Nationalism is a “failed ideology,” according to Sir Keir Starmer.
The Labor leader attacked the ideology of nationalism in his 14,000-word booklet The Road Ahead, in which he set out what it stands for.
Nationalism in Scotland and Wales has increased in recent years when the SNP in Scotland pushed for another referendum on the place of the nation in the UK.
In his pamphlet Sir Keir makes repeated references to the British people, describes Britain as our country and says that we all face common challenges and describes “the multi-headed hydra of nationalism” as “harmful to our country”.
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In the section entitled Identity and Belonging, attacking the attempts of political rivals to sow the seeds of division and anger, he says, “Most directly damaging to our country has been the rise of the multi-headed hydra of nationalism.”
He accuses both the Tories and the SNP in Scotland of “creating a division between the people of these islands”.
“The business of effective governance and improving people’s lives is behind the ideology. Both use nationalism freely to stir up fear of the other, ”he continues.
“Nationalists like to portray themselves as patriots, but patriotism and nationalism are not the same thing,” he added.
“They are actually opposites. Nationalism is an attempt to separate people from one another; Patriotism is an attempt to unite people from different backgrounds. Nationalism is about expelling the other; Patriotism means finding common ground. Nationalism is the flag as a threat. Patriotism is the flag as a festival. Nationalism is just one arm of the rise of identity-based politics in the western world that has done immense damage to the progressive cause.
“By dividing people into smaller and smaller groups and diminishing the experiences of others, we are atomizing our society more and more and keeping potential allies and friends at a distance. Community, family and land are not conservative or backward ideas – they are the building blocks of strong societies.
“When we celebrate families, we celebrate them in all their different shapes and sizes. When we celebrate our country, it’s a love of the place and the people, not the jargon. We do not seek to create ingroups and outgroups – instead we want to create a forward-thinking, inclusive UK. A Britain built on the foundations of our traditions but evolving, growing and embracing change. A Britain that judges its people not by race, nationality or way of life – but by how they contribute to the common good. The challenges of the future will require the formation of broad coalitions. “
He concludes: “In the pursuit of a better country and a better future, we sometimes disagree and have differences. It is our job to strengthen the Union and restore ties between the people of our country. “
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