We know that other countries have a strong sense of national purpose, even a sense of their own destiny. And so should we. And it helps us deal with issues as varied as what Britain does in Europe; to issues of managed migration and how we better integrate ethnic minorities.
I've got three objections to this:
1. It fails to see that the state is not like a private company. Companies have obvious single objectives, but states do not. Nowhere has Brown considered, let alone rebutted, Michael Oakeshott's view that the function of government is to be an umpire adminstering the rules of the game, not the captain inspiring and directing his players. As Oakeshott asked: "We tolerate monomaniacs, it is our habit to do so; but why should we be ruled by them?"
2. It's illiberal. Brown claims that "Britain can lay claim to the idea of liberty." But the point of liberty is that each individual chooses his own purposes, his own life. To disregard these in favour of a national purpose is to misunderstand the very basis of liberty.
3. It's impractical. Brown seems to think a shared national purpose will help defuse Muslim fundamentalism. But will it really? Will we really integrate marginalized Muslims by imposing some spurious invented national purpose upon them? Or wouldn't we integrate them better by showing that people thrive best within liberal diversity rather than struggling under a common yoke?
* Brown's demand that immigrants do community service before being accepted as citizens is too silly to merit comment.