Tories embracing English nationalism?

The Campaign for an English Parliament blog carries an interesting story from today’s Scotsman.

It claims the Conservatives are set to tap into the growing re-emergence of English identity by addressing the West Lothian Question, the anomaly whereby Scottish MPs are able to vote at Westminster on purely English matters.

From a purely electoral point of view, this obviously makes sense for the Tories, as they have hardly any Welsh or Scottish MPs.

However, the Tories are traditionally a strongly unionist party. I wonder how this policy will go down with their allies in the Ulster Unionist Party.

Their leader David Trimble once described the UK as an "unspoken arrangement" in which the dominant English "softpedal their national identity and occasionally subsume it."

When Scottish Tory Peter Duncan refused to vote on the Higher Education Bill last year, Mr Trimble branded his stance as ‘completely misconceived.’

"We are elected not to be regional or parochial, but to use our judgment as best we can on all the issues that come before us," he said.

"Even if a matter relates exclusively to part of England, I sometimes feel that I can make a contribution and improve the quality of decision making both for the whole of the United Kingdom and for particular parts of it."

UUP thinking may have moved on since then. Former Trimble advisor Stephen King argued in the Belfast Telegraph last year that an English Parliament may be the only way to prevent the break-up of the UK.

Personally, I agree with Tom Nairn that mutual independence may ultimately be the only workable solution.

What bothers me is that it is the Right that appears to be making all the running in relation to English nationalism.

Where are the left-wingers ready to draw on the English democratic tradition of the Levellers and Tom Paine?

After all, to date the result of the Westlothian anomaly has been the imposition of tuition fees and foundation hospitals.







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