Ed Miliband: The England I love is defined by its spirit
We can forge a progressive patriotism based on the qualities that shone through during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend.
That is not the England I know. Patriotism is not necessarily claiming we are the best. It is about recognising and celebrating who we are.
My family have not sat under the same oak tree for the last 500 years. My parents were Jewish refugees from the Nazis, my father a Marxist academic, and I know my own experience is far from typical.
But I also know why I am proud to be British and why I am proud to be English, too. It is the spirit I have witnessed, not least in my own constituency.
Toll Bar, a part of Doncaster North that was horribly flooded in 2007, saw neighbours rescuing each other in canoes and a community determined to rebuild together.
Thanks to one of the ironies of modern Britain, a Zimbabwean opposition activist fleeing persecution from Mugabe ended up in Toll Bar at this time. He told me that, despite people losing their homes, it was such a positive time to be in England because of how he saw that community coming together.
I see a similar spirit now, in this summer of 2012, in another of my constituents, Sarah Stevenson. She is a taekwondo world champion with a real chance for a medal in the Olympics.
But Sarah is so much more than that. Even while she was training every hour she could, Sarah was also looking after her mum and her dad, who were living with cancer, taking time for the people she loved, staying out of the spotlight when the world was at her feet: caring as well as competing.
Of course, there are so many stories of Sarah’s kind in other nations in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. But I will always celebrate the very English stories of Toll Bar and Sarah Stevenson: a quiet determination, a generosity of spirit, a willingness to do things for others without reward, that we do not need applause all of the time.
So those looking for the best of England should always begin by looking to its people. The essence of English identity is not found with the grandeur of public office in Westminster and Whitehall, but in people coming together in the struggle to improve their lives and the lives of others.
Sometimes we come together to conserve the very best of our nation. And that does not make people Conservatives. This year we have seen it in the battle to protect our National Health Service. Last year we saw The Daily Telegraph playing a key part in the campaign by people to protect England’s forests from being sold off to the highest bidder – from the continual calculation of pounds and pence.
And through history we have adapted and innovated together to renew our nation, while always keeping our sense of ourselves: trading with the world; building great cities; learning again how to live together in the face of constant change – economic, technological, social, and in the composition of our communities.
Sometimes it is said we need constitutional change, with an English parliament to match that in Scotland or the Assembly in Wales. But I do not detect a clamour for more politicians. England does not expect constitutional symmetry any more than we want our streets designed around grids. Instead, we should get on with devolving power away from Westminster to English local authorities and the people, without the need for mayoral referendums or such-like.
We need to ensure decisions are taken closer to the people and by the people; that we protect what matters most to the people and that we build a future for all the people based on the solid foundations of the past.
That is because running through my politics is a belief in the dignity of people, conserving what we value, and the possibility of progress.
So we should talk about England as we forge a progressive patriotism which celebrates our differences and honours our people. It is the lesson of my life and it is what I have learnt from my country.
NWN: Do they call this hypocrisy or chutzpah to use jewish parlance ?
Here we have Milliband, a marxist zionist jew, whose father was probably an illegal immigrant, and a communist. Who should not even be in this country in the first place. Lecturing we English, on actually what being English is all about !
Who do these people think they are ?
p.s. The comments make rather good reading if you go to the link.......................