Cleggeron’s “born to rule assumptions” and “English exceptionalism” threaten Union

A Welsh government minister has warned the “English exceptionalism” of the coalition in Westminster poses a substantial threat to the future of the union.

E-mail-sign-up Donate



A minister in the Welsh government last night warned the “English exceptionalism” of the Clegg/Cameron coalition in Westminster poses a substantial threat to the future of the union.

English-toffsSpeaking to an audience at the annual Institute for Welsh Politics lecture at Aberystwyth University, education and skills minister Leighton Andrews also hit out at the “born to rule assumptions” of the public school system, taking England as the norm and everywhere else as a deviation from that norm.

Andrews said:

“The UK coalition government presumes that it can speak for the whole of the UK.

“It is clear that they have not thought through the detail of their policies and the implications for the whole of the UK, particularly where their UK-wide policies may require active co-operation from the devolved administrations.”

In what was a wide-ranging keynote address, he went on to underline the Welsh government’s approach to university fees formed part of the European mainstream of resisting higher fees for students.

He continued by issuing a warning that Michael Gove’s ambitions to reform the A Level and GCSE systems amounted to a dismantling of the three-country system across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In doing so, Andrews noted Northern Ireland’s education minister, John O’Dowd, had also criticised Gove’s proposals.


See also:

Cameron’s Bullingdon hypocrisy laid bare 2 Sep 2011

Private schooling goes right to the heart of who we are 26 Jan 2011

Cameron: “My father was a stockbroker, my grandfather was a stockbroker, my great-grandfather was a stockbroker” 11 Dec 2009


Seeking to highlight the failure of the UK government to engage properly with the devolved bodies, Andrews continued by accusing Gove of having failed to consult Welsh ministers effectively on the remit for the School Teachers Review Board whilst attacking the failure of Whitehall to implement bilingual policies when it was acting on a UK basis.

Meanwhile, having last week called for UK work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan-Smith to resign over “callous” remarks made about Remploy workers, the minister was no less complementary about the rest of IDS’s welfare reforms.

He said:

“The UK government takes England as the default model for service delivery, and is still unable to answer key questions we have as to how they intend to mandate people on to devolved services or withhold training allowances including Welsh government training allowances, from trainees who have a benefit sanction imposed or pending.”


“What is happening is deeply cultural. UK coalition government ministers often have UK-wide responsibilities.

“But sometimes its ministers are largely ministers for England; sometimes they exercise cross-border England and Wales responsibilities; sometimes they operate in an environment where policies have traditionally been developed, as with GCSEs and A-levels, on a tri-partite basis.

“The coalition government’s response reflects the timeless born-to-rule assumptions of the English public school system that trained administrators to run an empire – the imposition of an English exceptionalism that today threatens the unity of the United Kingdom itself…

“Under the coalition, it is English policy that is moving away from the other constituent nations of the UK. English exceptionalism is the political practice of this Conservative-led coalition.

“I think increasingly we have a stark choice before us. A new vision for the UK – as the first minister has proposed – or the policy of English exceptionalism, which seeks to build walls around the Tory heartland.”

Whilst critics would argue Andrews, as a Labour minister, would say that anyway, his remarks highlight a very real problem for the coalition – namely, that increasingly, particularly following recent local elections, it is coming to be seen as representing a very narrow segment of southern England.

As Nick Clegg himself wrote in the Guardian the weekend after devastating results for his party:

“The coalition must work harder to show that we are governing for the whole country.”


Sign-up to our weekly email • Donate to Left Foot Forward

As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.

20 Responses to “Cleggeron’s “born to rule assumptions” and “English exceptionalism” threaten Union”

  1. not1fish

    Cleggeron’s “born to rule assumptions” and “English exceptionalism” threaten Union: by @EdJacobs1985

  2. Simon Scriven

    Cleggeron’s “born to rule assumptions” and “English exceptionalism” threaten Union: by @EdJacobs1985

  3. Political Planet

    Cleggeron’s “born to rule assumptions” and “English exceptionalism” threaten Union: A Welsh government minister …

  4. Shamik Das

    Cleggeron’s “born to rule assumptions” and “English exceptionalism” threaten Union: by @EdJacobs1985

  5. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cleggeron’s “born to rule assumptions” and “English exceptionalism” threaten Union

  6. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Cleggeron’s “born to rule assumptions” and “English exceptionalism”…

  7. Pulp Ark

    Cleggeron’s “born to rule assumptions” and… #ABritainWeAllCallHome #DavidCameron #NickClegg #muslim #tcot #sioa

  8. Craig Gauld

    Clegg/Cameron “English exceptionalism” – the lack of any understanding or 'feel' for Scotland key & undermining Union

  9. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cleggeron’s “born to rule assumptions” and “English exceptionalism” threaten Union

  10. Greg Harris

    Ironic considering England is the only nation in the United Kingdom without its own devolved Parliament – we suffer for it, as well. We’ve only got tuition fees in England because of the punitive votes of Scottish MPs; we’re bearing the brunt of the new reforms. For example, a Welsh student can go to any university in the UK and only pay the pre-reform Welsh fees. Fair? I think not. Neither is the issue of prescription charges. They’re free in Wales and NI and essentially free in Scotland – £7.50 a pop in England. Per capita, the other UK nations also receive more funding, with much greater costs to the NHS etc. (especially Scotland and NI). By representing “England”, most politicians actually only represent “London”, by the way. As our post-industrial Northern towns and cities rot, our money is thrown away on more glitter and baubles for London. We essentially pay for the centralised nature of our society in economic as well as representative terms.

  11. Anonymous

    And people wonder why I strongly believe that Wales wouldn’t stick around in a Tory state if Scotland left?

  12. Anonymous

    Well that’s a grab bag.

    I can’t tell if it’s a call for an English Parliament, a rant against Scots or a rant against London.

  13. Tom Hoctor

    First tweet from me, interesting post reverses the logic through which we usually see the union.

  14. JC

    If you look at the sort or rhetoric coming from the Labour Party, you’ll see a “born to rule” attitude too. It’s prevalent in all politicians, who seem to believe that we, the public, need to be told what’s best for us.

    Nevertheless, I believe that a break up of the union would be a good thing. Why shouldn’t Wales and Scotland show England how to be successful and bring prosperity to the whole country, not just the political classes.

  15. cameronsfollys

    Cleggeron’s “born to rule assumptions” and “English exceptionalism” threaten Union

  16. Ian Morton-Jones

    Cleggeron’s “born to rule assumptions” and “English exceptionalism” threaten Union: by @EdJacobs1985

  17. Brownhills Bob

    Cleggeron’s “born to rule assumptions” and “English exceptionalism” threaten Union: by @EdJacobs1985

  18. Julia Chandler

    Cleggeron’s “born to rule assumptions” and “English exceptionalism” threaten Union

  19. Greg Harris

    Certainly the former and the latter but I haven’t got anything against the Scots, per se. It’s undeniable that Scottish MPs did pass the tuition bill as the vote was so close that it wouldn’t make sense logistically, otherwise. I fully support Scottish independence or full devolution, with an English Parliament established either way – my post my primarily concerned with the establishment of an English Parliament; the rest was relevant on why one is needed.

  20. Look Left – The Tory Olympic legacy, Osbornomics under siege and IDS | Left Foot Forward

    […] Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews attacked Cameron, Osborne and Clegg’s “born to rule assumptions”, declaring “English […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.