Research Highlights and Abstract
- provides one of the first assessments of how British multi-national and English political parties have responded to existing and emergent identity tensions in England whilst continuing to defend the concept of the post-devolution British union-state.
- extends debates about multi-level party political systems in multi-national states which have typically focused on Scotland, Wales and, to a lesser extent, Northern Ireland.
- considers the potential that debates about English national identity could morph into a party politics of Englishness.
- assesses the potential for nascent English nationalism to encourage divergent party political responses to questions of English governance, citizenship and nation identity.
This article assesses how the main British multi-national parties, whilst retaining an attachment of one form or another to the concept of the Union-state, have responded to existing and emergent identity tensions. Through examination of Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, with brief discussion of the BNP, UKIP and the English Democrats, it will consider the impact of devolution and the threat of separatist nationalism on party approaches and policy choices concerning English identity construction and governance. It will also explore the extent to which devolution has compromised the ability of UK politicians to ‘speak of Britain’ (they rarely use the term UK) and the four composite nations. By comparing and contrasting the narratives articulated by parties at different levels of governance it will ask whether a nascent ‘party politics of Englishness’ has emerged which can accommodate these challenges.