Eight out of ten citizens in England identify strongly as English. Yet since Michael Foot and Tony Benn championed its radical tradition forty years ago, England has been absent from the language of Labour politics. Although devolution means England and the other nations of the UK are governed differently there has been no serious discussion of English political representation on the left. Indeed, for many in Labour’s ruling circles – from the days of Kinnock through to Corbyn – Englishness is conservative, parochial and racist, out of kilter with supposedly dynamic, inclusive and multicultural Britain, and so best ignored. It’s hardly surprising that people who identify as predominantly English feel alienated from Labour.
If you are interested in these issues then join us on Wednesday 19 September for a one day workshop , 9.30am-5.30pm, at the Anatomy Museum, King’s College London, WC2R 2LS – entry is free and you can register here.
Following the workshop we’ll hear a lecture from Anthony Barnett on England, nationalism and Brexit.
The aim of the workshop is to initiate an intellectual project to further an inclusive, left-of-centre English politics. It will do so by bringing a group of scholars, political commentators and political leaders together, to think about the relationship between Labour and England in the past, present and future.
Our central theme will be the relationship between identity and political power. Recognising that political languages shift quickly, we’ll trace the way England has (and has not) figured in the Labour and the left’s attitudes and practices in the past; analyse the state of things now, and trace possible paths towards a reconciliation between Labour and England in the future.
Speakers currently confirmed include John Denham, David Edgerton, Sunder Katwala, Tariq Modood, Colm Murphy, Nick Pearce, Anna Rowlands, Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite and Jon Wilson. Further speakers to be confirmed.
This conference is organised by John Denham (University of Winchester) & Jon Wilson (King’s College London) in conjunction with English Labour Network, Renewal and King’s Contemporary British History.