Delineating England

Submitting Institution

Cardiff University

Unit of Assessment

Politics and International Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Political Science, Sociology

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Summary of the impact

Politics staff at Cardiff University (Wincott, Wyn Jones and Scully), working in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Edinburgh (Jeffery and Henderson) and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), have conducted research on changing political identities and constitutional attitudes in England. This work has had a substantial impact on public debates about the place of England and Englishness within the United Kingdom; had a direct impact upon the McKay Commission report; and also influenced the constitutional thinking of the Labour party.

Underpinning research

Building directly on the question wording, conceptual vocabulary and analysis developed by research on public attitudes and political behaviour in Wales and Scotland post-devolution (on Wales see Professor Wyn Jones (Director of the Wales Governance Centre, February 2009 - current) and Professor Scully (Professor of Political Science, March 2012 - current) 20033.1, 20123.2), an international research project was developed entitled Citizenship after the Nation-State (CANS). Coordinated through the European Science Foundation and funded by national funders in five states, CANS fielded a survey that explored the relationship between territorial community, political participation and social citizenship in fourteen sub-state jurisdictions in spring 2009. Professor Wincott (Co-Chair of the Wales Governance Centre, 2008 - current) and Wyn Jones were both centrally involved at all stages of the CANS project: conceptualisation, questionnaire design, analysis and dissemination (Henderson et al 2013a;3.3 2013b;3.4 Jeffery and Wincott 2010).

In early 2011, Cardiff and Edinburgh Universities agreed a collaboration with IPPR to conduct a variant of the CANS survey in England. The `Future of England Survey' (FoES) was conducted by YouGov in July 2011, with a report based on the key findings published in January 2012.3.5 As an unintended consequence of devolution, England was increasingly becoming a delineated political unit in its own right. Plentiful anecdotal evidence suggested that identity patterns in England were changing; FoES was designed to provide systematic evidence about the extent to which people identified as English, defined England as their political community, and sought England-specific institutional arrangements to reflect this sense of community. A second wave (FoES II) was conducted in autumn 2012, with the report published in July 20133.6: to test the robustness of the original findings, provide more detailed evidence on ethnic minorities in England, and explore the relationship between attitudes to England's `two unions' — the UK and EU. Wincott and Wyn Jones were again centrally involved in both waves of the research; Scully joined the project team for FoES II.

The main findings of the FoES surveys have been:

  • While dual Anglo-British national identities persist, there appears to be increasingly emphasis on the English aspect;
  • There are few regional or socio-economic distinctions in attitudes, with the significant exception of ethnicity: ethnic minority respondents are substantially more likely to stress a British identity;
  • There is substantial and growing support for England to be explicitly recognised in the governing structures of the UK. This sentiment has not crystallised behind a specific constitutional form, but encompasses support for England to be dealt with as a distinct unit (there is little support for English regionalism) and substantially declining support for the territorial status quo. There is also strong evidence of increasing `devo-anxiety': resentment at the privileged position devolution is perceived to have granted Scotland within the UK;
  • The greater an individual's sense of English identity, the more likely they are to support an English dimension (whether an English parliament or some version of English votes for English laws at Westminster);
  • National identity and devo-anxiety are both strongly related to attitudes towards England's `other Union', the EU. Those with a stronger English identity are also more likely to adopt a hostile attitude towards UK membership of the EU; perhaps counter-intuitively, a more British national identity is associated with more positive EU attitudes.

References to the research

1. Wyn Jones, R. and Scully, R. (2003) A 'settling will'? Public attitudes to devolution in Wales. British Elections & Parties Review 13(1), pp. 86-106 [Can be supplied by the University on request]


2. Wyn Jones, R. and Scully, R. (2012) Wales Says Yes: Devolution and the 2011 Welsh Referendum. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. ISBN: 9780708324851[Can be supplied by the University on request — listed in REF2 of the Submission]


3. Henderson, A., Jeffery, C., Wincott, D. and Wyn Jones, R. (2013a) Reflections on the 'Devolution Paradox': a comparative examination of multi-level citizenship. Regional Studies 47(3), pp. 303-322. [Also Listed in REF2 of the Submission]


4. Henderson, A., Jeffery, C. and Wincott, D. (eds) (2013b) Citizenship after the Nation State. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan [Can be supplied by the University on request]

5. Wyn Jones, R., Lodge, G., Henderson, A. and Wincott, D. (2012) The Dog that Finally Barked: England as an Emerging Political Community. [Project Report]. London: Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). Available at:

6. Wyn Jones, R., Lodge, G., Jeffery, C., Gottfried, G., Scully, R., Henderson, A. and Wincott, D. (2013). England and its two unions: The anatomy of a nation and its discontents. [Project Report]. London: Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). Available at:

Details of the impact

A comprehensive Impact strategy was built into the FoES project from the outset. IPPR's involvement in the project was central to implementation of this strategy: IPPR helped ensure publicity for the findings of the successive waves of research, and also brokered discussions with senior Labour party figures. The strategy has enabled the research to have three substantial non-academic impacts.

First, the research stimulated widespread public debate on the status of England within the United Kingdom. Publication of the two FoES reports (in January 20123.5 and July 20133.6) prompted widespread media comment and debate, including:

  • Well over 100 newspaper reports on the findings (including stories in all the main London quality newspapers), and Leader articles in many London and Scottish-based newspapers;
  • Features on major broadcast news shows (including Radio 4's Today programme) and on the BBC News website.5.1
  • Op-ed pieces written by research team members around publication of the FoES II report, published in the Daily Telegraph, Scotsman, Western Mail, and on the Conservative Home and New Statesman blogs;
  • Analysis by leading political commentators (including Bagehot in The Economist5.2, Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer5.3, Jackie Ashley and Martin Kettle in The Guardian, Philip Johnston in the Daily Telegraph, Dominic Sandbrook in the Daily Mail, and Brian Taylor of BBC Scotland) of the implications of the research for England's status within the UK and/or the potentially destabilising effects for Britain of English dissatisfaction with current governing arrangements.

The wider influence of FoES on political debate is shown by, inter alia, references to the research made in Alex Salmond's January 2012 Hugo Young Lecture; references in the November 2012 report of the Commission on Improving Devolution in Wales; numerous discussions of the research on highly influential blogs (see examples in section 5)5.4, 5.5; and the invitation extended to the research team to present findings at the 2013 Hay Literary Festival.

Second, the research directly influenced the Final Report of the McKay Commission5.6 (the Commission on the Consequences of Devolution for the House of Commons) to which Jeffery was appointed in recognition of his expertise on Englishness. Wyn Jones presented FoES I findings to an inaugural private meeting of the Commission, and FoES II included several questions requested by the Commission. The Commission used (then unpublished) FoES II findings in its March 2013 Final Report, citing FoES heavily (see McKay 2013: pp14-205.6) as providing "compelling evidence that there are distinct concerns, felt across England, that lack sufficient opportunity to be expressed through current institutional arrangements" (p.21). This understanding of public attitudes, in turn, underpinned the Commission's central recommendation that "decisions at the United Kingdom level with a separate and distinct effect for England...should normally be taken only with the consent of a majority of MPs for constituencies in England" (pp.8-9). The direct influence of FoES II has been acknowledged by the Commission chair, William McKay:5.7 "[I]t was essential to understand how the electorate in England viewed present arrangements, and what if any adjustments they considered necessary... These demands were fully met by the FoES 2012...The FoES was in short an essential, clear and helpful foundation for the Commission's understanding of the contents and direction of the `English Question' in spring of 2013. On that basis the Commission was enabled to make proposals for a solution to the West Lothian Question."

Third, the most prominent FoES finding — of an increasingly distinct English identity and growing demand for institutional recognition of that identity — has influenced the Labour Party's constitutional thinking5.8, 5.9,5.10. Several left-leaning blogs immediately responded to the first FoES report by arguing for a new Labour approach towards England. That challenge was taken up by senior Labour figures, including John Denham, Private Secretary to Labour Leader Ed Miliband. Denham blogged on the IPPR website in late-January 2012 about the need for Labour to develop a positive `case for a progressive England'. Denham referred directly to the FoES' finding of resentment among the English: that they "feel like they are losing out and being treated less fairly than the others" (Denham 20125.8). Denham advocated a response based in the revitalisation of English local government rather than special procedures for English laws at Westminster. These thoughts were expanded upon in a major speech by Ed Miliband in June 20125.9 in which Miliband argued that "the best reflection of devolution to Scotland and Wales in England lies in taking power out of Whitehall and devolving it down to local authorities"; Miliband's Senior Advisor, Lord Wood, has confirmed that "[t]he report on English attitudes was studied by Ed's advisers, and helped inform the speech he gave at the Royal Festival Hall last year. We all recognise the growing importance of this agenda and your research has proved an invaluable resource for us". Other senior Labour figures, notably Wayne David, Shadow Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, while taking a rather different line in advocating special procedures for English laws at Westminster, have also referred directly to FoES findings in developing their arguments.5.10

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. `British or English — a false choice?' by Mark Easton (Home Editor), BBC online (310 comments) 7 June 2012. Direct evidence of the research stimulating widespread public debate. Available at:
  2. Bagehot, `Now come the calls for the English to be given a say', The Economist, 16 January 2012. Direct evidence of the research stimulating widespread public debate. Available at:
  3. `Who most wants independence for Scotland? The English...' by Andrew Rawnsley (award-winning chief political commentator) The Observer (2071 comments) 29 January 2012. Direct evidence of the research stimulating widespread public debate. Available at:
  4. Michael Kenny, `Our parties must respond to the rise of Englishness', New Statesman, 15 December 2012. An academic writing on the blog of a major and important political magazine:
    another example of the stimulation of political debate. Available at:
  5. Peter Hoskin, `A Step Closer to English Votes on English Laws?', Conservative Home, 25 March 2013 ( Another blog article on a major political blog: another example of the stimulation of political debate.
  6. The McKay Commission (2013) Report of the Commission on the Consequences of Devolution for the House of Commons. Evidence of the substantial impact of the research on the report of the McKay Commission. Available at:
  7. Factual Statement, Chair of the McKay Commission. Evidence of the substantial impact of the research on the report of the McKay Commission.
  8. Denham, John (2012) `The Rise of English Pride', IPPR Website. Confirms the influence of the research on the constitutional thinking of the Labour party. Available at:
  9. Factual Statement, Senior Adviser to Ed Miliband and Shadow Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office). Evidence of the influence of the research on the constitutional thinking of the Labour party.
  10. David, Wayne (2012) `Labour, the constitution and the politics of identity', Juncture, 10 September 2012. Evidence of the influence of the research on the constitutional thinking of the Labour party. Available at:

[All documents and web pages saved as PDF copies on 09/07/13 and are available upon request from HEI]