Monday, December 31, 2007

On British Identity

There is an interesting piece on British identity, British values and the Prime Minister's views on the subject in the current issue of GQ.

The article does not directly quote Gordon Brown or claim to be based on a first account statement of his opinions. But on the basis of indirect accounts it ascribes to him the view that where, in the past, British identity was based largely on institutions (the Monarchy, Parliament, the BBC, the Church of England), in the 21st century it will become increasingly important to promote a British identity based on values. The article further suggests that the values which we associate with Britishness - e.g. democracy, fair play, decency - will need to be more clearly defined so they are not so vague that any country would say they have a tradition of supporting such ideas.

This article may or may not actually reflect GB's real views. Knowing the way that New Labour works I think it extremely likely that somebody in Number Ten is flying a kite, e.g. feeding this line to the magazine to see what reaction they get. If the reaction is negative it would be extremely easy to disavow it and truthfully state that at no point in the article is the Prime Minister quoted.

But however cynical one may be about the present government, articulating a positive idea of British identity and British values which is not so vague as to be meaningless is actually a good idea. That makes it all the more important not to let New Labour take over this agenda and push it in directions which will support their philosophy.

Let me give one example of a British traditional value which we should indeed be ready to clarify, define and promote.

As far back as Magna Carta, nearly 800 years ago, it has been a principle that free English people - and of course, since the United Kingdom has existed, free Scots, Welsh and Irish people too - should only give up our rights and liberties to the state in the face of clear evidence that there is good reason to do so. And free people should only be locked up when there is enough evidence to charge them with a crime. This principle has been suspended occasionally in our history but only when parliament has voted that there is a special emergency, usually in wartime, and passed special legislation.

So how might this principle be more clearly defined and applied in the 21st century?

I suggest that one example is how we should respond should siren voices within government ask parliament for the power to lock up British citizens without charge for 42 days when many experts, including both the Director of Public Prosecutions himself, and the previous attorney general in the present government, say that there is no clear evidence demonstrating a need to extend the power of detention without charge beyond present 28 days - and that indeed, the full period of 28 days has never yet been needed.

The British value of defending our liberties should mean that any government foolish enough to this request should be told by the House of Commons, or failing that the Lords, to go away until they can provide clear and specific evidence that such a massive erosion of the freedoms of the British people is essential.

If Gordon Brown were to show by his actions that he is really willing to consider promoting British values in this way, he might deserve some support for the idea. But I shall not be holding my breath.


Anonymous said...

The idea that Scottish people have only had "Magna Carta" rights since the Union was established in 1707 is poppycock.

Britishness has only existed since1707 whereas Scotland and England were separate entities for hundreds of years before that.

Man in a Shed said...

Gordon Brown uses Britishness to oppress the English. The Welsh, Scots and Irish are not asked to forget their history or have it renamed as British.

If the UK is to survive there must be balance and justice for all - and that means the English.

Successive Lib Dem leaders describe English national identity and dangerous and Gordon Brown can't even let the word travel across his lips. And yet look across England and see how many flags of St George are flying.

A state that requires deception and subjugation of its largest nation is doomed.

Save England and Save Britain - to misquote Heroes ....

Newmania said...

Britain was really only greater England culturally which is why the English have only recently had a problem with it. I think we all know why Gordon brown is suddenly interested in the idea.

Nice post Chris , hope all well

Gadgie said...

As reported today in the guardian,

"England is 'poor relation' of NHS devolution.
England is suffering in all areas since devolution, even to the point of being abolished as a nation in her own right.
All this with the support of the Conservative party.
Stick your britishness up your quisling arse, you do nor deserve ever to be elected as an English MP.

Chris Whiteside said...

Anonymous: yes, the Scots had the same sort of ongoing battle for freedom from arbitrary government action which the English had, and this began long before the act of union.

However, King John was compelled to agree to Magna Carta long before the United Kingdom came into being and at a time when there were still sovereign nations of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. To suggest that Magna Carta applied to all British people from 1215 would be exactly the sort of confusion of Britain with England which comes over to the Scots, Welsh, and Irish as English arrogance and understandably annoys them.

Man in a Shed - I entirely agree with your comments. If Britain is to survive it will have to be on an equal basis in which all four nations of the UK are treated

I don't blame the Scots or Welsh for the injustices which their Labour MPs have recently inflicted on the English, such as the outrageous imposition of top-up tuition fees - I blame the Labour party.

Newmania - as always, you have a good point. But although Britain may to a large extent have been Greater England in the past, it will have to be a genuine partnership in the future.

Gadgie - if your last sentence were typical of English nationalism, which mercifully it is not, the sneers of the metropolitan trendies would be justified.

Vikdun Quisling was a Norwegian Nazi who helped Hitler run a fascist puppet state in Norway, and throwing his name at people who are in no sense fascist may be a good way to cause offense but is a bad argument.

Under the present constitution I am trying to become a British MP, there is currently no such thing as an English MP. By chance, my mixed British heritage - my ancestry is a mix of English and Scots, and I have an Irish wife and a Welsh uncle - happens to be a fairly good reflection of the seat for which I am a prospective candidate, which has an English majority but substantial numbers of residents from Scotland and the other parts of Britain.

You are on stronger ground when you raise the issue of health care inequalities between different parts of Britain. This needs to be addressed, both as it affects the different countries of the UK and as it affects different regions within each country.

gadgie said...

all these people from other parts of the uk choose to live in England. you have a duty to represent them properly. by considering your self as primarily a prospective "british" mp, you do not serve them or English people well.
In the 4 NHS's England is last.
If the other 3 are in a better state because of devolution then it follows that the English NHS would be better under the care of an English Parliament.
I stick by my comment on where to stick britishness and the same for the sneering metropolitan elite.

Tony said...

Their you go Chris, confusing the issue.
Your ancestry is irrelevant, the fact that you even state it at all undermines your credibility. Genetic purity has little to do with national identity, those arguments are more suited to the BNP. You wish to represent a seat in England, are you an English national? Yes or no are the only relevent answers.
Gadgie is quite correct in his use of the word "quisling"; there are many sitting in English constituencies, your own Sir Malcom Rifkin for instance.
Parachuted in from Scotland, comes up with an answer to the West Lothian question that continues to discriminate against his own constituent's, gazes longingly back towards Edinburgh and signed the Scottish claim of right, a quisling.
Discrimination against the English nation by foreign political elite is nothing new to us; it began in 1066 and continues to this very day. Only the method has changed, the politics are the same.
The attempt at genocide, ethnic and cultural cleansing were perpetrated upon us with extreme violence, only the violence has abated with time. The British state denies the very existence of the English as a nation. It promotes a policy of mass migration into England, which in turn forces a mass exodus from the English, who no longer recognise their culture and country.
A false British identity is continually promoted by the state machine, in that I include the Main stream media the BBC and all three main political parties. Even our schools are forced to teach Britishness, and we are denied our right to self determination. Is it any wonder that we find it difficult to trust people who seek power over us, when they do not consider themselves of us?
Much time is given to "British values" Every time I pick up a news paper or listen to the news, I thank God, that my values are English. For those that call themselves British in politics, appear to have no semblance of fair play, are devoid of any sense of honour, loyalty, duty or allegiance to the very people that they are elected to represent. It seems that they only feel obliged to serve the party machine and themselves. Hopefully Chris, if you are ever elected, you will be true to your constituents and not any political party.
Happy new year, to you and your family.

Stephen Gash said...

The English want a parliament exclusive to England and all the three main parties say is the English can have anything other than a full parliament because "it would brak up the Union"

The first thing Cameron did as Tory (what does that word mean again?) leader was strut up to Scotland to blame the English for Scottish disaffection because "they don't understand the Scots".

The first thing Clegg and Huhne did in their pathetic leadership contest was go to Scotland promising more powers to the Scottish parliament.

Cameron brags about his Scottish ancestry and believes this will somehow endear him to the English. He then says "I don't want to be PM of England, because an imperfect union is better than breaking it up".

Well if Scotch wannabe Cameron believes that and Tory wannabe MPs suck up to him quisling fashion, then I'm with Gadgie on the rectal insertion request.

The UK is a fascist state with a nasty apartheid system being perpetrated agaisnt the English.

The Tories talk big and cave in, which is why England is in such a parlous state.

The Tories' natural constituency is England and has been betrayed by the Tories "for the sake of the union".

Cameron would sell the north of England into slavery in return for a few MPs in his bonnie Scotland.

Never trust a Tory.

Chris Whiteside said...

One of the sad, and highly ironic, things which happens whenever you start a discussion on the internet which touches on British identity these days is that it touches off some over-the-top comments which I don't think reflect either British or English values.

For example, accusing anyone who expresses a slightly different viewpoint of being a nazi/fascist/quisling is not a good example of dignified English restraint and understatement or the British sense of fair play and respect for the other person's point of view.

I didn't start off the discussion by mentioning my ancestry, it only became relevant after I had been accused of being a Quisling and therefore the fact that I think of myself as British, and why, becomes part of the refutation of that argument.

Though anyone who can simultaneously complain that Sir Malcolm Rifkin is a Scot and in the next sentence accuse him of being a Quisling because they think his views are too pro-Scottish is obviously not going to see it that way.

There is currently no such thing as an English citizen, though if there were I would qualify on at least three grounds. There is currently no English parliament. If I am elected to the UK parliament my responsibility would be to the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and particularly to all my constituents, whether they voted for me or not and whether they were born in Copeland, elsewhere in England, or in Scotland, Wales or Ireland.

For most of the past century, including the majority of my political career, the official name of the party of which I am a member was "The Conservative and Unionist party." The name has been shortened but the policy has not changed - you are welcome to disagree with us but you cannot accuse us of pretending to be anything other than supporters of the Union.

If someone choses to move from Carlisle to Whitehaven that does not mean their MP should take no notice of them and neither does a move from Glasgow to Whitehaven or vice versa.

As for the idea that Britain is some kind of conspiracy to impose "apartheid" or even better, to perpetrate "genocide, ethnic and cultural cleansing" against the English, either you are having a laugh or you need to go and lie down.

The English conquered Wales and Ireland by direct military force, remember? The Act of Union with Scotland was agreed by both parliaments and the vast majority of English people were perfectly happy with it for 290 years.

It's only in the past ten years that the present administration has changed the deal in ways which are grossly unfair to England. The current situation will have to be changed in a way which is fair to all four parts of the UK.

britologywatch said...

Chris, the language of some of my fellow English nats above may be a bit colourful; but the core questions still need to be asked. As an English Westminster MP, you would NOT be representing all four nations of the UK equally: you'd have no influence at all on devolved matters for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; whereas MPs from constituencies in those countries would have a say in corresponding English matters - though not for the same matters in their own countries.

To your great credit, you do call this situation 'grossly unfair' to England. But your party appears to be on the point of advocating an English Grand Committee as a 'solution' to it. The potential constitutional flaws of such a remedy must be obvious, and it doesn't address the asymmetry of the devolution settlement: you'd effectively have an English parliament within the UK parliament, but one that had been voted in through an election on UK-wide matters, and which is therefore by no means equivalent to an English parliament where THE PUBLIC, not just MPs, have the opportunity to have their say on England-only matters, preferably using PR - just as the voters in Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland do. Until this central issue is addressed, I'm afraid you'll continue to attract angry reaction from English nationalists if your defence of the principles of Magna Carta does not deal with the democratic deficit in England.

And the issue of your own personal national identity is also important. Credit to you for introducing it into the debate, but I do think it's inadequate to run for cover behind a mixed-British ancestry in order to duck the issue of whether, as an MP for an English seat, you would have a duty to take up the concerns of English people in a particular way. Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs don't seem to have the same squeamishness in owning up to their nationality, and defending the economic and political interests of their countries. I don't really believe it when public figures such as David Cameron claim to be British rather than English in the first instance: British-born people tend to think of themselves at the visceral, emotional level as primarily either English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish; and only British in terms of 'shared values', formal statehood and political principles. The rest of that Telegraph article made it clear that Cameron is basically English in this way (he'd support England in any sporting match against Scotland, for instance). Which are you? And regardless of your answer to that question, as your status as a Westminster MP would mean you would be representing your English-resident constituents and the rest of the UK differentially (some matters being England-only, some being UK-wide), do you not think that English values and national interests are something you have a duty to define and defend as much as British ones?

Chris Whiteside said...

Britologywatch - thank you for your intelligent and interesting points and for expressing them in a courteous and constructive way.

The basic problem is the way the Blair administration introduced devolution, because it was neither internally consistent nor properly thought through. Instead they made a complete dog's breakfast of the British constitution by passing a hotch-potch of inconsistent measures which served the sectarian interests of the Labour party but did not leave the UK either as a proper unitary state or as a proper federal one.

This is not an argument for abolishing the UK but it is an argument for reforming the mess Blair created.

Since the present situation is intolerably unfair to England, reversing devolution in Scotland is not going to happen, and I don't want to abolish the UK the only remaining alternative is to introduce some form of fair Federal system based on equal citizenship. E.g. those subjects defined as UK issues should be voted on by elected representatives from the whole UK, while others should be constituent nation issues and voted on for each of the four parts of the UK only by representatives elected by the relevant parts.

The problem with the present system is that Westminster is formally the parliament for the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and for much of the time decides issues which affect the whole of Britain; but on issues which in Scotland and Wales have been devolved, the Westminster parliament is effectively acting as an English parliament.

In my view, while the present situation continues, Westminster MPs should judge UK matters on the basis of the interests of the whole of Britain, paying particular attention to the welfare of their own consituents, but on matters which in Scotland and Wales have been devolved, only MPs elected from English constituencies should vote and they should do so on the basis of the interests of England, just as members of the Scottish Parliament are fully entitled to cast their votes on the basis of the best interests of Scotland and Welsh AMs are entitled to vote for what is best for Wales.

Legislating to devolve issues which in Scotland and Wales have been devolved is the best short term way to achieve this.

I do not want to see an increase in the number of politicians: indeed I agree with David Cameron that we should be looking to cut the cost of politics. I do not believe that the public wants extra layers of politicians, either at regional level or by adding yet another parliament to the existing structure.

But in the long term what I suspect will happen is a situation where members of the UK parliament sit at Westminister for a certain number of days each month to deal with UK issues, and then for the remainder sit in national delegations, possibly with additional members as in the present Welsh Assembly and Scottish parliament, to deal with devolved responsibilities. This would of course require a referendum in each part of the UK and I believe it can be won.

Voters in every part of the UK want decisions taken more locally but they also want less of their taxes going to pay the salaries of politicians and bureaucrats.

Chris Whiteside said...

Sorry, I accidentally omitted a few words in the above comment.

I meant to say

"Legislating to devolve to an English Grand Committee those issues which in Scotland and Wales have been delegated to the devolved bodies is the best short term way to achieve this."

Gadgie said...

Perhaps the language would be less strident if English MP's had more to say on England. At present none will even say the word.
This article is a year old but is relevant to the current cris in England's NHS. not one English MP took big mouth Morgan to task over this comment. Then you wonder why we shout.

Morgan glee at England 'jealousy'

Last Updated: Friday, 26 January 2007, 17:04 GMT

E-mail this to a friend Printable version

Morgan glee at England 'jealousy'

The Express reports that only Wales will get free prescriptions
First Minister Rhodri Morgan claims his government's abolition of prescription charges means people in England are jealous of Wales for the first time.
Mr Morgan spoke as Labour prepared to unveil its achievements record ahead of May's Welsh assembly election.

The abolition of charges from 1 April was backed by AMs on Tuesday. In England most patients still pay £6.65.

"We have never actually managed to make the English jealous before... but we have done it," said Mr Morgan.

He cited a page one story in Friday's Daily Express claiming there was growing anger over Britain's "two-tier health service".

The Express ran the headline "Prescriptions free for everyone - but only if you live in Wales".

It also quoted Health Minister Brian Gibbons saying: "The vast majority of ordinary working class people will benefit substantially and, for us in Welsh Labour, that's what we are proud about".


Objective One funding, helping to create or secure over 90,000 jobs
New Deal - helped over 35,000 young people into jobs
Cut long term youth unemployment by over 85% in Wales
Ending the Tory 'quango-state' in Wales
Over £500m in Wales paid out in miners compensation
Source: From Labour Party Wales' top 50 achievements

Mr Morgan told BBC Radio Wales: "I think it's the first time that a Fleet Street newspaper has actually put a front page blasting headline on how wonderful it is that Wales has brought in free prescriptions, but playing into English jealousy and saying 'wouldn't it be wonderful if you all lived in Wales'.

Chris Whiteside said...

Can't disagree with you on that one, Gadgie - Morgan's comments were foolish and indefensible.

I suspect that the Scots Nats make this kind of comment to deliberately irritate the English so as to increase the likelihood of a break-up. If I am right this is a fairly disgraceful tactic but at least you can understand where they are coming from.

For members of the Labour party such as Rhodri Morgan to make that sort of comment is not just foolish - they are playing with fire.

Toque said...

Chris: "only MPs elected from English constituencies should vote and they should do so on the basis of the interests of England"

This approach would only work if every vote on devolved issues was a free vote. The reality of the UK's party-politics makes it a very naive approach.

The Barnett Formula would also have to be abolished because non-English MPs have a right to vote on legislation that has an impact on government spending in Scotland and Wales.

It doesn't take much imagination to predict the effect that banning Scottish MPs from the United Kingdom Parliament will have on the Scots loyalty to Britain. Either the Scots are full members of the UK legislature or they are second class members - they can only be equal members if England has its own legislature and executive.

Dual-mandate MPs are a constitutionally sloppy approach. The Scottish Conservatives have a manifesto for Scotland and the Scots elect MSP to Holyrood on a quite different basis to what they elect MPs to Westminster.

You are asking the English to make no differentiation between English issues and UK issues - one MP to rule them all, so to speak. Because these are MPs responsible for a UK budget, that form a UK Government (or opposition), and because they are elected on UK issues representing UK parties, they cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of England.

Chris Whiteside said...

The Barnett Forumula, or any replacement, would certainly be a UK-wide issue, and quite justly so.

I have been hearing arguments about whether it is a good idea for politicians to have a dual-mandate for as long as I have been involved in politics.

Some very shrewd people have been dead against it, sometimes for exactly the opposite reason to you, Toque. For example, one former county council leader told me that double mandate councillors would always go with the lower level if there was a conflict.

However, some of the most effective politicians I have worked with (or opposed) have been members of more than one level of government and done a good job at both levels.

Toque said...

Members at more than one level, or elected at more than one level?

You couldn't really raise and spend taxes at an English level without electing politicians at an English level.

So dual-mandate MPs is an idea for people that want to keep the Barnett Formula and absolute sovereignty at Westminster. It's very Conservative, and frankly it's well past the date when such an idea would have made sense (the time to propose dual-mandate was during the Scottish Constitutional Convention - but the Tories refused to take part). James Gray recently got sacked for even suggesting it.

Chris Whiteside said...

Just to be clear, I didn't express a view either way about the present Barnett formula. I said that whether, when and how it is reviewed is a UK matter, and certainly not either an English or a Scottish one.

I don't see a problem with a variable geometry model as long as it is consistent and fair, unlike the present arrangement which is neither of those things.

I don't think that arguing that representatives elected by consituencies in England should decide those things for England which in Scotland and Wales are devolved to their parliament and assembly is necessarily identical to "absolute sovereignity for Westminister." As I argued above, we would probably need a referendum, which would have the added advantage if making it politically very difficult for a Labour government to simply reverse the measure unless they had popular support in England to do so.

britologywatch said...

The problem is that if English matters are separated out from UK matters, English electors - and not just MPs - have a right to vote separately for parties' England-specific and UK-wide programmes. It's not fair that the Scottish and Welsh people can make different electoral choices at national and UK levels, but this is denied to the English. On top of which, the elections for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly are conducted under PR - thereby more adequately reflecting the real preferences of the voters - whereas the UK parliamentary elections are carried out on the ludicrously distorting first-past-the-post system, which produces hugely unrepresentative government. If you changed the Westminster elections to PR, this would go some of the way to correcting the democratic deficit in England; but you'd still have a situation of inequality compared with Scotland and Wales if English voters were denied a separate vote on national matters.

If the Tories are desperate to avoid an English parliament but want to do something serious to redress the injustice of the current devolution settlement, the only way I can see an English Grand Committee solution working would be if this were topped by national England-only MPs elected on a proportional basis from party lists, and if voters were allowed two votes: one for a constituency UK MP (who would also be a member of the ECB) and one for a national English MP. But then the parties would have to actually start being open and honest about which bits of their manifestoes related to England ('devolved' matters) and which were general to the whole of the UK. At the moment, as gadgie said above, there's a complete refusal to be explicit about the policy areas where the Westminster government's and parliament's competency is restricted to England, and English matters are conducted as if they were UK matters. This deceit has got to stop, otherwise English voters will never trust the political parties and will suspect them of being indifferent to the interests and concerns of English people. Even if the parties started to be more honest in this way, however, I'm not sure that the compromise solution I describe above would be seen as anything other than a desperate attempt to deny full PR and a national parliament to the English, thereby restoring electoral parity with the rest of the UK.

Chris Whiteside said...

We do need a clear and explicit definition of which issues will be dealt with at the UK level and which will be devolved. This would have to be built in a transparent way into any Act of parliament setting up either an English Grand Committee or and English parliament.

One item which should be for each national entity to choose is whether they want a PR top-up, but I have to say that my personal preference for whichever part of the UK I reside - currently England - would be to vote against this. And particularly against any form of party list system which I believe to be highly undemocratic.

There is no perfect system of election. Since the first past the post (FTPT) system has discriminated very heavily against the party I belong to for the past fifteen years - for example we got more votes in England than the Labour party in 2005 but many fewer seats - you might expect me to want to change it.

However, on balance I think there is a stronger case for voting systems like FTPT in which it is realistically possible for one party to get a working majority if they have a very clear plurality of the votes.

Hung parliaments and councils - and I have had the misfortune to serve on or deal with several - usually result in an inability to agree on difficult decisions, short-termism, lowest-common-denominator politics, and a lack of clear accountability. The most important test of whether a country has a form of democracy which actually works is whether the electorate has a genuine ability to "Throw the rascals out" and even the good forms of PR - let alone the bad ones - hinder the ability of voters to change the administration more often than they helps.

If I were to consider a PR system, there is only one which isn't vastly less democratic than FPTP, and that is STV (Single Transferable Vote). I am deeply unhappy with any system which includes party lists (and yes, that does include the Scottish and Welsh devolved bodies.)

You referred earlier, Britology, to the reality of party policics and I thought I detected some disdain for the working of party machines. Well, all electoral systems which use party lists have the practical effect of taking the power to choose their representative away from ordinary voters and give it instead to those party political machines.

britologywatch said...

Thanks for your detailed reply, Chris. We could pursue the argument about the relative merits of different PR systems versus FPTP for ages, I guess! My basic gripe about FPTP is that it perpetuates the two-party system. Under this, it is in the interests of Labour and the Tories to resist calls for a more representative voting system because they both have a reasonable expectation of winning substantial UK parliamentary majorities (and, in the case of the Tories, even bigger EGC majorities) on a relatively small minority of the popular vote (36% in Labour's case, UK-wide, last time). Under Thatcher and Major, the Tories enjoyed similarly unrepresentative majorities and were thus artificially kept in power for 18 years. This is not in the interests of a vibrant democracy, especially as in most constituencies, there is a perception that there is no point in voting, as it's a foregone conclusion who is going to win.

I am not a great fan of party lists. I just brought up that example, as the system is used in Scotland and Wales; and it would be a way to make an EGC more representative of actual opinion in England, and to conduct an English election - on English party agendas - alongside a Westminster election. My preferred solution would be an English parliament elected under PR. If you used FPTP for an English parliament, this might be a handy way for the Tories to virtually guarantee themselves permanent power in England - but it wouldn't be in the best interests of democracy.

Chris Whiteside said...

As you rightly say, we could discuss the merits of different electoral systems for a very long time - there are so many different types of PR. Some, particularly STV, have real advantages, others are absolutely terrible.

(There are are also some supposedly "proportional" systems, such as the dreadful AV system recommended by Roy Jenkins' commission a few years back, which would probably have produced even less proportional results than FPTP in 1983, 1987, 1997, and 2001!)

I would not want to see a system which left any party permanently in power, I don't think that is healthy for democracy.

The systems which work best tend to be the ones the late Nico Henderson referred to as "crunchy" e,g, small changes produce big results. Eg modest changes in voter support result in lots of MPs losing their jobs, the possibility of which does tend to concentrate the mind.

FPTP tends to be more "crunchy" in this sense than most PR systems. And the Conservatives would not have had a majority in an EGC or English parliament elected under FPTP between 1997 and 2005 even if the inbuilt bias of the present consituency boundaries towards Labour were corrected.

However, I would agree that if FPTP left any one party, even my own, permanently in control of any English Parliament or EGC that would not be a good thing.