Writing in Comment is Free, Anthony Giddens has this to say:
We cannot rebuild Britain without confronting the “English question" - the fact that England, the largest nation, is now the only one without separate representation. The West Lothian question, of course, is an offshoot of that. Britain will not survive, let alone become more integrated, if we simply let such issues be. “Britain” is a product of internal and external colonialism, where England was the dominant nation. It will not survive either if “Britain” continues to be widely thought of (by the English) as the same as “England”. How can we strip “England” of its association with being white? Ethnic minorities living in England should be able to feel English as well as British. Such questions can’t be papered over by inventing a few ceremonials.
Good that somebody else has taken up the point that the current state of devolutionary affairs cannot continue, but let's look at the piece more closely:
“Britain” is a product of internal and external colonialism, where England was the dominant nation."
Well, as the largest nation perhaps England could be expected to dominate, but bear in mind that Wales was not a nation, but a principality, and that the Union with Scotland was agreed by elites from both camps, with apparently large numbers of "commoners" not being at all happy with the prospect in both countries.
'It will not survive either if “Britain” continues to be widely thought of (by the English) as the same as “England”. '
So long as it is known that this isn't usually down to arrogance. It's down to the fact that politicians and the media and the "great and the good" routinely substitute "Britain" for England and "British" for "English" at every opportunity, thus giving rise to the notion that England is Britain.
'How can we strip “England” of its association with being white? Ethnic minorities living in England should be able to feel English as well as British.'
For a start, the government could allow a civic English national identity, something the devolved bodies are working on in Scotland and Wales. And people could be encouraged. The black refuse operative told not to wear the Cross of St George as a bandana because it's "racist" and the person I heard on the radio on St George's Day a few years ago, a black Englishman, happily proclaiming the fact, and being told by a white, middle class English presenter that he wasn't English, he was British, everybody was British, are prime examples of just what is wrong in "this country" today.
I'm afraid the answers to Mr Giddens questions are alarmingly simple:
Develop an English civic national identity.
Allow England national representation on a par with Scotland in the UK.
Stop scapegoating England for all the perceived sins of Britain. Remember, the Scots were disproportionately involved in the old British Empire and a Welsh Prime Minister partitioned Ireland.
Apart from all this, I'm glad that Mr Giddens is another voice highlighting the English Question. It's just the inference that it's all somehow come about because we're "not very nice" I take issue with.
Hat tip to the CEP News Blog.