My Winchester lecture: Re-imagining England

On Thursday 9th October I spoke at the University of Winchester on the subject of ‘Re-imagining England’, you can read the text on my blog The Optimistic Patriot

I brought together many of the themes that some of you will now be familiar with: the need to tell our stories about where we came from, the historic English idea of the common good, our changing sense of identity (shifting from more British to more English) and how England must get what England wants in the new devolution settlement.

Above all, my message is that we don’t ‘discover’ our national identity – we create it, drawing on our histories but choosing the parts that are of most value to us today. I imagine:

An England of the common good. Where the quality of government, the status of the rich, the morality of the powerful is judged not by what they take for themselves but how they deliver for the common good.

A well governed England where public policy sits easily with the values of the English people.

A radical England, where we are prepared to struggle together to fight injustice but also to defend individual liberty; where we create new institutions together, making demands on the state but not dependent on it or subject to it.

An England at ease with its diversity, forged together in one nation and confident to face the world.

An England where decisions are taken as close to the people as they can be, where we value our local traditions and identities.

An England governed in the way the English decide we want to be governed, supporting the Union but not carrying it.

That’s what I have imagined, so think what we could imagine together.

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