Labour has not won the popular vote in England since 2001. Boris Johnson’s majority was won in constituencies where voters were more likely to see themselves as English than British. The same voters were the core of the vote to Leave the EU and too often feel they have no political power. England is the most centralised nation in Europe and, London aside, England was ignored in the constitutional changes of the last Labour government.
There is no Labour route back to power without winning support amongst English voters. This must include a commitment to irreversible and democratic decentralisation within England, a willingness to speak to and about England as a nation, and taking practical steps to encourage the progressive, inclusive English identity that is already developing.
The English Labour Network’s Steering Committee agreed in January that we would ask all Labour leadership candidates to set out their views about how Labour can win England and, in particular, ask them to pledge that they will:
- Rebuild Labour’s coalition: show the Party that we must seek and value support across England equally amongst: former Leavers and Remainers, older people and younger, voters from villages and towns as well as cities, graduates and young workers.
- Instigate democratic reform: support a constitutional convention, including a deliberative citizen’s assembly, to decide where and how English laws should be made and how power and resources can be devolved within England.
- Change the way we govern: break with Labour’s tradition of centralism, to put support for Labour’s local councillors at the centre of our strategy for renewal, and make the diffusion of power across England the way we will govern in the future.
- Support inclusive Englishness: encourage central government, local government and civic organisations to play an active role in supporting the development of an inclusive English identity open to all living in England.
- Call it England: ensure that all policy, applying only to England names England in all our campaigning material and campaign messages.
We have asked candidates to respond this week. We’ll report back on which candidates have signed.