Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Fluid English identity

There is a headlong rush to the sunlit uplands where easy answers lay. One route is being blazed by the Corbynistas. Abler comrades than I can contribute to Progress to slay that particular dragon.

Another is for a reawakening of an English identity.

There are two sides to this, an organisational move to an English Labour Party to rescue one kind of civic nationalism after another was spectacularly botched – and the slightly more emotional raising of the flag of St George and an assertion of an English identity.

As a party of government Labour’s structures largely reflect those of how our country is run. There’s a separate Welsh Labour party because its leader should also be the leader of the Assembly of Wales.

A British regional settlement may require us to rethink organising in Greater Manchester around council boundaries and a mayoral office. It is also, I may say, where the roots of a new identity and future thinking about the transcendence of cities may lie, but it does not now.

In his contribution to this debate Eddie Bone from the campaign for an English parliament says rightly that ‘many traditional Labour voters in England as not only being out of touch with them but as disliking them.’

Only in England? We lost seats to the Tories in Wales too. But then he wrongly deduces that this is because Labour ‘ignored the need for English self-governance while overly focusing on Scottish and Welsh interests for too long.’

I see no evidence, appetite or longing for that. I see no emotional identity that cries for it, just one for fairness and better governance.

We are in danger of occasionally conflating surging identity with a quest for better governance and a fairer economy.

For many that English-only identity is inadequate. I could, but won’t, evoke the Liverpool football supporters and their ‘Scouse not English’ trumpeting, or the flags at Old Trafford for the ‘Republic of Mancunia’. But I will mention them anyway.

Instead I’ll play my own card – I was born in England to a Welsh father and a second generation Irish mother. My wife’s parents moved to Lancashire from Dublin in the 1960s.

The Emily Thornberry tweet was not offensive to me just for the England flag, or even the West Ham one, but for the snooty view of a white van – my Dad’s pick up truck is black now, but he has driven white ones too.

Identities are far more fluid, far more complex and multi-faceted than ever. To play the English card in parts of the North of England will not butter any local grown parsnips in the fields of Lancashire. The bucolic view of England begs a question not this England, but which England?

Apart from the fact that I have not given up on the Union, I fear this rush to secure our claim to an English identity before something more toxic does the job instead. And by the way, Glasgow needs a city deal to free itself from the suffocating centralising of Holyrood as much as Bristol and Leeds do from Westminster.

The more federal Britain I crave, and the greater devolution for Greater Manchester I support, is not an emotional pull because of the will of the Mancs, but because our London-centred economy and our ridiculously centralised governance makes bad decisions based on a view through a particular lens.

An English parliament will no more address this than it will further stoke resentment of who gets the better deal.


Michael Taylor is former parliamentary candidate for Hazel Grove


Photo: Leon Brocard

Progressive centre-ground Labour politics does not come for free.

It takes time, commitment and money to build a fight against the forces of conservatism. If you value the work Progress does, please support us by becoming a member, subscriber or donating.

Our work depends on you.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Michael Taylor

is former parliamentary candidate for Hazel Grove and vice-chair of Hazel Grove constituency Labour party


  • As was pointed out at the time, the consequence of establishing a Scottish Parliament (and Assemblies for Wales and Northern Ireland) without addressing the issue of England is that, by default, the Westminster Parliament becomes the English Parliament.

  • Local decentralisation alone will do nothing to solve the English question. Ok, so the majority in England may be English, but England is an inclusive country and should not be reduced to a narrow sense of personal identity. Better governance and greater fairness in England must begin with an English parliament – it’s not brain science – duh!

  • Local devolution is fine, overdue, and as Michael Taylor points out, it is needed in Glasgow as well as in Manchester, Leeds, Hampshire….Devolution provided Scotland and Wales with a national focus (Tony Blair). A national focus for England remains the unfinished business of the devolution process that began in 1998. Westminster is the British Parliament. It is not by default an English Parliament unless those MPs from constituencies outside England are excluded from debating and voting on English-only issues. And even then there is no ‘English government’ or First Minister. There is no excuse for this: it is awilful failure of the Unionist parties to accept that the people of England (who have had no say) are just as much entitled to national devolution as are the peoples of Scotland and Wales. ‘Anyone but England,’ is the watchword. There are people in the Labour party who recognise that the future of the Union is federal and includes a proper English parliament. It is a pity that the candidate who proposed this withdrew from the leadership contest.

  • An English Parliament is long overdue, we have a lopsided system in the UK and if there is to be devolution in England then it is for the English to decide if/when and how it is achieved.

    The Labour party made a complete hash of devolution in the first place, it is time to put this mess right, an English Parliament is now due, nothing less.

  • A parliament where many of the issues relate only to England, but where many of the members were not voted for by the people of England!

  • How ridiculous (and offensive) does this look?

    “Identities are far more fluid, far more complex and multi-faceted than ever. To play the Scottish card in parts of the North of Scotland will not butter any local grown parsnips in John O Groats.
    The bucolic view of Scotland begs a question not this Scotland, but which Scotland?

    Apart from the fact that I have not given up on the Union, I fear this rush to secure our claim to an Scottish identity before something more toxic does the job instead. ”

    Scotland is undoubtedly Scotland – one Scotland. England is undoubtedly England – one England. Anyone who implies otherwise is obfuscating the truth for purely political purposes, i.e. to protect the major parties from the Nationalist meltdown and backlash they have reaped in Scotland. It don’t be long coming.

  • Quite an eloquent piece. It shows how out of touch politicians have become.

    I can understand that the Labour Party won’t have an English LP as there is no corresponding parliament or assembly to relate to. The issue of regionalism isn’t too bad but it should be pinned by an English Parliament or the regions will always be told what they can have or what they can do by the SNP in Scotland and other regional politicians.

    A fair deal for England is a fair deal for the whole of the UK. Why shouldn’t England have the same powers as Scotland?

    The earthquake in politics north of the boder, will happen south of the border, the casualties are likely to be the ones that refuse to embrace the will of the people. The Labour Party crashed and burned in Scotland and it will do the same in the North of England as it doen’t listen to the people it claims to represent. It is no longer the party of the working man and hasn’t been for sometime.

    The LP told us we were better off in the EU and we should stop talking about it as they know best.

    The LP told us a vote on membership of the EU is not good for us and they know best.

    The LP told us immigration was good and there is loads of room for millions more immigrants and we were racists to want to talk about it, and they know best.

    The LP told us devolving powers to some areas of the UK was good even though those area’s MP’s would still vote on issues that didn’t affect their constituents as they know best.

    And they wonder why Michael Taylor didn’t get elected? We know but they won’t listen.

  • I was born in Lincolnshire, grew up in Yorkshire and Cumbria, have lived in London and Dumfriesshire and now in Shropshire. Yes, identity is complicated (after thirty years in the Midlands I still consider myself a northerner) but my identity is firmly English first and British second. I believe in the Union, but it doesn’t stop me wanting a parliament for England because what is good enough for the nations of Scotland and Wales is good enough for England. Why should England alone be denied a national identity and its own representative legislature? The present situation is a botch which cannot be sustained. Regional devolution is not the answer, just a further botch. I do not understand why England’s nationhood appears to be such an embarrassment to the political elite. Above all, it’s about fairness. It’s time England was treated on the same basis as the other parts of the Union.

  • I wonder what exactly you mean when you say ” I fear this rush to secure our claim to an English identity before something more toxic does the job instead.” The word “toxic” is sheer scare-mongering, This article does not even address the basic issues i.e. the injustice of Scotland and Wales having their own parliaments, yet also sitting in the UK parliament and imposing Labour rule on England. It does not begin to address the injustice of t he Barnett formula,which allocates more money to Scottish and Welsh people per head than to English people, despite the fact that the latter pay far more tax. It does not even mention the injustice of Scottish students getting free university courses at the expense of t he English, who have to pay for their own and for the Scots. It does not even mention the medicines that are free on the NHS in Scotland but not in England,
    This is not an article for grown-up people and it shows no grasp of the basic political issues.

  • Only if there are no MPs from the devolved lands sitting there.Then it becomes the English Parliment.

  • Surely this is discrimination….the Scots have their parliament, the welts have their own assembly as so NICE. So the non rhetorical question is Why are we being discriminated against…is this a racism crime?

  • Michael Taylor “. . . sees no evidence for that [English self-governance]” only because he turns his head when evidence in the form of national surveys of the English show that more than 50% want self-governance – and by far the most popular form is an English Parliament.

    At the moment not only does each inhabitant of England get far less public expenditure per head than the other three nations but in addition England is the only net payer of the EU bill – all the rest are net receivers and the money they receive is the money that the English pay.

    To overcome this deficit in fairness of the distribution of public funds England needs its own parliament to fight its corner. And this parliament needs to devolve the majority of its relevant expenditure (ie. not defence, pensions, foreign affairs nor border control) to the shires and larger cities.

    Only if this is done will the next major shift in constitutional feeling be avoided. Or did Mr. Taylor also fail to see the result of the 2014 CMI survey that showed that 40% of the population of England wanted independence from the Union? And there was also the fact that over 60% of England said, in the 2011 census, that they considered themselves ‘English’ and not ‘British’.

    There is a great and growing hunger in England for significant constitutional change. The westminster establishment ignores this because it will mean a big decrease in their own pay, pensions, comfort and honours – the usual sleazy self-interested motives that many believe, rightly or wrongly, animate our political classes.

    English identity is a many ‘splendored thing and you can read my attempt to understand why this is so at

  • Didn’t it? It certainly looks that way from Scotland – or more to the point, the Nats can spin it that way and have done so successfully. EVEL just reinforces that message.

  • Michael Taylor,at pains to tell us of his irish and Welsh forebears,is an example of someone who thinks of England as a land where Labour should rule and who believes his own background gives him authority to pontificate on England’s future. I beg to differ.
    He blandly accepts that Wales ,Scotland and N. Ireland have their own parliaments but implies that England needs to be broken up into regions with their own assemblies of some sort thereby reducing the governance of a thousand year-old nation to the status of a town council. Perhaps he should suggest a similar arrangement to the devolved lands?
    No, Mr. Taylor, better for ypou to accept that the Union is dead, in hearts and minds,and needs to be replaced by a federal set-up with each nation having its own parliament and a federal assembly drawn from the home-parliaments for common and overlapping interests.
    You declare, Mr. Taylor that differences within England militate against us having our own Parliament yet you do not mention such differnces within the fringelands, as if the Highlands were equivalent to the Central Belt and Colwyn the same as Cardiff.
    It might help if you hyphenated English were to return to the lands of your fathers or, if you wish to live amongst us,allow the real English to make our own decisions on our own future.

  • Mr Taylors anti English stance shines like a beacon.If I hated a country as obviously he does I would be living somewhere else pronto.
    His England Bad every other country good gives him plenty of choice to go to.

  • Have the English still got a parliament? I thought head office was now in Brussels. Close it down, sack those who call themselves “MP”, and get your money back, quick – it’s all going for a ball of chalk, anyway – save yourselves – Taffies and Scotties last…

  • Yet another pop at England. How typical of the Left. And what’s with the word “toxic”? Coming from a member of a party that brought upon this country the worst devastation in hundreds of years and in that achieved something that Hitler could only have dreamt of this is quite incredible. Toxic? You mean like a country full of imported ingrates who just want to strip the system for all they can get. Otherwise known as imported Labour voters of course. This is all because of labour as an entity hates the English and will do anything to downgrade them or emasculate their country. Not content with having it turned into nine regional assemblies, any attempt to give England back its identity is met with disdain and derision. The other UK countries have devolved parliaments such as they are. The Left would argue that an English parliament is another layer of government. Strange then that they advocated the balkanisation of England without so much as the twitch of an eyebrow. Further evidence that the Left must not now or ever again be allowed anywhere near the governance of this country. That said, the sorry shower that are masquerading as a government now don’t seem to be any better to me. They all pee in the same corrupt self serving pot.

  • Thanks for that Julia.
    650 words I had to refute a claim for an English Parliament, so thanks for adding a few more things there wasn’t room to say.
    Think about WHY the larger share of public sector spend goes to Wales and Scotland? Poverty. Economic disadvantage. And why did nationalist movements succeed, because political institutions and economic pump priming didn’t address the imbalance.

  • You are right. It’s another piece entirely, but Labour failing to listen to huge swathes of people cost us votes. No question.

  • No, I don’t. You make a whole load of incorrect assumptions there. There is some hard thinking to do about whether good federal governance and identity match.

  • Thanks – will look with great interest. Do you think if there was a referendum in England to break up the Union there would be a vote in favour? I don’t.

  • Britain is an inclusive country that should not be reduced to a narrow sense of personal identity.

  • I just fear an English shire dominated parliament will shaft the North as badly as the one we’ve got.

  • You can ascribe whatever political motives you like, but they are incorrect. The fact remains, the rush to an English Parliament and identity won’t in itself address the economic case for a federal structure of government, which I support. My motive is for a fair deal for the North of England.

  • I’ve got a Scottish friend who has an English mother and a Kenyan father. No Scottish ‘blood’ and yet she is a proud Scot. Why is it that only in England people with mixed/non-English ancestry feel squeamish about English identity, opting instead for a ‘Britishness’ that only really exists in England anyway? It’s probably because almost no effort is made to promote and strengthen English identity, especially amongst the young.

    ‘Britishness’ is a con designed to fill England with people who don’t identity as English and care nothing for English identity.

  • According to them, England is too ‘diverse’ too have a collective identity. And yet countries like Spain, Italy, France and Germany seem to manage it. England is not more regionally diverse than them!

  • As for the ‘Scouse not English’ or Cornish nationalist types, we have to remember that nearly all countries have regions with distinct identities. Much of this stuff in England probably comes from the demonisation of English identity which drives people to seek ‘positive’ identities which they can celebrate. The easy way to deal with this kind of local ‘nationalism’ is to threaten to cut off these localities from ‘mainland’ England. For example, if Liverpudlians don’t want to be considered English then why should their football teams be allowed to play in the English Premier League etc?

  • Since the survey said 40% in England are in favour it is highly unlikely that a referendum today would give a greater than 50% vote in favour of leaving. Note however that in the Scottish referendum a 44.7% vote in favour on a turnout of 84.6% is equivalent to 37.8% of their population or less than in England! So the situation is better/worse, depending on your point of view

    But if things are allowed to continue without a devolved parliament for England then the 40% will grow. Why do you think that the SNP MPs in Westminster are behaving they way they are? A failure to care in the present about the future is stoking up the chance of a failure in the future when it becomes the present!

    Let’s all start thinking about the long-term rather than the next election and get that devolved parliament for England in place before the situation deteriorates further.

  • I won’t bother rehashing the eloquent and well founded arguments made by the previous commenters, all of whom I agree with. I will say though that regionalisation does not properly address the disparity between the democratic process in the devolved countries and in England. The North of England feels under-represented? That’s not a problem for the North, that’s a problem for England entirely. How can we begin to address regional issues when we don’t have a body concerned only with the issues of England?
    I love the Palace of Westminster and I want to keep central government there but, much like the BBC, what’s wrong with moving to the North? If England gets its own parliament/assembly/whatever-we-choose-to-call-it, open it in Manchester, or Newcastle, or Liverpool, so that the issues which affect the North, which is still an area of unnecessary economic hardship, are at the very heart of what English government attempts to do. It might redress the balance that England has suffered from with having a very London-centric Government.
    I love the union, I feel very strong ties to my Irish, Welsh and Scots brothers and sisters, but devolvment – an undertaking initiated to make things fairer for the under-represented – has been too effective and it’s time to balance the scales again.

  • Michael Taylor seems to be confusing ancestry with a constitutional settlement for England as an national entity. Questions of national identity were never asked when it was decided by the Callaghan and Blair Labour Governments to conduct referenda in 1979 and 1997 about this matter.

    Too many [regardless of origin] choose to live in England but do not regard themselves as having English national identiy, a problem which those living in Scotland and Wales do not seem to have.

    All we want Mr Taylor is a separate Parliament for England together with with its own Executive, Bill drafting facilities and an annual budget of circa £300 billion the counterpart of Scotland’s.. It would be greater self determination with all its plusses and minusses, and Michael Taylor can still have his ‘fluid English {or Welsh or Irish) identity’. The Labour and Conservative unionist parties oppose this quite simply because the Commons would need to be radically reduced and they are anxious to preserve their positions of power and influence over England.

    Two other points Mr Taylor might consider:

    1. Scotland is hugely over-represented nationally. There are 129 MSPs in Holyrood for an electorate of some 4 million. Were such an over-representation at national level to be replicated in England it would amount to 1,300 members of an English Parliament for an electorate of 40 million. Scotland also returns 59 MPs, whilst England returns 533 MPs, proportionally this should be 590! Cameron [another Scotto-Brit] plans to reduce the Commons by 50 MPs, 40 of which will be in England. There are reports that he schemes to increase the number of peers by 100 to ‘even up’ the number of Tory peers. The Lords scrutinises and amends ALL of England legislation unlike that for Scotland and Wales.

    2. In the 1979 Wales Referendum, a turnout of some 60% of just under 1.2 million voters rejected a Wales Assembly with 80% of those who voted. Despite this, a second referendum was held in 1997, and a turnout of 50.1% of just over 1.1 million voters voted by 50.3% for a Wales Assembly. Frankly, I believe that the result was fiddled for poltical motives. In any event, only 25.2% of voters in Wales voted for the Assembly ie 74.8% of Welsh voters did NOT vote for a national assembly!

    The 2015 General Election has exposed the reality that England is now the main political battleground and unionist parties which refuse to recognise this reality will find themselves on the wrong side of history. The process of rejecting unionist dictatorship which started in Scotland with first the Tories, now includes Lib Dems and Labour parties, both disproprtionately dominated by Scots. The England question together with the EU question is gradually fragmenting both Labour and the Tories.

    If you want to keep your parties largely intact, England must be kept intact. I find it quite remarkable, indeed unacceptable that others such as you and Jeremy Corbyn continue to oppose the people of England greater self-determination and their own collective voice.

    A final thought: Michael Taylor should visit Scotland and tout the idea of a “Fluid Scottish Identity” and see how far he gets, especially after they’ve heard his Lancast

  • It’s a separate issue; except that, if there is English devolution to North, South, East and West with no all-England dimension, it is England that is ‘shafted’.

  • No, I assume nothing. You write of fluid identity , whatever that is, and look for a way in which the constitutional imbalance can be sorted so as to take, into account such individuals as you who regard themselves as being not truly English, but only English-ish.
    Well,it won’t wash. The nation of England needs her own Parliament and government as always before we lost or independence in 1707,and more to t*he point, she needs her own English people,
    From what you wrote your fluidity of identity is no bar to your living in Wales or Ireland,where they have their own parliaments,yet you balk at even the very idea of living in England with her own Parliament. Sauce and ganders Mr. Taylor, sauce and ganders.

  • Au contraire, as you might say, au contraire. What are your words on “good federal governance and identity match ” supposed to mean? I assure you that anyone who finds difficulty with being English in England after we have our independence once again will be heartily welcome to go where their “identity match” leads them.

  • I’m not a soccer fan so have no knowledge of whether Mason is right about Liverpool fans and their chants. Anyone have any info? At least we should seek a second opinion.

  • “rush to an English parliament”-It may be a new concept to such as you, but I and others have been fighting for an English parliament ever since Scottish devolution.Should have happened then.

  • That’s no reason not to have one. Scotland’s central belt is even more an economic draw within Scotland than the Southeast in England.

  • Julia, I also thank you as you have added greatly to the argument against Mr. Taylor. Strange that he doesn’t see that…..

  • I am very clear about what country I want to live in. It’s the name of the country that’s on my passport, the country I was born in, that a majority of Scots voted to be part in.

  • Well, there’s a first. “You and Jeremy Corbyn” isn’t a phrase I ever expected to hear, but I suspect we’re going to have to get used to it.

    I don’t favour the break up of the Union. I favour devolution. There is an undeniable cultural thrust to Welsh and Scottish claims of nationhood. You make the case of an English identity to back up a democratic deficit, which was and is my point entirely. My motivation is to raise living standards and opportunities for people in the North of England where I live and love.

    I don’t understand the last point you’re making.

  • Let’s look at it another way. It made organisational sense to have a North West Regional Assembly, elected, in order to scutinise the RDA and other bodies that emerged. There was no identity for anything called England’s North West. It never got off the ground. Same in the North East where a referendum rejecetd it. I think identity was key to that rejection. It didn’t match.

  • England is a nation the first nation in many ways, this article is typical of Labour’s anti English anti England racist stance.
    England has the same right to be recognised as a nation equal to say Scotland, without all this hate filled rubbish above.
    You cannot regionalise England because the people don’t want it, it will break our higher constitutional laws, that no one can break those unless they want to be tried under the 1351 treason act.
    Also it will mean an end to the UK as Scotland is in an act of Union with England and not a group of nameless Balkanised bits of land, the idea contraviens the act of Union.
    Why does Labour wish to recognise Palestine as a nation, when it never was one, yet discrominate against England how is Labour going to keep explaining all this Anglophobia?

    When you break something it becames weaker, a Uk of four nations equal in devolution in a balanced Federal UK ticks all the boxes, no other way does.

  • My last sentence should have read: “A final thought: Michael Taylor should visit Scotland and tout the idea of a “Fluid Scottish Identity” and see how far he gets, especially after they’ve heard his Lancastrian accent!” I was implying that Scots would not entertain your notion of a “Fluid Scottish Identity” especially one enunciated by someone with an English accent.

    I have made a case for a constitutional presence for England. In this matter I am not overly concerned about English national identity as such, quite simply because the former will lead to a burgeoning of the latter. Voters in England will question whether they should vote for Scots (or Welsh or Irish) to represent us (eg someone like Blair) in a parliament for England when experience has shown than at national level England is relegated to fourth place in a number of matters. [Are you aware that only in England has eligibility for the concessionary free bus pass been raised to 65 years?]

    I too live in the north of England and believe than an English Parliament [forgive the shorthand] would not have neglected England’s outer parts to the extent they have been; here I include the south west from where I was born. Even if it did, nothing should impede self-determination in England!

    I was a member of the Labour Party for many years but allowed my membership to lapse in 2000 having concluded that as an English, white, male who was older [I’ve placed these factors in the order I believe they had effect], the Labour Party no longer represented me. I do not accept that it is fortuitous that there is no England (or English) Labour Party; this pattern is reflected in other parties, the trade union movement, charities and most official British organisations.

    By reason of my trade union and political background, I am aware of ‘orthodox’ left wing attitudes to English national identity; usually rejected, ironically, by reason of professed ‘internationalism’! Yes, inter- any and all nations but England! We are accused of being ‘racist’ and exclusive when the reality is that we English are the most accommodating and inclusive of the UK’s nations as evidenced by the fact of 95% immigrants coming to England even though we ‘only’ account for 85% [and increasing] of the UK’s population!

    The decades long equivocation about treating England as a nation in her own right is not only absurd and unjustifiable, but calls into question the present British political system. The longer the shilly-shallying persists, the less likely the UK will survive even in a a federal form, and a number of prominent Labour Party individuals have begun to realise this, not least Chuka Umunna.

  • On a point of fact: there was a Scottish Labour Party, Scottish TUC, Scottish Women’s TUC, Wales Labour Party, Wales TUC etc long before the devolved bodies in Cardiff and Holyrood were created.

    The once profferred ‘regional assemblies’ were presented by Messrs Blair & Prescott [born in Wales] as being the equivalent of the assemblies in Scotland and Wales when they were [are] not!.

    Unlike the other UK assemblies, those in England were to be politically ring-fenced. This is to say that only those living or working etc in the relevant electoral area would be eligible to stand for election. For example, no one outside the Greater London Assembly ambit may stand for election to it, England’s [the UK’s] capital city. However, any qualified citizen on the electoral register in England (for example) may stand for election to either the assembly in Cardiff AND that in Edinburgh AND that in Belfast! Moreover, the Queen formally opens each new term which she does not for the GLA, the pattern for the other eight regions!

  • And what difference would it make if your passport read “Citizen of the British Federation” ? In what way would an English Parliament militate against that?
    I suspect that your objection to a parliament for England is simply a dislike of having to become known as English,which is a shaky basis for a discussion on constitutional reform and an odd position for a would-be MP.

  • To take an English Parliament outside of London would make us the laughing stock of the world. Apart from the fact that London is roughly the population centre of England, that is the point where the majority of people are close to.

    So when the English Parliament is rightfully restored in Westminster we can set about deciding how the country should be organized.

  • Can’t help feeling Michael has lost the plot here. How can you move forward with a distinct Welsh and Scottish Labour party, whose policy will often come into conflict with those of England and yet deny the people of England have a right to political representation within a devolved Union. It is clear the Politicians are so far behind the curve as to make themselves irrelevant to the ordinary voter. What I want to see is a Labour party putting the rights of the people of England first and it is all well and good saying that the author “believes in the Union” when I have to ask him “what Union” – because devolved power bases are by definition a fragmentation of the Union with distinctive political interests which require representation. As a person living in England I want to know how Labour will be protecting the English NHS; what ideas they have to improve English education, how Labour is going to deal with the migration issue as if affects ENGLAND etc etc. It is fatuous to bumble on pretending devolution has’t taken place – why do you think the SNP have beat Labour to power? because they are catering for the needs of Scotland. What we now need is a party to represent the people of England and it is clear from what the author says Labour is unlikely ever to be that party. How short sighted and puerile.

  • Then you are trying to break England into North and South, BUT you haven’t consulted the people of England. How can it be democratic to allow the people of Scotland and Wales to vote on devolution but to deny the people of England the same right. Labour tried to enforce regional assemblies on the North East and were soundly defeated by 70%. Just because “your” view is that England should be broken into regional power bases, doesn’t mean that this is right or with the consent of England. The English have a proud 1,000 year history, what right does any poilitician have to write off the nation of England without a debate? I feel the mean spirited anti democratic approach of Michael is what turns many people off the Labour party – the people of England were denied a vote on Devolution, we were denied a vote on the Lisbon Treaty, we have not been consulted or able to vote on mass inward migration and the consequences of this is a diminution of support for Labour because it is just not listening and it is not seen as being democratic. If Labour simply becomes the voice of the minorities and continues to ignore the majority it will wither on the vine. There is no vision for England so 80% of the population are being ignored while Labour belly aches about the 20% – it just doesn’t make any electoral sense????

  • Would you say that about the French or the Germans, that they should not be able to celebrate their Frenchness or Germanness because that excludes others and is a “narrow sense of personal identity”???? . If I might say so Michael your language sounds racist to me. What you are implying is it is perfectly ok to ethnically cleanse “England” and Englishness from the Union, because that is acceptable in your eyes and the English should not be allowed to retain (in your view) their “narrow sense of personal identity, and at the same time it is perfectly right and necessary that every ethnic and cultural group (other than England) should be celebrated and encouraged? Can’t you see that this position is morally bankrupt?? Why shouldn’t people born in England to English parents consider themselves (and be proud of) the fact they are English? You wouldn’t argue the French should hide their Frenchness, or the Swiss be embarrassed about being Swiss, so why the hell should the English hide their Englishness? If this is truly the attitude of the Labour party I think you can see it will be finished in England – why would an English person vote for a party that wants to strip them of their national identity?? I can’t believe what I am ready :(!!!

  • How do you reconcile the Welsh being able to be Welsh and the Scots being encouraged to be Scottish, yet the English must pretend they don’t exist?

  • Sadly, Michael Taylor fails to grasp the reality of what is in essence, rapidly becoming the “Last Roar of Empire”; with a surge in national identity of the Scots and the Welsh the writing is on the cards. Does he not realise that with the Labour and Conservative parties virtually having no say in Scotland whatsoever, and with the influence that the SNP undoubtedly has in the governance of English affairs in Westminster that the consciousness of the English as a people in her own right, with her own history and traditions will be slowly awakening like a Bear awakens from its long winter slumber? National identity is not to be confused with racial or religious identity – as Michael Taylor, so naively equates here (I am part German/Pole/Irish/English of RC background but I am English to my core ) but national identity is a sense of belonging to an area, to a geographical region which has a shared history, shared values, shared traditions and a shared vision for the future of ‘her’ inhabitants, no matter their racial or religious descent. To simply denounce that “English” and “Englishness” belongs to the bigot and the xenophobe is in fact, a form of inverse racism that the good gentleman so readily seeks to accuse others of being.

  • I do not want EU required regions of England, in a vain attempt to try and break the loved feeling of English nationality before Europe. This liberal attempt to break down these feelings is yet another attempt to allow the EU version of USSR/USA with a central EU govt. The current wave of immigrants into EU states is also pivotal to the breakdown of individual countries. I cannot attempt to garner support for any political party, as they are all part of the EU plan, possibly bar UKIP, but the people must fight for democracy and the views of the majority being ‘allowed, by the ruling govt elite, who are mere puppets of the EU masters and not the people.

  • The more comments I read the more I realise that Michael is a racist bigot of the first order and would be better standing for the BNP!

  • My only real issue with having a devolved English Parliament in Westminster is that the Palace is close to crumbling already, and the current offices are simply not enough to accommodate the 650 MPs already resident, let alone additional MPEs (Member of Parliament for England, since MEP is taken). And the most we can do to avoid the irritating claims of “two-tiered” members the better. For these reasons I feel an English parliament would be best placed in either the Midlands – Birmingham perhaps – or the North. Solve two problems at once: North/South divide and lack of equality across the union.

  • I haven’t denounced Englishness at all. I just think we need to understand the importance of identity and the need for fairer government that doesn’t shaft the North of England and other regions outside of the South East. Conflating the two isn’t helpful, that’s all.

  • Thank you for your reply; it is very much appreciated. However, your opening premise actually states the opposite: “Abler comrades than I can contribute to Progress to slay that particular dragon. Another is for a reawakening of an English identity.” I presume the ‘other dragon’ is the ‘reawakening of an English identity’? And your affirmation for Britishness? I agree with you that we should be careful of any moves which seek to disenfranchise the north of England but that does not mean you do that by denying the English identity. However, one simple move to ensure that the North becomes the ‘northern power-house” of Osborne’s aspirations is to put a start date on the electrification of the railways which would, according to the IPPR, put us firmly in the driving seat, surely?

  • Thanks. No, I referred to Corbynmania as a dragon to be slain and I truly hope it will be, but an unthinking rush to an English Labour Party, backing an English Parliament is, I fear, “an easy answer”.
    Don’t get me started on the Northern Powercut! It’s an example of the imbalance in our national economy that needs urgently addressing.

  • There is no reason why an English Parliament should stop a federal structure of government or a fair deal for the North of England.
    The federal structure should be England, Scotland, Wales and N Ireland.
    The fair deal for the North of England would come from an English Parliament looking after the rights of the English, rather than a UK Parliament, which to me seems to hate the English and wish to deny them any rights at all.

  • But the Scots, Welsh and N Irish have a national identity, so why shouldn’t the English. That sounds very racist to me.

  • Bull shit baffles brains. England was a simple place pior to 1066.and smart arse philosophers.
    England and its some 60 m population must be the only nation ever to have had a foriegn administration lasting 1000 yrs
    People living in England who do not believe in an English parliament are British.
    Britian is not a nation only nations have parliaments . Where does this leave you Mr Taylor? The United Kingdom wil only be united when we are all on a level playing field.

    Tony T

  • Let’s be blunt, Taylor. You just hate England, just as the Nazis hated the Jews, and the BNP hates anyone who is non-white and/or was born outside the UK.

  • You claim above that there is no appetite for an English Parliament. Look at all these posts telling you otherwise! And why were the referenda in Scotland and Wales, referenda about having their own parliaments but were there to be one held in England it would be “to break up the Union”?

  • Codswallop! The Barnett Formula was supposed to bring public services in Scotland and Wales in line with those in England. It achieved that objective and now serves to provide Scots with free prescriptions and free university courses.

  • Your fixation with “shafting the North of England” presupposes that the English seat of government would be London. Lichfield and York have both been suggested but that question could be addressed in the referendum.

  • I wonder if Mr Taylor agrees with George Orwell who wrote, over 70 years ago:

    “In left-wing circles it is always felt that
    there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a
    duty to snigger at every English institution . . .”

  • This is the mistaken assumption that many make who oppose an
    English parliament. They equate a British Parliament with an English one which is
    incorrect. An English Parliament under a National Federal system will focus on
    National issues only. That focus can only benefit the North. Also when people
    say that the North is being treated badly they have forgotten that the most
    deprived area in England is a place called ‘Jaywick’ in Clacton, Essex and that
    small town is in the East of England. London also has some of the highest
    levels of poverty in the country.

    All I can ask is that you come and join us in making sure all of England is looked after. I am sure that by looking at England as a whole, each area will be catered for as power could be decentralised in a structured manner.

  • An English Parliament, essentially an English Government,
    will help you gain a fair deal. The Barnett formula unfairly takes taxes away
    from the North of England and gives it to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
    Just imagine what you could accomplish if you had the correct amount of taxes
    allocated to you. An English government, unshackled from the British government’s
    obsession with keeping the Scots happy, would reallocate taxes to areas in
    England that need it. That is an exciting and progressive future.

  • England is inclusive. Both are inclusive, that is an obvious
    statement. England makes up 85% of the UK population so if Britain is inclusive
    so is England. Attempting to equate a strong county identity as a national
    identity is a narrow perspective, you are simply reducing identity to smaller
    populations. A strong Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton and Plymouth
    can all flourish under one umbrella each helping each other when needed. If you
    isolate local identity away from the collective national identity then you will
    be damaging the cohesiveness that is required for long term growth. Transport
    is a good example which would across counties or the NHS postcode lottery.

  • That’s a bit like saying booking a hotel won’t in itself make for a good holiday – of course it won’t, but it’s going to be pretty necessary if you want the rest of it to run smoothly. I love the way this guy states his own opinions as fact.

  • Of course he agrees with it. If it has English or England on it the Lefties get their knickers in a knot.
    The white van man episode would not have been ridiculed if it had the Scottish Flag flying or no flag at all what would have been the point?

  • The white van episode was shameful. I don’t snigger at English institutions at all. I just don’t support your campaign for an English Parliament.

  • I’m not trying to do anything of the sort. I’m trying to have that debate and welcome your contribution to it. I favour more democracy, more referendums, real practical steps to better decision making across our country.

  • Thank you Eddie for a positive and civil contribution to the debate. Good point about Jaywick and poverty in London. Something isn’t right, but I don’t see the leap in logic to an English Parliament solving that.

  • Stan, when someone ascribes a political motive to my opinion then I can safely state as fact that if that assumption is mistaken.
    As regarding an English Parliament we’re also not dealing in facts, it is all supposition and wishful thinking. There is no proposal on the table that I can see. I can say it won’t address these issues over here, you can then say, oh, but actually it will. We’re getting nowhere.

  • OK then can we accept that the people of England have a right to be consulted on the Devolution that they want, in the same way Wales and Scotland have had the chance to discuss the devolution they want. We already have a democratic method of Devolved Government, it is called County Councils. Labour wanted to create “Regional Assemblies” but the people of England have a well accepted devolved method of government which works, and they do not need meddling politicians trying to fix something that isn’t broken. The English (frankly) are fed up being ignored on the West Lothian Question. We narrowly missed the SNP making decisions for England because of the defective devolution process Labour left unfinished. Labour have to get to grips with Federal Government, the people of England need a Parliament which has parity of esteem with the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, and we should not have to tactically vote to avoid Labour having an SNP/Labour coalition. This type of nightmare shouldn’t even be on the cards. Will Labour now start treating the people of England with respect. Whatever your views about Britishness or Englishness, fact is many millions of people born in England regard themselves as ENGLISH even over being British and they (myself included) are furious Britophile MPs are putting the democratic rights of the English behind those of Wales and Scotland. If the main parties do not address the democratic deficit of the English then support for all parties will continue to fall. This does not mean Labour should impose a devolved model that the English have not been consulted on – we need a debate and we need to choose, otherwise no one will buy into it. City Regions are a myth that will end in tears and won’t deal with your Northern Concerns. England needs to rebuild itself as one Nation and THAT is what politicians should be focusing on.

  • English Identity is the silent killer issue in British Politics because the myopic fixation within the Labour Party about England being the bastion of Conservatism has ultimately led to the disintegration of the Party in England. Working Classes the patriotic backbone of the nation have been maligned in England. The English Parliament should be the representative institution of The English and the Nation of England there are working class people in England and I come from that background. The repetitive assaults on the living standards of the English under The Labour Party who increased prescription charges every year from 1997 to 2010. The English have been patient for too long and have seen £billions taken away from the poor in England from small businesses in England and from public services in England to provide quality services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is time the English were treated with political and economic solidarity. We pay our way and require the same level of assistance from our own government. No Free Care for the Elderly in England is the toxic chalice that the Labour Party have provided for the people of England. Time To Put England First… Time To End Internationalism….

  • England is indeed an inclusive country, but please don’t confuse England with Britain. Britishers have always had an issue with England being an inclusive country, to the extent that they would rather deny England out of existence. We need to look forward not back to the imperialist ideals which made every effort to submerge our country into “Empire”. England is bigger than that, and includes even the Britishers who deny England’s existence. Let’s move forward to an internationalist future where the nations of Britain and all nations stand in equality.

  • Well in that case Michael, if you want to ascribe only emotional flag waving or a desperate attempt to find an alternative to Ed Miliband as the only thought processes behind English identity, then I can safely state as fact that you are talking codswallop. It appears to myself (and seemingly the vast majority of commentators on this post) that your view of Englishness comes from an extremely narrow view point, a sort of Mancunia-vision, with Welsh and Irish filters. If there is a over-emotional reaction to this so called debate from the English camp, it is as a direct result of suppression of their identity. Despite your refutations that you are anti-English, I could clearly evidence that you are from your comments above and elsewhere. The truth is no one has ever had the decency to ask the people of England what they want. If there was a referendum and the people of England decided they didn’t want an English Parliament, then I for one would accept that. Neither you or anyone else can state as fact how well an English Parliament would work, because, as you helpfully point out it’s all supposition. It’s supposition because a huge section of the population of your beloved Britain are being ignored. If we are getting nowhere it is because people like your good self flatly refuse to accept points on the matter that contradict your own.

  • Absolutely right an excellent summary of the betrayal of the English people by Labour, you would have thought they could see the wood for the trees, but even now they recoil from even allowing the English to call themselves English, preferring the “catch all” British, yet promoting Scottishness and Welshness, I find it baffling and very hypocritical of Labour and their misguided politicians.

  • I agree, there is an imbalance in our economy.
    UK government spending by country
    Northern Ireland +24% £10,876 per head
    Scotland +16% £10,152 per head
    Wales +10% £9,709 per head
    England -3% £8,529 per head
    Its the British economy that is unfair to the North because it is unfair to England. Michael, the question I need to ask you, is do you want to see social equality and fairness across England? I want to see my fellow countryman and that includes the North of England prosper but the only way that will occur is if we have an accountable government with an English First Minister expressing all our concerns. The first step towards helping the North is Devolution to an English government with the relevant institutions.
    I respect that you have engaged in this debate, a debate urgently needed as the UK is dying. So will the Labour movement die if it fails to understand that England is a nation just as Scotland and Wales. Labour needs to learn to love England again, we have a rich history of standing up to tyranny. Thank goodness we had the Tolpuddle Martyrs from Dorest (from the south of England)

  • Mr Bone, I note your phrase “Labour needs to learn to love England again…” Could you please tell us when Labour loved England in the past? Most of us here will be familiar with George Orwell’s comment in 1941 about England and the Left, but his words were probably old hat even then. I can’t help thinking Labour’s always hated us, with one or two honourable exceptions like Frank Field.

  • In fact, most of what is described as ‘British’ is really English. When was the last time you saw a picture of bagpipes and kilts and saw a caption “a typically British scene” or something like that?

  • English identity is pretty widespread across the whole of England outside the multicultural big cities. In fact, according to the 2011 Census the North East recorded the highest percentage of people claiming an English identity. Local identities are important in all countries but they don’t usually trump or replace national ones. I am from East Anglia and I am proud of my local/county/regional identity and proud to be English. My mate from Yorkshire feels the same. We see no contradiction in this.

  • No, sir! “Britain” is an artificial country! It is comparable with Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.

  • I am tired of the Cornish in particular claiming how separate they are from the rest of England and then moaning that the rest of the country isn’t doing enough to help them or isn’t paying them enough attention. If they want autonomy, fine but don’t expect us to do them any favours. When the sea damaged the railway line at Dawlish the Cornish were complaining about being cut off from London and the rest of the country. I would have thought they’d be all for that.

  • I would argue that the ‘UK’ is far more divided along national lines than most of those countries.

  • The difference is Michael is that the majority of Scots – for now anyway – feel a pragmatic attachment to the Union but do not deny their Scottishness. Even the most ardent unionist in Scotland is a proud Scot. I have no problem with the ‘both British and English’ position but I struggle to understand the ‘British-definitely-not-English’ position that some English-born people seem to have. One of my friends has two Mauritian parents but considers himself English (and British as well probably) yet many English people baulk at the term ‘English’ because they had one Scottish granny. It’s weird. So long as this Union exists English identity will always be an emotional choice rather than a fact. While it remains we have to stick with a ‘British’ identity that is really promoted in England only anyway.

  • In fairness, all countries are artificial. They are just agreements made by a group of people who reside in one area that they shall call themselves the same thing, usually held together by a shared culture and language. The constituent countries of the UK have a shared culture and shared language, so we are as much a country as any other. That’s the main reason a United States of Europe will never happen. Too many cultures, too many languages.

  • I used to believe that until I saw the affection that many of my Welsh, Scottish and Irish ‘compatriots’ felt for the Union and symbols of Britishness. I would support a form of union so long as England was treated fairly and allowed to have its own identity and representation as distinct from the UK one.

  • My dear Grandmother had a saying: “There’s none so blind as them (sic) that don’t WANT to see. Despite the overwhelming evidence of the posts about this article, Michael Taylor still doesn’t WANT to see that the English (well, the GENUINE English, anyhow,) want for England, what Scotland and Wales already have and have enjoyed for the last fifteen years.
    This could explain why he’s a FORMER parliamentary candidate. On the other hand, the one’s who made it are just as blinkered.
    It’s simple. Scotland has one, Wales has one, Northern Ireland has one – England doesn’t. How can anyone who believes in “fair” claim that that’s right?
    It isn’t. By insisting that it is, Mr Taylor demonstrates just how uncaring and “out of touch” current politicians are.
    Sixty percent of English residents described themselves a “English only” in the last census.

  • You’re right about the Scots having only a pragmatic attachment to the Union (or taking what they can, while they can, some might say. I’ve never met a Scot with any emotional attachment to the Union, far less a liking for us English. It’s strange (not) that someone with a Scottish grandparent would have no problem being Australian or American if they were born and bred in one of those countries, yet considering themselves English even if they’re born and bred here seems to be beyond them. If they don’t want to be of England and for England, what are they doing still living in England?

  • The N/S divide is a product of UK parliament misrule as is the massive disconnect between London and the rest of England. An English parliament will be for the whole of England and represents the best opportunity we’ll ever have for a new start.

  • Pretty typical Labour attitudes.

    “For many that English-only identity is inadequate”

    But for most English only ID is just fine as the census showed:

    “English identity (either on its own or combined with other identities) was the most common
    identity respondents chose to associate with, at 37.6 million people (67.1 per cent). English as
    a sole identity (not combined with other identities), was chosen by 32.4 million people (57.7 per

    How about letting the English people decide if we want our own parliament back?

  • Michael says: “I just fear an English shire dominated parliament will shaft the North as badly as the one we’ve got.”

    This is an odd thing to say, moreover it is somewhat illogical. Does not the north of England have shires and are they not also English?

    To augment Eddie’s point about Jaywick, I would mention the south west of England which also has been long neglected by the British ‘Corporation of London obsessed’ Parliament.

    Thus far, radically different and differing forms of devolution have been held out for England which would ensure that the rest of the UK is politically ring-fenced from a fragmented England but England would not be politically ring-fenced from the rest of the UK. For example, no one in England or elsewhere may stand for election to the GLA unless they live or work or conduct business within the ambit of the GLA; it is another form of glorified local council. There is no indication thus far that the Greater Manchester City Region or the West Yorkshire Combined Authority will be any different if constituted electorally.

    However, anyone who meets the relevant qualifications (including being on the electoral register) may stand for election to each and all of the national assemblies in Northern Ireland and Scotland and Wales. An English Parliament constituted on the same basis and opened just as the other assemblies are opened each new term by the Queen would also be open to candidates seeking election from Northern Ireland and Scotland and Wales.

    Both Labour and Conservative and the Coalition governments have been remiss in avoiding any mention of this radical political difference between the treatment of England and rUK!

    Another difference is the omission of any reference to referenda in England. Constitutional changes proposed by the British Parliament for Northern Ireland or Scotland or Wales are accompanied by referenda PRIOR to implementation. England has never been afforded a referendum, not even on the annexure of Monmouthshire to Wales in 1972, but individual parts of rUK have each had a number of referenda.

    The discrimination against England and her people knows no limit.

  • Ludens says: ” Yes, identity is complicated . . . ” but national identity is quite simple really and not to be confused with ancestry. Why do so [too] many choose to live in England but insist upon retaining their own separate national identity? For over three centuries we’ve had Scots coming to England [they started off as cheap labour] importing THEIR customs and practices eg Burns Night, Ceilidhs, Caledonian Societies etc [There is even a Royal Scottish Corporation dating from Charles II now badged as Scotscare!] Where are their counterparts in Scotland or the counterpart of the London Irish in Dublin?

    No, we English are the most accommodating and tolerant of the UK’s nations. It is somewhat ironic to see the reports of Gordon Brown condemning English nationalism with no word about Scottish nationalism which one might suggest is infinitely more effective. Yes, the same Gordon Brown pledged to make “the interests of the Scottish people paramount!”. Not equal mind you but paramount, a pledge from which he did not resile upon becoming the unelected British Prime Minister and, effectively, First Minister of England. One of his last acts as Chancellor in 2007 was to lop £2billion off NHS England’s budget. As British Prime Minister, he introduced ‘Britishness’ lessons but only in England’s schools!

    In the second half of the 20th Century we experienced significant inflows of people from other parts of the world, initially from Commonwealth countries but subsequently from Europe and other parts of the world. The practice started by Scots has been adopted by the newcomers and their decendants; indeed many Scots and other newcomers encourage it. They exclude themselves but, worse, become part of the weakening of English identity. In Sandwell [Smethwick to older readers], the Labour dominated council tried to highjack the massive St George’s Day parade and convert it into a multi-culti event withdrawing previous funding to try and enforce that! Of course public funds for other events such as Diwali remain intact.

    When Team GB returned from Peking in 2008, parades were held within days in Cardiff and Edinburgh for the Welsh and Scottish members respectively but none for the much greater number of medal winners from England. Instead, Boris Johnson [has anyone ever heard him declare HIS national identity to be English?] held a ‘Team GB’ parade in London months later! SEE: This was consistent with the £100,000 Ken Livingstone, when Mayor of London, gave to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in 2002 but nil for St George’s Day. SEE: Boris Johnson repeated this in 2013. SEE:

    One has to ask why people come from other countries and purport to represent us but don’t whenever there is a conflicxt of interest between England’s interests and those of their chosen nation? Where else but I England would we have had the spectacle of the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth [who happened to be a woman ~ where is the male equivalent of Lady Mayor?] refusing to endorse the Campaign for an English Parliament’s request to lobby for warship production to be continued in Portsmouth, England on the ground that she was Welsh! However, if one dares suggest that voters in England should elect those who clearly represent ours and England’s interests we are accuse of ‘racism’! Of course, the true racists are those who would and do discriminate against us, like Gordon Brown and Tony Blair

    There is a longstanding and widespread practice in the media, especially the BBC, of referring to British in preference to English, or Britain in preference to England when in each case the former would be more accurate. Typical is the Magna Carta being “part of British history”! Well it is, but being part of English history means it is part of British history . . . for the moment. I say ‘moment’ because increasing numbers of us are becoming intolerant of the practice of not recognising our national identity.


  • It’s remarkable that some people in Scotland have Wales have little or no Scottish or Welsh ancestry and yet have no problem identifying with those cultures. That’s largely because the Scots and Welsh have recognised bodies that fight for their interests. All we get in England is ‘UK’ stuff. English identity is largely seen as a threat or a fringe identity by the British establishment. In Scotland and Wales the national identities of those countries are portrayed as healthy and progressive whereas assertion of English identity is often portrayed as dangerous and exclusive. No wonder few incomers want to adopt it and many English people choose to shun it.

  • Well said! Can you contact me? I’d like to correspond about some of these issues. I will leave you an email address if you like.

  • I’d be interested to learn what you wish to communicate. Please feel free to leave a contact email address.

  • The whole of England outside London gets shafted not just the North of England. An English parliament well outside of London would help focus the minds of new representatives away from London.

Sign up to our daily roundup email