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 motherâ€™s side, my great-great-grandmother was a Romani, so Nick Griffin may as well march me off too as Iâ€™m not â€œpureâ€.
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.
Letâ€™s get working on that vision!
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Filed in: British Identity,Race politics