Beyond little Englandism

I always suspected that Andrew Marr ("Stuff the hope and glory", 27 November) had gone to the wrong school and his confession that he was taught a sort of little Englandism, or British colonialism, underlines the point. I went to a comprehensive in north London where the history texts were Christopher Hill and Eric Hobsbawm. My teacher, who went on to become a left-wing leader of Haringey Council, emphasised not nationalism but internationalism.

The question is how such ideas can be taught in future. I don't think replacing little Englandism with Europeanism, as Marr suggests, will help. What is needed is an understanding of the real meaning of the British Empire and colonial power, and of how the peoples Britain ruled shaped our history as much as our rulers shaped theirs.

Or, as one of the best street slogans of the past 20 years has it: we are black, we are white, together we are dynamite.

Keith Flett
London N17

This article first appeared in the 04 December 1998 issue of the New Statesman, Just get out and have fun!