One Nation - Surely Ed Miliband Must Know That the English Don't Believe That Anymore?

05/10/2012 14:56 BST | Updated 05/12/2012 10:12 GMT

Examining his speech from an English perspective

Undoubtedly the style of Ed Miliband's speech on 2 October 2012 at the Labour Party conference was like a breath of fresh air amongst the dark smog of British politics. However it was disappointing that the content lacked the oxygen that England so urgently needs if Britain is to witness the resuscitation of English democracy.

By calling for 'One Nation', Ed Miliband unfortunately showed a constitutional naivety whilst failing to ensure that English concerns were addressed. The democratic process has failed England and Ed Miliband's speech at times resembled the actions of an ostrich sticking its head firmly in the ground before the approaching devolutionary lion.

To clarify why an Englishman would feel so downhearted by his speech we need to examine his words. The first point is that Ed Miliband's lack of constitutional understanding was clear when he stated:-

"There's no more important area of our common life than the United Kingdom itself. One of our four countries, Scotland, will be deciding in the next four years whether to stay or to go.

"I want to be quite clear about this - Scotland could leave the UK. But I believe we would be far worse off as a result. Not just in pounds and pence, but in the soul of our nation'.

His assumption on this point is incorrect and he made a terrible mistake as Scotland cannot leave the UK because it is an integral part of the UK along with the other countries. If Scotland becomes independent, the 1707 Act of Union is made redundant and the UK is finished. His 'One Nation' vision would collapse.

Second; he continued to state that the economic system is broken but failed to state that the economic and political system for England is the most skewed in the UK. Daring to express that England needs its own government to deal with its unique economic situation appeared to be treated with absolute contempt during the speech. Instead Ed Miliband presented as being in fear of upsetting Scotland, i.e. he will hold onto Scotland at all cost! To an Englishman it does not matter if Scotland decides to become independent, what matters, is English self-determination and that there is also equality amongst the countries of the UK. Only then will the gist of his 'One nation' idea work.

Third; Ed's statements of:-

"So we must be a One Nation party, to become a One Nation government to build a One Nation Britain'.

Can be easily challenged and any politically aware person would accept that the Labour party is far removed from this concept. For a start there are separate Scottish and Welsh Labour parties but not one for England and there are separate TUC's for Scotland and Wales but not one for England.

He made statements such as "I don't believe that solidarity stops at the border. I care as much about a young person unemployed in Motherwell, as I do about a young person unemployed here in Manchester. We have common bonds'.

He even consolidated this view and mentioned reducing 'Tuition fees from £9000.00 to £6000.00 per annum' but he forgot to mention that this so-called solidarity and common bonds has meant that Scottish students receive free tuition whilst English students pay. He talked about the city riots in Britain but they also only affected England.

He talked about a fairer deal for the people of Britain but he failed to mention how unfair the Barnett formula has become for the people living in England. It is not as if he would be unaware of this unfairness. It was acknowledged at the Labour conference not by Ed Miliband but by the Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont when she stated:-

"It is likely that the Barnett formula, far from starving Scotland to death as is often asserted, is actually fattening us to the point of dangerous obesity. Bizarre as the thought may be, could the UK actually be killing us with kindness?" Not the words of Norman Tebbit. Not the words of George Osborne. But Mike Russell, the man Alex Salmond has put in charge of our schools."

Point four of an Englishman's complaint was that his speech at times was just simply puzzling. He mentioned 'You can't be a One Nation Prime Minister if all you do is seek to divide the country. Divide the country between north and south. Public and private' ..... 'We must be the party of south just as much as the party of the north'.

Yet only weeks and days earlier Labour Think Tanks such as the 'Hannah Mitchell Foundation', 'My Left Foot' and the 'IPPR North' were calling for a northern parliament or highlighting the North / South divide. The question has to be asked has Ed Miliband lost control of his policy makers?

And the last point, Ed Miliband talked passionately about the importance of the NHS and its fabric in his one nation vision.

'The magic of the National Health Service, for me, is that you don't leave your credit card at the door... Not values of markets, money and exchange but values of compassion, care and co-operation. That is the magic of the NHS; that is why the British people love the NHS'

Yet never has there been a clearer example of inequality in health provision amongst the UK countries than since the creation of the NHS. He appeared to forget that it is only the English who have to pay for their prescriptions, who don't receive subsidised elderly care, who don't receive certain medications free at source. For the people of England this means they do indeed leave their credit cards at the door.

Yet for all of the above Ed Miliband is right to be enthused when he stated

'In every generation, there comes a moment when we need to change the way we do things. This is one of those moments'.

The English agree with him on this as that moment is about to come. But for an Englishman 'it's important to re-establishing an English Parliament before we start talking about 'One Nation'. Maybe that will be the 'English nation'.