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Labour should promise England ‘national democracy’ to solve problems outside London

08 May 2022 2 minute read
John Denham, picture by the Department for Communities (OGL v1.0).

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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2 years ago

I think it’ll take more than that and I do wish Labour would stop acting retrospectively, reactively on the constitution. The answer is very clear. The UK is untenable. The progressive way forward is to propose how we transition to new democratic nation states of Wales, Scotland and England and how we will cooperate for our mutual benefit – what formal arrangements shall we come to?

Last edited 2 years ago by Arwyn
Y Cymro
Y Cymro
2 years ago

In 1997 New Labour gave Scotland a parliament and Northern Ireland a legislative Assembly with First Ministers . And with Wales they cynically designed Welsh devolution to fail when they begrudgingly gave us a powerless Assembly and foisted yes-man Alun Michael on us giving him the lesser title of First Secretary when Rhodri Morgan was favoured. The only thing England lacks is the name English parliament. All the infrastructure is there in place as England’s always had a parliament. It’s called Westminster. It’s Wales who have fought to get where we are now with our Senedd Cymru. The little powers… Read more »

2 years ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

The little powers we have weren’t freely given, but were hard fought.

… and even those are being taken away from us, slice by slice. If we’re not careful, we will have nothing and be relegated to a form West Anglia with little or no powers over our own destinies.

There’s only way of avoiding that and it begins with I (A yn Gymraeg).

Kurt C
Kurt C
2 years ago

England said no to a regional democracy in their North East in 2004. They have Westminster for their needs alone. Labour blind again. Nothing will change if England gain a parliament. They dominate Westminster and choose most government alone.

2 years ago

English Labour is too queasy about the St George cross and what it has come to represent in recent years. They simply don’t like what they see as the kind of people who fly it at their homes or stick it on their cars and vans.

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