James O'Brien's passionate take on defining patriotism

5 January 2022, 12:51

By Tim Dodd

James O'Brien gave a thought-provoking take on the meaning of patriotism, as Keir Starmer sets himself "the challenge of unhooking patriotism from racism".

It comes as the Labour leader delivered a message to former Labour voters in the so-called Red Wall seats, saying "it's not just the flag that drives our patriotism...it's really the values that lie behind that."

"The values I've outlined today of security and prosperity and respect. They're the three values that lie behind patriotism as far as I'm concerned," he said.

James said: "I've always taken it to mean something quite similar to community spirit.

"The hardest bit to negotiate is the idea that by thinking that your country is X there is an inevitable implication that that country over there is a Y. Where X is a positive and Y is a negative.

"I've never lived anywhere else. How the hell do I know that this is the best place to live?"

Read more: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tests positive for Covid-19 again

"Patriotism has to mean people doesn't it?... Which people does it mean? It means the people that you live with and the people that you live alongside.

"What does it actually mean?"

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James later said: "Patriotism, I would argue, propels me to want to see everybody living here not being in poverty.

"I felt patriotic when Marcus Rashford led his free schools meal campaign, and I felt patriotic when Marcus Rashford and his teammates got into the final of the football.

"Some people booed England's footballers and hated the free school meals campaign, and they're probably people who wear union flag underpants and consider themselves to be patriotic."

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