WHN: Squishy Britishness
This series, we've talked about tangible *things*... cars, schools, politicians. This week, it's time for something that may or may not exist.
What’s Happening Now?
Every week at WHN we talk about things. Things and stuff. Big things or little things. Stuff that we think matters, that should be talked about, that changes the news cycle from being a creaking, broken system to… well, still the same but with an extra podcast and newsletter.
Sometimes that might be looking at a story from a different angle. Sometimes that might be amplifying things we think should have more attention. This week, it’s talking about something that might not exist at all, depending on who you ask.
This week, we are talking Britishness.
The Big Question
Last week, 71% of people said they consider their nationality an important part of their identity. They didn’t say whether that was in a good way or a bad way, but then again, we didn’t ask.
We’ll be talking AI next so… whether it’s DALL-E or ChatGPT, Midjourney or Saundraw, have you dipped your toe in the waters of the artificially intelligent future?
On The Pod
So it’s a week of Britishness at WHN.
Intangible, subjective ishyness. “Pah!” you may shout, dismissively. “That’s not a thing that’s happening now!”
Yet while wars are waged and elections approach, that sense of national self feels worth looking at. It may loom or lurk, but for many, it’s there.
The podcast this week discussed that idea, with Sam and James joined by comedian Laura Walsh, to talk about what Britishness is, whether it even exists and how it changes over time. Or in James’ words, how “squishy” it is.
But wait, there’s more… it’s measurable!
Just last month, the National Centre for Social Research published the British Social Attitudes Survey.
The survey found a continuing decline in religious identity, but the continuing relevance of political identity. Gender, poverty, age difference… the results are fascinating for a survey that celebrated it’s 40th birthday this year and must now be surely planning to buy a sports car and get a hair transplant, or whatever the survey equivalent of a mid-life crisis is. Next year it might just change its font, or ask a few more vaguely inappropriate questions.
What Else Is Happening this week
Just one story made it to the podcast this week, with the team obsessing over an obsession. Specifically, Ed Currie’s Pepper X.
Elsewhere this week, The Guardian reported on the role of lobby groups in keeping caged hens and pigs locked away. This is either news, or part of the marketing strategy for the soon-to-be-released Chicken Run sequel. Time will tell.
The Government has issued strong guidance to councils to abandon any thoughts they may have of four-day working weeks. Perhaps not a surprise from a leadership group who seem to have barely done much in 13 years…. 4 days would be a shock to their system.
The Financial Times discovered that a new book from Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves, contained apparent plagiarism from places including Wikipedia. A place of unreliable information, crazy contributors and an unreliable economic model based on optimism, some people say of the Labour Party.
Two artificial insemination tanks containing a “large quantity” of cattle semen have been stolen in Northern Ireland. Apparently, it’s a very valuable asset… but it’s easy to be bullish on that market.
What's Happening Next Week?
Artificial Intelligence is the talk of the town as the UK’s AI Safety Summit takes place at Bletchley Park. Convened by Rishi Sunak, the event will host experts in the field and world leaders. It’s also caught our attention, which surely is the only metric that matters. More on the pod soon.
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