Today the Prime Minister gave a speech where she criticised a “liberal elite” for sneering at voters’ patriotism. I find this accusation deeply troubling, because it implies that liberal people can’t be patriots and that patriotism is the exclusive preserve of the right. Does anyone really think that people with liberal social views tut with distaste when Jason Kenny or Laura Trott win gold medals, remain-voting Oxford, Cambridge and St Albans resound with cheers at each wicket Australia take in the ashes or that because I’m Scottish and fine with gay marriage and the current immigration set-up that I felt Craig Jubert was perfectly correct to give THAT “penalty”?
Patriotism is in the political sense is simply caring enough about your country that you want the best for it. That means praising the good things, criticising the bad things and suggesting how you would make things better. Is Jeremy Corbyn unpatriotic because he is proud of some parts of British history but not others? Is Nigel Farage unpatriotic because he supported what I consider the massively destructive Brexit vote? Is Nick Clegg unpatriotic because he opposed it? Is Kezia Dugdale unpatriotic for opposing independence? Is Nicola Sturgeon unpatriotic for supporting a possibly costly divorce from the UK? In all cases no. Why? Because in all cases they care enough about their country to propose policy positions that they believe are in the best interests of the country.
Liberals (and conservatives) are patriotic precisely because they do care about their country and the lives of their fellow citizens and want to make things better.