The Importance of Being British

Say the words "British" or "English," and most people think "enduring": a royal succession that goes back to 1066, the language of Shakespeare, ancient universities, the mother of Parliaments. But the reality of Blair's post-imperial, globalized Britain — when the royals are tabloid fodder, hereditary peers have been kicked out of the House of Lords, and Scotland and Wales have their own assemblies — is better described as fluctuating. And that is giving British politics a case of vertigo. In small ways and large, national identity, and its more prickly cousins immigration and race, keep popping onto the national agenda....

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