Billy Bragg

The Progressive Patriot
  • The Progressive Patriot

  • What does it mean to be English? What does it mean to be British? Is the cross of St George a proud symbol of a great tradition, or the badge of a neo-Nazi? In a world where British citizens can lay bombs to kill their countrymen, where religious fundamentalism is on the increase and where the BNP are somehow part of the democratic process, what does patriotism actually mean?

    Our identity can change depending on what company we are in. For example, someone could describe themselves British to one person, Scottish to another and, say, a Londoner to another, and be right every time. But problems arise when someone tries to tell you what you are, based on your skin tone, religion, accent, surname, or whatever.

    This book is Billy Bragg's urgent, eloquent and passionate response to the events of 7 July 2005, when four bombs tore through a busy morning in London, killing 52 innocent people and injuring many more.
    A firm believer in toleration and diversity, he felt himself hemmed in by fascists on one side and religious fanatics on the other. The suicide bombers were all British-born and well integrated into our multicultural society. Yet they felt no compunction in murdering and maiming their fellow citizens. Inclusivity is important, but without a sense of belonging to accompany it, what chance social cohesion...

    But where does a sense of belonging come from? Can it be conferred by a legal document? Is it a matter of blood and soil? Can it be taught? Is it nature or nurture? The Progressive Patriot is a book we all need to read. It pulls no punches in its insights and its radical vision offers a positive hope for a country teetering on the brink of catastrophe.

Billy Bragg was born in December 1957. When punk rock hit the music scene, Bragg formed his first bank, Riff Raff. Following their demise, he spent a brief spell in the British Army before emerging as a solo performer in 1983. His back-to-basics, stripped-down style earned him many admirers, among them Kirsty MacColl, who had a top ten hit with his song 'A New England'. Bragg's radical views saw him become a fixture at political rallies and benefits, particularly during the 1984 Miners' Strike. He was a founder of Red Wedge - an artist-led initiative to encourage young people to vote Labour in the 1987 General Election. He has release ten albums, the most recent being England, Half English. Billy lives in Dorset with his partner and their son and is still writing songs and challenging our elected politicians.