Ad Fontes

Politics, Theology and Christian Humanism

On Englishness and English nationalism

100 Comments

Essay warning: this is a long article in three parts.

All Hallows

The flag of St George flying from my church's tower.

Recently, I wrote an article here on POWER2010 and the People’s Charter. In passing I mentioned how I didn’t support the proposed policy for POWER2010 of ‘English votes on English laws’, something I now realise is a bit of a mantra among English nationalists, with its own camel-case acronym EVoEL (deliver us from…?)!

There were a lot of important ideas in that post, but was surprised by the complete focus on English nationalism in the comments. I was even more surprised by the poor quality of their argument, much of which was ad hominem (‘you are trash’ said one, another found me a traitor, another suggested that I was being anti-English and thus racist!). Then there was the misquoting and misrepresentation of my thoughts. For instance, I had written ‘In general, the promotion of English nationalism by a few fringe groups is very dodgy’. I should have been clearer about what I meant: that English identity and the nationalism based on it, promoted by a few fringe groups, is a minefield of problems that should be treated with care rather than emotional flag waving. However, the nationalists tweeted this as my saying ‘the English are dodgy’ (hmm, nice misquote there)! Aside from this there was demonstrable lack of understanding of our political constitution (I had to direct a commenter to read the 1911 Parliament Act). However, overall, I was shocked by the need to depict the English as persecuted, restricted and disempowered within a UK in which we make up around 83% of the population. If nationalism is about national liberation, nationalists feel the obvious need to conjure up an imagined captivity from which to liberate us.

I am English and proud to be English. I own an English football shirt (somewhere), but I’m not the flag waving type. Many of my friends are not English, and I find their perspective on Englishness very useful. I believe that it’s important to approach the issue dispassionately and practically, against the surging romanticism that can leave one delusional.

Identity, Englishness and Britishness

It’s necessary to think about identity and national identity in general before thinking about what Englishness is. The problem with many conversations about Englishness is that there is an assumption that it is a solidly existing reality in the world. A good sociological approach to national identity would begin with Benedict Anderson’s concept of imagined communities. The bare bones of Anderson’s theory is that a nation is a socially constructed community based on various presumptions of shared attributes: language, religion, skin colour, culture &c. Of course, social constructs are not unreal, but they are perceived realities: nationality is no absolute thing. It is helpful to remember that national identity is very much an imagined thing, and that is why it becomes very difficult to locate national identity with any real exactness. It is also useful to note that things like ethnic identity and religious identity, which also form imagined communities, touch on the meaning of national identity, which means that those who deal in national identity should be aware that they can often be understood as dealing in something more exclusive.

As I live in the shadows of Twickenham Rugby Stadium, the Six Nations Tournament, playing at the moment, turns the streets around my home into a veritable carnival of Englishness every time the English rugby team play a home match. There are shirts, hats and flags, songs and chants, and a jovial sense of imagined community. However, I’m also aware that this demonstration of Englishness is inherently exclusive, as many from the North of England would simply say that it’s not their game (being mainly supporters of rugby league rather than rugby union), that Yorkshire-folk would be additionally put off at the sight of a red rose being used as a symbol of England (Yorkshire’s symbol is the white rose, against the rival red rose of Lancashire). Also, we cannot deny that there are issues of class surrounding English rugby union (traditionally played in English grammar and fee-paying schools). Thus, although the English revellers be unaware of it, their expression of national identity is inherently partial and exclusive. Here is the rub, when we talk about identity, we are automatically separating those with a certain identity from those without it, constructing an us–them polarisation.

The question becomes more complex when we try to define Englishness in its relation to Britishness. I note that the English nationalists like to define Britishness as something artificial compared to the reality of Englishness — this is a ridiculous comparison of two imagined communities. It is indeed an over-simplification to equate Britishness with the collective identity of the English, Welsh, Scots and Northern Irish (although the Province has even more knotty issues of identity). In terms of per capita possible claim on Britishness, then, it is 83% Englishness, but in terms of those who actually claim the identity that figure must be much higher with many many Scots and Welsh and half the Northern Irish rejecting it as a personal identity. Thus, when it comes to the people who call themselves British, they are overwhelming the people of England.

However, nothing is that straightforward. Over the last half-century this country has benefited from mass immigration, boosting skills and labour, and enriching culture. Those whose forebears came from overseas and were bureaucratically classed as subjects of the British Empire, who live in the UK with a passport that reads ‘British citizen’, mostly remain alienated from the identity of Englishness, perceiving it to be an ethnic identity. I feel this may be starting to change, but it is true that the majority of non-white Britons do not feel welcome or able to call themselves English. Thus, there is the clear distinction of Britishness being available as a non-ethnic identity as opposed to Englishness. The BNP would like us to re-imagine Britishness on ethnic grounds, while I and the more progressive English nationalists would like to see a re-imagining of Englishness along non-ethnic grounds. However, the ethnic distinction between Britishness and Englishness is real and active in our society.

English nation, nationalism and Parliament

One problem I came across was the assumption by English nationalists that, if one is English and holds the English national interest at heart, one must be an English nationalist. It is a deceptive conflation of the concepts of nation and nationalism (albeit innocently made). The nation is an imagined community based on perceived things held in common; a nationalism is a political agenda in which the concept of nation is a prime motivation. Of course there can be a plurality of English nationalisms, each being a distinct political agenda motivated by a concept of Englishness. Although English nationalists may believe that their political agenda is the best course of action for the nation, it is not necessarily true that is the best. A national interest is a slippery thing, and valuing the concept of nation does not make a nationalism a lightning rod of the national interest.

I know that there are some English nationalists who espouse progressive political ideals, but we should not be blind to the fact that nationalisms have most often been on the agenda of the political Right, and that patriotism and populism have led to racism and fascism in the past. Do not get me wrong: I am not saying that nationalists are fascists, but emphasizing the fact that nationalisms have a rather problematic history. Even the well-supported nationalisms of the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Sinn Féin, which proclaim themselves to be progressive have had to struggle (and in some cases fail) to keep their nationalisms progressive.

I am wary of ‘English votes on English laws’ because it conceals its true intent: no non-English votes on English laws. Thus, it is primarily about stopping the MPs elected from non-English constituencies from voting on certain bills. I am uneasy about the creation of a democratic assembly that does not rank all elected members equally in terms of their voting rights and powers. Likewise, I question the democratic value of assemblies in which members are elected under different systems (additional members &c.) on the same principle, that the members have mandates of differing quality.

However, the West Lothian Question is put that, with a devolved Scottish Parliament, Scottish MPs may vote on laws that will only effect the rest of UK and not Scotland. Trickily, the question is often framed, and originally so framed by Tam Dalyell, that explicitly puts English MPs in the equation, whereas the uneven nature of our present devolution makes the division not so clear cut. In effect, the question should be about the rest of the UK being affected by the votes of MPs from nations with devolved assemblies. However, a more significant question is about the location of sovereignty. Constitutional scholars are generally agreed that the inexact term parliamentary sovereignty best describes the UK Constitution. English nationalists tend to speak as if Scottish devolution is the granting of sovereignty to Scotland. However, sovereignty is retained by the UK Parliament, which has simply devolved some issues (education, health, agriculture and justice) to Holyrood. This makes it somewhat like a beefed-up county council.

The 2004 UK-Parliament vote on ‘top-up’ tuition fees for students in higher education is often taken as an example of the need for English votes on English laws. The Higher Education Act 2004 was passed by the House of Commons on a narrow 316–311 vote. In that vote, 46 Scottish Labour MPs voted with the government to introduce the fees which would not affect Scottish students. However, this simplistic analysis of the vote does not tell the whole story. It attempts to makes us think that that, as the outcome of the vote will have no effect in Scotland, Scottish MPs shouldn’t vote, but this is not true. What is denied in this simplistic analysis is that the outcome of the vote does have an important effect on Scotland. The effects in Scotland and the rest of the UK are different, but equal in magnitude. Without top-up fees, Scottish universities are financially disadvantaged in relation to English universities. Also, the Scottish Executive has to pay the top-up fees for all Scottish students studying in the rest of the UK. In the end, the Scottish budget is now landed with the bill of increased funds for Scottish universities and paying for Scottish students studying in the rest of the UK. The many Scots MPs who voted against the bill in the UK Parliament were well aware that it was in Scotland’s best interest that it not be passed, so as not to force Scotland into this education funding conundrum. In light of this, the vote was of great importance to Scotland, and Scottish MPs should vote on such bills. I do not support top-up fees, and believe that the vote on them was a travesty of democracy, but not for the simplistic reasons put forward by English nationalists.

I noticed how the English nationalists liked the term ‘disenfranchisement’ to describe the political situation of England within the UK. However, seeing as the word means ‘not having a vote’ it is an incorrect use of the word: English people and English MPs have votes. However, the proposal of English votes on English laws is clearly about creating the disenfranchisement of MPs that do not represent English constituencies. It is demonstrably true that any measure that might be labelled an ‘English law’ will still have a significant effect on the rest of the UK, due to England constituting 83% of the population of the UK.

Likewise, the idea of an English Parliament within the UK (if the other nations seek independence, an English Parliament is necessary of course, but it’s likely to be a rearranged UK Parliament) is a white elephant. Legislating on issues pertaining to 83% of the population on issues that are not reserved by the UK Parliament would create a massive duplication of responsibility and power. In the end, England is too big a sector of the UK to make an effective devolvement of central government control. What is useful in principle, though the practice has other issues, is what I have here in London: a strategic authority with responsibilities between that of the boroughs and central government for a population over 2 million larger than that of Scotland. The vote on a regional assembly for the North East failed because of local dismay in historic boundaries being removed or changed. To keep the effective top-tier units of the UK of similar size, I would support giving such intermediate responsibility to large city-regions and to large counties or groups of counties — meaningful units. The English nationalists decry this ‘break up’ of England, but it is no more breaking up the country as is allowing local government. Even if the New Labour policy of regional assemblies were implemented, England would be as it ever was, not broken up, but a proud and prominent part of these islands.

In conclusion, English nationalism is more about romanticism, flag waving and over-simplification of the political agenda. Such an agenda has the worrying potential to move into dangerous territory, but more generally deflects from the real issues of our democratic deficit, economic recovery, increasing numbers of people in poverty, health, education and jobs. It would be nice however if an English nationalist tried a reasoned argument.

Author: Gareth Hughes

A priest of the Church of England, who is Chaplain of Hertford College, Oxford, and doing Syriac research at Oxford University.

100 thoughts on “On Englishness and English nationalism

  1. Englisc not british , dump this unfair union and govern ourselves, establish borders, take back our rightful north sea border stolen from us in the 60’s, restore our county regiments, tax all goods passing through Englisc waters or England to the celtic nations, give us our own national anthem not the uk dirge we currently have to sing, give ourselves our own parliament and capital city where that parliament sits rather than a uk capital where the uk parliament sits, return all foreign mp’s to their own country and parliaments/assemblies, return the welsh teams in the English league back to the welsh league………………..stand on our own two feet.

  2. “Even the well-supported nationalisms of the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Sinn Féin, which proclaim themselves to be progressive have had to struggle (and in some cases fail) to keep their nationalisms progressive.”

    Sinn Fein the political wing of a paramilitary group that murders British soldiers and has killed and bombed people? Nice to know the idea of ‘progressive’ nationalism that we English can aspire to in your mind.

    Given that top up fees ‘affect’ Scotland so Scottish MPs should vote on them for the English. Can we English and the other non-Scottish part of the UK get a vote on the decision of Scots to impose fees on them in Scotland even though the rest of the EU and Scottish students don’t have to pay them. After all it affects us. Funny how that doesn’t seem to bother you but it’s only in England we’re supposed to play lady bountiful and consider everyone else first.

  3. @tommy: Thank you for demonstrating my point that English nationalism is often little more than romantic flag-waving — county regiments, customs posts on England’s borders, Anglo-Saxon spelling (is ‘Englisc’ deliberate?), anthems, calling people foreigners, sports leagues… the complete recipe for jingoism!

    @Sarah: Regarding Sinn Féin, I am thinking about its entire 105-year history, rather than just since the 1970 split in the party. The original agenda of Sinn Féin was progressive nationalism. Thanks for quoting my words ‘struggle (and in some cases fail)’, because the violent nature that permeated Sinn Féin is what I was alluding to. Of course, I didn’t say what you’re trying to make say (again!): that English nationalists should aspire to be like Sinn Féin.

    Your point on top-up fees doesn’t really make much sense. The UK vote affected every part of the UK, albeit differently. The Scottish vote affected Scotland and Scottish students. So, to say that non-Scots should take part in the Scottish vote is doing the very thing that English nationalists accuse the Scots MPs of doing, but which is demonstrably untrue.

    • “I am thinking about its entire 105-year history, rather than just since the 1970 split in the party. ”

      That’ll be the history that has the party’s founder supporting attacks on Jews in Limerick would it? Oh course ‘progressives’ (surely the most worthless word in political discourse) seem to be quite fond of slagging off Jews these days and Sinn Fein isn’t English so that’s okay.

      “Your point on top-up fees doesn’t really make much sense. The UK vote affected every part of the UK, albeit differently. The Scottish vote affected Scotland and Scottish students. So, to say that non-Scots should take part in the Scottish vote is doing the very thing that English nationalists accuse the Scots MPs of doing, but which is demonstrably untrue. ”

      That’s because you want one rule for the English and another for everyone else but to pretend otherwise. Non-Scottish UK students in Scotland have to pay fees. The Scots do not. This was a decision by the Scottish parliament aimed at students from the rest of the UK studying in Scotland. One aim of the Scottish parliament in putting this in place was to to stop the flow of English students across the border to avoid the fees their country’s MPs had helped impose on them. Given that the fees affects English and other non-Scottish UK students and this move was a deliberate attempt to discriminate against English students they should have a vote on it or at least that is the logic you put forward when demanding the English check everyone else’s opinion before they should make a decision (and one that wasn’t directly aimed at discriminating against anyone else). It seems it matters not a jot to you if English students studying in Scotland are disadvantaged by the Scottish parliament but it’s totally unreasonable that Scottish students wanting to study in England might be put out by any ‘English’ decision making.

      • Arthur Griffith’s anti-Semitism is well documented, but Sinn Féin also had some prominent Jewish members. I am in no way a supporter of Sinn Féin, but am mentioning the fact that they defined themselves as progressive, and are trying to do so again now.

        No, I do not want ‘one rule for the English and another for everyone else’; that’s just bantering. Scottish students in the rest of the UK have to have their top-up fees paid for them by the Scottish Executive. In the end, the fees are paid by someone. Scottish students get a better deal, but the Scottish taxpayer pays for it. The Scottish Parliament voted against top-up fees because the majority of MSPs believed in free access to higher education. The fact that non-Scots pay the fees is because otherwise the Scottish Executive would have to pay for them. If you read the reports of the debate in the Scottish Parliament, you will see that that reflects the reasons for the vote. English students pay top-up fees everywhere, so it cannot be said that they are discriminated against. Scottish students have their fees paid for them, placing a greater burden on the Scottish taxpayers. Also, I never said anything like having the English check other’s opinions — where do you get your misreadings from?

        I am against top-up fees, and believe in free access to higher education, but I don’t agree with the simplistic take on these votes that require some English answer to a contrived English question.

  4. When I used the word “trash’ I intended it for the whole of the C of E.
    The supposed Cof E was co-opted by New Labour to promote regional assemblies and the abolition of England.The C of E should disestablish itself and perhaps call itself the Church of the Prescotts.
    The Political and Religious establishment that governs England has a very dim of view of us. The Church of England follows the political establishment by refusing to say “England” and considers itself the Church of Britain.
    English Nationalism is perceived as far right but that will change under a Tory government as we do not consider them to have England’s best interests at heart.We will be going after them too.

  5. I could fisk your article but I spent an hour replying to your previous article and I think did a fair job countering your arguments – you couldn’t even be bothered to acknowledge my effort.

    “I was shocked by the need to depict the English as persecuted, restricted and disempowered within a UK in which we make up around 83% of the population. If nationalism is about national liberation, nationalists feel the obvious need to conjure up an imagined captivity from which to liberate us.”

    The “English” are disempowered within a UK that denies the existence of England. A nation with no form of parliament is non nation. We have politicians that talk about legislation pertaining solely to the territory formerly known as “England” that call it “the regions” or “our country” or “the country” I call this land England. The English have never been consulted on the abolition of England – regionalisation, or indeed on mass immigration into England or entry into a federal European Union. I call this oppression. And the cure is the re-establishment of our English Parliament.

    That you’re a member of the Church of England doesn’t surprise me. Whilst the Church of Scotland spoke loudly and clearly on calling for the Scottish Parliament. The pathetic CofE beats its chest over whether it should even fly the Cross of St George in case it offends someone.

    No-wonder your churches are empty.

  6. @tally: Thanks for your conspiracy theory. I agree with you that the C of E should disestablish too, but that’s probably about the only agreement we have.

    @Wyrdtimes: There were lots of comments before, and I was not able to reply to all of them. I am replying to you now.

    The UK does not ‘deny the existence of England’. That is fanciful, as we have a state that regularly uses the word. We have English law (that covers Wales too) and we have the Cross of St George on the Union Jack (and no Welsh symbol). It is demonstrably untrue that England’s existence is denied, and, if this is the only support for a notion of English ‘disempowerment’, it is unsubstantiated.

    Next you make a far too casual remark about a nation’s need for a parliament. This article talks about the nation as imagined community. There is a problematic ethnic component in suggesting that sovereignty should be exercised by nation states. ‘Nation’, ‘state’ and ‘people’ are all complex concepts that do not permit such casual thinking.

    You continue with ‘The English have never been consulted on the abolition of England’. There has never been an explicit ‘abolition of England’, so you must be using a loaded term to describe to some move with which you disagree. If it’s the formation of the United Kingdom, then you’re wrong seeing as the 1707 Act of Union was voted by the Parliament of England. If you mean the former policy of regional assemblies, this was derailed by a referendum of the people of the North East. If you mean joining the European Union, this was popularly ratified in 1975 by referendum. All I can see is a loaded use of the term ‘abolition’ and disregard of our political history. I would expect someone who is so keen on constitutional reform to know our constitutional history better than this. So, leaping to the conclusion that we’re oppressed and demanding an English Parliament to sort it out, remains unsubstantiated.

    Actually, the Church of England has real issues to deal with rather than worrying about flags. That St George’s Flag flies daily from my church tower. I’ve been told that officially it should be the diocesan flag (which is a Flag of St George with the arms of the Diocese of London in the top corner), but this one is easier to get hold of. Anyway, I looking forward to seeing a whole lot of people in church tomorrow. But that’s not the point, you really just wanted to make this personal. So, not a high-quality argument there either.

  7. Gareth Hughes quote: “I believe that it’s important to approach the issue dispassionately and practically,”

    So, why didn’t you then?

  8. @Stephen Gash: Oh yes I did!

    How about pointing out something you think doesn’t follow that intention? Or how about making a comment that is dispassionate and practical? I’m just pointing out that English nationalists have not given any reasoned argument for their views, and everything ends up with calling people names.

  9. Every time I read this kind of article I heave a deep sigh of disappointment. What an opportunity to address the issues of English marginaliasation wasted in an attempt to contain a genie that is already out of the bottle.

    I will merely start with this “If you mean joining the European Union, this was popularly ratified in 1975 by referendum” .. question; did the EU actually exist in 1975 or were we asked to agree to join the ECC which was an agreement based on trade?

    You might actually persuade people who did not participate in that vote or are too young to know better, that it constituted an agreement to join to the EU – but I am afraid it won’t do, you know. Lack of truthfulness affects one credibility – and I voted in 1975, so I have a reasonable accurate knowledge of the subject.

    I try to be dispassionate about such issues as nationalism; whether it be Irish, scottish or welsh or whatever – the right of people to indentify with their country, their tribe, their football team seems to be instinctive. Not, I trust in the way of “My country right or wrong” – but rather in the recognition of shared history and culture.

    I also try to consider the justice involved – and that is where we part company – you see no inherent injustice in the present system, while I see great injustice done to the people of England in the attempt to maintain a historical political concept (Britan) which was built on shared ambition and now no longer has a reason for continuing – that is the union.

    The injustice as set out by Sarah actually exist and you cannot dismiss them – Well actually you can and do, but you should not if you have any feeling for natural justice!

    The very basis of democracy is its accountability – the three structures of the british state – crown, law and parliament are based on that very fact. Instead of reading the 1911 act read the 1667/8 one, dissect the 1707 act and get a real feel for the principles that underpin the British constitution and you might get a feel for what the English have had to surrender.

    Being accountable means that we the people have the right to choose our own representative in parliament and we have a right to reject them. It has always been recognised that power without accountability leads to dictatorship and tyranny.

    In the present situation the power to enact legislation still remains with Scottish MPs elected to the Westminster Parliament who were never elected by the English. (It also remains with the other devolved region’s MP’s as well, but I will use Scotland as an example for they have a higher profile in Westminster).

    Previously this did not matter, the laws enacted impinged upon all parts of the electorate equally – we may not have liked our MP’s but we could vote them out next time.

    With devolution this has changed. MP’s elected by a Scottish electorate now have no right to interfer with the domestic legislation devolved to the Scottish Assembly. Neither has any MP elected for an English seat the right to interfere in such matters. In this (while theoretically the British parliament still holds the right to overide such legislation it would be a foolish PM that allowed it.) the Westminster parliament has no moral authority.

    However all MP’s elected to Westminster do have the authority and the right to introduce, discuss, amend and vote on any legislation where the effect of that legislation (due to devolution) now only impacts on England even when that legislation has been discarded by their own devolved parliaments (top us fees, foundation hospitals etc).

    This injustice is felt more when the people of England, who are directly affected by such legislation, are not able to hold ALL MP’s involved in the passage of that legislation to account. That injutice is even more emphasised when the legislation in question is passed over the wishes of the majority of MP’s for English seats because of votes of unaccountable MP’s from devolved regions.

    In order for the exact state of affairs to be hidden – we find politicians such as Brown and Darling referring to ‘this nation’ (when they mean England) or ‘this’s country’s NHS’ when they have no authority to legislate for any other NHS except England – do I really need to belabour this point?

    It is a dangerous game that unionists play – because the longer the English are refused a political identity the worse the outcome is going to be. And it is far too late to try and push this particular genie back in the bottle.

    IMO You completely miss the point; and by trying to side track the discussion you declare yourself part of the problem not a part of the solution. The union has passed its use by date, surely even you can see that. If so, then what is going to be the alternative.

    You need to address that deep sense of injustice now being felt by the very phlegmatic English people – because failure to do so can only play into the hands of the BNP.

    But since you do not seem to find the IRA and its ilk totally obnixious perhaps that does not bother you; however I does bother me.

  10. Wow, it is amazing how two people at the same event can see things from completely different angles and remember completely different outcomes.

    I am not an English nationalist, but I remember arguing against your simplistic understanding of the British constitution. You floundered over the concept of constitutional equity and actually said “…the Constitution of the UK is spread throughout many acts of parliament”

    The constitution (of England, then England/Wales, then Britain, then the UK) is actually considered to be “unwritten”. It depends upon long held customs, precedents and practices (900 years worth!). Those of us that have studied written constitutions such as the American one, fully appreciate the value, power and beauty of one such as ours.

    There have been attempts to enshrine PARTS of the constitution on statute (eg 1911, 1949 and 1958) but they have mostly attempted to limit the House of Lords. They also coincide with a Labour or Liberal Administration, (presumably because there is no need if the land owning/vested interests, Tories are in).

    The latest bunch of legislation that deal with a (tiny) part of the constitution is very recent (post 1998 and Labour again) and mostly concerns devolution to Scotland, Wales and N Ireland.

    England has been omitted from this set of Acts and those of us who object to this omission have to take an English perspective, because there is no other. This is probably where your justice/nationalist confusion lies.

    Wanting to restore constitutional equity for the English (I know you struggle with this concept) does not necessarily mean its proponents are nationalists. I am a case in point.

    • Yes, the constitution is often called ‘unwritten’, meaning that it is not written in any single document or set of documents. It does not mean that the constitution does not consist of some written parts. Granted custom has an important role in the constitution, but the majority is actually written down, spread over a number of acts. If you want to take the popular term ‘unwritten constitution’ literally, you are missing the point. All modern (over the last few centuries) changes and codifications of constitution have been written down. You might see these are ‘parts’, but they are integral parts of constitution. What you call my ‘floundering’ is actually trying to cope with your misuse and misinterpretation of terms such as this. I think you used ‘constitutional equality’ as if it were a technical term, which it is not. All British citizens, bar one, are equal before the law. I also not that you are quite selective about which political parties have made constitutional changes. Any act of parliament that affects the functioning of the state is constitutional (there is no distinction between ordinary statute law and constitutional law as there is in other countries). The eventual ratification of the Maastricht Treaty was a major piece of Conservative constitutional law.

      As I pointed out, the population of Greater London is greater than that of Scotland. The overwhelming size of England within the UK is the one very good reason why there is no English Parliament. Can you imagine the destabilising influence of an English First Minister within the UK? Fair enough if you want to disrupt the Union, but otherwise it would be far bigger a fight than Ken Livingstone and Maggie Thatcher.

      Legal equity in the application of constitutional law?

  11. I do not deal in conspiracy theories.I observed and took part in the North East campaign against a regional assembly. The C of E was involved in the dismemberment of England.
    As I recall the Cof E was even involved in a yorks and humber claim of right similiar to the scottish claim of right.
    I understand if you know nowt about all this because it never got national coverage,England is below the radar by order. laugh if you like, we’ve been called all sorts of names.

  12. Gareth writes: “it is true that the majority of non-white Britons do not feel welcome or able to call themselves English”. Not true, actually. In a recent D of Justice survey (last year), details of which had to be obtained by a FOI request, more BAME people in England identified as English than British.

    “Thus, there is the clear distinction of Britishness being available as a non-ethnic identity as opposed to Englishness. The BNP would like us to re-imagine Britishness on ethnic grounds, while I and the more progressive English nationalists would like to see a re-imagining of Englishness along non-ethnic grounds. However, the ethnic distinction between Britishness and Englishness is real and active in our society.” So Englishness is just an imagined community, but Britishness can be a ‘real’, non-ethnic identity in contrast to Englishness?

    “I am uneasy about the creation of a democratic assembly that does not rank all elected members equally in terms of their voting rights and powers”. So you should be in favour of reforming the present House of Commons, in which Scottish MPs can vote on legislation that doesn’t directly affect their constituents but does affect the constituents of English MPs; but English MPs can’t vote on matters in corresponding policy areas affecting non-English voters.

    If your argument is that all legislation pertaining to England does have an indirect, knock-on effect on the other UK nations – and so their Westminster MPs should vote on them – then the reverse is surely true: the fact of Scottish people not having to pay university tuition fees (including when they attend English or Welsh universities) or the costs of personal care for the elderly, and having access to life-saving and -enhancing drugs that the NHS won’t fund in England, does affect English people, as it’s treating them unequally. So English MPs should have a say in those policies, which are undermining the unity and cohesion of the UK, which is what they’re in parliament to defend.

    I suppose you’d say they do have a say in these things in that they tolerate the system that creates these inequalities: asymmetric devolution and the Barnett Formula. Proof that they put the interests of the UK ahead of those of England and their own constituents. This is not flag waving or romanticism: these are bread and butter issues that directly affect people’s quality, and indeed length, of life.

    • I am glad that there is evidence that English identity is becoming more inclusive. I did write that I see evidence for this happening. I would like to know where the report on the survey you mention is published.

      No, all collective identity is imagined. You may want think that I’m a supporter of Britishness over Englishness (given your moniker), but that is not what I wrote. I used the ‘real’ to describe the distinction. However, note that imagined communities are not considered unreal in the slightest, and they have very real effects. What is imagined is the shared identity on which it is based.

      All MPs have equal voting rights regardless of where there constituency is. That is how I believe it should be, and that is why I oppose EVoEL.

      The argument about cause and effect that you make would be true if Scotland and England were equal in size and influence. As England is so much bigger than Scotland, an English cause has a prominent Scottish effect, whereas a Scottish cause as an imperceivable English effect. That is why the argument cannot be reversed in the way you suggest.

      In that the UK Parliament has not devolved power equally (even Scottish and Welsh devolution are not equal), there is a clear unevenness of the distribution of power. However, I suggest that the creation of English Parliament would create a dual power base in England, increasing the concentration of power in England. At present, the unevenness somewhat offsets this London power base.

      I am glad that you present the reasoned case rather than the romanticism, but this argument doesn’t necessarily lead to an English Parliament.

  13. “I am in no way a supporter of Sinn Féin, but am mentioning the fact that they defined themselves as progressive, and are trying to do so again now.”
    Wow so as long as you ‘define’ yourself as progressive you can support the murder of as many people as you like (so long as you’re not English). Says just about all you need to know about where you come from.

    “No, I do not want ‘one rule for the English and another for everyone else’; that’s just bantering.”
    Bantering is a term you’re using to try and brush off something that you don’t care to have pointed out. You’re quite happy for the English to be third class citizens, you’re quite happy to deny the English any comment on whether they would like say independence though everyone else in the UK should be consulted. You’re quite happy for the English to pay more money for university than anyone else though they pay the same amount of tax. God forbid say the Scots should pay tuition fees in England or Scotland but you’re quite happy for the English to do in both. Obviously this money will be coming from the English taxpayer (ie the students or their parents) but as it’s not the Scottish taxpayer that’s okay. The English should be happy to pay more for less in your world. It’s unreasonable for English universities to charge tuition fees without the Scots having a say even though the policy is not directly aimed at Scots but it’s perfectly fine for the Scottish universities to charge tuition fees just to non-Scottish UK students which is specifically aimed at them, not just fallout of a decision to apply tuitions fees as a general principle, but deny anyone other than Scots a say. As long as English students are equally discriminated against in both Scotland and England and Scottish students get better treatment that in your mind is fair. You quite clearly do have one rule for how the English should be treated (worse) and another for everyone else you just don’t care to have to pointed out. It interferes with the I believe in equality for all fantasy. Your twisting through hoops to claim second class treatment for the English is fine so long as it’s consistent throughout the UK reminds me of the ‘equality’ logic I’ve heard were employed against claims that mixed-race marriage bans in US states were not treating people equally and were therefore illegal. The punishment’s the same for both parties so therefore it can’t be unequal. That’s them told then.

    If you’re so keen on reasoned argument try putting one forward, ie one that doesn’t require subscribing to the paradigm that if you’re English you should be happy to be discriminated against.

    • No, this is bantering. I have nowhere supported Sinn Féin or any kind of nationalism, even those that call themselves progressive (as Sinn Féin does, and that’s why they were mentioned. However, you want repeatedly to twist it to depict me as a supporter of terrorism. That’s bantering, and your argument is ad hominem. Deal with the issues, without making everything a personal attack on me.

      ‘English to be third class citizens’ — really? That’s hyperbole.

      Yes, it’s true that English students have to pay top-up fees everywhere, and Scottish students do not. That gives Scottish students a better deal, but it doesn’t give Scotland a better deal, just a different one, seeing as the fee money still has to be found.

      No, I am against this fabrication of an image of poor, disadvantaged England.

  14. The UK Government decision to charge tuition fees to students at English Universities does of course indirectly affect Scotland. Likewise the Scottish decision not to charge tuition fees to Scottish students indirectly affects England, if only because it gives Scottish youngsters a competitive advantage in higher education and makes Scotland more attractive to students from the European Union than England.

    Many decisions taken by one country will indirectly affect the other. If Scotland improves its airports it may take traffic from Heathrow and business from England. If Scotland bans nuclear power generation it will, while the national grid is UK-wide, affect decisions on power generation in England (probably meaning more Nuclear stations). If Scotland insists on retaining British Summer Time it means the English must choose between being out of sync with Scotland or our of sync with Europe (I would choose the former). If Scotland introduces a minimum price for alcohol there may be booze warehouses set up in Berwick and/or the monks of Buckfast Abbey may loose there livelihood. If Scotland releases early a terrorist who murdered a couple of hundred Americans it affects England’s relationship with the United States and England’s security, if Scotland improves the pay and conditions of its public sector workers it may, and probably will, affect England by causing a drain of some of the best of them to Scotland and creating a demand in England for similar or better terms. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture.

    Such considerations did not debar the Scots from excluding the English from their domestic matters, nor should they debar the English from similarly excluding the Scots.

    It is perhaps worth adding that Scottish Westminster MPs have not confined themselves to voting on matters which might have some substantial indirect effect Scotland. They have prodded their noses into such issues as whether the English are allowed to smoke in pubs, hunt foxes, have live music in pubs, declare a public holiday on St. George’s day, set up hospital trusts, abolish summer time, and much more besides. The fact that only in the case of hospital trusts was this intervention decisive is neither here nor there. They have been give a licence to interfere in matters which do not affect their own constituents and, with the honourable exception of the SNP, have no hesitation in using it.

    Sarah is therefore right. If the Scots can interfere in our domestic arrangements because they might have a knock on effect on Scotland, England should enjoy the same privilege in relation to the Scots. The ratio of Scots to English MPs at Westminster is about one in nine. If it is fair for them to vote on “devolved” issues as they affect England it would equally be fair for the English to elect one ninth of Holyrood MSPs, to perform the same function on behalf of England. I am sure that the Scots would welcome such an arrangement just as much as I welcome their input into English governance.

    • Due to a massive difference in size, I would say that the Scottish vote has minimal impact on England, whereas the UK vote has an incredible impact on Scotland. It would seem to have been in the interest of Scotland for the UK vote to go against top-up fees. But, that was a problem of party whipping where a free vote would have been better. Your mention of EU students is interesting, because EU students in Scotland don’t pay top-up fees, but do in England. This is due to the principle that EU students pay local fees — we’d all be better off studying in the Netherlands!

      I live near Heathrow, and discussion about expansion is a hot topic here. I don’t think it’s going to stop being the massive transport hub it is any time soon. However, a lot of the things you mention, including airport development and power generation seem to be reserved business for the UK Parliament (i.e. the Scottish Parliament may not legislate on them). The stories about the booze warehouses of Berwick, Buckfast monks loosing their livelihoods, and rampaging terrorists are so good I can see a novel in your future.

      In the end, what gets voted on by the Scottish Parliament has next to no effect on England. After all, the decisions of the London Mayor affect more people.

  15. Being English by nationality AND by national and ethnic identity, I regard you as another self-important, pontificating, sanctimonious buffoon who does not want to call himself an English nationalist. Fair enough, but I do wish you’d cease attempting to prescribe for the rest of us.

    Frankly, I don’t think you add one jot to the cause of a separate parliament for England, whether within or without the UK, and I wish you’d find another tack rather than disparage English nationalists and English nationalism. Perhaps you could focus on Scottish or Welsh nationalism? On the other hand, that wouldn’t be PC would it and, besides, it’s so much better to have a pop at the English one way or another!

    I’m tired by feeble attempts to ‘define’ (and thereby to prescribe) Englishness [never Scottishness or Welshness, is it?] on the one hand, and attempts to prevent me from identifying myself as English and it being acknowledged and respected.

    In short, I choose my identity, and I don’t need to told by others what it is, especially when they single out the English for their unwanted strictures!

    Cheers!

  16. ****
    “I was even more surprised by the poor quality of their argument, much of which was ad hominem…”
    ****

    The ad hominem posters have got it completely right this time. Your opinions shouldn’t be dignified by detailed argument.

    The sooner you didactic, opinionated pseudo English stop telling the rest of us what we are, or should be, or how we should be treated, or how we should be regarded, the better.

    Do democracy a favour, just go away!

    • It’s been a busy Sunday, so I’ve only just got round to approving your comment. I notice your little page on Flikr, please update it.

      Ad hominem arguments are made by people unable or unwilling to engage with the issues raised. They are also nasty.

      When you call me ‘pseudo-English’, you take upon yourself the authority to define who is English and who is not. Maybe you should deport me!

      The point of democracy is allowing all a voice, so saying ‘go away’ is like saying that I should be disenfranchised!

  17. The writer doesn’t understand discrimination. Scotland and Wales, because of being nations, were offered the means to govern themselves on certain matters. England was not even thought about. That sends out a clear message that England is a lesser nation compared to Scotland or Wales.

  18. If you were to use the example of skin colour I would agree with you, but Rugby Union isn’t inherently exclusive – anyone can go to a rugby match. And in any case, English Rugby Union fans aren’t laying claim to English identity – they are simply expressing that identity.

    They’re hardly the BNP, an organisation who do have an exclusive idea of English identity and try to project that idea in order to marginalise those who do not fulfill it.

    For the record I am an English nationalist.

    I call myself an English nationalist because (imagined or not) I am English and feel a sense of belonging to England. The nationalist bit is because I believe that England, as a nation, has the same right to popular sovereignty and national governance as any other nation.

    • I agree with you, Toque, but I want to respond by saying that issues about identity are fluid. My example about rugby isn’t perfect, but I think it does show how a specific display of an identity is naturally exclusive. This is a fundamental problem with all identity politics. I have attempted to point out that nationalism, although neutral in itself, has to move as if through a minefield to these problems of exclusivity and ethnicity.

      The term ‘imagined community’ is a sociological theory about what the people who constitute a nation hold in common. It does not suggest that nations are unreal, as the effects of nationhood are quite real.

      I think there are problems with England = nation → it must be sovereign. Key to this is the definition of nation, and how nations are constituted. Whereas it is a democratic ideal that each citizen should have full and equal representation in the sovereign state. It is not part of that ideal that this be based on any type of identity. Historically, the sovereign state has often created its own national identity (Swiss for example). However, it is clearly difficult when two or more nation groups share the same geographical territory, as is the case in Northern Ireland, parts of the Balkans and Northern Mesopotamia. So, can I draw you on the complexities of the nation=sovereign equation?

      • Hi Gareth, I’m familiar with the imagined communities idea, and I agree with you that identities are fluid. As I wrote on What England Means to Me:

        “All of you reading this will have your own evocative idea of England and the extent to which it marries with mine is less a measure of your Englishness and more a measure of the fact that England means different things to each of us. If Englishness exists, if England exists in any meaningful sense, then it is the product of our collective psyche, a sum of parts, the national consciousness and self-awareness of the nation of England. The England of today is ephemeral because England is ever changing, transmitted like DNA through the generations and related to, but subtlety different from, the England before.”

        A nation is self-defining, and if England wants to be self-determining then that’s all the justification my nationalism needs. It is the ethnic English who contribute most to our concept of England, but they are not the only ethnic group who have, do or will contribute to our English national identity. It has always been thus, until recently. Sadly England has lost the tools that a nation needs to integrate diverse peoples under one flag, into a national community. Civic nationalism – English democracy, English government and national civic institutions – is a force for integration and inclusion. The alternative is to deny England a national voice and to concentrate on Britishness whilst allowing Scotland and Wales the tools that are denied to England. If you want to concentrate on Britishness to the detriment of English national identity, then as far as I am concerned there is little point complaining about the English looking to express their national identity through illegitimate avenues (EDL, BNP, etc), what Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has called “the white-flight into Englishness”. Either give England legitimate expression or watch as others fill the political vacuum.

        BTW, I differentiate between ethnic and national identity, although the two are closely related depending on the nation under question. My wife is Canadian and if she gave birth to our child in Canada and we raised it there, it’s national identity would be Canadian, but the fact that both my wife and I are English by ethnicity would mean that our child would be too. Ethnicity is like family – you can’t pick it. National identity is far more subjective, and it’s that which I want to build amongst all people irrespective of race, religion and origin for the future health and well-being of England.

        I don’t see Britishness as the collective identity of the English, Scots and Welsh. I don’t know if you have ever lived in Scotland or Wales, I’m guessing not. If you had I’m sure that you would understand that the Scottish and Welsh – particularly the Scottish – conceptions of Britain are very different to English ideas about Britain and the Union.

  19. Re my deleted comment at 11:56;

    ****
    ‘The ad hominem posters have got it completely right this time. Your opinions shouldn’t be dignified by detailed argument.

    The sooner you didactic, opinionated pseudo English stop telling the rest of us what we are, or should be, or how we should be treated, or how we should be regarded, the better.

    Do democracy a favour, just go away!’
    ****

    Perhaps you fondly think that the questioning of your fitness to pontificate on us English has been consigned to oblivion. If so you are in gross error.
    It can be found here together with the truth about your POWER 2010 ant-democratic lobby.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sir_garlichad/4375664125/in/set-72157623480102222/

    • Your comment wasn’t deleted. What are you going on about? Do you have anything to say on the issues, or do you just want to call me, an Englishman, an anglophobe?

      I also love your idea of democracy for ants!

  20. An interesting post, much of which I agree with (although I would go for much greater regional devolution than your rather timid proposals which, in their minimalist approach, essentially re-echo those of the present government).

    However, I must pick you up on your comments on top-up fees. I should perhaps first mention that I regard student loans as morally pernicious, by enuring young people, when they are most open to influence, to the idea that it is not only fine, but also state-recommended that they should enter into unsecured debt likely to take 10 years to pay off if they are lucky. No wonder excessive indebtedness is regarded as normal these days. My point is that there is no direct correlation between education spending in England and that in Scotland of the kind you suggest, which would “force Scotland into this education funding conundrum”.

    The Barnett consequential, which is what you are referring to, does not hypothecate particular expenditure in this way. Instead it is a pot, and operates (in the case of Scotland) by reference to all expenditure in England which relates to functions which are devolved in Scotland. The money obtained from the additional fees payable by English residents to be funded by student loan only reduces Scottish block grant under the Barnett formula if it were to be diverted to expenditure on reserved matters (for example, defence or foreign aid) or were to be used to lower general taxation. This simply cannot be traced through in the way you suggest, but even if you could trace it through and show that it had reduced Scottish block grant, it does not mean that the Scottish government is required to channel the loss into their own education services. Furthermore, if the top-up fees were to have been used to lower general taxation, the Scottish Parliament could exercise their right to increase income tax by up to 3% in Scotland to make up the reduced tax-take from Scottish residents brought about by the UK treasury.

    I may be being unduly influenced by my deprecation of state sponsored student debt, but it seems to me quite reasonable that MPs for constituencies in England should be entitled to say “hang on, we don’t agree with this”. If your point about the Barnett consequential were right, then don’t forget that it doesn’t just prevent English votes on English laws, but it prevents any significant devolution in England, including to regional institutions, which would inevitably diminish the power of MPs in the UK parliament for non-English constituencies to determine priorities such as education spending in England. If the Barnett consequential is really a brake on devolution in England in the way you suggest (which I do not think it is) then I would suggest it is the funding system which needs to change, rather than removing the democratic right of people to decide their own priorities.

    Such a funding change could of course be achieved by a move to a needs based formula to replace the Barnett formula. You should be pressing for that.

  21. “However, overall, I was shocked by the need to depict the English as persecuted, restricted and disempowered within a UK in which we make up around 83% of the population. If nationalism is about national liberation, nationalists feel the obvious need to conjure up an imagined captivity from which to liberate us.”

    Just because the English are the majority in the UK doesn’t mean they’re not persecuted, restricted and disempowered. Using your logic would mean that blacks in South Africa could not have been disempowered, since they were the majority. You suggest the numerical superiority of the English automatically translates into political superiority but it doesn’t necessarily work that way.

    England is under the thumb of a UK parliament and a Scottish Prime Minister. This parliament believes that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are deserving of democracy via their own parliaments, but that England is not. Why on earth are the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish allowed to meddle in England’s affairs when we can’t do the same back to them? Why does the UK government consistently avoid saying the world England, except perhaps when it comes time to denounce racists?

    When Gordon Brown talks of “A Britain of Nations and Regions”, which are the Nations and which are the Regions? Does Scotland get carved up into artificial regions, or is it only England singled out for the butchers block?

    “I am English and proud to be English. I own an English football shirt (somewhere)”

    Well done you, for owning an English football shirt somewhere. I’m English and proud to be English and I can’t stand football. Football is just another sport to me, irrelevant to my national identity. Sport is a charade, a safety valve that leads nationalism up a cul de sac.

    “Many of my friends are not English, and I find their perspective on Englishness very useful.”

    I fail to see how their perspective is useful. My feelings about my own ethnicity are not determined by foreigners.

    “As I live in the shadows of Twickenham Rugby Stadium, the Six Nations Tournament, playing at the moment, turns the streets around my home into a veritable carnival of Englishness every time the English rugby team play a home match. There are shirts, hats and flags, songs and chants, and a jovial sense of imagined community. However, I’m also aware that this demonstration of Englishness is inherently exclusive, as many from the North of England would simply say that it’s not their game (being mainly supporters of rugby league rather than rugby union), that Yorkshire-folk would be additionally put off at the sight of a red rose being used as a symbol of England (Yorkshire’s symbol is the white rose, against the rival red rose of Lancashire). Also, we cannot deny that there are issues of class surrounding English rugby union (traditionally played in English grammar and fee-paying schools). Thus, although the English revellers be unaware of it, their expression of national identity is inherently partial and exclusive.”

    Again you bring football into the discussion. We’re here to talk about political issues. The English did exist before football.

    “Here is the rub, when we talk about identity, we are automatically separating those with a certain identity from those without it, constructing an us–them polarisation.”

    Why is that a rub? Of course there is a separation. People do it all the time. Do you attack the Welsh for creating an us-them polarisation? What about Muslims?

    Why is an us-and-them polarisation a bad thing?

    “However, nothing is that straightforward. Over the last half-century this country has benefited from mass immigration, boosting skills and labour, and enriching culture.”

    Enriching whose culture exactly? This implies that English culture needed enriching. I suppose when the British colonised Australia they boosted skills and labour and enriched the culture of the Aborigines?

    “The BNP would like us to re-imagine Britishness on ethnic grounds, while I and the more progressive English nationalists would like to see a re-imagining of Englishness along non-ethnic grounds. However, the ethnic distinction between Britishness and Englishness is real and active in our society.”

    So if English ceased to be an ethnicity, then what do you propose English people categorise themselves as when filling in forms?

    Would you also like to like to see a re-imagining of Scottishness along non-ethnic grounds? Welshness? Irishness? Pakistaniness? Indianness? Afro-Caribbeanness?

    What is your opinion on ethnicity questions on government forms?

    “One problem I came across was the assumption by English nationalists that, if one is English and holds the English national interest at heart, one must be an English nationalist. It is a deceptive conflation of the concepts of nation and nationalism (albeit innocently made). The nation is an imagined community based on perceived things held in common; a nationalism is a political agenda in which the concept of nation is a prime motivation. Of course there can be a plurality of English nationalisms, each being a distinct political agenda motivated by a concept of Englishness. Although English nationalists may believe that their political agenda is the best course of action for the nation, it is not necessarily true that is the best. A national interest is a slippery thing, and valuing the concept of nation does not make a nationalism a lightning rod of the national interest.”

    If you don’t value the nation then you can’t by definition have the nations interest at heart. You’ll need to define terms like “best” and “national interest”. As far as I can see nationalists are by definition most concerned about the nation.

    “I know that there are some English nationalists who espouse progressive political ideals, but we should not be blind to the fact that nationalisms have most often been on the agenda of the political Right”

    What exactly are “progressive” political ideas? Is “progressive” just a synonym for “left-wing”? Couldn’t someone be a right-wing progressive? You seem to determine progress to mean the progress of your particular, presumably left-wing multiculturalist, political ideals. If right-wing nationalist ideals progress then that is also progress. What is or isn’t progressive is subjective.

    “I am wary of ‘English votes on English laws’ because it conceals its true intent: no non-English votes on English laws. Thus, it is primarily about stopping the MPs elected from non-English constituencies from voting on certain bills.”

    Yes, that is exactly what it is about and why I support it relative to the status quo.

    “Likewise, the idea of an English Parliament within the UK (if the other nations seek independence, an English Parliament is necessary of course, but it’s likely to be a rearranged UK Parliament) is a white elephant.”

    And what about if ENGLAND seeks independence? Why do people like yourself consider independence to be the prerogative of “the other nations”? Independence is surely the prerogative of all the nations is it not?

    “Legislating on issues pertaining to 83% of the population on issues that are not reserved by the UK Parliament would create a massive duplication of responsibility and power. In the end, England is too big a sector of the UK to make an effective devolvement of central government control. What is useful in principle, though the practice has other issues, is what I have here in London: a strategic authority with responsibilities between that of the boroughs and central government for a population over 2 million larger than that of Scotland. The vote on a regional assembly for the North East failed because of local dismay in historic boundaries being removed or changed. To keep the effective top-tier units of the UK of similar size, I would support giving such intermediate responsibility to large city-regions and to large counties or groups of counties — meaningful units. The English nationalists decry this ‘break up’ of England, but it is no more breaking up the country as is allowing local government. Even if the New Labour policy of regional assemblies were implemented, England would be as it ever was, not broken up, but a proud and prominent part of these islands.”

    If England was broken up into 9 artificial regions, then where would England actually exist in law and in government? The UK is Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. The government currently recognises Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and “the rest” or “the regions”. England will have no legal recognition.

    If you believe devolution is only about population, then do you think it was just a coincidence that the requisite populations just happened to coincide exactly with the borders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? Why wasn’t a parliament created for “Northern Britain” which could include York and Manchester and Liverpool?

    We perceive that England is being singled out for the butcher’s block because we are being denied what Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have enjoyed for 10 years. Northern Ireland on-and-off for 90! You say it’s only about population, well how convenient for the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish that their populations so neatly matched the criteria. Lucky them. What exactly was the population criteria? 2 million worked for NI, 3 million worked for Wales, and 5 million worked for Scotland. Isn’t Scotland a bit big for a parliament? Maybe Scotland should have two regional parliaments, to make more “meaningful units”.

    “In conclusion, English nationalism is more about romanticism, flag waving and over-simplification of the political agenda. Such an agenda has the worrying potential to move into dangerous territory, but more generally deflects from the real issues of our democratic deficit, economic recovery, increasing numbers of people in poverty, health, education and jobs. It would be nice however if an English nationalist tried a reasoned argument.”

    English nationalism hardly deflects from the issue of democratic deficit. It addresses it head-on, unlike the LibLabCons which dance around it. Surely by having it’s own parliament looking out for it’s interests exclusively, England can better look out for the other issues. Healthcare in particular seems to have benefited from devolution in Scotland and Wales, where the devolved parliaments voted to heavily subsidise healthcare at England’s expense.

    You can’t criticise English nationalism all you like, but it’s on the rise and it’s not going away. And if you support democracy, then you must believe that English nationalism had a valid role in the political discourse of the UK. If you care to look at opinion polls, they consistently demonstrate 40-60% support for an English parliament. You might not want an English parliament, but many English do. Do you support a referendum on the issue?

    You say you’re proud to be English, so I put this question to you:

    How has membership in the UK benefited England?

    • No, the English are not persecuted in England. Yes, it is possible for a majority to be persecuted by the minority cabal. Who exactly is persecuting you? The English are numerically and politically superior in the UK; it’s not a case of one necessarily leading to the other, but that does happen in the allocation of seats in the Commons.

      Your paralleling of immigration to this country with the settlement of Australia is alarming, which involved the treatment of the native population as sub-human. Immigration has been vital to our economy; after all, the vast majority are economic migrants, coming for work.

      Actually, re-imagining of identities is constantly going on around us. A re-imagining of Englishness as not ethnic, is about incorporating those who are ethnically excluded, not making any ethnicity cease to exist. Forms are for putting people in boxes, many of us don’t fit them.

      Nationalists are most concerned with the identity of a nation, but that does not automatically lead to nationalism being the best political agenda for those of a nation.

      I believe that any part of the UK seeking independence will cause a lot of difficult discussions throughout the Union. The larger the chunk that wants to succeed, the more difficult the discussion. I think Scottish independence will ask many awkward questions about how shared assets (like nuclear submarines) are divided. If England were to seek independence, it would be more complex. Especially because it would effectively become a move for the total dissolution of the Union, which would thus involve the input of the other parts of the UK.

      I live in Middlesex. Lots of people use the county’s name in their postal addresses, and there are plenty of things around here named after the county. It still exists, and we don’t need a county council for it to exist.

      No, it’s not all about population; it’s also about meaningful units (which England is) and practical units (which England isn’t within the UK). I outlined the practical problems of an English Parliament within the UK, and this is based on relative population size.

      I don’t not see how an English Parliament would have sufficiently different interests from a UK Parliament that is 80% English. Yes, marginal votes, like that for top-up fees, would be affected, but, on the whole, an English Parliament would likely have a similar voting record to a UK Parliament.

      Your final question is non sequitur: it does not follow that my English pride necessitates a belief in the beneficial nature of the Union. I do not see the Union as necessarily beneficial or not to England. Although, I can see that its dissolution could be non-beneficial.

  22. My apologies for falsely accusing you of deleting the initial comment.

    Initially it was displayed as awaiting moderation, then, when this page was re-visited later, it seemed to have disappeared. I am at fault for not checking again before posting the second comment.

    The rest stands.

  23. Toque says: BTW, I differentiate between ethnic and national identity, although the two are closely related depending on the nation under question. My wife is Canadian and if she gave birth to our child in Canada and we raised it there, it’s national identity would be Canadian, but the fact that both my wife and I are English by ethnicity would mean that our child would be too. Ethnicity is like family – you can’t pick it. National identity is far more subjective, and it’s that which I want to build amongst all people irrespective of race, religion and origin for the future health and well-being of England. I take issue with aspects of this, not least his propensity [as with far too many uncomprehending folk] to prescribe for others, in this case a child (albeit his) born in Canada.

    Permit me to amplify. The Race Relations Act 1976 (amended) perforce must be at the crux of any discussions about ethnicity, national origin and nationality etc by reason of the fact that it (confusingly) extends far beyond mere ‘racial discrimination’ which, originally, it was presented as. [Indeed, I believe that towards the end of his life, Roy Jenkins, the ‘ethnic minority’ who as Home Secretary piloted the Act through Parliament expressed misgivings about its unintended and unexpected effects.]

    In addition to ‘race’ and ‘colour’, the 1976 Act specifies (separately) ‘nationality’ AND ‘ethnic or national ORIGINS’ as constituting (severally or jointly) ‘racial groups’ having the right not to be discriminated against. Those wishing to grasp the legal difference between ‘nationality’ and ‘national identity (ie origin)’ might benefit from perusing the judgements in Ealing LBC v The Race Relations Board [1972] which gave rise to the inclusion of ‘nationality’ which had not been included in the 1968 Race Relations Act. [Souster v The BBC (2001) adds to that knowledge and constitutes a legal precedent.]

    In short, ‘nationality’ (as distinct from citizenship which successive governments have tried to make synonymous) relates to place of birth, whilst ‘ethnic or national origins’ relate to ancestry. Therefore, it follows that ANYONE who was born in England is at liberty to identify themselves as having ‘English NATIONALITY’, unless they’ve been conditioned (as have so many, and not solely those of immigrant stock) to regard themselves as solely British (eg British Muslim, British Sikh etc ~ in marked contrast to those born or raised in Scotland or Wales!). Therefore, the scope for nationality is somewhat limited to whatever an individual regards as the ‘national’ name of the territory in which they were born.

    It is ‘ethnic or national origins’ which can afford much more scope arising from the greater permutations grand parents can create (bloodlines) and where one grows up (cultural).etc. However, it is for the individual to choose his/her ethnic or national origin ie identity, no one else, not even parents! Therefore, a child born in Canada of solely English stock or even English & Canadian stock is at liberty to regard their national origins/identity as English . . . or, of course, Canadian!

    I cannot emphasise enough how much I oppose the widespread propensity to prescribe definitions for others. With it goes the presumption that those, like me, who unqualifyingly assert our Englishness are some how exclusive. The reality is that others are exclusive ~ others seek to prevent me from recording my identity as English and to exclude me from that racial group. The reality is that we, as a racial group, are being singled out for discrimination in our own land. If HM Government and its agencies continue with its undeclared policy of preventing the English (whoever they are) from identifying themselves as English, we will no longer exist as a racial group with our own legal entitlements.

    It is preposterous that those who profess to be English seek (whether through ignorance or by design) to treat us less favourably than others. Applying a criterion such as “England is too big a sector of the UK to make an effective devolvement of central government control.” which was not applied to Scotland and Wales in either 1979 or 1997 is but one example of muddled thinking. The converse is that THEY were too small to have national governments with devolved powers PLUS disproportionately more Members of Parliament with fewer responsibilities in the British Parliament.

    Quite simply, England is the oldest and largest nation in what is risibly called the UK, and morally entitled to determine without interference her own Education, Health, Health Care Services and Transport etc! One can hardly claim that to think otherwise is ‘English’!
    __________________
    PS: I love the link to a website from which I have been excluded without any explanation by Toque.

    • Alan, I’m with you on the importance of these legal definitions, but would like to add that they are not the only definitions that should be used. The reason for this is that legal definitions are forced to put an issue in black and white. The sociological definitions are more complex.

      At the heart of this is the use of the word ‘nation’ to refer to two different yet related things: a geographical political entity and a group of people who recognise a shared heritage. The latter may or may not have an ethnic element to it. And the problem is that we can use English to refer to people who belong to the geographical entity (by the jus soli outlined in your comment), we can use it to refer to an ethnic group (albeit the definition of an ethnic group is somewhat tricky too), or we can use it for something in between that is non-ethnic group of people sharing a common heritage based on the geography. I see a quite casual slipping between these modes of meaning in the thinking of English nationalists, and wish to point it out.

      All groupings of human beings must be exclusive. I have attempted to point out that all nationalisms face a difficulty of interpreting and applying their specific national identity in a way that is sufficiently inclusive.

      You say that ‘we, as a racial group, are being singled out for discrimination in our own land’. I think it better to avoid the overabused word ‘race’ (for we are one human race in the end); ‘ethnicity’ covers what you’re getting at. The use of the word ‘discrimination’ is also loaded, and, I think, misused. I would find it offensive if a White English person complained about discrimination here in England, when there are others who face real and aggravated discrimination in this country. What are these supposed slights? I find it unreasonable to consider top-up fees for English students discrimination.

      • As I’ve already said to Toque, they are not really definitions but legal terms. Paradoxically, they do not reduce issues to being black or white, and the need to define them is very much an element in the difficult area of discrimination.

        With all due respect, I’m not sure where your second paragraph above leads us.

        In your third paragraph, I disagree with your assertion that “All groupings of human beings must be exclusive.” – assuming that I understand it. As for your second assertion, I would opine that ALL nationalisms do not necessarily need to “interpret and apply their specific national identity in a way that is sufficiently inclusive”; this is an assumption on your part. I want a separate parliament for England and I regard that as a nationalist position, but it does not require me to do all those things which you concoct for nationalists.

        As for your fourth paragraph . . . I find it to be whimsical. If you find it “unreasonable” to regard top-up fees as “discrimination” where English students are singled out to pay them not only in England but in Scotland where Scottish students are largely exempted, and where Scottish students are also exempted when they study in one of England’s universities, where even students from other EU members states pay less in fees than the English, perhaps you’d find another word which describes the situation as succinctly and as accurately? Applying your scruples, we might say that all those unfortunates in the Nazis concentration camps weren’t murdered, but put to sleep? Sounds better, doesn’t it?

  24. What I am discussing is personal identity, not legal definitions as prescribed by the Race Relations Act.

    My hypothetical child would be perfectly willing to state his/her ethnic identity in whichever way it chooses, but it would be illogical for it to do so.

    • Those on weak ground often resort to using more general [ie less precise] terms. Are we now to understand that differentiating “between ethnic and national identity” is not “personal identity”?

      Are we also being invited to conclude that no statutory definitions apply or are relevant to your discussions? Who is being arbitrarily exclusive now?

      It appears that some interpretations of “ethnic” are rather limited. Contemporary usage of “ethnic” or “ethnicity” includes two elements: bloodlines and culture, which are often inextricably connected, but not always, especially in today’s mobile world.

      Anyone is free to assume whatever ethnic identity they wish – even Martian – and that can have a logic. After all, in today’s cockeyed world we are now required to regard males who have decided that they are female at ‘face value’, even after they have fathered children!

      It is citizenship which may not be changed without authorisation. Unfortunately, there are too many who wish to tell others what we are and what we are supposed to think.

  25. I haven’t mentioned citizenship. The fact that there are statutory definitions doesn’t mean that I agree with them or advocate for them.

    Go and complain to the Government because I have no say over the Race Relations Act, flattering though it is that you think this is within my power to change.

    • Pray, who did say that you mentioned citizenship? You really must learn to focus! That way you might have a chance of sticking with the subject.

      To be precise, I did not mention legal definitions; I referred to legal [more precisely, statutory] terms!

      Neither, on any reasonable interpretation, did I suggest or imply that you have any say over the Race Relations Act. On the contrary, your too apparent incomprehension about these matters would render any such notion invalid. This would explain why you need the whip hand and why, without any explanation, you have blocked me from posting any comments on your misleadingly entitled English Parliament online. (I observe that you’ve ducked responding to that bit of shabby conduct!) Unfortunately, it doesn’t deter you from posting your inadequate comments elsewhere, presuming to instruct me what I should do.

      Keep shifting ground Gareth and, while you’re on the move, go and learn some decent manners yourself.

  26. @Alan England: I mentioned the need to discuss what we mean by ‘nation’, to which you replied “I’m not sure where your second paragraph above leads us”. It is natural that you might want to avoid the meaning of ‘nation’, as the fields of sociology and political studies point out that the concept of ‘nation’ often used in casual speech, and perpetuated by nationalisms, is an oversimplification of the issue.

    I point out the importance of inclusiveness for nationalisms as a means of guarding against the obvious pitfalls of nationalism, ethnocentrism and xenophobia. Although, some would want to turn these into virtues, history informs us they are not.

    The hyperbole I find in the need among English nationalists to demonstrate the downtrodden situation of the English is incredible. You slip from talking about students’ top-up fees to talking about Nazi concentration camps! Do you understand how inappropriate and insensitive it is to compare this controversial issue with the mass murder of millions?

    And now, Alan, you just end by being plain rude. I have been courteous with you and tried to engage with your points in discussion. As I have experienced the published ad hominem attacks on this website, I have not engaged in a personal slanging match. It is a shame that you have to finish with a sour “go and learn some decent manners yourself”. It displays the level of disrespect that you seem to be concerned about.

    • On a point of information: my adjuration “go and learn some decent manners yourself” was addressed to Gareth Young [aka Toque] for the reasons recorded above it.

      On another point of information: I do not regard such comments as ‘slanging’, which my dictionary describes as “very informal words and phrases that are more common in speech than in writing and are used by a particular group of people”. In my book, it is plain rude to misrepresent comments in that way, regardless of the tone adopted.

      .

  27. It is disappointing to see how many people are prepared to engage in futile argument with a Nelson premiss, and the responses which arrive from the flawed perspective of the wilfully blind.

    My arguments are contained in a simple cross, the one which goes into the ballot box, and there are emerging signs that we true English are at last being presented with real alternatives to the tri-partite elected dictatorship.

    We should let the anti-English, in their lofty erudition, continue presenting their ‘dispassionate’, distorted view of democratic reality. Our answer to them lies in the ballot box, not in the circulating sophistry of intellectual elitism.

    • Yes, why has Englishness and English nationalism been analysed ad nausuem? Those that do so ~ invariably critically ~ never seem to get around to applying similar treatment to Scottishness and Scottish nationalism or Welshness and Welsh nationalism or Irishness or Irishness nationalism. Oh no, only the Englishness and English nationalism have warts and no redeeming features.

      Occasionally (as we have here), we have the spectacle of a self-proclaimed English person taking licence to look down on the Englishness and English nationalism. Often, anti-English sentiments are recorded such as “Over the last half-century this country has benefited from mass immigration, boosting skills and labour, and enriching culture” with no balancing observations, the implication being that (A) immigrants come here unselfishly to benefit England, not themselves; (B) the English would not have had sufficient skills or culture; and (C) only England and the English allegedly benefitted from having foreigners dump themselves here.

      As for ad hominem attacks, Gareth should try expressing similar criticisms of the other nationalities mentioned above. Now there I would concede that they could give us lessons in being abusive!

      .

  28. It’s funny that Alan continues his personal remarks about me by calling me a ‘self-proclaimed English person’. Is there any other kind? I didn’t realise one needed a licence to talk about one’s country.

    A: immigration has benefited both the immigrants and England in general; I never mentioned anything about ‘unselfishness’, that was Alan’s addition.
    B: most immigrants take unskilled and low-paid jobs that the English do not want or are too well-skilled for; highly skilled immigrants have filled much needed posts in the NHS as doctors and nurses; Jamaican mechanics kept the planes flying during the Battle of Britain; an enriched culture is a product of diversity.
    C: rubbish is dumped, but this is the verb used of ‘foreigners’, that is thinly veiled xenophobia; immigration is economically desirable to most countries, providing cheap labour and meeting skills shortages; there are problems with employers who abuse migrant labour, but that is not the fault of the immigrants.

    • 1. It’s funny that Alan continues his personal remarks about me by calling me a ’self-proclaimed English person’. Is there any other kind? I didn’t realise one needed a licence to talk about one’s country. 1A. I was contrasting your ‘self-proclaimed’ Englishness with the unbalanced criticism which accompanied it. Unbalanced because the anti-English piece contains not a single approbatory comment about either England or the English. Is there any other kind? Of course not, because the Scots dominated British Government prevents the English from recording their identity as far and as much as possible. Your facetious remark about ‘needing a licence’ is born of your failure to be aware of your anti-Englishness whilst professing to be proud of being English.

      2. (A) immigration has benefited both the immigrants and England in general; I never mentioned anything about ‘unselfishness’, that was Alan’s addition. 2A. It would seem that you do not appreciate the difference between an implicit and an explicit opinion.

      3. (B:) most immigrants take unskilled and low-paid jobs that the English do not want or are too well-skilled for; highly skilled immigrants have filled much needed posts in the NHS as doctors and nurses; Jamaican mechanics kept the planes flying during the Battle of Britain; an enriched culture is a product of diversity. 3A. I would expect you to defend immgrants in any event. Funny how the economic law of Supply & Demand is put into abeyance when it might benefit wage rates in England. No, it’s so much better to import cheap labour regardless of all the other costs. Which category of citizen puts the most demand on England’s NHS? Young people? No! Mature adults? No! Old people? No! It’s mothers and babies! Which category of citizen has disproportionately more mothers and babies? The indigenous community? No! Immigrants? Yes!

      Yes, immigrants are so wonderful that they also put disproportionate pressure on England’s Education Services, Housing, Transport [including road congestion] and, of course, prison accommodation. It was so good of those Jamaican (unskilled?) mechanics for keeping our planes flying. Let’s overlook all those English mechanics who did! After all, we only selfishly engaged in the 2nd World War for our own benefit, and no one else’s. Yep Jamaica and the rest of the West Indies could have been so much better-off under the Nazi jackboot! Will Gareth address this point or adopt his usual strategy of shifting onto other ground, we ask?

      It is also funny how an international or global approach is adopted when convenient [eg for economic reasons, but NOT when it might benefit England and the English community [ie for societal or sociological purposes] ~ such are the double-standards of anti-English xenophiliacs! [There, Gareth, others can employ your tactic, for what it is worth! Now challenge me on this point!]

      4. (C:) rubbish is dumped, but this is the verb used of ‘foreigners’, that is thinly veiled xenophobia; immigration is economically desirable to most countries, providing cheap labour and meeting skills shortages; there are problems with employers who abuse migrant labour, but that is not the fault of the immigrants. 4A. ‘Xenophobia’! Wot a terrible crime ~ but xenophilia, especially obsessive xenophilia, is unnatural and even worse! Yes, it’s so important to pin a label on everyone and everything regardless of how unsubstantiated, isn’t it Gareth? The feebleness of your allegation is in inverse proportion to your propensity to arbitrarily label something. I suppose this is what one does when checkmated. Whether or not it is the ‘fault’ of immigrants is beside the point and it does not justify their huge numbers here in England . . . disproportionately fewer go to Scotland, Wales or N ireland, which is why England’s population is increasing as a proportion of the total UK population. [Do Syriacists comprehend this kind of arithmetical point?]

      .

  29. But, Alan, that’s not what you said; you used ‘self-proclaimed’ as a put down without explaining how one can be any other kind of Englishman. Whatever you were trying to say about my criticisms, which you judge to be ‘unbalanced’, this was nothing more than personal remark. You call me ‘facetious’. On a number of occasions you have made such offensive remarks. I shall argue with you on fact, not trade personal insults. Please follow basic etiquette.

    2A: I didn’t imply ‘unselfishness’, you expressed that.

    Your approach to immigration seems to have more in common with stringing together tabloid headlines than a reasoned argument. When human beings are described as a drain on healthcare resources, I worry about the direction this dehumanising will lead. Immigration also provides significant resources in staffing in the NHS, but that side of the equation is ignored.

    Skilled Jamaican mechanics were the unsung heroes of the Battle of Britain. They were a significant factor in keeping the planes flying. I have said nothing else about the Second World War, so please don’t imply something I haven’t said. You then ask me to address a ‘point’ that you don’t specify so you can go on to accuse me of dodging it. Write a specific question and I’ll give you a straight answer.

    If I am a xenophile, I’m quite proud to be one, for it is better, in my mind, to love the stranger than fear them. No, xenophobia is not a crime, but has been known to lead to crime. I simply beg to differ: I do not see how fear of the foreign can be a positive motive. There may be something natural in human wariness of the unknown, but where there is knowledge there is room for more thoughtful engagement. I regarded your choice of language — ‘dumped’ — as belying a xenophobic view, as it demonstrates a certain lack of fellow-feeling for human beings.

    So, you feel you have checkmated me? I didn’t realise we were playing chess.

    Finally, I agree with you about the problem of the lack of fair distribution of immigration throughout the UK. However, the problem clearly lies with our London-centred economic map. The South West, the North East of England and much of rural England are not greatly affected by immigration, whereas South Wales and central Scotland have seen significant immigration. I think it, therefore, incorrect to label the distribution of immigration as a burden on England within the UK, where there is far greater local subtlety.

    Final statement ignored as it deserves no comment.

    • My dictionary describes ‘xenophobia’ as “intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries”. I neither dislike nor fear people from other countries; I merely prefer fewer of them in England and, if permanently residing here, to conform to our ways. This perfectly reasonable point of view has been exaggerated by you Gareth in a vain attempt to justify your own questionable position. Even so, you whine about basic etiquette. With that attitude it is not really so surprising that you’ve made the astonishing and unsubstantiated assertion about the alleged “need to depict the English as persecuted, restricted and disempowered”!.

      You assert that “Skilled Jamaican mechanics were the unsung heroes of the Battle of Britain.” singling them out by omitting to balance that with any acknowledgement of the contribution made by White English mechanics. Why is this? Are we to believe that there were none or, if there were, that THEIR contribution was less laudable, less valuable? Are we to understand that the skilled Jamaican mechanics had less interest in assisting the Allied Cause than skilled White English mechanics? I’ve heard similar silly remarks made about Poles and Czechs fighting alongside our military personnel as though their contributions were somehow more valuable because their countries had been over run, as though they didn’t have reason to support those fighting their enemies.

      You disparage us by alleging “English nationalism is more about romanticism, flag waving and over-simplification of the political agenda”. Are we to conclude that Scottish or Welsh or any other nationalism is somehow better, superior, more relevant than English nationalism and never over-simplifying the political agenda, whatever that might be?

      Taking account of the above, would most rational people regard your attitude as pro- or anti-English I ask? I venture to suggest that they’d regard you as essentially anti-English, and that you place England’s interests and those of her people the English last, if you consider us at all.

      I still regard you as another self-important, pontificating, sanctimonious buffoon whom others might also describe as a self-hater. In short, you’re rather silly.

      .

      • I expect all commenters here to keep to a minimum of etiquette, which involves refraining from making personal comments about others.

        Alan, you have broken these basic rules of etiquette repeatedly. You will also note that I have refrained from making personal comments. It is reasonable to give you this warning. If you continue to make offensive comments, you will be blocked. If you try to suggest that I’m trying to gag you, you should notice that I have given you many inches of space to write your comments thus far.

        In short, I tire of such tedious and abusive comments.

  30. ***************
    Gareth Hughes Says: (excerpt)
    10 March 2010 at 15:53 |

    “But, Alan, that’s not what you said; you used ’self-proclaimed’ as a put down without explaining how one can be any other kind of Englishman. ”
    ***************

    I am with Alan England here.

    Your self proclamation that you are English is, on its own, quite worthless.

    You may claim to be English, you may indeed consider yourself to be English, but that in itself does not establish the fact. You also have to be accepted as English.

    I, for one, completely, utterly and wholly reject your claim to be English, and it is quite valid for me, (and others), to refuse your hostile perspective.

    BBC v Souster (my asterisks)
    “…and is accepted by other members”

    On the related question of whether the English or Scots are part of a “racial group”, the Court quoted with approval the authoritative House of Lords decision in Mandla v Dowell Lee 1983 IRLR 209 : “Provided a person who joins the group feels himself or herself to be a member of it, **and is accepted by other members**, then he is, for the purposes of the Act, a member
    http://www.thompsons.law.co.uk/ltext/l0880006.htm

    • Fred, I find this bizarre. You say that one has to be accepted as English, but by whom? Are you the guardian of Englishness? It is absurd that you consider me not be English. Are you English, and if so why?

  31. Gareth Hughes Says:
    21 February 2010 at 16:46 |
    The overwhelming size of England within the UK is the one very good reason why there is no English Parliament. Can you imagine the destabilising influence of an English First Minister within the UK? Fair enough if you want to disrupt the Union, but otherwise it would be far bigger a fight than Ken Livingstone and Maggie Thatcher.

    Gareth Hughes Says:
    21 February 2010 at 17:32 |
    The argument about cause and effect that you make would be true if Scotland and England were equal in size and influence. As England is so much bigger than Scotland, an English cause has a prominent Scottish effect, whereas a Scottish cause as an imperceivable English effect. That is why the argument cannot be reversed in the way you suggest.

    Gareth Hughes Says:
    21 February 2010 at 22:01 |
    Due to a massive difference in size, I would say that the Scottish vote has minimal impact on England, whereas the UK vote has an incredible impact on Scotland.
    ******************************

    In other words, the British UK state only continues to exist by denying democracy to the majority.

    Thank you for confirming that the British UK construct is incompatible with democratic parity for the English. The maintenance of the UK is, by their own admission, dependant on withholding democracy from the English. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish electorate have been afforded referenda on the establishment, or maintenance, of their own Parliament and assemblies, but the whole British UK edifice may collapse if the majority, the English, are afforded equal democratic rights.

    What an irrefutable illustration of the way the continued existence of the British UK establishment, which includes the sycophantic C of E, conflicts with the democratic rights of the majority within that construct.

    The British UK construct is a living example of an anti-democratic fabrication.

    • That’s a misrepresentation. The English vote in general and local elections. You cannot say that our not having an English Parliament means that we have no democracy, because it’s simply not true. We would all agree that we would want greater quality and quantity of democracy, but we disagree on the implementation.

  32. Gareth Hughes Says:
    11 March 2010 at 00:09 | Reply
    That’s a misrepresentation. The English vote in general and local elections. You cannot say that our not having an English Parliament means that we have no democracy, because it’s simply not true. We would all agree that we would want greater quality and quantity of democracy, but we disagree on the implementation.
    ********************************

    If the British UK construct was democratic, then the English would be afforded democratic parity with the rest of the UK.

    Scotland Northern Ireland and Wales have all had referenda on the establishment of their parliament and assemblies. The English are not allowed a referendum, because they are a majority within the UK construct.

    A state that can only exist by a denial of democracy to the majority of its people has no democratic legitimacy.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sir_garlichad/3834447906/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sir_garlichad/3834448718/

    I see that despite my previous statements, I have been sucked in to the argument. I have nothing to add to the above comments. Readers have enough information to judge the merits or otherwise of the two positions.

    • The UK is a democratic country, and that democracy is exercised in all of its constituent parts. Just because we don’t have an English Parliament does not mean that there is no democracy, just not the type you want. Some English people did have a referendum on assemblies; the people of London voted in favour and we (with a population greater than Scotland) have an assembly, the people of the North East voted against it because they didn’t like the underlying changes to local government. Further referendums were then abandoned. Just because there hasn’t been a referendum of all of England for an English Parliament, it does not mean that the English people have not been given a referendum on assemblies, because we have, just not in the way that you want it. So, that’s why I reckon that what you write is a misrepresentation of the facts.

  33. “Without top-up fees, Scottish universities are financially disadvantaged in relation to English universities”.

    So why don’t Scottish universities charge top up fees? Following your logic, what the Scottish Parliament does affects England so shouldn’t English MP’s be able to vote on devolved Scottish matters? ie. devolution is a nonsense!

    • There was a bit more context to that comment. There are many people who believe that charging top-up fees are the wrong way to increase funding in higher education, and that is why the Scottish Parliament voted against top-up fees. However, because the Westminster Parliament voted for them, the Scots have to find a way to compensate their universities from their budget. The Westminster vote has a massive effect on Scottish education, that is the logic. Yes, Scottish Parliament votes have a small effect on England, but is negligible in comparison to the effect that a Westminster vote, even on devolved issues, has on Scotland. Devolution is desirable where greater democratic control is exercised locally. Within the context of the UK, Scotland is more local to Scottish voters, whereas England is insignificantly more local than the entire UK. I still don’t find any logic or sense to the English nationalist cause as presented by commenters here.

      What is denied in this simplistic analysis is that the outcome of the vote does have an important effect on Scotland. The effects in Scotland and the rest of the UK are different, but equal in magnitude. Without top-up fees, Scottish universities are financially disadvantaged in relation to English universities. Also, the Scottish Executive has to pay the top-up fees for all Scottish students studying in the rest of the UK. In the end, the Scottish budget is now landed with the bill of increased funds for Scottish universities and paying for Scottish students studying in the rest of the UK.

  34. It’s the devolution set up that is lacking in logic Gareth!

    UK Scottish Labour MPs voted in favour of top up fees (for England) but Scottish Scottish Labour MSP’s voted against top up fees (for Scotland). Where’s the logicality in that?

    The answer is that members of an English Parliament should have solely been responsible for English top up fees!

    As for being local. The Isle of Lewis is not exactly local to Edinburgh is it? They don’t even speak the same language on a day to day basis. The Isle of Lewis is even more remote from England.So why should an MP representing some remote region of Scotland have a vote on what happens in England?

    “Without top-up fees, Scottish universities are financially disadvantaged in relation to English universities”.

    So why did Scottish MPs vote in favour of English top up fees? The answer is that the MPs just vote how they are told to. It is undemocratic that in this case Labour can use such unrepresentitive votes to force through legislation. If it causes so many problems not having top up fee income why don’t Scottish MSPs vote for top up fees in Scotland? I thought devolution meant self government on devolved issues. Not for Scotland it would seem. Scotland has devolved power on this issue but brings England into it. Typical!! Cake and eating it comes to mind!!

  35. “Also, the Scottish Executive has to pay the top-up fees for all Scottish students studying in the rest of the UK”.

    Answer. Scottish students study in Scotland. No top up fees! Simples!

  36. Reading some of the more critical reactions from English nationalists, I can understand why you might regard nationalism ‘carefully’. As an alien (being neither English nor living in England) I happened to find your musings on nationalism both interesting as well as enlightening – perhaps you should consider ‘writing’ as career. I also found myself partly agreeing with your conclusion as
    English nationalism does have the worrying potential to move into dangerous territory.

    However, there a ‘but’. To deride English nationalism because of it potential to become racist is hardly a reasoned argument to maintain the status quo #cough# BRITISH national party #cough#. Deriding English nationalism because of its romanticism and flag waving is itself an over-simplification. Scots ‘romanticism’ or ‘flag waiving’ is a reflection of the love we still place in our country; a grateful acknowledgement of and to its historical culture or beliefs. Its not some additional political item (red, blue or tartan) that we put on our political agenda, but an underpinning belief we put on our political process. Scots nationalism means having the mutual respect that allows us to work together even when we might disagree with one anothers views or lifestyle choices. Sure we still have ‘issues’, but what family or nation doesn’t?

    Scots have had a head start insofar as our Clan system was civic rather than ethnic. We’ve also had 80 years to put Abernethy shortbread and kilts into their proper political perspective; alongside fried mars bars or Tandoori Chicken. Given its relative infancy the growth of English nationalism has been a spectacular success. And about bloody time too, for whereas ‘Nationalism’ is more than a ‘political agenda’ (its the underlying force that allows politics to work), ‘Unionism’ is nothing more than an artificial construct designed to paper over the cracks. I’ve personally got a lot more respect for an English nationalist than a Scottish unionist; and I also happen to believe that English nationalism is getting a raw deal. For example, its okay for Scots to celebrate their Scottish identity, but not so the English because to do so means they are automatically separating those with a certain identity from those without it, constructing an us–them polarisation. Um…., right. Sure. A very logical and reasoned argument. Not. But very British, I’ll grant you.

    Similarly, theres the constitutional question. Witness the constitutional scholars (presumably British) who generally agree that sovereignty is retained by the UK Parliament. Scots Sovereignty rest, and always has, with the people of Scotland. It wasn’t within remit of the Scottish parliament to barter or give it away in return for joining a union. And no amount of debate regarding the British constitution; its scope, authority, legitimacy or whatever alters the fact that democracy is not being applied equally across all our nations. Its okay for the Scots to have their own parliament but not the English? Ah, but thats because London retained sovereignty – Edinburgh is only a beefed up county council after all. Aye right. The word which springs to mind here is “bollocks”.

    Derision often masks fear, and a fear of nationalism is itself often the result of failing to comprehend it. Unfortunately for English nationalists, they must also contend with 3 unionists parties who comprehend enough to realise that their coats are very much on a shoogily peg if English nationalism ever becomes a political force; consequentially persecution, restriction and disempowerment IS a political reality within England for English nationalists.

    • Thank you, Alba, for your input; it’s good to have a Scots perspective in the midst of all this suggestion that the poor English are getting beaten up by the Scots!

      I find all nationalisms to be problematic, not just the English kind. That is not to say that they’re all bad, because we have a very mixed bunch of agendas among those who choose to call themselves nationalists. I think we’re all aware that the BNP are a bunch of racist bullies, and I imagine that few other nationalists want to be associated with them. I am no supporter of SNP or Plaid Cymru, but it is obvious that their nationalism is of a quite different quality to the BNP. I believe the fundamental difference is that these latter nationalists desire to bring greater democracy closer to home. Without some progressive agenda like this all that’s left is the flags and singing, and I worry that this void is a breeding ground for xenophobia. So, when it comes to English nationalism, I wonder what the agenda is. After all, an English Parliament hardly brings democracy closer to the English than the Westminster Parliament. I live in London, and, although I have no time for our mayor, I find London to be an obvious unit for exercising my democratic voice in a similar way to the sense that most Scots find that having a Scottish Parliament is ‘fitting’.

      I’m no Unionist though. If I were a Scot, my political sympathies would lie with the SSP. Having lived in Northern Ireland, I believe that there other political agendas far more important and fruitful than the Unionist-nationalist spectrum.

      Sovereignty is a crucial question. There is no easy answer to where sovereignty lies. We agree that it should rest with the people, but it doesn’t. The Scottish Parliament is not sovereign, as it could, theoretically, be voted out of existence in Westminster. It is only right that the Scottish people, as all people, should campaign to have more than a voice, to have their rightful sovereignty. I believe, thus, that the English people should have sovereignty, but I do not feel that the nationalist agenda is the way to go about it. If the Union were dissolved, then an English Parliament would be fitting and right. Within an extant Union, it is the creation of two parliaments in England, one representing the 50 million English, one representing the 60 million British. It would give us more voting and more politicians, but not greater democracy nor sovereignty. There are real problems with the idea of regional assemblies for England, particularly with their rather arbitrary borders, but it was the principle of bringing greater democratic control closer to home that I retain is still right.

      I don’t fear nationalism, but I do comprehend that, where there is no clear democratic agenda, nationalisms can become rather ugly. I think that what English nationalism is trying to do is create some such democratic agenda, but that it rests on the farcical idea that the English need to be set free from a Union which we dominate. I disagree with you that the English nationalists are persecuted. There are actually very few people speaking against English nationalism: most silently ignore them. And the restriction and disempowerment, which I agree is real, is also felt by all political campaigns that are trying to break the established stranglehold in our politics.

  37. Home Rule, you seem to be using the word ‘logic’ where you mean ‘reason’. The reason why so many, but not all, Scottish Labour MPs voted for top-up fees was the system of whipping parliamentary votes. That is the reason why most MPs vote with their party leadership. Many were cajoled into voting that way by threats on their political career and with promises that poor students would get extra help. Yes, party whipping is an affront to democracy, and I would like to see more free votes in Parliament. If that had been the case, top-up fees would not have been voted through.

    The Scottish Labour Party, being somewhat autonomous, chose against top-up fees for fear that too much financial burden be put on students. The reason why Scottish Labour MSPs voted against top-up fees is because it goes against their political principles. It is over simplistic to read some kind of Scottish stitch-up into this, for, by voting against the fees in the Scottish Parliament, the Scots stitched themselves up. As I’ve said before, I believe that top-up fees are a bad solution to the shortfall in funding for higher education, but suggesting that an English Parliament solves the problem makes no sense.

    What happens in England has a massive effect on the economy and state provisions for the Isle of Lewis. It’s what comes from being parked next to a country of 50 million people. The English nationalist argument always seems to treat nations as things of equal weight. Where is the centre of gravity in the relationship between a 50-million strong England and a 5-million strong Scotland? Though the English nationalist argument rests on the Scots have greater power and dominating the English, which is simply untrue. How about a more equal comparison between the 7-million people represented by my London Mayor and Assembly and Scotland? This is why I think the English nationalist argument is based on romantic ideas of nation rather than the practicalities of governance.

    Devolution is pretty much how you describe it, but a devolved Scotland is not in a bubble. The implementation of policies in England, for which the Scottish Parliament has devolved responsibility, have a massive impact on Scottish decisions.

    Scottish students studying in Scotland pay no top-up fees. When they study elsewhere in the UK, the Scottish Executive pay the top-up fees. The Scottish Executive has had to promise increased funding to Scottish universities because they are not getting as much top-up fee income as their English counterparts. In the end, the Scottish Executive has found itself dishing out money to Scottish and English universities all over the place for its principled position against top-up fees. As you can see, it is only the English nationalist take on the story that is, as you say, ‘Simples’.

  38. “How about a more equal comparison between the 7-million people represented by my London Mayor and Assembly and Scotland?”

    You are not comparing like with like. Scotland is a nation, London is a city!
    The regionalists answer has always been to break up England into regions which very roughly correspond to the size of Scotland.
    Well I don’t want my country broken up into regions just so that it would make each region the same size as Scotland. It’s as simple as that. Nor do the vast majority of English people. They do however want their nation to be placed on an equal footing with Scotland ie they want an English Parliament, English Government and English First Minister to represent them!
    If you don’t like that then the alternative is independence. If England is too big to be in Union with Scotland then scrap the Union. That would be fine by me.

    • What makes a city a city and a nation a nation? Nationalisms should try to deal with their fundamental question of what a nation is, and be aware that there is no clear sociological answer to the problem, just like there is no clear answer to the question of what a family is.

      Regions are artificial, and the proposed regions were far too artificial, but they were chosen for their practicability. Having regions is decried as breaking up England, but it is no more breaking it up than having any other layer of local government. After all, I don’t feel too separate from other parts of England by living in London with our regional assembly.

      I have written about how I find the English nationalist arguments simplistic, and this is the problem that ideas about nation, sovereignty, democracy and government are all flattened out like a pancake as if they all mean the same thing.

      I am not a Unionist, and I believe that the dissolution of the Union may well happen in the long term. I do believe that such a dissolution is complex: it would easily become a messy divorce. I am a believer that we need to move in both directions: securing popular sovereignty and bringing democracy closer to home, and reaching out in international cooperation. I do not believe that breaking up sovereign states is necessary for the former, and could well hamper the latter.

  39. Ah! I see. Well actually I don’t. However, nice talking to you.

  40. “I think we’re all aware that the BNP are a bunch of racist bullies, and I imagine that few other nationalists want to be associated with them. I am no supporter of SNP or Plaid Cymru, but it is obvious that their nationalism is of a quite different quality to the BNP. ”

    The BNP are a British Unionist party, so not especially relevant to a discussion on English Nationalism. By comparing them to the SNP and Plaid Cymru, you’re implying that the BNP represent English Nationalism. They don’t.

    You also brought up the BNP in your original post. Instead of trying to associate English Nationalism with the BNP, you should be taking a look at actual English Nationalist parties, the foremost of which in terms of electoral performance is the English Democrats.

    http://www.englishdemocrats.org.uk/

    I can’t help but wonder why in a discussion on English Nationalism, you’ve managed to drag up British, Scottish and Welsh Nationalist parties and no English parties.

    • That discussion was about the state of nationalism and the great variety of expressions between nationalists. In light of that, all parties that call themselves nationalist or have an ostensibly nationalist agenda are relevant. The point I was making was how different the BNP are, and that few other nationalists would like to be associated with them. So, you prove the point by feeling uncomfortable as a member of the English Democrats about the BNP. Now I don’t have write anything for that to be a very a real concern for all members of the English Democrats that they are not seen in any connection with the BNP. I notice that BNP is also trying to get into the Englishness debate, which is worrying for all who have that identity at the centre of their politics. I’m sure your political agenda is very, very different, but when it is about a struggle for the same sense of nationhood there is a fundamental connection between nationalisms that is very difficult to get away from.

      I’m glad that you do mention your party here, as I really don’t know anything more than your decent 2% polling across England in the last European election. I simply mentioned the breadth of nationalist parties that I know about.

      • I’m not actually a member of the English Democrats, I didn’t mean it as a plug. It just seems strange that there should be so much talk here about the BNP and none about the ED.

        There is a frustrating trend I’ve noticed in the mainstream media to use the BNP as a tar-brush for other parties it doesn’t like. For example, when the BBC interviewed a spokesman for the ED they said “some of what you’re saying sounds like things the BNP would say!” – what is that supposed to mean? How is one supposed to respond?

        If you say anything construed to be similar to the BNP, then it’s guilt by association. Nevermind tackling the issues, just smear them with the BNP brush. Why isn’t it vice versa?

        Imagine saying to Nick Griffin “some of what you’re saying sound like things the English Democrats would say!”

        Hitler was a vegetarian, but we don’t suspect vegetarians of harbouring Nazi sympathies.

  41. The English are disenfranchised. They are denied a vote as English people voting for England. They are forced to vote as British for British MPs.

    I can’t be bothered to trawl the net for pre-1997 articles, but it is pretty certain that Scots and Welsh talked about being disenfranchised.

    If England is to be bust up for the sake of this political artifice known erroneously as the United Kingdom, then so should Scotland and arguably Wales. As the Devolution Act makes provision for Scottish regions then they should have been imposed on Scots just as they are on we English.

    In fact, if the United Kingdom is sssooooo important, the nation states comprising it should have all been abolished and replaced with regions.

    However, only England is earmarked for eradication. Not content with that, England’s borders are being moved so that bits and pieces are stolen by other nations in the UK. It started with Monmouthshire, then the Anglo-Scottish maritime borders were moved south. Now we have windfarms off the Cumbrian coast under Scottish governmentla control.

    To hell with the Union. Independence for England.

    • The English are not disenfranchised, to say so is mere polemic out of keeping with the facts. The OED definition of ‘disenfranchise’ is ‘1. To deprive of the rights and privileges of a free citizen of a borough, city, or country, or of some franchise previously enjoyed. 2. To deprive (a place, etc.) of the right of returning parliamentary or other representatives; to deprive (persons) of the right of voting in parliamentary, municipal, or other elections.’ We English remain free citizens fully enfranchised to vote into office representatives at all levels. To say that we are disenfranchised because we cannot elect an English Parliament is a total abuse of the word. To be disenfranchised, one must be barred from electing members to an extant body. Or, to put it another way, one cannot be disenfranchised by not being allowed to vote for a parliament that doesn’t exist. The Women’s Suffrage Movement was about combating true and existing disenfranchisement, campaigning for an English Parliament is not.

      If the Scot and Welsh did talk about disenfranchisement they also were wrong, but, unlike us English, they could talk about having their minority interests overruled by majority English interests.

      The United Kingdom is the official name of this place, to the extent that you consider erroneous is personal belief rather than constitutional fact. It sets terrible precedent to talk about a country of 50 million needing to impose something on a country of 5 million in order to be fair.

      I don’t believe that UK is so important, however many extra letters you write. I am concerned about sovereignty and democracy, an think that English nationalism fails to further either.

      Yes, ‘eradication’ is another loaded word you throw in. You seem to be appealing to emotions rather than sense. This seems to be a continued problem from nationalists. I think Monmouthshire’s supposed Englishness is a bit difficult to support from historical sources. Perhaps we should hold a referendum of the people of the county to see which country they want to be in.

      To hell with the Union. Independence for Wessex.

  42. I don’t seek to impose anything on any other country. I seek independence for my own country.

    I fail to see why I should be denied my own parliament for the sake of a so-called United Kingdom. It is not a Union of peoples, it is a political artifice, that presently suits nobody other than the corrupt rabble stinking out the Palace of Westminster.

    My fellow Englishmen and I being denied a vote on an English Parliament is certainly disenfranchisement. Whatever pendantry and semantics you choose to dress it up with, it is still naked anti-English prejudice.

    • Who are you seeking independence from? The vote of the English far outweighs the vote of the non-English of the Union. The English have numerical dominance of the Union, which makes it absurd to caricature breaking up the Union as an English independence struggle.

      The United Kingdom is what it is, and it is a Union of peoples. Your argument that you should have ‘my own parliament’ is a plea for anarchist atomization of sovereignty. All sovereign states are political artifices, and a sovereign England would be no different. The tabloids say such stuff about MPs, but it’s not really getting us anywhere.

      We could hold referenda on lots of things. Some of them, I think, might be a good idea. Not having them is not disenfranchisement, unless a promised referendum is taken away from us. What you like to call my ‘pedantry and semantics’ is pointing out you misuse of the English language and basing arguments on reason. I do not see any substance to the points you are trying to make. I think you’ll find that, by definition, an Englishman cannot be prejudiced against the English, as the word refers to a judgement that is not based on experience, and I’ve been experiencing Englishness ever since my naked English beginnings.

      • The fact that there are more English than Scottish is irrelevent. If Scotland elected more than 50% SNP MPs at the next GE the argument for a referendum would be irrefutasble.

  43. You have said that you oppose English Votes on English laws. You’ve also said you oppose a devolved English parliament. So what exactly is your answer to the West Lothian Question? Just shut up and stop asking it?

    • Well, that was Derry Irvine’s take on the question, but I don’t think it’s a very constructive approach. A number of answers have been presented, and the question clearly has no one right answer. Although the West Lothian question is logically coherent, it does model a closed system of unrelated parts. The question would still be poseable if there were any unevenness of devolution, like the dissimilarities between the various devolved legislatures at present. These dissimilarities are perhaps more desirable than imposing some artificial uniformity on these bodies. Legislation always comes with unintended consequences, and it is almost impossible to prevent legislation intended only for England from having important effect on the legislation of other parts of the UK. This knock-on effect is linked to population size.

  44. You make some decent points, but don’t appear to address properly the perceived inequality of the situation. Whatever the economic effects of certain bills may be and whether it is in Scotland’s favour for their MPs to vote yes or no, is irrelevant. The crux of the issue is the perceived unfairness that power is being devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, whilst England appears to be ‘left-behind’. Whether or not you agree with this, and you quite clearly don’t, it seems somewhat unfair that Scottish, Welsh and Irish MPs vote on matters only affecting England. (You say that ‘English’ bills do affect the other countries, but then it could be argued that legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament has an affect on England).
    Whilst you reject people’s fears/grievances/beliefs call it what you will; you don’t offer any solution to these problems. As you are probably aware from your work, the main options are: full independence (extremely unlikely, only ever going to happen if the other nations choose to leave the Union); an English Parliament in a different location; or English votes on English laws. You say you disagree with this because it makes the House of Commons unequal. But then disagree with an English Parliament for the plurality it offers. Whilst I am against an English Parliament as it is merely another level of bureacracy and politicians taking taxpayers’ money, if the English parliament had the same powers as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there would be no overlap in Wesminster, which would only then discuss matters relating to the whole Union.
    “English votes for English laws”, while unfortunately creating inequality, is the ‘lesser of two evils’ if you like, since English ‘nationalists’ (and many more English people, particularly in the border regions) believe something should be done, whether you agree with them or not.

    • Thank you, Tom, for your comment. I find your use of the words ‘perceived inequality’ interesting, as if you’re unsure whether there is inequality or not. With or without devolution, there has been a long history of inequality for the non-English members of our anglocentric Union, and I wonder how this ‘perceived inequality’ of England without its own parliament measures up to it. You right when you talk about unfairness, which I would say is very real. We have seen greater political power devolved to democratic institutions, bringing politics out of Westminster and closer to home for many. I’ve got the London Assembly here (though I would prefer a larger assembly and no directly elected mayor), which brings some local democratic control to the 7 million people living in this city. However, it is clear that an English Parliament would certainly not have this effect, is only slightly more local to its electorate than Westminster, regardless of whether it meets in Newcastle, Norwich or Bristol. English Parliament constituencies would likely be the same or larger than Westminster constituencies, and the problems of duplication of political institutions run right through the argument about an English Parliament. Cross-border cause and effect is difficult to measure, but the magnitude of legislation for the 50 million English is likely to cause greater effect on the politics of the 5 million Scots than vice versa.

      I’m not sure that we’re looking at a problem that needs to be solved here, because it is already in a cul-de-sac. There are issue about sovereignty, democracy and levels of representation and government that need to be discussed, and overlaying Englishness on the discussion doesn’t get us anywhere. I could talk about all sorts of possible solutions for a democratic renewal, but cannot see how an English Parliament or English votes on English laws actually gets us more an better democracy, and reckon it could have a retrograde effect.

      So, when you list the ‘main options’, I feel a little sad that the three options are all dictated by a sense of Englishness rather than taking democracy or another principle as the lead. Yes, I did say that EVoEL involves the disenfranchisement of the non-English MPs, creating a Parliament where not all mandates are equal. For the same reason, I am against the AMS electoral system in place for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and London Assemblies. I’m sure that any constitution for an English Parliament would clearly define its responsibilities in such a way as not to overlap with Westminster, but it would still be a political rival.

      The debate as it stands is that these options for England are declared as obvious solutions to a problem. However, I would say that the problem is somewhat artificial. The use of hyperbolic language of English disenfranchisement and discrimination is indicative of this. One major non-English answer was to give us regional assemblies, which I disliked because they were not geographically sensible, but have been denounced by commenters here as a policy of breaking up England. I would suggest that a better regional plan would be the best answer to a question of democracy.

  45. I realise ‘nationalism’ could be debated ad nauseum, and also respect this blog is your own personal musings and not some oxbridge debating chamber. But for the sake of clarity, I would like to point out why I think we’re singing from the same hymn sheet but to a different tune.

    Neither of us likes the ugly face of nationalism; racism, jingoism or any other ‘ism’; your experiences of sectarianism in Ulster no doubt taught you that flag waiving can be used to goad or antagonise others. But your not taking account of all the reasons for wanting to waive that flag; to paraphrase your boss, you cant love others until you can love yourself. I dont fly a Saltire because I’m anti-English, but because I’m pro-Scottish. Its acceptable for a Scotsman to profess the love of his country. Yet an English nationalist says the same thing and we’re to look for hidden agendas or write him off as some “sour Little Englander”. Flying my nations flag up here means I’m considered a patriot. Yet you flying the CofStG in England means youre a racist. Eh?? okay, fair enough; you live down there, its your country after all, so you guys must know what youre talking about. So why is my bullshit detector going into hyperdrive? My experience of the English is they are just as proud of their country as I am and no more racist than anyone else I’ve met. Is it really possible that such a blatant lie can be created, sustained and repeated so often that folk begin to believe it as gospel? Aye, I think it is, and its being peddled by the same folk who would say Britain is England is Britain (which its not and never was). So yes, I do believe the English are being subjugated and their history and beliefs replaced. Exaggerating? Okay, go for a walk between Lizzies house and the tower bridge and count the Union Jacks in relation to the CofStG you see flying. Your country appears now to be nothing more than the last remaining British colony. One which your unionists are fighting tooth and nail to retain control of. Oh, and talking of numbers, it doesn’t take that many folk to control how an entire country thinks; the British Empire are past masters; we managed to subjugate India long and weary with very few British folk.

    You also speak of a lack of agenda amongst English nationalist groups as something to be wary off. Why? I mean, they could have ours if they want it. Its irrelevant. Home rule isnt some item placed on a political agenda alongside ‘LETS build 3 new aircraft carriers’. Its a state of mind that gives people hope in their country and desire to build something good for their children. Its effects would be more akin to “WHY build 3 new aircraft carriers?” Our Unionist government might have thought they were doing the Scots a favour throwing a shipbuilding contract at us, but they simply don’t see how we do not want their ‘favours’. All this achieved was to antagonise those who cannot tell the difference between English and British nationalism; “Why should the English have to make more allowances for the sake of the UK when it stands for less and less each year?” Good question. Unfortunately, replying “Because your in a union, you numpty” doesn’t do much for cross-border relationships. If London had bothered to ask us what we wanted, they may have found that we’d rather have taken the far cheaper option of controlling our own fishing waters and spending money in local boatyards re-building our fishing fleet.

    Regarding sovereignty, youve managed to confuse British with Scots; no worries, it happens all the time around London. You were right when you said London alone can enlarge or limit the powers or scope of the Edinburgh administration, as London was responsible for its inception. But you forgot about, or more probably were never taught, the constitutional treatise Dialogus de Jure Regni Apud Scotos, and the distinctly Scottish constitutional doctrine that sovereignty in Scotland rests ultimately with the people and not the King. Not socialistic wishful thinking but historical fact; google George Buchanan (I believe it goes back to the days when the kings of the Scots got together to vote for the High King, or ‘King of Kings’). Relevance? There is more than one way to light a powder keg under Westminster. If the Scots are prevented from a referendum on home rule (or, like elsewhere, loose because the postal vote of unionists increase by 60%) I wouldnt be too surprised if Edinburgh retaliate by offering to hold a referendum on say, continued membership of Scotland in the EU. Like the Irish, the Scots constitution means we can stay or go whenever we (and not London) choose. But unlike the Irish, we’re bloody minded enough to ensure a ‘no’ vote remains a ‘no’ vote just to make life difficult for Westminster.

    After all these years of trying to subjugate each other and then ourselves into some ill-fitting union, its strange to think that soon we might actually begin to respect each other in a united kingdoms. I pray that when the day comes there will be English nationalists at my childrens side, and not some British nationalist stabbing him in the back.

  46. “I could talk about all sorts of possible solutions for a democratic renewal, but cannot see how an English Parliament or English votes on English laws actually gets us more an better democracy”

    The possible solution is one that allows people to take part. That the government is there to represent the interests of the electorate and not the party. That while you might not agree with the decision you can still respect the judgement of those that decided. Westmiden and those who infest her are despised for they way they have abused our trust. Tinkering at the edges will not restore that trust; whereas an English parliment just might.

  47. I agree with you, alba, about the ugly face of nationalism and that there is more to nationalism than this. We see a variety of political agendas among nationalism, but, for nationalism to be a useful concept at all, there has to be some guiding principle that unites these diverse agendas. That concept is nation, which is complex. I think it’s a slippery concept on which to base an agenda, because it’s a complex idea, because it is about identity and belonging, but, most of all, because we see nationalisms that turn ugly. There’s nothing wrong with you flying the Saltire, or me flying the Cross of St George from the church, and patriotism is a virtue. However, if that’s the fundamental core of your belief, if it means thinking one nation better than others, there are problems.

    Talking of bullshit detectors, mine goes off when I hear English complaining of being downtrodden or subjugated. You refer to the subsuming of English identity under British identity. However, to foreigners, all British are les Anglais. In many ways, Britishness is our old imperialist pretensions: expand and rule. So, I’m not so sure we can talk about the English being subjected to Britishness, especially when the vast majority of Brits are English. So, the actually existing difference between the British Nationalism and English nationalism do not boil down to the differences between Britishness and Englishness.

    I’m not sure whether the ancient concept of Scots popular sovereignty (which I’m all for) is truly active in Scotland. After all, exercising such sovereignty would lead to a constitutional crisis. As you say, Westminster would probably have to accede to a popular vote. However, this sovereignty has not been exercised for centuries, and Holyrood’s legitimacy flows from Westminster.

    I mention democracy because I’m suggesting that as a guiding principle rather than Englishness. If you construct a question around Englishness, you are forced to accept answers that talk about English separation, an English Parliament or EVoEL. But, if the question is about democracy, these answers actually fall down the list as pretty poor options for increasing the quality and quantity of our democracy. If you think ‘Westmidden’ is bad, what’s to stop an English Parliament being as bad or worse? I actually prefer regional assemblies (although not on the geographical model previously presented) and/or greater powers for local government. The devolution model we have now, to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and even London, is uneven, and it is perhaps desirable not to suggest a totally uniform distribution of power.

  48. …..The devolution model we have now, to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and even London, is uneven, and it is perhaps desirable not to suggest a totally uniform distribution of power.

    Lol, I’ll make an English Nationalist out of you yet.

    ….for nationalism to be a useful concept at all, there has to be some guiding principle that unites these diverse agendas.

    Why? Have you looked at the current guiding principles recently? English politics is dominated by three ‘diverse’ (ahem) parties, and the only guiding principle your voters currently have is choosing between the lesser of the three evils. You could abstain; ‘why vote? it only encourages them’ in the hope that one of the parties may modify its beliefs if it takes a tanking. The unfortunate reality is that they will simply amend their manifesto enough to capture the votes of a vocal minority; their beliefs (for me. for party. for government) will remain unchallenged.

    …..That concept is nation, which is complex…if that’s the fundamental core of your belief, if it means thinking one nation better than others, there are problems.

    Nationalism is only as complex as you want to analyse it. Yes, its identity and yes its belonging; the former fluid and the later consistent. Simple huh? Actually, I dont see anything wrong with thinking that ones nations is better than another. I’d rather live here than in New Zealand, therefore for me, Scotlands better than NZ. Thats no’ the same as me thinkin that the Scots are better than New Zealanders & certainly doesnt mean that I want to bottle every kiwi I meet. Nationalism only turns ugly when its anti-something or someone.

    ….Talking of bullshit detectors…difference between the British Nationalism and English nationalism do not boil down to the differences between Britishness and Englishness.

    But that IS the subjugation. English nationalism is trapped by being equated to British Nationalism. The former I’m defending because I believe in its potential, the later…..well, lets say politely that I wouldnt spit on it even if it were on fire.

    …..After all, exercising such sovereignty would lead to a constitutional crisis….Holyrood’s legitimacy flows from Westminster.

    Aye, I see you took the time to google up on it huh? Its never needed to be tested; we had our own church, our own legislature, and a Parliament in London that generally left us alone. Now we’ve got a highly centralised bunch of cowboys steamrolling all over our institutions.

    But weve also got a British unwritten constitution that actually consists of two ideologically opposing concepts of sovereignty that raises the question of whether the union was a partnership – as the British have historically maintained, or a total subjugation, and a Scottish parliament that has never formally been closed; meaning that it can be reconvened at any time should the need arise. By the way, not many people know this but when Hollyrood opened the ‘Scottish Assembly’ was actually translated into Gaelic as ‘Scottish Government’.

    …I mention democracy because I’m suggesting that as a guiding principle..

    Thats the easiest point of all to refute. When punishment these days means being elevated to Lordship, tis a sign that democracy is damn near deed & only just hingin on by its claws. Give me Liberty any day. A new start, or in your case, a ‘new England’ whereby everyone is a stakeholder, requires a new parliament with new rules of behavior.

    Theres nothing to stop an English Parliament being bad or worse; although how it ever could be is beyond my imagination. But the people have got to have the trust in themselves to make wrong decisions and learn from them.

    I dont agree with everything the SNP have said or done, but for a minority government I think theyve done a pretty good job puting the Scots afore their pockets. Actually, maybe its just having a circular debating chamber, but even the Torries have come across as being reasonable on a couple of occasions. My only gripe is they should have been more adventurous; the Parliament could have been situated in Dunfermline (the ancient capital), or perhaps rotated every few years throughout the country; Aberdeen, Glasgow etc. to give everyone an equal voice. What about ancient English boundaries or moving it around?

    • I think you misunderstand what I mean by ‘guiding principle’, it is that thing that, when all the proposals and policies are analysed, is underlying and driving them. Granted, many political parties tend towards electability for a guiding principle, which is good when it makes them listen to us, but bad when they seem wrapped up in media manipulation (both ways). I actually believe that there are real differences between our major political parties, but perhaps that’s because I’m a member of one of them! Anyway, what I’m saying is that there is a unifying and guiding principle of nation behind nationalism, and that this means they ask questions in a nation-centred way and, thus, find nation-centred answers. The same issue might be approached with “What’s best for Scotland?” “What’s best for Fife?” “What’s best for me?” “What’s best for the planet?” and come up with very different answers.

      I think nation is always a complex issue because we want to seek its essence — not just about Scotland, but Scottishness — because that’s necessary for the formation of nationalist policies. The SNP might hold fast to policies dictated by “What’s best for Scotland?”, but what happens when there is no clear answer, or when Scottish workers and pitted in industrial dispute against Scottish businesses? One’s concept of Scottishness is then quite important. In discussions with English nationalists, I notice that there are references to anti-immigration policies and a certain penchant to glorify military and imperial history, and that these things underlie their concept of Englishness.

      I don’t believe that British nationalism, that is nationalism based on Britishness, has to be along the lines of the BNP; they’re just using the name, and, despite their name they are quite interested in Englishness and using the St George’s flag. I believe it is possible to have an English nationalism or a British nationalism, which, like Scottish nationalism, avoids the ugliness of the nationalism of the BNP. However, how Englishness relates to Britishness is a whole different issue, and I don’t think it is as simple as saying the Englishness is subsumed into Britishness.

      I may be English, but I don’t need Google to tell me how things work in Holyrood! Practically, I think the Scots exercising their popular sovereignty successfully is highly unlikely, but it’s worth a go.

      When I spoke about democracy as a guiding principle I was talking about constructing a question of our current set-up along the lines of “What’s best for democracy?” Unlike the question “What’s best for England?” it doesn’t automatically create English answers, but produces far more interesting answers about bringing the democratic exercise of political power closer to home. Yes, democracy is in a lamentable state, and a new start is what any politically progressive soul would desire, but none of this demands answers with national tags attached.

      I’ll still call them Tartan Tories, but the SNP have coped well with political leadership in Scotland. The friction of la cohabitation with an unpopular New Labour government in Westminster has probably helped them gain some popular support. I’m sure the Unionist Tories just have to adapt to the political situation in ‘North Britain’, particularly given the popularist style of their Westminster leadership. A proportional election method was a refreshing change (although the chosen method is not great), the horseshoe chamber and rejection of the gentleman’s club style of Westminster is also refreshing, but I agree that the adventure should not have stopped there.

  49. ….I think you misunderstand what I mean by ‘guiding principle’, it is that thing that, when all the proposals and policies are analysed, is underlying and driving them.

    Ahh. Okay, gotcha. For most of us there is no underlying force other than a clean break then everything being put up for negotiation. The SNPs first act in a Scottish parliament might simply be to disband, although some predict a reduced role as a modifying voice between Scottish Labour and Scottish Conservatives. A Labour party that’s actually socialist vers a Conservative party thats no longer unionist; neither beholden to the home counties & judged on performance rather than style. That’s our nationalist dream; local answers to local issues. Our GNP means whoever’s in power (red or blue) is unlikely afford ‘son of Trident’ or whatever these missiles are called, but then they wouldn’t be trying to keep up with some glorious imperialist past. Who knows…maybe even the SSP might make a comeback. After all, we had wulllie gallacher long afore bampot broon.

    …I notice that there are references to anti-immigration policies and a certain penchant to glorify military and imperial history, and that these things underlie their concept of Englishness.

    Because that’s what Britain/England was renowned for. Scots certainly played their part in the British Empire, but most would rather move on now; a lot easier for us seeing as we retained dual nationality. The knuckle draggers and racists I tend to identify as being “British”, whereas English nationalism is Phil Piratin, Levellers, Quakers and so on. Aye, ah ken; a complete reversal dichotomy to whats in the popular press, but then I tend to hold a cynical view towards media bias and their not-so-hidden-agendas.

    …I don’t believe that British nationalism..

    End of, full stop. Its not what it could be, but thats what it is. Having watched thatcher get stabbed in the back rather than booted out was a disappointment, but to watch while her replacements first act of was to award himself a pay increase had me fuming. Since then the only thing that’s changed through all these years of watching their continued shenanigans is my perception. Brown/Cameron/Whats his name are just mindless cogs we pin our hope, then the blame, on. It’s the machine that’s rotten.

    …I may be English, but I don’t need Google to tell me how things work in Holyrood!

    Holyrood? lol. I was meaning Dialogus de Jure Regni Apud Scotos.

    …Yes, democracy is in a lamentable state, and a new start is what any politically progressive soul would desire, but none of this demands answers with national tags attached.

    Your country is governed by three parties consisting of individuals who couldn’t be trusted to run a sweetie shop, and a political machine that delivers nothing but empty promises except to a select few for keeping it suitably oiled. And when some soul does appear to make a progressive suggestion – such as seeking out the great and good from industry, commerce and the arts, step forward, the Prince of Darkness. Again. And again. And Again. Yet you still believe the sytem can be changed without nationalism. I’m impressed; your faith truly is astounding. I certainly wish you all the best but I think you’d find it far easier moving mountains than the entrenched mindset that infects Westmiden.

    …I’ll still call them Tartan Tories, but the SNP have coped well with political leadership in Scotland.

    Some of their supporters are rightwing, some leftwing; its probably an even split. But as a party, relativly speaking its certainly more left wing than NuLab and unlike them, are doing pretty well for itself even as a minority government. While it pains me to admit it, I’ve actually gained more respect for the torries; since getting booted out Scottish Labour have been acting like a bunch of bairns that got their lollypop nicked. It’ll take them a while to get over their nepotism & funny handshakes, but equally its going to take a little while for the torries to be forgiven for the destruction that thatcher wrought. In the meantime, the nationalists are the only party that has the vision to undertake any form of progressive social democracy.

  50. Broken Britain
    Britain has a broken society. This is a dark portrait but it is very true. Children are left to rot and they grew into animals. Binge drinking, drug addiction, a culture of disrespect and antisocial behavior, teenage pregnancies and abortions, knife and gun culture are part and parcel of every day life in all big city centers. The teenage pregnancies and the sheer madness of sex education teach nothing about morality. British society is suffering from unprecedented social decay and societal breakdown, according to the Children’s Society shocking evidence. Britain has more broken families than other countries. British children are rougher with each other, and live more riskily in terms of alcohol, drugs and teenage pregnancies. Britain’s rate of teenage pregnancy is the highest in Western Europe. According to official figures, nearly half of all babies are now born out of wedlock. They are more likely to suffer social, mental and emotional problems. Research has revealed that migrants in Britain are more likely to have children within marriage. The teaching of sex education could not curb teenage pregnancies. Infact, it has simply increased. This is a clear indication of broken society. It is an eye opening for the Muslim community who sends their children to state schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers.

    In broken Britain, the break downs of family are ripping apart communities. According to a report, Scottish schools like English schools have become home for rapes, gun and knife culture, drug dealing, gang culture and racism. It is a horrendous portrayal of the collapse of civilized life and of human despair. Carrying weapons is becoming the norms, violence is “routine” and families are terrorized by gangs. Every parent is worried about his child being indoctrinated into the idea that gay and sexual promiscuity is “normal” modes of behavior. Homosexuality was regarded as mental illness but now blue eyed western educated elites are its defenders and promoters. The spectre of hidden epidemic of sex crimes inside Britain’s classrooms has emerged after Scotland Yard revealed there have been nearly 900 rapes or sex attacks in schools. The vast majority of victims were school children under the age of 16. As many as one in three were under 11. According to official figures, hundreds of children under the age of 12 were treated for addiction to drink and drugs.

    Children are being taught that sexually transmitted diseases could be easily treated and there is no acknowledgement of the emotional harm of premature sexual activity. The truth is that more sex education and contraception are provided to children and teenagers, the more they fall pregnant. Studies have shown that access to contraception and sex education, sexual activity and conception and pregnancy rates go up. The sexual health of young Londoners is a “major public health issue” and still among the worst in the country, despite innovative projects and improvements in services.

    The demand for Muslim schools comes from parents who want their children a
    safe environment with an Islamic ethos. Parents see Muslim schools where children can develop their Islamic Identity where they won’t feel stigmatised for being Muslims and they can feel confident about their faith. The significance and value of Muslim schools is that the Islamic religion imposed obligations of good citizenship, keeping the peace and paying taxes. While ambition of state school is to get children humping each other before they are out of primary school and giving them parenting classes when they are fourteen to help the girls cope with the babies they will have conceived at thirteen.
    Iftikhar Ahmad

    .

    • ‘Broken Britain’ is a slogan, and a slogan much favoured by the tabloid press and Tories. I don’t believe that it reflects the true state of our society, after all, we all live in it and know what it truly is like. I think the agenda you outline is filled with a number of hateful conclusion, which ends up demonizing unmarried relationships and especially homosexual relationships. We have a society that wishes to uphold the integrity and autonomy of the individual in society, and that comes with its own problems. However, a social engineering that forces people into a patriarchal mould of marriages and families ends up with its own problems of withdrawl of personal liberty, especially from women and those who can’t or won’t fit in. I believe that the former model is the more human, and while you may think the latter more divine, I would contend that a Muslim should first respect the liberty of the descendant of Adam. After all, even the shahadah must be recited on one’s own volition, and is worthless if there’s duress.

  51. I think you are absolutely right and actually most labels are imagined. All we can say is we are human and that as such we should respect all other humans and share what we have including our world.

  52. The annotated ‘On Englishness and English nationalism’

    http://crossofstgeorge.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=26637

    The real Gareth Hughes and his agenda exposed by egbert!

    .

    • It seems I must have upset this group of English nationalists, resplendent in their crusader pictures! Of course, if you wanted a real discussion with me over what I had written, the responses should have been written here; as the response is written on a forum for which one has to register, it is likely to be a somewhat one-sided discussion there, as demonstrated by the groupies who commented. Here I have given the opposing view points large amounts of space, and only set a limit when opponents descend into trading insults when their arguments run thin.

      I notice egbert has a preference for the term ‘Aunt Sally’, as a means of dismissing points he does not wish to engage with. I would like to know, for each of the points he dubs ‘Aunt Sallys’, why he disagrees with them.

      He also has a line on arguing from dictionary definitions of words. This is fine if some one is actually misusing a word (like ‘disenfranchisement’), but not up to much when its purpose is to over-simplify the concepts of ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’ (and ‘humanism’ in that ignorant comment). Any encyclopaedia would give you a better sense of the complexities, and varying meanings of these concepts.

      It is quite absurd to see egbert continue the line that I am ‘anti-English’ and thus ‘racist’. He seems to understand my attack on English nationalism as an attack on the English. I know that’s how you all think, but it is most definitely possible to be English and against English nationalism. The continual questioning on me to somehow define or prove my Englishness is somewhat akin to the Birther movement wanting Obama to prove his citizenship. As for the accusations of racism, these are just obscene, and an offence to all who face actual racism daily. On the other hand, I note the strong anti-immigration current in my opponents’ comments, which gives me more cause to worry about the racial fear-mongering behind much nationalism.

      My experience of English nationalism is from what its proponents write here, which includes the persistent claim that the English are disempowered.

      A question that arises from this new take is does one have to be an English nationalist or sympathetic to an English nationalist agenda to be English? That is the trick that egbert and others keep pulling, turning my criticism of English nationalism into an attack on the English, as if the two were the same thing.

      Alan, as for ‘exposed’, my views are very much out in the open anyway.

  53. It that this acolyte of an episcopalian church replete with its copes and mitres who has been upset, and this explains why he attributes such a reaction to his opponents ~ another cheap crack! (See, two can play this game!)

    Gareth professes to want a ‘real discussion’ and, in true dictatorial fashion, prescribes that it should [must?] be on his blog! [As usual, he portrays a partial picture which implies that this blog is not subject to one-sided restrictions which he can impose. How dishonest is that!] Even so, Gareth avoids engagement with so many particular points (such as the opinion that he is anti-English), instead preferring to resort to yet more generalities such as his admitted ‘attacks’ on English nationalism not being ‘anti-Englishness’.

    Yes, you do oppose and you do persistently and unreasonably criticise English nationalism, without tendering one shred of objectrive evidence to support your gossipy assertions!

    You also single out England and the English for less favourable treatment. It is YOU who insists upon ‘thinking’ about English identity, NOT me! You wrote “It’s necessary to think about identity and national identity in general before thinking about what Englishness is.” Egbert replies: “Is it? Where is the case for this and why have you not extended this irrelevance to Irishness and Scottishness and Welshness?” Yes, where is YOUR response? This is not about nationalism per se! It is about national identity and, on the evidence, you are patently anti-English . . . . an anti-English Church of England priest! Nothing novel about this then! Yep, an anti-English priest in the Church of England, headed by a Welshman who was head of the established Church of Wales and appointed by a Scot who was a covert/prospective Roman Catholic!

    Here’s one of your Aunt Sallies slightly modified Gareth ~ .”Although Gareth may believe that his political agenda is the best course of action for the nation, it is not necessarily true that is the best.” How about YOU engaging with such a fatuity? It’s certainly more your metier!

    Here’s another of your gems modified Gareth: “A British state interest is a slippery thing, and valuing the concept of state does not make a statism a lightning rod of the state’s interest.” Come on, Gareth! Engage, engage!

    Your lack of comprehension is such that you’ve missed my point about dictionaries NOT defining the meanings of words!

    To record “It is quite absurd to see egbert continue the line that I am ‘anti-English’ and thus ‘racist’, not only misrepresents what was stated, but betrays either ignorance or incomprehension, if not both! I observe that your response to being accused of racism is merely to say it is “just obscene” ~ so much for your engagement, here or elsewhere! Gareth, you seem quite incapable of addressing the precise points underpinning the opinion that you are racist. It is simply not sufficient for you to stamp your syriacist foot and to label the indictment.

    I agree that it IS possible to be English (whatever you mean by that!) and against English nationalism. Equally, it is possible to BE English (by birth, say) and BE anti-English, but you seem to have become muddled by these propositions.

    It is interesting to observe that merely ‘questioning’ what YOU mean when YOU say you are English is akin to some process in America! My, you must be desperate to have fled onto that terrain Gareth!

    Basically, my English nationalism is about England being properly recognised as a nation in her own right and having her own national parliament and executive. It is antogonists like you who ask daft, irrelevant questions such as: “A question that arises from this new take is does one have to be an English nationalist or sympathetic to an English nationalist agenda to be English?” to justify their opposition to England (and the English) having a constitutional settlement which is no less than that enjoyed by other parts of the British state!

    The beam is well and truly in your eye Gareth, and scoring debating points off you is akin to taking sweeties offa babbies!

    ___________________________________________

    • Alan, please remember to keep personal remarks about me out of this. You have been warned for your conduct already. Argue the points, not the man.

      I don’t know how you feel you are ‘scoring debating points’ here with arguments that meander all over the place. You have tried talking Kurdistan and now Anglican church politics.

      As for where the debate should be, I was not ‘dictatorial’, but when offered the choice between a closed forum staffed by English nationalists and open blog that has demonstrated that it will publish all views and where the discussion began, I suggest here is the better place.

      The anti-Englishness I am accused of is a smokescreen. I have been critical about English nationalism, and so English nationalists have twisted that to say that I am anti-English. This remains the facile equation of English nationalism with being English. So, find one thing I’ve said that can truly be said to be anti-English.

      There’s nothing ‘gossipy’ about my assertions. I assert that nationalisms are problematic as the basis of a political agenda because of the complexities of defining nation. I also assert that English nationalism is problematic when it misrepresents the fact that England dominates the UK, and that England is part of the UK, which is not some ‘other’ that can be made scapegoat for any and all ills.

      You say that I, ‘single out England and the English for less favourable treatment’, but I start by recognising that England and the English start from a position of privilege within the UK, and that devolution is partly a response to redress the balance, not by making other parts of the UK more powerful than England, but by allowing them a say in local affairs they don’t get in Westminster.

      I maintain that we have to think about Englishness if we are going to think about English nationalism. Egbert calls this an ‘irrelevance’, which is an absurd statement: is he encouraging us not to think first? As for Welshness and other -nesses, this applies equally to them if we were to discus them. That is MY response. Your comments about Rowan Williams and Tony Blair are gossipy attacks, that bear no relation to the point.

      I’m sure we all think that our political views are the right ones, but that doesn’t mean much. What’s the point you’re trying to make with that?

      Then you rewrite a few sentences and demand I engage with them. I wrote about English nationalism, and you rewrite it for British statism and throw it back at me. I would start by saying that nationalism and statism are very different beasts. The one is based around some concept of community holding a sense of shared heritage, while the other is the principle of centralised authority and planning. In this case, nationalism is far more slippery than statism, because it is more difficult to locate and define.

      OK, without a dictionary, you and Egbert define what a nation is.

      My response to being called ‘racist towards English’ is that it is indeed obscene when people are experiencing real racism in this country. If you think I am racist because I disagree with English nationalism, then I contend that you do not know what racism is.

      It should be enough for me to say I’m English. My Englishness has been brought into question, but this is making an ad hominem argument once again: it’s not a point, but a diversion.

      Thank you for your English nationalist statement, but what do you mean by ‘properly recognised’ and ‘as a nation’? Does this mean that England is not yet a nation, or is not recognised as such? Or are we to infer that a nation is defined by having a ‘parliament and executive’? I just find that statement quite muddled.

  54. I think we should all remember that we have ALL come from the same place. Outer space. We were all just dust particles, which have clumped together and reacted.
    Then from ‘out of Africa’ and over the millenia have developed different skin colours, customs, diets, etc.
    Since, we have gathered into tribes, some enforced, some environmentally enforced but many by choice, concentrated into generally identifiable geographical areas.
    Here in the United Kingdom, we have Tribes of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England, with many different sub-tribes, within each and with quite a chunk of our geographical area Southern Ireland excluded.
    The British Isles were once conjoined with Europe, latterly Denmark and Holland, eventually separated by the Ice Ages and a great river which became the North Sea, known variously as the German Ocean.
    Thereafter immigration has played a large part in producing our current UK tribe population.
    My own family history as an example.
    My fraternal grandparents came from Lithuania and Poland at the turn of the last century, early 1900s. My maternal grandparents the Hadleys were from the Midlands and Ireland.
    My own Parents settled in North Yorkshire – an area in the past, divided between highly populated heavy industry and farming.
    As a sub-tribe, my perception of my area was ‘almost invisible to London and the UK Parliament’, despite the wealth created by the various industries, the profits for which were sucked out by the London Area (or other City) Head Offices, creating far-too-overpaid, under-employed employees, executives, directors and shareholders, etc.
    I am sure there are many other sub-tribes with similar perceptions, or grudges, in most out-of-(and inner)-City areas, not only in the British Isles, but within our world.
    Instead of Great Britain or British we could have remained called “insula Albionum, from either the Latin albus meaning white (referring to the white cliffs of Dover, the first view of Britain from the continent) or the “island of the Albiones” Thank you Wikipedia.
    Our several respective Tribes are joined together in the UK for survival – strength originally in numbers and for economic wealth or greed, depending upon one’s perspective!
    Regrettably greed and envy appear to be the driving force of a great number of us human beings? Or perhaps ‘survival’ – Mr. Darwin?
    Ultimately as a species we will ALL have to work together to survive, since OUR WORLD will not last for ever. Although the short-sighted and greedy amongst us, care not, assuming survival for their own selfish life-times.
    In the meantime, we can ALL waste our lives on stupid and petty inter-tribal warfare and arguments, whilst those who have chosen POLITICS as their way of life can fiddle and fritter away everything, for which, many of us have worked so hard, some risking lives and limbs.
    Divided we will ultimately fail, against the now humongous international corporations, who care solely to produce obscenely high profits providing self-reward with obscene bonuses, salaries and share returns.
    Regardless of individual human cost.
    So in my humble opinion, we should all be working together for our greater common good and to put a stop to greed and envy.
    Let’s start by cleaning up POLITICS in the UK.

  55. Parliamentary debate;
    1) Member reads out his/her proposal;
    2) The ‘motion’ gets seconded by another member, or fails;
    3) The chair allows those in favour of the motion to present their arguments;
    4) The chair allows those against the resolution to present their arguments;
    5) The chair allows the proposer to exercise his/her ‘right of reply’
    6) The proposal is voted on;
    7) The votes are counted and the matter is resolved, the motion becomes a ‘resolution’.
    8) The resolution has either passed or failed.

    Some people try to frustrate democracy by attempting to terminate the debate before stage 2.

    It is a well known, (but dirty), tactic for those against a policy to try and block a motion from being accepted, rather than argue their case during the debate for and against ‘the resolution’. This is the tactic used to deny the electorate in England a vote on an English parliament.

    Unfortunately, there seems little prospect of the electorate in England being afforded democratic equality with the rest of the UK.

    The Brit/UK establishment, and opinionated bloggers like nosemonkey and Gareth Hughes, those who fondly imagine their opinion outweighs that of all the respondents in various opinion polls, those whose intellectual arrogance drives them to use phrases like “I’m not convinced” (nosemnokey), use their arguments against an English parliament, not as part of the debate during a referendum campaign, but as arguments against even holding a referendum.

    Democrats? I don’t think so.

  56. I’m not responsible for the smiley in the post above.

  57. Fred, please realise that you are writing here because you are supposed to believe in something, not just to put down others. Realise also that the individual you refer to as ‘nosemonkey’ has not participated here, so it appears you are having a conversation with yourself.

    Your statement seems to suggest that you haven’t had adequate opportunity to state your case. However, the amount of scrolling down to get to your comment proves otherwise. Numerous commenters have argued with me about my views, and I have afforded them the space to do so. You have posted a number of times on this page also. Despite this, you continue to make personal remarks about me (are you really so horrible to your neighbours in the flesh, or is just online that you take on these characteristics?). I am not forcing my opinion on you, I am engaging in an open debate. However, you suggest that my voice shouldn’t be heard because it contradicts what you believe. I am not arrogant, but that is what you see when you see me criticising your cherished beliefs. If they can’t stand up to some scrutiny and debate, perhaps they are not really that good.

    None of our major political parties advocate an English Parliament, the minor parties that do so do not win seats. There is no hiddenness about this. If you want a referendum, you need to get MPs to call for one. That’s how our democracy works. We could introduce a system like Switzerland where a sufficient number of signatures on a petition triggers a referendum. I quite like that idea, but it has lead in Switzerland to a number of populist policies that no responsible government would countenance. I believe that a referendum on an English parliament.

    I think referendums are useful tools in a democracy, but they need to be used wisely. Of course, complex questions cannot be put to referendum. And there are sure possibilities that referendums can be misused, seeing as much of the outcome rests on how the question is framed. For example, when the Australian people were last asked if they wanted to become a republic, the polls showed that there was a clear majority in favour. However, the option on what type of republican constitution to adopt was so unpopular that this lead to strong win for the status quo. Thus, the referendum did not reflect the true wishes of the electorate on the wider issue. Referendums can also lead to majoritarianism (that is the overriding of minority concerns) and as an excuse for irresponsible policies. So, yes to referendums, but within a strictly controlled constitutional framework.

  58. Please do not use my first name, even if it is just a cognomen.

    Dress it up how you want, the denial of a referendum is a denial of democratic equality to the electorate in England. Blocking ‘the question’ is a dirty trick, and is a tactic of those who have a weak case. If the arguments are strong, there would be no valid democratic reason not to put ‘the question’.

    I cannot admire anti-democrats, and whenever and wherever they disseminate their sophistry I reserve the right to question their qualities.

  59. You suggest that I’m dressing things up, but I’m questioning the basic assumptions held by English nationalists. So, you say, “the denial of a referendum is a denial of democratic equality”. I would like to know what you mean specifically by ‘democratic equality’. I’ve noted before that nationalists tend to make sweeping statements without wanting to discuss exactly what they mean.

    You are using the word ‘democracy’ a lot, which is good because I have been suggesting that we see a Democracy Question here rather than an English Question, for it is how one frames the question that suggests the answer. This is exactly how referendums operate too: the question suggests an answer that may be adopted or rejected but may not be amended. In this manner, referendums are rather limiting of voter choice as one gets only Yes and No.

    What you perceive as blocking the question is questioning of the question, and this is essential if we are looking to the possibility of a referendum. If you won’t allow the question itself to be examined, then the we are talking about a rigged referendum, like the Australian referendum on a republic.

    So, if we see a Democracy Question here, we recognise that devolution of power to English regions, city regions or local-government groups are options that lead to greater local exercise of power than an English Parliament. It is only when the question is framed as being about England primarily rather than democracy primarily.

    I am an ardent supporter of popular sovereignty, but there are very real problems with referendums that are recognised by political scientists. Referendums can be anti-democratic as much power rests with those who frame the question. They are most advocated by populist groups. As I have said before, I believe that referendums have an important role when controlled by a strict constitutional provision. There is nothing anti-democratic about arguing that a certain question shouldn’t be put to a referendum. In fact, suggesting that a referendum is the sine qua non of democracy is perhaps the more anti-democratic. After all, it is the kind of democracy that Mussolini and Hitler used. So, this approach of mine you insult as sophistry is a guard against dangerous misconceptions of the nature of democracy.

  60. It’s not rocket science, and all the convoluted sophistry above is quite risible.

    11 September 1997
    Proposal; There should be a Scottish parliament.

    Agree

    Disagree
    ************************
    Democratic equality =

    Proposal: There should be an English parliament

    Agree

    Disagree
    ************************

    Dangerous misconceptions of the nature of democracy?
    The all time number one is that we live in a democracy.
    “The English people believes itself to be free; it is gravely mistaken; it is free only during election of members of parliament; as soon as the members are elected, the people is enslaved; it is nothing. In the brief moment of its freedom, the English people makes such a use of that freedom that it deserves to lose it.”
    Jean Jacques Rousseau

  61. You insist on calling my responses sophistry. That’s your point of view, so you can understand that from this side of the conversation your responses seem simple minded. You see, this works both ways.

    Your simplistic sketch of ‘democratic equality’ could mean that any part of the UK could demand a referendum for a parliament. You could counter that this only applies to countries, but Northern Ireland is a rather artificial entity. Democratic principles are founded on the individual elector as the basic democratic unit. The right answer on democratic equality is that each elector is equal. Countries, as understood apart from sovereign states, are not fundamental units of democracy.

    When I wrote about dangerous misconceptions of the nature of democracy, I was specifically dealing with your absolute equation of democracy with referendums in the light of many political scientists demonstrating that referendums can be anti-democratic.

    That’s a very popular quote from Rousseau, but do you know what he was talking about?

  62. Convoluted sophistry v simple minded.

    And then the hook, “do you know what he was talking about?”

    Interminable threads that attempt to lure the unwary into an endless spiral of re-circulatory and equivocal irrelevancies, at some point, become irrelevant themselves.

    The points have been made. I’ll leave it there now. Readers can judge for themselves.

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