Expression of English elitism

Jason Cowley is misinformed to write that the trouble with Englishness is that no one seems to know what it is any more (Diary, 26 June). The trouble is not only its vicarious expression through football. It is also that this same culture can countenance Cowley in his elitism, allowing him to both rubbish the tabloids for their jingoism and secretly admire the fighting spirit of the English proletariat in earlier conflicts. Without the mask of irony, a young novelist should not subscribe to such uncomfortable and unpleasant views in a publication with an apparently radical agenda.

Dr Philip O'Neill
Head of English, University of Northumbria
Newcastle upon Tyne

This article first appeared in the 03 July 2000 issue of the New Statesman, And is there honey by the Tees?