The campaign to speak for England has taken off. I am receiving large numbers of emails and web contributions in support. There is a strong feeling that England deserves and needs a fairer settlement. There is a strong surge in opinion in favour of England having a voice and the right to govern herself as Scotland does. I went to Chequers to present my thoughts on how to take this forward to the Prime Minister. He agrees that we now do need to deliver some justice for England.
There is no nasty nationalist movement in England. Most English people do not define their Englishness by expressing dislike or hatred of other countries. There is none of that unpleasant undercurrent that you hear on the fringes of Scottish nationalism that is anti English. There is none of that strident nationalism based on anti Russian sentiment which we see in Ukrainian nationalism.
We English are on the whole glad Scotland voted to stay with us, and wish the UK to be our country representing us abroad and taking the big decisions on defence, war and peace and general economic and monetary policy. We also now strongly feel that if Scotland is to have more devolved power we too need our own devolved government to balance the kingdom. We want a fair settlement over who makes the decisions, and how the money is raised and spent.
We English would like there to be a BBC England which does for our culture and debates what BBC Scotland and BBC Wales do for them. We want to hear our worries and arguments more on our media, and know that our concerns and our public services will be dealt with by English MPs answering to their constituents.
We in Parliament have to take up the task of sorting out a quick and straightforward way of ensuring that in future we have English votes for English matters. There are ways that we could deliver this soon, with some co-operation from other parties. Otherwise it has to await the General Election, when English votes for English issues will be a central promise by the Conservatives. I just hope Labour and Liberal Democrats realise that if they wish to be serious contenders for votes in England they too now have to join us in creating justice for England. I could not justify to the electors of Wokingham giving Scotland the power to settle its own Income tax rate, and also giving to Scottish MPs the right to vote on what Income Tax we have to pay in England when they would not have to pay it themselves.
October 2, 2014
Very well put.
I see nothing nationalistic, really, about wanting a ‘fair’ balance in the UK; and that means that England should rightly be recognised as a nation in the union and that she should govern her own affairs.
The point about the BBC is an important one too – I think it would do England well to start recognising and celebrating what great cultural, economic and business successes come from England, rather than simply losing them into the Union flag.
English votes for English laws should just be the start, in my opinion, of a broader realignment of politics and media to stop shying away from celebrating England.
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