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English socialism - regional accent?

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This paper argues that left politics in Britain and England in particular, needs to re-connect with its 'ethical Socialist' roots in the late nineteenth century and embrace regional diversity. The North of England developed a particularly strong and distinctive Socialism which had cultural as well as economic and political dimensions – the club movement, Clarion cycling, a lively regional and local press and a love of the countryside. It was instinctively decentralist with an equivocal attitude towards the central state.

The paper argues that a modern Socialism needs to re-discover a strong sense of place, at local, regional and national level. Within England, strong powers should be given to regional bodies which would pioneer a new form of democratic politics, rather than promote 'English nationalism'. Whilst gaining inspiration from the ethical and decentralist Socialism of the past, the English Left should develop new forms of citizen engagement and community action and a values-led politics which can appeal beyond our traditional – and shrinking - bases. We need to learn from the experience of comrades in Scotland and Wales who have rejected a centralist notion of the 'British road to Socialism'.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-11-24

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