"It is a mark of self confidence: the English have not spent a great deal of time defining themselves because they haven't needed to."
"We don't want to be ruled by Westminster!" is one of the cries ringing out from the Scottish 'Yes' campaign. Scotland, that proud nation occupying roughly the entire northern third of the British Isles, has always maintained a strong and healthy national identity and cultural uniqueness so then it is only natural for them to expect not only devolution but full independence from Westminster rule. A truly independent Scotland would finally force us south of the border to ask what it means to be English and do we, anymore than the Scots or the Welsh, wish to be ruled by Westminster. The answer to the latter would be from many corners of England a resounding ‘NO!’
Once known for our reserved self-confidence we have, however, has lost our way way over time. Since devolution was enacted within the United Kingdom, however, there has been a growing consciousness of our unique Englishness. Through colonialism, wars and loss of empire we have rightly come to question the values once instilled/imposed on us by an elite that conflated British Imperalism with the English character. Social engineering has always been there to serve the economic interests of the elite. Once it was "Rule Britannia!" and a deadly militarism that led so many ordinary men to slaughter. Today cheap labour and mindless consumerism are what are needed for that false prophet "economic growth", keeping the rich rich and our youth demoralised. What little dissent there is finds its only outlet in either reactionary outbursts of hate or a self-sabotaging ultra-liberalism... whilst those in power look on with indifference. So is a middle way possible? A proud and healthy English civic identity that is, most importantly, radically democratic and liberatory to ALL English people?
First, however, we must consider what it to be English. There is no one singular Englishness. To be English in central London, or in Leeds or in rural Norfolk is a quite different thing. For us a Free England must be a decentralised England built on community and self-determination. There are currently a number of initiatives around the country that are focus on such a regionalist and community-based model. Yorkshire currently has its own devolution movement, which seeks to unite the traditional county into a modern region and take power back from London for the people of Yorkshire. Likewise there are the Wessex Regionalists and Independent Mercia who seeks to create a sustainable green future for England's ancient regions based on grassroots direct democracy. In the urban environment the Independent Working Class Association have developed a thorough program to hand power back to communities, emphasising class solidarity and self-determination across ethnic lines over often divisive state interference. These are all positive initiatives we support for the building of a truly social and democratic Free England.
We also support Cornish self-determination, just as we support the same principal or all people of England and the British Isles. Upon the dissolution of the United Kingdom the geographic and historical Britain will, of course, not cease to exist. We only hope all communities within the British Isles can coexist as freely on the basis of equality, friendship and independence. The same is true of autonomous communities across Europe and beyond.
For other organisations working towards decentralism and links of interest to English Autonomists, see also: Co-operatives UK, Transition Network, Devolve.