What does it mean to be British?

Introducing a themed week on the NS blogs.

New Statesman

What does it mean to be British? It is a question which has been on the political agenda for the last week, after the Labour leader Ed Miliband made a speech addressing the question of devolution, British identity, and the union. In it, he said that the left has traditionally "been too nervous to talk of English pride and English character," both for fear of undermining the union and of the association with racist nationalism.

While the English question is often overlooked in favour of discussions of Scotland or Wales, it is impossible to consider in isolation from the issue of its larger partner, Britain. As Scotland prepares itself for a vote on independence, the question of these identities is prescient. And Britishness is nothing if not a plural set of identities: encompassing not just English, Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish strands, but British Asian, British Carribean, British Jewish, and any number of other ethnic and regional identifications.

The Queen's Diamond Jubille saw the most ostentatious outpouring of national pride in recent memory - excepting football matches, of course - with the Union Jack bunting only just coming down. To an outside observer, this would appear to signal a nation comfortable with itself and proud of its history. But is that really the case?

In a series of themed blogs this week, the NS will look at what Britishness is and how it is reflected in our day to day lives. Kicking off the series, Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi will look at what Britishness looks like from the outside, from the perspective of undocumented migrants. Later in the week, we'll discuss the changing role of the Church of England, and how the tabloids use Britishness.

If you have any suggestions about what we should cover, leave a comment or find us on Twitter: @newstatesman

Day One: What does Britishness look like from the outside? by Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi

Day Two: "Plastic Brits": are some Olympians more worthy of a cheer than others? by Steve Baxter

Day Three: Is there any such thing as British ethnicity? by Samira Shackle

Day Four: God's peculiar people, by Nelson Jones

Day Five: Can lefties do Britishness? by Rowenna Davis