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The Politics of English Nationhood$
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Michael Kenny

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199608614

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608614.001.0001

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Answering ‘the English Question’

Answering ‘the English Question’

Party Politics, Public Policy, and the Nationalist Fringe

(p.171) 5 Answering ‘the English Question’
The Politics of English Nationhood

Michael Kenny

Oxford University Press

Chapter 5 charts the responses of the two main political parties to the English question, which was posed with increasing frequency and feeling in the wake of Labour’s devolution legislation. The Conservative leadership decided to distance itself from full-throated complaints about the position of England, and adopted the idea of ‘English votes on English matters’ at Westminster, despite differences over what this actually meant. And Labour responded to assertions about English grievance, in part, by developing its agenda for regional government. This perspective was increasingly challenged by a ‘localist’ current, which argued — though without achieving much popular resonance — for the devolution of powers within England. As the parties responded to this issue in a largely lukewarm and wary fashion, there also emerged a number of small campaigns, organizations, and parties that, in different ways, sought to catalyse an English nationalism. Until the recent success enjoyed by UKIP, these various endeavours failed to catch a wider mood, and the chapter finishes with a discussion of why this has been the case.

Keywords:   English question, West Lothian, devolution, party politics, regionalism, localism, English nationalism, English parliament, UKIP

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