Conservative Party leader David Cameron spoke of his aspiration of social cohesion in Britain yesterday.
The impression that Britain sometimes lacks the necessary harmony to
provide a cohesive society was articulated fervently, with the hope of
such unity being idealised. Cameron openly encouraged Britain to
humbly maintain and enhance cohesion, particularly with relation to
British Muslims. “Alienation”, “disillusionment”, and the “ambiguity”
between faith and nation, he said, were plaguing the nation, and
disabling a frequently shared ambition.
As the US, places in the forefront of its mind, the prospect of a
post-Bush America, and the UK contemplates the return of a Conservative
government, a differing relationship waits to be forged between the
two countries. Cameron’s speech insinuated huge implications of the
cohesion held by Britain and America, a strengthened relationship, and
the need to enhance it further. He made it clear, that if Britain’s
aspiration was its own social cohesion, then it had to look towards
America for advice, principle and a sense of pride. Cameron asks us to:
"Think of America. Of course America is not perfect. But it does
succeed in creating, to an extent far more evident that we have
achieved here, a real sense of common identity – about what it means to
be an American. Freedom. Family. Opportunity and community."
Everyone is made aware of the American dream, or at least American identity, and it may be with reluctant respect that we express it, but somewhere in our mindset, we recognise the need to be slightly more American, and take seriously the notion that in some British circles is so fashionable to criticise:
“The difference is that in America, this identity is positively and actively embraced by nearly everyone, regardless of his or her ethnic background and religious affiliation. You can see it in daily rituals like the Pledge of Allegiance. In the strong sense of emotional attachment and reverence towards Mount Rushmore and Arlington Cemetery. And you can see it in America’s coming together on Independence Day and Thanksgiving. It is this strong sense of inclusive identity that has helped make so many people feel part of American society.”
Apart from merely explaining a certain admiration for the US, Cameron provides a very British reality:
“In Britain, we have to be honest: we have failed to do the same. We have not opened up our sense of citizenship to all those that have come to live here.”
Britain, at previous opportunities, has struggled to acknowledge its national identity. Many would argue that British society has become so diluted, and influenced from outside the confines of the island state, that it cannot possibly return to a stage where a sense of common identity is paramount to our value system. Such a denial of potential would even go so far as to deny any history of ever having been held together in unity. The British, like the Americans, are not all carved from the same rock, we do not always pray to the same God, or to any God at all, nor do we wrap the Union Jack around us with the same affection each time. However, we are severely lacking, or perhaps misplacing the prospect of social cohesion that can occur from the problematic dangers of the past.
Whether it be terrorism, fundamentalism, or just a general sense of ghettoising ethnic groups, social cohesion has been lost, or dispersed with cynicism and a lack of faith. With David Cameron publicly recognising American success with social solidarity, he asserts the great need for renewed social cohesion that a desperate, tired, and all too compromising Britain is crying out for. As Cameron stated America isn’t perfect, but Britain can engage its community once again by applying certain American values to our current social discord.