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The question National identity

This week British Midland has re-launched itself as BMI, joining a long list of high profile British companies to drop the 'British' from their corporate image. After the fury and passion of a Six Nations rugby weekend, we ask: How important is a national identity?

Healthy nationalism in sporting competitions has to be good for morale and a sense of belonging - witness the increased feel-good factor in Britain during the last Olympics and the general misery following Euro 2000. As individuals we all need to associate some common views within a group. Keeping this nationalism at a sporting level is the right approach in today's multi-cultural global world.

Business cannot be hindered by the stigma of past glories reflected in their name.

Meanwhile let us all look forward to an England grand slam.

Graham Hayes, 44, project manager, London

National pride can be a splendid thing and never more so then when supporting the Six Nations with friends of different allegiances. For the players a place on the Lions tour will be the ultimate accolade. This is a team identifiable by its performance and known to be British. The marketing directors ditching the flag are paid to be in touch with an increasingly dazzled British public. Yet the advertising spin we are continually subjected to has left our landmark firms almost unidentifiable.

R Keown, 34, Colchester

Working for Powergen International in Australia, I am proud to tell people I am British.

The respect is enormous and the welcome is always warm.

There is little I am proud about in being English as a title because of the association with football hooligans and lager louts. The whinging of the Scots and Welsh does nothing to help either. Being British, however, has a whole prouder meaning overseas. As usual those people who go nowhere and do nothing have the most to say and least to contribute.

Richard Altoft, 50, project manager and safety advisor

National identity is important.

As an Irishman living in England, I know!

Alan Stewart, civil & environmental engineer

We are all part of Europe, we are all part of a global economy. Where the goods I buy come from is irrelevant to me. I think of myself as British, but see no need to fly that label. There may be a lack of desire to fully commit ourselves to closer European integration, but whether it is in 10, 20 or 50 years' time, there will be one 'union' of Europe. That will be great and I will be able to buy goods and services from here to Moscow in one currency and know that they are all to the same standard - what is wrong with that? Nowt.

David Frankl, 49, consultant, Buckinghamshire

We are British, the French and Germans are the Europeans, but the market is international, therefore we need an international outlook.

Geoff Home, 51, managing director, North Yorkshire

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