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Last Updated: Friday, 27 January 2006, 10:21 GMT
Cameron speaks out on patriotism
David Cameron
Mr Cameron said Britons are coy about celebrating achievements
Being a patriotic Briton does not mean giving up your pride in your Muslim faith or Afro-Caribbean roots, Tory leader David Cameron has said.

Mr Cameron insisted it was possible to feel "multiple patriotism" with loyalties not only to where you live, but also to where you were born.

He also criticised Chancellor Gordon Brown's plans for a "Britishness" day.

His comments come as New Labour founder Peter Mandelson accused Mr Cameron of being a "rip-off" of Tony Blair.

Flying the flag

Mr Brown attempted to steal a march on the Tories - who have traditionally been more strongly associated with patriotism than Labour - by proposing a national holiday to celebrate British achievements.

The chancellor, who is widely expected to Mr Cameron at the next general election, said he wanted to reclaim the union flag - suggesting Britons could learn from the American practice of flying the flag in their garden.

But his words were mocked by Cameron at an awards dinner in London on Thursday. The Tory leader said Mr Brown wanted to "institutionalise" being British.

Mr Cameron said he did not oppose the idea of a national holiday to celebrate Britishness but argued politicians should never claim patriotism for one party.

Robin Cook

And in a further sign of his efforts to make the Conservatives more attractive to ethnic minority voters, he said individuals' identity was not shaped purely by their nationality, but by their family, religion and home-town.

"That's the whole point," said Mr Cameron. "We can feel multiple patriotism. Being a patriotic Welshman does not stop you being a patriotic Briton.

"You can be proud of your Afro-Caribbean roots or your Muslim faith, while at the same time being a patriotic Briton. "And anyway, I think we should realise that Britishness is a concept that, if grasped too hard, slips away."

In an echo of the late Labour politician Robin Cook, who said Britain's national dish was Chicken Tikka Masala, Mr Cameron said curry was already replacing the traditional cucumber sandwich as a culinary emblem for Britain.

'British reserve'

He chronicled the achievements of Britons in the arts, industry, sport entertainment - but stressed that "British reserve" prevails when it comes to celebrating such achievements.

"This coyness, this reserve, is, I always think, an intrinsic part of being British. We are understated. We don't do flags on the front lawn," he said.

Instead, he cited values such as freedom of speech, respect for the rule of law and fairness and tolerance, which were highlighted in research for the Commission for Racial Equality for the Great Briton Awards.

Events such as the 7 July London attacks have prompted a debate on Britishness, which, the Conservative leader argued, is essential.


He said a sense of national identity helps foster social cohesion.

People who come to live here should be encouraged to learn English, and British history should be put at the heart of the school curriculum, he argued.

European Commissioner and former Cabinet minister Peter Mandelson said Mr Cameron needed to work out what he stood for.

Mr Mandelson, who remains a close confidante of the prime minister, said: "Whenever David Cameron opens his mouth, I can hear echoes of Blair circa 1994. I think he is a bit of a rip-off."

"What David Cameron probably needs to do is work out exactly where he stands and what he believes in and what he wants to do rather than trying to borrow somebody else's battle plan."

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