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Building a Better Britain Down Under?

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After the Olympics, the British are patriotic but pessimistic, it seems. A recent survey and report undertaken at the University of Huddersfield found that six out of ten people would like to emigrate but want to move to a country that shares a sense of Britishness and its values.

The royal wedding, Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics raised national pride, but the British love to talk about the weather and this emerged as the main reason for dissatisfaction, with the poor economic situation and expensive housing following close behind. About a third also thought bad manners and a decline in community spirit and neighbourliness also made Britain a less attractive place to live. Perhaps surprisingly, the British city where fewest people wanted emigrate was Newcastle. But people in Newcastle, the city of Gazza, Ant and Dec and Cheryl Cole, shared a wider national concern with nine out of ten people wanting their children to grow up in a country with a less celebrity-obsessed culture.

The report, conducted for the Government of South Australia, asked Britons where they would like to emigrate. Australia emerged as the most popular choice, followed a long way behind by America, New Zealand, Canada and Spain. Britons considered that as well as good weather, a lifestyle akin to an 'old-fashioned' version of Britishness was of great appeal. In Liverpool, which matched the national average in numbers wanting to emigrate, half wanted to move to Australia. Researchers at Huddersfield spoke to people living in Adelaide in South Australia to explore the sense of British heritage there.

South Australia was founded in the nineteenth century as a new British province, by free labour rather than convicts, to be based on order and reason, liberty and tolerance. In 1914, when the First World War broke out in Europe, a British oak tree was planted in the Adelaide Parklands. It was considered to represent the young Australia, growing from British roots.

Adelaideans continue to consider themselves more British than Sydney and Melbourne. The survey of 250 South Australian families found that nearly two-thirds believe that Adelaide has a thriving community spirit and relaxed, family-friendly way of life, with a sense that this lifestyle rests on the location of the city, between the sea and the mountains but also its origins. One interviewee told us of 'a sense of civility and good order that seems to derive historically from Britain.'

A major festival, emphasising the importance of family and tradition is the Credit Union Christmas Pageant. The pageant began in 1933 (it is staged in early November) and involves nearly 2000 people and 400,000 spectators. With a strong economy and 'Mediterranean' weather, it's easy to see how appealing Adelaide might be to Britons wanting better weather and lifestyle while not losing their sense of British national identity.

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