Theme: Parties & Elections | Content Type: Journal article

Free to read

The Politics of England: National Identities and Political Englishness

Lawrence McKay and John Denham


Dave Bevis

| 1 min read

Over two decades, voters who emphasised their English identity played an influential role in the rise of UKIP and the Brexit Party, the Brexit referendum and the election of Conservative governments—a trend overlooked in most electoral analyses. Using twenty years of data from the British Election Study and British Social Attitudes Survey, as well as recent original surveys, the article explores the evolving political behaviour of national identity groups. It finds that ‘more English’ and ‘more British’ identifiers increasingly voted for different parties. The analysis also identifies growing differences in the demographics, social values and immigration attitudes of these groups, which descriptive and regression analysis suggests may underpin these divergent political behaviours. However, a fuller understanding of electoral behaviour must take account of ideas of national democracy and sovereignty. The electoral impact of both the characteristics of English identifying voters and ideas associated with English identity constitute ‘political Englishness’.

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    Lawrence McKay

    Dr. Lawrence McKay is a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow based in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Southampton.

    Articles by Lawrence McKay
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    John Denham

    John Denham is the former MP for Southampton, Itchen, 1992-2015. He was also Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government from 2009-10. He is now a Professorial Research Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations, Director of the Centre for English Identity & Politics, and Director of the English Labour Network.

    Articles by John Denham