June 04, 2007

British Day

Amongst the more disturbing tendencies of this government is its tendency to want to make laws to deal with every problem that it comes across. Not Saussure has documented one instance of this involving Louise Casey, the Respect Tsar, over here and his analysis is typically astute. Another instance of the same mentality came up today though- when two government ministers, Ruth Kelly and Liam Byrne, proposed that a day to celebrate the patriotism of Britain be created. Kelly and Byrne want to do more than that they want to control the notion of Britishness produced focusing on civic values for example. Quite how the ministers envisage this working is a difficult to work out- state sponsored parties anyone! But there is something broader going on here- as Not Saussure demonstrates the issue is that the government have seen a problem- in this case a purported lack of British patriotism- and then seeks to leglislate for it. As Not Saussure argues though there are some things that cannot be leglislated for- there might be ways that the Government could increase patriotism just as there might be ways for the Government to increase happiness- but telling everyone to be patriotic or happy isn't likely to be one of them!

2 comments:

El Dave. said...

This is a bit of a vicious circle.

For the Conservatives, it's more natural to 'leave it to society'. Labour can't do that as much. In any case, the spin and instant reaction culture means that whatever happens, Labour has to say something (no matter how vacuous). The media, because it's been accustomed to doing so and because it's easy, immediately turn to the government for an answer, with the goverment duly provides along with a headline.

There is also the problem that, as the Conservatives become more Blairite, they will always come up with an answer and so, in order not to lose the next day's headlines, have to say something, hobbling the process of debating and refining an idea.

Anonymous said...

one more holiday = good thing
discussion on britishness = good thing?
ministers putting forward ideas for discussion = good thing?
better than the 2012 logo anyways