Labour's English Problem - Post-Print.pdf (691.72 kB)
Radical nostalgia, progressive patriotism and Labour's 'English problem'
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-21, 06:01 authored by Emily RobinsonEmily Robinson
‘Progressive patriots’ have long argued that Englishness can form the basis of a transformative political project, whether based on an historic tradition of resistance to state power or an open and cosmopolitan identity. However, this article suggests that the politics of Englishness present a number of specific dilemmas for Labour. First the historical narrative of a radical tradition in British history is not straightforwardly English and cannot easily be used to support a competitive politics of nationhood, in the way that disaffected English identifiers might desire. Second, the deliberately alternative nature of this ‘radical nostalgic’ narrative makes it an unlikely basis for a unifying national story. It is also at odds with Labour’s status as a successful party of government, committed to using the power of the British state, rather than opposing it. Finally, while ‘everyday Englishness’ may well align with core Labour values and be less socially conservative, intolerant or racially exclusive than it is often described, its very nature as an everyday practice, rather than a political identity makes it difficult for Labour to co-opt.
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JournalPolitical Studies Review
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