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Calling yourself British.

  • 24-08-2023 1:11am
    Registered Users Posts: 2,278 ✭✭✭dinorebel

    I'm English and have lived in Ireland for 30 years (I'm 60 so half my life) I'm confused with the idea of people calling themselves British not one person I know either English, Scottish or Welsh calls or identifies themselves as British if asked we're English , Scottish or Welsh why does the Unionist community claim this identity as uniquely belonging to them?



  • Registered Users Posts: 39,342 ✭✭✭✭Mellor

    You're a British mate. You are English too, which part of Britain. People typically identify with multiple geographic areas. If somebody is considers themselves Texan, they are still American.

    Also, I'm highly doubtful that you don't know anybody that refers to being British. Identifying as a "Brit" is pretty common in pop culture. The biggest airline line in the UK is obvious British Airways. The idea that nobody claims really claims to be British is laughable.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,721 ✭✭✭seenitall

    I remember meeting someone years ago, who was brought up in the south of England (complete with the accent), born by Irish parents (actually, there seems to be no shortage of such people around here, the west of Ireland). I was curious to know what nationality he saw himself as, and he said British. I tried to tease it out a little bit, why would he feel that rather than English for example, but he wasn’t very interested in the subject. My best guess would be that people like himself feel neither one or the other, neither English or Irish - too English-accented for Ireland, and not “Englander” enough for England. So they choose this third identity as the only other option? Maybe.

    My point is that some circumstances in people’s lives like the above could present a motivation for feeling British. Possibly!

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,136 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    The census disagrees with you...

    "...More than half of the usual resident population (54.8%, 32.7 million) chose a "British" only national identity in 2021, which is a rise of 35.8 percentage points from 19.1% (10.7 million) in 2011. The opposite trend was seen for the "English" only identity. This fell by 42.8 percentage points, from 57.7% (32.4 million) in 2011 to 14.9% (8.9 million) in 2021..."

    I assume Brexit and other recent events have had an effect.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,950 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    The Scots people I know would not identify as British because they would be extremely happy if an independence vote was successful.

  • Registered Users Posts: 968 ✭✭✭Str8outtaWuhan

    The new LLS presenter identifies as British and he was born on the island of Ireland 🙄.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 354 ✭✭slay55

    I would identify myself as British. From an island of the British mainland.

    By default , I consider myself British first and foremost

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,979 ✭✭✭Eggs For Dinner

    Asking why the Unionists in the North do what they do is an imponderable question

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,716 ✭✭✭✭

  • Registered Users Posts: 162 ✭✭jeremyr62

    Don't think it matters either way. I was born in England lived there for 30 years and now I have lived in Ireland for 31 years. If asked, which is mainly when I get off the ferry in Dublin Port, I identify as British. I consider England more as a geographical description.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,220 ✭✭✭✭Grayson

    I remember reading that the children or grand children of emigrants were more likely to use british than english. It's a more inclusive term.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 351 ✭✭iniscealtra

    What does British mean though? It always seems to mean English culture when explained. The tropes you hear anyway. The fancy English accent associated with it, afternoon tea etc. Is it just colonisation of the cultures of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by trying to encourage them to be more ‘English’ ?

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,378 ✭✭✭fergiesfolly

    I'd imagine that's something to do with it. The English get very "British" jingoistic when they might need the help of fellow Britons...war, national disaster, any sport where the English aren't strong enough by themselves.

  • Registered Users Posts: 259 ✭✭pauly58

    Try telling a Welshman that he's British.

  • Registered Users Posts: 354 ✭✭slay55

    Scotland but we have little connection , we fly the Norwegian flag more

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,826 ✭✭✭✭Danzy

    It's more unusual under 60 and really only surviving among the non native population, really strong in the Asian community as an identity.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,378 ✭✭✭fergiesfolly

    Just point to a map.

    Wales is not a real country anyway. As useless as the Scots were at independence, at least they had a vote. The Welsh can't even be bothered with that. The principality of Wales. I know they've asked to stop being called that, but that's all they are really. A principality. Can there be a more insulting title for a nation.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,511 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus

    Not at all. Per the 2021 Census of England and Wales

    • 54.8% of the population identify as British, and only as British. (This is sharply up from 2011, when only 19.1% did so.)
    • 14.5% identify as British and also as English, Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish. (2011: 9.3%)
    • 16.9% of the population identified as English, Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish, but not as British. (2011: 62.4%)
    • 9.7% claimed only a non-UK identity (2011: 8.0%)

    So we can see a very strong trend towards identifying as British, and away from identifying as English, Welsh, etc. It's far too big a trend to be accounted for by the Asian/non-native community.

    I haven't see a breakdown by age, but the trend is also far to be big to be accounted for only by the over-60s.

    The Scottish census might show a different picture; I haven't checked. But the disparity in size between the Scottish and English/Welsh populations means that even if it is different it won't affect the overall UK trend very much.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 49,538 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    54.8% of the population identify as British, and only as British. (This is sharply up from 2011, when only 19.1% did so.)

    would be curious to see this broken down into (england) and (wales) rather than (england and wales). i suspect the proportion of people in wales identifying only as british is noticeably lower than in england.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,716 ✭✭✭✭

    But he is. Same as Scotland, NI. They aren't countries, they are regions of a country, of a nation state called the UK.

    London is their capital whether they pretend otherwise or not.

    Only way that changes is independence.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,618 ✭✭✭rock22

    • @Peregrinus "54.8% of the population identify as British, and only as British. (This is sharply up from 2011, when only 19.1% did so.)

    This is an extraordinary change in just ten years and couldn't really be the result of demographic shifts. It would appear to be down to societal (cultural or political ) causes. I wonder has anyone investigated.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,001 ✭✭✭✭Tom Mann Centuria

    I'm English, I don't choose to identify as British, what others call me? there's very little I can do about that. I think Britain is on borrowed time, as is hopefully the Monarchy. The ultra polarising right wing Tories have helped speed this all up I think, rather than defend the Union, they've shown Scotland and Wales (and most of England) just how little they're thought of in the South East of England.

    As Billy Bragg once sang, Take Down The Union Jack.

    Oh well, give me an easy life and a peaceful death.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,511 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus

    I don't have the figures. But bear in mind that a lot of people in Wales are not, in fact, Welsh by birth or descent; they are English people who have moved to Wales. They might be more likely to describe themselves as British rather than English or Welsh.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,464 ✭✭✭J.O. Farmer

    Technically is the UK not the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This would mean Great Britain is England, Scotland and Wales.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,038 ✭✭✭Oscar_Madison

    Staunch unionists in NI use the term British all the time as they can’t abide anything “Irish” . I’d imagine even using the term Northern Irish these days grates them - nope, leave people in no doubt as to where we stand I’d say is their motto these days.

    Id imagine any immigrants into the UK who gain citizenship would use the term British considering they weren’t born in England or Scotland etc so can’t exactly call themselves English or Scottish.

    Thats possibly why there’s an increase in the term being used.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,511 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus

    Yes, that's right. But "British" is the adjective used to describe things connected with the whole of the UK - the British government, the British army, the British ambassador, British citizens. "United-kingdomish" hasn't caught on, sadly.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,038 ✭✭✭Oscar_Madison

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,350 ✭✭✭✭AndyBoBandy

    What I don't get is the Unionists up North calling themselves British when Britain is really only the mainland consisting of England, Scotland & Wales.

    They can say they are from the U.K. yes, of course, because it's the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland...

    I've always been of the impression that to be British, you need to be from Great Britain, which essentially excludes Northern Ireland!

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,511 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus

    Ethnicity/national identity is more than just a matter of where you are born. It's mainly a matter of culture/inheritance, though of course these things can be linked to or affected by place of birth.

    But the idea that there can be British people who are native to Ireland isn't that unusual, globally. There's an ethnic Germany community native to Russia since the 18th century; an ethnic Hungarian community in Romania, a Greek community in Turkey, an Albanian community in Italy, etc. These are all long-standing settled groups, not the result of recent migration.

    Basically, if someone from, say, Antrim thinks he's British, and is regarded by other British people as British, then he's British; that's really the only meaningful definition of "British" that there is.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,038 ✭✭✭Oscar_Madison

    I don’t know is probably the straight answer and you’d have to ask them but my personal view is, the collective term Northern Irish has probably been adopted as a descriptor by people with more moderate or inclusive views of their surroundings and the position they find themselves- likely Protestants but not necessarily so, but certainly with more liberal and inclusive views than orange order members of the unionist community.

    If you say you’re Irish, then you’re linked with all cultural things associated with Ireland.

    If you say you’re “Northern Irish” , the only thing it does is highlight that you’re from that part of Ireland outside of the 26 counties- because of decades of segregation and discrimination there’s no real identifiable cultural norms and values that incapsulate the entire or most of the population of Northern Ireland.

    I think that’s also why the term “British” is probably used that much more in NI- it’s a cultural hook to hang your identity onto.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 12,495 ✭✭✭✭mariaalice

    I always ask this question if Ireland was playing England in a rugby match and you were watching what team would you be supporting?