a Protestant school.

As for better behaviour, I have seen no evidence that faith school pupils are better behaved.

My view is that all state schools should be open to children of all faiths - school choice for all. The state should not subsidise religious apartheid and bigotry. Look what it has done to Ulster!

Simon C

Can we move away from faith schools for a moment, and refocus on other aspects of Britishness?

We can debate the values that contribute to Britishness until we are red white and blue in the face. But at the end, what is then required is a more robust national self-confidence to defend and advance those values. A belief in the worth of our history, culture, institutions and traditions, and an end to the national self-loathing that too many Liberals feel.

Self-confidence emphatically is not marked by strident nationalism or arrogance. Just as with individuals, the measure of a nation that is truly secure in its sense of its own identity, is that it subscribes neither to self-loathing nor to bullying.

As Fraser Nelson pointed out, it is easy to make pretty speeches about what Britishness is. Unless they grapple with specifics, they don't tend to get us very far. Like Nelson, I would excuse Liam Fox's article from that charge.

Even more important, though, is the need then to express that Britishness with a quiet self-confidence. One contribution to that, as LF pointed out in another speech, would be to have the Union Jack flying on our schools. We could go further and see it flying on all our public buildings. The French fly the Tricoleur everywhere, and the Americans the Stars & Stripes. We should do the same.

Selena Gomez

Hello, I enjoy reading all of your article. I wanted to write a little comment to support you.

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