The rise of nationalism

The definition of nationalism is ‘a strong identification with one’s own nation and advocates political independence of that nation. It is a political, social and economic ideology and movement characterised by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining the nation’s sovereignty over its homeland’. However, extreme nationalism or ultranationalism is when one promotes their nation above all others. In today’s society there are many examples of both types of nationalism. With Donald Trump at the forefront of American politics trying to create a more nationalistic country, doing this by building walls and starting trade wars with China. Common phrases heard in America include ‘true American’, ‘Make America Great Again’. These all provide evidence of the nationalism which is on the increase in America. This is one of the best known examples of current nationalism. However, the most prominent example of nationalism within the UK at the moment is Brexit.

There has been a long history of nationalism within the UK, which started around the 1930s with the first formation of what resembled a nationalist party which was led by Sir Oswald Mosley. Before the formation of this group, however, there were a few radical nationalists but there is little evidence of them making much of an impact, with the earliest group being an imitation of Mussolini’s Partito Nazionale Fascista which was in the 1920’s. After splinters in the groups they disbanded in 1929 due to a lack of coherent ideology and only acted via acts of vandalism and small demonstrations. This caused British nationalism to become barely noticeable to the public until Sir Oswald Mosley and his followers, the Blackshirts. The creation of the British Union of Fascists occured in 1932, which was lead by Mosley. Shortly before becoming a fascist Mosley visited America and saw how prosperous their country was and this was due to little interference from the rest of the world. America had become self-sufficient by supplying themselves with raw materials, and they had limited migration meaning that more American citizens had jobs as there was less competition. Overall, the living standards in America were a lot better than the ones in the UK and so Mosley believed that by making the UK more isolated it would be able to thrive especially since it was facing crisis from the large economic depression in the 1930’s. Therefore, a few of the parties policies were that income tax should be abolished where people should only be taxed on what they spent and not what they earned and this would encourage saving. Another policy was that there should be no multiculturalism within the UK as Mosely believed that this brought a clash of cultures and therefore a lack of social cohesion. The main aim of his policies were to make England independent so that it did not rely on global support in order to succeed. After the British Union of Fascists dissolved in 1940, politics pushed aside the British Nationalists and they were less influential until the formation of nationalist parties we recognise today such as BNP, the British Nationalist Party, in 1982 and the National Front which formed in 1967.

Following the formation of the BNP and the National Front, modern British nationalism was formed. British nationalism is associated with British unionism which aims to advocate the UK and strengthen its links between the countries of the UK. The most renowned of the nationalist parties within the UK is UKIP, the UK Independence Party. It was formed in 1993 following the creation of BNP or the National Front. UKIP’s key message is ‘a patriotic agenda for defending our country and our way of life’. With their key policies including reducing net migration, adding extra money to the NHS, banning wearing coverings on your face, pro-Brexit and spending 2% of GDP on defence.. UKIP got its reputation during the Brexit vote in 2016, for wanting to leave the UK and it was a front runner.

UKIP’s policies seem moderate, however, compared to an earlier Nationalist party called the British National Party which formed 1982. They had two incredibly controversial policies one of which is to stop immigration completely which would involve leaving the EU, prosecuting Islamic hate preachers and deporting them, rejecting all asylum seekers and no amnesty for all illegal immigrants. The second controversial policy was reversing islamisation which would involve revoking citizenships for those aiding enemies of Britain, refuse permission for any further mosques, ban the burqa, ban Sharia Law and closely monitoring teaching practices with in schools. This is a completely different form of nationalism compared Politico Magazine Issue 2 March 2019 to UKIP as it is more extreme. However both are examples of nationalism which occur within our society in the UK.

Many of the remainers believe that since the UK is the 5th largest economy in the world at this moment in time, we do not need the help of other countries in order to thrive and “take back control”. As we leave the EU, ultimately we will weaken our relationship with the other 27 EU countries that are part of this economic and political partnership. This will result in restrictions with trading within this trade bloc and a decrease in the number of migrants entering the UK. To some extent this could evoke a form of nationalism where our citizens believe that we are better off without interference from.

The future of the UK is uncertain at the moment following the Brexit vote to leave the European Union which occurred in 2016, there have been many links to Nationalism for our future. order to thrive and “take back control”. As we leave the EU, ultimately we will weaken our relationship with the other 27 EU countries that are part of this economic and political partnership. This will result in restrictions with trading within this trade bloc and a decrease in the number of migrants entering the UK. To some extent this could evoke a form of nationalism where our citizens believe that we are better off without interference from the rest of the world and that we need political independence. However, with recent changes meaning that the UK may be delayed to leave or not leave the EU at all, the future of nationalism within the UK is not definite.

– Georgia Coombes & Elinor Sullivan, year 13