The paper is concerned with the problematic nature of English governance. The discussion begins with reference to the reluctance to engage in debates about English national governance. It then poses a series of questions about the balance to be drawn between localism and regionalism and the fragmentation of local governance in England (in contrast to the rest of the UK), suggesting that local government might provide a solution to the problem through the building of effective patterns of governance from the bottom up. This is contrasted with the various proposed formal and institutional 'solutions' to English governance, which are bound to fail. The discussion goes on to consider the problem of the English regions and concludes that the political conditions do not exist for the English regions to be the primary sites for the building of new English governance. After a review of ways in which governance can be built, attention reverts to the local level where it is suggested that the current reorganisation of English local government suggests ways in which the foundations of English governance can be developed locally.