Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Stick to the campaign (for an English Parliament)

I'm new to the blogosphere, but I'm not new to the bizarre nature of the UK's devolution/federal arrangements, the case for an English Parliament, the somewhat underwhelming case for English regions, and the knotty question from West Lothian. Certainly the asymmetric federal arrangements currently in place in the UK are not necessarily going to be final arrangements for dividing political power in this country. However, several things annoy me about how these issues are often presented and debated in the blogosphere. First, there seems to me to be insufficient consideration of the long historical sweep of events which have got us to where we are. Instead, masses of energy is devoted to saying: "well, this or that, has been given to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. What about England, then? Why are we being fobbed off with regional assemblies." The cultural and economic lessons of history are not sufficiently fed into the debate. Think: is England really a stateless nation? Then, there is the question of Europe. Typically, the case for independence or substantial autonomy of stateless nations in Europe takes the form of "x in Europe". In other words, the political case is made recognising the constructive role that can be played by European integration. Why do I get suspicious about English nationalism when I see it almost invariably coupled with a high degree of EU-hostility? And finally, they don't stick to the issue. Over at Della and Sarah's blog on behalf of the East Riding of Yorkshire Branch of the Campaign for an English Parliament a rant against the sad prevalence of sectarianism in Scotland is used as a pretext for arguing in favour of regional assemblies in Scotland, and amounts in effect to a thoroughgoing attack upon Scotland in general. I note they have now edited out some comments to the effect that "they don't tell you this in the tourist brochures". Well of course not. They don't tell you about this in England either. The case for a separate regional assembly for the Islands (and by the way the Celtic Western Isles would presumably resist incredibly vigorously being lumped with the Norse Northern Isles) is a completely separate question, and obviously one we need to debate actively over the coming years. The debate about asymmetric federalism is not over in the UK. It's barely beginning, and maybe we have things to learn from elsewhere about the sustainability or not of various types of arrangements.


Blogger Toque said...

Welcome to the blogsphere.

The debate on English regions is not one that the English have been permitted to have. The reason being that if we had a n England-wide referendum on them they would be wound-up and kicked into the dustbin marked 'expensive beaurocratic undemocratic crap'.

I guess the point that Della and Sarah are trying to make, however unfairly, is that Scotland is riven (or blessed depending on how you look at it) with more regional diversity than England, yet Scotland gets a national parliament and England gets carved up into regions.

I'm English, and if Scotland and Wales have national legislatures, then I want one for England. There's no further discussion to be had as far as I am concerned. If England cannot have its own parliament within the UK then I will campaign for the break-up of the UK.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006  
Blogger BondWoman said...

Sorry, there is clearly some misunderstanding here. Sectarianism and regional diversity are two completely different things. Scotland has some of both. So does England. If people want to campaign for an English parliament or for the break up of the UK, then fine, but do it on the basis of appropriate not inappropriate arguments, and not ones which cast aspersions upon what are currently our fellow countrymen and women.

Thursday, February 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

toque - I agree with bondwoman - sectarianism and regional diversity are two completely separate issues, and to think that they are is just woolly headed thinking. The fact that regional assemblies can sometimes lead to sectarianism is more likely, as is the case in Northern Ireland. To be fair there is hatred and intolerance in all societies and this applies as equally to England as anywhere else; just look at the "little Englanders" of movements like the BNP. So please don't muddy the issues with all of the crap that seems to be being spouted at the moment; stick to the issues under discussion!

Friday, February 03, 2006  
Blogger Toque said...

Of course 'sectarianism' and 'regional diversity' aren't synonyms but that's not to say that there aren't sectarian divisions in Scotland.

I have been to the West Coast of Scotland - I lived there for five years. The English don't HATE each other quite like the Scots do.

Friday, March 17, 2006  

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