It is St George’s day. Raedwald has posted that there can be no further delay and that it is time to establish a parliament for England, regrettable as the consequences may be for the union of the United Kingdom. What follows are my thoughts on this.
Many might make the observation that in the counties of Ulster, 6 making up Northern Ireland, and 3 part of the Republic of Ireland, there will be a generational, demographic shift that will unite Ulster in one region of the European Union. This view is strengthened by a glance at the Irish EU regional map. Ancient Ulster waits to take its place in the Europe of the regions, and is not part of these thoughts on an English parliament.
What of the mainland? There are different answers that depend on whether the United Kingdom remains in the European Union or withdraws in the face of a constitution too far.
Should we remain then the form of UK governance calls for regionalisation; but not the regions as they are now. English local government needs to be wholly rethought, and the European Union driving policy of subsidiarity whole-heartedly accepted by the most highly centralized governance in Europe. There will need to be regions embodying the natural divisions of the kingdom, wrought by geography, economic structure and historical and cultural bonds. This last implies more than one region both in Scotland and in Wales, and more than nine in England. It requires democratic answerability, with all levels of government elected; and it requires the passing down of democratic choice and responsibility to the lowest possible level consonant with responsiveness to people’s wishes, effectiveness, and efficiency. Germany and Italy are just as fractious as the United Kingdom, their unifications more recent, and yet their national unity is well-served by self-identifying regions with real local power.
Another response is to remain within the European Union and try to exploit the anomalies generated by the policies of regionalisation to achieve the entrenchment of the last statist, authoritarian power outside of North Korea and Cuba. Apart from any other objection to the status quo, for that is where we are, Scotland and Wales might find that European entry statuses and requirements are harder to achieve than their nationalist factions pretend; the European Union has no desire to enable separatism within member states.
Were England to establish a parliament, abandoning the Scots and Welsh to their assemblies’ care, it should choose to leave the European Union.
London is a globalised economy hotspot; its hinterland, as well as the collapsed former heavy industry areas, and no- remaining manufacturing industry areas, are carried by the wealth it generates. It can be thought of as a far greater and richer version of, for instance, Singapore. English-speaking and lying off the coast of Europe, with such unmatchable economic and financial markets and services, it is an independent, immensely wealthy state.
London is the English state. London has the capacity and the interest to build upon the threads of empire that lie neglected by the incomprehension, revenge against thatcherism, redistributive authoritarianism, dead ideologies practice of the last 10 years, and the false conciousness (forgive the usage but here it fits) of Blair's lickspittle warmongering. An English parliament would serve and advance the interests of this state, and truly enrich its members in contrast to their relative impoverishment (again forgive the usage but again it fits) and the tax ‘farming’ that has been endured in this vaunted economic regime for a decade. London is the prize that Brownites will grasp unless an opposition wakes up to prevent it. And all that wealth generation will be used to cement their power.
What would I choose? Now that it is set out as it is here, the first option - remaining within the European Union, recasting local government, and preserving the union of the United Kingdom, while seeking to rebuild commonwealth strengths and co-operation. My family is as much mainland European as it is British and Commonwealth, and they come first; there are, too, great difficulties and sadness in dismantling the United Kingdom; and there is much to fear in the idea of an English state and its alliances, foreign policies and the construction of its post-imperial relations.