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Title: UK devolution : the 'English Question' and the case of Northern England
Author: Giovannini, Arianna
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 4470
Awarding Body: Leeds Beckett University
Current Institution: Leeds Beckett University
Date of Award: 2014
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In the context of political devolution within the UK, this thesis addresses the conundrum of the 'English Question', placing it within the discourse of English regionalism, accompanied by an empirical investigation of decentralisation measures in England. The North of England, being the only area where attempts were made at devolution in 2004, is the locus of the case-study supporting this. The timescale is largely 1997-2010, the years in which devolution policies were initiated across the UK. Chapter 1 sets out the methodology (an interpretative paradigm and qualitative enquiry) and its rationale. Chapters 2 to 5 contain the theoretical framework. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the creation of the UK and the pressure for devolution from the Celtic nations. Chapter 3 focuses on England, examining the question of Englishness; exploring the nature of territorial cleavages in the country; and proposing a new coreperiphery model. Chapter 4 examines the problems and political issues confronting any attempt at devolution within England. Chapter 5 considers the selected regional area, the North, identifying it as a 'vast region', analysing the north-south divide; and presenting the region. as one comprised of contested political spaces and divisions. Finally, chapter 6 contains the results of the empirical investigation; offering a full analysis of the progress and outcomes of the devolution experiment in the North of England. Adopting a political sociological perspective, this thesis focuses on the relationship between politics, territory and identity, and shows how the presence of core-periphery power-relations and territorial fractures are key to explaining the inception of devolution to the Celtic nations of the UK as well as the exclusion of England from this process. In England territorial cleavages have never been politicised and are overtly dismissed by the political centre - which is why the latter struggles to accommodate England within the devolution settlement. The analysis of the primary data collected in the North of England shows how the attitude of the labour Party together with the logic driving Whitehall's activity, endorse centripetal structures, and never conceived regional devolution as a means of passing political powers to the English regions, recognising their territorial distinctiveness. Top-down narratives of power in the approach to devolution in England are also mirrored in the way in which regional movements responded to proposals for regional assemblies. Taking the shape of elite-groups, they focussed on influencing the political centre, leaving behind the regional electorate. It is concluded that political regionalism could have been the best way to address the English Question - however, neither the centre nor the regional movements proved able to take up this challenge in full.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available