Wherefore Art Thou? A Study of English National Identity
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The case of England is an atypical one. Its history as a country is unlike any other, twisting and weaving through several different identities in ways that have been experienced by no other country on earth. In all actuality, it has been difficult to determine a specific identity for England as an entity separate from Britain since the nation was forged several hundred years ago, and it is precisely this reason why it will be an interesting pattern of events as England begins to identify herself through the current processes of devolution and integration into the European Union. This issue of English identity was brought to the forefront with vigor after the 1997 General Election in which a new, Labour government defeated the Conservatives. Tony Blair's new government introduced the concept of devolution as a central policy issue. Previous Labour governments (i.e., 1974-1979) showed interest in devolution most likely due to dependence upon votes in the House of Commons from parties such as the Scottish Nationalists and Plaid Cymru (Welsh), but lacked the parliamentary strength to introduce the policy. The New Labour government of 1997 instead took the initiative to push through a "policy of fundamental constitutional change," stating that an altered relationship between the parts of the British Isles was necessary for the modernization of the United Kingdom.