Research Diary

July 2018

The bulk of my research time is being spent on developing the content and structure of the website in a manner that's consistent with the research questions and the researcb proposal (RD1) submoitted to the University of Gloucestershire and subsequently approved as a basis for PhD research. The bulk of this time has been spent developing content for the "Purpose & Values" and "Ethical Framework" pages.

As well as completing the structure and content of the website, as the research project's hub, I have been thinking about how to integrate a Twitter feed into the hub and what form a website-based discussion forum might take, Initial thoughts are that it should be a part of the website itself. I did consider replacing the "Blog" page with a "Forum" page but decided that a blog would add value to the project in generating useful research data.

The Twitter feed should ideally have the @EnglishIdentity handle and I am in the process of attempting to acquire this dormant handle.

I also need to configure the project's email account on an email client and manage the immense quantities of spam that the address generates as a consequence of being publicly visible and bot-searchable online.

The relationship between English identity and Brexit has been at the forefront of my thinking recently and I have contributed significantly to discussions on Quora and LinkedIn. The perceptions I have put across are primarily that the failure of the UK Government to adjust the UK's constitutional infrastructure to accommodate and manage the expression of English identity is the primary cause of the Brexit vote. I have used content by Fintan O'Toole (Irish Times: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/the-lure-of-greatness-the-best-book-about-brexit-so-far-1.3215931) and Prof Daniel Wincott of King's College London (http://ukandeu.ac.uk/brexit-and-english-identity) as primary sources and need to consider how to include it as research data and possibly them and those who interacted with my online psosts as research participants.

I have also begun a shortlist of potential Type 1 and 2 research participants to contact once the web and related infrastructure and content is complete, which should be very soon (August 2018).

August 2018

My attempts to acquire the @EnglishIdentity Twitter handle have been rebuffed by Twitter as, in their view, there is no "impersonation" issue. My only other option is to try and trademark "English Identity" as a phrase and attempt to use infringement of trademark as a means of acquiring this Twitter handle. I don't think this is likely to succeed, however.

I have refreshed the @EnglishVision Twitter handle that I am currently using and started to post material with more success than might be expected given the small numbers of followers I currently have. I am especially pleased that Prof John Denham of the University of Winchester's Centre For English Identity and Politics has followed the Twitter feed. It should be emphasised that I haven't started the process of building a following yet as I need to finalise the finer detail of this website and my webmaster is A/L at the moment. 

I have been asked to contibute to the "What England Means To Me" website, which I certainly will (on the subject of the non-metropolitan English and Brexit). I am developing my thinking around the idea that the debate around the consequences of Brexit are sterile and divisive without an acknowledgement of its causes (i.e. the strong "Leave" vote from non-metropolitan England). For example, the so-called "People's Vote" is framed around a primarily economic/UK establishment agenda that fails to acknowledge the causes of Brexit and that the real issue is more about the anachronistic constitutional infrastructure of the UK than the imperfections of the EU.

One of the issues I have yet to resolve is how to manage the problems associated with the fact that debates around English national identity inevitably attract ethnic nationalists whose views are often at variance with the ontological point of departure for my research. In specific terms the question is to what extent I should include such perspectives in my research, given that it's partly about the detoxification of Englishness and my perspective is that ethnic nationalism is often toxic?

September 2018

September was spent in part updating the website, including the need to change the contact form as Google no longer supports "captcha". 

I have been experimenting with different types of forum/bulletin boards to associate with the website as a means of generating data of relevence to the research questions. It's important to me that it's integrated into the website, rather than being a separate entity, and that it has mobile device functionality. On this basis I have narrowed down the options to VBulletin, which is expensive but ticks all the boxes. I considered attempting to integrate it myself but will probably have it professionally integrated to save time and ensure it works seamlessly.

One of the inescapable elements of any current consideration of English Identity is Brexit which, as the leave/remain voting patterns show, is very much a non-metropolitan English-inspired occurrence. Since the Leave vote there has been a significant focus on English Identity and increasing volumes of research on it. This was not part of the original research proposal but I believe is inescapable as part of the research now. In tandem with this is a focus on the need, as I see it, to consider the detoxification of how Englishness is perceived. A recent LSE "British Politics & Society" blog post is a case in point for both Brexit and the detoxification of English Identity. It's title is "Nationalism, racism and identity: what connects Englishness to a preference for hard Brexit?", which seemingly fails to acknowledge that the "forbidden" nature of English Identity will skew the nature of any sample of self-defining English people.

The @EnglishVision twitter feed has begun to develop, albeit that I have yet to deliberately start growing the following and generating data for research purposes, a matter I will discuss in supervision. It may be that I need to await the installation of the VBulletin forum. The focus for my data will need to be primarily around the 3 research questions. I'm aware that I can use third party data from other online forums and platforms, of which there are plenty. However, I am anxious to maintain and develop my own momentum in this regard.

I have secured some interesting and high-profile twitter followers including John Denham, Richard Wyn Jones, Simon Lee, David Rickard and Gareth Young, but I wonder why they're all men! John Denham invited me to an event at KCL on 19th September ("The Future of Labour England"), which was followed by a lecture by Anthony Barnett. I was pleased to meet John Denham who observed that he thinks this research is important. I also had the opportunity to question Anthony Barnett over his support for the so-called "People's Vote", which seems to me to sit at variance with one of the primary threads of his book "The Lure of Greatness". It was a question he struggled to answer in my view. Essentially, the question was that, as he asserts, the views of the non-metropolitan Leave voters deserve to be taken seriously and that a resolution has to come through serious and respectful engagement with that constituency (which will take time). His support for a "People's Vote", which has to occur within the next 6 months, is likely to be seen as gainsaying the result of the original Leave vote (if it's successful), and wouldn't allow for sufficient time for this serious and respectful engagement to occur. I think this is worth a blog post on this site.

I also met a number of other significant people at the event so the network is developing although it'll need to be actively managed.

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