Thursday, 29 January 2009

Conversations about England

Gareth Young, who has been working for years to alert those in power to the biases in our current constitution, in which England is the only UK nation without a political voice, has just launched a campaign for an English 'national conversation' on the subject. Why? Because:

In Wales the ‘All Wales Convention’, a cross-party initiative, is looking at extending legislative competence to the Welsh Assembly. In Scotland the SNP Government is conducting a 'National Conversation' to enable the people of Scotland to ‘decide Scotland's constitutional future’, with the aim of bringing forward a referendum on independence or enhanced devolved powers. And alongside the Scottish Government’s initiative there is the ‘Calman Commission’, a unionist cross-party consultative body, tasked with reviewing the present constitutional arrangements to enable the Scottish Parliament to better serve the people of Scotland (within the union).

Not to be outdone by the peripheries the government at Westminster has launched a 'Governance of Britain' initiative to ‘help us define what it means to be British’, an initiative that may well result in a British Bill of Rights and various policies to strengthen our feeling of Britishness.

But what about England; what about our feeling of Englishness? Unlike the other nations of the United Kingdom we have been offered no national consultation, nor a referendum, on how we wish to be governed. None are planned, nor even proposed. Instead we watch as our partner nations in the Union are consulted again and again, with the indulgence of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, with a view to further referenda which may again alter the very nature, balance and working of the Union state.

So in light of devolution and the growth in English national feeling, how should England be governed?

It's a good question, and one that will be heard louder and louder, I think, in coming years. Its latest guise is on this website, with which Gareth is trying to reach the ears of our current masters in the Labour Party, notoriously unsympathetic though they are to English matters. I recommend that you sign up to support it. After the next election, we can then work on trying to make the Tories listen instead.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I also support Gareth's initiative, Paul. I'd place the tactical emphasis slightly elsewhere, though: it's a case of beginning to work on Labour now in order to shift things while they're in opposition. That's the time in the political cycle when parties re-evaluate their previous stands. The Tories, on the other hand, are unlikely to do anything at all in power (not even Ken Clarke's nugatory 'English pauses for English clauses' solution), especially if they win a landslide.

David (aka Britology Watch)