The ‘English Question’ and celebrating St George’s Day – lessons from Stroud

On Saturday 16 March the English Labour Network took our Winning England series to Stroud. We heard from some great speakers.

Cllr Doina Cornell, Stroud District Council leader attacked the “anti-socialist trope that you can’t be both patriotic and socialist”. England has some “rich radical traditions”, she said, “different to other countries”. She also described devolution in England as a “dog’s breakfast” – piecemeal, focused on cities, and with nothing for towns. We need more localism, starting with the introduction of citizens’ assemblies, Doina told us.

Stroud MP David Drew also gave a well received speech, noting the importance of answering the ‘English question’ – the problem that England is the most centralised country in Europe – calling on the need to face down the far right, and condemning the the impact of Tory austerity on working class communities.

You can hear David’s speech here:

You can also read Cllr Kate Haigh’s remarks ‘Pride about Place’ and read a piece for LabourList by our director John Denham and Labour Coast and Country’s Hywel Lloyd about the upcoming English local elections.

Gloucestershire Labour members also discussed how local Labour groups could celebrate St George’s Day. Here are some of the ideas they put forward:

  • Nominate and celebrate local heroes
  • Celebrate local history
  • Involve local schools (ask children “which dragons would you slay today” – eg poverty, mental ill-health)
  • Olympic opening ceremony inspired “past and future England”
  • Draw on local events like the Stroud fringe
  • Celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday
  • Celebrate Labour achievements in England

Don’t forget to read our St George’s Day briefing here.

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