Countdowntobrown_2If David Cameron is moving his tanks on to the Labour turf of social and international justice Gordon Brown is determined to move his tanks on to the traditional Tory lawns of national pride and patriotism.

Making a big speech today – on ‘Britishness’ – the Chancellor proposes a number of ideas including a British equivalent of America’s 4th July.  He calls for average Britons to reclaim the Union flag from the extremists:

"Instead of the BNP using it as a symbol of racial division, the flag should be a symbol of unity and part of a modern expression of patriotism too… All the United Kingdom should honour it, not ignore it. We should assert that the Union flag by definition is a flag for tolerance and inclusion."

Mr Brown also highlighted his National Community Service scheme – first unveiled a year ago.  Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said this scheme was a "pale imitation of David Cameron’s National School Leaver Programme announced in August".

The speech also contains reference to some of the LibDem-friendly constitutional reforms that this blog highlighted at the start of the month.  Mr Brown believes, for example, that the government should probably not appoint the next Archbishop of Canterbury or other clergy and judges.  He also believes that Parliament should have to approve military action.

Responding to Mr Brown’s remarks Oliver Heald, the Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, said:

“Building a more inclusive British society is a good thing, and we welcome any efforts to do so. However, this process needs a subtle and well thought out approach based on a wide consensus. Gordon Brown is right to talk about strengthening our civic identity, but he shouldn’t forget that New Labour has been responsible for changes that have damaged so many of Britain’s institutions."