Monday 4 June 2018

Beginning at the end with Mark Easton

With a Mark Easton report it's usually a good idea to go straight to his closing lines in order to properly grasp the message he's trying to get across. 

In his first BBC TV report he ends by saying: 
Being English, unlike being British, is seen as an exclusive identity, an honour bestowed only upon those eligible. That is its weakness and its strength.
In his first BBC Radio report he ends by saying:
Like the names painted on the narrow boats on the river Cam our personal identity is to some extent how we describe our cargo of values and principles. For many in England at the moment the word 'English' does not quite spell out the qualities of the goods in the hold. 
Now, you don't have to be an English student at Cambridge University to use your old-fashioned school comprehension skills and work out that the BBC's Home Editor is, both times, ending with a negative message about Englishness. 

Despite the canny 'balancing' caveat of "and its strength" and the more predictable 'distancing effect' of "is seen as" in his TV report, such would-be 'disguises' can't hide the fact that he's expressing a personal point of view here: that Englishness is more divisive than Britishness. The consequence we're intended to draw from that is plain: Englishness is, therefore, less of a good thing than Britishness. 

And his BBC Radio report ends with a related (downbeat) message: that "many" in England don't feel attached to the idea of Englishness. And, again, the implication is of 'divisiveness', and the consequence of that - that Englishness is not a particularly good thing - is just as obvious. 

Mark Easton manages to be both subtle and as subtle as a sledgehammer at the same time. It's a gift of his. 

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I think that's right Craig. Englishness is a real cultural identity centred on language (a very expressive and complicated language), sport, literature, humour, ideas of liberty, beer, customs, newspapers, and history. It's a barrier to Easton's vision of "social cohesion" (compulsory PC diversity). That's why he doesn't like it.

    British identity is more a political identity centred on Parliament, democracy, monarchy, our shared history - although I would say it also has a cultural element where the WISE nations share their culture.

    Anyway, there was no reason for Easton to go on a canal trip and commission an expensive survey as cover for airing his prejudices.


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