A third of Asians living in the UK do not feel “British”.
More than a third agreed with the belief that to get on in the UK they needed to be a “coconut” – a derogatory term for somebody who is “brown on the outside but white on the inside”. On the flip side, however, 84% were satisfied with life in Britain and almost half thought they have more opportunities here.
The results of the poll will once more re-open the multi-cultural debate, something which appears to be cropping up more regularly of late.
But it will also throw up what is arguably the most intriguing and complex question of all – exactly what is “British”?
I’m white, professional, approaching middle-age and born in the UK, but I don’t class myself as British.
Why? For a myriad of cultural reasons and simply because I’m not entirely sure what being “British” actually means these days.
For the record, I describe myself as a Welshman. Yet I was born in the heart of England – Ilkeston in Derbyshire to be precise – an accident of birth I’ve been trying to overcome ever since.
My family is predominently Welsh and proud of it too. My parents and elder sister – all Cardiff born and bred – had relocated to Derbyshire so my dad could take up a job with Rolls-Royce. When the appropriate time came, rather than jump in the car and head back over the border to ensure my Welsh birth, they stayed put in Derbyshire.
It didn’t really matter. Brought up on a very strict diet of rugby of the Gareth Edwards, Phil Bennett, Gerald Davies, JPR, JJ vintage, I could only ever be Welsh.
As a result, I’ve invariably considered myself to be Welsh first, second and last. A hint of the European crept in as I became a little more well-travelled, but by and large I remained “Welsh” to anyone who asked – taking the time to explain the difference between “Welsh” and “English” to those (primarily Americans) who seemed a little confused.
Having lived in England for the last seven years, however, my attitudes have shifted slightly.
I’m still a passionate Welshman, particularly in relation to rugby and all things sport. But, if I’m honest, I sometimes feel a little uncomfortable at what sometimes feels like an over-zealous guarding of our national culture and pride.
It often comes across as being “professionally Welsh” – trying maybe a little too hard. It isn’t an attractive quality, but then the same criticism could be levelled at some Scots and Irish on occasion.
There doesn’t seem to be too many alternatives. I’m resolutely not English, I think differently for a start (and explaining what that means will take up a whole new blog post entirely).
So I’m still “Welsh”, albeit a little less enthusiastic than I once was.
Britishness still doesn’t hold too much appeal for me.
Although eager to embrace Europe, I struggle to describe myself as “European” as that often appears even more meaningless than “British”.
This whole Britishness debate can lead off on so many tangents that I’m not sure a satisfactory answer will be forthcoming.
I tend to agree with the conclusion of this intelligent take on the “British” identity debate – namely that home is where the heart is.
My heart remains in Wales, so that makes it home.
But will I ever consider myself British?