An English Parliament not the answer

Paul Salveson says the North of England can only dance to its own tune

The political and economic shape of the UK is changing rapidly and the North of England is losing out. The debate over Scottish independence is only the most obvious sign of a major political shift, together with the overwhelming vote for more powers to be given to the Welsh Government. In addition to Scotland and Wales, both Northern Ireland and London now have substantial devolved powers.

England’s Future

In this week-long series we are examining the emergence of English political sentiment and what it means for the constitutional future of Wales and the UK.


  • Tomorrow: Robin Tilbrook, Chairman of the English Democrats explains why they are supporting the SNP’s campaign to dissolve the UK.
  • On Friday, Leanne Wood, Leader of Plaid Cymru, calls for decentralisation within England.

Only the English regions continue to be dominated by London-based civil servants. As well as the democratic deficit, there is increasing evidence that the ‘North-South Divide’ is back with a vengeance. Research by IPPR North has shown a widening social and economic divide within England. The North is experiencing higher unemployment, more business failures, lower life expectancy and less investment in basic infrastructure such as transport.

The Hannah Mitchell Foundation has been formed to campaign for elected regional government for the North and to promote a new politics which is inclusive and democratic, re-interpreting the traditional socialist values of fellowship and mutual aid which once sunk deep roots in England’s North, as well as in the south Wales valleys and central belt of Scotland. It has excited mixed views. Some politicians who supported calls for regional devolution in the last Labour Government have yet to recover from the shock of the disastrous 2004 referendum in the North-east which sent a very clear ‘No thanks’ to Tony Blair and John Prescott. It was seen as another layer of bureaucracy with little power. We’ve got to draw lessons from the 2004 experience and move on. We are not the only part of the UK whose plans for devolution were initially rejected!

The Foundation’s supporters include politicians as diverse as John Prescott, Jon Cruddas, Louise Ellman and Austin Mitchell. Halifax MP Linda Riordan is the Foundation’s president. It has to be said we are heavily Labour-dominated, but with growing membership from Greens and non-aligned devolutionaries.

The Foundation is named in memory of an outstanding Northern socialist, feminist and co-operator who was proud of her working class roots and had a cultural as well as political vision for the North. Her autobiography, The Hard Way Up (1968), is a very honest account of her life, which included just a fortnight’s ‘schooling’. She went on to become an accomplished speaker, writer and activist for the fledgling Independent Labour Party (ILP). She was involved in the women’s suffrage movement and campaigned across Lancashire, Yorkshire and the North-East. Her socialism was of the ethical, humanistic kind which became so popular across the North where the ILP was strongest.

Believing that values-based politics needs reviving in a form relevant to the 21st Century, the Foundation is exploring ways of engaging with young people and the North’s diverse ethnic communities. That needs to feed in to ideas for how a future elected regional government might work. Nobody wants it to become a cosy retirement home for ex-MPs and former council leaders.

We think it makes sense to look at ‘the North’ as a whole and include Yorkshire, the North-East and North-West in a ‘super-region’ which could have powers similar to those enjoyed by the Scots. This should not be about taking power away from the local level, but gaining a range of powers from Whitehall and Westminster. The slide into economic decline will not be reversed on their own by local authorities that are struggling to maintain existing services, nor the grossly under-funded Local Enterprise Partnerships. There is a desperate need for strategic intervention at the regional level – on transport infrastructure, economic development and skills, to develop a vibrant Northern economy. At the same time, we need strong, empowered local government which re-connects with people and stimulates community action.

Nobody would under-estimate the difficulty of moving towards regional government for the North. Yet the need to counter, on the one hand, the economic and political dominance of the south-east, and the increasingly confident and autonomous Scots and Welsh, is becoming increasingly urgent.

An ‘English Parliament’ is not the answer to the North’s problems. It would only reflect and consolidate existing inequalities and potentially breed an ugly English nationalism. The North needs its own voice, as part of a more democratic England, within the United Kingdom. It’s not about being ‘anti-South’. It’s all about being ‘pro-North’.

We’re interested in developing links with activists in Wales whose vision of a decentralised, inclusive and co-operative future fits with our own. Recently, several of our members heard Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood speak in Manchester on ‘re-balancing Britain’ [ being published by ClickonWales Friday]. We found much in her speech to agree with. We want to learn from the experience of devolutionaries, and progressive nationalists, in Wales, Scotland and other parts of Europe.

The Foundation was formed last year to build support for regional devolution within, and beyond, the centre-left, which includes Greens, Liberal Democrats and non-aligned socialists as well as Labour supporters. Earlier this year we were involved in organising the highly successful ‘Hannah Festival’ in Leeds, which celebrated creativity and innovation in the North. A new Northern politics cannot be just about government structures but also culture, creativity and doing things differently. To paraphrase Emma Goldman, if we can’t dance to it, it’s not our revolution.

As the momentum for regional devolution gathers pace, we recognise that a broader, cross-party and more widely representative organisation will be needed. Scotland had its ‘Constitutional Convention’ in the 1980s which brought politicians, business leaders, voluntary and faith organisations together. The North needs something like it. Maybe it should be a ‘Council for the North’. Interest is growing and the Foundation is looking at organising a ‘Northern Convention’ early next year to bring together a much wider cross-section of groups and individuals.

It’s very early days, but the Foundation has already attracted lots of interest and is becoming the catalyst for a new approach to Northern politics. As one Yorkshire MP, Angela Smith, said recently “This time we have to do it; no half-baked proposals with few powers!” We’ll stand a better chance of doing it if we can learn from our friends in other nations and regions within and beyond the UK who have already done it – or are on their way.

Professor Paul Salveson is General Secretary of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation and a visiting professor at the University of Huddersfield. His book Socialism with a Northern Accent, radical traditions for modern times, is published by Lawrence and Wishart, price £14.99

58 thoughts on “An English Parliament not the answer

  1. The canny people of the North East Region told HMG and the EU what they thought of Regional governance back on the 4th of November, 2004. Not much!

    If they hadn’t done so then the good people of the Yorkshire & the Humber Region, who were set up to be Prescott’s next victims, would almost certainly have told Prescott and Blair where to put their proposed Regional Assembly. With typical Yorkshire candour the very thought of it would almost certainly have brought tears to their eyes!

    Nothing has changed!

  2. Firstly the author, like so many, equates London as ‘The South’. This allows them to perpetuate the myth of a North / South divide. I respectfully suggest that the author actually spends some time in some of the poorer areas of southern England, he might be shocked by what he comes across.

    The Hannah Mitchell foundation is of course a socialist, left wing, New Labour organisation which views England as a threat to the left wing dream of socialist government across the UK in it’s entirety, along with absorption into the EU superstate. Labour’s answer to English reticence to play along with their aims / idiocy is to fragment and break up England as a national and political entity. An act of cultural vandalism of breathtaking arrogance.

    What this group fails to recognise is that if England can shed the burden of belonging to the UK, or indeed the EU, then English taxes and resources can be targeted towards English, not British or European, need. An English parliament fully devolved from Britain is the only answer to England’s needs.

    All this idiot and his ilk offer is for England to be divided and sub divided into non existence. We’ll be nothing more than a series of glorified counties where you can belong to any culture or race the Orwellian elite approve of, providing of course you don’t attempt to define yourself as English that is.

  3. Perhaps Paul Salveson could elaborate on how an English parliament would breed an ‘ugly English nationalism’.

    Seems to me that the lack of an English parliament is more likely to breed resentment.

  4. Quite a lot has changed, actually John. The story you have linked to is from almost 10 years ago, since when many English Local Authorities have effectively created economic sub-regions through cooperation. An English model of regional Government needs to meet the needs of the regions of England and there is no reason to copy the Celtic nations models, although there are clearly lessons for them to learn from.

    The proposals from this new grouping sound very promising and I wish them well.

  5. A year or so ago any debate on an elected regional body or bodies within England would have had to address the issue of powers in the area of health and education. Would regionalization mean an end to an all-England education system or an English NHS? The current UK coalition government seems to be making that debate pretty much redundant.

  6. When Wales and Scotland gained devolution did the English interfere? Answer NO, so please don’t interfere with English devolution, we the people of England deserve democratic representation just like Wales and Scotland and as for the comment “breed an ugly English Nationalism”, the author of the piece should remember it was Welsh Nats that burnt English second homes, it was Scots Nats that were convicted of poisoning English waters and it was Irish Nats that murdered innocent English, all us English Nats are trying to do is save our democracy and Nation. As for Hannah Mitchell she was a staunch English woman and would be turning in her grave now knowing her name was being used to balkanize England

  7. “An ‘English Parliament’ is not the answer to the North’s problems. It would only reflect and consolidate existing inequalities and potentially breed an ugly English nationalism”.

    Typical left anglophobic unsubstantiated nonsense. What about the North South divide in Wales? Does Prof Salveson propose scrapping the Welsh Assembly and setting up separate North Wales and South Wales Assemblies. Of course he doesn’t.
    England is a proud and historic nation which came together more than a thousand years ago for very good reasons We English won’t see it broken up. As for Leanne Wood. She should concentrate on working out how an independent Wales will manage when England gives the UK the heave ho!

  8. “Does Prof Salveson propose scrapping the Welsh Assembly and setting up separate North Wales and South Wales Assemblies”

    oh now there’s an idea!

  9. Ah yes “ugly English nationalism”. What I find ugly is government after government ignoring the English at best and trying like the author here to break the political inconvenience of England up into competing regions.

    An English parliament is part of the answer – devolution to the English shires is part of the answer and English independence is the rest of the answer. England one nation.

  10. I also find this bloke’s appropriation of the long dead Hannah Mitchell’s name an ugly (not to mention desperate) attempt to latch onto her credibility.

  11. This has the looks of an EU/British Government plot to re visit the plan to fragment England and kill any chance of a unified English voice. An England divided provides these creatures an uninterrupted path to carry on the exploitation of England. It is an attempt once again, to provide a north-South divide and pit Englishman against Englishman leaving the way clear to EU domination. England needs a parliament to provide a voice and to defence against an aggressive British government supported by Scotland, wales Northern Ireland and the EU. It is in their interests to keep England weak and to have unfettered access to English finance. English nationalism is weak but growing and these people seek to destroy it in infancy whilst heavily promoting nationalism in the other countries of the UK. If ever England needed to fight it is now because the enemy is within the castle walls.

  12. Regional devolution is a poor substitute for federalism in that it still leaves absolute power in the hands of Westminster and Whitehall. However if it’s all that’s on offer, but perhaps this time let it be based on regions that have some historic precedent and sense of identity.

    The only region for Cornwall is Cornwall:

  13. An ‘English Parliament’ is not the answer to the North’s problems. It would only reflect and consolidate existing inequalities and potentially breed an ugly English nationalism.

    Paul the complete opposite is true,

    An English Parliament will give the opportunity to embrace a rebirth of English identity. This identity needs to be inclusive which although richly influenced by all the cultures living in England will be held together by the cement of Englishness. This is not to say that British multiculturalism has failed but it is now necessary for it to evolve and embrace a new approach.

    This new approach is essential due to the potential cessation of the UK. Multiculturalism needs to flower into an English multi-ethnic and multi-racial society that unites all the skills held within our communities. Having the courage to move forward provides a fantastic opportunity. The creation of an English Parliament will facilitate a rebalancing of all ethnic identities within the political process, ensuring ethnically diverse views and representations are included. It would allow everyone to stand together, different but harmonious.

    All ethnic identities could become involved in the creation of an English Parliament, laying a claim to protect democracy and the subsequent standards of living in England. An English Parliament and a cohesive, harmonious English voice that appreciates we have different political and social views are needed to unify England.
    Many settlers in England took on a British identity without issue and embracing Englishness will be no different. For Englishness to fully supplant Britishness, everyone in England needs to feel a kindred spirit towards being English. This has been achieved in the US and people of diverse cultural backgrounds embrace being American. For example: Indian English, Polish English, Australian English, West Indian English and so forth, as the American model shows.

    This does not mean that people settling in England should give up their national origins. If they want to, they should embrace their past and traditions and forge them into English society through democratic process.

  14. @ Ian

    “Quite a lot has changed, actually John.”

    Well yes – one thing that has changed since 2004 is that the failing Welsh Assembly Government has failed even more! One of the most useful things the NO campaign in the North East had in 2004 was the evidence that 4-5 years of Regional Assembly governance in Wales had already shown measureable decline in several key areas. A decade later we can see a full ten percentage point decline in Welsh relative GDP, plus the other obvious declines in front-line services like health and education, so the idea of resurrecting the dead duck of Regional governance in England now has an even greater evidential basis for being rejected.

    The 4 remaining Regional Assemblies – London, Scotland, Ulster, and Wales are by far the most expensive Regions per capita to run and only London pays its way.

    There has always been a healthy mix of co-operation and competition between northern cities and northern counties. There is very little new under the sun – and I say that from Leeds where I am now and where I spend a quarter of my life…

    One thing Wales could probably learn from Yorkshire is that Wales could also usefully be divided into 3 ‘Thridings’ for administrative purposes – that’s 2 shire county equivalents covering North and Mid-Wales and a Metropolitan area covering South Wales, each with around 1 million population.

    Check out North Yorkshire and/or Cumbria to see how much better life could be in Gwynedd… And think how many high-end snouts in the trough could be consigned to oblivion? That’s no loss to anybody unless you happen to be one of them…

  15. I have seen Mr Salveson speak on several occasions. Every single time (without fail) he has stated how he is not ‘anti-London or the South’, before launching into a tirade of abuse against London and the South. The average Londoner is not enjoying a playboy lifestyle, using bank notes to light cigars whilst spoon feeding caviar to his millionaire friends. The average Londoner is struggling to make ends meet, just like the average northerner. I would have far more respect if he was more open about his political aims, which is to slice England into smaller chunks, some of which his Labour handlers can then dominate. Never trust a man who repeatedly states ‘I’m not anti’ something…

  16. Wyrdtimes says:”An English parliament is part of the answer – devolution to the English shires is part of the answer…”

    Just to comment that the Scottish Parliament has powers over local government – if England was devolved the same way, then surely there would be nothing to stop an English Parliament restructuring the local/regional Government system in England.

  17. As most of the support for English regionalisation seems to come from Wales Paul Salveson will probably find more support from the public in this forum than anywhere else. Says it all really.

  18. Hoorah for Paul Salveson! Yorkshire and the North are certainly sick of being expected to dance to the Westminster/Whitehall tune that is so out of sync with their rythm. Scotland and Wales both realized it and since they have danced to their own tunes they have grabbed devolved powers by the hand and eagerly taken to the floor. Whilst Wales recently voted overwhelmingly for more powers to be given to the Welsh Government, Scotland has planned a referendum next year on full independence from the UK Government! Neither would be the case unless devolution had been seen as a composer of great music by those who had danced to it. There is absolutely no justification for denying Yorkshire and the North the devolved power to also compose their own music so that their people can, at last, enjoy dancing to the rythm they need!

  19. An English parliament is the answer because all polls show that 60%+ of people in England want one. Conversely regions are persistently the most unpopular option, bumping along at about the 12% mark. The easiest way to solve the English question is to put an English parliament as the sole option in a referendum, like the Scots were asked, using the same rules. It’s about time we English were asked instead of being told what’s best, not for the English, but for the Welsh, Scots and Irish.

  20. Yes the North South divide is the likes of Mr Salveson and indeed the whole of the IPPRs obsession,
    Divide and Rule that is their dream.
    I would feel quite sorry for them living in a land they just can’t quite like, if my country was not in danger of becoming balkanized by there treacherous ideas.
    A Parliament for England is the only way to go Mr Salveson and that’s for the whole of England and all who sail in her!

  21. By the way, I live in Carlisle where people realise that the real north-south divide is between the north of England and rich-with-English-cash Scotland. The Clan Macakeneatit Scots will never vote for ahndaypahndance because they know the cash that is flooding into Scotland now will be dammed by the border and stay in England’s north. It has clearly evaded Paul Salveson’s memory that the Scot Michael fallon MP crowed about how the so-called Coalition diverted £700 million of EU cash, intended for England, away from England this year, to the Celtic Fringe. Also the Scot Danny Alexander fiddled cash into his own Scottish constituency.

    The only reason England doesn’t have a parliament is because it is a member for this sorry excuse of a “Union” and an even worse excuse the EU. Neither “union” recognises England as either a region or a nation. We English would be much better off out of both.

    No doubt Mr Salveson would describe my statements as “ugly English nationalism”. Rather that than ugly Anglophobic unionism.

  22. Note that they demand Northern Devolution but the South must still remain under direct Westminster control. I

  23. “An English Parliament is not the answer to the north’s problems”…… Your personal opinion, obviously. But hey, what about the rest of us? What do WE think?

    I know, I’ve got a great idea, let’s do something a bit democratic and ask the people of England what we want? Out of the envelope I know, actually asking ‘the people’, whatever next?….. Do we want a national parliament to act in the best interests of England – just like every other national democracy in the world has…. Or do we want to something a bit left field, a bit uber-unique, and artificially salami-slice up one of the oldest nations in Europe in the hope that a UK central government will devolve real power to them?

    Hmmm, choices, choices, choices…. Yep, personally, I think I’ll go with the tried and tested model, the one for which over the centuries, many millions of people have given their lives to gain, it just has to be national democracy. English Parliament NOW!

  24. These anti-English proposals really irk me, we support the one Cricket, Football Rugby Union and Rugby League National sides. We are one Nation despite the best efforts of people like the author, Prsecott and Falconer to do away with us.

    Does Rhode Island feel threatened by Califonia? no of course not! Give us our Parliament Referendum”

  25. England is a nation and if regions are to be given more power it must be under the umbrella of an English Parliament first and foremost because if Labour get their way, England will be balkanized into regions as dictated by the EU never to be recognized as a nation in it’s own right again.

    Thanks to Labour, England is now the only nation in the UK and the western world without a voice and without self determination because they deliberately and cynically left England out of devolution so they could continue to use their Celtic votes and their Celtic MPs to govern England but are now beginning to realize that the English are beginning to wake up to the rotten deal they are receiving post devolution both politically and financially. They can see right through Labour and their pro European, anti-English agenda which will stop at nothing until they have destroyed all hopes of England ever again being recognized as a nation in it’s own right.

    Who can forget their deliberate open door policy on immigration which flooded an already overcrowded England with millions of immigrants just so they could dilute England’s identity and ‘rub the noses of the right in it’ The one’s to suffer most from their nasty agenda were the working classes north and south who Labour have proved they couldn’t give a stuff about.

    The Hannah Mitchell Foundation and the likes of John Prescott, Jon Cruddas and Austin Mitchell now plan to stir up the north/south divide in their bid to break England up and will stop at nothing until they have done so. Labour, not that the Tories who rely on England for their support are much better, have treated and continue to treat England with nothing but contempt. God help us if Labour are ever allowed anywhere near the governance of England again, especially if they can only do so with the help of their Scottish & Welsh MPs.

  26. Philip R Hoskins. A federal UK is fast receding. There is no place for a monolithic England in such a structure as Paul Salveson has made clear. English nationalists are quickly coming to realise that if England is to have a parliament, the only way that can happen is if England is independent of the UK. Cornwall will remain within that England as the Erse speaking areas in the Highlands will remain in independent Scotland, if the Scots vote ‘yes’ next year.
    Depending on where the boundaries are drawn, Paul Salveson’s super-region in the north will contain between fifteen million and twenty million people. It points the way to the only possible scenario for a federal Britain, i.e., three, or possibly four, of Salveson’s super-regions, one of which would be London. The only, and more likely, alternative to that is the independent sovereign England outside of the UK which English nationalists are increasingly calling for.

  27. If there is to be a Northern Parliament, there would have to be a Southern Parliament too, which would seek to promote its own advantages. The North/South divide would not only continue but get worse. There is scope for considerable decentralisation within England but, as Sir Merrick Cockell, chair of the Local Govt Assn, has pointed out, it needs to be coordinated by by an all-England body. For better or worse, Scotland and Wales were offered devolution to provide a ‘focus’ for those nations. That is exactly what England needs. No focus is provided by the UK government. England has no voice. As the McKay Commission reported, only an all-England solution would be acceptable. The people of England, like the people of Scotland and Wales,have a sovereign right to be consulted on the form of government that best suits their needs. I do not believe they would vote for a Northern Parliament.

  28. Flat Stan, it seems to me that Salveson is like one of those clichéd deadheads who begin their comments, “I’m not a racist, but…”, and then go into a tirade against non-white and/or foreign people.

  29. If the Labour bigots do get to establish their ‘regions’, even though the English people clearly don’t want them, it would be poetic justice if the people in Labour’s fiefdoms kick out the Labour jams (hat-tip to the MC5 for the phrase) in the way that the Scots have replaced what Labour thought would be their 1000-year Reich at Holyrood with something more democratic.

  30. John. Just for clarification, are you the same John Walker who once was treasurer of the BNP? The use of ‘Ulster’ in your most recent response, gave you away-so to speak.

  31. I live in Yorkshire but I also live in England. What this article fails to recognise is the English identity. All the arguments are economic ones, fair enough if they were genuine – but where are the economic arguments for Wales to have its own parliament or Scotland? There aren’t any – Welsh and Sottish devolution are based only on national identity and borders – nothing more.

    At the end of the day the whole agenda seems to be to preserve the naional identities of Scotland and Wales but break up England. There is an anti-Englishness about this which can only b described as racism. The comments on “ugly English nationalism” only confirm the author’s bias and stereotypical views.

  32. Funny how some feel that the answer to the English Question is to eliminate the “English” aspect by dismantling my nation into a cluster of regions. That would be a matter of ‘Operation successful – Patient dead’.

    The subject is the proper recognition of England as a cohesive nation, with its own parliament and government, alongside those of the other UK component territories.

    The only way one could contemplate the possibility of some form of regional government structure would be under a single UK government and parliament, i.e. abolish nation-based devolution. In that instance it could be that Wales might be two regions, north & south, and Scotland likewise, Lowlands and Highlands & Islands.

    Why is it that Scottish and Welsh sense of nationhood is regarded as A Good Thing but somehow the English equivalent isn’t?

  33. An English parliament is the only way forward.
    It is time to kick the stinking British control freaks out of England now.

  34. ” In addition to Scotland and Wales, both Northern Ireland and London now have substantial devolved powers.”

    All have devolved legislative powers EXCEPT London… they have none… none at all. The only parts of the UK that enjoy devolution are the former three.

  35. ” potentially breed an ugly English nationalism”

    There are minor elements of this, just as there are in Scottish and Welsh nationalism. Whilst making for nice mucky footage on the telly, they are insignificant in the overall scheme of things.

    The major theme is not “nationalism” in the Welsh and Scottish sense of independence, but “nationism” – the proper acknowledgement of England as a national entity within the UK.

  36. And on Friday a woman called Leanne Wood?? who is “The Leader of Plaid Cymru??” is calling for “The decentralisation of England”
    The contempt these people have for England is mind boggling,
    Wake up England it’s not to late !

  37. Mark wrote “What this article fails to recognise is the English identity.”

    Indeed, and that is very pertinent. The 2011 census revealed that the highest proportion of people in England identifying themselves as only English, or predominantly English, that is placing English before British, was in the north of England; 75% of people in Cumbria and 80% in Northumberland and Durham.

    Taken as a whole those in England claiming to be English amounted to around 70%, the figure being dragged down by London, the main sufferer of Scots-led Labour’s policy of invasion masquerading as immigration.

    This was the first time we English were asked directly about our identity and the question in 2011 was provoked by the large number of people ignoring the proffered “British” option in 2001 and choosing “other” then writing “English”.

    Never mind the “ugly English nationalism” alluded to by Paul Salveson. “Handsome is as handsome does,” as the English say.

  38. @ Ian

    “John. Just for clarification, are you the same John Walker who once was treasurer of the BNP? The use of ‘Ulster’ in your most recent response, gave you away-so to speak.”

    No – and your Ulster ‘logic’ totally fails the logic test! So to speak…

    Any more daft questions or is that it for now?

  39. By all means have a referendum on an English Parliament – why not? I’ll be down the bookies for a large bet on a ‘no’ vote. The folks on this blog are utterly unrepresentative. The last thing their fellow citizens want is more politicians. The Westminster Parliament is 90 per cent English. The English and English concerns dominate it completely, inevitably so given relative populations. That being so most English people will regard an English Parliament as a fifth wheel on the coach. And they won’t want to pay for it. But that’s a prediction, not a recommendation. I agree that it’s not for the Welsh to decide how England wants to govern itself.

  40. I thought this sounded like disingenuous nonsense of a socialist character. As one commentator observed the canny northerners saw through this and rejected it. Basically it’s OK it seems, for foreign MPs to vote on matters that are solely of concern of English constituents. It’s not OK for MPs representing all English constituencies, to vote on matters affecting some English constituencies. And the difference is? Yes the foreign MPs are accountable to no one for their decisions, whereas the English MPs are. No doubt there are some who will take exception to my calling Scots MPs foreigners. After all, we all carry the same passport. However what is the difference between a Scots MP voting on English business and an MP from German voting on English business? Answer none. They are not accountable to their constituency voters for what they do.

  41. ” It has to be said we are heavily Labour-dominated”
    Which kind of sums it up. The Hannah Mitchell Foundation may be officially independent but it basically seems to be a Labour front group. The ‘diverse’ MPs who are listed as supporting it all seem to be Labour.

    It’s view of devolution is the standard Labour view of devolution, “What’s best for Labour?” and ideally “What will stuff the Tories?”. This basically involves taking an area which is deemed to be Labour in perpetuity and hiving it off with its own government whilst leaving the now less Labour voting remainder governed by the UK government so it can maintain control and influence there. What that area is Labour seems to be relatively flexible about. First it was the North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humber regions. I cannot recall any particular interest in a pan-Northern regional government when regionalisation was initially proposed. It seems that only after those original proposals have failed to engage has this now been thrown into the mix and even then it seems this can be extended into the Northern edges of the midlands on the grounds that they, surprise, surprise, vote Labour.

    Labour voters are portrayed as special, unique people who it is totally unreasonable to ever expect not to be ruled by the party they voted for. No such consideration is granted to voters of other parties. If a voter in rural Conservative constituency in the North of England gets a Labour government they did not vote for they are supposed to lump it. Not only as part of a general cycle of government change but as part of Labour’s gerrymandering and manipulation of the electoral process for their own ends. Get a Lib / Con or Rainbow coalition even though the Conservatives got a majority in England through Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish votes even though Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own governments? Tough. Find yourself hived off into a Labour dominated fiefdom where you are never likely to get the government you voted for? You’re not Labour so that’s okay. The fact that some parties’ voters may never have seen them in government is likewise not nearly as important as Labour voters having to go without Labour government for x number of years.

    The IPPR poll suggests that English voters want some kind of national recognition in Government although what form this should take is not as clear. There is no attempt to bring this into a proposal for change in governance as it does not suit Labour.

    Ladelled on top of this is a dollop of Labour anyone but Englandness.

    The census and polls on English identity give good grounds for suggesting that Northerners and the working class are most likely to identify as English but whilst no doubt setting himself up as a spokesman for both the author again shows no interest engaging with this. To do so probably does not fit with political aims or prejudice. Much more preferable to listen to a Welsh Nationalist leader, non of whose business it is, but who’s aims happen to currently be in sync.

  42. paul salveson the north has always had the ‘higher percentage of jobless or at least almost always.same with the ‘life expectancy being lowest’ and you in your ‘wisdom’ think it will be better to have a regional government? the democratic deficit? it would not exist with a English government, that’s the whole point? England would be run on the democratic votes that don’t exist now but we still call this government ‘democratic’ England has ‘nothing’ and very soon wont have yes,i would rather take an English parliament with mp’s that are being paid to serve the people who ‘elected’ them..your not thinking of the people of England (notice I don’t use ‘English people’) your just a divide and conquer merchant..i live in and love the north and still live here but the north is one area, do you suggest the midlands are rolling in box of money? your comment about ‘attracting an ugly English nationalism’ is a contradiction when you say ‘its not about being anti-south, but being pro-north’?
    England would be fine without all the disadvantages of people wanting to carry on dismantling it.Dont speak for me,i don’t need or want your ‘expert’ views on knocking something that has not know jack when it comes to loving your nation, I love England and so many people run it down and suck the life out of it and the worse type is a faux Englishman who wears liederhosen and is a truffle hunting alpine horn-blowing snail hunter.

  43. Tredwyn, an English parliament would have fewer politicians not more. It would lose Those MPs representing Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for start. It wouldn’t need a second chamber. So out would go all those 800 members of the defunct House of Lords (predicted to soon rise to 2,000) all on cushy expenses. The parliament would move out of London to somewhere where the cost of living would be much less, saving on MP’s expenses and where their pay needn’t be so high either. And, “whoopee”, all those overpaid civil servants in Whitehall would be redeployed out of London on lower pay. Bring it on.

  44. What great value for money! An English parliament for 50 million or so people sitting next to the UK parliament for 60 million people. All those extra politicians and subsequent civil servants to pay for with such little redistribution of power to the people.

  45. Labour’s devolution plan was never in the spirit of localism. This policy was based upon the belief that Labour would have a more or less guaranteed mandate to rule Scotland/Wales from Edinburgh/Cardiff indefinitely. The Tories would never get in power at Holyrood and the nationalists would lose support by most Scots (who cared) being placated by devolution.

    It was a disaster. Labour lost control of both and now Scotland may be lost forever!

    Don’t repeat this nonsense with the North. Those of us who come from there don’t want it, so why won’t you listen?

  46. Philip R Hoskins, An English parliament representing 50 million next to a UK parliament representing 60 million, you say. BUT the UK parliament representing all four nations wouldn’t last five minutes, it would be replaced by the English parliament, hence a great reduction in civil servants.
    Besides which the English parliament wouldn’t be next to the UK parliament in cosmopolitan London but in an English part of the country. .

  47. Ian Campbell says, “If there is to be a Northern Parliament, there would have to be a Southern Parliament too, which would seek to promote its own advantages. The North/South divide would not only continue but get worse.”
    His first sentence is right. The logic of his second sentence does not follow from it, and it aint necessarily so.
    A devolved North would be released to develop its economy freed from the dead hand of Westminster and Whitehall, making it better able to compete.
    Even a devolved South might be able to get out from under London’s shadow, much as Wales is now reasserting itself following devolution.
    A northern parliament and a southern parliament would be less expensive to run and the work of a federal UK government would be much reduced having been relieved of most of Home affairs by the devolved governments.
    That is assuming that the English nationalists do attain their goal of an English parliament which will inevitably bring about English independence from the UK.

  48. My last sentence should have read “That is assuming that the English nationalists do NOT attain their goal of an English parliament which will inevitably bring about English independence from the UK.”

  49. @Philip R Hosking: Re your comment. 70% of all business conducted in Westminster is exclusively England -relevant. The remaining 30% is concerned with so called reserved matters, (foreign affairs, finance etc). Trouble is, every year, the reserved portfolio is being nibbled away as the EU takes over more and more of these responsibilities. So, by definition, percentage-wise, the English business side will continue to grow.

    An English Parliament of 450 members would replace a bloated House of Commons, rendering it completely irrelevant. The 700 members of the House of Lords can be put out to grass. And if we still want a truly fed’ UK, a 100 member elected council can replace it to look after the diminishing pot of reserved matters. There, got rid of 650 MPs, 750 Lords – and replaced them with 450 EMPs and 100 UKMPs.

    And in the process, a fortune saved and democracy served….. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

  50. Philip Hosking: “What great value for money! …”

    So how about just one set of MPs, sitting part time in national parliaments and part time coming together as UK Parliament. That would be fewer representatives overall. Couple that with reforming the Upper House and localising more powers to local authorities and we could have cheaper and better democracy.

  51. Replying to Philip R Hosking
    “What great value for money! An English parliament for 50 million or so people sitting next to the UK parliament for 60 million people. All those extra politicians and subsequent civil servants to pay for with such little redistribution of power to the people.”


    That’s what the politicians want you to believe. If anything, an English Parliament would cost less money and require less politicians, not more which is why 650 UK politicians sitting in the UK Parliament at Westminster are dead against it. If we had an English Parliament with politicians elected on an English manifesto, there would be no need for anywhere near 650 UK MPs whose only role would be to legislate on the few remaining reserved matters. 150 to say 200 would be more than enough. The present House of Commons could become the new English Parliament. As the 800+ Lords and Ladies from across the UK sitting in the HOL only scrutinize English legislature anyway, most of them could be sent packing saving millions on their £350 a day expenses just for signing in and all the other perks they receive. UK MPs could get together in the HOL building once or twice a week and the other days could be used for scrutinizing.

    The reason so many MPs are against an English parliament is out of pure self interest, nothing more, nothing less. They know full well that most of them would be surplus to requirements just as 117 Celtic MPs sitting in the UK Parliament at Westminster know full well if they couldn’t meddle in English only matters, they would have virtually nothing to do as they can’t legislate on most matters for those who sent them there in the first place.

    Either way price should not come before democracy!

  52. Stuart Eels talks about Salveson’s “anti-English” proposal, but Stuart Eels, himself, supports the anti-English party which is Ukip.

  53. No doubt pedantic, but I wish people like Jools B would stop talking about Celtic MPs, when they mean Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs.
    The British Celts were invented by Edward Lluyd (see ‘The Myth of the Atlantic Celts’ by Simon James.)

  54. Isenstan

    “Celtic MPs” is just a convenient shorthand, rather than having to repeat the longer ” Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs” in a comment. A related shorthand aspect: “English MP” rather than “MP representing English constituencies”, i.e. such an MP could well be “Celtic” him/herself.

  55. Isentan. Celtic denial is a major project of the British Museum and its academic acolytes, designed to put Anglo-Saxons at the centre of the history of the island of Great Britain and justify the present UK state. The Brits are adept at labelling others as mere “natives”. See current television programmes being broadcast by the BBC.

  56. Mr Salveson is quoted in his recent article published in the “Click-on-Wales On-line magazine” as saying:
    An ‘English Parliament’ is not the answer to the North’s problems. It would only reflect and consolidate existing inequalities and potentially breed an ugly English nationalism.

    Why is it that Nationalism as exhibited by Celts is all right but English nationalism is categorised as “ugly”?
    Welsh nationalists burned over 200 homes in Wales because their owners were English: the Irish Nationalists murdered people in Birmingham and London and other English cities, and since there are far too many instances of nasty anti-English Scottish nationalism to record here, remember that song Scots are prone to sing in pubs “Stamp your feet, if you hate the English”.
    Mr. Paul Salveson’s remark about “ugly English nationalism” is a racist slur on English people prompted by English self loathing, and he should apologise for and withdraw it.

  57. “The British Celts were invented by Edward Lluyd”

    I think Isentan is being a little harsh on Edward Lhuyd. He was a scholar who recognised that Welsh, Breton, Cornish, Irish etc were sister languages and wished to find a term to classify them as a language group. He chose Celtic. Surely it was other people who developed ideas on ‘celticity’ off the back of that?

    However, I do agree that the terms ‘Celt’ and ‘Celtic’ should be banned from all political journalism/discourse.

  58. As some other commenters have said, there is no north-south divide — there is an London – rest of England divide and it’s very troubling. In fact, evidence points to a much more rosey future for the north than the non-London south. Consider the motorways along the south coast (there’s one and it travels past two cities only) and compare those with the motorways around Manchester, Liverpool and south to Birmingham. Regionalisation will make all the regions suffer at London’s expense, while an English parliament will provide a louder voice for all of England.

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