Monday, 12 March 2007

Letter to John Denham MP, 12th March 2007

After a heads-up from Gareth and Chris, I saw that in a recent parliamentary debate, Labour MP John Denham said:

“It is much more likely that a member of the black and ethnic minority communities in Scotland will describe himself as Scottish than that someone in England with a similar background will describe himself as English. People in England tend to jump straight to the British identity”.

“I see no great need for an English Parliament or an English Government… I do not consider that our history leads the English to require a Parliament or Assembly as an expression of national identity”.

I sent this to Mr. Denham today:

Dear Mr. Denham,

In a recent parliamentary debate, you said:

“It is much more likely that a member of the black and ethnic minority communities in Scotland will describe himself as Scottish than that someone in England with a similar background will describe himself as English. People in England tend to jump straight to the British identity”.

In the same debate, you also said:

“I see no great need for an English Parliament or an English Government… I do not consider that our history leads the English to require a Parliament or Assembly as an expression of national identity”.

Does it not occur to you that these two statements are intrinsically linked? In Scotland, there is a Scottish Parliament separate from the British Parliament. In England, we are governed solely by the British Parliament. There is a Secretaty of State for Scotland, but no Secretary of State for England. There is a BBC Scotland, but no BBC England. There is a Scottish National Library, but here we have the British National Library. There is Scottish Labour, but no English Labour. Scotland’s sports teams sing the Scottish National Anthem, Flower of Scotland, while English teams sing the British National Anthem, God Save the Queen. On the 2001 National Census, people were asked to state whether they were “Scottish, Welsh or British”.

Can you see a theme here?

No wonder people in England, as you point out, jump straight to British identity. There are no institutions to maintain and promote any sort of English identity. That is why we are campaigning for an English Parliament. While you do not believe that “our history leads the English to require a Parliament as an expression of national identity”, the fact is the present and the future does require it.

Yours sincerely,


Tom Waterhouse
CEP Vice Chairman

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

A very restrained letter Tom, I do not know how you kept that calm, nevertheless a very good letter that should bring a response.
Len.

Chris Abbott said...

Excellent, Tom. I can't help wondering what Mr Denham means about "our history". Is it something to be ashamed of? As we have discovered recently, Scots and Welsh MPs have had more than a small amount to do with several past deeds blamed solely on the English.