Time for an English Labour Party

Tom Watson has eagerly embraced Scottish Labour’s call to sacrifice England on the altar of Unionism. Forget those old-fashioned ideas of a ‘union of nations’. What we need for the 21st century (according to Watson) is a ‘union of nations and regions’; where Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are the nations, and ‘England’ is ‘the regions’. To save you time I have prepared a precis of his speech:

I welcome the motion passed here yesterday, calling for a People’s Constitutional Convention.

Not just to set out what powers should return to the devolved nations following Brexit, but what powers should be given to the English regions rather than Westminster.

In Tory Britain whole regions and nations are being left behind.

Especially those regions like mine, the Midlands, and nations like yours, Scotland, which helped to make the country wealthy in the industrial revolution and beyond – but have been neglected by Tory Britain for too long.

Too many decisions about our communities are made in Whitehall, Westminster and the Square Mile, by people who don’t show enough concern for regions that are more remote.

As a country, we cannot go on in the same old way.

In the Brexit vote, large numbers of people in the regions concluded that politics isn’t working for them.

Scottish Labour says that instead of repatriating powers from Brussels to Westminster they should be handed to the nations and regions.

I favour the regions and nations taking from Brussels powers over agriculture and fisheries, regional policy, social funds, and environmental protection.

We can unite together on a radical programme of constitutional change for the regions and nations of the UK. Not everyone forced to go at the same pace; that would be against the spirit of local control of decision making.

We should bring together representatives from local government, business, the trades unions, faith groups and NGOs from every region and nation.

And it’s about how we can unleash the economic potential of every part of the UK.

How we can transfer power from the centre to the regions and nations.

How we can ensure a fair allocation of resources based on need.

And that means power to all of us – here in Scotland, in the North East, the North West, Yorkshire, Wales – power to the north.

Once again, Scotland shaping the future.

Not because Scotland is leaving the UK but because Scotland is leading the UK.

If you’re English you could be excused for thinking that the Labour Party doesn’t much like you. They seem desperate to partition England up into Scotland-sized chunks to secure Scotland and prevent any national English voice. The idea that there could be an English demos, that English identity could form the solidarity and provide the social contract for positive change, seems entirely alien to them. Presumably because (with the exception of John Denham, Tristram Hunt and a few other lone wolves) the entire Labour Party seems to be composed of people who are uncomfortable with – if not downright opposed to – the very thought of England.

Even if Labour did manage to harness the anti-politics and anti-Westminster mood (created by them just as much as the Tories) to convince the English to abolish England as a discrete nation, they wouldn’t be rewarded with Scottish obedience. The Scots don’t want to be the equivalent of an English region. The Scots might be satisfied with a federal union of nations, in which England and Scotland have equal powers in relation to each other and in relation to Westminster, but for the UK Labour Party that option is off the table due to their institutionalised loathing of England.

If only there was an English Labour Party to oppose the Corbyn, Watson and Dugdales of the UK and Scottish Labour parties.