chapter  11
Culture and Identity
Pages 21

By definition the UK, as a multinational state, is both multicultural and multiethnic-a place of multiple identities. The Acts of Union in 1536, 1707 and 1800 created a state with six languages and a wide range of customs and traditions. However, while the UK was a successful economic and political Union, the customs, traditions and identities of the constituent nations survived. Scotland, in particular, was adamant that it retain its unique education and legal systems. The Welsh and Irish, through language, literature and music, retained a strong sense of identity. Within England, some areas retained a stronger sense of identity than others, particularly the West Country and the North East (Critchley 1986). England was the hegemon within the Union, with 54 per cent of the new state’s population in 1801, though 200 years later that has increased to around 83 per cent (see Chapter 7). The new country may have been the first modern state, but it was not and never has been a nation-state. Indeed, the UK has ‘the rare distinction of refusing nationality in its naming’ (Anderson 1991:2). Its official name is the least used, and no other country suffers such confusion over nomenclature-even official documents fail to get it right (Crick 1991; Nairn 1988).