Ed Miliband widens Scottish independence debate

 

Labour leader Ed Miliband will argue today that the whole of the United Kingdom needs to be involved in the debate over Scotland's potential independence.

Mr Miliband will say it is possible to celebrate being English as well as British and accuses those wanting the break-up of the union of having a "narrow view of identity".

But he will admit that Labour had been "nervous" to talk about English identity in the past while pressing ahead with constitutional change in other parts of the UK.

Aides said Mr Miliband's decision to deliver the speech in London underlines his view that the case for the union must be heard in England and Wales, as well as Scotland.

Mr Miliband will claim the Scottish National Party, led by First Minister Alex Salmond, is offering a "false choice" between being Scottish or British.

The Labour leader will also take aim at commentators in England like Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson who "shrug their shoulders at the prospect of the break-up of the union".

He will say: "A narrow view of identity would mean concern for the young unemployed in Scotland does not reach Newcastle or that we in England would care less for the pensioner in Edinburgh.

"What a deeply pessimistic vision. It's a mistake wherever you find it. Having to say: Scottish or British, Welsh or British, English or British. I don't accept any of that. It's always a false choice."

The Labour government put in place the devolved institutions in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, but Mr Miliband will acknowledge the party's failure to engage with English identity.

He will say: "We in the Labour Party have been too reluctant to talk about England in recent years. We've concentrated on shaping a new politics for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

"But some people in England felt Labour's attention had turned away. That something was holding us back from celebrating England too. That we were too nervous to talk of English pride and English character. Connecting it to the kind of nationalism that left us ill at ease.

"In the 1970s/1980s, the Union flag was reclaimed from the National Front. Since Euro 96, the flag of St George has been reclaimed from the BNP.

"But somehow while there is romanticism in parts of the Left about Welsh identity (and) Scottish identity, English identity has tended to be a closed book of late.

"For too long people have believed that to express English identity is to undermine the Union. At the same time we have rightly helped express Scottish identity within the Union.

"This does not make sense. You can be proudly Scottish and British. And you can be proudly English and British, as I am.

"Now more than ever, as we make the case for the United Kingdom throughout the United Kingdom, we must talk about England.

"There may be a temptation on the part of others to conjure a view of Englishness which does not represent our nation, a mirror image of the worst aspects of Scottish nationalism: hostile to outsiders, anti-Scottish, England somehow cut off from the rest of Britain, cut off from the outside world, fearful what is beyond our borders, our best days behind us.

"I don't think like that. I love the nation that we have."

Mr Miliband will draw on his own experiences to explain his personal identity.

"I am the son of a Jewish refugee. A Leeds supporter, from north London. A baseball fan.

"I am proud to lead the Labour Party. I am proud to represent the people of Doncaster North. I am proud to be English. And I am proud to be British too.

"To me, Britain is a country where it is always possible to have more than one identity. More than one place in mind when you talk of home."

The Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics and England's footballers competing in the European Championship showed the different allegiances of people in the UK.

"This is an incredible time to live in this country. A once in a generation summer," he will say.

"But these multiple allegiances, the flags, raise serious questions too. What does this summer say about the United Kingdom?

"What does it say about our identity as a people?

"That's why today, as we stand between the jubilee, the European Championship and the Olympics, I want to begin to reflect on who we are as a country."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions