How should ‘political England’ be recognised?

Lewis Baston

In the newly published IPPR pamphlet The Dog That Finally Barked: England as an Emerging Political Community, Richard Wyn Jones and Guy Lodge demonstrate, to anyone’s satisfaction, that there is such a thing as English identity and that it has a political component.

Perhaps their most surprising finding was that in comparative context, England has a stronger sense of identity in terms of the standard ‘Moreno scale’ than Bavaria, Galicia, Vienna or even Wales. Only Scotland and Catalonia (of areas surveyed) were stronger sub-state units of identity. The research found that only about a quarter of English respondents were happy with the constitutional status quo, although there was no consensus about an alternative and the question demonstrated some of the qualities of an issue that is ill-formed in the public mind, for example a strong effect from the wording of the poll question. Continue reading

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The Feltham and Heston by-election: more of the same

Lewis Baston

The Feltham and Heston by-election was not what one would call a classic. The result was not surprising, the location was an unglamorous patch of west London next to Heathrow, and it took place at an unpromising time of year. The turnout in the by-election was dismal, at 28.8 per cent. The cold, dark, wet conditions on polling day were partly to blame, but even so it reflected a lack of interest in elections and politics that has some significance. A fairly high proportion of votes cast were postal (6,854 out of the total of 23,298) so on the day turnout was very poor indeed: 23.7 per cent. In a couple of polling stations it fell as low as 15 per cent. All parties, except UKIP, polled fewer votes than they did in May 2010. Continue reading

What say will voters have in redrawing of the electoral map?

Lewis Baston

The government’s contentious legislation to reduce the number of MPs and introduce a new system for drawing parliamentary boundaries was passed in February 2011. It set out an ambitious timetable for final recommendations to be voted on by the House of Commons in October 2013, which required some fast work by theBoundary Commission for England (BCE) in particular, which has 502 new constituencies to design. The BCE staff has been hard at work all spring and summer and the Commission publishes its eagerly-awaited ‘initial proposals’ next Tuesday, 13 September 2011. Recommendations for Scotland and Northern Ireland will also be published this autumn, while those for Wales are held up until January 2012.

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