Ed Miliband rejects ‘false choice’ between Scottish and British identity

By Cassie Chambers

Scottish voters do not have to choose between being British and Scottish, Ed Miliband has said, in a speech making the case for a multi-layered national identity.

Discussing the nature of what it means to be British at the Royal Festival Hall, Mr Miliband said that local and national loyalties in the United Kingdom do not have to be at odds with one another.

Scottish separatism, according to Mr Miliband, "insists that the identification with one of our nations is diminished by the identity with our country a whole. After all, they want to force people to choose. To be Scottish or British. I say you can be both".

The Labour leader also stressed the importance of celebrating English identity, stating that those on the left have often been too hesitant to discuss what it means to be English.

 "We have been too nervous to talk of English pride and English character," he said.

"For some it was connected to the kind of nationalism that left us ill at ease."

Mr Miliband said the Labour party had been committed to an English identity which believes "in the dignity of the people, in the necessity of conserving the things we value, and in the possibilities of progress".

But he acknowledged that the left had struggled to come to terms with the issue and that Labour had been "reluctant" to address it directly.

Building a British identity that is beneficial to all, he continued, requires a recognition of the unique aspect of each country's identity and of the ways each of these identities has been shaped by "shared conversations throughout history".

"Whatever people's views on Europe, economic and social progress can best be achieved by the United Kingdom staying together," he added.

"Our identities, our economies are too intertwined for anything else".