Labour do need to talk about patriotism, ‘Britishness’ etc. I said this when Corbyn was in charge and I say it now. What Labour absolutely should not do, is what they are doing now-pandering and not leading. Pandering to the right will not work & will alienate more people than it would potentially win over. It looks insincere and clumsy to the Left, and insincere and clumsy to the right. Because it is. Or at least it should be insincere if you are meant to be even remotely ‘progressive’.

The form of patriotism I am referring to, would say things like this:

*Tens of thousands of people are dead completely unnecessarily because Boris Johnson is no patriot. What kind of patriot ignores science, doctors, experiences of others and his own experience of Covid-19?! Is a patriot someone who is directly responsible for so many deaths of innocent British people because he thought he knew better?

*Is a patriot someone who ignores essential workers and even puts them, completely unnecessarily, at huge risk? Even those who literally saved that person’s life? Who tells us to clap for British essential workers while treating their lives with such utter contempt?

*Being ‘British’ to me, means leading by example. Not consciously cutting off our Island from the International community. Being British is leading other nations in times of mass global crisis, not embarrassing us with false-flag arrogance and reneging on agreements.

*Being British to me is investing in people. Giving them the proper education, healthcare, housing and training they need to do the essential jobs we need. Not slashing funding, having to rely on immigration and then demonising migrants.

*Being British to me is only sending our brave forces to war as an absolute last resort, based on international law; if we are asking someone to potentially risk their lives to save ours, it better be for a damn good reason. They better have the correct kit & equipment, it better be in self defence, and we better look after them properly for the rest of their lives.

*Being British to me is not looking to divide our communities and telling people the reason they have a sub-parr living standard is because of migrants, the disabled, the unemployed, the ill or someone on benefits. It should be investing in our communities, not dividing them.*Being British to me is acknowledging our troubled past, and trying to provide a better future. Not defending the indefensible as some kind of ‘patriotic act’. We can be proud to be British, but not if we defend things we would, and do, demonise other nations for.

*Being patriotic is holding our hand out to those in desperate need. To refugees & asylum seekers. Not judging their worth based on the accident of where they happen to have been born. Or on them fleeing conflicts we started, we still escalate and that we often still fund.

*Being British is telling corporate tax dodgers that denying our hospitals and schools the money so desperately needed is often literally criminal, and for what?! In order for the mega rich to be a bit richer? Wealth often subsidised by OUR tax money!! That is the literal opposite of patriotism.

*Being British is saying “How can we help each other?” not “There is no such thing as society, everyone for themselves” etc. It is about rallying around, collectivism. It is about valuing those around us, valuing culture and acknowledging evolution of culture.

*Being patriotic has little, if anything, to do with a flag. A flag can do nothing. It is people who matter. The people behind the British flag are as important and valuable as the people behind any other flag. If the leaders and people behind a flag are alienating and dividing people, then it is them who are an embarrassment to that flag, and it is them being anything other than patriotic.

*Being patriotic is ensuring there is a country & a planet there for the next generation. It is not fighting over the scraps of what we have destroyed. It is building up, not knocking down. It is investment in our people, not cutting investment in our people.

*Being British is asking “Can we afford to go to war?”, not “Can we afford to feed, clothe and house our own people and anyone else in need?”. It is asking where the ‘Banker’s Street’ TV programmes are, not the ‘Benefits Street’ ones.

*Being British is understanding that if the economy cannot even provide basic provisions for its people-healthcare, education, employment & housing where needed, then, literally, what is the point of the economy?!

Starmer’s Labour have chosen a path of failure so far; pandering not leading. Blindly supporting complete incompetency. If Labour cannot understand what patriotism actually looks like, then we will forever be defined by our opponents. We will forever reinforce their narratives; and when you are talking about the worst, racist, sexist, xenophobic, neo-fascist UK Prime Minister and government of modern times, that’s not remotely ‘patriotic’ or ‘British’.

Adam Samuels

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