DILEMMAS OF POLITICAL ENGLISHNESS EVENT, UNIVERSITY OF HUDDERSFIELD
Researchers from the Centre for Research in the Social Sciences hosted a symposium at the University of Huddersfield in conjunction with the Political Studies Association Britishness Specialist Group on April 7th 2015. This one-day workshop interrogated the dilemmas at the heart of England’s collective self-identification and its subsequent relationships with the wider world. Engaging leading academics researching the politics of Englishness, the workshop brought together leading experts from across the UK and Australia with different methodologies and approaches to offer a comprehensive analysis of the dynamics that are pushing questions about English identity into party politics. Although the ‘English question’ has stalked British politics for the past two decades, what was notable about the aftermath of the Scottish referendum was how quickly it became a debate about England. Questions of English nationhood have rapidly moved up the policy agenda at this moment of constitutional change in British politics.
The 2015 General Election and potential for a referendum on European Union membership have clearly intensified political and public deliberation about the content and relationship between British and English nationhood and citizenship. Seeking answers to the ‘English question’ from the realm of constitutional policy, the symposium began with a keynote address by Professor Arthur Aughey (University of Ulster) who discussed Englishness and the Union after the Scottish independence referendum. Papers were also presented on differing dimensions of political Englishness by Professor Andrew Gamble (University of Sheffield), Dr Richard Hayton (University of Leeds), Professor Charlie Jeffery (University of Edinburgh), Professor Mike Kenny (Queen Mary University of London), Dr Andrew Mycock (University of Huddersfield), Dr Emily Robinson (University of Sussex),Emma Vines (Australian National University, Canberra), and the Centre for Research in the Social Sciences visiting research fellow, Dr Ben Wellings (Monash University, Melbourne). Dr Arianna Giovannini was a discussant for the symposium.
The event was organised to bring together contributors to a special edition of the highly-regarded journal, Political Studies Review, to be published next year. It will be co-edited by Dr Andy Mycock with Professor Kenny and Dr Welling. Dr Mycock commented ‘we believe that the strong line-up of contributors to ‘The Dilemmas of Political Englishness’ symposium will ensure that the proposed special edition of Political Studies Review will provide academic analyses of an exceptional quality and scope’. The special edition will be published in 2016.
BRITISHNESS GROUP ORGANISE PANELS AT PSA CONFERENCE IN SHEFFIELD
Britishness group members provided a strong presence at Political Studies Association annual conference held in Sheffield between March 31st and April 2nd2015. Dr Andrew Mycock organised and co-hosted a special roundtable: ‘A re-united kingdom? Dynamics and relationships after Scotland’s Choice’ with panellists including Professor Mike Kenny (Queen Mary University of London), Professor Graham Walker (Queen’s University, Belfast) and Dr Murray Leith (University of the West of Scotland).
Building on recent initiatives on regional devolution and identity at the University of Huddersfield, a number of group members convened and presented their work in a panel entitled ‘English Devolution in the Wake of the Scottish Independence Referendum’. Dr Arianna Giovannini, Dr Pete Woodcock, and Dr Andy Mycock contributed papers to this well-attended and lively session, with a fourth paper was provided by Dr Joanie Willett (University of Exeter). The papers from this session will form part of a special edition of the prestigious journal, Political Quarterly, on the theme of devolution in England which will be co-edited by Dr Giovannini and Dr Mycock. A special symposium will be hosted in July at the University of Huddersfield linked to this special edition.
Andrew Mycock was honoured to be asked to host a Q and A session with outgoing MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, David Blunkett MP entitled ‘Why Politics Matters to You’, which brought together young people and academics to listen to Mr Blunkett discuss his career in politics, especially his role in the introduction of citizenship education.
DECENTRALISATION AND THE FUTURE OF YORKSHIRE
There was much lively political debate on 13 February 2015, when national and local politicians, academics, democratic reform activists, and representatives from the business community came together to discuss ‘Decentralisation and the Future of Yorkshire’ at the University of Huddersfield. The event was co-sponsored by the Centre for Research in the Social Sciences (CRISS) based at the University of Huddersfield and the Political Studies Association (PSA). It was organised by a team from the Britishness specialist group: Dr Arianna Giovannini, Dr Andrew Mycock,Dr Catherine McGlynn and Dr Shaun McDaid.
Over 70 delegates and representatives from the media heard a keynote address given by the Director of theInstitute of Public Policy North, Ed Cox, who analysed recent developments concerning regional devolution in England and scoped potential future challenges and opportunities.
The event also featured a panel of MPs from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire – Jason McCartney, Barry Sheerman, andAndrew Percy – and was chaired by the BBC’s Yorkshire political editor, Len Tingle. The MPs discussed their recently launched manifesto Devolution for Prosperity.
A panel of academic research exploring devolution across the UK regions and in comparative perspective was aired at the symposium, featuring recent work by Dr Pete Woodcockand Dr Arianna Giovannini (Huddersfield), and papers from Dr Joanie Willett (Exeter) and Dr John Ault (Bristol), and Dr Eve Hepburn (Edinburgh).
There were two further panels, one exploring the political economy of regional devolution in Yorkshire, featuring prominent members of the Sheffield City Region LEP, Kirklees Metropolitan Council, the CBI Yorkshire and Humber, and Hannah Mitchell Foundation.
The symDecentralisation discussion posium concluded with a roundtable discussion, chaired by Dr Andrew Mycock, featuring representatives from the Centre for Cities, Unlock Democracy, and new regionalist party, Yorkshire First. The event attracted media interest from Kirklees Local TV (see the feature here), the Huddersfield Examiner, and BBC Radio Leeds broadcast live news and interviews from the event. Plans are underway to follow up the symposium with further events and a series of outputs aimed at both academic and non-academic audiences.
SCOTLAND’S CHOICE: RESHAPING RELATIONSHIPS?
Dr Andrew Mycock, Dr Catherine McGlynn and Dr Murray Leith contributed papers to a recent one day Political Studies Association (PSA) symposium about the potential impact of the Scottish independence referendum. The symposium entitled ‘Scotland’s Choice: Reshaping Relationships’ was held at Queen’s University Belfast on 25 June 2014.
The event was co-organised by the Queen’s University School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, PSA Irish Politics Group, and the PSA Britishness Specialist Group, which is based at the University of Huddersfield.
Dr Mycock’s presentation was entitled, ‘The Imminent Death of Ethnic Britishness? Culture, Identity and the post-British state(s)’ and demonstrated how Northern Ireland is often left out of debates about the constitutional future of the UK. Dr McGlynn presented a paper, co-authored with Dr Murray Leith of the University of the West of Scotland, called ‘Reading from the same script: The Democratic Unionist Party and Scottish National Party in comparative analysis’. The paper demonstrated that, despite many obstacles facing the two parties, both had managed to succeed by utilising increasingly sophisticated electoral strategies.
Podcasts from the event are available on the ever-popular current affairs blog, Slugger O’Toole.
Culture Wars in Northern Ireland Symposium
On 22 November 2013, the Political Studies Association Britishness Specialist Group organised a symposium on the theme of Northern Ireland’s ‘culture wars’ in Belfast. The group organised this event with the joint assistance of the Institute for Research in Citizenship and Applied Human Sciences at the University of Huddersfield and the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at the University of Ulster, who hosted the event. It brought together leading scholars from a range of disciplinary background and representatives of prominent civil society organisations. It sought to provide a forum for critical assessment of current conceptual and empirical framings of the ‘culture wars’ manifesting themselves in increasingly febrile and divisive public debates about social and political change as they applied to Northern Ireland.
The report contains a number of policy recommendations based upon the deliberations of the symposium, which revealed that divisions within Northern Ireland do not run solely, as would first appear, along lines of political and cultural identity but which have opened up liberal and conservative divisions within communities and between generations. Chief among these is the suggestion that the Northern Ireland Executive devise an immediate strategy to address the needs of the region’s most deprived communities independent of on-going attempts to implement a community relations policy. This strategy should focus on young people, particularly improving socio-economic opportunities and the provision of safe spaces for the young to express their opinions, aspirations and grievances.
The report also recommends that policy makers take measures to ensure equality of citizenship and legal protections for various minority groups within Northern Ireland, as well as addressing the question of a racial equality strategy as a matter of urgency.
The report can be read in full here. Culture Wars Report
Podcasts of the day were hosted by the lauded blogging site Slugger O’Toole and are also available here: https://audioboo.fm/tag/psaculturewars/
Educating the Nations Conference
On 6th July 2013 the group co-hosted the conference Educating the Nations? with the Academy for British and Irish Studies at the University of Huddersfield. The conference featured contributions focused on the politicisation of both history and history education in the UK in the post-devolution era. Speakers included Alan McCully (University of Ulster), Terry Hadyn (UEA) and Andrew Mycock (University of Huddersfield). Podcasts of the conference are available at History Workshop Online
The Future Governance of England Debate
As part of their on-going commitment to public discussion, the Academy for British and Irish Studies at the University of Huddersfield and the Political Studies Association Britishness Specialist Group sponsored a successful debate on the Future Governance of England. It brought together two leading proponents who offered alternative solutions to current English constitutional dilemmas.
Attendees saw Eddie Bone, of the Campaign for an English Parliament and editor of England! magazine, debate with Paul Salveson, General secretary of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation. The former arguing for the establishment of an English Parliament, the latter advocating devolved government for the North of England. The debate was chaired by Dr Andrew Mycock of the University of Huddersfield
Ben Wellings talk on Englishness
On 17th October 2012 Ben Wellings spoke at a seminar on Englishness after the Olympics. An audio recording of this event will be made available shortly.
Andrew Mycock appears on You and Yours
On 11th June 2012 the group co-convenor Andy Mycock appeared with Bonnie Greer and Julian Worricker on a special edition of Radio Four’s You and Yours about Britishness in the year of the Olympics and the Jubiliee. To listen to the programme please click here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01jhb36
PSA Annual Conference in Belfast – 3rd-5th April 2012
Building on the success of PSA conferences in London, Edinburgh and Manchester, the Britishness specialist group presented two panels at this year’s conference. Jim McAuley chaired a panel on Re-imagining the Union with contributions from Graham Walker, Andrew Mycock and Catherine McGlynn. Additionally, in conjunction with the Specialist Group on Irish Politics, Professor McAuley brought together activists and academics for a round table on the future of loyalism.
Workshop on Party Politics of Identity – 30th September 2011
Professor Arthur Aughey acted as discussant at an event held by the group which concerned the party-political dynamics of national identity in the UK. Papers given by speakers including Jon Tonge (University of Liverpool), Murray Leith (University of West of Scotland) and Laura McAllister (University of Cardiff) focused on the ways in which parties and the competition between them have shaped nationalist discourses since devolution.
PSA Annual Conference: 19th – 21st April 2011
The group organised three specialist panels at the 2011 PSA Annual Conference, held in London. These looked at Englishness and the Coalition, Nationalism and party political competition, and identity and citizenship. Speakers included Prof Mike Kenny, Anthony Barnett, Dr Ben Wellings, Prof Arthur Aughey and Lord Norton of Louth.
PSA Conference – April 2010
Building on our first series of coordinated panels at the 2009 conference, we organised a number of panels and events for the PSA Annual Conference in Edinburgh. This included a discussion of our special edition of Parliamentary Affairs, a session on the tenth anniversary of the Parekh Report and a round table on Michael Hechter’s work on Internal Colonialism. We were grateful to receive the support of the conference organisers, who provided financial support to these events through the Speakers Competition.
The Politics of Britishness – January 2009
In January 2009 we held the first of our specialist group seminars at the University of Huddersfield. The invited speakers presented papers on Britishness in the UK, with themes covered including national identity in Northern Ireland, institutional and party dynamics in Scotland and Wales, Euroscepticism and multiculturalism. Paul Ward and Richard Hayton acted as discussants and the session produced a constructive and interesting debate. These papers have now been published in a special edition of Parliamentary Affairs (see Publications). We would like to extend our thanks to the journal’s editors Steve Fielding and Jocelyn Evans for their support. The event was funded by a successful application to the PSA specialist groups network.
Group Launch – June 2008
The group was launched at the University of Huddersfield in June 2008 at the international conference Britishness, Identity and Citizenship: The view from abroad. The conference keynote was delivered by of the University of Virginia (pictured here with Dr. Andrew Mycock, group convener) and delegates from nearly forty countries presented papers on the transnational dynamics of Britishness in both historical and contemporary contexts. Speakers included Stuart Ward from the Centre for Australian Studies at the University of Copenhagen, Arthur Aughey from the University of Ulster and Susan Condor from the University of Lancaster. The conference was made possible in part thanks to a grant from the British Academy and we would also like to acknowledge the support of Routledge who sponsored a wine reception.
Krishan Kumar and Andrew Mycock