The British Labour Party has been one of the key political institutions in the UK in the last century for the advancement of social change. Yet one critical aspect of its makeup has always been misunderstood, underplayed or misrepresented: it's Britishness. Throughout the party's history, its Britishness has been an integral part of how it has it has governed, and done politics.
Moreover, over the last decade or so, a new mobilising form of national identity has emerged, one that has become increasingly problematic for Labour: that of Englishness. Indeed there is some evidence that `Englishness' is now displacing working-class identity as the major pull of loyalty and allegiance.
The People's Flag and the Union Jack argues that Labour's Britishness and its ambiguous relationship with issues of national identity matters more today than ever before, and will continue to matter for the foreseeable future, when the UK is in fundamental crisis and its place in the world, and very existence, open to doubt.
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Dr Gerry Hassan is the author and editor of over twenty books on Scottish and British politics, including The Strange Death of Labour Scotland (with Eric Shaw), Caledonian Dreaming: The Quest for a Different Scotland and Scottish National Party Leaders (with James Mitchell.
Dr Eric Shaw is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Stirling. Prior to that he was a researcher in the International Department of the Labour Party and has written five books on Labour and British politics.