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15 June 2012
The report published in January by the Wales Governance Centre, the IPPR, and the Institute of Governance (Edinburgh University) found that following devolution, more people are prioritising their English identity over their British one. It also concluded that politicians needed to address the ‘English Question’ in its own right regardless of what happens about Scottish independence, or risk a major backlash.
In his speech Mr Milliband acknowledged that Labour had been reluctant to talk about England and Englishness in recent years, and had ignored the largest nation in the United Kingdom. However, he also maintained that it was still possible to have separate national identities and be British.
"Somehow, while there is romanticism in parts of the left about Welsh identity [and] Scottish identity, English identity has tended to be a closed book of late. For too long, people have believed that to express English identity is to undermine the union. At the same time, we have rightly helped express Scottish identity within the union. This does not make sense. You can be proudly Scottish and British. And you can be proudly English and British, as I am."
Professor Richard Wyn Jones, Director of Cardiff University's Wales Governance Centre and co-author of the report commented: "Mr Milliband is clearly honing in on the fact that people in England seem to be increasingly likely to prioritise their English identity over their British one, something which came out strongly in our research. Our report also found that English voters have little faith in the ability of the political parties to stand up for the interests of England following devolution and Mr Milliband’s speech acknowledges that this is something Labour need to address ."
Dan Wincott, Professor of Law at Cardiff University also co-authored the report he added, ""We found strong evidence to suggest that English identity is becoming increasingly politicised and Mr Miliband’s speech reflects this change. However, a gap may have opened between public attitudes in England and the views of political leaders. We found that 59% of the English electorate said that they did not trust the UK government to work in the best long-term interests of England. And Mr Miliband roundly rejected the idea of an English Parliament - which emerged as the most popular option for the government of England in our research."
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