Is it time for Northern Independence?

February 19, 2012 3:45 pm

David Cameron went to a porridge factory this week to argue against Scottish independence, in an attempt to capture the essence of Robert the Bruce’s speech in favour of independence before the Battle of Bannockburn, which famously took place inside a 14th century porridge factory.

Unfortunately for Cameron, this has not been viewed as a delicate understanding of Scottish history, by using a sacred ground of the Scottish identity, the porridge factory, to bring their independence ideals into the modern age; but as a crude attempt by a snooty Englishman to appropriate a major part of Scottish heritage, the porridge factory, and use it to represent the antithesis of the values it is meant to encompass. For many Scots, this crass attitude toward their culture typifies the English persona. Cameron is the very embodiment of the kind of the England that has ruled over Scotland for too long, without mandate. “We never voted for this rosy-cheeked buffoon, never supported this shower,” they must think, “We’re off.”

Soon, Hadrian’s Wall will come back into use, not to keep out the porridge factory-building barbarians from the north, but the health service-dismantling barbarians from the south.

Here’s the problem the rest of us have: if Scotland goes, we’ve lost both millions of voices in the struggle against the shambling coalition, and the ability to make porridge, which is an innate knowledge that exists solely in the heart of every Scot. Scotland never votes Tory. How many times would Labour have won a parliamentary majority without Scotland? I don’t know, because I haven’t looked it up, but the answer would surely be: “Fewer”. Worse, having taken away swathes of people the Tories can dump on without the fear of doing any worse in the polls, they’ll begin to dump even more on those in the other non-Tory heartlands. So Wales, Northern Ireland and The North of England, if you think the 1980s were bad, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

I can’t speak for Wales, for I am not Welsh, and I don’t really want to get involved in the Northern Ireland thing, but as far as I can see there’s only one option for The North: it must secede from England.

From the gaudy flashing lights of Blackpool in the west, over the witches of Pendle and the horizontal rain of the Pennines, to the harsh winter winds of Hull in the east, it’s time to go. Every cobbled street, every dirty ginnel. Every shirtless Geordie and arrogant Manc. We are one. Even you, Burnley (just promise not to vote Lib Dem again).

Cameron spoke this week of self-identity. “You can be a proud Scottish patriot and a proud inhabitant of the United Kingdom” he said. He is, of course, correct. I feel I have more than one identity, none of them contradictory. I am a Lancastrian, a Northerner, a Briton and, sometimes, even a European. I only really feel English for about a week and half every couple of years, when there’s a major footballing tournament on.

I say this as a hypocrite. I no longer live in the North. I live in the real England, the South. I think it’s unlikely I’ll ever live in the North again. All the money seems to exist here. When times are hard, it looks harder up there than down here. Perhaps if we had a government that was North-centric, rather than having eyes only for London, things would be different.

Perhaps it should be all of us or none of us. If Scotland decides to stay, then maybe we should hang in there, all of us together. But if they go, then maybe it is time to break up the band. Let the arrogant lead singer do what he wants, we’re better off without him anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1369047172 David Clayton

    I have argued this for a while. The North has a much larger population than Scotland and a larger economy. The South of England see it as a periphery and would certainly not take our interests into account. It would make for an interesting situation in which the South would be full of people, run by Tories and short on water.

    • AnotherDaveB

      Is Wales in Northern England? I must revise my geography!

      • treborc

        No not yet but we are trying.

      • Slakah

        The North of Wales certainly have strong ties to Liverpool.

    • http://www.forengland.org Wyrdtimes

       The UK parliament treats the whole of England badly and the whole of England would benefit from an English parliament working in the English interest spending English taxes on England. Suggest it be based somewhere in the midlands.

  • Scouser

    Liverpool should declare its Independence anyway am a scouser and have never seen myself as english we need to get out of this so called country that revolves around one city 

  • TomFairfax

     That border isn’t particularly permanent. There’s quite a bit of England north of the Wall these days.

    A better option maybe for the Cumbrians to re-unite with their friends in Strathclyde, and the Geordies to invite the Scots back to Newcastle, which they seemed to like occupying so much in the seventeenth century as a base to teach Charles 1st a lesson.

    • tartanrock

      Or alternatively the Geordies could reclaim the northern part of Northumbria that contains Edinburgh.

  • Salmondnet

    “I say this as a hypocrite. I no longer live in the North. I live in the real England, the South. I think it’s unlikely I’ll ever live in the North again. All the money seems to exist here. When times are hard, it looks harder up there than down here. Perhaps if we had a government that was North-centric, rather than having eyes only for London, things would be different.”

    Things would certainly be different. Currently there are large fiscal transfers from London and the South East to the North. Clearly they would stop if the North were independent. Good luck replacing them (you coould perhaps try the Scots. I am sure they would be happy to share their oil revenues with you. Such a generous and unworldly people)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1369047172 David Clayton

      Good luck drinking the Thames

      • GuyM

        I think you’d find the savings in tax revenue redistribution would pay for all the water needed many many times over.

    • Dave Postles

       London for the last few years has run a current account deficit with the Treasury: tax receipts below its costs.  Whether the balance will be restored in the future depends on your prognosis of future financial regulation.

  • Quiet_Sceptic

    In cutting itself free from the South, the North would also cut itself out of a share of Southern tax revenues and the existing re-distribution of public spending from South to North would cease.

    An independent North would have more freedom but fewer resources to work with.

    • Dave Postles

      Allistair Heath, City AM, John Redwood – they all manipulate the figures.   

  • http://twitter.com/southwestbriton Kitto

    The North of England isn’t one big monolithic bloc, any more than the South is.  Only real regional identity in the North is Yorkshire, which is theoretically big enough to support a devolved body – Cornish devolution is different as it is a question of national identity rather than regional.  The other issue is the South really refers to daaann saaaaaf, i.e. South East England – I live in the Westcountry which has a totally different identity.

    Identity politics aside, I’m really not convinced regional assemblies are the way forward. Far better in my opinion would be to have an English Parliament (the aforementioned Cornwall aside).  Now the age old problem is how to not make a devolved England too London centric – the solution is simple.  London already has a devolved body, so why not separate London from England for administrative purposes and have it as de facto UK capital territory.  We could base the English Parliament in England’s second city, Birmingham so the oft neglected Westcountry and North would be in easy reach.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1369047172 David Clayton

      The real problem would be the permanent Tory majority in a separate England. The North has an inbuilt Labour majority but it would be outweighed by the Tory vote in the south.

      • Bill Lockhart

        in other words, the real problem would be the will of the people.

      • robertsonjames

        Thanks for confirming what, after the desperation to grant national self-determination to the Welsh and the Scots but to deny the same right at all costs to the English, we suspected all along about the left-wing party which continually gives off sanctimonious rhetoric about principles and idealism. Too many Labourites really do think it fair and reasonable to determine the appropriate governmental structures in the UK by exclusive reference to the partisan electoral requirements of the Labour Party.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1369047172 David Clayton

          i love my tories like you – all cross and on their high horse. Of course the tories have never thought about electoral advantage in any decisions they make…… 

          • robertsonjames

            I touched a raw nerve, clearly.

            Look beneath almost any of the self-righteous rhetoric in which leftists love to indulge and you’ll generally find a cynical cabal desperate to secure and retain power for itself at any cost. The fact that they so readily served as apologists for Socialist mass murderers over the past century, and even this last week, in the disgraceful person of one of their Sunderland councillors, were to be heard calling for the IRA to bomb a Tory conference, is a crucial reminder that for all their fine words, Socialists, convinced that their own inherent moral superiority excuses all sins, are an intolerant and fanatical sect who think democracy is merely a useful tool for pursuing their own agenda.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1369047172 David Clayton

            you are now my favourite tory loon ”
            readily served as apologists for Socialist mass murderers over the past century” genius.Yup that is where the support for socialised healthcare and education will take you – The Gulag! Avoid state provision of transport or Mao will appear in a flash of red smoke and murder your children. Honestly mate there are good arguments to be made against socialism – and if i could be arsed i would write some for you….. but that guff is not going to cut it. If you want examples of disgraceful behaviour i am old enough to remember the Federation of Conservative Students and their “Hang Mandela” t-shirts and Thatcher’s support of Pinochet. I would not drag that out in any argument….. Not while there are so many reasons conservatism is bollocks.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

            this is a left wing site – so why are you posting here?

          • th43

            No it’s not a left wing site, it’s Labour

            Remember the party that introduced a University Tax and Foundation hospitals for England, against the wishes of England’s elected representatives.

        • treborc

          National self determination is not what Wales has, to control the Welsh in any way shape or form all England has to do is cut our funding, which of course it has done.

          We are just a larger Assembly or basically a council which gets it’s funding at the bequest of the English Government

          • th43

            “…at the bequest of the English Government”

            Why do so many people in Wales and Scotland not understand the difference between England and Britain?

            It’s really annoying

          • Geoff Young

            And people in Wales and Scotland are always complaining that we in England are the ones who can’t tell the difference between England and Britain. 

      • GuyM

        Mmm so the problem is that democratically more vote Tory?

        Damn maybe, you can fiddle the system in some way?

      • http://twitter.com/southwestbriton Kitto

        Well, I guess it depends whether it was independence for the North, or just devolution, whereby rest of UK would still have MPs and rest of England would not have a devolved body?  Also, it would depend on electoral system used.  Besides, last thing I was is a Labour majority anyway. If theoretically there were regional assemblies, Westcountry would never have a Labour government.

        • treborc

          But of course parties would have to change to make what they stand for matter, or of course the Tories would keep winning until such time the people  got fed up with them of a better party arrived.

      • http://www.forengland.org Wyrdtimes

        This is a widespread belief but is it actually based on fact? The following paragraph isn’t my research but it’s from what I consider a reliable source:

        Out of 15 general elections since the last war 13 election results in England mirror those of the whole of the UK . Of those 13 six returned a Labour majority in England and the UK as a whole. Only those in 1964 and February 1974 returned a Conservative majority in England but a Labour majority in the UK. In 1964 there was a very slim majority in the UK for Labour and in 1974 there was a hung Parliament.

        All Labour have to do in England to win majorities is a) have an English Labour Party b) have a manifesto that tackles English issues better than the Tories – which could frankly be drafted in an afternoon as the Tories have shown the English nothing but contempt since coming to power.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Trant/1105641645 David Trant

       Wessex, regional government Taunton (?) would be a perfectly viable proposition. Left to raise and set its own taxes, it could then develop Plymouth as a major port, offering tax advantages in competition to the other south coast ports etc.

      Taxing second homes, toll roads, there are lots of ways to raise taxes and spend that revenue on developing the area and attracting light industry to the Plymouth/Torbay/Exeter area in particular, lots to offer in that part of the world.

      • http://twitter.com/southwestbriton Kitto

        As someone from the Westcountry, there is definitely no Wessex regional identity, and is generally more associated with Hampshire/Dorset than Gloucestershire/Somerset/Dorset.  In any case surely Bristol would have been capital?

        • http://somersetanddorset.blogspot.co.uk/ Steve Sainsbury MA

          There’s a very strong Wessex regional identity. You’ve clearly never set foot outside of London!

      • http://www.forengland.org Wyrdtimes

         Why not devolve power back down to the existing county system? Any such decision should be in the hands of the English as a whole mind not the ‘UK’.

    • Slakah

      I’m not on the planning committee for this English Parliament, but I may have to contest the decision to place it in Birmingham.

  • Franwhi

    Be warned – the quest to devolve power outwards and downwards to regional and national level will always be resisted by Labour when it starts to threaten the narrow self-interest of career politicians and the numbers at Westminster. It’s self-serving politics like this which has hastened the demise of Scottish Labour constantly looking for the glittering prize of power in London while neglecting or manipulating their own supporters.
     
    The political aspirations of many Scottish people-even up to and including independence –  could be met by Labour as a social democratic party  if they had the interests of the Scottish people at heart. Fundamentally they are between a rock and a hard place but siding with the “rosy cheeked buffoon” to deny a multi-question referendum has only boxed them in even further.  To share a platform with a political party universally and consistently rejected by fellow Scots is political suicide and whoever in Labour is responsible for this non-strategy needs their head examined.  

  • http://twitter.com/Greenleftie Michael Bater

    Wouldn’t the simplest thing to do. would be to keep ourselves as one United Kingdom, and just boot the SE of England out of it? 

    • GuyM

      Happy to go, but you’ll find the SW, East and south midlands will probably rather stay with the SE and London than hang about with the public sector and benefit dependent north.

    • http://twitter.com/southwestbriton Kitto

      Considering the tax revenue…no.  Or is this because you just want one Kingdom united under Labour rule rather than actually caring about anything else?

      • Dave Postles

         1 Financial services: what’s the source of their funding?  a the rest of us throughout the country (through bank deposits, investments, pension funds); b £325bn of QE into the banks – for which taxpayers throughout the country will be liable.
        2 Public service jobs in the North: they were in London before they were distributed (in compensation for destroying industry in the North) and they still service the whole of the UK.
        There’s no unambiguous way of calculating the regional fiscal balances.

  • I albion

    How amusing ?? all the anti English can think of is divide and rule Prescott and the rest of Labour have never been able to shake off the horror at the sound beating they got in the North of England assemblies fiasco.
    So they will try again no doubt,I still get a thrill when Prescott didn’t show up on the night when the votes where counted .
    One England and that means a English Parliament and not the rotten “British” one in Westminster at the moment and that includes all parties!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Barker/1546990341 Paul Barker

    Is there any institution Labour wouldnt destroy just to cling on to power ?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1369047172 David Clayton

      What a cheap comment  but do you want  be to list the list of institutions this incompetent ideologically driven set of posh kids are currently destroying? Well at least we can see they are attacking the NHS –  for personal gain – so that is a rational act. The education system is being attacked for strange reasons but some are clearly theological – bizarre folk these tories. Criminal justice system is under attack….well they dont like justice for all much so i suppose that explains that one. European Union. errr frightened of UKIP? The army…. No idea ditto the air force and the navy. And who do they protect? Investment Bankers and arms dealers. Oh hang on they fucked up selling aircraft and the defence cuts didnt help BAE Systems much. Ok investment bankers and public schools. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1314041131 Fungus Addams

      Nope. not one.

    • anartist

      A long period Conservative rule might result in the rest of the UK after Scottish independence. If that happens it will almost certainly be devisive and destructive and the North/South divide will deepen. Do you want to guess what the consequences of perhaps two decades of unbroken Conservative rule is likely to be for English unity?

      • homeruleforengland

         Sorry but that’s not just a likely outcome of English independence. It has been shown on countless occassions that the Tories are by no means guaranteed a majority in an independent England even with FPTP! Under PR? Not with current voting trends!

        • anartist

          I would be interested in some figures supporting your argument re FPTP. It looks like they would gain a significant advantage over their current position. Given PR things might change, but it’s not likely to be the system if England is left by other parts splitting off.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Trant/1105641645 David Trant

    The 21st century will see the withering of centralised government, here in the UK and elsewhere, everything is moving that way.

    Once Scotland takes more and more control of their own affairs, (independence or not) the Welsh will follow suit and the regions will demand to take over their own affairs.

    Eventually we will see a reversal of the present situation, where the regions will collect and set their own  tax rates, paying Central government to look after defence and foreign affairs.

    Defence for instance, some parts of the country get to recycle some of their defence money by having large military bases in their areas, the wealthiest part of the country, the South seems to have the most advantage there. For instance the area around Aldershot M4/M3 etc gains by having many computer companies much of their work defence related (Farnborough/Boscombe Down) that part of the country would have to make the largest contribution as it has the most to gain.  

    • treborc

       Not a hope in hell of Wales going independent, we have three million people no work and basically live off the tip bits of the English government plus the £15 billion you give us, nope we do not want independence only those that believe the EU will feed us. We do not mind living within the EU and the United kingdom

      • http://www.forengland.org Wyrdtimes

         There is no English government.

        • treborc

          Join the gang them the Welsh Assembly is an Assembly not a government, seems we are all in the same boat

          • homeruleforengland

             A sinking boat at that! We English are going to leave this stinking, sorry sinking, boat and go it alone!

      • Geoff Young

        Isn’t it time Wales started to look after itself, rather than expecting English taxpayers to do the job for you?

  • http://www.forengland.org Wyrdtimes

    What we need is a parliament that that puts the whole of England first rather than the ‘UK’.

    If anything it’s time for English independence. An idea gaining popularity according to a BBC Radio 4 ComRes poll from last year which put support for English independence at 36%, rising to 50% amount C2s the Skilled working class.

    The English did not vote the Conservatives in through love but because there was a desperate need to get rid of anti English Labour. Turns out that the Tories are just as anti English as Labour – completely incapable of putting the interests of their mainly English constituents first.

    Rather than giving up on England Labour should be creating an English Labour Party to go along with Scottish Labour and Welsh Labour and be developing an English manifesto that puts England first. You should be offering the English the same democratic options given to the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish i.e. let the English vote on an English parliament,  instead you’re considering resurrecting the hated regions.  You must like it in opposition. The English are not going to vote for the abolition of England.

    The author of this piece looks young – shouldn’t he be demanding that English students get the same deal as Scottish students for instance or for his grandparents to get the same free care as Scottish old folks instead of wasting his time on this nonsense that will just make Labour more hated in England?

    The Author should go an read the recent IPPR report and meditate on the fact that English political awareness is rising in a climate where the British media and political establishments are doing all they can to avoid English issues.

    • treborc

       Since your all fighting to stop others having independence bit rich

      • http://www.forengland.org Wyrdtimes

         Who is?

        It’s the British establishment that’s against Scottish independence not the English people.

        According to various surveys I’ve seen  there’s plenty of support for Scottish Independence among regular English folk. I for one am all for it and Welsh independence and for a United Ireland. Can’t happen soon enough.

        • treborc

          Well I’m afraid the welsh will not be going anywhere mate we enjoy the money to much to go it alone.

          • homeruleforengland

             Yes trebore but have you considered the prospect of England declaring independence? Then you would be on your own, or in some form of celtic alliance with Scotland and Ireland!

          • treborc

            Silly little boy, we’d love it, then one day you turn around and see how small your country really is.

          • homeruleforengland

             The Welsh don’t want to go it alone because you love (English) money too much but you’d love independence for England? Que?

          • treborc

            yep you keep trying see how far your independence goes.

            We will hear the Queen to day state she likes the  Union, I like the Union, love it.

            You keep on fighting it’s enjoyable

        • rikbut

          So you want independence for England,  Scotland and Wales but the people of Northern Ireland to be hauled into the Irish Republic against their will?  

      • David Parker

         Whatever you do, don’t confuse the English people with the British ruling class (regardless of which party’s in power).

    • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

      “The English are not going to vote for the abolition of England. ”

      Well, according to you the English have previously voted for anti-English Labour. And more recently voted for the anti-English Tories.
      So surely a vote for the abolition of England must soon follow…

      • http://www.forengland.org Wyrdtimes

        That in essence is the problem, in England it doesn’t matter who you vote for as the UK parliament always gets in. It’s the institution that’s the problem. The English deserve a parliament that works in the English interest.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

          But the interests of That London (as its referred to up here) and the South-east just are not the same as those of my city region of Merseyside

          • SR819

             True, but if you look at especially inner London there are areas of significant deprivation. Of course you are right that the interests and specific problems of any region will be different from others, and that must always be taking into account when setting regional policy, but it’s not true that all of London has benefited from the attention that politicians bestow upon it. Even Islington, which is considered the stereotypically middle class metropolitan elitist area, does have a lot of socioeconomic problems (and if you look at the 2 constituencies, they’ve consistently voted Labour for over 50 years)

            Of course, I’m not saying this to deny that the North has suffered immeasurably more since 1979 compared to the South, and that any redistribution of economic resources to the North is absolutely the right thing to do.

          • John Walsh

            But an English parliament would have members from all over England (that’s part of the object of the exercise), so, between them, they’d work in the best interests of ALL England.  I assume, or hope, they’d be mature, adult human beings, so they should be able to do something right.  Have you considered that an English parliament with the same voting system as Holyrood would be good news for Labour?  It’s true.  In nearly every post-WWII general election, they’ve gained the highest number of votes (or even an outright majority) cast in England.  Blair’s mob had enough seats in England alone in 1997 for a big majority in the House of Commons, so Labour is capable of winning England. 

          • http://www.forengland.org Wyrdtimes

            More power should be devolved to the established county, town and parish system. If that’s what the English want. Suggest the English be consulted as were the Scots, Welsh and northern Irish.

          • homeruleforengland

             Can you be more specific? What are the needs of Merseyside which are different to the London? Not everyone in London works for a bank you know!
            London has 74 MP’s. 44 of them are Labour!
            As other contributors have said, England needs her own Parliament and First Mnister. I would go further and say England needs to declare indepence. Then we can have an English  government which is elected by PR which will give  avoice to and address the needs of deprived areas in all parts of England north south east or west!

      • Englander10

        There is no separate legal system in the North to support an Assembly so how could it possibly ever be independent? 

        I agree the UK needs decentralisation, but balkanising England is not the answer. 

        First give England a national Parliament. 

        Second devolve more power to cities and counties to promote local/regional identity

        QED

  • Forlornehope

    Scotland, arguably, pays its way when the oil revenue is netted off against the Barnett effect.  Wales and Northern Ireland both get pretty hefty subsidies from Scotland and England, whichever way you play it.  Scottish independence would leave a United Kingdom of England and two dependent provinces.  It doesn’t look like a happy future for either or them.  Cutting out the South East of England, as some here are suggesting has an interesting precedent.  Take a look at Singapore and Malaysia!

  • http://twitter.com/southwestbriton Kitto

    Also, we’re all talking about North v South…what about the Midlands?

    • Slakah

      The voting demographic of the Midlands is fairly similar to that of the South so devolution of power would have a much lesser impact than separation of the North. Although population wise the Midlands certainly has a much greater claim for self determination than Scotland and Wales.

  • http://twitter.com/SimonRants Simon

    Does Conor know why the south generates more money than the north? Does Conor know what would happen if the Labour north stopped suckling from the Tory southern teet?

    More to the point (once we ignore the childness of the class ridden poor little rich boy above) why after 13 years of Labour rule is the “north” so far behind the south? Sadly during the artificial growth of 13 years of Labour rule they decided that rather than actually create something worthwhile Labour stuffed the north with public sector non jobs. This had enormous effects that will be felt much longer than Thatcher closing the mines. Sadly Conor is the future face of Labour. Everyone should be terrified. Except the Tories. They will be laughing. 

    • Dave Postles

       Public sector jobs have been relocated from London since the 1960s for cost benefits – it’s incredibly expensive to retain the services in London.

      http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/RDAsresponse.pdf

      • http://twitter.com/SimonRants Simon

        Rather than shift them north we should just scrap them.

  • SR819

    I don’t think the South East is as “right wing” as some people make it out to be. Sure, there are obviously those “Middle England” Daily Mail reading areas, and it’s true that their values don’t reflect the party’s philosophy, so we shouldn’t pander to their views and abandon our socialist values. However, there are areas of the South East that could do with a Labour government and do hold Labour values, and we shouldn’t ignore that.

    I’m not questioning the fact that if you took a representative sample of voter opinions from the North and South, you’d get a larger percentage in the North whose political views tally with our own. However, the South is not a lost cause politically for the Labour Party. If you look at Scotland and somewhere like Liverpool, the Tory vote wasn’t that bad until Thatcher’s reign, when it completely disappeared. I don’t think there’s any reason why we can’t do something in reverse in the South, and gain a foothold in areas where we’ve been weak.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1369047172 David Clayton

      I think you have a point and as the economy worsens you may find former tory voters changing but is suspect UKIP will pick a lot of them up. This link 
      http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/at-a-glance/main-section/ukip_overtakes_lib_dems_in_north_1_3506419  is a bit old now but shows the solidity of Labour in the north. Large areas simply despise the tories. They are also widely perceived as a southern party. 
      For those who don’t live in the north it is hard for you to realise how the view of people simply points in different directions than London. Many kids are more likely to have been to Spain than London. My neighbours on one side have been to Florida more than they have London. On the other they are regularly back and forward to Pakistan. In a changing world these links may turn out to be more important than the slowly drowning ancient capital realises. Northerners are more European than you would expect – well to the extent they distrust Brussels as much as they do London. The same suspicions of a large democratic deficit and corrupt political class exist. Also the cheap cliche of a public service north isnt really borne out by the large numbers that work in manufacturing industry. Round here they make beds – lots of them – and export them all over the world.  They used to do a great deal more but Thatcher destroyed that in the eighties…. not the brightest lass ever but certainly one of the nastiest.

  • Ken. in Stockport.

    No Northern Independence
    No Regional Assembly
    Prescott tried this and got his arse  kicked big time.
    An English Parliament must come first. 

    • Richard Button

      Agree 100 per cent. Why assemblies/parliaments for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland but not England?

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    Quite mad.

    The best hope for tens of millions in our society is a United Kingdom of all of the nations that in pensioners’ lifetimes has returned a Labour Government roughly half of the time.  A Labour Government that has introduced the NHS, fairer pensions, the minimum wage, social housing, and so on.

    The North does not have the infrastructure or economic power to stand on its’ own.  It may well vote in a Labour Government most or all of the time, but that Government will be dealing with existential problems.  Like yourself, many people will leave.  A North England would have no access to the Bank of England, so would have to raise money at the sort of rates that Belgium does, and probably have to join the Euro with all of the implications for remote rule that implies (see Greece for details of recent diktats).

    What is the point of having a majority Government you like if you cannot pay the bills, and your policies are set in Brussels?

    • robertcp

      I agree Jaime.   People do not seem to realise that there is no chance of the Scots voting for independence.  That is why the SNP are desparate to get the option of more devolution on the ballot paper for the referendum.  

  • STGEORGE0303

    So the Labour party supporters in the north of England, who no doubt supported devolution to the Celtic nations are running scared. Scared of the fact that England after the Scots independance vote will eventually have her Parliament back and thus return a continuous Tory Govt, the facts do not bare this out, only once or twice since the 2nd WW have the Tories won the majority of votes and seats in England thus what would become a Tory Govt in England.

    The call for an indendent North of England by Labour party supporters of this idea are at the least hypocritical and at the most selfish, Labour had 13 years in Govt with some big hitters from the North, Blunkett, Presscott and Tony Blair himself, and what difference did that do to narrow the North-South divide? Labour and democracy only go hand in hand when it suits them, that is why Presscott thought he could get his regionalisation of England under way in the North East, roundly rejected by 4 to 1, some Labour supporters would happily see England wiped from the map, the author no doubt being of them

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

    My partner is a Northern nationalist and would quite happily introduce passport control at Stoke-on-Trent, or maybe Crewe when he’s feeling particularly harsh.

    I certainly think that if we are moving to a more federal solution, then the very clear differences between north and south need to be recognised – and I think there would be a very clear message from the North that this would be required. 

    • Englander10

      Mike

      Yes it is true that there is a north south divide, but there is a north south divide in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.

      Do you think we should split these countries in two? Why just England?

  • Alexwilliamz

    More divisive nonsense.
    “I live in the real England, the South.”
    Garbage. What does that even mean. While there is a clear economic divide partially created by industrial policy over the last 30 years but also the general draining of cash to London and the South East the 300 before that, this is far from an out and out pattern. Both the North and South are diverse lands with communities of very rich and very poor people.

    I am really scratching my head trying to work out why as the situation gets worse we are turning on ourselves when we should be turning on the idiots that have a) got us into this mess and b) the idiots who continue to drag us further into the mire. Namely the career politicians and their friends the London ‘elite’. Whether Tory or New Labour the problem is the same. There are people up and down the country sufferring, REALLY suffering and I watch one interview after another and I have yet to come across a politician who I believe actually feels and understands what’s going on. So fixated on their point scoring and trying to get the ‘right message’ across they are missing the crisis striking down too many. A generation’s future is being flushed down the toilet and no clear progressive or vision for how Britain is going to look or get by in the next twenty/thirty years. We have to make those decisions now as we have spent nearly half a century putting this off.

    It’s time for those of us who call ourselves Labour to make our voice heard, to drag those in charge into the real conversation, to swamp the selections when they come up and begin to sketch out a real alternaive, because I’m not seeing our present leadership having the ability to deliver it. Look around the people of Britain need to hear our voices and see our leadership. Enough is enough.

    • Adger42

      Labour have been leading for 13 of the last 15 years and look where we are,their treatment of England will never be forgotten and even by blogs like this one from this young labourite tells you they have learnt nothing about the English.

  • Chilbaldi

    There is one upshot from all this fuss with Scotland. Scotland will not become independent, but devo-max will become a reality.

    The only answer to this will be, as has been quite evident for many years now, greater devolution for the rest of the UK. Not an English Parliament, but regional assemblies covering the North West, North East, East Midlands, West Midlands, South East and South West.

    It is the only way to cure the irreparable democratic deficit that Scottish and Welsh devolution has created while keeping the UK together over the next 50 years.

    Also, it will succeed in taking power from the out of touch Westminster careerists who want to be the next Prime Minister and putting it into the hands of people committed to local governance.

    • Geoff Young

      Shouldn’t there be  a referendum throughout England to establish how England should be governed?  We pay the same taxes as people in the devolved countries, and have the same citizenship.  Democracy should be for 100% of the ‘Union’s’ population, or 0%.  Personally, I prefer 100%

  • Dan Langfen

    Mr Pope – Another Labour mouthpiece cynically championing the north  - England wake up  -this is pure and simple a divide and rule policy -  stick together , why does Labour so keenly want to divide England  - to hang on to ANY CHANCE OF POWER , simple as.  We need to demand proper representation as a Nation (not a bunch of regions)  as the BBC/Westminster alliance would have you believe. Mr Pope is just a hired hand doing the likes of Prescott. Brown Falconer et al dirty work – Labours Celtic mafia want the power and prestige of  governing England but also want to erase England from the map. Unpleasant bunch.

    • Englander10

      I couldn’t agree more with this.

      If England has to split up into regions, then why wasn’t Scotland partitioned into Highlands and Lowlands, after all the Highlands doesn’t vote Labour.

      Similarly Wales should be split up into North Wales which speaks Welsh and South Wales that votes Labour.

      Devolution to Scotland and Wales was on a NATIONAL basis, but England has to be split up?

      So we are going to have a Northern England football team are we?

      Many people on the Left have argues that Ireland should be reunited. It follows from this logic that England too should remain united and in tact.

      The Left have supported Scottish and Welsh Nationalism, but derided any form of English Patriotism. Why?

      Why do the English have to be British, but the Scots are allowed to be Scottish, the Welsh being Welsh and Irish being Irish.

      What is it about England that Left hates so much?

      An independent England or English Parliament will not be dominated by the Tories. Just look at the Scottish Parliament – hardly dominated by Labour these days in fact Scottish Labour support is now so low it is even less than the Scottish Tories share of the vote in the 1987 General election.

      “Devolution will kill nationalism stone dead” is the biggest gaffe in Labour circles. More to point, devolution killed Labour stone dead.

  • Englander10

    I used to think that the Labour Party believed in the United Kingdom, well now I know it doesn’t.

    There has never been any history of the north being a separate kingdom in the sense that Scotland was. This is not the point.

    England is a nation and should have a Parliament inside a federal UK. Labour would reconnect with voters in England if they go for an English Parliament. Dividing England into regions is not popular. Just read the IPPR report into Englishness. Why be ashamed of your own country? Why a Scots in Scottish Labour proud to be Scottish, while English Labour members appear to dislike their own country?

    • Waxie

       Yes, there was a ‘country’ called Cumbria once, but it was far from a nation state, more of a group of kingdoms, connected in many ways to the Welsh. In this sense Cumbria and Cambria (Wales) were close counterparts. See more about Hen Ogledd to get an idea of what this looked like. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hen_Ogledd

      The economic question of 2012 is whether Westminster is averting collapse in large areas of England, Scotland and Wales, or if it is handicapping these places from developing what would eventually be a better and more humane economy. Personally, I think historically since the Second World War the UK Parliament has often helped, but since the Thatcher years – which are still with us – this is by no means cut and dried. I can’t help but think that allowing genuine local government to emerge will enable more long-term prosperity and innovation to emerge, eventually.

  • http://benfurber.co.uk/ Ben Furber

    Look POPE, have you really thought through the economic implications? YOU HAVEN’T USED A SINGLE BAR CHART!

  • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

    I’m up for Lancashire re-instituting the original boundaries and going for UDI.
    It’s time to throw off the Norman yoke.

  • derek

    Hmmm! what a thread! an un-united Kingdom. Some things wrong?

  • postageincluded

    I used to believe in sweet little ideas like this when I was a child, Connor, but I grew up.  The fundamental problem is that for most “Northerners” there is only a very vague  “Northern” identity.  If you had talked to peple in the North East during the farcical referendum on devolution you would realise this – 8 centuries of division between Northumberland and County Durham raised more emotion than the rather recent collective identity created by the “Tyne-Tees” television region.  And these two counties have never been at war and speak  similar languages – unlike Yorkshire and Lancashire. 

    And by the way, Hadrian’s Wall has nothing to do with the border between England and Scotland.  If you, an emigre, want your mouthings  about “the North” to be treated with more than casual contempt you should learn something about the  geography and history of your homeland first.

    • Katefallon

      Well, Postageincluded, looks like growing up has also led to a deterioration in your eyesight and spelling skills. Otherwise, you would have noticed the correct spelling of Conor, only one ‘n’ in the middle…..enjoy your curmudgeonly old age x

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1314041131 Fungus Addams

    All the money seems to exist here in the south according to this buffoon. What utter tosh. If it does it sure as hell isn’t in the hands of the beleaguered working class here in the southern counties any more than it is in the North. It seems this New Labour apologist continues to work under the misapprehensions that living in the south is akin to being wealthy, and that London is the South in it’s entirety.

    Having failed all the people of England during it’s time in power it appears that Labour now want to resurrect the opportunity to remove England as a nation from the map. No surprises there, the socialist antipathy to England is well proven, and is exactly why Labour will never be able to call on England to support it again, and in true left wing fashion have returned to the old mantra of  ‘if we can’t have it nobody can’. This is typical of Labours politics of spite.It is not regions England need, but a full, open and honest referendum on devolution from both the EU and the UK, and the opportunity to take possession and responsibility for our own country and it’s future. Sadly the three main political parties all seem determined to ignore England and it’s people at all costs for as long as possible, and are aided in their undemocratic efforts by fools such as the author of this piece.

  • th43

    “How many times would Labour have won a parliamentary majority without Scotland? I don’t know, because I haven’t looked it up…”

    Well you should. If you had, you would have seen that it would have made NO difference to the colour of Government, just the size of its majority, since WWII.

    The fact that you say “All the money seems to exist here (the South). When times are hard, it looks harder up there than down here.” is the VERY reason why we should not splinter England.

    The reason Scotland might look like it will leave the UK is a direct result of New Labour’s ham fisted attempt to ring fence Scotland. Don’t make the same mistake with N. England!

  • homeruleforengland

    When I read your headline Conor , for a moment I thought you were talking about  Northern Ireland becoming independent. Now that would be something for us English to  celebrate! Think of the money England could save if it didn’t have to subsides it! How many billions are English tax payers going to have to pay out? We could save all that.  Like you and Scotland voting Tory Conor I can’t be bothered to look it up.
    However, as for your assertion that the North of England should break away from Southern England, you need to do a bit of research. At the 2010 general election many parts of the ‘north’ voted Tory!

    To save your time Conor I’ve looked up the results of the 2010 election.Take a look at this map:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/election2010/results/

    There’s plenty of blue in the north!

    In fact, there’s blue/yellow in the south of Scotland so maybe we should move the English border up a bit so spare the people of the south of Scotland people from the horrors of a socialist independent Scotland?

  • Richard Button

    This is the stuff of the fantasist. The north of England is a region. England is a country. That is why there should be an English Labour Party prepared to fight elections for an English Assembly – whether or not England remains part of the UK.

  • Dsm929

    Every single labour government since Attlee has has a majority in England

  • Andrew J Chandler

    I no longer live in England, I live in Hungary, a small country of just ten million which is struggling to survive within the European Union. The break-up of Britain would be a disaster akin to the break-up of the multi-cultural states of central Europe which began with the First World War and ended with the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990′s. Not that the break-up of Britain would lead to Civil War, but it would create uneconomic, unviable and unstable states, increasingly dependent on the European ‘super-states’ of Germany and France, just like the Irish Republic. Is this really the direction we want to go in? I am a Midlander by birth and upringing, but have also lived in Wales, the North, the West and the South-East of England. I have a  brother living in London, a sister in Canterbury and relatives in Coventry and the Black Country. There is far more that unites the English, and indeed the British, than divides them. What we need is measured devolution, largely based on existing local government. London already has it. Greater Manchester has far more links with Derbyshire and Staffs than it has with Cumbria, Northumberland or Durham. The Labour Party, as the only party with representatives spread throughout Britain, should appoint its own Commision on Devolution, rather than waiting for the Coalition to do so.

  • postageincluded

    I freely admit old and curmudgeonly.  My eyesight is bad, but I can at least see that Independence for the North is just daft, and that Hadrians wall is not and never has been the Border.

    • Katefallon

      Did you have a sense of humour when you were young, or have you never been able to recognise the concept of “tongue in cheek”?

  • Kieran Cunningham

    I’d back an independent North, but only as long as Liverpool is the capital

  • Peterwilson

    In the words of old Joe Chamberlain, “home rule all round”. I used to be for regional English assemblies on administrative grounds but I’ve come round to the idea of a national parliament. Crucially though, I think London should stay a seperate ‘Federal’ zone, as it already has its own assembly, and its vast population and importance would make it dominate such a parliament (Labour or not). Put the ‘capital’ in Birmingham and give all the regions “devo max”, i.e. the equivalent powers of a US State. Due to family and emotional ties I see myself as British and am pro-union, but the current set up is a half hearted mess. True federalism is needed to keep the UK together, and its only right. That its taken 130 years for the notion to reach headlines is, well… very British shall we say.

  • bertolini

    Why can’t the people of the North drop this age old I vote Labour like my Dad and his Dad before him, etc etc, and see exactly who they really represent.  Middle class, media/entertainment elite, on lovely salaries, and whose idea of a hard time is having to reduce their dinner parties.  I’ve worked for them, theyr’e laughing up their sleeves at you and using you.  They think your’e all to stupid to see it, keep you happy with cheap booze, and do what you want we’ll make excuses for you as long as you vote for us.  All you’ll get is a Labour kingdom, run by EU and loads more immigrants and dross from everyone elses country.  Not that I urge you to vote for any of the other major players, they all hate the English.  The author even admits he no longer lives in the North, nor ever likely to, no I bet he wont.  If your’e English please wake up, we need to kick the three main parties backsides, and get someone working for us.  It took Blair and Mandelson to get my Mother to at last see the light.

  • http://twitter.com/rikbut Rikbut

    Insanity putting party political advantage ahead of nation. We need an English parliament, with seats fought by an English Labour Party WITHIN the United Kingdom. 

  • anartist

    A discussion needs to be had about the rest of the UK after Scottish Independence. It will skew the politics of the country for ever. That change will become even more pronounced if Wales follows Scotland’s lead. The consequences could be a deepening of the North/South divide in England with increasing bitterness and unrest in the North.

    I have started to try and research this and would be grateful for any contributions. See this posting for some projections based on election statistics: – http://britishartist.tumblr.com/post/19365767756/could-scottish-independence-result-in-perpetual-tory

  • treborc

    An Assembly is nothing  what is the use of you having one in England if London has the controls.

    The Welsh Assembly  is just another tier of London control.

  • treborc

    hell of a lot of bottles will be needed.

  • homeruleforengland

    I’m from Hampshire and there is no Wessex identity. Look at the rivalry between Southampton and Portsmouth!

  • Banjo

    Because the other countries are none of your business.

    • Englander10

      I am talking about consistency – answer my question please, and don’t throw insults.

      If the affairs of Scotland and Wales are none of my business then England should no MPs from Scotland Wales or NI voting in England only matters. Agree? Probably not because Labour and their supporters are institutionally anti-English.

  • http://twitter.com/nicola_prigg Nic Prigg

    If you look up the election stats, only twice has Scotland swayed the balance, once in 2010 and the other I believe in February 1974.

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