With the spectre of a selfish nationalism on the rise around the world, in this important new book former Prime Minister Gordon Brown looks at why it has grown in influence and what we can do about it. This is vital not only to maintain the cohesion of the four nations of the United Kingdom but to ensure that its worst aspects do not lead to future conflict.
In the book, Brown shows how the roots of nationalism often lie in economic insecurity, a sense of cultural loss, a disquiet about social standing and a breakdown in trust in political elites. Modern nationalist movements have weaponised these complaints and framed them as a modern form of cultural discrimination, political exclusion and economic exploitation. Of course, wherever they exist, they have to be fought, and he shares a range of measures that can achieve this.
He also assesses how nationalism is impacting the UK, with a particular focus on Scotland. Only by addressing the underlying causes that nationalism taps into, can we combat an over-assertive Scottishness that forces a choice with Britishness, or an over-aggressive Britishness that attempts to diminish people's Scottishness. We cannot ignore the importance of identity, people's need for recognition and their need to belong, nor can we forget a series of pressing issues that have for too long been ignored and yet undermine national unity.
Failure to tackle these issues will mean Britain falling apart. But if we address them, we have the opportunity to create a United Kingdom that is united by more than its name. It will be brought together by finding common ground around shared objectives and shared values.
Gordon Brown is the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education. The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2010 also served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1997 to 2007, making him the longest-serving Chancellor in modern history. As Prime Minister, his tenure coincided with the financial crisis, and he was one of the first to initiate calls for global financial action; his administration also simultaneously introduced a range of rescue measures within the country. Brown has a PhD in History from the University of Edinburgh. A Member of Parliament between 1983 and 2015, he lives in Fife, Scotland, and is married to Sarah Brown, a charity campaigner, and the couple have two sons.
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