The idea of burying him in Westminster Abbey is particularly ridiculous. Why would they even want him there? They hated him in the South. His father was Duke of York when that title meant what it said, while his wife and his mother were both Nevilles of Durham, the latter even born in Raby Castle. The church in which it is proposed that he be buried in Leicester, a place staunchly allied to his enemies during his lifetime, was not made a cathedral until 1927.
Although, again, the Tudors were frankly and proudly Welsh, Henry Tudor was nothing more than a scion of the Beauforts, who had been specifically excluded by English Law from the succession to Throne when the Pope had legitimised them after John of Gaunt had finally found his way round to marrying their mother, a marriage from which Richard III was also descended through his own mother. Elizabeth of York was in fact descended at the same number of generations from John of Gaunt as her husband was, but through better lines, and, like her uncle, that was not her purported claim to the Throne.
Into the reign of Henry VIII, there was pro-Plantagenet disaffection with the events and consequences of 1485, binding to itself any and every other disaffection at the given time and in the given place. The Tudors’ efforts to subdue the North are the stuff of legend, and also of very sober history. Those efforts were intensified at and by the Reformation, but they did not begin with it.
The lack of Royal lineage in the persons of the King, his entourage and his representatives was among the specific complaints of those who rose in the North to defend Catholic England. The fundamentally Yorkist roots of Recusancy seem clear enough. But what of the other subcultures that went on to adhere to the exiled Stuarts, and thus to generate and to germinate the British Left in all its multifarious non-Marxism, which in turn produced organically, as he himself would have put it, everything for which Gramsci yearned in his latter-day Romantic infirmity and imprisonment? Am I writing myself into an awful lot more reading and writing?
The North would be at least as capable of independence as either Scotland or Wales, and would have every reason to pursue that path if they did. But who would then pay for the City to be bailed out next time, and the time after that, and the time after that? And what would the smug South East drink, or wash in?
But the grievance of England, especially Northern and Western England, concerns, not some “West Lothian Question”, but cold, hard cash. We probably have to talk about the English regions, even if we would prefer to talk about the historic counties from before an unprotesting Thatcher was in the Cabinet.
Each of the present or, where they have been abolished in the rush to unitary local government, the previous city, borough and district council areas in each of the nine regions must be twinned with a demographically comparable one (though not defined in terms of comparable affluence) in Scotland, in Wales, in Northern Ireland, and in each of the other English regions.
Across each of the key indicators – health, education, housing, transport, and so on – both expenditure and outcomes in each English area, responsibility for such matters being devolved elsewhere, would have to equal or exceed those in each of its twins. Or else the relevant Ministers’ salaries would be docked by the percentage in question. By definition that would always include the Prime Minister.
In any policy area devolved to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, no legislation must apply in any of the English regions unless supported at Third Reading by the majority of MPs from that region. Since such legislative chaos would rightly be unconscionable, any Bill would in practice require such a consensus before being permitted to proceed at a much earlier stage of its parliamentary progress.
No one would lose under any of this: there would be no more politicians than at present, and both expenditure and outcomes would have to be maintained in, most obviously, Scotland and the South East for the twinning system to work.
Is it conceivable that Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish voters would not also insist on full incorporation into it, with their own areas thus also guaranteed expenditure and outcomes equal to or exceeding those in each of those areas’ respective twins? Or else the relevant Holyrood, Cardiff Bay or Stormont Ministers’ salaries would be docked by the percentage in question. By definition that would always include the First Minister, and in Northern Ireland also the Deputy First Minister.
Ed Miliband, a Yorkshire MP on the East Coast mainline, over to you. You could do with a Northern foil to Maurice Glasman and Jon Cruddas, both of whom, invaluable though they are, are very much men of the South East, and especially of London. It says a very great deal for London that Blue Labour has begun there. But even so. And someone from each of the West Country, the North of Scotland, and Wales north of the Heads of the Valleys Road, would also be no bad thing at all.