Gordon Brown calls for national day to celebrate 'Britishness'

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

British Chancellor Gordon Brown today used a speech addressed to a conference of the Fabian Society to outline his plans for a possible national day for Britain. With the focus of the speech on promoting 'Britishness', Mr Brown asked whether there could be a celebratory day to help develop 'the ties that bind [British] people more closely together'.

"What is the British equivalent of the US 4th of July, or even the French 14th of July for that matter? What is our equivalent for a national celebration of who we are and what we stand for? Perhaps Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday are the nearest we have come to a British day that is – in every corner of our country – commemorative, unifying, and an expression of British ideas of standing firm in the world in the name of liberty responsibility and fairness?"

Former Prime Minister John Major spoke to the BBC Today programme and agreed that the chancellor was "absolutely right" to promote the concept of Britishness, but added "he seems not to mention that many of the actions of the present Government have ruptured Britishness by their own legislation."

A spokeperson for the Commission for Racial equality welcomed the speech, saying "it is important to talk about and identify our shared common values and discuss ideas and find ways to celebrate being British".

Gordon Brown also argued that the British Union Jack flag should be reclaimed from far-right groups such as the BNP, saying "the flag should be a symbol of unity, part of a modern expression of patriotism".

The speech was released in advance to the media on the Labour Party website.

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