Why aren't we more proud to be English? STEPHEN LEWIS investigates.

TODAY is St George's Day, the national day of England. But how many of you will be celebrating tonight? The chances are, not many.

So why don't we make more of our national day, like the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh?

The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu certainly thinks we should. Shortly before being enthroned as Archbishop in 2005 he gave a powerful speech calling on English people to be proud of who they were.

"The English are somehow embarrassed about some of the good things they have done," he said. "They have done some terrible things, but not all the Empire was a bad idea.

"When you ask a lot of people in this country what is English culture?', they are very vague.

"It is a culture that, whether we like it or not, has given us Parliamentary democracy It is a place that has allowed reason to be at the heart of all these things, that has allowed genuine dissent without resort to violence."

All very rousing. So why don't we blow our own trumpet a little more? Is being patriotic seen as politically incorrect if you're English? Are we secretly ashamed of the racist overtones the English flag acquired when it was hijacked by the far right? Or are we more proud of being Yorkshire than English?

The street cleaner

YORK street cleaner Paul Willey is a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), so he must be fairly patriotic, surely?

He is, he says - and he does think the English should celebrate their national day more.

"This is our country, St George is our patron saint. I think we should celebrate it more. We should fly the flag and show that we're proud to be British," he says Er, shouldn't that be English, Paul?

"You're right, it should," he admits sheepishly - which perhaps highlights the problem. Do English people feel British rather than English?

Perhaps they do, Paul agrees. The Scots, the Irish and the Welsh maybe draw a sense of identity from being minority peoples, unlike the majority English. "But I think we should be proud to be English."

The ambassador

GREEK-BORN taxi driver Dionysis Bekatoros's love for his adopted city saw him named Ambassador for York at the annual tourism awards in 2007.

As a foreigner who has made his home here, does he feel surprised the English don't make more of a fuss of their national day?

"Very surprised," he says. "In Greece, we have too many national days. But at the end of the day, it is not wrong to celebrate your nationality. It is very difficult to understand why this country doesn't do it."

Even the English patron saint - St George - is Greek, he points out. "Somehow he became the patron saint of England."

The English have lots to be proud of, Dionysis says - in science, arts, exploration. "You should celebrate that," he said. "It is not wrong to remind people who you are."

The publican

BRIAN Battye is a Yorkshireman born and bred who is proud to be English. So presumably he will be having a big St George's Day do tonight at his pub, the Hansom Cab?

Er, no. "Year after year I have said yes I will, yes I will, and it has snuck up on me again." He saw in The Publican magazine at the weekend that St George's Day was coming up, he says. "But it was too late. I thought oh, I've missed it again'."

There is something very English about that. Brian admits to being a Yorkshireman first and an Englishman second. Yet he insists he is still proud to be English, and believes St George's Day is worth celebrating.

Lack of patriotism is all to do with the way we bring up our children, Brian says. "I'm 60. As a ten-year-old, if the national anthem came on, mum and dad made me stand to attention. There was pride in our country then. Kids today are not brought up right."

He hates the way the national flag was hijacked by what he calls "a certain element" and says ordinary English people should reclaim it. "I'd be 100 per cent behind a campaign to celebrate St George's Day."

The Scot

SCOTTISH people are simply more patriotic than English people, says Scot Ian Warner, who lives in York.

Why is that? "Maybe being a smaller country with a bigger neighbour may have something to do with it. And probably there is that whole thing whereby English people still think this is the UK, so don't really want their own national day."

There is also the sheer size of England, he says - which means that often people have a strong sense of regional rather than national identity. "You're a Yorkshireman, or a Scouse, or a Geordie."

He is immensely proud of being a Scot. "It's an identity thing," he says. "The Scots are hard-working, they get on with things, they have fun, they help people - they believe in their identity. And it's a beautiful country as well, one which people have died to try to keep alive."

But all that could be said of England. True, Ian admits. "There is nothing wrong with being proud of your country. More people in England should be that way."

The author

Former North Yorkshire vicar turned bestselling author Graham GP Taylor says English people behave as if they are embarrassed by it.

We shouldn't be, he says. "We should celebrate it a hell of a lot more than we do. I'm extremely proud to be English, and I think we should be flying the flag. On St George's Day we should see flags flying out of all the car windows the way you do when a football match is on."

The English flag isn't racist, he says. "We've got to get over that. We've done so much for the rest of the world, and I'm very proud to be English."