"Now we see the violence inherent in the system."
According to Newcastle Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Arnold, the other countries of these islands are homogenous, with their own cultures, and so merit national Parliaments. England, on the other hand, has too many immigrants to be considered a nation at all.
Let's have the full horror :
England needs no parliament
Sir: Mary Dejevsky is wrong ("Why we need an English parliament", 14 March). There is no need for an English parliament because there is no England.
Scotland, Wales and Ireland are fairly homogeneous nations, each with its own clearly defined character and culture. That is why devolution (or independence) has been quite successful in all three. In England, the picture is far more complex. There are millions of Scots, Welsh and Irish living in England. The overwhelming majority of non-white migrants also live in England, along with many hundreds of thousands of other Europeans and people from other parts of the world. England is the genuine mongrel nation, and I welcome that. This fact however, makes identity far more complex and difficult than in the other British nations.
For example, I regard myself first and foremost as a Northumbrian, then as British, and finally as European. Here in the north-east we only began to be part of the nation after 1603. Before that, the independent kingdoms of England and Scotland played havoc with the area, and used it (and abused us) for their own dynastic ends. I have no loyalty to England. For me, the British state has meaning and relevance precisely because it has little connection with a brutal past based on ignorance and exploitation.
The answer to the West Lothian question is the creation of a fully federal United Kingdom, based on Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the regions of England. There would still be disparities of size, but these would be far less than a separate English parliament would create. The failure of the referendum in the North-east in 2004 doesn't invalidate the concept. Devolution is working in Scotland and Wales; and independence has given most of Ireland a new lease of life. We just need to expand that successful formula to the rest of the United Kingdom.
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
I wonder if Mr Arnold realises what he's saying. He seems to be pretty much in agreement with Nick Griffin that nationhood is based round race ("homogenous nations") and culture.
England has successfully integrated many races and cultures in the past - including my family on both sides - and my wife's family. Yet my children are English, despite my attempts to convert them to Welsh rugby. I think of Nasser Hussain as an Englishman - and does anyone want to say that Colin Charvis isn't Welsh ?
The problem today is twofold - the collapse of English cultural self-confidence (exemplified by Mr Arnold - how about "England is the genuine mongrel nation, and I welcome that" - followed by "I have no loyalty to England" ?) and immigration on a scale which defies integration. These two things are faces of the same coin, of course. A self-confident nation could integrate many more immigrants (most immigrants now do not integrate) - but a self-confident nation would not allow mass immigration.
It looks as if poor old England gets it from all sides. As I've noted before, they've had to put up wih the Scots and Welsh, with their tiny immigrant populations, telling the English what hideous racists they are. Now, not only are they racist for not loving their multicultural Nirvana enough, but it turns out they haven't got a country any more - because they've allowed too many Scots, Welsh and Irish - and others - in.
Does the Liberal Democrat leadership agree with their councillor's view - that a nation can't exist without racial purity ?
And will Labour (who, you'll remember, lost the English vote) use this idea as the strapline for the Balkanisation strategy of Regional Assemblies ?
"You need a Regional Assembly - because England doesn't exist"
PS - re-reading the letter, you can only be amazed that the Indie published it. Imagine a Tory arguing in the Telegraph that a nation was based on ethnic homogeneity. It would be all over the BBC before you could say 'John Townend'. It looks as if you can get away with this sort of stuff - if you're attacking England.