The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has again been talking about English national identity (see my previous post).

Speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival last week Sentamu called for a new sense of English national identity – with the help of flags, football and patriotic songs, such as 3 Lions by the comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner. He said the England football team and the cross of St George could play a crucial part in solving the nation’s identity crisis by uniting people of all races and ages. He also floated the possibility that St George’s Day should become a bank holiday.

Concluding his Oxford lecture, Sentamu said: “Englishness is back on the agenda. One of the consequences of attacks by so-called home grown terrorists has been to ask the question of what it means to be English? Can there be a narrative, an identity we can all share, flexible enough to recognise the new aspects of England whilst remaining authentic enough to proudly name and recognise its own history?

“Where there is no awareness of identity, there is a vacuum to be filled. Dissatisfaction with one’s heritage creates an opening for extremist ideologies. Whether it be the terror of salafi jihadism or the insidious institutional racism of the British National Party, there are those who stand ready to fill the vacuum with a sanitised identity and twisted vision if the silent majority hold back from forging a new identity.”

You can read more about his speech in The Observer here.

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