Written evidence from Roland Dunster (EDE 06)
Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee
The Evolution of Devolution: English Devolution
Being proud to be half English and half Spanish, I do not consider myself an English Nationalist, however I do find myself increasingly confused and frankly frustrated with the iniquitous treatment of England and the people of England within the UK structure. This feels all the more acute as politicians, the media and the world at large debate and promote equality and justice.
I am no expert but some of the more obvious areas where I feel England and the people of England suffer a significant deficit as compared to the other nations of the UK are:
Democracy: As has been afforded to and lauded for the other UK nations, there is no SINGLE unifying English parliament, which sits for the unashamed benefit and betterment of the WHOLE - North, South, East and West of England/people of England (not the unsatisfactory and non-equivalent EVEL or the extremely divisive, suggested, devolution within England).
Once an English Parliament has been reinstated, the people of England can decide on the type of English government it elects and the nature of its policies. Any other form of devolution for England is putting the cart before the horse and perpetuates the democratic deficit England and the people of England have suffered for decades now.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are, rightly, proud to have long established national parliaments, so why does England and the people of England continue to be denied one?
UK Government funding: Owing to the grossly unfair and outdated Barnett Formula, as a whole, the people of England receive far less public spending per capita than the people of the other UK nations. This leads to understandable envy and resentment of such things as assisted long-term care, free university tuition, free prescriptions, free dental and eye check ups and free hospital parking.
EU funding: Albeit a moot point following the EU referendum result, as a whole, England always was and presently remains a net contributor to the EU, whilst the other UK nations have always been and presently remain net recipients.
Austerity measures: These were first implemented and were most severe in England and continue to be so, whilst they were either deferred or implemented to a lesser extent in the other UK nations.
Identity: Whilst the identities of the other UK nations are celebrated, preserved and promoted, English identity, of any kind, is at best ridiculed or at worst condemned, or described as/confused with British identity.
History: Whilst the histories of the other UK nations are taught, preserved and where appropriate celebrated, English history is at best ignored or at worst condemned, or described as/confused with British history.
Culture: Whilst the cultures of the other UK nations are celebrated, preserved and promoted, English culture of any kind is at best ridiculed or at worst condemned, or described as/confused with British culture.
Infrastructure: When visiting Scotland and Wales I am struck by the high quality of roads and general infrastructure, and an almost litter-free environment. Sadly, the absolute reverse is the case in England, leading to a feeling of neglect and a lack of national and community pride.
Environment: Although thankfully halted, only in England was fracking allowed. And, whilst the National Parks of the other UK nations faced a 20% funding cut under the austerity measures, England's National Parks suffered a 40% cut.
National wings of political parties: Whilst the mainstream political parties have Scottish and Welsh wings and manifestos, they have no English equivalent.
BBC channels and news reporting: Whilst Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have dedicated BBC channels, there is no BBC England channel. Also, BBC News actively describes individuals (in news and sport) from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish but describes people from England as British or by their county.
Taking all of the above factors into consideration, I would humbly suggest that the, long-held, discriminatory feelings induced by these glaring anomalies/facts will only grow further in England unless addressed.
I do hope that my contribution does not come over as parochial or nationalistic but I sincerely feel that in addition to a profound matter of fairness needing resolution, an equal footing for England, on at least the above, would lead to much needed social cohesion and well being, not to mention desperately needed improvements to services and infrastructure. I also believe that this would create a more stable UK.