England Left Forward


by guest
20th March, 2010 at 11:50 am    

This is a guest post by David Dyke

Why did I set up England Left Forward?

Mainly because I got fed up with the intransigence of the other members of the Left over the issue, and the hypocrisy in allowing three out of the four nations within the Union to have self-government whilst denying the same opportunity to the fourth.

I am English; that is because I was born in England, pure and simple. Like many of my fellow countrymen I take pride in my country, especially as to how the England Football team, Rugby team and Cricket team perform, and the mix of local traditions and culture and communities that make up the country. But I am also on the Left, and to me one of the central tenets of the Left is equality of opportunity. Thus England should have the same opportunity as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – recognition of itself as its own political entity.

When Scotland and Wales gained devolution after New Labour came to power in 1997, I was hoping that eventually, the same due process would be extended to the people of England.

I was sadly disappointed. No-one on the Left wanted to answer the English Question, or at least answer the question in a way that guaranteed the integrity of England.
There had also been a current of thought on the Left that to debate England and Englishness is inherently racist. I don’t agree, for two reasons.

Firstly, growing up, two homes on the Goldthorn estate in Wolverhampton were sanctuary for me. One was where my friends Neelam and Sanjeven lived: a Hindu family. The other was where one of my best friends, Arvy, still lives now: a Sikh family. To me they are English; they speak English, they grew up in England, and their communities form part of the patchwork of communities that make England so diverse and, for want of a better word, interesting.

Secondly, England is an immigrant nation. None of us is pureblood. On my mother’s side, my great-great-grandmother was a Romani, so Nick Griffin may as well march me off too as I’m not “pure”.

This is why I have established the England Left Forward network, and the aims are two-fold. The first aim is to provide a space for those of us on the Left, whether politically active or otherwise, to articulate, debate and resolve the political aspects of the English Question.

The second aim is to identify a vision for the various aspects of England and Englishness that is not nationalistic in nature, but draws on the experience and contributions of all who engage in the debate. For England is a country; it is not a colour, a race or a religion.

If we can offer a collective, forward-looking, dynamic and all-inclusive vision of England and Englishness, as opposed to the nationalistic jingoism and flag-waving of the Right, we can stop the likes of the BNP and the EDL in their tracks.

Let’s get working on that vision!


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  1. Dan — on 20th March, 2010 at 11:56 am  

    ITs a nice idea, but another level of bureaucracy is surely counter productive, where would it leave the UK parliament?

    Rather than creating another expensive irrelevance to the current system, why not get the one we have working, and at least have a real stab at representative democracy…

  2. Dave Dyke — on 20th March, 2010 at 12:35 pm  

    Dan

    The political solution to the English Question may not necessarily be a Parliament, that is just an option for discussion.

    If it was the solution, then say, for example, the House of Commons becomes the English Parliament, max. 400 members, the House of Lords becomes a federal UK Parliament, max. 250 Members, and the UK “upper house” would be a Council of Ministers, comprising the First Ministers and cabinets of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Whitehall bureaucracy could be split between departments looking after the affairs of England and departments looking after UK affairs.

    No extra elected reps that way, or bureaucracy.

    Couple that with the use of PR, that would get the systems we have working.

    BTW that’s just an example, not what we propose.

    But the political aim is just one part of the issue. The development of a modern vision of England and Englishness that isn’t dependent on nationalism, jingoism and wrapping yourself in flags is important too.

  3. Ravi Naik — on 20th March, 2010 at 1:04 pm  

    Dave, the issue that I find unfair is the fact that Scottish MPs are able to vote on matters than concern England, while English MPs are unable to vote on matters concerning Scotland… am I right?

  4. Dave Dyke — on 20th March, 2010 at 1:25 pm  

    Hi Ravi

    Yes, that is unfair. Unfortuately the proposal for English Votes on English Laws, part of the Power 2010 pledge, has many issues which would affect its operation, such as the need to reform or abandon the Barnett Formula, and legislation needing to go to the Lords, where Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish peers would still have a say on English legislation.

    But there has also been a current of thought, especially on the left, that to debate England and Englishness is inherently racist. This has led to a subsequent reluctance to either encourage the flying of the flag of England or to celebrate St George’s Day.

    Because, obviously you can only be English if you’re white!! Load of rubbish, IMHO

    Either way, this has acted as a marvellous recruiting sergeant for parties and organisations of the right and far-right, such as the BNP, with their promises of an English “Folk” Parliament – with its ensuing visions of Apartheid-era South Africa – and the English Defence League.

    I don’t want to live in that society, and neither, hopefully, do most rational folk…

  5. earwicga — on 20th March, 2010 at 2:06 pm  

    Some initial thoughts from your post David:

    1) Obviously you recognise that devolution in Scotland and Wales have meant very different things for each country. Why do you think devolution in Wales is so modest in comparison to Scotland?

    2) In Wales support for Plaid Cymru is greater in Assembly elections and support for Labour (mainly) and national parties is greater in national elections. This tends to suggest that ‘locals’ are better for ‘local’ issues. Would you agree?

    3) I assume you mean to speak to women as well as men. With this in mind I feel I should point out something in your post:

    Like many of my fellow countrymen I take pride in my country, especially as to how the England Football team, Rugby team and Cricket team perform, and the mix of local traditions and culture and communities that make up the country

    Like many of your fellow countryMEN, you ignore that there isn’t one England football, rugby or cricket team. It is incorrect to write ‘how the England…’.

  6. Ravi Naik — on 20th March, 2010 at 2:34 pm  

    But there has also been a current of thought, especially on the left, that to debate England and Englishness is inherently racist. This has led to a subsequent reluctance to either encourage the flying of the flag of England or to celebrate St George’s Day.

    David, I believe that the fundamental problem here is that traditionally, the English wanted assimilated/integrated non-whites to denote themselves as British rather than English. This racist view, ironically, was compatible with multiculturalism in that “English” became one of many ethnic cultures that exist in Britain. And therefore any attempt to bring up “Englishness” is seen by many in the Left as going against multiculturalism. I heard that Asians in Scotland consider themselves as Scottish rather than British, which one wonders why the same could not be applied here. Perhaps that would be a good start.

  7. Dave Dyke — on 20th March, 2010 at 4:31 pm  

    earwicga,

    Many apologies, I could have worded that part of my article better. I used ‘countrymen’ as a catch-all phrase, I meant women as well as men, and should have said ‘teams’. I’ll remember to make the distinction next time.

    The difference in devolution in Sotland and Wales stems from the manner that the Union evolved in the first place. Wales was assimilated by England into England and Wales, thus its legal and other systems were integrated. Scotalnd, as part of the original Treaty of Union, kept its own legal system, education system and church. Thus, when devolution came about, Scotland had some of its own infrastructure in place, whereas for the Welsh Assembly, infrastructure needed to be built up from scratch.

    Possibly there may also be a cultural difference; Wales got an Assembly because possibly they wished for self-government, but not necessarily full independence, the FWA and MAC excepted. The Scots received a Parliament to quell separatist fervour, which, although a minority, is more vocal.

    My own preference would be a federal system, where each of the constituent nations have their own Parliament with the same responsibilities.

    Locals are better for local issues. Unfortunately local government in England is a mess. English local government consists of complex and uneven pattern of county councils, district councils, metropolitan boroughs and unitary authorities. Mapped on top of that are unelected regional assemblies or leaders boards, covering regions imposed on England by central government without recourse to the people living within the regions, and quangoes in the form of Regional Development Agencies.

    Any solution to the English Queston will need to consider local government and the possibility of regional government, if wanted, and what powers each level of governemnt is granted.

    The key thrust behind all this is popular sovereignty, it can happen if the poeple of England want it to happen…

    Ravi, that’s an encouraging sign if Asians in Scotland consider themselves as Scottish rather than British. But I think it was the British government who insisted on assimilated/integrated non-whites to denote themselves as British rather than English. The main problem has been that the British government, whoever is in power, has no idea what to do about England and Englishness, they see it as a threat to the Union. That need not be the case…

  8. Rumbold — on 20th March, 2010 at 5:10 pm  

    I do worry that this might simply result in more taxpayers’ money being spent on a another layer of bureaucracy, but I also see the argument that a less poisonous English nationalism would chip away at the notion that the likes of the BNP push of English=white.

  9. earwicga — on 20th March, 2010 at 5:21 pm  

    Thanks Dave, interesting stuff.

    Btw, bad local government isn’t limited to England. The council on Anglesey/Ynys Mon is utterly corrupt and inept. After an Assembly report found major failings an outside MD was imposed on it and still they bicker and fail to serve those of Anglesey, and are now at risk of the council being disbanded and governence given back to Gwynedd – which actually serves it’s inhabitants fairly well. Local isn’t always good as it can increase the likliehood of local corruption.

  10. Dalbir — on 20th March, 2010 at 6:08 pm  

    It was inevitable. The people who really foisted the concept of ‘The Union’ were the English and their sycophants. All that has happened is that the Welsh, Scots and Irish have taken a long time to throw this off. That’s the truth. Some of these people were only part of the union because they were unable to manoeuvre or fight themselves out of it.

    Now this is happening, the English find themselves in a confused state.

    You can only force people to go along with you for so long – it had to end sooner or later. As it happens – it was later.

    That being said I like David Dyke’s vision, it does represent a positive way out of the situation the white English find themselves in. All around me I’m seeing a rise in the uglier side of nationalism here. One wonders if these rumblings will increase in intensity?

    One issue I had was with this:

    To me they are English; they speak English, they grew up in England, and their communities form part of the patchwork of communities that make England so diverse and, for want of a better word, interesting.

    Where does this leave people here who would prefer to identify themselves with a label other than English? Say Sikh/Panjabi? The other issue (so eloquently put by Lee Barnes [LLB]) was that a significant proportion of white English may not see this mix as interesting, they are actually upset by it.

  11. Dave Dyke — on 20th March, 2010 at 6:15 pm  

    Rumbold,

    A solution to the English Question might see less UK MPs.

    In my reply to Dan’s comment, a possible solution, could be the House of Commons becomes the English Parliament, max. 400 members, the House of Lords becomes a federal UK Parliament, max. 250 Members, and the UK “upper house” would be a Council of Ministers, comprising the First Ministers and cabinets of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Whitehall bureaucracy could be split between departments looking after the affairs of England and departments looking after UK affairs.

    The aim for a collective, forward-looking, modern, dynamic and all-inclusive vision of England and Englishness would hopefully offer an alternative to the ethnic nationalism offered by the BNP. As far as I am concerned, there’s only one race – the Human race

    And earwicga, that’s an interesting insight into the problems with Anglesey/Ynys Mon. Would a right to recall have affected the way the council operated, or wouldn’t it have made any difference?

  12. Trofim — on 20th March, 2010 at 6:23 pm  

    @77
    “I could have worded that part of my article better. I used ‘countrymen’ as a catch-all phrase”

    Which indeed it is. earwicga isn’t familiar with semantic markedness, methinks. But if you are going to strive to appease pedants, then you must recognise that there are English people who are of indeterminate gender, and also men who used to be women, and women who used to be men. After all, hupersons come in various genders, not just two.
    And while I’m about it, please note that “fewer” goes with count nouns, and “less” with non-count nouns, therefore “fewer MP’s”, not “less MP’s”.

  13. Dave Dyke — on 20th March, 2010 at 6:28 pm  

    Dalbir,

    If people wish to label themselves as something else, let them do so, they do not have to identify with a label they do not wish to. A partnership of people of different backgrounds working together is much better than forcing people to adaopt labels they don’t wish to.

    Doesn’t the word ‘label’ sound crude though? As if we’re all commodities to be purchased?

    As for the significant proportion of white English who may not see this mix as interesting, but are upset by it, we need to ask them why they feel upset. If it’s the feeling that they feel their culture is threatened, we need to fidn a way of convincing them otherwise.

    Hence why the The English Question needs to be articulated, debated and resolved appropriately, adequately, and consensually. This would not just include the political dimension, but the cultural dimension too, allowing the people of England to express their culture freely and equally with the other cultures on these islands, wherever those cultures originated. Not dominant, nor subservient, but equal, in peace, democracy and brotherhood and sisterhood.

  14. Dave Dyke — on 20th March, 2010 at 6:29 pm  

    #12

    Note taken :-)

  15. Parvinder — on 20th March, 2010 at 6:41 pm  

    Welcome and positive debate on Englishness. I seem to recall Billy Bragg’s attempt at reclaiming the St. George’s Flag for all in his ‘Progressive Patriot’.

    Dalbir, I remember going to Cricket matches in the past and white English fans making a point to me they see Monty Panesar and Sajid Mehmood as Englishmen just as they see John Barnes and Ian Wright as Englishmen. Things are a changin’, slowly though.

    Of course not all fans and Daily Mail readers think the same. For them, English means your ancestors were Anglo-Saxon, Jutes, Normans and Vikings but that’s an argument that needs to be brought out and debated.

    ‘Where does this leave people here who would prefer to identify themselves with a label other than English? Say Sikh/Panjabi?’

    Personally, I believe one can have multiple identities. I am Sikh, Punjabi of Indian origin and yes, English too.

  16. Dave Dyke — on 20th March, 2010 at 6:48 pm  

    Parvinder

    “Progressive Patriot” is one of my favourite reads, let’s just say it was an indirect inspiration on what I am trying to do now. Billy always seemed to get hostile press from the likes of the Daily Mail, but I always founds his arguments rooted and sound.

    His music is good too, my eldest likes his Woody Guthrie songs, and she’s nearly 7.

    “Personally, I believe one can have multiple identities. I am Sikh, Punjabi of Indian origin and yes, English too.”

    Exactly. Well said.

  17. earwicga — on 20th March, 2010 at 7:00 pm  

    Trofim – It isn’t pedantry to point out that there is more than one England football team. I didn’t object to the term ‘countrymen’. Get your head out of your arse.

  18. Dalbir — on 20th March, 2010 at 7:27 pm  

    Interesting points all around folks.

    Dave@13

    I wouldn’t place too much on the ‘label’ thing. There are people who are vehemently English ‘patriots’ and about as good for this country as rabies. Conversely their are those here that don’t view themselves as English per se but bring much to the table.

    we need to ask them why they feel upset. If it’s the feeling that they feel their culture is threatened, we need to fidn a way of convincing them otherwise.

    I was thinking this very thing the other day when celebrating St. Patrick’s day. Half jokingly I thought people need to join in and promote aspects of English culture like Morris dancing, cheese hurling and English food etc. Sad thing is, it is actually the actions of many English people that is responsible for the demise of much of their culture.

    Under the pressure to progress, they have hurtled into a weird place where much of the food they eat (boxed and premade), music they listen too and clothes they wear etc. isn’t English. I’m not saying that it always has to be but many don’t even know what their culture is and strangely they are ones most despondent at the current situation? Not to mention the fact that many of them can’t be bothered to learn their own language to a reasonable standard.

    Parv: Good point. You can’t spend most of your life here, learn the language better than your own mother tongue, go through the education system etc. and claim that a part of you (at least) is not heavily influenced by this ‘Englishness’.

    I’m sure some of our descendants will probably acting like complete canutes towards new comers to these isles in about a century, which is exactly what many current English people are doing. I’m pretty sure that alot of the racist ‘English’ whites I see around me in East London will have Polish, eastern European and Jewish blood in them if we checked. With more and more mixing hopefully we’ll get a healthier attitude in future, although I can see a north/south divide where divides remain strong up north, like a microcosm of the southern states of the US.

    Back to Dave:

    Hence why the The English Question needs to be articulated, debated and resolved appropriately, adequately, and consensually. This would not just include the political dimension, but the cultural dimension too, allowing the people of England to express their culture freely and equally with the other cultures on these islands, wherever those cultures originated. Not dominant, nor subservient, but equal, in peace, democracy and brotherhood and sisterhood.

    That is a beautiful notion. One issue that needs to be addressed on the English side is the prevalence of a yoobishness of sorts that pervades much of the working class social activities. I know many English like a tear up but that whole atmosphere gets a bit much when you’re older. I imagine it absolutely terrifies some people, making cohesion very tricky.

  19. Trofim — on 20th March, 2010 at 7:34 pm  

    17 @
    Well you did, for some reason, capitalise MEN. There must be a reason.

  20. Dave Dyke — on 20th March, 2010 at 7:43 pm  

    Thanks Dalbir, very pertinent points.

    “Sad thing is, it is actually the actions of many English people that is responsible for the demise of much of their culture.

    Under the pressure to progress, they have hurtled into a weird place where much of the food they eat (boxed and premade), music they listen too and clothes they wear etc. isn’t English. I’m not saying that it always has to be but many don’t even know what their culture is and strangely they are ones most despondent at the current situation?”

    Have you read “Real England – The Battle Against The Bland” by Paul Kingsnorth? He makes the same points about the effect of globalisation on England, especially the effect of ‘clone towns’ and how it’s destroying the patchwork of communities that make up England. The last chapter, “Know Your Place”, makes a case for the sort of progressive outlook that is needed to counter the ethnic nationalism. Having seen the news reports from Bolton today, I feel dismayed and sickened…

    Which brings me onto your point about yobbishness. It’s terrified me all my life, and I’m 38 at the moment. It’s wondering whether things will be the same in 15-20 years time when my daughter and sons have grown up that’s also been a kick up the backside to try and do something positive. I don’t want my children growing up in a society where yobbishness is the norm…

  21. Rumbold — on 20th March, 2010 at 8:09 pm  

    As Parvinder says, why can’t you have multiple identities? I tend to call myself British, unless I am talking to the Scots, Welsh or Irish, in which case I am English and indulge in a bit of healthy banter.

    Dave Dyke:

    I would happy support a reduction in the number of legislators- it not like they read most of the bills they sign into law now anyway.

    On a related note, the European Communities Act should be altered so that EU law is only applicable in Britain once parliament has voted on each new law or directive that comes through, with a minimum debate time for each one. That should slow things down.

  22. Dave Dyke — on 20th March, 2010 at 9:26 pm  

    Rumbold,

    I have my concerns with the EU. Only one of the institutions is democratically elected, and its operation is opaque and without accountability. It is also geared for corporatism and big business. The whole behemoth needs altering from top to bottom to make it democratic, transparent and accountable.

    Although it might be ideal to treat the English Question in isolation, it may be impossible to do so. Europe may be one of the mirrors help up to assess our vision of England and Englishness with. Another mirror may be America, whom we (“we” being Britain, not just England) seem to follow too slavishly for our own goods.

    I’m checking out now, to put the kids to bed (I know it’s late, but it’s a Saturday night!) and have a quiet rest of the night with my wife.

    Many thanks to Rumbold for asking me to write the guest article, and for posting the article for me. And many thanks for all the comments and contributions, it’s heartening to see the good-natured discussion that’s taken place.

    If you would like to contribute more, please sign up to the network at http://englandleftforward.ning.com. It’s free to sign up – a matter like this is too important to charge for!

    If you do sign up, feel free to contribute to existing debates or even start new ones. You can add to the blog, start your own groups within the network and post events that might be of interest to the noticeboard.

    I don’t want the network to be a one-man show; the more contributors there are, the more legitimate the debate.

    Peace, brotherhood and sisterhood to you all.

    Dave Dyke

  23. Patrick Harris — on 20th March, 2010 at 10:36 pm  

    The anwer to your dreams – The English Democrats Party.
    http://www.englishdemocrats.org.uk

  24. blanco — on 21st March, 2010 at 8:28 am  

    Like many of my fellow countrymen

    Is your group aimed primarily at English male sports fans?

    Also, these lot got here before you:

    http://englishprogressives.blogspot.com/

  25. douglas clark — on 21st March, 2010 at 9:53 am  

    Dave Dyke,

    Interesting post.

    Full disclosure, I am Scottish and I am a member of the SNP. So, perhaps surprisingly, are a lot of Scottish Asians and even some people that live here that would probably write ‘English’ on a census form.

    That said, I think you are on the right side of the debate, so you’ll maybe excuse me for making a few points that, I think, ought to be considered.

    If I recall correctly the opportunity for internal devolution within England was offered at around and about the same time as Scottish devolution. Wikipedia seems to back up my memory:

    Within England, regional devolution has only extended to London where the Greater London Authority has greater powers than other local authority bodies. Proposals for other Regional Assemblies in England have been indefinitely postponed following the rejection in a 2004 referendum of proposals for the North East.

    That it not to say that things haven’t changed, they may well have. (I had forgotten about London, which seems to see itself as a bit ‘special’ anyway ;-) )

    Secondly, the SNP do not vote on matters that exclusively apply to England. Though there is sometimes a debate about how that applies in practical terms. Your arguement is therefor with mainly Labour (and to a far lesser extent, the Liberals) who would both be unable to bring their Scottish MP’s to bear on purely English legislation. It has always struck me that if devolution were to be made to work then what the SNP do voluntarily ought to apply to all Scottish MPs. But that is certainly a Scottish, or English or even perhaps Welsh viewpoint. It is certainly not a British one. (I’ll leave NI out of this because I know very little about it.)

    You say, at 4, that you wish to reform or eliminate the Barnett formula. Well, I’d be willing to negotiate!

    Perhaps for starters we could abandon the idea that the present arrangements for dealing with Scotlands’ natural resources should be a retained matter? We want control over that, completely and utterly. Are you happy with that as a quid pro quo? And no dicking about with jurisdictions either, thanks very much!

    Here is another, perhaps for now more minor but equally annoying, aspect of the imperialism that we still see.

    http://joanmcalpine.typepad.com/joan_mcalpine/

    Frankly, I think we’d be better off as three separate nations, but I would say that, wouldn’t I.

  26. Rumbold — on 21st March, 2010 at 10:29 am  

    Douglas:

    I would be perfectly happy to let Scotland have the rapidly-dwindling North Sea Oil reserves if the Barnett formula was scrapped. However, the moneybothers me less than the unfairness when it comes to voting.

    Dave Dyke:

    I would love to reform the EU. I just don’t know if it is possible.

  27. douglas clark — on 21st March, 2010 at 10:46 am  

    Rumbold,

    http://www.snp-bannockburn.org/scotlands-oil.html

    Who, exactly are the parcel of rogues these days?

    What the hell did Westminster do with the oil revenues anyway? Decent husbandry and a move to alternative energy sources like wind, wave and tidal would have done at least three things:

    It would have created a new manufacturing sector,

    It would have created alternative jobs.

    It would have made us all far less dependent on Middle East Oil or Russian Gas.

    Scotland does have a decent energy policy which ought to outlast the final drop of North Sea Oil… Unlike the rest of the UK.

    Frankly, the sooner we spit up the better. Then, and only then, will we only have ourselves to blame…

  28. Rumbold — on 21st March, 2010 at 1:21 pm  

    Douglas:

    I agree that Westminister wastes the money. As will a Scottish government. All governments do.

    Personally I am quite happy to remain a United Kingsom, providing the political disparity is sorted out. I don’t really mind funding less developed areas like Scotland.

  29. douglas clark — on 21st March, 2010 at 1:54 pm  

    I refer my right honourable friend, Rumbold, Member of this House for the Monster Raving Devils’ Kitchen Party, that if someone is stealing from you on a regular basis, the first thing to do is stop them stealing from you! You may find yourself surprisingly better off and the thief up the proverbial creek without a paddle! Even if you don’t, you’ll at least stop being a top target for Russian, Chinese and other nuclear powers first strike capabilities.

    There does seem to be a pretty fundamental difference of opinion on this point. As Alex Salmond pointed out:

    “The Scottish Parliament has voted against the ‘Son Of Trident’, a majority of Scottish MPs reject it and it is going to be a central issue in the general election campaign.

    “At a time when Westminster is imposing cuts in public services to deal with Labour’s recession – with much deeper cuts planned in the future – and the Scottish Government’s budget is falling in real terms for the first time since devolution, to waste £100billion on weapons of mass destruction is indefensible and obscene.

    “Any way you look at it – on moral, financial, or defence grounds – renewal of Trident is completely untenable and I believe that position can prevail in the general election.

    Hmm… I think you should site your Trident base on the Thames, round and about where London Bridge is. See how much you like it then.

    It is our part of the country that has paid for your ludicrous foreign policy and ‘world stage’ ambitions which most Scots do not agree with, whatever their political party.

  30. Rumbold — on 21st March, 2010 at 2:05 pm  

    Douglas:

    No doubt if England is wiped out by nuclear weapons the nuclear cloud will stop at Gretna Green and go no further.

    If we don’t have Trident how will we restrain the French- or is Scotland planning to reintroduce the Auld Alliance?

    Would an independent Scotland be allowed back into the EU, especially as the French now need to vote on all new countries applying to join?

  31. douglas clark — on 21st March, 2010 at 3:04 pm  

    Rumbold,

    I had intended to add an addendum to my last post to the effect that you lot would probably chose either Cumbria or Northumbria as your new nuclear site, just out of spite. :-)

    It is SNP policy to remain within the EU, so I suppose it would be a sort of Auld Alliance, especially if the looney tunes anti – EU voices got a grip on the, by then, English Parliament. We’d probably join the Euro pretty quickly too, no matter what Alex Salmond says to the contrary.

    Indeed I’d imagine the French would fast track our admission, should England be seen as the successor state, which is a pretty big assumption. Indeed, they might do it on purely strategic grounds! As far as I know, they don’t call us ‘Rosbifs’, and when they come here en masse the worst they do is chat up our womenfolk.

    Quite nice, civilised folk, the French. And fellow Europeans….

    Hmm.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with a certain rugby score yesterday, has it?

  32. Dalbir — on 21st March, 2010 at 4:04 pm  

    Anyone see that ‘Portillo Dinner’ about Scottish independence?

  33. Rumbold — on 21st March, 2010 at 5:28 pm  

    Douglas:

    Heh. I have a feeling that Cumbria would become the site of just about every project nobody else wants to live near to (including a Sangatte-style refugee camp which helpfully hands out booklets about speaking Scotch and deep frying to encourage them to slip across the border).

    An independent Scotland could no longer discrimate against English students at Scottish universities either, as it would be illegal under EU law.

    Just watch out for the French. In the 16th century the Guise saw Scotland as an extension of their property.

  34. douglas clark — on 21st March, 2010 at 5:54 pm  

    Rumbold,

    This just gets better and better. Just after (I think) it was free care for the elderly or some other progressive idea from Hollyrood, the good folk of Berwick upon Tweed thought they’d prefer to be run from Hollyrood rather than London. If you keep seeing the North of England as a place of which you know little then either they will come a-knocking at our door and beg to be taken in or they will want to, at the very least, secede too. Cornwall also has it’s own nationalists. London may well achieve it’s -not so- secret ambition of being a modern city state, but perhaps not quite on the terms it wants…nor the way it expected.

  35. Rumbold — on 21st March, 2010 at 6:02 pm  

    Hehe- we will only be left with London and the home counties- the parliamentary homeland (from the civil wars of the 1640s)

  36. douglas clark — on 21st March, 2010 at 6:09 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Watch out for these folk from Kent. You never know what they could get up to if they get riled!

    http://tinyurl.com/s573z

    By the way, compared to jellied eels, deep fried Mars Bars are a delicacy! When all this comes to pass I’ll make sure any food parcels I send you include one!

  37. Dave Dyke — on 21st March, 2010 at 6:23 pm  

    Blanco,

    No, my group is not aimed primarily at English sports fans. I also pointed out my interest in the mix of local traditions, cultures and communities in England. The sports teams were an illustrative point.

    Thanks for the link to the English Progressives, though. However, their objective seems to be focused on independence; mine is the resolution of the English Question in both a political sense and a cultural sense. But perhaps there may be some common ground. May be worth an email…

    Douglas, one of the reasons the 2004 North-East referendum went so badly is that the proposed Regional Assembly’s area and powers were dictated from the centre, without consultation with the grassroots. The passing-up of powers from already-emasculated County Councils to the Regional Assembly was another reason for failure. If Labour had consulted the grassroots as to how the region is constituted and what powers would be devolved downwards from Westminster, there might have been an assembly there now.

    I am also aware of the SNP’s abstention policy with regard to English matters. My point 4 about the Barnett Formula is that EVoEL won’t work without its reform because while it stands as it is, English matters may have a knock-on effect for Scotland, Wales and NI because there may be an effect on funding. But I personally have no problems wiht your suggestion. As I stated earlier, my own preference would be a federal system, where each of the constituent nations have their own Parliament with the same responsibilities, “devolution max”, including natural resources, and the federal parliament dealing with foreign affairs defence, etc. If Scotland votes for independence, I will support that too. Self-determination, IMHO, is a fundamental right.

  38. douglas clark — on 21st March, 2010 at 6:43 pm  

    Dave Dyke @ 37,

    In that case, I accept that you have an honourable and entirely legitimate point of view. (I should have known that there was something suspect about the NE referendum, but I didn’t.)

    There is nothing that you are saying that I feel contradicts my own political philosophy, although we obviously disagree on detail.

    It is, however still up to me to deliver some more leaflets!

  39. Maria — on 21st March, 2010 at 7:20 pm  

    There seems to be a bit of anti-English bigotry in this thread. England foisted the Union on Scotland? But Scots politicians wanted the Union – it seems that many Scots and English “commoners” did not.

    Asians in Scotland consider themselves Scots, but Asians in England do not? I beg to differ – I have Asian friends who are English, and considering the way the UK establishment tries to negate and even demonise Englishness, I see that as something rather wonderful. The Scots put “Scottishness” and Scotland to the fore, and have their own national government.

    All in all, I detect something odd at work here in certain comments. It is all very well to vilify the English, but the commentors are, I suppose, perfectly nice, non-bigoted, “right on” people?

  40. Dave Dyke — on 21st March, 2010 at 7:41 pm  

    Douglas,

    Thank you, you are a gentleman.

    Good luck with the campaigning and the leaflet delivery, the election may throw up some unexpected surprises!

  41. Rumbold — on 21st March, 2010 at 8:24 pm  

    Heh Douglas.

  42. Lagersocialist — on 22nd March, 2010 at 9:14 am  

    Maria, you’re right. A majority of black and minority ethnic English recognise themselves as English, rather than British.

    This is backed up by an Ipsos MORI poll, published by the Ministry of Justice who found that “BME”s (Black and Minority Ethnic) strongly feel themselves to be English above being British. See here for the PDF http://governance.justice.gov.uk/british/

    It makes perfect sense for BMEs to identify more strongly with an English identity, with its values (real or imagined) of tolerance and fair play. Why would they identify more with an identity that reflects the BNP, Empire and sectarian violence of Northern Ireland and Scottish football?

    The converse is an oft repeated lie that is put about by those who fear any kind of collective identity or kinship within England. It seems that Thatcher’s “there’s no such thing as society” has been swallowed hook line and sinker by some on the left.

  43. Dave Dyke — on 22nd March, 2010 at 11:15 am  

    Douglas,

    I would like to have a chat with you away from the comments board for some insights, if that is OK.

    If you email Rumbold and ask him to forward my email to you, I’ll contact Rumbold myself to give my permission for him to do so.

  44. Gareth Hughes — on 26th March, 2010 at 6:01 pm  

    Is there really an English Question? Is it simply a piece of rhetoric for getting at an English Answer? What if we were to ask the Democracy Question or the Socialist Question? Both of those questions would lead us to an answer far away from any conclusion involving an English Parliament and towards effective democratic control at meaningful and practical levels. Yes to engaging with debates about English identity, and yes to opposing nationalist interpretations. But no to feeling it necessary to swallowing the English Question and regurgitating an English Answer. I wonder whether doing so actually makes for a nationalist agenda, undermining any democratic and socialist principles that might have been.

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