So, I know this is not what the average politically correct* Briton (or NZer-Englander) is supposed to think, but I really don’t get why British rather than English is supposed to be the more acceptable term.
There’s some lovely etymology on the word Briton here, btw.
Yes, I know the BNP/NF took St George, the George Cross etc as their own, but if they’re stupid enough to think that a middle eastern saint, also revered in Egypt, Bulgaria, Aragon, Catalonia, Romania, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Iraq, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Serbia, Ukraine, Russia, and Georgia (the clue’s in the name!), is an English saint, then surely that just shows up their ignorance?
Because it’s British/Britain that seems like the problematic wording to me … I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Scottish or Welsh friend describe themselves as British. So surely to call oneself British is to buy into the idea that Britain is composed of England, Wales, Scotland (and, depending on who’s speaking, Northern Ireland) and all of those places and peoples have had very uncertain/unhappy relationships with the notion of Britain throughout history and often still do today. Britain, to me, sounds like the name of the coloniser, the usurper of other people’s countries. Making Indians and Jamaicans and Aotearoans (etc) ‘British’ is the dodgy thing, surely?
Yes, I get that it’s a particular land-mass, but so is the whole of America and that’s clearly divided into Canada, North America, and the countries that North Americans and Europeans like to lump together as “South America”.
I also get that ‘English’ was grabbed by the BNP (as above re St George) but why on earth let them decide what we perceive English to mean?
Yes, England also has a brutal colonising and warlike past (often in the name of ‘Britain’). There aren’t many modern nations that don’t. But England also has a mythology and storytelling tradition all of its own. It has the Green Man and the rising sap and the Faerie Queene and Morris Dancers and river spirits and the White Worm and living land and mountain giants and Chaucer and Shakespeare and Spencer and Pope so much more. It has real diversity in the traditions of the different shires/counties. It has a history that is part of but separate to that of Scotland and Wales. England has good stuff. Like Billy Bragg.
(I look forward to the slew of comments explaining that I haven’t got my history right and the Green Man is really Welsh and Morris Dancers are Irish and if I’d been in England in the late 70s I wouldn’t want to say I was English. But I wasn’t. I was living my teenage New Zealand life, glad to have been both born in London and growing up in Tokoroa, and thinking that Britain was the name of the colonising power that took over Aotearoa …)
And speaking of 23rd April, this, in memory of Blair Peach. I remember us being so proud he was a New Zealander. I’m sure his family and loved ones would have preferred him alive though, to our kiwi admiration for (another**) anti-Nazi NZer.
* which I am, and proudly (left, small-l-liberal, bleeding heart, yadda yadda)
** it’s coming up to ANZAC Day, from WW1 & Gallipoli yes, but in NZ & Australia also used to commemorate the sacrifice of many other anti-Nazi fighters.