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What is England?

  1. Sep 16, 2010 #1
    It may seem like a strange question to ask, but England isn't really a country, it's a part of a country; the UK. So it's not a kingdom onto itself. Scotland is also a part of the UK, but it now has it's own parliament although it is subordinate to the Westminster Parliament. Wales has an assembly of its own and a prince of its own. Northern Ireland also has its own subordinate parliament.

    England has no parliament of its own and no Queen of its own (although it has its own flag: the cross of St George that I see at soccer matches). The Queen serves as sovereign for all the UK as well as Canada and other far flung Commonwealth nations: not to mention those little bits off England's shore like Jersey, Guernsey, Sark and the Isle of Man (all of which have their own little 'parliaments' which I understand are not subordinate to Westminster).

    So what is England exactly?
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 17, 2010 #2
    England is a country. As is Wales and Scotland. Together they form Great Britain.

    The UK is all of the above plus Northern Island. The UK is not a country, it is as it says, the United Kingdom.
  4. Sep 17, 2010 #3


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    A bounded region of land.
  5. Sep 17, 2010 #4
    Hmm. I'm thinking of a country as a nation state with a seat at the UN, diplomatic relations and all that. BTW, I was wrong about Northern Ireland having a parliament. It was abolished in 1972.

    If the UK is not a country, what it is it? There's the United States. Is it not a country? The word "kingdom" is singular in United Kingdom. Therefore it's one thing. I suggest it is a nation state. "Country" is a vague term. I suppose you could call Flanders a "country" but it really is just a part of Belgium.
  6. Sep 17, 2010 #5
    It's united in the sense you have four countries all as one. And a kingdom because we have a king (or queen) as a figure head of it.
    The uk is a nation.
  7. Sep 17, 2010 #6
    I agree with that. But what is England? Ontario is a province of Canada. It has it's own government institutions within a federal structure. The same for the states of Australia and the US, the lander of Germany and the cantons of Switzerland.

    England is divided into counties which have their own local governing councils and public responsibilities. But what about England as a whole? What political institutions exist for England and only for England?

    I'm not trying to be argumentative. I'd really like to know.
  8. Sep 17, 2010 #7
    It's a country.

    The government for england is parliament in westminster. Scotland may have it's own parliament but they are still under the rule of westminster ultimately, wales also has an assembly but that has even less power. The UK is all under the parliament in westminster. Scotland and wales are not seperate. To be truly seperate would make them he same as southern ireland. Which is under its own government.
  9. Sep 17, 2010 #8
    I understand all that. You seem to be saying that England is country like Castile is a country within Spain. Both have some distinct identity within a nation state but no uniquely identifying political institutions. Scotland and Wales have there own "local" institutions and Scotland seems to have its own courts as well. But you haven't named any political institutions that exist uniquely for England and only England. Are there any? Westminster legislates for the entire UK. Even if some laws are framed only for England, Westminster is not uniquely an English institution.

    EDIT: For example, do the English MPs ever sit as a separate body to legislate for England without Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish MPs?
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2010
  10. Sep 17, 2010 #9
    England is a country in the same way spain is a country, in the same way france is a country, in the same way germany is a country. Which is why england, scotland and wales all have international football teams that play in the world cup against france, germany, spain.
  11. Sep 17, 2010 #10
    You seem to be missing the point, westminster legislates for the whole UK. England doesnt need its own government (neither does scotland and wales but thats a seperate debate).

    The welsh assembly is pointless and scotland still dont have full control. As far as I'm aware, neither can pass laws.

    I live in wales. I really don't see what you want, why is it important england has its own government?

    The UK is in the EU. The UK is in the UN. Not the individual countries of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There is no need. The UK is governed as one and operates as one (for the most part).
  12. Sep 17, 2010 #11
    That's simply not true. England is a country like Castile or Flanders is a country. (Castile in particular as the historical center of political power in Spain) Yes England does compete under its own flag in sports. That's what makes this an interesting question to me. However it is the UK that is a country like France, Germany and Spain are countries.

    You haven't named a single political institution that exists for England and only for England. I'm pretty sure Scotland can legislate for itself for schools and and other areas, If the Scottish Parliament had nothing to do, why would it exist? Same for the Welsh Assembly.

    I'm just curious if Welsh and Scottish MPs get to vote for legislation that only affects England in the Westminster Parliament. I think they do, but not the other way round.
  13. Sep 17, 2010 #12


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    I can see your confusion, and it's quite understandable why!

    Yes, this is true; the issue is known as the West Lothian Question. As you know, every constituency in the UK votes for an MP that sits in Westminster. But those constituencies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland also vote people to sit in their own parliament/assembly. These then have full control over certain devolved issues. But no, there is no separate body that legislates only for England.

    As for your question "what is England", it is a country, that is part of a larger country and sovereign state (the UK).
  14. Sep 17, 2010 #13


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    To borrow a quote from someone here: What a weird country! :biggrin:
  15. Sep 17, 2010 #14
    The UK is what people look at when they consider things such as the EU and UN. Like I said, it is all governed as one and operates as one. There is no need to look at individual country governments. Although when it comes to other matters, they are viewed separately (I say this because, as with my football example, they are given the same standing as France and Germany to compete individually against them. Does Castile have an international team that play against other places such as Spain? No, then it would seem they aren't viewed on the same level).

    There isn't one.

    The only good thing I'm aware of that the Welsh Assembly has done is make all prescription medicine free (as opposed to England where you have to pay for prescriptions).

    For the same reason you end up with ridiculous numbers of management in organisations (particularly the NHS). Someone has a 'good idea' at some point which people see as potentially useful. So far, the Welsh Assemblies job seems to focus on pouring money into various schemes and 'addressing' the somewhat less important issues in Wales (again, this is a a completely separate debate and something I don't think appropriate given your initial question).

    They do.

    England is a country, that, if it chooses can leave the UK (as we could leave the EU) and become independent like Southern Ireland.

    I do agree, it is an interesting question, something that I've never really thought about. But then I wouldn't think of it too much, I know what everything is and where each one fits in (UK, GB and the individual countries), I suppose it's one of those 'you have to live there' kind of things.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2010
  16. Sep 17, 2010 #15


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    :rofl: Touché!
  17. Sep 17, 2010 #16


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    Wales is a country?
  18. Sep 17, 2010 #17
    Good job I read this before posting, I thought you put "What a wired country". Was going to start ranting about how the people of the UK are not all drug addicts and it was an accusation without proof. Could have ended badly... :blushing:
  19. Sep 17, 2010 #18


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    It sure is.
  20. Sep 17, 2010 #19
    Yep, I live there. Although I have found in life that is a fact it's best not to divulge too quickly, although the accent gives you up instantly. Let me give you the basic contents of a conversation in England:

    English Person: "Hello and where are you from?"
    Me: "South Wales"
    English Person: "Oh" [Slight pause, with look of 'oh he's as thick as a bulls kn*b']

    English Person: [Insert random sheep molesting joke here]

    A bit explicit, but that's the exact pattern every conversation I have with new people takes.

    Gets a bit boring after a while. Although I do enjoy the look on their face when I get better results than them in the university exams and coursework!
  21. Sep 17, 2010 #20


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    The transatlantic OP has blundered into a nest of more or less friendly hornets.

    A lot to say - I won't now.

    Even people not as far away as the OP, namely in Europe, are quite confused about it, and this goes for people who ought to know like press reporters.

    But then many Europeans are quite confused about Canada. Like it's in America isn't it? - but hold on, there is something or other funny about it. But perhaps there is about Texas too.

    Basically Continentals call the whole lot England, Angleterre, Inghilterra, Engeland, etc. It leads to descriptions which to the British sound distinctly odd, like the English Army, English Navy or English Parliament or Government - inexistent entities.

    Then to complicate matters as well as the places already mentioned in the thread there are what are called 'Crown Dependencies' (the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) which are not part of the UK nor represented in Parliament, not colonies, self-governing yet not totally independent, recognise the Queen whose head is on their coinage and stamps.

    What is really behind all the complication is that Great Britain has a continuity of history without the kind of breaks represented by the American or French Revolutions. Thus the formal feudal system and model of sovereignty was never totally torn up to start with some new founding document or Constitution like most Continental countries under the influence more or less of the French Revolution. In practice it adapts while respecting some archaic forms and, very broad-brushing, the country has little, indeed less than nothing, to envy others in terms of substantial modernity most, not all, of us have tended always to think.

    The British Constitution only began not before the Blair governments, i,e, practically this century, to change from something that had hardly changed since 1911 and would have been quite recognisable and familiar to Victorians. Propelling changes were: nationalist or devolutionist forces and voices, interests, sentiments etc.; the desire of Blair and Blairites to look modern; the redimensioning of sovereignty and adaptations implied by membership of the European Union, which in particular works with a different system and concept of law than the English. Of course once you change one part you find you can't stop another, perhaps unforeseen, changing.

    The US masses probably only got their first awareness of any of all this when people were surprised that on the Megrahi (Lockerbie, Libyan) scandal they found they were not dealing with the UK Government in London but with a (fruitcake of a) Scottish Justice Minister and 'Government'. Do not be deceived: firstly this had nothing to do with any of these changes, Scotland has always had a different Law and legal system (more influenced by Roman Law) than England; secondly if the UK government said it has no influence that is not because of the independent legal system but rather because different political parties (Labour and Scottish National Party) controlled the different parts and they hate and try to diddle each other.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2010
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