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Britishness can’t be defined by Englishness alone if it is to survive says outgoing Conservative MS

05 Apr 2021 2 minute read
David Melding. Picture by the National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

If Britishness is to survive it can’t be defined by one nation or one political vision, according to an outgoing Conservatives Senedd Member.

David Melding who has been a member of the legislature since the start of devolution in 1999 today posted his final message before he “departs the political scene” at the Senedd election.

In his message, he argues for a sense of Britishness made up of five nations and not the “muscular unionism” advocated by some of his Conservative colleagues.

“Some English Conservative commentators are urging a more muscular unionism which emphasises a common Britishness that unites us,” he said.


“I have long argued- as have others- that the UK is made up of five nations and for the British state to endure it needs to nurture its deep-rooted nationalism. There is a great danger however in attempting to pass off ultra unionism as authentic British identity.”

He added that: “To be true, Britishness must be distinct from its home nation cousins. It cannot be defined by one nation alone.

“Far less can it be what the largest entity, Englishness, has to be called for polite reasons in Wales and Scotland.

“While a deeper understanding of British national identity makes the survival of the UK likely (and difficult to imagine in its absence) it does not make it inevitable.

“The idea of Britain is just too powerful to be contained in one political outcome. It is why unionist statecraft has to be at its most skilful to save the British state.”

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