What Does The Twitter Tag #britishvalues Actually Tell Us About British Values?

For starters, that it's almost impossible to get a British person to be earnest or patriotic on social media. Unless there's a World Cup on.

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by Rebecca Holman |
Published on

So, in response to the news that five schools in Birmingham have been put on special measures following claims of a ‘Trojan Horse’ takeover plot by hardline Muslims, education secretary Michael Gove has said that all 200,000 primary and secondary schools in the UK will be required to promote ‘British Values’.

But what, pray tell, are British Values these days? Questioned today, our very own prime minister David Cameron was on hand to define them as, ‘freedom, tolerance, respect for the rule of law, belief in personal and social responsibility and respect for British institutions.’

Twitter, however, had other ideas. The tag #britishvalues quickly went viral, as we all vied to see who could tackle this cack-handed attempt to define ‘British’ with maximum cynicism (which, let’s face it, is the very mark of Britishness, is it not?).

Broadly speaking, the tweets fell into four categories:

**The Lolsy, self-deprecating ‘this is what it really means to be British’ tweets **

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Which mainly focused on our obsession with talking about the weather, cups of tea, and queuing.

The serious reminders that British values aren’t always something to aspire to

 

Referencing the growing gap between the rich and the poor in the UK, lots of chat about the British Empire, our recent military record in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the occasional spot of royal bashing.

**The occasional serious reminder that we shouldn’t let the term ‘British Values’ become a short cut for racism **

 

Which is... quite a good point, really.

The very, very occasional heartfelt, serious tweet celebrating Britishness

 

Reminding us that British Values aren’t all bad. Out of hundreds of tweets, we spotted about four of these in total.

Obviously by measuring the mood of the nation on Twitter, you’re bound to see a certain bias towards the young, urban-dwelling population (40 per cent of Twitter users in the UK are under 25, with an emphasis on residents of big cities like London and Manchester). So, essentially those who are less likely to a) vote for Michael Gove and the Tories and b) take the concept of British Values at… well, face value.

But nonetheless, the hash tag still serves as a reminder that the last thing a British person would ever do is demonstrate serious or tangible levels of patriotism on social media, particularly in response to a politician.

The obvious exception to this will be a sudden and almost inexplicable surge of patriotism during the World Cup, when 98 per cent of the nation will be weeping into their Union Jack flags and inexplicably applauding the English team for ‘losing in style’ when they fail to make it past the final 16. Surely, the biggest defining feature of #britishvalues there is?

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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