“English & proud. If you are too, read this leaflet!” ENGLISH & PROUD is the largest text on a glossy fold of A4 currently being posted through letterboxes across the country. It’s a message from a right wing “political” party, compelling the public to show their pride on the 22nd of May by voting for the English Democrats, whoever the fuck they are. Sitting neatly alongside this urge for proud English behavior at the ballotbox is an emblem far more readily associated with the England football team than the European elections: the three lions. It’s no surprise, perhaps, as we head towards a World Cup, that English nationalists should try to cash in on the imagery of the national football team. But wherever did we get the notion that there’s any sense in being PROUD of your nationality? Your nationality relates to the circumstances in which you are born and raised; it’s about where you’re from and not what you’ve achieved. Back in August we didn’t expect Manuel Pellegrini to feel proud that he had the Premier League’s best squad and the most money available for adding to it; fair enough, perhaps, if he wants to feel proud that by the season his squad had accrued the most points.
I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a fellow 12-year-old after at a school in the South East, not long after my family had relocated from the midlands. I was shocking at how many kids at my new school claimed to be supporters of successful clubs to which they had no genuine attachment or association. One boy in particular, who “supported” Everton wound me up more than most. “Have you ever even been to Everton?” I asked him, to which he made some kind of Joey Deacon face / noise and said “Everton isn’t a place. Everton’s in Liverpool”. If only we’d had Google Maps back then. And this was the sort of kid who would refer to Everton as “we”, with PRIDE. How cheap is pride if it can be derived from backing the obvious winner? Likewise, to be proud of a past that neither you nor anyone you no made a contribution to is bullshit. Much better to be proud of who you are now and what you represent now. And if you’re not, do whatever you can to make the present something to be proud of.