Interesting presentation from Richard Wynne Jones at an event in Birmingham yesterday on how English nationalism is driving UK politics…
He said: “We are entering a new era in UK politics in which the traditional textbook understanding of the nature of the UK is basically wrong – and actually England [and] Englishness is coming into play in ways which we haven’t seen before.”
Prof Jones said there is now a “great deal of unhappiness as to how England is treated within the UK”. He described how voters had been hit with “devo-anxiety”.
“There’s a strong relationship [between] those who feel unhappy about the EU and those who feel unhappy about England’s place within the other union, within the UK.
“They are the same people, effectively…
“Crucially, vitally, it’s people with a stronger sense of English identity who feel strongest about both the EU and the UK and England’s place within the UK. There’s a politicisation of English identity which appears to be new.”
There’s been more than a touch of this ‘delirium’ at the Tory Party conference over the last few days. Data suggests this theme appears around 2007, when the SNP first came to power, and when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister.
What’s feeding it, Professor Jones speculates is a sense of injustice, particularly at the ‘concessions’ enjoyed by the devolved parts of the UK. It may be for that reason that devolution itself is not particularly popular.
English Votes for English Laws, seen by some as disenfranchising the votes of Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs in Westminster (which the SNP gleefully cheered as measure ensuring there will be no more Scottish PMs of the UK).
He also argues that “what’s striking about the central institutions of the UK state is they have not changed as a result of devolution” and the “lack of interest in the institutions that are meant to bind this thing together from the senior echelons of the UK state.”