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For England's Sake!

Edited by Gareth Young

Why does England lack political representation, when Scotland and Wales have their own parliaments? Why is English nationalism associated with intolerance, rather than with an inclusive pride and patriotism? Why is Westminster maintaining its silence on the English question, with a referendum on Scottish independence on the horizon? Why are 'English' and 'England' inconvenient words for politicians?

It is time to ask these questions - not only of unionists and English nationalists, but of all citizens, regardless of their national identity.

This is not about Last Night at the Proms or chicken tikka masala; we reject such attempts to patronise. This is about England, and the right to build a self-aware and self-determining nation.

As we watch the ascent of a resentful English nationalism, and the growth of Scottish and Welsh separatism as a response to the Anglocentrism of the British state, the question of England - long stifled by the British establishment - is in more need of answers than ever before: Are we citizens of nowhere or citizens of England?

Born in South Africa but representing England: a response to Peter Oborne

Responding to the controversial dropping of Kevin Pietersen from the England cricket team, The Telegraph's political columnist Peter Oborne declared the impossibility of being born in South Africa and giving full loyalty to England. Sunder Katwala unpacks these remarks, arguing that once the invitation to don our national colours is accepted, the English and British traditions have been to give all team members equal status.

An island story: Boyle's Olympic opening was irresistibly British

London 2012's opening ceremony evoked a 'gently fierce' national pride that was uniquely British in character. 

Festivals, nu-folk and the allure of the 'temporary community'

Intimate 'boutique' festivals are mushrooming across the English countryside. Their biggest selling point: a sense of belonging. Is this a rejection of individualistic hedonism? Or the return of the pastoral, manufactured by the urban elite? One thing is certain - they are a sign of things to come.

'Isles of Wonder'? - some thoughts on the 'Little World' of the London Olympics

Danny Boyle's recently unveiled prototype for the London 2012 Opening Ceremony is centred around a nostalgic image of British countryside. But what do this model's myriad influences suggest about power, history and national identities across the UK? 

The Last Great British Summer for England

The desperate construction of cultural Britishness observable in this summer's Jubilee and Olympics is just another attempt to conflate British identity with an idealised vision of England. The motivation for those in power is clear: to disguise the gaping constitutional issues that threaten the UK's political authority. 

Labour should talk about England (but no action, please): Ed Miliband on the Union

The Labour leader has set out his defence of the Union in a speech that appealed to his party to recognise England and show pride in the English. But is this enough, with Scotland considering independence and the English question waiting to explode?

The ‘Great British Summer’, or Last of the British Summer Wine?

The festivities around the London Olympics and Diamond Jubilee will paint a picture of a stable, timeless (simultaneously modern) Great Britain. But the Anglo-Britishness it appeals to is far from the present-day reality of contested identity and authority, in which England is preparing to speak.

Modernising the unmodernisable : Cool Britannia and reality

John Davey argues that it's time for the English to take the initiative and put the democratically sclerotic British state to sleep.

Republican Kings: the risks and limitations of mayors

Today, London will choose their future mayor, and cities around England will vote on whether they want to switch to the mayoral system. Does democracy benefit from the emphasis on individual character and personal power? 

English city mayors: a sticking plaster on the north south divide

Will directly-elected Mayors be a blessing or a curse for local democracy in England? Can they redress the imbalance between London and the wealthy South East and the rest of the country?

St George's Day, a retrospective

In Britain, there is a country that is not officially celebrated: England. But it has a national day: St George's Day. This was yesterday, 23 April (also Shakespear's birthday by happy coincidence) and an active supporter of England gaining its own government sums up the mood.

Elected mayors cannot deliver a localist revival

Directly-elected Mayors in England will centralise power, deepen bureaucracy and lead to a politics of celebrity. There are better paths to the enhanced local democracy that we need. 

Patriots in the decent sense: rediscovering English nationalism

English nationalism has long been trapped between American-led globalisation and small-minded nostalgia. Can England rediscover its identity in its rich local, regional and radical movements?

Mayors for all major English cities? A democratic argument

In May, England's largest cities will be asked whether or not they want directly-elected Mayors. This is an opportunity to reinvigorate English democracy, and combat the centralized system of governance that has suffocated the nation for far too long.

Cameron and the future of the Union: a forum

The Prime Minister has conceded that there will be a Scottish independence referendum and argued the case for the Union on these terms. This is a historic moment for Britain. openDemocracy asks its readers for their response in an open forum on the future of the Union.

Buyer Beware: David "snake oil" Cameron does not know his product

Cameron must limit Scotland's choices because financial autonomy for Scotland would arguably have a more profound affect on the status quo than Scottish Independence.

The English conversation has finally begun. What took so long?

Englishness is finally finding a voice, after more than a century. Why has it been muted this long, and is it time now for a strong civic nation, or will an England of blood and soil emerge?

How should 'political England' be recognised?

England has a political identity, but how can this be given an expression? English votes for English laws? An English Parliament? Let the discussion of practical solutions begin.

The Black English

Being English is not a question of blood, of purity: it has always been a multi-racial alliance.

New faces of nationalism

Around the globe, new forms of governance are being sought to counter-balance the hyper-empire of global capitalism. Scotland is developing its own resistance, could England follow suit?

The debate on Englishness can no longer be avoided

An increasingly assertive English nationalism; the prospect of an independent Scotland; the economic crisis.... the English question is ready to explode. Evasion tactics are deeply embedded, but even these are about to fail.

Historic day for the UK: Salmond consults Scotland but can't civilise Paxman

Scotland's Prime Minister has launched a consultation with the people over the coming independence referendum. He seeks a calm, normal process but will Westminster let him have it? the tables are already turned as the nationalists are rational and the traditional Unionists become incoherent retro-romantics.

Time to take Britain out of our greatness

Finally, the nature and future of England may become part of the national debate in the UK, as Scotland's First Minister appeals to the English who have not spoken yet and IPPR announces the discovery of England's emerging political community.

Is Britishness a generous thing, or has it damaged England?

The Daily Telegraph's Peter Oborne and Scottish writer Neal Ascherson discuss national identity in light of the approaching referendum on Scottish independence.

British Future: State of the Nation(s) 2012

For those interested in the constitutional future of the United Kingdom, the Hopes and Fears State of the Nation 2012 report by British Future provides interesting reading.

The national question and the greatest living English poet

Can Englishness be articulated to a progressive project? Perhaps its time to turn to Geoffrey Hill, a poet immersed in the complexities and richness of England.

Whose Englishness is it anyway?

Originally published by the Journal of American, British and Canadian Studies.
Berberich, Christine (2009) “A peculiarly English idiosyncrasy?”: Julian Barnes’s use of lists in England, England. American, British and Canadian Studies, 13. pp. 75-87. ISSN 1841-1487
Republished by kind permission.

Capital E Nationalism versus little e (and €) capitalism

To be a big player in Europe, England needs to be a big nation. Britain cannot fulfill that role because it is not a nation, but an empty shell.

No Union, please, we’re English

The UK's Cabinet Secretary has warned of the break up of the union if the Scottish vote for independence, making the issue mainstream.

Patriotic love should not be blind: a response to Demos' Britishness report

A critical look at Demos' latest exposition of Britishness, 'A Pride for Place'.

Euroscepticism: A very English disease?

With the Eurozone crises threatening to blow the Coalition Government out of the water, Gareth Young examines the implications for English nationalism and the Union dynamic between England and Scotland.

The Singing Detective, losing one’s skin with irony, clues and no solutions, a perfect symbol of the British disease

Ahead of a one day conference in London, Anthony Barnett recalls how he felt about Dennis Potter's 'The Singing Detective' when he wrote about it back in 1987.

England, Scotland and the North: a view from 'flyover country'

With Scotland on the road to further devolution if not independence, and the cuts set to deepen, its time to talk about the oft-forgotten North of England.

Goodbye Charter 88: a new epoch for democratic resistance has begun

A new epoch of democratic reform in Britain is needed to respond to the transformation of the British state, the disintegration of the old constitutional order and the rise of corporate power, now that hope of a Labour Lib Dem alliance for democracy is over. The pure but totalising strategy of the UK's Charter 88 conceived 25 years ago is buried by its first co-ordinator.

To be British is to experience nothing

A peculiarly British paralysis is the inheritance of a Burkean experience of time - we incur debts now in return for the promise of an ever-receding future. Yet a sense of immediacy is returning as part of a 'post-British' era.
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