Get access

Being British: A Crisis of Identity?



An assumed decline in Britishness has rekindled concern over the ‘break up of Britain’. The creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 is taken as the cause and the effect of Scots having come to feel more Scottish and less British. Using data on public attitudes from British, and Scottish Social Attitudes surveys, this paper shows that, despite a strengthening sense of Scottishness over the last thirty years, the sense of being British is still widespread and similar in Scotland and in England. Even those who describe themselves as Scottish and not British are not hostile to the idea of Britain. The relatively weak association between national identity, party support and views on constitutional change suggests that being Scottish is more cultural than political. Recent attempts by politicians and others to mobilise Britishness ignore the complexity and diversity of meanings it has both north and south of the border.