What’s your identity?


Matters of identity are very much in the news. But do they matter?

Gender, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, religion, politics, even sports teams. These are all labels (among others) we use to define ourselves.

Just a glance at Twitter bios is interesting to see what those who do not choose anonymity think are the most important labels.

I suppose I think my nationality is important, but only in the sense that it says where I came from. A bit of personal history. That’s why I say I’m “English, British and European.”

I tend to include European because it is part of who I am and my opposition to the EU does not detract from that identity.

I also include “South Londoner” in my Twitter bio.

I’m not sure I can explain why really other than people seem to like to say where they come from. I was born in south London, but actually have lived on the wrong side of the river for more of my life than on the south, and I’ve never lived in what I would call ‘proper’ London.

I have a political label as a Whig not a Tory.

For nearly 40 years I was a Conservative, but always a Thatcherite Conservative. The great lady herself always refuted that she was really a liberal although her economics were certainly Classical Liberal.

She also insisted she was a Tory not a Whig, although those liberal economics were more Whig. This was because she was a Royalist and so had to be a Tory.

In any English Civil Wars division I would be a Parliamentarian, and so have to be a Whig not a Tory. Probably the only thing Mrs T and I would really have disagreed over.

Other people think their identities are defined by different things. They point to sexual orientation, gender, race. I do not ever label myself as male, white or heterosexual.

These differentiators have never seemed significant to me. I suppose those in the discrimination spotting lobby would say, “well he would say that” because they are the three dominant majority groups.

I have no answer to that. It’s true. I can’t step aside from those identities and give an objective view. So the best I can do is to repeat my highly subjective view that they matter nothing to me.

In life I have never judged anybody by their gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion or politics. I don’t care about sport, so I don’t even have an opinion on that one.

I suppose these are just all tribes and I’m not very tribal.

I was told not so long ago that i would be interested in joining a society because it was my “sort of thing.” That belief was based on knowledge that I had been involved in the Conservative Party and so was therefore a “clubby” sort of person. Actually I’m not and never have been. I’ve only ever attended Conservative Party events when working. I wouldn’t dream and would never have dreamed, of going if I wasn’t working. It was always work!

I hate clubbiness, and fail to comprehend most tribal divisions. I’m not sure why people feel the need to belong or to “find themselves” by being “true to their identity.” Or why they need the approval of others, or why they need to be liked. I’m not sure I care what anybody thinks about or of me. We are what we are. Is there anything else to it? The labels we wear are just that, labels.

My judgements on other people are made purely on their character and merit. The labels might be fun, but nothing more. I’m always quite suspicious of people who take them seriously.


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