The English Labour Network welcomes the publication of the Labour Together report on Labour’s defeat at the 2019 General Election, and the inclusion of our submission as an annex. The report rightly identified failures including an abject party leadership presiding over an incoherent Brexit position and a manifesto lacking credibility, while noting Labour’s long term decline in support in towns, from older voters and from people who left education aged 16.
Yet there are some significant omissions in the report, most notably the failure to critically examine the political challenges faced in England and voters who identify clearly as English. The English Labour Network submitted detailed evidence showing how Labour’s defeat and the Tory vote surge took place almost entirely amongst voters who identified as more English than British. Yet the 152 page report makes no acknowledgement of the struggles Labour is having with this group.
These issues should not have been brushed under the carpet. Labour has failed to engage with English identity since devolution to Scotland and Wales, leaving the space to be filled by the right, and has paid the electoral price.
Labour’s response must to be to engage with English people, English identity and English political issues. We should start by saying ‘England’ when we mean England, by delivering an English Manifesto at the next election to sit alongside the Welsh and Scottish manifestos, and by developing a new plan for the governance of England – the most centralised nation in Europe.