Yesterday, Communities Secretary John Denham made a speech on the need to celebrate 'Englishness'. If it wasn't so tragic, you'd want to laugh. This is a government that seems determined to stamp out Englishness at every opportunity it gets.
To coincide with the speech, the IPPR has published a report which shows that support for an English Parliament is growing as voters increasingly resent the way public spending is allocated in the UK. Forty per cent of people in England feel that Scotland receives more than its fair share - an increase from 22% in 2003. Just under half of those asked believe England's laws should continue to be made at Westminster and 29% now back a new parliament for England.
Professor John Curtice, who wrote the report, said: "It is too strong to speak as yet of a widespread English backlash but the research does suggest there has been a marked growth in resentment about the level of funding that Scotland enjoys. Moreover, this seems in part at least to be generating increased support for the idea that England should have its own parliament. If these trends continue, then politicians may no longer be able safely to assume that England can be ignored in the devolution debate."
Amen to that.
Interestingly, the poll shows that support for some sort of an English Parliament hasincreased from 18% to 29% in 10 years. Support was strongest among those who described themselves as English rather than British.
I really think this issue is going to move up the political agenda over the coming years, and if nationally elected politicians want to avoid the 'backlash' which the IPPR speak of, they need to address it rather than pay it lip service.
The whole question of an English Parliament is surrounded my myth. It certainly doesn't need to have another layer of politicians or a new building, or indeed a huge tranche of new civil servants. It could be formed of English MPs, debate in the Palace of Westminster and if it had formal Executive powers, they would be implemented by existing civil servants.
I'd like to see a proper national debate on this issue, followed by a referendum, so the English people themselves can decide.