Ash Sarkar: Archbishop's comments on 'London elite' don't add up

8 August 2021, 11:41

By Seán Hickey

The political commentator dismantles the Archbishop of York's idea that Londoners frown upon ideas of Englishness.

The Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell hit headlines on Saturday after claiming that 'London elites' are undermining notions of Englishness. Natasha Devon spoke to Ash Sarkar of Novara Media to reflect on the Archbishop's comments.

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"I read that article and thought 'what a lovely straw man you've got there," Ms Sarkar began, telling Natasha there was much in the Archbishop's comments "that didn't quite add up the minute you put it up for scrutiny."

"England is a country of huge inequalities but I don't see how that's the fault of an imagined Londoner who he's conjured up to get really angry at."

She pointed out that the capital has "some of the worst rates of in-work poverty in the entire country" and "it doesn't add up" that the Archbishop made these comments.

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The contributing editor at Novara admitted however that she does agree with the Archbishop to some degree: "England is looking for an identity because we're in this period of immense change."

She made the case that Englishness has often been swapped for Britishness but "with Scottish nationalism, Welsh nationalism, the Irish question being revived and, of course, Brexit, that's no longer just the easy way out."

When asked by Natasha whether she felt English herself, Ms Sarkar quipped "I always say there's no other culture that could've produced someone as obnoxious as me."

She noted however that while she feels deeply connected to English culture, ideas of supremacy and racism have are always a point of disappointment for her.