So thin is the idea of Englishness that its primary symbol is eleven sportsmen
Yes, I shouted with joy when Raheem Sterling scored against Germany last week. I would have been equally joyful had he scored against Scotland. And when India play England in a Test series next month, I will be rooting for England, not for the country of my birth.
When it comes to sport, I am deeply invested in Englishness. But while I am willing to wave the flag in a football stadium or on a cricket field, it remains unwaved in other arenas. I am, as Sunder Katwala and John Denham would snort, a “90-minute Englishman”. Katwala, who runs the thinktank British Future, and Denham, former Labour MP and now director of the Centre for English Identity and Politics at Southampton University, are among the keenest advocates on the left of the need for an English identity. Together with Steve Ballinger, they have published a new pamphlet called “Beyond a 90-minute nation”, which argues for “an inclusive England outside the stadium” as well as inside.