The Evening Standard had a new YouGov London poll today, showing a commanding lead for Sadiq Khan in the mayoral race. First round voting intentions are KHAN 48%, GOLDSMITH 32%, WHITTLE 7%, BERRY 6%, PIDGEON 5%. After reallocating the second preferences of eliminated candidates Sadiq Khan wins by twenty points on the second round. Full tabs are here

The huge Labour lead looks startling, but it is actually broadly in line with YouGov’s national polling. Their last couple of GB polls had Labour and the Conservatives very close in their levels of support, which is the equivalent of a CON=>LAB swing of 3.5% since the general election. Last year Labour outpolled the Conservatives by nine percent in the capital, doing much better there than in the rest of Britain. Add on a national swing of 3.5% to Labour’s 2015 lead in London and you’d expect to find them about 16 points ahead, which is exactly where they are.

The 2016 London mayoral election looks like one of voting along ordinary party lines. The first two directly elected mayors of London were very unusual “showbiz” politicians, widely known by just their first names. Ken Livingstone initially ran an an independent and even after rejoining was clearly always semi-detached from and not reliant upon London Labour. Boris was Boris – the paltry link between his electoral success and that of his nominal party underlined by the voting figures at the last mayoral election. Boris was four points ahead of Ken in the first round of the mayoral vote, but Labour were nine points ahead of the Conservatives in the simultaeneous vote for the London Assembly – a gap of 13 points between their performance in the mayoral vote and the assembly vote.

There is no such gap in this mayoral election. If you compare mayoral voting intentions and London assembly voting intentions this time round there is no significant contrast – Sadiq Khan is 16 points head in the mayoral vote, Labour are 16 points ahead in the London Assembly vote.

If we put aside the personality driven politics of the mayoral election, London is an increasingly Labour city. Labour won hefty victories in every other electoral contest in London in the last Parliament – they won the European election by 14 points, the local elections by 13 points, the London assembly by 9 points, the general election by 9 points. If Zac Goldsmith was to be competitive he needed to appeal to non-Conservative voters, and while he is getting some support from Liberal Democrat and UKIP supporters it really isn’t enough. With only a fortnight to go. Sadiq Khan’s position is looking very comfortable.


379 Responses to “YouGov/Standard London poll gives Khan a commanding lead”

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  1. Robert Newark – “Is it that the English are conflicted, or that there are two ‘England’s’?”

    There are way more than two Englands, more like multiple Englands! Geordies, Yorkshiremen, Cornish, Londoners and so on. The regional identities seem more in line with the ancient kingdoms that existed before Aethelstan united the place, with some variations.

    And then there are the divisions by class – the middle classes have a different culture and cultural references from the working classes, down to the type of food you eat and what you drink, and these references themselves change depending which geographical area you are in, as do the accents. So layer upon layer of identities.

    Also, British = citizen of Britain

    but a Briton = native who was here before the Romans.

    For example people in the south-west are very proud of being here way before anyone else, by definition they are not Anglo-Saxons!

    England is a very complicated space, which is why it constantly defies attempts to reduce it to a simple definition and a flag. I have no idea why people outside England want to reduce it into a simple space either – what’s up with that? Stop trying to pin it down and leave it alone.

  2. I’ve found the discussions on English / British (in England) interesting.

    A few comments –

    No one is perfect! Listen to the Muppets (unless you’re bigoted against puppets). :-)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbud8rLejLM

    Our interests on this site should not be whether we think people should be concerned about their “identity”. From polling and surveys, clearly a lot of people are.

    But these questions only become relevant here when they affect VI. Obviously in Scotland and Northern Ireland [1] they are critical factors in determining voting patterns.

    For example, the Asian (primarily of Pakistani origin) community in Scotland, who don’t just identify as being Asian [2], splits roughly 50:50 in terms of being Scottish or British Pakistani/Indian/Bangladeshi. That has a political dynamic which the SNP and Labour are very well aware of, and active in.

    If Labour in England is too “frit” (which I think is the translation of our “feart”) to engage with questions that they find uncomfortable – and ignore the analyses from within their own party – then they risk the permanence not only of the “two England’s” that some have talked of, but the permanent exclusion of Labour from significant representation in those areas.

    It’s very easy to avoid addressing the nastier side of having a positive view of “us”. It’s very hard to do what Donald Dewar and Alex Salmond pushed Scots into debating about themselves and their view of the world.

    I do recommend that England does the same when thinking about its attitudes [3] to the rest of the UK, the EU and the world in general.

    However, I won’t post again on this (for now :-) )

    [1] While the direct line from the Border revivers of England & Scotland that James VI & I exiled to Ulster can be violently obvious, the actions of politicians which stoked disunity by “othering” people and excluding them from participation could be a warning both within and far beyond these isles!

    [2] A third of Asians in Scotland identify themselves primarily as Pakistani etc – but these are mainly those born in the sub-continent. Absorption into the community does tend to take a generation

    [3] “attitudes is the wrong term. Much more appropriate is TheMushyPea’s comment above – which i wholeheartedly endorse – “Countries and people are not really made by shared values IMHO but by shared stories and identifications. Newcomers gradually become absorbed and accepted and in time ignored as the stories become more intertwined over the years..”

  3. Guymonde – “eager to point out that their grandmother was Welsh or that they have Irish blood or once visited Scotland.”

    It’s because regional identity is the more powerful force. It’s not just that it’s stuff going back into deep time, recent immigrants effortlessly adopt the identity of the region they’re in. Regional culture takes over.

    Here’s an example: after the 7/7 attacks, you had loads of Londoners evoking “the spirit of the blitz” and making themselves swallow their fear, go back onto the Tube and act like it was a normal working day, nothing to see here. But a large chunk didn’t have grandparents who had been in the Blitz. It was a local culture that they’d simply soaked up and adopted just by virtue of living in London. Their identity is “Londoner” and therefore that’s who they are.

  4. @Robert, Allan

    London is transformed beyond recognition? From when?

    I mean, it’s changed a fair bit over the last couple of hundred years. There’s no longer any legal opium dens. And there are slightly more Italians now I guess. But the pearly kings and queens are still there, taxi drivers still need to learn the knowledge, Fortnum and Masons is still selling over-priced groceries, and there are even gas lit lamps around.

    Oh, maybe you mean from all the way way back when, when there were still huge stretches of arable farm land within the greater London boroughs. Well, yes, there’s less cause for the freemen of London to take their cattle across the bridges.

    However, if the suggestion is that London has radically changed in it’s culture in your life time, enough to seem like an entirely different country now… How old are you?

    Dare I suggest that London has not changed, so much as you retain the attitude that London isn’t as real a part of England as the shires?

  5. Incidentally, anyone who clings to the idea that “Mass immigration has turned London into somewhere like another country!” should try reading the Sherlock Holmes stories. London has been a cosmopolis for as long as it’s been a major trading city! London not being a cosmopolis would be a drastic change to the nature of England.

  6. @Jayblanc

    I suspect that the answer to ‘how old are you?’ Could be anything above 40.
    My Grandmother distinctly remembers the first “black people” for a fair distance moving in as her next door neighbours.

    IMO it’s the enwealthaning of London that’s also partyly alienated the culture, and this’s further greatly exacerbated by immigration (more recent, not caribbean), but it isn’t entirely a ‘foreign’ thing, some class based as well. Nevertheless, your impled doubt surprises me.

  7. @Wood

    Large scale immigration of “black people” to London didn’t start in the last century. It started in the 18th, with immigration from Africa, the Caribbean and North America.

    I suggest it’s not so much the presence of black people was unknown of, it’s that discrimination was keeping them out of sight and away from the “nice” neighbourhoods.

    London has had a huge immigrant population from all corners of the globe for… well…

    “Londinium was a much nicer swamp before those Romans came along and started gentrifying the neighbourhood. Not like real Pictish England.”

  8. @ Candy

    “It’s because regional identity is the more powerful force. It’s not just that it’s stuff going back into deep time, recent immigrants effortlessly adopt the identity of the region they’re in. Regional culture takes over.”

    I’m not sure about that. I still support Liverpool FC and view Liverpool as my home city even though I never really lived in the city and have lived in London for over 45 years. My late father in law was from Newcastle until the day he died aged 89, despite having left the city at 14 to find work and never going back, barely even for holidays.

    Throughout my working life I’ve been surrounded by people from all over the UK and Ireland and we’ve shared a common British culture with the UK nations only really being recognised when it comes to sport. But even that’s a mishmash – Cricket England but contains Scots Welsh and Irish (including the republic), rugby fiercely national but all-Ireland.. and then the British Lions packed with independent Irishmen , athletics Team GB (which is actually team UK) . That’s why the indyref felt to me like someone was trying to cut off one of my legs (even though I know it was the leg itself wielding the chainsaw)

  9. Incidentally, that most rural english tradition of all, Morris Dancing, comes from “Moorish Dance” and takes it’s origins from North Africa, and traditional dress from the Fustanella.

  10. Big story breaking about Obama saying “the UK will be at the back of the queue” for any trade deals with the EU if there is a Brexit.

    I know that most stories are part and parcel of the Westminster bubble.. but I’d be surprised if Obama’s intervention didn’t carry some weight.

    Be interesting to see the next few polls (carried out after his visit).

  11. Guymonde

    Nothing wrong with your identity being culturally Brit/UK as well as some regional aspect too – together with also having (or not having) a European part of that identity.

    Most people have multiple identities, and they can influence their opinions as to which levels of governance should operate at which level of those identities.

    Supporting these positions in political terms isn’t either necessary or contradictory, but not surprising either.

    Still, I’m disappointed that you reject any opportunity to vote for SNP, Plaid or Mebyon Kernow. Given your footballing allegiance, can I assume that you wouldn’t vote for Yorkshire First either? :-)

  12. One surprising thing about Emily Thornberry’s tweet is that the constituency she represents actually contains some of the most resolutely white working class neighbourhoods of inner London.

    If such an image (of a house bedecked in multiple crosses of St George) was a surprise / afront to her – and I’m not entirely convinced that the tweet implied it was – then it must mean she doesn’t get out much in her own constituency as there are flags a plenty on the estates south of the City Road, in Barnsbury and around Essex Road.

    Rumours of her alleged snobbery seem somewhat improbable when one looks at her own background, her brother and his staunch defence of her. But it was a story that perfectly fitted the moment and ‘the narrative’.

    It is in stark contrast to the scant coverage given to the frankly bizarre comments by Boris Johnson today about President Obama disliking Churchill on account of his ‘Kenyan ancestry’ and an alleged colonial grudge. Boris may dress it up in a ‘some might say’ sort of a way, but the implication is clearly there and it comes from him. On a day when Farrage said the self same thing.

    That Nicholas Soames – Churchill’s grandson – should go for Johnson’s jugular and Obama rebut the claim so clearly in a press conference plainly makes this quite a big story. But search for it in vain in much of the press.

    I wonder whether Johnson is storing up a well of dislike, or at least suspicion, among a large constituency of back bench Conservatives. It’s all very well his playing to the public gallery, but he has to be selected by his peers to appear on the ballot paper for leader first and the MPs have always been rather indifferent to his charms.

    Likewise, do the press really do their old brother in arms comrade Boris any favours by giving his blunders such gentle handling? If he becomes PM even the likes of the DT and DM will not be able to avoid reporting these ’embarrassments’.

    The public may lap it up – or at least tolerate it – as sufficient Americans did with ‘Dubya’, but it’s an awfully big risk for a GE campaign.

  13. @NeilA

    Very interesting points about being English.

    it may be think about how people do identify themselves. My wife felt she was Devonian and more specifically North Devonian. She would also have seen herself as British, I was brought up to think of myself as Scottsh (despite being born in England) and I would definitely see myself as British rather than English, I suspect that I look at ‘English’ as a ‘sub-state’ identity a bit more wide ranging than being ‘East Anglian’ or ‘From the West Country; but none the less not a ‘state identity’.

  14. CANDY

    @” I have no idea why people outside England want to reduce it into a simple space either – what’s up with that? Stop trying to pin it down and leave it alone.”

    Hear hear !

  15. Guymonde – “I’m not sure about that. I still support Liverpool FC and view Liverpool as my home city even though I never really lived in the city and have lived in London for over 45 years. My late father in law was from Newcastle until the day he died aged 89, despite having left the city at 14 to find work and never going back, barely even for holidays.”

    The point is that both of you comfortably picked a regional identity, and you had no struggles with that compared to your difficulty with being forced into what you thought was an official Englishness. That’s because there is no official Englishness.

    England has always had multiple cultures, with varying layers of regional culture interacting with varying layers of class culture

    In fact I’d argue that the differences between the classes are more profound than regional differences. As for sport , bear in mind that the female half of the population tends to be bored with the whole sporting thing, so if you try to define identity via sport you’re in trouble!

    I don’t get why people have to try to pin it down.

    Why not let English culture be like the English language – free to simply be and evolve as it pleases? It tends to be weaker languages that have bolster themselves with officials who police them, and the same applies to culture. The flag-waving cultures are really trying desperately to convince themselves rather than onlookers…

  16. @Guymonde

    “Throughout my working life I’ve been surrounded by people from all over the UK and Ireland and we’ve shared a common British culture with the UK nations only really being recognised when it comes to sport.”

    A interesting observation, but one that would be alien to people living in some parts of the country.

    The Highlands and Islands and rural Welsh-speaking Wales may not be very populous, but it could be argued that linguistically and culturally they are as different – or were until very recently – to much of the rest of the country as parts of France or Spain.

    Depending on your outlook that might not be very much, or a very great deal. (Welsh speakers perceive cultural affinities with Bretons which the rest of the UK would be totally unaware of.)

    There has always been a great deal of cultural diversity within the UK’s long term communities and this has often translated into political voting patterns.

    Plaid Cymru still draws its support disproportionately from Welsh speakers for example.

  17. Who here will be displaying a St George’s flag tomorrow? Oldnat, Peter Cairns and other Scots are excused.

  18. Good evening all from a damp rural Hampshire where the air is clean and chickens are the gangsters in the hood. The noise they things can make is incredible.

    JAYBALNK
    ROBERT ALLAN
    “London is transformed beyond recognition? From when?”
    _____

    I don’t know because I never said that but what I did say was travelling from London back to where I live is like travelling to a entire different country and agreed with another poster that towns and cities are changing in culture in England but I would add at a much faster rate than in rural England so some people might identify the real England with rural England.

    I personally don’t have an opinion on what makes someone feel more English than British, what it means to be British or Scottish etc. My mummy (bless she burnt the toast on my last visit) is Italian and has lived in the UK for for most of her life. I don’t have a clue what she feels she is but on the broader picture I think peoples politics in the UK plays quite a large part on how they see themselves.

    You can have discussions upon discussions on what makes England England, what it’ means to be English rather than British and so on and you will always find opposing views so I would simply say that it’s entirely down to how the individual sees themselves and there is no right or wrong view.

    I live in a village with about 700 people and work in one of the most cosmopolitan cites on the planet with over 9 million people. The amount of Chinese people I walk past on my 10 minute walk from Waterloo station to where I work just off Craven street on the north bank probably exceeds the entire population of my village.

    The contrast could not be greater hence the reason I said it was like travelling to a different country when travelling too and from work. It was not a negative observation and I feel more comfortable living in an area where there is less ethnic diversity because that as I explained is what I’ve been used too. I lived in London for a few months before moving to Hampshire and it was a bit strange (to me) to have so many people from different culture backgrounds living in the same building. Again it’s not me being negative.

    I know London like the back of my hand and apart for the 4 months I was in America there has hardly been a month when I’ve not visited London. Visiting or working in London is completely different from living in London.

    London as everyone knows has always been home to many cultures but in some of the areas where the demographic used to be predominately white working class then I do expect people will have seen change. Change is happening all the time and people are subjected to different degrees of change within London be it via gentrification or more immigration in certain communities.

    I suspect the British/Indian family living in Enfield will have noticed a big change in the amount of Polish people in the area today form 5 years ago!!
    You don’t need to go back to the middle ages or whenever to see change. You don’t need to be old to see change. I’m almost 26 and I’ve seen a heck of a lot of changes in London mostly from the census data 2001 – 2011.

  19. Self definition is an interesting thing; I suppose we all find it comfortable to put ourselves in boxes, of one size or another.

    Identifying as a Londoner is the closest that I think we have to citizen of the world, and its cultural diversity and cultural amenities have an impact on voting habits. There is extra UK immigration and that is well documented, but what I find interesting is the many people from within the UK who migrate to London for work. Many of them from right of centre backgrounds, and once here they move left/liberal as they become more internationalist.

  20. Colin @ Candy

    I can well understand that English Tories would like to avoid any discussion on this. They are, after all, the beneficiaries – according to the research by English folk on VI in England.

    Perhaps your objection is that someone from outwith England mentions the research by people in England on English matters?

    If you don’t want to discuss disparate English attitudes on anything that’s fine – but those of us who observe your quaint attitudes from elsewhere are entitled to consider that normal partisan politics play a part in your thinking – and that your compatriots may wish to study these matters more deeply.

  21. @Assiduosity

    Emily Thornberry is a real life Hyacinth Bucket – she trying to transition classes. You are correct that she comes from ordinary stock. But she’s trying to better herself – I saw one article where she pointed out to someone that she outranked them – she’s Lady Nugee and thrilled about it! :-)

    You need to put her comments about flags in that context. She momentarily forgot about her constituents and was focusing on the circle she’d really like to belong to. To answer Pete B’s question above: the middle classes and upper middle classes won’t be flying the flag of St George tomorrow. Discretion is everything. But they wouldn’t dream of making rude comments about people who do either – so ill mannered and ill bred. And thus our poor Lady Nugee got ordure heaped on her by both classes :-)

  22. OLDNAT

    Reverting to our earlier-brief-exchange on this subject:-

    This latest post continues to make my point-interminably.

  23. @AC

    “….what I did say was travelling from London back to where I live is like travelling to a entire different country…”

    A lot of sense in this. Yet it was practically ever thus.

    Since London gradually emerged as a trading centre in the 16th century and then rapidly from the mid/late18th century it has had a character quite unlike that of any other UK city.

    For a period in the first part of the 19th century, by dint of its sheer size in comparison to all other cities world wide, it was almost globally unique.

    Numerous writers, professional, diarists and epistolaries, remarked throughout this period on the alien nature of the metropolis – in no small part to it being a melting pot of cultures.

    When 90% of people lived and died within 20 miles of their place of birth – as some demographers believe was the case until the coming of the railway – the mere presence of Scottish, Geordies, Welsh, Liverpudlians, Irish and Devonians in one place was both thrilling and fearful in equal measure – the plays of the 16th-18th centuries make much of this.

    Dickens’ novels too chart a city in a ferment of change. The Royal London Hospital in the East End, which today serves a population with a very significant Muslim population, once had huge kosher kitchens to provide meals to the Jewish patients who swelled its wards.

    The fact is for at least four centuries London has been culturally ‘unrecognisable’ to the rest of the country as a part of England or Britain and for most of that time ‘unrecognisable’ to the old as the place of their childhood. It’s just the nature of the new arrivals that have changed – from Hugenots to Poles to folks from the Caribbean to Bangladeshis and back to Poles again.

    Throughout that time it has had its own political character too – it’s worth remembering that since 1067 the power of the Crown is checked by the charter signed by William, a recognition that the writ of the Crown (de facto the state) doesn’t always extend to the capital. In the civil wars it was republican through and through and more latterly Livingstone’s GLC seemed – to Thatcher herself – almost a government in opposition across the Thames.

    So yes, London is a different country. Yes it is unrecognisable to people who have lived there for generations. Yes it seems to vote in its own way quite often – perhaps in part because of this flux. But it remains constant in its change and in that sense wholly recognisable.

  24. CANDY

    It seems at least possible that Lady Nugee’s lapse was also placed in the context of the financial benefit she derives from the lower classes by dint of her status as a buy to let landlord -after purchasing Housing Association property-and then criticising “Right to Buy”.

  25. Nick W
    “…but what I find interesting is the many people from within the UK who migrate to London for work. Many of them from right of centre backgrounds, and once here they move left/liberal as they become more internationalist.”

    Do you anything other than anecdotal evidence for this assertion?

    Here’s a bit of anecdotal evidence:
    I remember going to London about 25 years ago on business and having to ask for directions. Even then, I couldn’t find anyone who spoke English until I went into a bar and spoke to the Australian barman.

    This is not unique to London. My neighbours are Chinese one side, Pakistani opposite and and mixed white English and half-caste West Indian the other. This is quite a respectable area near Birmingham. In Birmingham itself you can drive for miles and not see a white face in some areas, and most of the shop signs are in some sort of arabic or urdu script. People wander about in kaftans, burkas and other ethnic garb. I’m not saying this is good or bad, but to pretend that it is an unalloyed good or that it has little effect on the culture of the country is just misguided. It is noticeable that while immigrants in the 50s and 60s generally tried to integrate into society, nowadays they seem to try to retain the culture of the countries they came from, including FGM, honour killings, Sharia law, and so forth. I rather doubt that many of these would consider themselves English or even British. Indeed many don’t even speak English.

    I don’t know how this affects VI and polling. For telephone polling, I wonder how many pollsters persevere when the respondent doesn’t speak English. Has there been any research into whether non English-speakers vote or not?

  26. “I remember going to London about 25 years ago on business and having to ask for directions. Even then, I couldn’t find anyone who spoke English ….”

    Really?

    I lived and worked in London from 1986-20005, and can honestly say that even in areas with the largest concentrations of ethnic minorities, I never came across a concentration of people who did not speak English.

  27. @Candy

    Ah this is where the media machine takes over.

    What rude comment did she actually make in her notorious tweet? Can anyone even recall?

    “Image from #Rochester”

    Yep. That’s it. It was all in the media ‘interpretation’. And the cack handed handling by her then boss.

    Equally, Lady Nugee is a title that the press and her detractors seem much keener to use than she herself. It’s a tactic often deployed to discredit anyone on the left that has money or success – that somehow they are guilty of hypocrisy, that to be left wing should necessarily entail penury (except when someone is genuinely quite unworldly like Corbyn that doesn’t do either).

    That said, the point of my post was as much to highlight that all this space is given over to Lady Nugee’s alleged transgressions and arriviste tendencies yet plain Mr Johnson’s controversies go buried as a footnote.

    As if to highlight that, there’s almost as much online about her run in over a slip in lunch date etiquette with Nicholas Soames as there is about Soames blasting the Mayor of London for invoking his grandfather in his strange attack on the visiting US President.

    Cosseting Boris in this way may not be to the Conservatives ultimate benefit was my conjecture, as if the blunders start coming thick and fast in a GE campaign – when they will be reported, it won’t be pretty in VI terms.

  28. @Pete B and James E

    Having done voluntary and professional work in wards and even specific SOAs of Tower Hamlets, Newham and Lambeth and parts of Leeds and Birmingham with some of the most diverse communities in the country I have never experienced a situation where you couldn’t readily find a multitude of people who could speak fluent English.

  29. @Jayblanc, you’re not telling me anything I didn’t know.

    I think I’d have to disagree with you on what’s ‘large scale’, but that’s hardly something we can get an exact definition of.

    Reckon the morris dancing is missing the point too…the Angles were Danish donchaknow.

    Part of my point, in response to your (perceived) incredulity at people seeing mass change in London, was that many things that are history to some are, to others, the world they grew up in. WW2 London is as ‘other’ (and dr who worthy) a place to most of us as modern london is to those who lived it.

    What qualifies/doesn’t as a transformation is a matter of opinion, but a brief google of some stats’d show London is more “cosmopolitan” than ever before, and the rate of change of the last couple of generations is faster.

  30. ASSIDUOSITY

    I don’t dispute your post in anyway however it is quite complex and as most people know who bother to read my comments on UKPR I like to keep things simple and in a generic context.

    With London (along with everything you have said) there are people alive today who have seen a lot of change in their communities over the past decade be it in the form of gentrification, immigration, urban redevelopment and so on who may feel a little uneasy at all the change Yes London has always had new cultures arriving but the pace of change from one community to another in London can be quite stark as shown in recent census data and local output statistics.

    Anyway back to your post. I take it you comment on Western Defence, “Intelligent discussions of the plight of Western Civilisation?” I tend to keep my more complex thoughts for that site but who do I post as? Hmmm!!

  31. If I might make an intervention in this national identity debate; pretty much every nation on Earth will have multiple cultures, or multiple identities or whatever within it. This is entirely normal and based on their history because nations are not real. Their formation was based on bolting together a lot of disparate groups, classes, cultures, regions etc. and convincing them that they shared an identity, a history and such (largely through education, but also through suppression if necessary). That’s what nationalism was.

    You can see this in China where Mandarin (the official language) is taught as a second language in most places, because people still have their regional language. Historically, in France, French became the national language because it happened to be the language that the revolutionaries used (and it took a hell of a lot of effort to get it to be the national language – as late as the early 1900s it still wasn’t widely spoken in the rural areas of France).

    As to what individual national identities are I don’t think anyone can really say (if you think otherwise ask someone to define ‘British values’ for you in a way that will mark them out as ‘distinctively British’ and will cover all people who would be labelled ‘British’; I reckon its impossible). It’s like asking someone what a dog is; we all know and have some idea but if asked to define it (such that it would cover all dogs, but not foxes, cats, wolves etc.) we’d be stumped. This will be true of all cases – e.g. I imagine the majority of people on this board would describe themselves as British (or Scottish, or Welsh or English) but would have disagreements about what that actually means.

    Nationality, flag waving and all that jazz occurs everywhere, sometimes subtly sometimes explicitly but its always there. National identities are a bit like accents – we all have one, but we like to think we don’t. It’s just part of how human psyche works; in creating a sense of belonging its always, to a certain extent, defined in opposition to the other groups around them. The Welsh keep their own language (which is pointless); the Scots claim to be more social-democratic (which is bollocks); and the English claim to not be like the rest of the savages they share the island with (also bollocks).

  32. [Attempt to save long post from moderation…]

    Just an extended point on this national identity debate; pretty much every nation on Earth will have multiple cultures, or multiple identities or whatever within it. This is entirely normal and based on their history because nations are not real. Their formation was based on bolting together a lot of disparate groups, classes, cultures, regions etc. and convincing them that they shared an identity, a history and such (largely through education, but also through suppression if necessary). That’s what nationalism was.

    You can see this in China where Mandarin (the official language) is taught as a second language in most places, because people still have their regional language. Historically, in France, French became the national language because it happened to be the language that the revolutionaries used (and it took a heck of a lot of effort to get it to be the national language – as late as the early 1900s it still wasn’t widely spoken in the rural areas of France).

    As to what individual national identities are I don’t think anyone can really say (if you think otherwise ask someone to define ‘British values’ for you in a way that will mark them out as ‘distinctively British’ and will cover all people who would be labelled ‘British’; I reckon its impossible). It’s like asking someone what a dog is; we all know and have some idea but if asked to define it (such that it would cover all dogs, but not foxes, cats, wolves etc.) we’d be stumped. This will be true of all cases – e.g. I imagine the majority of people on this board would describe themselves as British (or Scottish, or Welsh or English) but would have disagreements about what that actually means.

    Nationality, flag waving and all that jazz occurs everywhere, sometimes subtly sometimes explicitly but its always there. National identities are a bit like accents – we all have one, but we like to think we don’t. It’s just part of how human psyche works; in creating a sense of belonging its always, to a certain extent, defined in opposition to the other groups around them. The Welsh keep their own language (which is pointless); the Scots claim to be more social-democratic (which is rubbish); and the English claim to not be like the rest of the savages they share the island with (also rubbish).

  33. [By jingo it worked!]

  34. @Wood

    “… a brief google of some stats’d show London is more “cosmopolitan” than ever before, and the rate of change of the last couple of generations is faster.”

    Actually it’s very difficult to say this in any definitive way.

    There are almost without doubt more people of directly African and Asian descent in London today than at any time in the past.

    But the movement of people across European borders was a much more informal and fluid affair prior to that time.

    The passport was not a proof of national identity until 1858 (prior to that the Crown could also offer them to foreign nationals as an assurance of British protection) and they were largely unnecessary for foreign travel or entry to Britain until the First World War.

    It’s around the same time (and in the decades preceding with the ‘Jew Crisis’) that a distinct interest in measuring cultural, and specifically religious, diversity emerges with informal censuses of Catholics, dissenters and Jews taking place in the latter half of the 19th century.

    Field trials for inclusion of ethnicity in the census did not begin until 1975 and the measure was not rolled out until the 1991 edition. This would therefore be after the waves of post war immigration from the Caribbean and South Asia.

    Whilst we may wish to assert that we live in a time of greater cultural change than any other, the statistics simply do not exist to support this assertion.

    Likewise, it should be remembered that Catholics from Italy and Jews from Russia would, and did (from the accounts that we have) appear as culturally separate to the existing communities in many parts of London as do more recent arrivals to today’s Londoners. Even though those greeting the 19th century Italians and persecuted Jews may well have been the grandchildren of Hugenots…

  35. @COLIN
    I had an interesting conversation out canvassing a little while ago in an old council estate of pleasant semis. The lady was railing against right -to-buy but then pointed out that she was a ‘beneficiary’. She had been a tenant for many years and intended to stay put but found it impossible to resist the bribe to buy, especially as most of her neighbours had done likewise. 20 years on, her street has changed dismally for the worse: what had been a stable, mixed community of people of all ages and various incomes, with all houses maintained to a reasonable and consistent standard by the council, has become predominantly buy to let. Residents are short term and have no commitment or interest in the community and no civic pride. Landlords – never the original tenants, all those have sold out – are interested in maximising income and minimising expenditure so things like front gardens and fences are woefully neglected, often with stuff dumped on what was once the lawn. Most private rentals are let to multiple occupiers, with the usual dodges to avoid HMO regulations. Remaining tenants are elderly and when they move on the council will be forced to sell what’s left to pay the bribes to housing association right to buyers.
    My canvassee probably has a £200K paper profit but it is of no use to her whatsoever and her life has been badly damaged.

  36. @Assiduosity

    “yet plain Mr Johnson’s controversies go buried as a footnote.”

    Part of British culture is being infinitely forgiving to post berks ;-)

  37. In all seriousness, I wish I could officially have my nationality as ‘World Citizen’ and my flag perhaps the UN flag.

    I find the concepts of nationality, flags and ‘nation pride’ and such matters as just utterly pointless.

    All humans are complex carbon based life-forms, who have by an amazing set of circumstances, have managed to evolved on a tiny, irrelevant rock floating in space.

    I’m genuinely quite happy with that :-)

  38. @ OldNat

    A few months ago you (to a degree rightly) corrected me for quoting a certain definition of nations (that has been been plagiarised to no ends). Above you have plenty of evidence that the author was quite right about the notion of nations as a frame for social discourse.

  39. @Assidousity

    “It’s just the nature of the new arrivals that have changed”

    There has recently been an enourmous increase in quantity.

    “English” has not, prior, been a minority of the capital for as long as English has been a thing.

    @No English speakers.
    Maybe many years ago things were different, but I’ve been in some 100% Islam areas, and most everyone (or most every man, can’t tell the others) can speak English. Nevertheless, statisitcal flukes of asking four or 5 people in a row who could be tourists or whatever…it could happen. Don’t reckon it’s representative, but it could be trueish.

  40. @Assiduosity

    She blundered by drawing attention to the flag in the first place.

    The flag wasn’t on a public building, it was on someone’s house. So it felt like she was picking on someone. Which is mean. It’s no different to pointing at someone’s clothes. Fellow Brits are not creatures in a zoo that you are documenting. They are allowed to be as eccentric as they like without anyone commenting or saying unkind things. By drawing attention to something personal, she crossed an invisible line.

  41. PETE B
    Who here will be displaying a St George’s flag tomorrow? Oldnat, Peter Cairns and other Scots are excused
    ______

    Why are PETER CAIRNES AND OLENAT being singled out for preferential treatment?

    I’m only kidding…Happy St George’s Day to everyone when it arrives tomorrow.

  42. @Pete B

    You are quite right to ask me about that. There is fairly strong anecdotal evidence, and a certain degree of correlation that one can take from the voting patterns of AB1 voters in London compared to the rest of the UK – many of whom will not be born and bred Londoners, and yet mainly from the UK, but yes it’s not quite on point.

    That said, there was a U of Chicago review (2003/3 ish) that spoke to this point in relation to the shift in opinions that people from outside NYC had when they moved there and realised the “other” wasn’t quite so scary. I suspect that the same would apply here to inward migration from the Shires. And if you want anecdote, I’m one of them – proximity to people from all over the world makes me more relaxed and liberal by the day.

  43. @AC

    To keep it brief.

    No actual proof that London is changing faster than it has done at other critical points in history. It’s a world city, it changes or dies, that’s a tough reality but not a new one.

    As a city between 8-10 times larger than the next biggest in the UK (depending on how you draw the lines) and belonging to a global elite of perhaps a dozen cities at most, it will always feel alien to the rest of the country. Nothing new.

    Don’t live there if you don’t have to – it’s an awful lot cheaper nearly everywhere else. Give the city more power to govern its own affairs it is as clearly an individual polity as Scotland or Wales.

    Thanks for the tip regarding the other site.

  44. CATMANJEFF

    “In all seriousness, I wish I could officially have my nationality as ‘World Citizen’ and my flag perhaps the UN flag”

    I doff my hat, that’s the most sensible thing I’ve read here all evening.

  45. @Pete B

    I should add that apart from living in London, I have also lived in our nation’s second city, so I am very familiar with Brum. So I know Cape Hill, Sparkbrook, Aston etc, all the areas that are so easily caricatured, and I have never known anything but kindness and understanding. Yes, there is an older generation that dresses in suits, and a younger one that doesn’t and may annoy me with their phones, but they’re generally good kids in my experience once I talk to them

  46. @ Wood

    “There has recently been an enourmous increase in quantity.

    “English” has not, prior, been a minority of the capital for as long as English has been a thing.”

    Of course, as you point out in your second paragraph (when talking about ‘minorities’) it’s not quantity that matters principally in perceptive terms it’s proportionality.

    If you live in a hamlet of 46 people and 150 ‘outsiders’ arrive you are likely to feel much more more inundated than than someone in a situation where 2,000 newcomers arrive in a city of 1,000,000.

    The essential point is that we simply don’t know whether in the past the proportional number of new arrivals were very high relative to the existing population.

    What we do know with some certainty is that there have been parts of cities in the past that were almost certainly inhabited by a majority of newcomers. The Hugenots in the streets of Spittalfields, the Jews in the same area a century and a half late just two examples in one place,

    As to the city as a whole city – accounts of London from the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries speak of a hugely cosmopolitan place, with Hanseatic traders, Scottish, Welsh, Irish and ‘North British’ migrants, the courts and ambassadorial residencies of foreign crowns and states. Large numbers of French and Italians in trade and settled.

    We tend to view things through the prism of the mid to late 20th century, which was in cultural terms a very nation state dominated period in history. There is every reason (and evidence) to believe that certain places at certain times might have been much more like ‘International Cities’ than is commonly thought.

    What does this have to do with VI? Very little, but perhaps certain people are disposed to this kind of life and this kind of disposition reads through to politics.

  47. Aha. Found it.

    YouGov: Support for the idea of a World Government in the UK. 41% of respondents strongly support or tend to support. 29% strongly oppose or tend to oppose (with roughly the same level feeling ‘strongly’ in both camps, 10-11%).

    https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/062e62d0-0155-11e6-a405-005056900127

    You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

  48. ASSIDUOSITY
    @AC
    To keep it brief.
    “No actual proof that London is changing faster than it has done at other critical points in history. It’s a world city, it changes or dies, that’s a tough reality but not a new one”
    ________

    That may be true but that’s not the point I’m making. Just because London as a whole may have experienced change since records began at the same rate of change today does not take into account local areas and districts in London who haven’t been subjected to all that change.

    I’m not on about the days pre-dating the building of the Bedlam loony asylum, I’m not on about the days pre-dating Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I’m not on about the days pre-dating Guy-fox, Jack the Ripper, the birth of the Queen etc, I’m on about Mr’s Jones of Tower Hamlets aged 60 who has seen her close (that’s a Scottish term I think) over the past 10-20 years going from a white British demographic to one that has over 20 ethnic minorities. Yes she has seen change in her lifetime. Is it a bad thing? Well that depends on the individual’s thoughts I suppose.
    …….
    “Thanks for the tip regarding the other site”
    _____

    Don’t get carried away on that site. There are some real monsters on it. ;-)

  49. @ ASSIDUOSITY

    That the mayor of London is a racist when he thinks it brings votes is not new. That British newspapers are biased is not new either, i.e. one has to read a lot to get a real coverage of the events of the U.K. and internationally. And, with the exception of Ch4, television news programmes are reliant on newspapers in having slots for news items, and as a result they are reflections what is in the papers, is not new either.

    However, the consumption of news has radically changed in the last couple of years, so the generic ideological lines have become more solid. On the other hand, so far, it has not affected voting (voting intentions) – yet. But judging from extremely fragmented and unrepresentative examples we may see some really surprising effects in two weeks’ time.

  50. Attempting to define “the real England” culturally is doomed to failure for one simple reason. No one will ever agree what it is. And there’s no historical continuity of common culture in England. England’s history is one of invasion, recolonisation, internal strife and factionalism, a stretch of civil wars, then empire and colonisation causing mass movements of people. There’s no firm historical cultural foundation to “England”, we’re built atop a mess of stuff jammed together.

    Instead we keep inventing new things that mean “England”. Elizabethan “English Culture” was rise of mass entertainment of a bawdy and populist nature, most well known of which being Shakespeare. Victorian “English Culture” certainly wasn’t the pastoral life, it was the man of industry, cities and factories. It’s not till relatively recently that Pastoral England became a cultural touchstone again, and that’s in great part due to a group of writers in Oxford called the Inklings who decided to create a new English Mythology.

    Even the idea of “St Georges Day” as practiced now is a relatively recent invention. It’s celebration as a national holy day had ceased in the Tudor period. It was revived at the turn of the last century, by the Royal Society of St George. (Founded in 1894, members include Winston Churchill.) Even government support never really made it a secure part of “English Culture”. Practically the only lasting impact, has been the idea that at some point in the past St Georges Day *was* a thing, and we’re letting the side down by not celebrating it properly.

    On St Georges Day, people will celebrate a turkish saint, recreate celtic fertility rights, and dress up in traditional islamic dress to perform the Moorish Dancing. Because of an artificial attempt to increase “English Cultural Identity” a century ago that never really took off.

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