English Fluid Identity

Dear Member and Supporter
On the 30th July 2015, the Campaign for an English Parliament had an article published by ‘Progress’ entitled ‘England needs its own red rose to bloom’.

On the 19th August 2015, Michael Taylor, a former parliamentary candidate for Hazel Grove, replied with an article entitled ‘Fluid English Identity’. In the article he states ‘ For many that English-only identity is inadequate’ This is your chance to respond to Michael Taylor’s article and his stance on English identity. Please leave a comment under the article.

Eddie Bone
Fluid English identity
There is a headlong rush to the sunlit uplands where easy answers lay. One route is being blazed by the Corbynistas. Abler comrades than I can contribute to Progress to slay that particular dragon.
Another is for a reawakening of an English identity.
There are two sides to this, an organisational move to an English Labour Party to rescue one kind of civic nationalism after another was spectacularly botched – and the slightly more emotional raising of the flag of St George and an assertion of an English identity.
As a party of government Labour’s structures largely reflect those of how our country is run. There’s a separate Welsh Labour party because its leader should also be the leader of the Assembly of Wales.
A British regional settlement may require us to rethink organising in Greater Manchester around council boundaries and a mayoral office. It is also, I may say, where the roots of a new identity and future thinking about the transcendence of cities may lie, but it does not now.
In his contribution to this debate Eddie Bone from the campaign for an English parliament says rightly that ‘many traditional Labour voters in England as not only being out of touch with them but as disliking them.’
Only in England? We lost seats to the Tories in Wales too. But then he wrongly deduces that this is because Labour ‘ignored the need for English self-governance while overly focusing on Scottish and Welsh interests for too long.’
I see no evidence, appetite or longing for that. I see no emotional identity that cries for it, just one for fairness and better governance.
We are in danger of occasionally conflating surging identity with a quest for better governance and a fairer economy.
For many that English-only identity is inadequate. I could, but won’t, evoke the Liverpool football supporters and their ‘Scouse not English’ trumpeting, or the flags at Old Trafford for the ‘Republic of Mancunia’. But I will mention them anyway.
Instead I’ll play my own card – I was born in England to a Welsh father and a second generation Irish mother. My wife’s parents moved to Lancashire from Dublin in the 1960s.
The Emily Thornberry tweet was not offensive to me just for the England flag, or even the West Ham one, but for the snooty view of a white van – my Dad’s pick up truck is black now, but he has driven white ones too.
Identities are far more fluid, far more complex and multi-faceted than ever. To play the English card in parts of the North of England will not butter any local grown parsnips in the fields of Lancashire. The bucolic view of England begs a question not this England, but which England?
Apart from the fact that I have not given up on the Union, I fear this rush to secure our claim to an English identity before something more toxic does the job instead. And by the way, Glasgow needs a city deal to free itself from the suffocating centralising of Holyrood as much as Bristol and Leeds do from Westminster.
The more federal Britain I crave, and the greater devolution for Greater Manchester I support, is not an emotional pull because of the will of the Mancs, but because our London-centred economy and our ridiculously centralised governance makes bad decisions based on a view through a particular lens.
An English parliament will no more address this than it will further stoke resentment of who gets the better deal.
Michael Taylor is former parliamentary candidate for Hazel Grove

2 Comments on "English Fluid Identity"

  1. Phil Attewell | August 24, 2015 at 5:31 pm | Reply

    Labour lost the election not simply because it ignored the English Question (which it did, anyway) but because it was not a credible party of government. It is an even less credible party of government now, post-election, for a whole variety of reasons – like having no prospect of electing a leader who could be a credible PM (all those who would be credible, and there a few, aren’t interested in the job). But the English Question nevertheless remains an injustice that won’t go away simply by being ignored.

    Michael Taylor repeats the kind of Labour thinking that lead the CEP’s Eddie Bone to make the charge of being out of touch, and of having a sneering dislike of Englishness as an identity. Stating, as Mr Taylor does, that an English-only identity is inadequate, isn’t a valid argument against an English Parliament, it’s merely a statement of the obvious, just as recognising that a resident of Scotland having multiple identities isn’t a case for not having a Scottish parliament.

    As much as it might grieve Michael Taylor to accept, there does exist an awareness of, and yes – admit it! – pride in, an English identity. Poll after poll, and census returns, all confirm this, and it is growing. Why should this not be? England has been a self-governing entity for most of its unified existence, just as was Scotland, though the British period has, admittedly, had more of a diluting effect on English identitiy than on Scots, because of greater British/English conflation.

    Having awareness of city or regional loyalty has no bearing on the larger national identity. And it would be for a properly-constituted English parliament to devolve down powers to those cities or regions where necessary or desired. Anything else would result in a chaotic, uncoordinated mish-mash of competing cities, regions, counties or whatever (and what of those areas having no especially deep local allegiances?), none of them having equal democratic status.

    Labour isn’t alone in being all at sea over the English Question – the Tories’ EVEL is just another fudge to avoid facing the only effective answer – an English parliament in a federal UK, as the more enlightened members of all parties are now acknowledging and advocating.

  2. Just an idea, but what is stopping us from having our own English mock elections and setting up an English mock parliament without the political parties being involved. This will send out a strong message that we mean business. Who are they to tell us who we are, we know who we are. We can simply elect a representative for each county as a bare bones parliament, in reality this would be more bona fide than the British mess we have now. As an exercise lets go ahead and do it, lets see who the English people prefer to follow given the choice. Never forget that the people are sovereign not the political parties.

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