UK citizens reject 'British' label, Guardian survey finds
A major survey and data-mapping exercise involving the Guardian's readers has found well under half of UK citizens call themselves British.
from more than 16,500 people showed that of the four countries of the UK only residents of England were the most likely to call themselves British when they were asked to "plant a flag" where they lived, with a large majority of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish residents rejecting that label.
Overwhelmingly, they instead chose to identify themselves with their home nation: compared with 6,594 who said they were British, 2,874 said they were Scottish, 2,386 chose English, 1,355 Welsh, 895 Irish, with only 129 choosing Northern Irish.
Another 1,309 people chose other, particularly in Cornwall, where there is a home rule and Cornish language movement principally led by the pro-devolution group Mebyon Kernow, which has 22 local councillors across the county.
The eastern edge of the "other" dots in the south-west of England closely follows the line of the Tamar river, the historic boundary between Cornwall and the rest of England.
In the UK's most northerly island group, Shetland, a number of readers also selected "other", perhaps signalling support for the Shetlanders who believe the islands ought to break away from and align themselves with their nearest neighbours and historic rulers in Norway.
The survey, which launched a Guardian special series this week on the constitutional future of the UK, , broadly supports the findings of more in-depth and controlled studies on voters' attitudes to their national identities.
The British and Scottish social attitudes surveys, and parallel studies in Wales and Northern Ireland, have shown wide in perceptions of national identity across the UK.
The most recent studies have found that if voters are forced to chose, 52% of people in England choose British first compared to 19% of Scots, and 30% of Welsh.
The latest have found, however, that there are variations within that. They suggest that the Welsh have recently begun to feel more British, alongside greater devolution of legal and political power to the Welsh assembly to Cardiff.
The 2011 Welsh referendum study, linked to the vote earlier this year which supported greater powers for the assembly, found that 16% of Welsh voters now feel "British not Welsh" compared to 9% in 2007 and in 2003. Further, the number feeling "Welsh not British" fell to 19% from 24% in 2007, with 30% feeling equally "Welsh and British".
John Curtice, of the Scottish Centre for Social Research and Strathclyde University, has uncovered that the Scots too – while overwhelmingly feeling more Scottish than British – are more secure and settled within the UK since Alex Salmond and the Scottish National party took power in 2007.
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