Leader: Who are the English?

A lively debate has broken out on the centre left about England and Englishness. It is, in part, a reaction to the Labour Party's "southern discomfort": of the voters it lost between 1997 and 2010, nine out of ten lived in England.

But it goes deeper. Labour's unfinished constitutional reforms, which delivered devolved government to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, have, as the political theorist Maurice Glasman points out on page 34, left a "political void where England should be". The English, Glasman argues, "do not govern themselves". Nor, one could be forgiven for thinking, do they even know who they are any more. In this special issue, we ask what Englishness means in the age of globalisation.

This article first appeared in the 04 April 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Who are the English?