Thursday, 2 June 2011
I was recently asked if I would look over the manifesto of the English Democrats Party (EDP). Well, now I have, a version that I downloaded from their webpage. I assume there is nothing later, though the document is clearly more than a year out of date, insofar as it makes reference to a Labour government dominated by Scots. Still I imagine little has changed in the way of the party’s fundamental aims.
I have to say that while I was certainly aware of this party’s existence I knew very little about it, other than it was a sort of English version of the Scottish National Party. The manifesto certainly confirms that, a central aim being the creation of a Parliament for England in the fashion of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.
It seems to me that the EDP exists thanks to two things: the as yet unanswered West Lothian Question, namely why are Scottish MPs allowed to interfere in English affairs when English MPs have no equivalent right, and Tony Blair’s botched constitutional settlement, which left England in a kind of political limbo. To use the jargon, the party was born of a perceived democratic and constitutional deficit. It’s the English Parliament party; it will always be the English Parliament party. The problem is that this would seem to be a basis too narrow to allow it ever to make a serious political breakthrough.
The manifesto is about so much more, of course. There is a broad range of policies, much of which I can agree with without reservation, particularly on withdrawal from the European Union and the ending of mass immigration. There is also a highly commendable critique of political correctness and multi-culturalism, both of which I despise with a passion. I particularly liked the passage dealing with the background of the ghastly European Union, or the Franco-German Union, some simple facts that people need to be more aware of;
European integration, as conceived by the Frenchman Jean Monnet, had the aim of tying Germany into a network of political and economic links with France and other European states so that it would be impossible for Germany to go to war with them. That was by no means the only motivation for seeking ever-closer political and economic union. The interests of Germany and France came together in the peculiar circumstances following World War II. Advantage could be gained for both by combining a post-war German economic revival with French political and agricultural dominance. Germany gained a secure market for its manufacturing industry and France gained a protected market and financial support for its agriculture. In addition, France obtained privileged access to the European market for its colonial produce, and took the lead in building European institutions on the French model – centralised and bureaucratic. The aim from the beginning was to enmesh the states of Europe in an economic, political and military union from which they could not break free. That goal was, and still is, considered more important than the democratic nicety of explaining the goal to the electorate and seeking its approval.
For me this is the key; this bureaucratic tyranny is a far greater danger to our liberty, our sovereignty and our identity as a nation than the absence of a dedicated English parliament. But of course the EDP can’t make too much of this particular platform, for the United Kingdom Independence Party more or less has the ground fully occupied.
There are aspects of the manifesto that I am not convinced by. I do not want ‘reform’ of the House of Lords; I do not want an elected second chamber, the Liberal Democrat agenda. There are the usual bland nostrums about the National Health Service, the sacred cow of our national life, long overdue for an appointment in the abattoir! There is a rather vague nod towards policies on green energy, something else I’m deeply sceptical about, as I made clear in Whistle down the Wind. The EDP wants referenda as a feature of our national life on the Swiss model, something else I reject, something that would inevitably lead to voter fatigue and the domination of tireless and self-interested minorities.
Overall it was an interesting and unobjectionable read but it’s a policy for fragmentation which might very well suit the aims of the Euro-rats in Brussels (I wrote Eurocrats. I gave way to my spell checker for this more apt description!). I confess I feel far more English than British; I feel that if the Scots and the Welsh want to go their separate ways then so be it; but I do have a residual attachment to the Union, so much greater than the sum of its parts.
The Scots, I am convinced, will never vote for complete independence. The English, I am equally convinced, will never vote for yet another layer of government. Westminster is our Parliament; it has been for centuries. I agree, however, that it’s not working as well as it might, that something has to be done to ensure that English laws are made by English legislators and only English legislators.
Posted by Anastasia F-B at 15:46
Labels: british politics, england, political parties
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
All the comercial polls indicate that there is support for an English parliament, but I think you may be correct that the English regard Westminster as the 'English parliament'. When politicians claim that there is no demand, or little demand, for an EP, their only supporting evidence is the British Social Attitudes survey which finds that only 29% support an English Parliament.ReplyDelete
However, the BSA question is flawed because it asks the public to choose between a *new* parliament for England or the Westminster parliament, which historically is the English parliament.
It does not attempt to measure support for an English parliament at Westminster or a "parliament within a parliament" - an English Grand Committee.
Asking people to choose between Westminster (England’s traditional parliament) or a new English parliament presupposes that an English parliament must be new and/or distinct (ie not dual purpose).
It would be more useful to paraphrase the referendum that prompted the Scots to vote for a Scottish parliament in 1997:
1. I agree that there should be a English Parliament; or
2. I do not agree that there should be a English Parliament Parliament
But obviously they won't ask that question because they know what the answer would be.
So why not a English Parliament in a federated system? It works well for Australia, it would give each nation autonomy and yet maintain a smaller legislatory body to cover issues like defence, foreign policy etc. The size of the nations is not an issue if the federated body has equal representation.ReplyDelete
Tasmania is slightly smaller than Western Australia! but it has its own state parliament plus federal MP's. With a much smaller Federal house, we may actually be able to cut down on MP's - and if a system of PR voting was introduced we might be able to hold the rotters to account. Placing the Federal body in - say Manchester might even bring politics closer to the people
But to refuse the largest nation in the islands their own Parliament is to disenfranchise 50 million people to placate 10 million.
It cannot be justified and it might get ugly!
Hi, Gareth. I know this is an issue you feel strongly about, as you will know, from past exchanges, that I share some of your frustrations. I think on a question of simple fairness that most people, if asked, would say that England needs better representation. The problem here is that this sort this sort of vague aspiration rarely translates into votes. After ten years of trying have hardly made any impact at all on the English political landscape. Admittedly if took the SNP in Scotland eighty years or so go get where they are now, but their biggest advantage was that they offered themselves as an alternative to Labour, benefiting also from the steady electoral decline of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party. Where the EDP is going to pick up votes is altogether more problematic.ReplyDelete
Michele, if I understand Australian history and politics correctly federation was a top up process; that the states existed, later merging in to a federated union. Here it would have to be a top down process. The previous government made a half-cocked stab at a kind of federalism in regional English assemblies, which simply died a death. Although it's true that more and more people are frustrated by what is rightly or wrongly perceived as a form of appeasement directed at our Celtic neighbours, as I said to Gareth, frustration does not readily translate into votes, at least votes for the English Democrats.ReplyDelete
It's quite simple really. If anyone can be British, then we would rather be English.ReplyDelete
I for one am one Englishman who wants independence for England. England has been excluded not only from discussions and decisions about its own home rule, but also from any organisation in post-devolution UK.ReplyDelete
Only this week the political leaders of Ireland, N. Ireland, Scotland and Wales met with UK representatives, but nobody represented England. A quick look at the British-Irish Council will see that England is not represented. In fact during the Blair/Brown era of misgovernment, there was very often not a single Englishman sat at the British-Irish Council's table around which the distribution of English taxes was discussed.
Since campaigners for English democratic rights have exposed this, the official British-Irish Council website has disappeared. However, Wikipedia has a page about it, listing members and a link to the Jersy website. Jersy has more status than England.
The Welshman John Prescott wrote "There is no such nationality as English" and Scotsman Robin Cook said on BBC radio "England is not a nation, it is just a collection of regions".
When the Union denies my existence and tries to erase my country from the map (as in Labour's infamous EU map) replacing it with reviled regions, the United Kingdom can take a run and jump, as far as I'm concerned.
The deadliest enemies of the English are the British and devolution has brutally exposed that fact. The sooner England departs this so-called union the better.
All up to now have been growing pains leading to the eventual one world goverment. Bands to clans to tribes To city states To countries to Economic/defensive unions etc, it is evolution and there is nothing that disrupts people more than change from what is familiar.ReplyDelete
I agree with every word of your analysis Ana, there is a complete imabalance within the power structure we inhabit and some extremely subversive influences at work which are a threat to what England is and I am grateful that there are still people like you who are not ashamed to be proud of that term. I am not going to go into some apologetic stance for the things I believe in or be coerced by some pseudo manifesto. I think your term the Euro-rats is entirely apposite. It is interesting to note that the last time I checked the EU still hadn't adopted double entry book keeping and Neil Kinnock seemed to have his name on a number of unidentified cheque stubs.ReplyDelete
Systematic disassembly of ancient patterns of government and the invention of new regional power groups is part of the EU project: divide to rule. In places, 'regionalism' has been made to appear like a restoration of ancient rights and privilege based on heritage, but that is purely nominal - a mask to hide the new institutions' total allegiance to the EU mega-state.ReplyDelete
The conspiracy has been thorough.
The SNP was hammered in the 2010 general election - by Labour. All Scots voted for in the 2011 Holyrood elections was the Barnett blackmail choice. The first thing the SNP did was put back its independence referendum (again) so as to extort even more money out of England.ReplyDelete
The SNP should be ordered to have its referendum this year, or otherwise it won'r get one until it provides a majority of Scottish MPs in Westminster. Why should the rest of us be kept hanging around for the Scots?
Westminster MPs have no power in Scotland and an English Parliament would make them jobless across the whole of the UK. This is the only reason they deny the English even a referendum on the matter.
Meanwhile the Welsh have just had their third referendum on their assembly, to increase its powers where they voted "yes". At the same time, they reduced the number of Plaid Cymru WAMs.
Nice post Anastasia..:) Though, I'd to read it a couple of time, coz' not only was it interesting, but also intellectual! Thanks to the comments that others have placed here too..I can the variation in political opinions and get to learn more from them.. I am not commenting with regard to the actual political scenario, as I am from India and I may not be able to quote justifications appropriately! However, this was a great read!ReplyDelete
P.S I am contesting for Indiblogger-Yahoo-Dove 'what real beauty means to you' blogging contest. Can you read my post at http://t.co/2Z5RHqU and if you like it, 'LIKE' it on Facebook or 'Tweet' it or even sign up with Indiblogger to promote my post? The instructions to sign up with Indiblogger are given at the end of my post itself. Hoping to see you there! If you are on Indiblogger, you already know what to do!!
Posted on behalf of a fellow English Nationalist.ReplyDelete
The EDP wants referenda as a feature of our national life on the Swiss model, something else I reject, something that would inevitably lead to voter fatigue and the domination of tireless and self-interested minorities Endquote
"Something that would inevitably lead to voter fatigue" Referenda that are initiated by the voters would lead to voter fatigue? And how can a majority verdict in a referendum be a 'self-interested minority'?
Why do pundits expect us to accept their asseverations, which are based entirely on the authority of their own opinion, as fact? Do the Swiss, who live in a direct democracy, or near to it, demonstrate voter fatigue? No not as far as I can tell."
I agree that it's difficult to translate constitutional grievances into votes. The SNP's rise was more about nationalism than a simple constitutional grievance, the problem for the EDP is that it's hard to generate the same sort of oppositional (to Westminster, the Union, the significant other) English nationalism that was generated in Scotland. But it's growing and will continue to grow as our sense of Britishness declines. The EDP is probably the wrong vehicle because of it's associations with the neo-nazi England First Party and various other undesirables, but they're a symptom of a growing English self-awareness.ReplyDelete
I'm interested in why you think a majority decision in a referendum would lead to domination by minorities.
Or am I missing something here?
The Atty. Gen. of the Commonwealth of Virgina has written about the origins of American Federalism and two years ago ran for office on a pledge to fight the trend toward an even more centralised Unitary State in the U.S.. He won the election by the largest number of votes in Va. history. He is someone to follow with regard to this issue. See also the many good books published by http://www.libertyfund.com (Liberty Fund Books, Ind., Indiana, U.S.) Advocating devolution in the States is the Abbeville Institute (So. Carolina) and writer Thos. Woods ("Nullification Now") Offered for your information, for what it's worth.ReplyDelete
Thank you for this post but I would say that an English Parliament is an important and substantive symbol of our nationhood rather than a single issue. The English Democrats are the premier English Nationalist Party.
The English Democrats
I managed to break in to my own house!!!ReplyDelete
Michael, the nation is our first loyalty, not the state.ReplyDelete
Stephen, it's clearly something you feel strongly about. I don't want you to think that I'm unsympathetic; I share your frustrations over how badly served this country has been, particularly by the dreadful ministries of Blair and Brown. Still I don't detect any serious groundswell of opinion against the Union, more a mild sense of irritation. My main fear, as I have said, is over that greater Union based in Brussels.ReplyDelete
Anthony, the idea of one world government is a step too far for me. I prefer the familiar in my conservative, small town way.ReplyDelete
Richard, how I would love to scratch into that, to undermine a mountain of corruption. I must tell you about one of father's business trips to Hong Kong sometime. Now I will just say that apart from him the first class cabin was full of Eurorats. :-)ReplyDelete
Calvin, generally I'm fairly sceptical when it comes to conspiracy theories. Not here. Not over this.ReplyDelete
Stephen, I certainly think that Salmond should have his referendum now, not when it suits him.ReplyDelete
Fiducia, thanks. Yes, of course I'll do all I can to help.ReplyDelete
FEA, I'm not a pundit; I'm Ana. :-) Everything here is a personal opinion, my opinion.ReplyDelete
Gareth, yes it's possible, with decades of political change and new forms of consciousness, unless we lose the last traces of our national sovereignty to the EUSSR.ReplyDelete
Steve, hi right back. Referenda are simply not part of our political culture. If they were a regular feature I'm convinced that most people would lose interest quickly, leaving them open to the more determined, which could mean that quite important decisions are taken by self-serving minorities. But that's just my opinion.ReplyDelete
BNA, thank you for that most welcome information. It's something I intend to look into.ReplyDelete
Robin, thank you. I have no reason not to wish you and your party well.ReplyDelete
Not my preference either but little by little the world as we know it is ever being interconnected. Whether by economics or force, globalization is not an equal opportunity process.ReplyDelete
Oh, Anthony, we have to defend the things that make us all unique.ReplyDelete