Friday 23 April 2010

Appealing for an English Parliament on Saint George’s Day

Today, the national day of England, Power 2010, a Rowntree-backed campaign group aiming at the reform of our political system and a fairer democracy, has released figures indicating that seven out of ten people now back a Parliament for England. The findings came as last night the movement staged a huge guerrilla-like projection of the Saint George’s Flag with the words ‘Home Rule’ on to the Palace of Westminster.

The poll, carried out by ICM, shows that 68% of voters in England believe that the country should have its own Parliament with similar powers to that of Scotland. In addition 70% of respondents said that English laws should be decided only by MPs representing English constituencies.

It’s worth stressing that this is about a perceived lack of fairness and democratic balance among ordinary voters, rather than Englishness as such. The poll of 1033 people across the country showed that almost half of the respondents feel “equally British or English.”

Pam Giddy, the Director of Power 2010, has rightly highlighted the fact England has not figured at all in the leaders’ debates, or in the campaign, though most people clearly want a fairer way of making decisions that affect their homeland. In a press release issued in the early hours of the morning she said;

It suddenly feels like we are on the cusp of seismic change to the way our politics is done. But so long as the unfair system we have at the moment persists it can only play into the hands of undemocratic voices like the BNP. With all the talk of reform in the air politicians should not duck the English question, but use the opportunity of Saint George’s Day to say where they stand.

For me there continues to be a certain degree of ambivalence here: on the one hand I do think that the Union has been greater than the sum of its parts, while on the other I toy more often with the idea of complete English independence. But what I am in no doubt about at all is that our present system is grossly unfair to the majority of the people who live in this kingdom, a point I made recently in England, it’s Time to Waken Up.

That piece also touched on the fact that the Conservative Party has committed itself to answering the West Lothian Question, and to that degree is in tune with and even one step ahead of the Power 2010 campaign. Still, I do not think that part of the Tory Manifesto is emphasised merely as much as it should be, especially as it would meet with such a receptive audience, given the evidence of this poll.


  1. Good morning, Ana,

    I agree that England deserves and ought to have her own Parliament (or sub-set of it). But how would you go about uniting England? I suppose you would have to begin by asking, "What substantial thing do all English people have in common?"

  2. Good morning, Jamie. I would say a simple desire for fairness and political equality. The situation at the moment is intolerable.

  3. So say all of us, Ana, but what is meant by fairness and what by political equality? By common standards, England has never had these qualities in anything like full measure ; and yet she was once great and her people industrious, innovative and patriotic. Is politics (in the modern sense) all that matters? It would seem not.

    I do not believe that notions of fairness and political equality can bring a lump to the throat or a tear to the eye. More is needed at a fundamental level, and that ingredient is what is missing today.

  4. England needs to rediscover itself and the central way of doing that is for us to have our own politics and set "Britain" and all its permutaions to one side.

    Notice I did not say we should go for outright English independence, though it wouldn't bother too much if we did, just that we need to refind our own people, our own country and our own way of doing things and get rid of this curse of British politicians and their parties who despise us.

  5. Basically just equality of treatment, Jamie. Most people get quite cross that the Scots and Welsh can interfere with English matters, whereas English MPs have no equivalent right. It certainly makes me cross. The issue over student tuition fees was outrageous.

    John, yes, well put.