Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Can there be an English future for Labour?

Any relationship should be ‘reciprocal”, or ‘two-way’ for it to work and that principle should also apply to a political party and its relationship with a country. The 2015 general election highlighted grave relationship problems in England between Labour and its traditional support. Many mentioned after the election that they thought Labour had stopped loving them. But has Labour ever loved England?

It is important to note that we are not talking how England is governed but are looking at Labour’s interaction with England as a nation and at its relationship with the people it wants to represent in England. Those people for ‘better or worse’ are called the ‘English’ or if you prefer, the people of England. Come what may, those people need to vote for Labour if it wants to return to power. So what has Labour got to do if it wants to show that it loves the English?

The initial point has got to be that Labour supporters believe that Labour did care about them at one time. This should be easy for Labour to show as its history began in the dissenting tradition of English culture and threads through the radical movement of the Chartists and the valiant stand of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. The Chartists wanted political reform and the Tolpuddle Martyrs were fighting for their employment rights. Both groups were non-conformists and from different backgrounds but they were fighting for a common cause which was to stop the suppression of the English working class. The love of country and belief united them.

Those dissenting voices received wide support across England because they expressed the feelings of the working class who were suffering. It did not matter if those individuals were rich or of a different class because they stood ‘for the good old cause!’.

The individuals involved in those radical movements were English, often Methodist or from other non-conformist stock. This is why the English Labour movement is basically very different from the European socialist movement because it is rooted in establishing employment rights. Its origins stem out of the ‘craft’ trade unions and not of Marxist ideological tradition.

The non-conformist strand of Englishness knitted together through its struggle a national pact and was able to create a common ideology that became the majority view within England. Labour’s love of England was obvious when it spoke for that suppressed majority. So English Labour needs to understand that for them national identity is vital if social change is to occur.

English socialism is again at odds with internationalist socialism which stands opposed to the idea of the nation-state. If the Labour party follows those internationalist views it will not gain the majority following it needs for power. That surely means that the time has come for an independent English Labour movement to establish itself.

Labour in recent years has been seen as scornful and sneering of England and unfortunately you only need to listen to Gordon Brown’s speech at the Edinburgh festival last weekend, to clearly see Labour’s problem. He is at odds with a significant portion of the party when he states that English nationalism is ‘dangerous’ because a significant portion of his party’s supporters are English and will have been offended by his comments.

Labour needs to embrace English identity and political fairness just as the Chartists did. This will allow the working class in England to once again unite within Labour’s English dissenting tradition.

Labour needs to listen to the heartfelt messages of this group of traditional labour supporters who believe that the United Kingdom Labour party has deserted them. That group are saying ‘we are here, waiting for you to rekindle your love of England. Stop grieving after Scotland, it is damaging your relationship with the English. Pick up the dissenting tradition. Help us fight for better employment rights and leave the Marxist ideology’.


Eddie Bone is campaign director of the Campaign for an English Parliament


Photo: Leon Brocard

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Eddie Bone

is campaign director of the Campaign for an English Parliament


  • Unlike Kendall I feel uncomfortable with the use of the word ‘love’ in relation to anything to do with politics and power. It seems so misplaced (or even worse). But that aside, the article’s contribution has recognised the reaction against the ‘top-down’ culture so strongly promoted during the “New Labour’ cultural depression. Promotion of a national dimension or recognition of historical non – conformism is a compensating anecdote. In my opinion the contribution has an important omission. The one dimension I see missing is ‘democracy’. There could possibly have been more limited SNP, UKIP, Green, Boris, former Lib. Dem. revival and Corbyn revolt against the top-downers if democracy had been a more prevalent from the start. This means within the Labour Party as well as in the restoration of Local Authority power, trade union, regional investment authorities and possibly a new electoral system. The omission of the word ‘democracy’ in and out of the Labour Party in an otherwise well thought through contribution is a serious one.

  • Certainly, there is much to be learnt from the English dissenting tradition, going back to the Independents and Levellers of the Civil War period through to the Chartists and the Clarion socialists of the turn of the century. The movement transferred the evangelicalism of Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists to secular society, and, ironically, Jeremy Corbyn has managed to tap into this enthusiasm to provide a more authentic voice. However, in the words of Welshman George Thomas, we need to remember that the Labour Party owes more to Methodism than Marxism, that we believe in redemption and transformation through non-violent action. We are not revolutionary socialists who subject the conscience of the individual to the requirement of the Collective. We need a more congregational form of socialism, combining the ‘hwyl’ of the Welsh with the independence of the English. We also need to recognise that London intellectual socialism is very different from the village chapel radicalism of the English shires and civic unitarianism of cities like Birmingham and Manchester. Any English party must pay attention to these regional traditions in a revived, decentralised structure, based on the devolved powers which Wales, as a renewed nation, already has, and which Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and South Yorkshire are re-establishing. London already has its own autonomous structures, so would it not be possible to construct a federal English party, with popular regional leaders elected by the membership and a UK leader whose job is to lead the MPs in Parliament?

  • Maybe, but if we look forward it is clear that there is a need for more bottom-up activity to regenerate the party. More party machinery and structures won’t necessarily do that. If anything our CLPs and regions need more direct ways to communicate with HQ.

  • Excellent article. However, on the issue of internationalism it is important to recognise that not every form of internationalism stands opposed to the idea of a nation state…

    The ideal of many internationalists is indeed a movement towards democratic globalization by creating a world government. However, this idea is thwarted by other internationalists, who believe any world government body would be inherently too powerful to be trusted. For those who would rather there were no nations at all in the world, unfortunately this is not the world we live in. In order for nations to cooperate on political and economic matters, they need some level of existence as political bodies. Yet currently, although very much alive in the hearts and minds of the English, England, both politically and constitutionally does not exist:

    ‘Despite the political, economic, and cultural legacy that has secured the perpetuation of its name, England no longer officially exists as a governmental or political unit—unlike Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which all have varying degrees of self-government in domestic affairs. It is rare for institutions to operate for England alone… In many ways England has seemingly been absorbed within the larger mass of Great Britain since the Act of Union of 1707’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

    Supporters of internationalism, in any meaningfully consistent sense of the term, must acknowledge that the existence of nations is required in the first place for cooperation to be possible between nations. The recognition of nations within the UK is currently clearly imbalanced, and in relation to this, according to a pre-election Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) report: “…the English discontentment with the status quo… is so substantial that political leaders cannot afford to avoid the issue any longer”.

    Let us pray that this mistake is not to be made by Labour for any longer.

  • Further decentralisation within England would best be facilitated within the context of an England-wide democratic and political voice to ensure fairer distribution of resources within our country. We need decentralisation within England, but the localities-based anti-nation political ideology fashionably touted by some Labour supporters is potentially dangerously fragmentary and divisive – however well intentioned it may be.

  • It isn’t a fashionable ideological view, Matt, it’s the reality of 1500 years of English history. The English sense of ‘nationhood’ has never been as strong as the Welsh and the Scots, simply because English identity has always been fragmented and divided between the London ‘Court’ (Westminster) and the ‘Country’. The ‘Country’, or what we now call ‘Middle England’ is crying out for a reassertion of its rights over that of the metropolitan liberal élite on the one hand and cosmopolitan Marxists like Corbyn on the other. I don’t object to London being seen as the centre of the British Crown and Parliament, but, as a Midland Englishman, I owe no loyalty to it as my capital, nor do millions of others. It’s time to get real and radical about this as a party, or our role will be taken over by English nationalists of the ‘Little Englander’ variety, i.e. UKIP. If this is dangerous and subversive, so be it. We will never get a fair distribution of wealth and power within the country until it is devolved within England, as well as to Scotland and Wales.

  • What evidence regarding sense of nationhood? The last census provides evidence that the sense of nationhood is stronger in England than in Wales. Deal with facts not self serving Labour peddled myths

  • I agree, Labour does need to listen to party members but it also needs to listen to what the people of England are saying especially if Labour wants to be in power again. The English have overwhelming rejected regionalisation.
    A number of opinion polls show that the people of England want a collective voice as well as more local decision making. If Labour is to survive it must acknowledge the collective need of England. Please have a look at further points in another article (link attached), as I have attempted to put across a common sense approach that links an English Parliament with decentralisation of power within England.
    An English Labour party would give Labour activists in England the freedom to really discuss how England is governed.

  • 1. This is a Labour Party group, and I’m responding to the original piece. 2. There is plenty of evidence, historical and contemporary, to demonstrate that the sense of English identity is not bound up with the idea of an English nation state. 3. Check out my research and writing on 1500 years of English History at

  • Let’s devolve to England and then we can decide what’s best for our nation. We must avoid putting the horse before the cart. We must also avoid the divide-and-rule game played by the British ruling classes, because they will never have the interests of anyone in England at heart. Better still for all of us in these islands would be a breakup of the Divided Kingdom into its constituent nations. That way, we can finally purge ourselves of the poison of the British state and have a reasonably mature relationship as equals.

  • Hi Eddie,
    thanks for the link, I read it. I struggle with some of the principles you are basing this suggestion on. On the money side, if you want to get rid of areas that do not contribute much to the UK then why pick Scotland? After London and the South East, Scotland is the biggest net contributor whereas areas like the North East contribute less because they are poorer. The Barnet formula is only one of many fiscal adjustments and can not be interpreted on it’s own, you have to look at the package.
    You also say that the English have rejected regionalisation: Have they? The North East rejected it and that was some time ago. Whereas Manchester has accepted some sort of deal more recently. Prior to the GE2015 in England the Tories did a lot of divisive negative campaigning about Scotland, how the Scots cost England money (untrue) and that they want to make decisions about English money. No wonder spot surveys reflected disquiet. However, London and the South East is stuffed full of Scots, Irish, Welsh, Northerners and people from the West Country because that is where the work is; many of them believe they are working for the UK and they call themselves British so why would they want to change things?
    What i find when I travel around the country is that people have a wide range of concerns, some are national like the NHS and some are local like lack of housing. Cornwall has a sizeable number of people who are very keen on regionalisation as long as their boundary is the Tamar.
    If the Labour party is to get back into Government, we have a lot to do and part of that is to make sure that we address the needs of citizens around the UK, that includes policies to redress the Londoncentric bias as well as revitalisation of Labour in the South East and South West etc. There is nothing stopping us dealing with these problems currently, except perhaps the small matter of choosing a new leader!

  • It is simply not correct to say that English sense of nationhood has never been as strong as that of the Welsh and Scots. An English identity has existed since at least the time of the Venerable Bede in the 8th century. England became a nation state in the 10th century. English identity survived the Norman Conquest and rule by French-speaking kings up to the end of the 14th century.It took off in the 15th century and remained vibrant until the Union with Scotland in 1707, since when it has submerged but has not gone away.. England as a nation pre-dates both Scotland and Wales. The Welsh as a people never became a nation. England is the oldest nation state in Europe (possibly in the world) and the oldest national identity except for Jewish.Over 30 million people in England chose English rather than British or English and British in the 2011 census. We just wait our turn to become a nation again.
    The English have frequently resisted the rule of the London metropolitan elite. What else was the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 against the rule of the royal government, dominated by corrupt cronies, extracting taxation to pay for unpopular foreign wars, and speaking a different language from that of the ordinary people? Revolt against London does not mean revolt against England. Wat Tyler’s men were revolting against the detachment of an aloof government which had no popular roots.
    And as for the ‘Little Englanders’, they are wrongly abused. They were originally radical members of the Liberal party who, at the height of imperialism in the last quarter of the 19th century, opposed the expansion of the British empire and wars of adventure. They did not wish their country to rule over other peoples. Their number at one time even included a famous Welshman, David Lloyd George, who was excoriated as a Little Englander because he opposed the Boer War. UKIP does not want to be a ‘Little England’ party. It wants Britain, intact, to leave the EU. It can only be an English party by default, that is if it gains no support in Scotland and Wales.
    The English, as the largest British nation, have rightly become laId-back about their identity. It is better that the English should not throw their weight about to the discomfiture of their neighbours. But do not mistake that for a missing sense of nationhood. We all have local loyalties but these are encompassed within England. Do not conflate ‘London’ with England.

  • I am too a bit, sometimes anyway. Let’s accept that we all are anglophobic bigots a bit and then maybe we’ll all get along better 🙂 I really don’t like bowler hats and cricket for example. I’ll admit to that right here 🙂

  • Is it possible to be English and anglophobic?! I think it’s possible for the English to misunderstand the English, or to have a narrow perspective on English identity, because you’ve never lived anywhere else. Nationalists in Eastern Europe, for example, are obsessed with the sovereignty of the state. My point is that, my patriotism is tied up with the sovereignty of the people, with democracy and the values of toleration, endeavour and endurance which Orwell wrote about. It is not ‘Ingsoc’ or the ‘English Civilisation’ of warm beer, fish n chips and ‘kiss me quick’ bowlers. I love the first two, btw, and cricket! But I’m certainly no Bigot, having studied who he was! Why is it that we can’t discuss anything in the Labour Party these days, without hurling abuse?

  • Actually, the Bigot (or Bygod) family were rebels who held large parts of Suffolk in the reigns of King John to Edward I. They were known rebels, signing Magna Carta. It was their stubborn resistance to tyranny and refusal to fight in French wars which led to the way we use their name today, so what could be more English?!

  • I’m supportive of the idea that matters already devolved to both Scotland and Wales should be debated and agreed for England only by English MPs in Westminster, but feel that the creation of a distinct English Parliament would be costly, bureaucratic and unnecessary. Moreover, it would create demographic instability both in the United Kingdom and in England within it (due to the size and character of London). Federalism works in Germany because none of the ‘lander’ or states dominate the others in size or population. Would it not make more sense, since London already has its own assembly, to create separate regional assemblies in England to match the ‘command authorities’ already being set up, like Greater Manchester and the West Midlands?

  • Re: Manchester ‘accepting some sort of deal more recently’. What you mean is that the politicians in the Manchester area accepted Osborne’s fait accompli ‘on behalf of’ the Mancunian people. Not exactly democratic, is it?

  • The idea of an English parliament must be the only one that Labour supporters reject because it would be ‘costly, bureaucratic and unnecessary’. Would it not make more sense, since the voters of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were granted referenda, to give the voters of England the final say in how the matter should be decided? Or are you scared that Labour wouldn’t be voted into office? Also, Germany has a parliament to represent the entire nation. We need something to represent all England and only England.

  • Just to clarify a couple of points:
    It is widely accepted that ‘English Votes on English Laws’ will not work and it is acknowledged that the SNP will just ignore it. So I gather from your comments that your answer to the English question is regionalisation’ of England. However I struggle with understanding your support for regionalisation as you state you cannot support an English Parliament because it ‘would be costly, bureaucratic and unnecessary’.

    Could you please answer the following:

    How does regionalisation of England reduce government costs?

    How many layers of government are you proposing to reduce with regionalisation?

    How does regionalisation of England reduce the amount of politicians?

    How will Greater Manchester speak for the surrounding people, the rural areas?

    How does regionalisation reduce the level of bureaucracy?

    Would you be happy to divide Wales and Scotland up if that would save the UK? For example, Northern Wales being made a region with Liverpool or the Lowlands of Scotland being made a region with Newcastle

    The Campaign for an English Parliament can answer all of those questions as an English Parliament would reduce costs, politicians and the level of bureaucracy. It would also respect national identity!

    There needs to be an answer to the English question or the countries of the UK will become independent. The only answer if you want to save the UK, is an English parliament that is linked with decentralisation to the counties of England – (counties – little regions if you like). That isn’t unnecessary, it is essential.

  • I am disappointed that you felt democracy was an omission from the article as I felt it was all about establishing the democratic rights of the people of England. I mentioned
    political fairness, political reform and protecting employment rights. Surely calling
    for an English Labour party is essentially calling for democratic balance and
    Also, do you think it was democratic for the Labour party to produce a manifesto for Scotland and Wales whilst ignoring England’s need for a manifesto? If you do
    think that failing to produce a manifesto is undemocratic, please join our

    As for using the word ‘love’, all I can say is that the ancient Greeks had four distinct words
    for love, (agápe, éros, philía, and storgē)

  • A distinct English parliament could save money as well as reducing the democratic deficit without involving yet more bureaucracy. Lord Salisbury has proposed that the House of Commons should become England’s parliament and the House of Lords should become a smaller, elected British Parliament. Saves at least 100+ MPs in the Commons, even before the boundary commission reductions, and probably about 650 in the ‘Lords’. It means one tier less of English government as bills would not go to an upper house for approval. It reduces Government patronage for cronies. No new buildings are required; except that the Palace of Westminster is falling to bits anyway. Moving MPs and Lords out while it is refurbished would provide an opportunity to re-consider the location of either or both assemblies. Perhaps the British Parliament should move to Birmingham?

  • Those who think an English Parliament is not a good idea should not stand in the way of a referendum asking the people of England whether they wish to have their own devolved assembly.It is their right to be asked, as was well put in the Claim of Right for Scotland wherein it was stated, and agreed by Labour luminaries, that the Scottish people had a sovereign right to determine the form of governance that best suits their needs. Let’s not have ‘Anyone but England’ in constitutional matters.

  • Trouble is when you look at a nation under a microscope you can’t see it. It’s like not seeing the wood for the trees. Have a close look at Switzerland. Englishness has been latent in the British state but it has not gone away. One of my school friends, whom I had not seen for 40 years said to me that when he was a child he would reply ‘British’ if asked his nationality. “Now if they ask, I say that I am English,” he said, unprompted by me. My father was (very) Scottish but I recall my mother, who also loved Scotland, saying to me most emphatically, “I am English and I will remain English”. The English do not make a song and dance about it (ok, only occasionally) These are anecdotes of course but you can find them repeated many times. English identity has not been tested for a long time. England was until 30 years ago used as a synonym for Britain. Now it is the other way round: our rulers would prefer that we say Britain when we mean England. Englishness has become inconvenient but I believe it is intractable. While some people say they do not feel any sense of national identity what would happen if someone tried to take it away? They would miss it. Once a people feels that is a nation it is almost impossible to eradicate that sense of national identity. It survives the demise of a nation state or the disappearance of its territory.

  • It is quite clear from the tone of their language that the Labour Party hates England with a vengeance and at every available opportunity, denigrates and emasculates our country. Under Labour, educators were rabid in their promulgation of England as a dirty word and of our history and culture as shameful. The English were promoted as a race of mongrels and intolerant and racist when in fact we are the complete opposite. However their words and actions have now created a climate of racism and intolerance by the deliberate ethnic cleansing of English people from areas such as the East End of London. Labour’s fanatical obsession with multiculturalism has in fact made English people a minority in their own country. They can never again be trusted with the governance of this country. And particularly not under Jeremy Corbyn. However if he were to be elected as leader of the Labour Party there won’t be much chance of them getting back in office anyway.

  • Not that long ago in Somerset a Labour councillor and university
    lecturer opposed the flying of the English Flag, the Cross of St
    George, by Radstock town council in order to avoid causing offence. Calls from leading figures such as Chuka
    Umunna and Frank Field to adopt a policy of establishing an English Parliament
    will go unheeded while such attitudes towards English symbols of nationhood persist
    within the wider Labour Party.

  • I agree with you on most of what you say in these three comments, and your point about the Peasants’ Revolt. Probably the most significant fact about the latter was that a French-speaking Plantagenet was recorded as speaking English to his subjects. However, it was not until the reign of Henry V that a more standardised form of English became the official language of the crown, and a further hundred years before it became a standard written language. The idea of ‘Englishness’, even in cultural terms, is therefore a lot more recent than people often pretend. That is not to pretend that it is not as powerful as ‘Britishness’, but just that it is different, related to English becoming a global language. As a distinct political concept, England only really emerged in the sixteenth century. That is not to deny that it became a strong national identity thereafter.

    However, I remember being told by teachers when I completed my UCCA (UCAS) form that I couldn’t enter my nationality as ‘English’, only ‘British’. That remains the case as far as my passport is concerned. Having lived in Wales and learnt Welsh, I also regard myself as culturally British, as well as English. However, I also regard myself just as strongly as a Midlander, or Mercian, though I have also lived in Lancashire, Devon, Somerset and Kent. I have never lived in London, and do not wish to be governed from it, other than as HM’s subject. J B Priestly, in ‘English Journey’ argued for ‘home rule’ for East Anglia in the 1930s, with a parliament in Norwich.

    There is a very real reason why an English Parliament, other than at Westminster on ‘English only’ days, is not a good idea if we want to see a genuinely devolved or ‘federal’ UK. That is the demographic one. The size of ‘England’ would create an imbalance between the countries and the size of London would create an imbalance within England. The successful examples of federalism in Europe – Switzerland an Germany – rely on balanced ‘lander’ or ‘canton’ populations. That’s why I feel it would be far better to have regional assemblies in England, reflecting both ancient traditions and modern needs. We already have a London assembly, so why not assemblies in Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Bristol, Exeter, Winchester and Maidstone, drawing on existing moves towards metropolitan government and inter-shire service authorities? This would still leave room for some ‘all-England’ control of services from Westminster. Besides which, ‘Englishness’, linked to language and cultural identity, is in little need of protection, compared with ‘Welshness’ and other Celtic and Anglo-British identities.

  • I think have dealt with your questions in my answer to ‘tartanrock’ but in summary – ten to twelve regional assemblies, formed by existing local authority members (county and city councillors, who would continue to meet and decide more local matters). So, no new layers and no new members, though councillors may have to become semi-professional, as in other countries, but not necessarily full-time, as in Scotland and Wales. The Police and Fire Services would be directly controlled by the regional assemblies, rather than by commissioners etc. Greater Manchester would be part of a larger North-West region, just as the current proposals for the West Midlands include Warwickshire and Staffordshire. MPs may become part-time, and ‘peers’ also, elected by PR to reflect the constituent regions and nations of the UK, with some appointment of charity cross-benchers.

  • I don’t object to a referendum on the creation of an ‘All-England Parliament’, but would suggest that the alternative of greater regionalisation should be proposed in the same question, because we already have anomalies which must be resolved one way or another. The survival of the United Kingdom in a newly devolved form is more important than the future of any political party, though the parties which devolve structures most radically to reflect new realities will be better placed to win power.

  • The last census posed a false dichotomy. Nationality and nationhood are not the same thing, as my point about passports and UCAS forms makes clear.

  • There’s about a 5% genetic difference, maximum, between all the ‘old’ ethnic groups of Britain. We are all ‘mongrels’ in that sense. I prefer the term Anglo-British. The differences between us are in cultural and linguistic identities, nothing else. Personally, I prefer St Cuthbert to St George as an English patron saint, and the ‘Lamb and Flag’ as a symbol to that of the long cross, because both are more authentically ‘English’.

  • I always thought, from the day of his nomination, that Jeremy Corbyn stood a very good chance of winning given the nature of the Labour activists and Trade Union leaders. Therefore, he will either lead Labour to a disaster or possibly victory, bearing in mind that a huge slice of the electorate will never have lived under a far-left Labour government before
    and are therefore daft enough to believe he has come up with some really great ideas – they not realising they have been tried before and failed.

  • The trouble with a top-down appraoch is those at the top THINK they know what people need/want. The trouble with a bottom-up appraoch is that people at the bottom rarely THINK about what need/want.

  • ‘This would still leave room for some ‘all-England’ control of services from Westminster.’ We would have to be a lot clearer about what services these would be and who would pay for them.

    When you say that ‘Englishness’ is in little need of protection you fail to allow for the British government’s disinclination to recognise it at virtually any level. It prefers to undermine Englishness in order to substitute Britishness.At times it seems to be considered racist to say that one is English.
    For a recent survey of Englishness and the English nation state, depending on how you define it, see Robert Tombs ‘The English and their History’.
    For 300 years the UK has been a successful union state despite having one member which is much larger than the rest. (It has been around of course much longer than the federal republic of Germany) There is no reason to believe that a federal union including an English parliament would be unbalanced and therefore unstable. See Tom Waterhouse ‘Devolution in the UK’ (2007) where it is credibly suggested that English dominance would be lessened in such an arrangement.
    And one has to ask; what are you going to do when the Scots leave and there are very likely to do within the next ten years?

  • This is not only the version of it. You take the John Prescott line: ‘There is no such thing as English nationality’. True: we are all, on our passports, British. British is a multinational state, rather than a nation state. Most people in the UK, at least on the island of GB, asked to state their nationality would say English, Scottish or Welsh. The 2011 Census was the first time that the British state allowed such a choice and their response was very clear..

  • What Scotland contributes fiscally to the UK is always a thorny issue. Latest information suggests that Scots pay £400 pa more per person into the UK Treasury than any others. However, they then recieve £1,600 more spending per man, woman and child than the English average. As both Wales and Northern Ireland are net takers too then the £1,200 extra can only come out of England’s pocket – that equates to England subsidising Scotland to the tune of around £8billion.

    The Manchester style regions are, in my view, a con. Osborne is cunningly shifting responsibility for future problams/failing to local politicians – who at the moment will undoubtedly be Labour. When those problems happen he’ll be able to point the finger and say “see what you get when you trust Labour politicians.” And, Labour will only have themselves to blame, after all, they created the dog’s dinner that is Devolution whilst failing to treat England with equality.

    All things remaining equal, in order for Labour to get back into power, they appear to need a rabid Scot as their leader to appeal to the Scots, although these day such a person would probably not appeal to the English. They need a stringent anti-immigration policy to appeal to the white working classes, whilst at the same time they cannot afford to upset the immigrants already here who, in the main, vote for them. Labour needs to abandon their previous, irresponsible, fiscal policies, although of course, to appeal to many they must trumpet evermore foolish spending to ease austerity. It’s going to be a tricky thing to do.

  • The creation of an English Parliament would not need to be costly nor more bureaucratic, that is merely an false argument put forward by those who propose to maintain the status quo. If done properly, it could actually reduce those suggested vices. Of course, the same people also advocate regionalisation of England whilst failing to point out that that would undoubtedly create far more bureaucracy as the 9, 10 or 12 regions (whatever the number be) would all want to duplicate structures and thereby build up costs.
    As for England being too large – tough luck – that’s the way it is. You have to put in structures that help each rub along together.
    The USA has states ranging from less than 1m people to 38m. I’m certain, with good old British compromise we could make it work if we wanted to. But then, of course, with 53% of people in Scotland now wanting independence (per latest opinion poll) how long can the current union last?

  • I had in mind the Health and Education services, which will need some central co-ordination of resources, though it’s time that their delivery was left to regional and local ‘trusts’, accountable to representatives at that level. An ‘English’ national curriculum could help address your concerns about the fostering of cultural and inter-cultural identity (I don’t accept that Englishness and Britishness are in any way opposed). Thanks for your suggestions, but I have done extensive primary research of my own over 37 years, and continue to read popular histories as well as academic ones. Your tone is a little patronising here. I don’t get your point about devolution – are you arguing for continued English dominance within the existing Union, or in favour of federalism and/or Scottish independence?

  • Taking your last point first, not much longer, in my view, but neither will a reformed Union in which the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish are continually dominated by English votes. I am in favour of an English Assembly of existing MPs meeting to discuss devolved matters at Westminster. If you like, a properly-constituted EVEL. Regional assemblies would not add to bureaucracy, they would reduce it by pooling powers and resources currently controlled by small local authorities, a process already well underway in the West Midlands, and putting them under greater democratic control, e.g. police, emergency services and transport (including in rural areas within largely urban regions like ‘Greater Manchester’).

  • The fact that, officially, there is no ‘nationality’ other than British nationality, does not mean that this can’t change under a reformed Union. This would mean equal status for all four countries, changing the Union Flag and the status of the monarchy, so that there is only one nation state, or kingdom. Only then would the UK become a multinational state. The current constitution is prejudicial to Wales and NI in particular, since they are not kingdoms. If Scotland were to become an independent kingdom, their position would be further weakened compared with England. The Census was a measure of national identity, not nationality or ‘citizenship’/ subject status. I am English by birth, Welsh by adoption, a UK subject and a European citizen, and wish to retain all four identities. I would suggest that, in a more equal union, we could redefine ourselves as Anglo-British, Scots-British, Cymro/Welsh-British and Irish/Ulster-British.

  • Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been “dominated” by England ever since those “countries” were created or united, as none of them pre-date England as a united country. They were “dominated” before Devolution, they are “dominated” post devolution and they will be “dominated” post England’s independence. It’s just a fact of life. If England is split into regions then London will be the “dominant” place, it having the biggest economy and greatest concentration of people, and will effectively take over the role currently held by England.

    If an English Assembly of MPs is okay for England, why was it not considered okay for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Think of the cost savings that would have achieved. The reason is, the Labour Party is rabidly anti-English and wanted it “contained” under the control of the UK parliament, without a seperate voice of its own. But, why must the English be the only ones who must be treated differently.

    As I understand it, it was felt that “a man cannot serve two master” so seperate people were needed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to allow them a voice – but, apparently, that is not the case for England.

    The idea that there will be greater democratic control at local level is laudable, but then the turnout for the Police commissioners was around 16% and local government is somewhere around 30% – unless there is a general election on the same day.

    The pooling of powers and resources is going on now, without the need for the assemblies, economic reality driving it.

  • Edward – Westminster is in London, England. Ne c’est pas? As a socialist, I believe in self-determination and equal status for the countries, and an end to the age-old domination of England over the other countries, and of London over the rest of England. The current pooling of power, as I suggested, is in danger of further discriminating against rural areas, as I and others have suggested here. Your point about local elections and police commissioners makes my point for me. The local and regional elections should all be on the same day, as regional assembly members would also be local government members in England. Further devolution in Wales and Scotland would then be matters for them. My friend in the party, born in Wales, raised in England, and now a Welsh Assembly member and minister, has worked extensively on this. Leighton Andrews. Wayne David MP is also on the Royal Commission on Devolution. You could look at their writing if you want further information on constitutional options ahead.

  • I think most of us accept multiple identities. Whatever those other identities may be, there are those like me who regard ourselves as English and have no wish to change it. I was born in Luton, Bedfordshire. I will always be a Lutonian, no matter where I live. We used to regard ourselves as ‘South Midlanders’. Now I understand that Beds is part of the Govt’s’ East of England’ Region or maybe not – I don;t care about the official ‘Regions’ which John P attempted to foist upon us. My father was Scottish and we still have family connections in Scotland, who regard me as English as I am. While I am happy to describe myself as an Anglo-Scot, I have always regarded England and Scotland as distinct nations and while I would qualify to play sports for Scotland, if I were any good at them which I am not, England is my nation and my country by birth and by adoption. As my country faced what is now called an ‘existential threat’ in 2004, a threat which has only partly been seen off, I and those who feel as I do are bound to resist any further attempts to devolve power within England if that is offered only as an alternative, rather than as an essential complement, to a national All-England political and constitutional dimension – which is where we came in and so there is nothing more really to be said.

  • The best solution to the ‘English Question’, it seems to me, is a four nation federation, in which English dominance will be lessened since England’s parliament will be concerned only with its own domestic legislation. The British federal parliament could be elected regionally (if the regions can be agreed). We could even invite British Overseas Territories to elect representatives to the British Parliament (as I believe Tony Benn once proposed).
    Under the UN-adopted Convention on Civil & Political Rights (1976) all peoples (a term which is not defined) are entitled to self-determination, something echoed in the Claim of Right for Scotland, signed by Gordon Brown and other leading members of the Labour party. I support the right of the people of Scotland to have their own devolved parliament, or to leave the UK if they wish although I am not advocating that they should do so. The English, the N Irish and Welsh have the same right. Mr Brown continues to believe that allowing national English self-government would break up the Union. I am not at all convinced that this is so but, if it did, that would be just too bad. What I am opposed to is the idea that the English alone should be denied the rights of a nation. It is as if the right to national democracy is somehow trumped, for the English, by the British state. I support devolution/decentralisation within England (who doesn’t?) but such arrangements are a matter for the English people to decide through their own Parliament, just as the Scots may do in Scotland.

  • Hi there Andrew,

    It is intriguing that you believe in self-determination and equal status for the countries, but evidently not as regard England which you feel should be broken up into some sort of regions.

    It always amazes me how the Labour Party hang on the words of Scot and Welsh as to how England should be governed and/or broken up but steadfastly refuse to allow the English to have a say in the running of their country.

  • Edward, I’m as English as you are, for all I know more so, having been born in Nottingham, raised in Birmingham and Coventry. and lived in Lancashire, Devon, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Kent and Suffolk. Some of the Labour leadership candidates also have a broad experience of English life. Like most English people, I love visiting London, but cannot afford to live there with my family and have no more desire to be ruled from London than from Edinburgh or Cardiff. I agree that we need an English Grand Committee or Assembly in Westminster, but would prefer regional assemblies to a separate English Parliament. My Englishness is based on culture and language, not on symbolic administration, and am also equally proud of my Anglo-British heritage.

  • Hi Andrew,

    My family has lived in North Cheshire since certainly the Doomsday Book, although I was born in Iran. During my time I’ve lived in Cheshire, Kent, the Middle East, Shropshire, Worcester, London, Pembrokeshire, Hereford, Wolverhampton, Leighton Buzzard, Stafford and back to Shropshire.

    I consider myself to be English, then British, then European

    I think it would be good if the people of England were asked what they want, not merely dictated to that they must have crumbs rather than a slice of the same cake dished out to the Celtic regions.

    Why is it that Labourites in particular always start
    going on about Little Englanders, when the English mention an English Parliament or English independence, but never Little Scotlanders, Little Welshers, Little Irishers when they talk/demand such rights?

  • Both I and the Welsh Labour Party (including the AS and MP I referred to as friends), are committed to the renewal of the Union. I helped to defeat both the Nationalists and the Tories in the 1983 General Election in Carmarthen before leaving Wales, although I still have socialist friends in Plaid Cymru. I campaigned online against Scottish Independence, and am opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s candidacy primarily because of his support for Provisional Sinn Fein, his attempts to justify of the Birmingham bombings, which I was caught up in, and his support for a united republican Ireland. I repeat – I am opposed to all forms of Nationalism, everywhere, including here in Hungary, which sometimes gets me into trouble. I’m not opposed to the expression of national identity or patriotism, be it at a local, regional or national level. We have to agree to disagree as to how that is officially recognised across the different parts of a reformed Union.

  • Please take the time to read this article. I know
    it was written before the Scottish referendum but the points are still valid.

    From the article

    ‘Those living in England now have a choice: embrace Englishness or allow a British government to control them using the method of divide and rule. Splitting groups and stifling sensible debate is one way the British establishment will succeed. Another is excessively favouring one group. In the case of the UK this is seen by the English as overly favouring Scotland whilst creating division in England’.

    ‘Scottish devolution has shown the English what communities can achieve if they argue the case of protecting national interests – together we will be strong’.

    Looking at protecting and more importantly developing domestic services on a national parliament / assembly is exactly what the Scottish and Welsh are doing. If you want to see an improvement in services across England then come and join us, we want the same. Once a collective voice has been established for all of England then you will be able
    to promote your area.

    The article was about establishing a
    Labour party for England, a collective voice for English concerns. Wales and Scotland enjoy the benefits of having a manifesto and a Labour party identity just for their concerns. To deny England the same, is difficult to defend.

  • Eddie, I note you are a ‘guest’. Could I ask which party, if any, you belong to or support? I have been clear about my affiliations, and one of my concerns about those who want a separate English Parliament, is that they tend to be Tories who would like as much ‘hegenomy’ as possible over as much of the UK as possible. Despite Osborne’s recent ‘Metroland Manchester’ which would seek to separate off the wealthier suburbs of the city from poorer urban and rural areas of Lancashire, in order to turn Manchester blue, the Conservatives have shown little interest in addressing the growing North-South divide in England. In addition, Labour is set to be even more dominated by an inner London loony left élite. People in the middle, both politically and geographical, have no desire to be rinsed royal blue or deepest red. England is already divided, and will only be reunited if, as with Welsh and Scottish devolution, there is a fairer redistribution of resources away from London to all points of the compass, from Dover to Devon and Camelford to Carlisle. Why should London have the only devolved government in England? On top of this, you want it to house a separate English Parliament as well as the UK Parliament, adding further degrees of inequality. Can I suggest you read Engels on Manchester, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, even Dickens, if you want to understand English identity, and stop patronising the rest of us on the subject.

  • Hi Andrew

    Please note I am only a guest because I forgot my password and haven’t reset it yet.

    As Campaign Director for the Campaign for an English Parliament I do not belong to any political party as I need to engage with different groups. However I am an active Trade Unionist.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for making the point for me about the dangers of regionalisation in your last comment. I have also been highlighting the dangers of regionalisation especially if it isn’t linked to a collective voice for England. Please read the article below as we might have more in common than you realise.

  • OK Eddie, so the dangers of ‘regionalisation’ for you are the concentration of power and resources in London in general and Westminster in particular? I think the only way to prevent this is to pool local powers and some devolved powers under regional assemblies, with a national English Parliament of current English MPs restricted to meeting at Westminster on two days a week and controlling all the Whitehall offices except for those dealing with UK finances, defence, national security and foreign policy, which would be dealt with on the other three. Incidentally, I have now left the UK Labour Party, but will continue to campaign for the return of a Labour government in Wales and for the UK’s continued membership of the EU through the European Federalist Party and the Co-operative Party. I hope to stay in contact with Progress as these important debates continue.

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