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We are afraid of strangers – but is it wise to be? In most places in Western Europe we have more in common with our neighbours than things which divide us. Except, apparently in England where we are susceptible to the venom from our media which castigate anything that is not us, largely in order to convince us that that same media represents us. The Sun would have us believe it has ‘got our backs’. Yet of all our media, the Sun – and Murdoch titles particularly – have proved fickle friends; ready at a moment’s notice to switch from praise to blame.

Because we ourselves are characterised by diversity, MSM cannot identify ‘us’ as white, born and bred English, so ‘us’ becomes ‘here’. We eschew anyone who is not here or doesn’t come from here, even though many of us did not start from where we are now.

This is a palpably foolish prejudice. It leaves us unable to trust the rest of Europe because they are not from here and this is lent further credence by the fact that only a third of us speak a second language – and I suspect most of those don’t speak it very well. Think GCSE French! There is even a superiority complex (always designed to combat an inferiority that lurks beneath) promoting the idea that there’s no need to learn another tongue because everyone either speaks English – or would if they could. So I suspect that fundamentally we feel inferior to other more linguistically able nationals, though that inferiority is buried beneath a facade of condescension and scorn.

We burnish this fragile identity with the archetypal character of the resolute islander, the people who, cut off from the mainstream, develop their own idiosyncratic ways of which they are inexorably proud. Think ‘Whisky Galore’. A tale of plucky individuals battling a faceless authority, told with anarchic wit and warm humour. And a strong flavour of self-righteousness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3p5wBwdEog

While it’s fine to prize and value traditions, these do not have to be framed as the only or best way to conduct our affairs. That is a particularly English theme. All Johnny Foreigners are waiting for their Sahib to restore order and explain the rules – in English of course – for the benefit of the uninformed natives of other lands. Meanwhile, we do not want them on our shores, reminding us of our poor communications abilities.

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As a psychologist, psychotherapist and research practitioner of 40 years, I've had the benefit of the experiences of more than 100,000 people around the world. They've talked about their daily lives, hopes, fears, ambitions and needs. These experiences have helped me to contribute to innovations from Beds in Business and the Fast Track for airlines to television drama and online communities. Specialties:Large groups, facilitation, application of psychological theories to commercial issues

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