Britain is not the country it used to be. It's once grand empire has shrivelled to a few sparsely populated islands here and there. It is no longer at the forefront of global commerce and its influence in international relations diminished as it played second fiddle to George W Bush's foreign policy for almost a decade. Ideals of Britain being powerful, home to the best race in the world, and the last bastion of civilisation no longer hold sway.
Add to this the ever-more globalised and consequently smaller world. The British, like everyone else, are discovering that their national identity isn't that much different from other national identities. Citizens of various countries share ideals such as justice, freedom, and compassion. The label "British" seems now to be almost without meaning.
For some it is not enough to share common ideals with other nations. They want to create a solidly unique national identity for their country to help them mark themselves out as superior to all other nations.
Nor is it enough to share a sense of belonging to a physical space. Britain's green and pleasant lands should be home only to the solidly British race. Homogeneity is the order of the day and all who wish to call themselves British must conform to the dictates of traditionalists, the tabloid press and white working class men who are told by the latter their country is changing irrevocably and that it's the fault of people who are different to them.
The ever-visible legacy of empire, millions of immigrants from former colonies, is not immune. As immigrants from Eastern Europe are increasingly despised and forced out of their homes for seeking basic human rights and a chance to earn a dependable living, suspicious eyes are being cast on the existing immigrant population.
It is in this context that Muslims are asked to adopt British values and integrate into wider society. Whilst Muslims have problems of their own such as extremism, deprivation and intergenerational conflict, calls for them to integrate, especially when put forward by the right-wing press, and those isolated from multicultural urban communities, are symptomatic of the failure to forge a forward-looking sense of national unity as the world becomes smaller and more inter-linked.
The 21st century's problems require global solutions. To tackle climate change, the arms trade, famine and disease people are required to put aside social categorisations of race, ethnicity, religion and nationality. What is needed is a sense of belonging to a world community and an appreciation of the fact we all share this earth that we live on. Rather than seek this route for the betterment of the world, many in Britain prefer to be ever-more inward-looking and seek refuge in ideals of nationalism long past and the consequent expressions of prejudice.