Governing England is a multi-disciplinary programme which seeks to address a number of issues around the government and governance of England. The project was conceived to address the place of England in academic literature at a time when Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland received increased attention, but the largest member of the Union did not. Since then the 2015 General Election and the 2016 Brexit vote have brought the political preferences of those in England and those who identify as English into sharp relief.
The issues surrounding constitutional reform, brought to the fore by the referendum on Scottish independence, the development of devolution settlements and the establishment of English votes for English laws (EVEL), have opened up major questions around how England is affected by constitutional change. To address these questions, the British Academy is working on a major programme of activity relating to identity and institutions in England and to the relationships between them. Is there an emergent English political identity? What are the implications of that for the governance of England? And how should English citizens be involved in the process of remaking their constitution?
The first year of the project investigated mayors and devolved governance arrangements. Our work in the first year engaged with representatives of the combined authorities, council leaders, academics, journalists, business and trades union representatives, MPs, Peers and civil servants. Roundtables investigating devolution arrangements were held as part of this series of work in Newcastle upon Tyne, Sheffield, Bristol, Winchester and Cambridge.
The second year of the project directly follows that initial work with a focus primarily on the funding of sub-national government in England and on public services. Many of those who attended the roundtables in the first year of the project were keen to move on to address how devolution would affect the lives of those not involved in the negotiations. It is to that end that we have worked on health, skills and infrastructure.
The project is co-chaired by Professor Iain McLean FBA FRSE and Professor Michael Kenny. Members of the working group include Professor Sir John Curtice FBA FRSE FRSA, Rt Hon Professor John Denham, Professor Jim Gallagher, Guy Lodge, Akash Paun and Professor Meg Russell.