John Denham cached version 11/02/2019 20:10:29 en Is there a route to an English Parliament? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Could the current limited and muted support for an English Parliament could become a pressing demand? (An edited version of a talk given at the seminar ‘Routes to an English Parliament’ on 11<sup>th</sup> January 2019 at University of Winchester.)</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="402" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Credit: Crabchick/Flickr CC 2.0</span></span></span></p><p>More people support the idea of an English Parliament than oppose it, surveys consistently show. But almost as many ‘don’t know’. This YouGov survey is fairly typical:</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// 1_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// 1_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="285" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Source: BBC/YouGov, March 2018</span></span></span></p> <p>Voters tend to be more supportive of the <em>principle</em> that English laws should be made by MPs elected from England, than for the establishment of a new <em>institution</em>. </p> <p>Significantly, support varies considerably between those who identify most distinctly as English and those who are more British. The ‘more English than British’ already support the idea. Scepticism comes from the ‘more British than English’.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// 2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// 2.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="285" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Source: BBC/YouGov, March 2018</span></span></span></p><p>So – leaving aside arguments about the pros and cons of such a Parliament, how could one become a reality?</p> <p>The demand for an English Parliament would need to grow in two, different, ways. Firstly, the current but muted demand amongst English identifiers would need to become more insistent. And secondly, support would need to develop amongst those for whom British identity is more important and for whom the appeal of a parliament based largely on national identity is much weaker. To <em>these</em> voters the appeal of an English Parliament will need to be as a civic and democratic institution that offers better government for all the people of England.</p> <p>It seems unlikely that either change will come about through public campaigning alone. Change is more likely in the context of events that force a debate about the constitution or governance of England.</p> <p>Some see the relatively modest levels of support for an English Parliament as evidence of little demand for change. But the idea retains consistent support even though it has few prominent national political advocates and when England and its governance are largely unreferenced and excluded from the national political conversation. It is quite possible that this resilient base of support for a more democratic England would only rise in a national constitutional debate, with some form of English Parliament (<a href="">whether a freestanding parliament or a ‘dual-mandate’ Westminster</a>) is emerging as part of the preferred solution.</p> <p>So what events might provoke such a debate? Events that force a wider UK constitutional debate, in which the position of England has to be addressed; or demand the recognition of England as a political entity.</p> <p>Predicting exactly when these events might occur is difficult – but there are three main pressures – constitutional (the formal legal relationships governing the union and its component parts), governmental (the way in which the current practical distribution of powers renders the government of the UK or its nations inefficient or ineffective) and political (the problems arising from the electoral and parliamentary politics of the current system).</p> <p>There is no sharp divide between these categories, and they are likely to work together, but they are a useful framework for analysis. </p> <p>A common factor is that England has no constitutional, legal or political status. Many tensions arise because England is absent from the constitution, governance or politics of the UK.</p> <p>A second common factor is that Brexit is a driver for change as it brings to the surface weaknesses in the governance, politics and constitution of the UK that might otherwise have taken decades emerge.</p> <p>To explore briefly these points of tension:</p> <h2>Asymmetric constitution </h2> <p>In the UK’s asymmetric constitution, England alone is subject to the UK government on domestic policy and the extent of devolution varies across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland’s status has also been underpinned, uniquely, by international treaty.</p> <p>This distribution of power is far from settled, and unplanned change – such as implementing ‘the pledge’ made during the Scottish referendum – leads to pressure for further measures (including additional powers for Wales and the introduction of a limited form of English Votes for English Laws) that have inherently unpredictable and destabilising consequences. </p> <p>The EU has provided a supranational framework helped devolution whilst minimising these tensions. This has been important for the Northern Ireland peace process and for maintaining a UK internal market despite the devolution of regulatory powers. The Brexit may remove that that cohesive framework and the process has seen the UK </p> <p>government reassert its authority even on issues that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had thought were devolved. </p> <p>The return of powers creates serious anomalies – symbolised by UK ministers like Michael Gove (DEFRA) having to act both as the UK government for UK and England. The UK government’s actions have been challenged in the Supreme Court which is edging its way, quite unplanned, towards becoming a constitutional court for a country with no constitution.</p> <p>There are also, of course, the more obvious threats to the union from potential Scottish secession and growing support in Northern Ireland for Irish reunification.</p> <h2>Government, efficiency and inclusiveness</h2> <p>Recent reports on the UK economy, including the IPPR’s Commission on Economic Justice, and the Independent Commission on Industrial Strategy, have concluded that effective and inclusive economic growth is incompatible with the current levels of Whitehall centralisation. These reports typically do not explicitly recognise England as a unit of government, but once a serious debate about governance opens the English dimension will inevitably emerge alongside moves to decentralise England.</p> <p>At the same time the distortion of English local government finance away from the poorer communities towards wealthier areas (by the UK government) is unsustainable as councils come close from social care costs. Criticism is growing of the relatively privileged position of London, a by-product of it being the seat of a UK government not subject to an England wide-polity. </p> <p>The design of devolution emphasised the transfer of powers to the nations but paid less attention to the need for practical cooperation between them. Outside the certainties of the EU, new coordination mechanisms will be needed but there is currently no adequate means to represent England in that process. </p> <h2>Political legitimacy</h2> <p>The UK has four national political communities with distinct debates in which different parties compete and win. Uncertain electoral outcomes increase the possibility of governments whose legitimacy to govern both England and other parts of the union is questioned. Not only may the UK government to have a different colour to the devolved administrations but it may rely on non-English party support. In 2015, fear of SNP influence on a Labour minority government helped to deliver a Tory majority. The current polling suggest that Labour could face the same questions at the next election. Conservatives dependence on DUP support has attracted less public attention but were Labour widely seen as the government-in-waiting the legitimacy of the current arrangement (and its cost to English taxpayers) would be more widely questioned.</p> <p>&nbsp;‘English issues’ are also likely to come to the fore. The large minority of English residents who are politically important. They played a large part in the Brexit decision and most English ‘swing’ constituencies have a higher proportion them. English parties will be under pressure to engage with English voters and to ensure that a healthy democracy includes the ‘excluded’ English. </p> <h2>England needs more than a sticking plaster</h2> <p>&nbsp;‘Work-arounds’ and sticking plaster responses are possible to these pressures and, in the first instance, quite likely. But the more that arise and they combine together, the greater the pressure for coherent constitutional change. What will be striking is how many could be more easily resolved if England nationhood were recognised. It would ensure that England enjoyed its own democracy and place within the union. At the same time, it would remove the confusion between English and UK government and circumscribe England’s pretensions to speak for the UK as a whole.</p> <p>Labour is already committed (if somewhat vaguely) to a constitutional convention that might embrace a federal UK. Others, perhaps for different reasons, may also see the value in change.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/john-denham/nation-divided-identities-politics-and-governance-of-england">A nation divided? The identities, politics and governance of England</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/mary-fitzgerald/investigating-murky-deals-beyond-parliament-brexit-pantomime">Beyond the Brexit pantomime</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/david-marquand/england-ireland-scotland-wales-time-for-all-to-jump-in-to-debate">England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales - time for all to jump in to the debate</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk John Denham Mon, 11 Feb 2019 15:55:42 +0000 John Denham 121649 at Governing England in the wake of Brexit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>English Brexit voters may have voted not so much for the return of Empire, but for greater attention to England as the only stateless nation in the UK.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="327" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: St Georges flag on display in Canvey Island, Essex, 2016. Rights: Teresa Dap/DPA/PA Images, all rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>"No one voted to make themselves worse off" claim many Remainers, although the evidence is that some were willing to choose sovereignty and immigration controls over their immediate financial interests. But as the bumpy road towards Brexit comes towards its first deadline, the question of whether it will deliver for its voters will increasingly be put to the test.</p> <p>Many factors went into the mix, but one is not in doubt. It was the English living outside London (some of them in Wales) who delivered the bulk of the Brexit votes. Their frustrations more than those in the rest of the UK were most attracted to ‘take back control’. One test of Brexit (or any moves to reverse it) will be whether it soothes England’s anger. </p> <p>This is a timely moment for the British Academy to publish a series of essays <a href=";lang=en&amp;">‘Governing England</a>’. Conceived before the referendum the very fact of its publication is significant. It shows growing awareness amongst academics that English issues have been neglected for too long. While individual writers, including Anthony Barnett, and some of the academics who have contributed to Governing England have ploughed lonely English furrow, England’s government has rarely been seen as an important field of study. But that is now belatedly changing: the roots of today’s tensions have been coming for a long time.</p> <p>Like all such studies, there are contradictions and disagreements, but the central argument is remarkably consistent. Britain’s creation as an imperial state depended on an asymmetric relationship between the nations. England’s identity was folded into Britain’s while Scotland and Wales could hold a national identity within the union. The empire is no more, and in the words of one contributor, the old settlement is ‘becoming narrowed, in one direction by English self-interest and in the other by nationalist self-assertion’. That self-assertion has claimed legislative devolution to Wales, Scotland and, by a different route, Northern Ireland, leaving England as the only stateless nation in the UK. One by-product is that England is the only part of the union that has never had the opportunity or been challenged to re-think its role in the post-empire world of the 21st century.</p> <p>The difficulties of the current unstable settlement are manifold. Much of Westminster and Whitehall’s work is concerned with English domestic policy, but there are few signs of an emerging English state able both to deliver for England and manage relationships with the other nations. The long-standing government Barnett formula that distributes money between the nations appears unfair to English voters and the facts suggest that the current funding of England’s regions seems to bear little relationship to need. The poorest regions of England have been denied even the relative protection of the Barnett formula from the austerity policies of the UK government. Most voters don’t want Scottish and Welsh MPs deciding English laws on devolved matter. </p> <p>This resentment has not yet crystallised around a clear consensus on the nature of any reform, but Brexit provided an opportunity to reject the status quo, without having to pose an alternative.</p> <p>The nature of that response is still fiercely debated. Some focus on UKIP’s successful appeal to a working class English national identity that saw leaving the EU as a means to restrict immigration and protect England’s interests more clearly. True as that may be, the referendum was also won amongst comfortably off southern voters. Voters may well be nostalgic for a lost status but there is little evidence that many hanker for the return of empire. Indeed, much of England may be rebelling against a British establishment that hankers after great power status but which overlooks the English. </p> <p>Brexit will raise new challenges to the union beyond the Northern Ireland border and the possibility of a new Scottish referendum. The return of powers forces a minister like Michael Gove to represent both UK and English agricultural interests at the same time. The interests are different, and this unsatisfactory position has already been challenged by the Welsh and Scottish governments. According to some analyses, 20 similar changes are coming down the Brussels track, adding further pressure to define England’s governance. </p> <p>Outside of London, England has seen little change in its governance over the past 20 years. </p> <p>The introduction of English Votes for English Laws has had little impact either on legislation or in providing a voice for England. The much-hyped devolution to city region combined authorities has transferred little resource and less power from the centre. It is not clear whether these changes have the potential to become into more radical local reform. Two options for national constitutional reform – a new English parliament or a reformed Westminster – are not straightforward. Yet ‘no change’ looks untenable in even the medium term. </p> <p>Brexit may well disappoint its supporters because the promise of ‘control’ will never be delivered. Yet reversing Brexit would simply persuade them that change is not allowed. New and dangerous forces may exploit discontent under either scenario. That need not happen if other political leaders are prepared to address England’s grievances, but the signs are not propitious.</p> <p>England was ignored in the referendum campaign and is being ignored today. Theresa May has pitched her deal in national terms to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland but has said nothing to the English. Many Conservatives do see Britain through Anglo-centric eyes but that makes them even more reluctant to name England. As I outline in my chapter of the book, it was Labour’s inherent centralism, not the ungrateful voters who rejected the North East Assembly, that prevented any serious English reform in 13 years of government. Today there are a few serious devolutionists in the Shadow Cabinet, just as there were in 1997. But the average Corbynite seems as wedded to the centralised imperial unitary state as their Blairite, Brownite and Milibandite predecessors.</p> <p>If Brexit was a cry from England there are few signs that enough of the right people have yet heard it.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/john-denham/nation-divided-identities-politics-and-governance-of-england">A nation divided? The identities, politics and governance of England</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-its-english-stupid">Why Brexit? It&#039;s the English, stupid.</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/david-marquand/england-ireland-scotland-wales-time-for-all-to-jump-in-to-debate">England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales - time for all to jump in to the debate</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> England </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK England Brexit John Denham Mon, 03 Dec 2018 15:00:26 +0000 John Denham 120814 at England – the nation that is not to be named? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="Standard">Where once politicians spoke of England when they meant Britain, they now speak of Britain when they mean England.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Standard"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// conference.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// conference.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="350" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Theresa May addressing the 2018 Conservative Party Conference. Credit: Victoria Jones/PA Images, all rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="Standard">When UK party leaders regale their conferences with promises on health, schools, social care and housing their actual writ runs no further than the English border. Outside England most domestic policy will be determined by other politicians, usually from different parties, and elected – with no English input - to their own parliaments. That has been the effect and the intention of 20 years of devolution.</p> <p class="Standard">While the leaders do address major UK-wide issues, of course- not least Brexit and the ‘end of austerity’ - for the larger part these are conferences in and about England. Yet, quite bizarrely, England, as England, plays almost no part in the language or vision of the party leaders. This year Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Vince Cable managed to name England just once between them. Even the leaders of the SNP and Plaid Cymru named England four times between them (though not necessarily in the most complimentary context).</p> <p class="Standard">The leaders’ distain for England is mirrored by their juniors. James Brokenshire, whose responsibilities at Communities and Local Government are almost entirely English, spoke at his party conference for 19 minutes without naming England once. John Healey only makes Labour housing policy for England alone but also failed to name the nation. Vague formulations like ‘our country’, or even saying ‘Britain’ when the target audience is England is endemic across the body politic.</p> <p class="Standard">Where once politicians spoke of England when they meant Britain, motivating calls for devolution and separation in Scotland and Wales, they now speak of Britain when they mean England, leaving the English as the unspoken people. Four out of five residents identify strongly as English, but much of the liberal left insists that Englishness belongs to the far right. For both left and right, to acknowledging that England is a nation and a democratic political community raises uncomfortable questions about why England is governed by the UK Parliament and not by its own elected MPs. The Conservative Government depends on the DUP. The last Labour government used Celtic MPs to pass English laws.</p> <p class="Standard">There is not yet a significant <em>political </em>movement of English nationalism. But ignored by their politicians, many voters are developing a separate sense of English grievance. This grievance is forming a powerful and rather unbiddable force. It was England and the English who provided most of the votes that are taking the whole union out of the EU. This month the Future of England survey showed <a href="">half the voters in England would rather have Brexit than keep Scotland in the union</a> or sustain the peace process in Northern Ireland. Theresa May can say the Tories are Conservative and Unionists, but these far-from-unionist views are shared by three-quarters of her English voters.</p> <p class="Standard">The Prime Minister’s tortuous European negotiations are constrained by voters (and MPs) who don’t value the union or the peace process as much as she. Jeremy Corbyn struggles to win working class English voters even when they support many Labour policies. Across Western Europe ignored and unrepresented communities have proved fertile ground for dangerous populist movements. Rather than ignore the English it might be better if our parties began to talk to them and work out how to give them a democratic voice.</p> <p class="Standard">&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-its-english-stupid">Why Brexit? It&#039;s the English, stupid.</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> England </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk England UK Civil society Democracy and government Gareth Young John Denham Mon, 29 Oct 2018 09:35:36 +0000 John Denham and Gareth Young 120280 at A nation divided? The identities, politics and governance of England <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The public want change. It’s time for civil society to lead this essential, overdue public discussion. An edited version of a Speakers Lecture by John Denham.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// flags kirby estate.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// flags kirby estate.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: England flags on the Kirby estate, South London, during the 2018 World Cup. Credit: David Mirzoff/PA Images, all rights reserved.</em></p><p>England is deeply divided. We are divided by our poverty and our prosperity; between London and the South East and most of the rest of England; yes, within the wealthier regions too.</p> <p>In many parts of England, city centres may prosper while nearby towns lose their purpose and their able young people. </p> <p>The lines that divide us are being re-drawn. Poor white working-class children from towns and the seaside are now less likely to do well in school, than most ethnic minority kids of the large cities. But race and faith, prejudice and discrimination still have the power to divide us. </p> <p>We are divided by our experiences and our values. Age, class, and higher education are strong predictors of which of us is likely to hold individualistic cosmopolitan liberal views, and which a more communitarian social conservatism.</p> <p>These differences don’t map readily onto the familiar divides of class, of ‘left’ and ‘right’. Older working-class voters may be less keen on rapid immigration and diversity than their university educated grandchildren but are strong supporters of public ownership and the NHS. Young liberals may be less keen on redistribution and the welfare state; more likely to blame poverty on the individual. </p> <p>We sometimes lack the ability to talk to each other. One person’s resistance to change in their community is another’s clear evidence of racism.</p> <p>England is by far the largest part of the union. It is here that the forces that have torn us apart on Brexit are most violent. And it is England – and England outside London in particular – that is taking the whole of the union out of the EU.</p> <p>Despite the apparent return of two party politics in 2017, it was still the case that the elections in each nation were contested by different parties, won by different parties, and, to a large extent, fought around different issues. Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales have their own cultural dividing lines that are different to those in England. </p> <p>England, as we recently learned from the massive <a href="">BBC/YouGov survey, believes that its best years were in the past</a>, while other parts of the union believe the best lies in the future. Not a single English demographic in the published poll expressed optimism for the future rather than nostalgic pessimism. Confidence in Westminster’s ability to represent people where they live is catastrophically low, as is their ability to influence their local council.</p> <p>The other parts of the union enjoy their own political identity and space, their own democratic institutions and their own democratic powers. England has none of these.</p> <p>England, as England, is absent from our national political debate and conversation. What happens in England affects the whole of the union, but England is rarely mentioned. </p> <p>Yet English identity has taken on a new weight and political significance. </p> <p>By the extent to which people say they are English, British or both, we can predict their likelihood to vote Leave or Remain, to be left or right, satisfied or dissatisfied with the current constitution, feel empowered or disenfranchised, or prioritise England over the union, Brexit over the Irish border.</p> <h2>England matters</h2> <p>I’m not going suggest that all the answers to our current problems lie with England. </p> <p>I will argue that we won’t meet the many challenges we face without addressing England: without engaging with English identity, England as a nation, with England as a place, as a democracy and as a political community.</p> <p>I’ll ask why even though English is the most widely shared and strongly held national identity amongst England’s residents that ubiquity and popularity is marginalised? Why is it actively opposed and even suppressed in public life and the national debate: not by the British as a whole, but by elite liberal Britain?</p> <p>I’ll argue that we cannot overcome our national divisions unless Englishness is allowed its proper place as an accepted, legitimate and celebrated identity within the multiple identities of modern England. </p> <p>I’ll suggest that our historic attachment to the remains of the unitary imperial state has left England without political institutions of its own and with a level of centralisation quite incompatible with good governance</p> <p>While those who feel strongly English must in future be fully included and represented, the future cannot belong exclusively to those who feel most strongly English. Reforms to England’s governance are needed but they must rest on sound, inclusive, democratic and civic foundations. </p> <h2>English and British</h2> <p>Around the turn of the millennium, when Scottish and Welsh devolution began, a marked change took place in England. The apparent assumption that English and British were pretty much the same broke down. Increased numbers of people began to identify as English as well as British. There was a sharp fall in those naming British rather than English identity.</p> <p>The numbers bounce around a bit but, over the past 20 years a broadly stable position has emerged.</p> <p>If asked about strength of identity, the great majority say they are strongly English <strong>and</strong> strongly British.</p> <p>If asked to choose one identity, slightly more will choose English than British.</p> <p>If asked whether English, more English than British, and so on, the largest group is equally English and British (35-40%), with the English and more English outnumbering the British and more British by around 3 to 2.</p> <p>By any measure, Englishness is the most widely shared national identity; it is at least as strongly held as Britishness, and more people emphasise their Englishness than their Britishness.</p> <p>The preference for Englishness over Britishness is strongest in the over 65s. As we move through the generations, it becomes more balanced, until, amongst the 18-24 years olds the more British exceed the more English, though even amongst the youngest, a large majority say they are strongly English.</p> <p>The major cities have higher numbers of British identifiers, though nowhere outside London do the more British outnumber the more English. (And London is more polarised between English and British identifiers than any other region, with fewer ‘equally English and British’). In smaller cities, the towns, suburbs and villages, the more English markedly exceed the more British. Regional and county identities, particularly in the north and in Cornwall, are strong enough to present a major part of people’s identities.</p> <p>As for the political salience of identity, just under 70% of the English not British voted Leave; over 70% of the British not English voted Remain. </p> <p>46% of the strongly English say they voted Conservative in 2017, 25% Labour. </p> <p>My survey of Conservative activists revealed deep scepticism amongst English identifying members about the benefits of the union to England. It prompted Paul Goodman, editor of Conservative Home, to describe the Tories as the ‘Conservative and just about Unionist’ Party. </p> <p>Labour members are significantly more likely to identify as British than the electorate as a whole, which may go some way to explain its relative lack of appeal to English identifiers.</p> <p>In 2015 English fears of SNP influence on Labour dominated the campaign and some commentators, and those close to the party campaigns, believe the issue gave David Cameron his majority.</p> <h2><strong>National identity</strong></h2> <p>There are many different takes on national identity, so let me explain how I understand it. </p> <p>Both Trump in the US and Brexit here prompted a flood of analysis correlating voting patterns and individual pieces of data. Every week produced a new explanation: economic status; demographics of age or race; education attainment; levels of recent migrations, ‘open’ or ‘closed’ values.</p> <p>These insights are very valuable, but in the search for the holy grail of the ‘real cause’; the single explanatory factor, we can miss the wood for the trees.</p> <p>All these issues – our economic experience, our experience of migration, our levels of education, the values of our community – together shape our view of the world.</p> <p>Our national identities become the repository of our experiences and perceptions. They offer narratives that help to make sense of them. They help to shape the way we understand the world. </p> <p>Our national identities reflect our sense of who we are; the values we hold, the symbols we recognise, the history we understand, how we see our status and influence. It’s not the individual elements of those identities that explain people’s behaviour, but the overall world view that they reflect and sustain.</p> <p>If there are echoes here of David Goodhart’s ‘people from somewhere’, and Will Jennings work on England’s divisions between cosmopolitan and socially conservative values, I want to emphasise the importance of national identity in organising, reflecting and expressing those different world views.</p> <p>If, for example, your experience of 40 years EU membership has been of factories closing, jobs lost, status diminished, community weakened and now changed beyond recognition by rapid migration, you may be attracted to a world view, and its associated identity, that gives a particular explanation of why that has happened. If by contrast your experience has been one of expanded opportunity, stimulation and personal success, this is likely to be reflected in a different identity. </p> <p>If people who feel English rather than British tend to vote in a particular way, it is because they share a world view for which that behaviour makes sense. And vice versa.</p> <p>This understanding of identity goes some way to explain why the correlations in voting behaviour are so strong, yet identity is rarely ‘operationalised’. Few people, after all, said I’m voting Leave because it is the English thing to do, or I’m a Remainer because I’m British. </p> <p>Anthony Barnett, author of The Lure of Greatness, highlights the <a href="">word clouds of important Brexit issues</a> from the British Election Study. For Remainers it was the economy, followed by rights; for Leavers it was immigration followed by sovereignty. This does not look like one group of people answering one question in different ways, but two groups, giving different answers to different questions. </p> <p>It was not Brexit, of course, that divided us; Brexit highlighted the divisions that already existed.</p> <h2>Not two tribes, but divergent views</h2> <p>The recent BBC survey gives some new insights into the different world views of English and British identifiers. I don’t want to overstate the case. We are not separate tribes; mixed identities happily co-habit in most of us.</p> <p>But there are real differences between English-only identifiers and British-only. And, by and large, there is a smooth gradient from one pole to the other as we move through more English than British and to more British than English. </p> <p>One divide, of course, is whether someone’s primary allegiance is to the geography and institutions of Britain or the geography and political identity of England. The English are more inclined to prioritise England over the union; the British to prioritise the union. </p> <p>The way that British unionist priority has been expressed politically has caused its own problems, but I will return to that later.</p> <p>The British and the English also describe England in different terms. Twice as many British chose ‘diverse’ to describe England as do the English. Half as many are likely to say England has always been proud to stand alone. </p> <p>On the other hand, well over two thirds of the English believe we are tolerant, welcoming, friendly and generous. Just under half the British see the English in this positive light. </p> <p>And the survey at least hints at the emergence of minority amongst British identifiers who are not just ‘not English’, but positively antipathetic to the English. </p> <p>The clue is in the people who say they would be embarrassed to call themselves English, about just 7% of the total sample.</p> <p>The embarrassment is not felt by people who identify as English, or equally English and British, but by those who emphasise their British identity or who otherwise say they are not English.</p> <p>This anti-English fragment of Britishness seems to be highly educated, found more in cities and university towns, and much more likely to identify strongly as European than the general population. Contrary to what you might expect, this anti-English outlook is not stronger amongst ethnic minorities than white people. </p> <p>Minority though it may be, I’d suggest this anti-English fraction is over-represented within the institutions of government, within the leadership of the public sector, within the media, within corporate capitalism, and in academia (in short, a large part of what is sometimes called the elite). It is of course found within politics, and on the left in particular. </p> <p>That observation is based on personal experience, rather than hard data, though I suspect most of you will recognise what I am describing. I’m often struck by how many people in powerful positions say they are British not English while expressing disparaging views about English identity. They seem blissfully unware that being British not English puts them in less than on in ten of the population, and by being antipathetic to Englishness, in an even smaller minority. </p> <p>We saw their influence in Remain’s decisions to campaign as Scotland Stronger in Europe, in Scotland; as Wales Stronger in Europe, in Wales, and – only in England – as Britain Stronger in Europe. The English were, apparently, not worth even speaking to. </p> <p>Given that the Remain campaign lost heavily amongst English identifying voters, this was a mistake with serious and far-reaching consequences.</p> <p>Before the World Cup senior police officers described the St George cross as ‘almost Imperialistic’, and the Royal Mail – the <em>Royal</em> Mail - banned it from their vans. Yet polling shows support across the nation and diverse communities for both the England team and the flag.</p> <h2>England disappears from the national conversation. </h2> <p>The Prime Minister recently e-mailed English voters about health funding but did not make it clear she was talking about the English NHS. Labour recently published eight policy consultation documents which were largely about England but only in one actually mentioned England. </p> <p>The UK government has recently produced a video for Scotland on a new UK child care policy, with the #deliveringforScotland. The same policy applies in England but, as yet, no video addressing England. No #deliveringforEngland.</p> <p>I was pleased to take part in the York Festival of Ideas with David Willetts recently. Several of us discussed English higher education for a day – under a banner which read ‘the future of UK higher education’. </p> <p>And it does seem that more academics have a fascination with the minority of English people who express their identity in racist and ethnic terms than the majority who do not. </p> <p>During June’s World Cup <a href="">Gareth Southgate gave a powerful interview</a> in which he said, ‘We’re a team with our diversity and our youth that represents modern England’ and talked explicitly about English identity. The Guardian headline today was ‘England team represents modern Britain’.</p> <p>That’s not lazy reporting. You have to work extra hard to write England out of the story.</p> <p>No wonder people say, as they do on the doorstep: ‘you’re not even allowed to say you are English anymore’.</p> <p>The cumulative impact of this influential fraction is to delegitimise and marginalise Englishness; by portraying it as inherently reactionary and unpleasant we don’t need to engage with it as we do with other identities. </p> <p>It claims that Englishness is an ethnic identity; is a racist identity; it belongs to the far right; and that any political expression of Englishness is both extreme and the product of English nationalism.</p> <p>Three quarters of people believe you do not have to be white to be English (although it’s true that some are more accepting of those who were born here and have a local accent)</p> <p>Far right groups do try to appeal to English identity. But fully 80% of the population is strongly English. How can Englishness belong to the far right?</p> <p>Yes, the English do identify English issues and interests; they may sometimes feel they are ignored. But is this really a political movement we can call English nationalism when we find none of the things we might expect from a nationalist movement: there is no mainstream nationalist political party, no nationalist cultural institutions, nor nationalist public intellectuals? Supposed ‘English nationalism’ becomes another reason to exclude the English from debate.</p> <p>Now, I’m not naïve. Englishness, like Britishness is not monochrome. Look for the more unpleasant edge and you will certainly find it. Its fears can be inflamed by populist right. The current ‘Campaign to Free Tommy Robinson’ trades on claims that the ethnic dimension of grooming has been ignored. </p> <p>But this reactionary minority does do not justify the marginalisation of Englishness as a whole; indeed, the very opposite. Fears can most easily be exploited amongst people who feel they are not being listened to. The shunning of Englishness feeds the populists.</p> <p>The English are more concerned about the cultural impact of immigration, though as many British identifiers share similar concerns it is largely a matter of degree. While some do reject migration for racist reasons, as trade unionist Paul Embery says about rapid migration into east London, ‘it wasn’t their sense of&nbsp;race that had been violated by the sudden upheaval in their community; it was their sense of order’. I would say the same about my old Southampton constituency.</p> <p>But instead of engaging with this view, the anti-English fraction simply takes it as proof that Englishness is beyond the pale.</p> <p>The marginalisation of English identity prevents us exploring the shared values and common goals that are needed to heal England’s divisions. The work of British Future has found a large centre ground on migration, valuing its contribution but wanting it controlled. Yet public debate does not allow this to be expressed.</p> <p>Without question, much good has come from the spread of socially liberal cosmopolitan values. This is a far less closed and less bigoted society than the one into which I was born. But I would also argue that communitarian values of collective identity and solidarity – what we might call the bonds of belonging – that mark much of English identity also have a power and value that deserves recognition.</p> <p>Exclude the English and we also lose the ability to draw on England’s radical and reforming traditions. Our defence of liberty, our traditions of self-organisation, our history of struggles for rights and freedoms.</p> <h2>Nation-building</h2> <p>We will also struggle to shape shared identities and challenge the less pleasant aspects of Englishness.</p> <p>It is not actually a surprise that people from ethnic minorities are more British than English, and not just because of perceptions of English as an ethnic identity.</p> <p>Being English is strongly associated with being born here, and it’s the younger generations that are more likely to be English.</p> <p>And identities change their meaning. As Prof Tariq Modood reminds us, forty years ago many felt that association with the legacy of racism and colonialism would prevent ethnic minorities ever calling themselves British. That did not happen, and Englishness too is continuing to change.</p> <p>The popular acceptance of a multi-racial English football team suggests an inclusive Englishness is being built as we speak. (It’s only a generation or so since some fans didn’t count goals scored by black players). </p> <p>I wouldn’t argue for one moment that we should just take Englishness as it we find it. Just as the far right want to make it reactionary, those of a more progressive outlook should make every effort to strengthen its progressive, patriotic and inclusive expressions.</p> <p>But once again, the anti-English elite does its best to get in the way; rather than help shape Englishness and counter its more reactionary manifestations, Englishness is absent from public policy. The contributions of high profile ethnic minority figures, including Sadiq Khan, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Trevor Phillips, who are all at ease talking about Englishness, are ignored. </p> <p>There is a stark contrast between the pro-active efforts of the Scottish government to inculcate an inclusive Scottish identity and the lack of almost any public engagement with English identity by the UK government that runs England. </p> <p>Instead of nation-building we have national neglect.</p> <h2>Identity, values and change</h2> <p>These divisions of culture and identity have huge implications for our ability to tackle England’s other divisions.</p> <p>We cannot heal this divided nation without radical changes to our political economy that will reduce inequality, the gaps between regions, and raise productivity, innovation and the quality of working life. In the vision of the recent IPPR commission on Economic Justice: "an economy in which prosperity is joined with justice and builds the common good".</p> <p>But that change needs more than technocratic policy; it will depend on a shared vision of our nation; a shared idea of the common good; shared values. In the search for those common goals we cannot ignore national identity.</p> <p>National identities transmit values, and popular values determine how society can and can’t be changed. To take one example, the NHS is popular, despite its failings, because its core value ‘we all pay in and it’s there when we need it’ is not so much a funding mechanism but a statement of the sort of people we imagine ourselves to be. </p> <p>Old identities of the unionised working class; and the conservatism of order, service and respectability have weakened. Across the West, the identities of people, nation and place have assumed greater importance. Sadly, it is the divisive and xenophobic right that has taken most advantage. Centrist parties like the SNP and leftist parties like Syriza have been the exception.</p> <p>The urgent need to address England stems, not from a narrow nationalism or parochialism but as a necessary condition to create a strong sense of shared identity, common interests and a determination to work together to build a better society. </p> <h2>The governance of England</h2> <p>This place, this nation of England, will always belong to people with multiple and mixed identities. Yet the most widely shared identity is too often excluded from the national debate.</p> <p>England and the English must be included if we are to overcome the divisions – of identity, culture, geography, values and economy; if we are to create the sense of shared identity and common purposes that is now so essential. But where on earth can that discussion currently happen?</p> <p>This is where we must turn to the governance of England. </p> <p>England is now the only part of the UK governed permanently on most domestic policy by the UK government and not by its own elected parliament or assembly. </p> <p>It is the only unreformed element of the old imperial state and parliament. Reform that started with the division of Ireland in the 1920s and continued when Scotland and Wales took authority from Westminster at the turn of the century, has not yet touched England.</p> <p>Nor, in the main, has it touched the political parties that dominate England.</p> <p>Attachment to the old unitary state was embedded in the pretence that Scottish and Welsh devolution simply lent Westminster powers to the nations. This was used to justify the UK government continuing run England. That pretence about devolution has been dropped, but not the belief that England should be subject to the parliament and government of the UK. </p> <p>Of course, people say that England is so big within Westminster that the distinction is a technicality, a matter of form not a matter of substance. This is to miss the point about what a national parliament is.</p> <p>As Vernon Bogdanor observes, the Commons has now the semblance of an English Parliament – because it largely discusses English issues – without being made up of English MPs. </p> <p>England is sometimes subject to the direct interference of non-English MPs (as when the DUP demands English revenues to sustain the Conservatives in power and prevent an early election, or when Labour Scottish and Welsh MPs tried to imposed higher university fees on England). English voters are denied the democratic right to determine national policy outside that is taken for granted in the rest of the UK.</p> <p>English votes on English laws have given English MPs a veto on legislation, but, in the words of one authoritative study, it has not yet given England a voice. The Commons does not provide a forum and focus for the politics of England in the way that the elected bodies of Scotland, Wales and, (though temporarily incapacitated), Northern Ireland do for those parts of the union. </p> <p>There is no crucible for England’s national debate.</p> <p>This constitutional conservatism has shaped how England sees itself. </p> <p>Scotland and Northern Ireland both delivered large Remain majorities. As did London. Wales had a narrow Leave vote, in line with the UK average but much less than England-outside-London.</p> <p>The more pro-Remain parts of the UK have enjoyed civic processes, political debates, and political institutions that have enabled them to reimagine their identities in a post-imperial world. Scotland took that opportunity enthusiastically, Wales less certainly though there would now be no going back. Northern Ireland took it as a way of moving beyond its own tragic history.</p> <p>London, of course, is the one part of England that enjoys statutory powers, its own elected leadership and political institutions to shape its identity. </p> <p>These debates have allowed different parts of the union to see themselves as modern, European, post-imperial. </p> <p>England, uniquely within Britain, has neither been challenged nor enabled to re-imagine its position in the union, its identity, and its role in the 21st century. It is split culturally, regionally, by age and education, because there has never been an attempt to articulate what the people English share in common. </p> <p>The symptoms England displays – the Brexit vote, the regional imbalances, the cultural divisions, the obsessive centralisation – are rooted in the failure of England to reconsider our role and nature in the modern world.</p> <p>That England provided the lion’s share of the Brexit vote was not a pathological failing of the English people, but the outcome of England being denied any political identity, institutions and national debate of its own. </p> <p>In the absence of that national debate, in the absence of any English political institutions, and with the widespread marginalisation of English identity, it should not be a surprise that the English more than anyone else wanted to ‘take back control’.</p> <p>Scotland, of course, also enjoyed its own ‘take back control’ moments when it both threw out Labour and determined its relationship with the union.</p> <p>Of course, many British unionists have actually worked hard to prevent England being allowed a political identity, including many in my own party. Unlike the liberal anti-England British, these opponents have often been motivated by concern for the union.</p> <p>These British unionists – whilst often the staunchest advocates of devolution to Wales and Scotland – have feared that England is so big that allowing a political identity would inevitably wreck the union. Instead of working out how a reformed union could accommodate England’s democratic rights, and the rights of the smaller nations, they have resisted all change. </p> <p>We can now see what a catastrophic mistake that has been.</p> <p>It is the ultimate irony that the architects of England’s suppression are now seeing an angry England taking the whole union out of the EU, against the wishes of the majority in the devolved nations. The defenders of the union have triggered unprecedented threats to the continuation of the union itself. Instead of blaming a supposed English nationalism, it is time that they confronted their own responsibility for the current situation.</p> <p>The attachment to the old imperial unitary state has a second consequence. It has consolidated the Whitehall centralist state. Wales and Scotland – and less certainly – Northern Ireland – have broken free of Whitehall micro-management. England again is unchanged, not just in the formal system of governance but in the entrenched in the pattern of thinking in Westminster and Whitehall.</p> <p>Decades of centralisation have produced a nation with dramatic variations in morbidity, mortality, education, life chances, social care, and not just by region but by city, town, village and street. Yet propose the most modest devolution and yet within half a mile of here, the cry of ‘beware the postcode lottery’ will go up.</p> <p>As the admirable Mark Sandford of the House of Commons library has documented, the much-hyped devolution deals, as with Labour’s regionalism, are primarily designed to co-opt and engage local stakeholders in the flexible delivery of Whitehall priorities. They are not intended to transfer the ability to set different policy priorities, or accountability for public money to a more local level, let alone give statutory backing to local democratic rights.</p> <p>The longstanding Barnett funding formula requires the UK government to give relative protection to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland by linking their spending to that of England. Barnett does not require the UK government to provide any similar protection to the poorest parts of England. Hence, since 2010, the UK government has imposed bigger cuts on the poorest regions of England. </p> <p>If Barnett has been an essential underpinning of UK, devolution across the UK, English devolution requires fair funding within England. So stunted is the debate about England that I’m not aware of proposals from any party to entrench a fair funding formula for England.</p> <p>No wonder so few people in England feel they can influence local and national policy. Only 13% feel that politicians in Westminster reflect the concerns of people in their part of the country. Only 23% think local people have a significant influence on local government decisions. </p> <p>If anything, the English feel even less empowered than the British, and, according to the Centre for Towns, the most English towns feel least well represented. But this is a civic and democratic crisis across identities, not just for the English.</p> <h2>What is to be done?</h2> <p>If you are still with me, I hope the inter-related challenges I outlined earlier are beginning to take shape.</p> <p>I want to foster an England that is more optimistic about the future than it is nostalgic for the past; an England in which there are shared aims, shared identities and a shared idea of the common good. </p> <p>We need to enable the English and English identity to be fully expressed and accepted in the national debate, as legitimate as any other identity, and to encourage its development as inclusive.</p> <p>We need to create the institutions in which those shared aims and the common good can be developed.</p> <p>And we need to ensure that the average person in England feels far more empowered to shape their locality and their nation than they do at present.</p> <p>There has been some talk by Gordon Brown and others of a new union of the nations and the English regions, but these proposals are inadequate, undemocratic and far from radical. They give other nations enhanced rights, including treaty powers; but English legislation and English finance would remain in the hands of the UK government. </p> <p>The regions, a modern invention, bear only an occasional and coincidental relationship to real local and regional identities. And in a small, crowded, nation, English legislation needs to be made at English level by English democracy. </p> <p>I would argue that the only system of governance that can meets our pressing is an English Parliament coupled to radical statutory devolution within England.</p> <p>Westminster needs to move beyond the formal mechanism of English votes for English laws to allow English legislation to be fully made by elected English MPs. That is a demand that has been consistently enjoyed majority support, British identifiers as well as English, since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament. It should evolve, initially at least, as a dual mandate Commons in which English MPs sit both as members of an English Parliament and of a union parliament. </p> <p>At the same time, to overcome the regional disparities of wealth and opportunity, or to reduce the material divisions in England, we need a fundamental shift of power and resources from Whitehall to England’s localities. This devolution must be underpinned by statutory rights to take decisions locally.</p> <p>Perhaps the moment for change may be coming. In the BBC survey a third expressed no opinion on changes of governance. This is a debate that is starting, not one that is ended. But exclude them, and 62% support an English Parliament. 73% support the devolution of power to combined authorities, a remarkable result given how new they are, but it strongly suggests that building on existing institutions in localities that we understand, is likely to be the best way forward.</p> <p>Since Brexit, England is being taken more seriously across the political spectrum and amongst liberal and left intellectuals. The Constitution Unit has analysed options for an English Parliament. The very commissioning of the BBC’s poll recognised England’s growing significance.</p> <p>The emergence of a network of symbolically powerful elected mayors, backed by business as well as local authorities may create a powerful voice for change for all parts of England.</p> <p>Few people now argue that Whitehall can solve the regions’ problems. Just ask Northern Rail passengers. Yes, the call for an English Parliament raises questions about the future of the union, although less sharp if the first step is a dual mandate Commons. But, in any case it seems unlikely, post-Brexit, that we will get through the next few years without facing questions about the structure and future of the union; whether from the Irish border, renewed calls for Scottish independence, or the simple impossibility of the UK government representing both UK and English agricultural interests at the same time.</p> <p>Those coming debates will not be able to exclude England. Lord Salisbury’s Constitution Reform Group has laid the groundwork for a serious re-founding of the union. The political parties have not reached this conclusion yet. It may still take them some time. But I would suggest that this is the time for the civic consideration of England’s governance to begin. Large sections of the public want change, they have a sense of direction. Now is the time for civil society groups, faith organisations, unions, business and local authorities to lead that essential, overdue public discussion.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/how-to-win-brexit-civil-war-open-letter-to-my-fellow-remainers">How to win the Brexit Civil War. An open letter to my fellow Remainers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-its-english-stupid">Why Brexit? It&#039;s the English, stupid.</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/david-marquand/england-ireland-scotland-wales-time-for-all-to-jump-in-to-debate">England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales - time for all to jump in to the debate</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk John Denham Thu, 16 Aug 2018 13:24:20 +0000 John Denham 119307 at Cable’s confusion – on Brexit imperial “nostalgia” and what it means to be English <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Scots have as much reason for imperial nostalgia as the English, so why did one vote Remain and the other vote Leave, asks John Denham?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// empire map.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// empire map.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: Map showing British Empire in pink, 1922. <a href="">Flickr/Eric Fischer/Ontario School Public Geography</a>.</em></p><p>Vince Cable’s swipe at Leave voters ‘nostalgic for a world where passports were blue, faces were white, and the map was coloured imperial pink’ sounds like the latest proof that most Remainers would rather abuse their opponents than engage with them. But, let’s assume for a moment that Vince was on to something. What if Leavers did yearn for an older if irrecoverable, idea of greatness? Why should that be, and why in England in particular?</p> <p>It wasn’t Britain that voted Leave. It was England, and above all it was England outside London, that chose to take the UK out of the EU. Within England, it is those who felt most English who gave Leave their strongest support. If it was simple nostalgia for the British empire, then the British would have been Leavers too. But residents of England who identified as British rather than English were strongly in favour of Remain.</p> <p>For all its historic resentment of its larger southern neighbour, Scotland was as invested in the British Empire as any part of England. From the financial elites to the active colonialists and administrators to the working classes in the shipyards and the protected textile industries, Scots appear to have as much reason to be nostalgic for Empire as most in England. Yet Scotland voted strongly for Remain, as did Northern Ireland. True, Wales voted narrowly for Leave, but much less than England outside London. London, significantly, also voted Remain.</p> <p>The political scientists have given us a wealth of regression analysis linking the Brexit vote to age, education, long-term economic decline, social values and attitudes towards immigration. Valuable though those insights are, the different paths of the different parts of the United Kingdom suggest that something else was going on as well. It is striking that the more pro-Remain parts of the UK have all enjoyed civic processes, political debates, and political institutions that have enabled or forced them to reimagine their identities in a post-imperial world.</p> <p>In 1945 the Attlee government inherited a state that had just won a world war. Its capacity to deliver reforms, including the NHS and the post-war welfare state, seemed to confirm its value and power. It decisively strengthened Labour’s centralist traditions, at the expense of the English radical democratic traditions of local action, voluntary association, cooperation, local self-government, and popular consent for the law. The unitary state was unchallenged as the model of government. Or rather, it was unquestioned in England.</p> <p>In other parts of Britain, the story was very different. As the empire diminished, other nations wanted to redefine their relationship with the union state. Nationalism rose in Scotland and Wales in broadly progressive forms; violently and tragically in Northern Ireland. Ultimately these pressures led to new governance arrangements, through the creation of elected parliaments and assemblies and devolved administrations. Only in England did the unitary state inherited from Empire remain unchallenged. England is the only part of the UK permanently ruled by the UK government. And England is the only part of the UK not to have enjoyed a real debate about its own identity. </p> <p>Scotland has enjoyed a long process of national self-examination, leading to devolution and the continuing independence debate. That process also allowed Scotland to consider its relationship with Europe, producing a heavy Remain majority in a nation that sees itself as a modern European democracy. As Anthony Barnett has argued in The Lure of Greatness, Scotland, too, had already had two chances to ‘take back control’, both in sacking Labour and in taking the union decision into its own hands.</p> <p>Northern Ireland has had to confront its history through a very different process. Today it is still nowhere near to ‘normal politics’, but it is striking how the Remain majority did not neatly reflect the normally entrenched sectarian divide, nor the Leave support of Northern Ireland’s largest party. At least in relation to the EU, a majority of the people of Northern Ireland saw their future within that union. </p> <p>Wales was of course originally far less certain about devolution than Scotland, with the Assembly only narrowly approved. But creation of the Assembly was followed by a strengthening of identity to the extent that devolution would be irreversible today. On Brexit, Wales voted Leave, but had it had no experience of self-government, it may well have followed England more strongly.</p> <p>London, of course, is the one part of England that not only enjoys statutory powers but has its own elected leadership, and its own political institutions that have enabled London’s identity to encouraged shaped and developed.</p> <p>That England provided the lion’s share of the Brexit vote was not a pathological failing of the English people, but an outcome of England being denied any political identity, institutions and national debate of its own. Instead, England split, between the metropolitan cities with one view of the future, and the towns, villages and coastal areas with another. It split culturally, regionally, by age and education, because there has never been an attempt to articulate what the English share in common. In the absence of that national debate, without any English political institutions, and without voice and agency, it’s no surprise that the English more than anyone else voted for sovereignty and control.</p> <p>The debate that England needs is complex. While those who are happiest with the direction of travel seem inclined to call themselves ‘British’, and ‘English’ may be a badge of the dissatisfied and voiceless, many English residents are both English and British. English, more than any other UK national identity, has often been seen through the prism of British identity and achievement. It’s not open to us to define ourselves ‘against the English’ as others may do. But without that debate and the fora to hold it in, England is unlikely to develop a new view of itself, of Britain and of what success looks like in the 21st century.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-its-english-stupid">Why Brexit? It&#039;s the English, stupid.</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/eleanor-newbigin/brexit-britain-and-nostalgia-for-fantasy-past">Brexit, nostalgia and the Great British fantasy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/paul-keenlyside/why-uk-never-felt-at-home-in-eu">Why the UK never felt &#039;at home&#039; in the EU</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay/eight-reasons-scotland-is-more-remain-and-what-will-happen-if-its-dragged-out">Nine reasons Scotland is more Remain, (and what will happen if it&#039;s dragged out)</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk John Denham Thu, 15 Mar 2018 12:03:57 +0000 John Denham 116665 at National identity: dying force – or future hope? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What does the national identity and politics of the coming generations in England tell us about the future?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// women.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// women.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="337" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Somali women in London. Image, VOA.</span></span></span></p><p class="Body">‘My parents are from Malawi, I’m of Asian heritage, I’m a Muslim. I’m 17. English and British identity don’t mean much to me. If anyone does ask I just say I’m from London’. Aaisha’s answer to the question ‘who are the English and what do they want?’ was straightforward. In a few words she framed a key question facing contemporary ideas of national identity. The meeting at faith-based think tank <a href="">Theos</a> had heard from Robert Toombs and Mike Kenny, two leading experts on English history and political identity. They had spoken convincingly of the increasing assertion of English identity and English issues by English residents. They had explored how ideas of English history, conduct and ways of behaving shaped events today, not least Brexit. </p> <p class="Body">Aaisha’s nagging challenge asks whether this significant force in today’s politics is not ultimately time-limited: a dying idea, held most strongly amongst older people (who will die first) in areas of the country that are dying culturally and economically. It may be a long and painful process, but perhaps the end of national identity is not in doubt. In this view, as Mark Rowney <a href="">argued here recently</a>, national identities will be replaced by a new cosmopolitanism, led by those in the most dynamic urban centres; in effect a new internationalism of the successful in global capitalism. Be cautious; it’s what the left assumed a generation ago. That ended in Brexit, not a cosmopolitan Europeanism. Futurology has its limits, then, but the values of the rising generation must be taken seriously.</p> <p class="Body">Does it even matter that the Aaishas of London are unmoved by the idea of being English or British? No one should be expected to assume a particular identity but we should still be concerned. National identities are, above all, shared stories of who we are, how we came to be here, and what we share in common. If a young woman like Aaisha cannot find her story amongst the stories we tell about England and Britain we should all be concerned. It should be there: the story of a family moved across empire, then to be expelled and to come here with their faith is as intimately a part of the British story as Dunkirk or D-day. If our shared stories can’t include Aaisha’s tale they neither tell the truth about the past nor equip us for the future.</p> <p class="Body">If none of us felt a shared identity with each other and we all held just our own stories and individual identities, our country would feel very different. The willingness to pay tax, to support the shared institutions like the NHS or the armed forces, or to support those in hard times, depends on a collective sense of ourselves as more than individuals who happen to share the same space and perhaps passport. If we share little identity with each other only a minority would be willing to contribute substantially on a simple basis of common humanity.</p> <p class="Body">Those who have little sense of national identity or belonging nonetheless depend on the social and cultural capital and solidarity of those who do. It doesn’t matter if one young person feels little affinity with the nation in which they live; but the more that don’t, the harder it will become to hang together. The value of building a national identity that includes all members of all generations goes well beyond notions of patriotism and national pride. It goes to heart of creating a society that can sustain progressive social change.</p> <p class="Body">The left is often complacently optimistic about the young. They are, after all, more cosmopolitan, socially liberal and European. They are more likely to tell pollsters they support Labour, even if they don’t actually vote. It’s easy to forget that, in traditional social democratic terms, this is also the most right-wing generation there is. <a href="">Generation Y</a> (today’s 18-30 years) is the least likely to believe that "the government should spend more money on welfare benefits for the poor, even if it leads to higher taxes”. The largely Tory voting pre-war generation are twice as likely to hold that left-wing value. Only one in five of today’s young people regard the creation of the welfare state as one of Britain’s proudest achievements and they are the more likely to believe that most people on the dole are fiddling in one way or another. The younger generation may sign up for a more liberal society but is not yet on board for a more traditionally left wing project.</p> <p class="Body">It would be a stretch to attribute this rightwards shift to a simple decline in shared national identity. Personal experience will be important and the younger generation has none of the collective experiences or close family memories that forged collectivist values in war, reconstruction and large industrial workplaces. The collective sense of working together for people like us underpins any idea of any viable welfare state, and if old identities new ones must be found. Some will come from place – Aaisha happily identified as London – but if we want an identity than covers city and town, urban and rural, northern and southern, successful and less so, it needs to be national. And it can’t leave Aaisha out.</p> <p class="Body"><em>Aaisha’s name has been changed</em></p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk John Denham Mon, 28 Nov 2016 16:49:52 +0000 John Denham 107189 at Re-imagining England <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Originally delivered as a public lecture at the University of Winchester on Thursday 9th October, 2014, John Denham reflects on the future of England and "Englishness."</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//" alt="English flag, EU flag and UK flag" title="England, Britain, EU" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>How do we define "England"? Flickr/Matt Buck. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="Body"><span>Tonight I will talk about England.&nbsp;My home; my country.&nbsp;England is troubled, England is uncertain.&nbsp;And now, after the referendum, England isn’t even sure how we should be governed, where decisions should be made, or who should take them.</span></p><p class="Body">We don’t know where England is going; but England isn’t going away.&nbsp;And that’s a very strange thing.&nbsp;A dozen years ago a mini-industry declared England to be dead.&nbsp;Peter Hitchen’s ‘The abolition of Britain’ (which was really about England) was published in 1999,&nbsp;Roger Scruton’s ‘England an Elegy’ in 2000, and&nbsp;Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s ‘The strange death of Tory England’ in 2005 all&nbsp;said England was dead.&nbsp;They didn’t mean, of course, that England had disappeared, but a particular idea of England had died.&nbsp;One embodied perhaps in this man:</p><p class="Body"><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="// Spence.jpg" alt="Percy Spence on a horse" title="Percy Spence" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></em></p><p class="Body">This man is&nbsp;Percy Spence, my maternal grandfather, in the uniform of the volunteer East Surrey Yeomanry in 1908.&nbsp;You won’t need much persuading that Percy was conservative large c and small. He was upright in character as well as bearing. He believed in order and deference, responsibility and service.&nbsp;But we have two grandfathers, of course:</p><p class="Body"><em>&nbsp;<span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="// Denham.png" alt="Image of Albert Denham" title="Albert Denham" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></em></p><p class="Body">This is not such an evocative photograph but you may not need too much persuading that Albert Denham drove the steam express from Kings Cross to Edinburgh. He was a gifted musician and self-educated union man, a member of the Independent Labour Party. He was a friend of the radical Yorkshire miners’ leader Tom Williams, throughout what my father always called the Great Strike, not the General Strike.</p><p class="Body">In popular political writing – like Simon Heffer on the right or Bill Bragg on the left – we are often asked to see the true history of England as either conservative or radical, but&nbsp;I have a problem with that.&nbsp;Asking me whether England’s real story is radical or conservative is liking asking me which of my grandfathers is most English.&nbsp;Culturally, personally and politically, I’m the product of the daughter of the Surrey conservative and the son of the Yorkshire radical; the sort of marriage that might never had happened if it had not been for the Second World War when both were in the RAF.&nbsp;That war, like other wars, conflicts and disasters, changed England.</p><p class="Body">Events change us as a nation - these events change how we think about ourselves - they give us new stories about ourselves – Waterloo, Empire, Blitz.&nbsp;But when we change, we then insist that England has always been like this.&nbsp;Despite what I just said about my grandfathers, though we are the product of all our history, we choose which history we want to tell.</p><p class="Body">England doesn’t have a founding myth of who we are.&nbsp;The French cut off their king’s head and, overnight, became citizens.&nbsp;When we did the same we decided, on balance, we would rather remain subjects.&nbsp;We had no defining moment of national unification. Even if Scotland had voted Yes, England would still begin and end where it has for hundreds of years.</p><p class="Body">We’ve never been invaded, so when we were occupied by the Dutch we called it a glorious revolution.&nbsp;We broke with Rome after hundreds of years and said the Church of England embodied an unbroken tradition of English Christianity.</p><p class="Body">We don’t mind that the Magna Carta was not, as its authors claimed, a restatement of ancient liberties. It is what Magna Carta came to mean, in law and in the popular imagination that matters.&nbsp;Nothing could be more English than David Cameron telling us how important it is while admitting he didn’t know what Magna Carta meant.</p><p class="Body">That’s the English gift.&nbsp;We don’t discover our England in the history books; we create England, again and again, from the parts of our history which make most sense to us today.&nbsp;Events happen, things change, we change, our view of the world changes, the stories we tell about ourselves change.&nbsp;And then we declare, ‘<em>this is what England always was and always will be’</em>.</p><p class="Body">&nbsp;At the very time those obituaries to a particular conservative England were being published, we seem to have started to feel more English:</p><p class="Body">&nbsp;<span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="// Future.png" alt="Pie graph indicating views on England's future" title="English Future" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><em>Source:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">British Future 2013</a></em></p><p class="Body">We can ask people whether they are English only, English and British or just British. Over the past ten years or so, the English only group has expanded, the British only group has shrunk. More say they are more English than British: over 70% have English either as their prefered or shared identity.</p><p class="Body">These figures – and some polls show those with an England preference at nearly 50% - have risen sharply.&nbsp;We are not about to become only English but our sense of Being English matters more and more; our&nbsp;rising sense of Englishness matters to us.&nbsp;The days when England didn’t need to be English because it was good enough to be British are gone.</p><h2><strong>What will England be?</strong></h2><p class="Body">England is my home. England is our history. But England is changing. What will our English story be?&nbsp;We don’t know what these newly English imagine England to be.&nbsp;The researchers who ask about national identities don’t ask enough questions about what it means.</p><p class="Body">We do know the new English are more likely to be worried about immigration and to be anti-the EU.&nbsp;They are more likely to vote to the right.&nbsp;It is true that a majority of Labour voters also prefer an English identity, but this doesn’t feel like a radical socialist England replacing the older conservatism.</p><p class="Body">On the other hand, take time talk to those who say they are English and they’ll often tell you they feel powerless, that they are losing out, that no one listens to them.&nbsp;Unfairness, exclusion, powerlessness; these have always been the drivers of radical England.&nbsp;And, of course, part of England’s radical tradition always responded to change by trying to stop change happening.&nbsp;The agricultural rioters who gathered under the banner of Captain Swing riots in Hampshire and Dorset, the machine smashing Luddites in northern England, in some of the restrictive practices and craft demarcation of the older trades’ union movement.&nbsp;All people threatened by change who Just &nbsp;wanted to make it stop.&nbsp;</p><p class="Body">The pollster Peter Kellner tell us that UKIP voters are united in one belief; that everything was better 50 years ago.&nbsp;But that doesn’t mean that Australian academic Ben Wellings was right to equate UKIP’s rise with English nationalism. UKIP draws on some of these sentiments but the sheer numbers emphasising their English identity is far greater than have ever expressed support for that party.&nbsp;In any case, it’s only politicians and political scientists who leap straight from identity to party allegiance.</p><p class="Body">People, like me, who have spent too much time in politics, have all too easily missed what is happening outside.&nbsp;As Mike Kenny has recently documented, the modern exploration of Englishness actually began well outside politics with plays like Jerusalem, Elmina’s Kitchen, and Playing with Fire.&nbsp;Novels like White Teeth and England, England.&nbsp;The poet laureate Andrew Motion and other poets creating a new liturgy for St George,&nbsp;Damon Albarn’s opera Doctor Dee. Films like This is&nbsp;England.</p><p>The revival of the English folk tradition reflects the swirl of ideas around. It can hark back to an idealised, rural idyllic past. But it can also the basis for new music that mixes the traditional with new influences and cultures.&nbsp;The St George’s Cross no longer belongs to the extreme right.&nbsp;There are more and more St George Day celebrations, as diverse as Englishness itself.&nbsp;That’s a lot of people wondering about being English. There’s nothing here to suggest that exploring Englishness must, inevitably, be reactionary, zenophobic or inward looking.</p><p class="Body">I don’t think it is hard to understand why we are asking these questions now.&nbsp;A globalising world is not leading to a globalised citizenship. Everywhere people are responding by looking to the local for a sense of identity and we are no different.&nbsp;Over time, confidence in the core concepts of Britishness: of Empire, a dominant global economy, the provider of a comprehensive welfare state, has faded. As the notion of Britain has beome less distinct, so we become more interested in what it means to be English.&nbsp;</p><p class="Body">Wales and Scotland have asserted themselves. If we can’t lazily assume that English and British are pretty much the same any longer, then who on earth are we?&nbsp;We are troubled by the European Union, torn between the common sense of cooperation and stories of standing alone.With the closing of Portsmouth’s warship yard – as work transfers to Scotland – goes&nbsp; the last of the great manufacturing and engineering work places that once dominated our local economy; and with them went the status, security and social institutions they provided.&nbsp;Our villages and countryside have changed.&nbsp;Our communities have changed, not least with immigration, the most dramatic demographic change in our history.&nbsp; Parts of England look, feel and sound different.</p><h2><strong>Re-imagining England</strong></h2><p class="Body">England has changed, so England must be made again..</p><p class="Body">But, in truth, England seems fearful today.&nbsp;Never in hundreds of years have we seemed as fearful of the world, fearful of Europe, fearful of our engagement with other countries, fearful of foreigners.&nbsp;Can we imagine – re-imagine – an England without that fear?&nbsp;Is there an English story, true to our history and traditions that can meet the needs of the 21st&nbsp;century? Is there an England that can give a voice to the voiceless? Can we find an England that has the confidence to face the world?</p><p class="Body">Let me reinforce why this should matter, even to those who are not much taken with national identity. I am a patriot by birth but by career a progressive politician. What I have learned is the importance of the stories we tell about ourselves.&nbsp;A common story has shared values, and the values we share shape the society we can build.</p><p class="Body">Why is the National Health Service so popular, even at times when it doesn’t perform well? Because it has a fundamental value&nbsp;<em>‘we all pay in and it’s there when we need it</em>’. That’s not a funding policy; it speaks to a deep notion of the sort of people we want to be as a nation.</p><p class="Body">Why is our current welfare system so unpopular? It’s because our deeply held values are of contribution and reciprocity, not just rights. We think you should pay in, not just take out. A system that seems to reward need alone and not contribution is out of kilter with our common values.</p><p class="Body">Our national story, our shared values, determine what type of practical policies will get public support.&nbsp;So what we imagine England to be will determine what sort of society England can become. What ideas might be lurking in our collective memory and traditions, which can underpin the future as surely as our shared values underpin the NHS?&nbsp;I will not be offended if you tell me this is bad history. The one thing that is clear about English history is that it is not the best history that matters but the history that is best believed.</p><p class="Body">&nbsp;What I am sketching out is not a study but a project.&nbsp;Our challenge is not to wait and see what happens, but to help shape England.&nbsp;One of the reasons I took up the offer of joining Winchester was the hope that here, in England’s ancient capital, we could develop a centre, a place of debate, discussion and research that might play some part of shaping England’s future.</p><h2><strong>Understanding the radical tradition</strong></h2><p class="Body">The radical tradition is not&nbsp;<em>the</em>&nbsp;history of England, but it is part of it.</p><p class="Body">Ordinary people struggled together for justice; for the bare necessities to live, for basic civil and political rights, for a better life. We all know the high points: the peasants’ revolt, the levellers and the diggers, non-conformist dissent, the campaigns against slavery, the chartists, the trades union movement, the suffrage movement, and into modern times the peace movement, the women’s movement, gay rights and environmentalism.&nbsp;Win or lose they changed our country because they changed our view of what is possible.</p><p class="Body">After 40 years in politics I can tell you a secret: the great challenges are almost never first defined inside a political party; and the great answers aren’t first found in political parties either.&nbsp;They come from the movements outside. Sometimes they enter the mainstream of politics slowly; sometimes quickly.&nbsp; It took a hundred years for the demand for a minimum wage to become law but just ten years for the Living Wage to be at the centre of public debate.</p><p class="Body">The radical tradition is of collective action; of giving a voice to the voiceless, but the great statements of English radicalism never say that the nation, the people, the folk or the class is more important than the individual. &nbsp;Instead change was needed in order to enjoy the rights of the freeborn Englishman.&nbsp;Gendered language aside, these radicals both advanced common interests and treasured long held views of individual rights, of individual conscience and dissent.</p><p class="Body">English radicalism is special in another way.&nbsp;The movements did not just demand change, they created change.&nbsp;They created new institutions – workers’ libraries, cooperatives, friendly societies. They celebrated culture in choirs, bands, and banners. They organised for fun and recreation into a myriad of sports and social activities.&nbsp;English radicalism challenged power and injustice, but it often had much in common with a much broader English tradition: the creation of institutions, essentially private in nature, but which fulfil a clear public and social function.</p><p class="Body">Our universities are amongst them – very different to the state directed institutions of continental tradition. The trade union movement itself. Occupational pension schemes. Friendly societies. The National Trust. Charities and voluntary organisations.&nbsp;These make up a tradition of independent, collective, self-organisation. While they sometimes need a legal framework and funding, their effectiveness depends on their freedom and autonomy.</p><p class="Body">The richness of this civic life and enterprise is distinctively English. Few other countries enjoy the richness of our voluntary movements or the autonomy of our key institutions. But we have been careless with it. We killed occupational pension schemes. We’ve made charities sub-contractors to private monopolies. We need to protect and revive that radical tradition.</p><h2><strong>The common good</strong></h2><p class="Body">We are not, by temperament, an anarchistic nation. We want government, but we want it to be good, fair and competent; and we have a strong notion of the common good.</p><p class="Body">When Wat Tyler addressed the young King Richard II in 1381 he didn’t threaten to overthrow the monarchy. He set out the responsibilities of rulers.&nbsp;Rulers should not use the law arbitrarily:</p><p class="Body"><em>‘There shall be no law but the law of Winchester’</em></p><p class="Body">Other powerful people must use power responsibly:</p><p class="Body"><em>‘No lord should have lordship save civilly’</em></p><p class="Body">Institutions that had accumulated wealth unjustly should have it redistributed:</p><p class="Body"><em>‘Clergy already in possession should have a sufficient sustenance from the endowments and the rest of the goods should be divided among the people of the parish’</em></p><p class="Body">And in rights and in dignity we are all equal:</p><p class="Body"><em>‘No serfdom or villeinage, but that all men should be free and of one condition’</em></p><p class="Body">Time and time again the English have said the same.&nbsp;We will have government, but the legitimacy of government derives from its ability to deliver for the common good.&nbsp;There will be powerful people, but our measure of them is whether they meet their responsibilities to wider society.</p><p class="Body">However, our society today is wildly unequal in wealth but also in power.&nbsp;Everyone knows in their bones that the rules are different for those at the top.&nbsp;For decades we have been told that the accumulation of great wealth is the right and just outcome of a market economy. We have been told that this is a natural law in which morality has no role to play. On the other hand, the historic notion of the common good challenges that self-serving ideology. The common good demands that we judge a society, its government, its powerful, by whether they deliver their obligations to the many.&nbsp;If, once again,&nbsp; we could make the common good the measure of England it would change what we think we can do.</p><p class="Body">The common good can give us a new sense of national economic purpose. The loss of major companies, the dominance of the global banks in London, the relative neglect of innovation and manufacturing, the skill shortages and under-utilisation of talent in poorly paid and unproductive jobs – these are all symptoms of an economy run in the interests of a few. The common good can give us the rules for reshaping the economy.&nbsp;The common good can provide the values that can be shared in the boardroom, call centre, hospital and shopfloor. The common good tells us what behaviours we value and those that we don’t.</p><h2><strong>Migration</strong></h2><p class="Body">England is always changing, but&nbsp;few changes have been as rapid, and as visible as the immigration of recent years.&nbsp;In 30 years or so, around a third of our population will have ethnic minority backgrounds:</p><p class="Body"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="// stats.png" alt="Pie graph of migration statistics into Britain" title="Migration statistics" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="Body"><em>Source:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Runnymede Trust 2010</a></em></p><p class="Body">Around 30% will not be white. Many parts of England will look, perhaps sound, very different.&nbsp;Minority communities today are much less likely to say English than British. Younger generations are changing but the disparity is marked.&nbsp;We can all have multiple identities. But a nation cannot work if we can’t agree what nation we are, and if that disagreement is on ethnic or racial lines.</p><p class="Body">English has to be an identity we can all share, or England itself will fail.&nbsp;Even though the history of our island has been absorbing the impact of newcomers, nothing quite like this has happened before. Still,&nbsp;there is enough in our past to guide us today.&nbsp;The English have never been defined by our genes, but by our institutions, our customs, the way we do things.</p><p class="Body">There is, of course, a limit to how fast any nation can be expected to change. And our deeply held values cannot be negotiated:</p><ul><li>- Everyone should play by the same rules,</li><li>- You have to pay in, not just take out,</li><li>- The radical demand for freedom from exploitation in the workplace,</li><li>- The popular tolerance of live and let live.</li></ul><p class="Body">Migrants have come from many places but most have some historic link. When I told a young Southampton councillor that my uncle was on Southampton’s war memorial having been torpedoed on the way to the Far East, she told me her Sikh grandfather had been in the same army in the same conflict. In sharing two stories the south Asian presence becomes not an accident of history, but a shared history of sacrifice and service.&nbsp;When we share our stories we can understand how we all came to be here.</p><p class="Body">No one will come to a party to which they’ve not been invited; I believe that being English belongs to everyone making their home and life here. Racists will deny this. But, let’s be honest, well meaning liberals who say ‘we can’t really talk about England because of minorities’ are in their own way, suggesting that Englishness is not for all.&nbsp;We need to understand that place matters.Everyone said how calmly the English responded to the 7/7 bombings. Yet 40% of those Londoners weren’t born here. Our local identities communicate values and belonging.</p><p class="Body">Above all, it’s time to recognise that, while multi-culturalism rightly taught us to respect our differences, it did too little to develop the values and ideas that must bind us together. The challenge for today is nothing less than nation-building – building a nation anew.&nbsp;Consciously developing those common stories, common values, that explain who we are, how we came to be here, and where we are going.</p><p class="Body">In 50 years time our grandchildren may well look back and say this was the moment that England rediscovered the confidence to face the world, to be a global player.&nbsp;</p><p class="Body">We will explain much of our power and influence in the world by the extraordinary advantages of the English people. Drawn together by England’s greatest gift the world, the English language, we became, almost unique in the world, a nation that not only speaks the global language but has family, culture and historical links to every part of the globe.&nbsp;We will remember the thousands of black people in Elizabethan London, the contribution of the Huguenots to our woollen industry, the enterprise of the Jewish refugees, the contribution of generations of new migrants to our science, innovation and enterprise.&nbsp;And then we will say, not that England was always like this; but that England has always been built by all the people who lived here.</p><h2><strong>A sense of place</strong></h2><p class="Body">In every telling of English history, place has mattered.&nbsp;Our island status has governed our relationship with the rest of the world. Our weather has shaped our relationship with our environment. Countryside has retained an iconic importance long after most people ceased to living or work there. Access to land – for livelihood and leisure - shaped our radical traditions.&nbsp;And, with all due respect to Basingstoke, we prefer to live in places that have grown organically not been dropped down by planners.</p><p class="Body">And where we live is part of our identity.&nbsp;We are Geordies, Westcountry, Cornish, Brummies, Londoners; our sense of place is deep. Perhaps surprisingly, its about to come back into its own.&nbsp;England is highly centralised, and has become more so in my political lifetime: when I was a Hampshire county councillor 64% of local finance was raised locally, now it is 40%.&nbsp;</p><p class="Body">The development of the modern state replaced not just the historic units of local government but the places and institutions that drove our great cities and industrial development.&nbsp;Before the Second World War, Douglas Jay said ‘the man in Whitehall genuinely does know best’.&nbsp;Nye Bevan wanted the sound of a falling bed pan in the new NHS to be heard in Whitehall. Yet today the civil servant Whitehall doesn’t even know what is going on. A cacophony of falling bed pans and other data overwhelms their ability to make sense of it, let alone manage it.</p><p class="Body">The thrust of technocratic reports from Michael Heseltine and Andrew Adonis is that England’s governance must be decentralised.&nbsp;This is grasping the future, not a retreat into an idealised past when giants like Joseph Chamberlain in Birmingham (and our own Sir Sidney Kimber in Southampton) shaped our cities.&nbsp;We can do stuff now we couldn’t do 30 years ago. The connectivity of the web means that today we can be both more local, and more aware of what is happening globally than ever before. Open Data means everyone will know how well their services are performing.&nbsp;But this will only fly if it’s linked to our historic sense of place.</p><p class="Body">Whitehall’s instinct will be for neatness. To impose constitutional change like the Roman’s built towns that disappeared as soon as the legions left were gone.&nbsp;England’s internal constitution must evolve more like an Anglo-Saxon market town; it should be messy, proud not to be the same everywhere. That’s more in keeping with our history and our English eccentricity.</p><h2><strong>England must get what England wants</strong></h2><p class="Body">So what about England itself?&nbsp;David Cameron has called for English Votes for English Laws.&nbsp;Ed Miliband called for a constitutional convention and proposed replacing the Lords with the Senate of the nations of the UK.</p><p class="Body">Change is coming and&nbsp;I start from a simple proposition:&nbsp;England must get what England wants.&nbsp;We must take our decisions in a manner which England determines, just as the Scots and Welsh have been able to do.</p><p class="Body">It is self-evident that as more powers are devolved to Scotland and Wales and indeed Northern Ireland, the less acceptable it can be for MPs not elected by English voters to determine what happens in English schools, hospitals and universities.&nbsp;Change is perhaps more complicated than has been suggested, if we want both stable government and to keep the Union together.&nbsp;But this isn’t a debate than can be silenced. And nor can it be determined in a Whitehall committee.</p><p class="Body">If England is going to get what England wants, this debate must be taken up by the people of England. In our communities, in local councils, in faith groups, business associations and voluntary organisations. We have the chance to demand decisions be taken closer to where we live, and we have the chance to decide how we want England to be governed. That’s too important to be left to the politicians in Westminster and it needs to start now.</p><p class="Body">I am a Unionist and I was pleased there was a No vote. But if I am honest, you have to be quite an optimist to believe the Union will survive as it is now evolving.&nbsp;The once great Conservative and Unionist Party is now to all intents and purposes the English National Conservative Party, while&nbsp;<span>Labour has, as yet, no distinctive English voice of its own.</span><span>&nbsp;Also, in my view, only when England is confident in itself will we be able to determine our relationship with Europe.</span></p><h2>Re-imagining England</h2><p class="Body">For large periods of time, being English seemed to look after itself; we didn’t talk about who we were because we knew who we were.&nbsp;But at other times of great upheaval; it has mattered greatly, and this is one of those moments.</p><p class="Body">For all the reasons I have touched on tonight; economic change; the powerful failing their obligations; government systems that cannot work; our fears of the world outside and the strangers within; this is a time for nation building.&nbsp;England is making itself anew. For those who love our country, this is no time to stand and watch, but time to be part of that process.</p><p class="Body">I have only covered part of the canvass here.&nbsp;The church has been crucial in defining England in the past; faith – many faiths – must help define us now.&nbsp;This is above all for the rising generation.</p><p class="Body">At Winchester the University is working with college students in Southampton to ask what sort of England they want to create.&nbsp;That work has grown out of our St George’s Festival, and next year we will bring together many of those who organise popular festivals of England around St George and Shakespeare’s birthday as we begin this work of exploring our new and old nation.</p><p class="Body">National identities are created, not discovered. We draw on our histories, but we can choose the parts that are of most value to us today. In this text I have&nbsp;re-imagined my country:</p><p class="Body">An England of the common good.&nbsp;Where the quality of government, the status of the rich, the morality of the powerful is judged not by what they take for themselves but how they deliver for the common good.</p><p class="Body">A well governed England where public policy sits easily with the values of the English people.</p><p class="Body">A radical England, where we are prepared to struggle together to fight injustice but also to defend individual liberty; where we create new institutions together, making demands on the state but not dependent on it or subject to it.&nbsp;</p><p class="Body">An England at ease with its diversity, forged together in one nation and confident to face the world.&nbsp;</p><p class="Body">An England where decisions are taken as close to the people as they can be, where we value our local traditions and identities.&nbsp;</p><p class="Body">An England governed in the way the English decide we want to be governed, supporting the Union but not carrying it.</p><p class="Body">That’s what I have imagined, so think what we could imagine together.</p><p class="Body"><strong><em>This post was cross-posted with permission from John Denham's </em></strong><strong><em><a href="">blog</a>.</em></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href=""><img src="// Charter Convention (1).jpg" alt="" width="140" /></a> </p><p><a href="">The Great Charter Convention</a> – an open, public debate on where arbitrary power lies in the UK today and how we should contest and contain it.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/maggie-scull-naomi-lloydjones/four-nations-and-devolution-question">Four nations and the devolution question</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/arianna-giovannini-and-andrew-mycock/all-for-english-devolution-but-what-about-english-de">All for English devolution - but what about English democracy? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/james-dennison/english-parliament-best-way-to-save-uk">An English Parliament: The best way to save the UK?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> England </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> uk uk England Civil society Democracy and government Power where? Nations, regions, cities Great Charter Convention Nationalism History John Denham Tue, 26 May 2015 23:11:11 +0000 John Denham 92924 at John Denham <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> John Denham </div> </div> </div> <p></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>John Denham is the Director of the Centre for English Identity and Politics at the University of Winchester. He is a former Labour MP and Cabinet Minister and Director of the English Labour Network.</span></p><p></p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> John Denham is the Director of the Centre for English Identity and Politics at the University of Winchester. He is a former Labour MP and Cabinet Minister and Director of the English Labour Network. </div> </div> </div> John Denham Tue, 19 May 2015 21:31:53 +0000 John Denham 92925 at New values for One Nation Labour <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;"><img style="float: right;" src="" alt="" width="50" />It was values, not aiming at the 'centre ground', that won New Labour power in Britain. If Miliband and One Nation Labour are to prosper they need to show a values-based approach that resonates with an increasingly fragmented public. But how?</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none imgupl_style_black_border'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="400" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload imgupl_style_black_border imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; John Denham. Flickr/DIUSGOVUK. Some rights reserved.</em></p><p>As someone who became a Labour MP (for Southampton) in 1992 it’s my view that to win support for ‘One Nation Labour’ is a much more audacious challenge than the ‘New Labour’ project of the mid-1990s. For a start, it is about winning back power in five years, not the eighteen it took us after 1979.</p> <p>It is also more audacious because One Nation Labour seeks support for a more radical reshaping of Britain and its institutions than New Labour ever envisaged.</p> <p>But it’s also more audacious because building the type of broad support that ‘New Labour’ enjoyed will today be tougher than it was 20 years ago in the build-up to the 1997 election. In particular because Britain is a far more fissiparous and divided, if not polarised, society. </p> <p>First, there’s an enduring myth that New Labour won by targeting the aspirational centre ground and simply relied on those to the left and more traditional working class voters having nowhere else to go. In fact, the original New Labour appeal was quite different. Certainly, centre ground voters supported us. But this was because New Labour’s appeal <em>encompassed</em> and included the centre ground; it was not targeted or focused <em>at</em> the centre. </p> <p>In opposition and the run-up to winning power in 1997, those of us who successfully supported a New Labour approach did so not by advocating particular policies for targeted groups of swing voters, but by maintaining a fundamentally inclusive, values-based approach. It was only after Labour took power that the communications strategy shifted towards a focus on a (somewhat mythical) set of centrist voters with (supposedly) narrowly economistic and self-centred views.</p> <p>New Labour was at its most effective when we repeated the values of our approach again and again so that they registered with voters whatever the media tried to do. We went on – and on! - about:</p> <p>- The balance of rights and responsibilities </p> <p>- The equal weight we gave to fairness and to opportunity </p> <p>- Our commitment to using collective strength to achieve individual aspirations</p> <p>- Our belief that we could bring together sound economics and social justice </p> <p>When we did frame policy it was based on these values, hence “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”.</p> <p>The values made sense. They described the way our country should be and could be. They represented a shared common ground between radical and traditional Labour voters, and also the new aspirational voters we wanted to win.</p> <p>In government, New Labour may have drifted away from this approach. That’s another discussion. But the pressing issue today is: how well does ‘One Nation Labour’ meet the need for an inclusive, values-based appeal that encompasses the country as a whole?</p> <p>Clearly the concept and the approach behind it has real strength. It is giving us a progressive patriotic national narrative, which makes us sound as though we love our country (unlike the toe-curling 'cool Britannia' of early New Labour). Ed Miliband is single-handedly outlining a responsible capitalism; in talking of pre-distribution and of building an economy from the middle outwards he is being explicit about the need to changes the rules of the game, and to build fairness into the basic structure of the economy.</p> <p>But can One Nation as we now have it give Labour the inclusive reach New Labour once enjoyed? Let’s start with the notion of ‘targeting the centre ground’. Not only is this a misunderstanding of the history of New Labour’s success, it fails to recognise that the nature of the centre in British politics and society has changed profoundly over the past two decades. The ‘centre’ has neither moved to the left, nor to the right. But nor has it stayed where it was! It has become hollowed out as opinions have polarised. In the wake of the crisis and continuing low growth and austerity Britain’s voters have moved further and further away from each other.</p> <p>Those voters who were always most disposed to radical change are more disposed to more radical change.</p> <p>Those in the electorate who were always most concerned about insecurity and the need to resist further change feel even more insecure and are even more worried about, and resistant to, change.</p> <p>And those voters who have always looked first to identify their own aspiration and interest in any political offer are less inclined to believe that anyone can offer them anything.</p> <p>Labour’s support is strongest amongst those disposed to change. There aren’t enough of these voters to guarantee victory. In any case, One Nation Labour cannot be elected or govern as One Nation without attracting support across very different groups of voters. How can we make this attraction a positive virtue when, given the way the centre is pulling part, it runs the risk of communicating a sense of opportunism and incoherence?</p> <p>One Nation Labour needs to be more than an approach to politics that seeks to convey a sense of what it will be like to feel we are ‘One Nation’. It has to be underpinned by characteristic Labour values that have resonance: values that can construct the link from the One Nation idea to particular policies so that people can see Labour is creating a fresh politics that will deliver something meaningful, whether extending apprenticeships or reversing the millionaires’ tax cut, in a way that is coherent and purposive and about more than boys winning office.</p> <p>It’s essential to set out the practical values that will underpin One Nation Labour. Today, far more than in the 1990s, our values must make sense across very different groups of voters. To get the discussion going, I’ll suggest three.</p> <p>- Britain today is torn apart by the widespread feeling that rules are always different for someone else. ‘Migrants get different treatment to the settled population’. ‘Welfare claimants get help that working families cannot’. ‘The Scots and Welsh have a better deal than the English’. ‘Starbucks doesn’t pay tax and the coffee shop on the corner does’. ‘There’s one set of rules for the rich and another for the rest of us’. ‘The banks can wreck the economy and go away unpunished’. </p> <p>A ‘One Nation Labour’ should challenge unfairness wherever it lies. Our first One Nation value should be ‘<strong>A country where everyone is seen to play by the same rules</strong>’</p> <p>- We cannot stop the world and get off. Big change is needed. But it sometimes sounds as though all modernisation, all change is good in itself. People value their communities, social institutions, cultural values, human relationships, the way they are treated at work. We need to be clear that One Nation Labour values security and constancy within a changing world.</p> <p>Our second One Nation value should be: ‘<strong>Change because we have to; conserving where we can</strong>’</p> <p>- Playing by the same rules is an important statement of fairness. But it is equally important that opportunities are open to all and there is seen to be a fair reward for playing by the rules. Contribution, effort and responsibility must be rewarded just as much as rights are recognised. This is the basis for One Nation’s commitment to a job guarantee that has to be taken up and our criticism of unjustified boardroom excess.</p> <p>Our third One Nation value should be: ‘<strong>More opportunity, less privilege</strong>; <strong>reward for what you put in, not how much you can take out</strong>’.</p> <p>One Nation Labour can be the vehicle for electoral success, as New Labour was before. But a clear, explicit, and repeated set of underpinning values is essential to explain the policies we adopt and the way we view the future, and to draw in voters who currently fear that Labour’s ‘One Nation’ is not for them. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>A shorter version of this piece first appeared in <a href="">Shifting Ground</a>.</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK One nation Labour Party John Denham Fri, 20 Sep 2013 08:57:09 +0000 John Denham 75487 at