Hands up if you are one hundred per cent pure blood English. If your ancestors came over from anywhere, be it on the Windrush, with the Norman invasion in 1066, or in a Viking longboat, please proceed to Dover and leave immediately. That's the mind-set of Tommy Robinson and Nick Griffin, leaders of the English Defence League and the British National Party respectively, and never mind that that would leave the UK with a population of about six people.
The events in Woolwich on Wednesday were horrible and have rightly been condemned by everyone from David Cameron to the head of the Muslim Council of Britain. However, I find it disturbing that any Muslim body has to distance themselves from lunatic extremists due to people not being able to tell the difference (you don't see the Archbishop of Canterbury having to apologise every time the Westboro Baptist Church does something offensive) and what I find even more disturbing is that what happened in Woolwich has returned Britain's far right groups to prominence. Despite the BNP being bankrupt and down to one MEP, Nick Griffin was on the front page of the Independent today. This incident has given Britain's neo-fascist organisations, previously collapsing in on themselves, a foothold back into the national psyche.
The fact that these groups still exist is disappointing enough. But the fact that they would use the murder of a solider, a man who served and represented this country to the best of his ability, as an excuse to go "See. We told you we were right. You should have listened to us," is not only disgusting, but goes against everything they claim to represent.
The United Kingdom has never been about one culture, or one race, or one group of people. We are an island nation, made up of all of those who down the centuries have come here, settled, and called it home, sometimes conquering, sometimes simply emigrating, and who have in time added to what makes Britain, Britain. If you try to take that away, by blaming immigrants for all the problems, or by trying to assert that Britain is only a place for white people, then you are taking away the very thing that makes us who we are, our diversity and our acceptance of diversity. That is why far right fascism has never caught on, and why the rise of UKIP is so terrifying.
The EDL claim that they are "defending" the English. But what does being English, or being British, mean? If you ask me, it is about more than just nationality, it is a state of mind, a state of being. If you believe that you are English, if you think of yourself as British, then as far as I'm concerned that's all you need. Regardless of where you came from originally, if you think of England as your home, then you are more than welcome within the boundaries of what Shakespeare called "this scepted isle."