The creation of an English parliament has been written off by most of the body politic for a variety of reasons. One of these is that given England comprises 85% of the UK’s population, the creation of an English Parliament would greatly weaken the powers of the House of Commons. This is an obvious outcome of such a move, but not a reason not to do it in and of itself. The House of Commons exists to give the people of the United Kingdom a democratically formed government; if there is a new and better way to do this in a federal system, the House of Commons’ powers should not be protected out of tradition alone.
Another reason an English parliament is dismissed as an idea is that the whole notion of the parliament existing is framed as being intrinsically nationalistic somehow; of the far-right by its very design. Why the English getting a devolved parliament when the Scots and the Welsh already have one counts as overly nationalistic is a mystery. If anything, an English parliament should dampen the feelings of the uglier side of English nationalism by giving the English their own genuine say in things at the same level as Scotland and Wales already get as a luxury.
These are the only real obstacles put forth as to why an English parliament is not a possibility. Let us examine the ways in which it would be a good thing, particularly if this English parliament was put into another city in England other than London, and also particularly for the centre-left to embrace as a concept overall:
- It would complete the New Labour devolution project once and for all.
- It would solve the West Lothian question.
- It would devolve power to parliaments all of which are elected by proportional voting systems (an aim of many parts of the Left and even increasingly, the Right).
- It would be a chance to devolve power more locally as part of its very creation.
- It would be a chance to help regional inequality in England instantly by having power placed somewhere other than London.
- It would be a chance for the centre of politics to reclaim English patriotism.
This last point is not a minor one that has been bolted on, to be clear. We saw during the EU referendum debate a clear sense of English dissatisfaction with the way things are. If both the centre-left and the centre-right want to ameliorate this sense of English anger – and more importantly, not lose this ground entirely to the far-right – it should seriously consider the concept of an English parliament. If they do not, UKIP certainly will.