An answer to the sneering of the liberal elite, and a change in the mood of the British people

With the main public Jubilee celebrations behind us (although not for the Queen of course) and the Olympics just round the corner, what is this summer of celebration telling us about the state of British patriotism?

Well, so far the messages are hugely encouraging. First of all, if there can be any doubt remaining about the Union flag – which, we were told, had been tainted by its association with extremists – then surely that can be put to rest. Whether worn, waved or hanging from the 1,500 miles of bunting sold by Tesco’s alone, the great majority of people showed an admirable lack of inhibition about displaying it. If ever the flag had gone over to ‘the dark side’ – something I always doubted myself – then it is firmly back in the light.

And then there has been the unembarrassed, un-ironic singing of the national anthem. So many people have commented on this to me: at street parties, private gatherings, and of course at the big public events in London, it appeared that grown men and women found nothing odd or weird in joining in choruses of God Save the Queen. 

Proud: The country was festooned with Union Flags for the Jubilee celebrations

During my travels through the crowds that weekend, it also became clear that the bulk of them were aged between 20 and 50, with a huge preponderance of young families. This too, should be encouraging to all those who believe that Britain might be loosing any sense of itself.

Of course, all this comes as a bit of a shock to the great and the good of our liberal elites. Their surprise at the success of such occasions has become almost as much of a tradition as the events themselves. This time, it centred round the extent of the public anger over the lamentably feeble BBC coverage. The BBC appeared to show that they simply did not know or care about the kind of people who might want to watch or celebrate the river pageant – and in doing so betrayed their general discomfort with such uniquely British traditions. Rest assured, if this had been a massive celebration of Britain’s membership of the EU, for example, then the BBC would have got the tone, facts, and commentary absolutely right.

I’ve been observing all of this closely because my new book, Being British: What’s Wrong with it? tries to explain how we arrived at the odd situation in this country whereby, despite the majority of people rightly considering themselves proud to be British, there persists the strong sense that they should keep quiet about it, that they are wrong and mistaken, and that they should apologise and feel guilty.

They should feel none of these things of course. But over the past five decades they have faced a huge onslaught on not just their sense of pride, but their very identity. This has come from every angle: from a left wing teaching establishment, from a hostile media and academic elite, from multiculturalism and from a political class which appears less and less wedded to the country it is meant to serve.

Lamentable: The BBC's half-hearted coverage of the Jubilee river pageant betrayed its contempt for patriots and monarchists

It is possible however, to detect a distinct changing of the mood in Britain. And perhaps most importantly, those who have lived by the liberal/left political and social orthodoxies of the past forty years, and might have had some hand in imposing them, sense that they are loosing their grip on our culture and institutions.

Beliefs, indeed worldviews, which were largely anti-patriotic in tone and which were accepted for decades as being gospel, are being seriously challenged. The doctrine of multiculturalism, and the view that an ever closer integration with the EU was both inevitable and desirable, are just two examples where years of received wisdom are being upended.

But it goes further than this. Those people who have for years guided the values which inform public policy; who have decided what should be taught; who have set the terms on which welfare should be given; who make decisions about what we see and listen to: all these people feel the ground shifting uncomfortably beneath their feet.

It is not before time.   

Being British: What’s Wrong with it? is published by Biteback (£12.99)

The comments below have not been moderated.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now