In case your ears have glazed over since he came to power, Gordon Brown has been talking about Britishness quite a lot.
On Britishness, Brown has said: "being British is, in a sense, about subscribing to these values that have endured." His government compels; we do not subscribe. The latest move to be framed in the verbal diatrbe of British values is his adoption of a policy the ‘nudging’ Conservatives were mulling over in 2007. It amounts to signing our youth up to part-time slavery.
The rulers of countries have had an impact on national values. Almost always this has been to the severe detriment of the people. On the rare occasions when the state has had a positive contribution in this area, it has been through breaking down the ties that bind the people’s liberty to the state.
Unlike Blair, Brown has built his political philosophy on the works of thinkers on the left. As such, he is unable to think outside of a world in which the ruler distributes private property for the ‘public good’. With the triangulation that came with the creation of New Labour, Brown is left with little of substance on which to stand. As such, his digression into the world of British values is unsurprising if faintly ridiculous. Blair and Obama can somehow be forgiven by the public at large for speaking with vigour on meaningless platitudes, from Brown it just doesn't work.
Brown’s premiership will be noted for its lack: its lack of leadership, direction and policies. Despite his exhaustive efforts, he will never pin down the values of Britishness; this is because such talk
is was best discussed over a couple of pints, a pack of cigarettes and a couple of packets of crisps in your local pub. The Heresiarch over at Heresy Corner hits the nail squarely on the head:
All that the state should require of its citizens is that they pay their taxes and obey the law. Beyond that we are in the realms of propaganda and indoctrination, neither of which strikes me as being particularly "British".