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Slicing up England

September 21, 2014

heptarchy-cl

Everyone’s asking themselves the “West Lothian” question it seems.  The question being – what does a largely self-governing Scotland tell us about a democratic deficit in England and what can be done about it?

There are two possible roads to go down, seems to me.  There’s the rather ugly ungenerous road of forbidding Scottish Westminster MPs from joining in debates of purely English concern.  This seems rather rude and awkward.

“OK you Jocks, we’re on English time now… pop off to the pictures.  Drink yourselves silly.  Toss a caber or whatever it is you people do.   We’ll text you when we’re done.”

See?  All rather impolite.   And divisive.   And nor will it always be clear which issues are of purely English concern.   And this is before we get around to realising we’ve forgotten about Wales.

The other option is regional assemblies.  There are roughly 50 million people in England (as opposed to Wales and Scotland).  Could they be divided into  5 regions of between 8 and 12 million – each of which governed more or less their own affairs?   Each of these regions would represent a population larger than many European countries – including Scotland.

Drawing lines through pre-existing counties makes people very unhappy – so the division might have to go roughly as follows.

1)  COUNTIES OF A SELF-GOVERNING WESSEX

Kent                     1,466,500

East Sussex         800,200

West Sussex      800, 900

Surrey                   1, 135,500

Hampshire          1,233,300

Berkshire             863,800

Isle of Wight       138, 400

Wiltshire              684,000

Dorset                  413800

Somerset            531600

Bristol                   428100

Devon                   1,135,700

Cornwall              536,000

TOTAL POPULATION OF WESSEX  = 10, 167 800

2)  COUNTIES OF A SELF COVERNING ANGLIA

Hertfordshire                          1,119,800

Essex                                     1, 729,200

Suffolk                                    719, 500

Norfolk                                    862, 400

Cambridgeshire                616,200

Lincolnshire                       703,000

Derbyshire                         763,700

Leicestershire                    648,700

Nottinghamshire              779,800

Northamptonshire            687,300

Bedfordshire                     617,000

Rutland                                37,600

Buckinghamshire             506, 700

TOTAL POPULATION OF ANGLIA   9,790,900

3)  COUNTIES OF A SELF GOVERNING MERCIA

Oxfordshire                        654,800

Gloucestershire                 861,700

Herefordshire                   183,600

Worcestershire                 566,500

Warwickshire                     545,500

West Midlands                  2,738,100

Staffordshire                     849, 600

Shropshire                        473,900

Cheshire                            1, 028, 600

Merseyside                        1,381,200

TOTAL POPULATION OF MERCIA                               9, 238, 500

4.  COUNTIES OF A SELF GOVERNING NORTHUMBRIA

Greater Manchester                      2, 685,400

West Yorkshire                              2,270,400

South Yorkshire                             1,343,900

East Riding of Yorkshire                 334,700

North Yorkshire                               1,072,600

Lancashire                                      1,171,600

Cumbria                                           499,800

Durham                                            513,000

Tyne and Wear                                1,104,100

Northumberland                               316,300

TOTAL POPULATION OF NORTHUMBRIA    11,311 800

5.  GREATER LONDON

TOTAL POPULATION OF LONDON     8,300 000

The problems with regional assemblies involve culture and identity.  Everyone in Scotland self identifies as Scot, but only a few people identify as a “Mercian”.  In the 8th century things were different I know.

So we’d have to work on that.  These regions would have to play rugby at one another.  The homoerotics of scrummage will build regional identity like nothing else on earth.  Indeed, a raft of competitive and quasi-competitive institutions would be needed to get these regions bonding and self identifying.

The Wessex Assembly would meet at Winchester and the Mercian Assembly at Tamworth.   Historically, the Anglian assembly ought to meet at Rendlesham, but it’s really not quite big enough.  Besides, this region needs to be bigger than the historic or traditional “East Anglia” and take on the East Midlands as well.   So they’d best meet in Cambridge.   The Northumbrian assembly would have to meet in either Bamburgh or York in order to satisfy pre-conquest traditions.  But Bamburgh is far too small and no Lancastrian would willingly meet in York.  The Wars of the Roses might restart.  They’d better meet in Durham.

The London Assembly meets – well – in the London Assembly and Westminster debates legislation that affects Britain as a whole.

So – five regions.  Making seven self governing polities on the island of Britain as a whole.  Scotland, Northumbria, Mercia, Wales, Anglia, Wessex and London.  The Heptarchy restored.  Peace prevails.  You can thank me later.

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7 Comments
  1. Jonathan permalink

    So… where’s Hertfordshire?

  2. I originally omitted Hertfordshire. Thanks to a public spirited intervention, I’ve now included it in Anglia – evening up the populations quite nicely.

  3. Jonny permalink

    A lot of what you say makes sense! I have used your population data and rejigged the borders to reflect what I feel would represent a slightly more coherent identity. Unfortunately I can’t load my map but here are the regions.

    thoughts?

    Anglia and Home Counties

    Hertfordshire 1119800
    Essex 1729200
    Suffolk 719, 500
    Norfolk                862400
    Cambridgeshire 616200
    Bedfordshire        617000
    Kent                    1466500
    East Sussex        800200
    West Sussex      800900
    Surrey 1135500
    Buckinghamshire 506700
    TOTAL POPULATION 9654400

    Mercia

    Herefordshire          183,600
    Worcestershire 566,500
    Warwickshire          545,500
    West Midlands         2,738,100
    Staffordshire             849, 600
    Shropshire 473,900
    Derbyshire                763,700
    Cheshire 1,028,600
    Leicestershire             648,700
    Nottinghamshire  779,800
    Northamptonshire   687,300
    Lincolnshire         703000
    Rutland 37600
    TOTAL POPULATION 9156300

    Wessex

    Hampshire          1,233,300
    Berkshire             863,800
    Isle of Wight      138,400
    Wiltshire              684,000
    Dorset                  413800
    Somerset            531600
    Bristol            428100
    Devon       1,135,700
    Cornwall        536,000
    Gloucestershire       861,700
    Oxfordshire              654,800
    Hampshire       1,233,300
    Berkshire          863,800
    TOTAL POPULATION 9578300

    Northumbria

    Greater Manchester              2,685,400
    West Yorkshire                       2,270,400
    South Yorkshire 1,343,900
    East Riding of Yorkshire         334,700
    North Yorkshire                       1,072,600
    Lancashire     1,171,600
    Cumbria   499,800
    Durham                               513,000
    Tyne and Wear 1,104,100
    Northumberland 316,300
    Merseyside                       1,381,200
    TOTAL POPULATION 12,693,000

    Greater London

    London 8,300 000
    TOTAL POPULATION 8300000

    TOTAL ENGLISH POPULATION 49382000

    • All very interesting and worth while. I have a few reservations about putting Merseyside and Manchester in the same region.

      But the important thing is to do these sums and have these conversations.

      Thanks,

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