Monday, 22 March 2010

How do we win back our freedom?

When I was growing up, there were two common phrases that you hardly ever hear today. One was: "It's a free country." The other was: "There should be a law against it." They tended to be uttered by people older than my parents who had been born not long after the First World War and may well have fought in the Second.

These phrases captured the essence of Britishness and why those wars were fought. We were, or imagined ourselves to be, "a free country" in a way that most European countries were not and had never been. That notion of being free defined us. We were not people subject to arbitrary state power and we both knew it and could say it. Perhaps this first phrase was used ironically at times; but when I heard it as a young boy it had a sense of certainty and permanence about it. What are we? A free country. Read more
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