Thursday, 29 May 2014

England And Its Regions

"It is a mark of self confidence: the English have not spent a great deal of time defining themselves because they haven't needed to."

"We don't want to be ruled by Westminster!" is one of the cries ringing out from the Scottish 'Yes' campaign. Scotland, that proud nation occupying roughly the entire northern third of the British Isles, has always maintained a strong and healthy national identity and cultural uniqueness so then it is only natural for them to expect not only devolution but full independence from Westminster rule. A truly independent Scotland would finally force us south of the border to ask what it means to be English and do we, anymore than the Scots or the Welsh, wish to be ruled by Westminster. The answer to the latter would be from many corners of England a resounding ‘NO!’

Once known for our reserved self-confidence we have, however, has lost our way way over time. Since devolution was enacted within the United Kingdom, however, there has been a growing consciousness of our unique Englishness. Through colonialism, wars and loss of empire we have rightly come to question the values once instilled/imposed on us by an elite that conflated British Imperalism with the English character. Social engineering has always been there to serve the economic interests of the elite. Once it was "Rule Britannia!" and a deadly militarism that led so many ordinary men to slaughter. Today cheap labour and mindless consumerism are what are needed for that false prophet "economic growth", keeping the rich rich and our youth demoralised.  What little dissent there is finds its only outlet in either reactionary outbursts of hate or a self-sabotaging ultra-liberalism... whilst those in power look on with indifference. So is a middle way possible? A proud and healthy English civic identity that is, most importantly, radically democratic and liberatory to ALL English people?

First, however, we must consider what it to be English. There is no one singular Englishness. To be English in central London, or in Leeds or in rural Norfolk is a quite different thing. For us a Free England must be a decentralised England built on community and self-determination. There are currently a number of initiatives around the country that are focus on such a regionalist and community-based model. Yorkshire currently has its own devolution movement, which seeks to unite the traditional county into a modern region and take power back from London for the people of Yorkshire. Likewise there are the Wessex Regionalists and Independent Mercia who seeks to create a sustainable green future for England's ancient regions based on grassroots direct democracy. In the urban environment the Independent Working Class Association have developed a thorough program to hand power back to communities, emphasising class solidarity and self-determination across ethnic lines over often divisive state interference.  These are all positive initiatives we support for the building of a truly social and democratic Free England.

We also support Cornish self-determination, just as we support the same principal or all people of England and the British Isles.  Upon the dissolution of the United Kingdom the geographic and historical Britain will, of course, not cease to exist.  We only hope all communities within the British Isles can coexist as freely on the basis of equality, friendship and independence.  The same is true of autonomous communities across Europe and beyond.

For other organisations working towards decentralism and links of interest to English Autonomists, see also: Co-operatives UK, Transition Network, Devolve.


  1. Would your model for England's future be based on there being an independent English parliament responsible for the whole of England and there being more power devolved to the regions, or do you prefer the effective abolition of England entirely?

    An independent, federalised England with a national parliament (based in the midlands or north) and the regions each having their own assembly is an attractive model, but I could never support the effective abolition of my country, England.

    1. Apologies for the late reply. We certainly aren't advocating the abolition of England, only that a free and fair England should be one based on local self-determination and decentralised federalism. We do advocate the abolition of the United Kingdom but not the abolition of Britain, which would continue to exist as a cultural and geographic entity organised as a loose and equal confederation of independent nations. An English parliament suffers the danger of replicating all of the faults of the UK parliament so we favour a more radical grassroots version of democracy.

    2. So you want a collection of English Regions under the "British" umbrella, as counterparts to the nations of Wales (which has an assembly) and Scotland (which has a parliament).

      May I ask why you think a new English parliament would repeat the experience of Westminster. Surely a national revivalist movement should seek to reform their nation, and rebuild its politics, not all but destroy them.

      Perhaps you might be interested in this blog I've found. You seem to think broadly along the same lines...

    3. We most definitely do recognise England as a nation. We just believe that sovereignty lies within its people not its institutions. Whilst we do not rule out some form of English parliament or national people's assembly (in fact, it would almost certainly be necessary to coordinate a democratic federal system), the English revival must rise from the people themselves seizing the democratic initiative and participating in all aspects of social and political life.

      I will write a further blog post on the pitfalls of parliamentary and representative democracy in the near future. In the meantime I will just say that simply having an English parliament (whether it is situated in London or the North) will make very little difference. Without seeking to radically altering the whole democratic structure of the country we will just find ourselves voting in the same bunch as before... minus a few Scots.

    4. Just to be clear, the Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly are wholly unsatisfactory models for our vision of a decentralised, democratic England. Please read some of our previous articles for a more detailed idea of what we propose.