Labour should promise England ‘national democracy’ to solve problems outside London
Labour should promise England its own ‘national democracy’ to solve the party’s problems outside of London, a former cabinet minister has said.
Prof. John Denham, a former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in the last Labour government, is now the Director of the Centre for English Identity and Politics at the University of Southampton.
He told the Daily Mail that the root of Labour’s problems was that they did well in those areas mainly urban areas where people primarily identified with Britishness, but not where they identified with Englishness.
“The more ‘English’ that voters say they are, the more likely they are to think devolution has been unfair to England,” he said.
“Indeed, they want political parties to stand up for England’s interests. They want English national democracy and for English MPs to make England’s laws.
“As shown by last week’s results, Labour polls well in the metropolitan, big-city areas, where more ‘British’ identifiers tend to live.
“But to win power, Sir Keir must win over the ‘English’ vote as well. Sadly, many such voters are unconvinced that Labour shares – or is even fully aware of – the subtleties of this distinct mindset.”
He added that over the past 20 years, support for the major parties had become “heavily skewed by national identity”.
“Sir Keir’s problem is that Labour will keep winning votes in areas where the party is already strong, but won’t win enough in areas of England outside the big cities and university towns,” he said.
“The truth is, Tories have a comfortable parliamentary majority of nearly 150 in England and that to form a government, Labour has to win in areas dominated by voters attached to an English identity.
“Hartlepool, which chose a Tory MP for the first time last year and saw more Conservatives elected councillors on Thursday, is one of the most ‘English’ places in England.
“It’s always been unlikely that Sir Keir would win over hardcore English Conservatives, but he must reconvert those working-class English voters who drifted away from Labour after delivering Tony Blair his landslide victory in 1997.”
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