Englishness Politicised?; unpicking the normative implications of the McKay Commission
The British Journal of Politics and International Relations
MetadataShow full item record
This article draws attention to signs of an emerging consensus within British politics about the significance of recent shifts in the national identity favoured by the English. It focuses on the nature and assumptions of this emergent perspective, and critically evaluates the prevalent understanding of the ‘politicisation’ of Englishness and the different kinds of constitutional and normative argument that have become prominent in response to the resurgence of this form of identity. Drawing upon a bevy of recent social-scientific studies of the qualitative dimensions of Englishness, I make the case for a different, interpretive approach to ‘politicisation’, which reflects a richer and broader understanding of the causes and implications of the renewal of English nationhood. The article then explores the findings and underpinning arguments of one particular expression of this new consensus about the politicisation of English identity—the report published by the McKay Commission in March 2013. Attention is drawn to the particular blend of arguments that undergird its proposals for reform in relation to the West Lothian issue. Tensions between some of its main normative claims are, it is suggested, symptomatic of a deeper set of dilemmas facing the UK policy community.