Thursday, 9 February 2012
My speech at the University of Nottingham
I was invited to give a speech to Students at the University of Nottingham, faculty of Law and Social Sciences today. Here is the text:-
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for your kind welcome to Nottingham University. Thank you also to Dr Goodwin for inviting me. I would like to say first that I think that you are lucky to have Dr Goodwin as a teacher who is such a very well respected and clear eyed analyst of contemporary politics.
I thought that I would start by saying a few things about myself. I am a Solicitor; and I must also confess to a dirty secret – mine is that I am a “recovering” Tory! You know like a “recovering” alcoholic!
I am one of the founder members of the English Democrats and have been Chairman since we launched in August 2002. We are a Party which has grown organically from nothing to nearly 3,000 members. We have members who have previously been from all sorts of parties. We have at least one who is an ex SWP, ex Tories, ex UKIPers, ex BNP, ex Labour and ex Lib Dems and also quite a few who have never been members of any other political party.
We are all unpaid volunteers and all the money which we have raised has been spent on improving our Party and on campaigning and indeed many of us have put in significant sums of money into our campaign.
Why have we done this? The answer, Ladies and Gentlemen, is that we have done it because we are patriotic and we love England and I for one am not willing to go to my grave without having done all in my power to preserve England and to do all that I can for the future of our country.
I mentioned that I am a Solicitor but there are different schools for lawyers and unfortunately, for my family, I didn’t get trained in the way that I read about recently of a lawyer in the USA.
This is called “The Great Lawyer Story!”
Apparently, Ladies and Gentlemen, a US based charity called the United Way realised that it had never received a donation from the city’s most successful lawyer. So a United Way volunteer paid the lawyer a visit in his lavish office.
The volunteer opened the meeting by saying, “Our research shows that even though your annual income is over two million dollars, you don’t give a penny to charity. Wouldn’t you like to give something back to your community through the United Way?”
The lawyer thought for a minute and said, “First, did your research also show you that my mother is dying after a long painful illness and she has huge medical bills that are far beyond her ability to pay?”
Embarrassed the United Way rep mumbles, “Uh … no, I didn’t know that”.
“Second” said the lawyer, “did it show that my brother, a disabled veteran, is blind and confined to a wheelchair and is unable to support his wife and children?”
The stricken United Way rep begins to stammer an apology but is cut off again.
“Third, did your research also show you that my sister’s husband died in a dreadful car accident, leaving her penniless with a mortgage and three children, one of whom is disabled and another who has learning difficulties requiring an array of private tutors?”
The humiliated United Way rep, completely beaten, says, “I’m so sorry, I had no idea”.
And the lawyer then said,, “So… if I didn’t give any money to them, what the hell makes you think I’d give any to you?”
When the English Democrats were launched in 2002 England faced being broken up into “Regions”. The Regionalisation Scheme was started by John Major’s Government, after the Maastricht Treaty, but in 2002 it was then pursued enthusiastically by Labour, with John Prescott, the then Deputy Prime Minister, officially claiming that “There is no such nationality as English”. This kind of remark was backed by William Hague who said, during a BBC interview, that “English Nationalism is the most dangerous of all forms of nationalism”. The aim of Regionalisation, as clearly stated, by the then Liberal Democrat’s Leader, to a meeting of Dunfermline’s Liberal Democrats. Charlie Kennedy said, and I quote, that he, Charles Kennedy, supported “Breaking England up into EU Regions because “it is calling into question the idea of England itself”. Imagine the furore if that remark had been made by an Englishman about Scotland!
The English Democrats campaigned in the North East Regional Assembly Referendum for a No Vote and we have now seen off any chance of Regionalisation gaining any popular mandate, if the Labour supporting Think Tank the IPPR can be believed – and I think they can as the result is against what they previously supported – they have found that there now is a mere 9% support for “Each Region of England to have its own Assembly”.
The English Democrats have also been, from the start, in the forefront of bringing the Barnett Formula, the unfair extra spending in Scotland and Wales, to the attention of the English.
When I first started campaigning I actually had people accuse me of lying because they had never heard of the Barnett Formula from the British media. Again the IPPR report shows awareness of this beginning to rise in early 2003 just as we began actually campaigning.
Now the English overwhelmingly want to see action to address this. The IPPR report says that there is:-
“A growing perception within England that the English get a raw deal from the devolution settlement. (It is) clear that there is an increasingly strong tendency in England to believe that Scotland gets more than its ‘fair share’ of public spending. Indeed the number of people who believe this has more than doubled in the last decade.”
Ladies and Gentlemen the kind of issues that we are talking about here may well affect you personally. Take for example the question of student tuition fees. The history of this issue is very instructive of how politics in the UK works.
When I and all those who made their decisions about tuition fees went to university not only didn’t we have to pay fees but also even if like, Blair, Cameron and Clegg, they came from well off families, we got grants for living expenses.
All three British Establishment parties have at various times promised not to introduce them and have behaved thoroughly dishonestly and dishonourably. Tony Blair in his book airily branches off by saying that it shows how unwise it is for a politician to promise anything specific in a manifesto.
When on 27th January 2004 tuition fees were raised to £3,000 Labour only got it voted through using their Scottish and Welsh MPs, when their Nations Governments had already promised not to increase fees at the time of course the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were against Top Up Fees as they were then called. Since then Labour went into the last General Election having set up a review under Lord Browne promising to implement his recommendations but tried to report after the General Election. The Lib Dems went farthest promising to vote against Top Up Fees but reneged on that promise.
For me however the main issue is that it is grossly unfair that the next academic years English students will be made to pay £9,000 per year when Scotland’s students pay nothing and indeed when EU students studying in Scotland also pay nothing.
That however is the price of there being no political voice in Westminster campaigning for England’s interests!
Here is a video clip that we did a couple of years ago which helps explain the issue (Link here >>> Students http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCnFhToPsKA&feature=related
The English Democrats have been campaigning on English National Identity and St George’s Day. National Identity is our sense of National Community. It is the glue that holds societies together. It is the sense of “home is where the heart is”.
The IPPR report says:- On National Identity
“The most significant and revealing analysis stems from contrasting the groups that say they are either exclusively English, or more English than British, with those that say they are exclusively British, or more British than English. …The results are striking. Those that prioritise their English over their British identity (40 per cent), outnumber those that prioritise their British over their English identity (16 per cent) by more than two-to-one.
English not British 17 13 17 17
More English than British 23 19 24 20
Equally English and British 34 25 36 39
More British than English 9 12 9 8
British not English 7 14 6 6
Other 6 10 4 5
Don’t know 3 7 3 4
1,507 750 756 750”
And on St George’s Day the report says:
“One indication of the pride in and attachment to England across the English electorate is the very strong support shown in the .... survey to the suggestion that St George’s Day should be celebrated as a bank holiday. … fully 74 per cent of our respondents agreed with this proposition, with 47 per cent ‘agreeing strongly’. … We should not be surprised … that an increased awareness of and pride in Englishness is being accompanied by such overwhelming levels of support to the public celebration of English national identity.”
Agree strongly 47
Tend to agree 27
Tend to disagree 8
Disagree strongly 4
Don’t know 13
The Constitutional issue of what should happen about England is often called the West Lothian Question. The WLQ is the name given to the English Question by those who don’t want the issue to be understood as such by the general public. The Government has just announced the membership of its Commission. It is clear that this Commission, chaired by Sir William Makay has been set up to propose EVEL and its membership picked to achieve this.
For those of us who are campaigning for an English Parliament there remains a battle to be fought against the advocates of English Votes for English Laws (aka “EVEL”), but EVEL, even if it could be made to work, which is a big if, is a red hearing because the key issue is the Government of England, not merely its representation in a parliament, but even with the volunteers of the English Democrats’ very limited resources support for an English Parliament is now standing at 36% and is the single most popular option.
Here is a clip which shows one of our supporters, Garry Bushell, making the case for an English Parliament.
(Click here >>> "Why an English Parliament?" http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=M8g-HoqJwM0&NR=1
So all in all we are making great progress, even if you focus on the narrow perspective of our core campaigning issues.
But looking more widely for example on our policy of withdrawing from the EU. Ladies and Gentlemen, unlike UKIP we, English Democrats, started unprejudiced and with the blank sheet of aiming to do whatever was best for England but we could see that there is no way that an English Nationalist can make a case for supporting the EU.
Now our scepticism has been proved by the failures of the EU itself. The EU is hostile to Englishness and wants to supplement all of Europe’s National Identities with a new EUish one, or in the words of several Lib Dems to me “to dissolve all our petty nationalisms in the greater European whole!” or is that hole? The EU costs English Taxpayers at present over £16 billion a year just for the annual subscription and that is even when David Cameron isn’t handing out large wedges of our cash for Euro bail outs and thus squandering all of our future life prospects.
Also consider, unchecked mass immigration which can now be undeniably seen as undermining the living standards of ordinary people in England and the job prospects of our youth (your job prospects!) and also a threat to our own culture. From our launch we have said that our immigration system should be like Australia or Canada, fair, vigorously enforced and aiming to look after the interests of our country and our citizens.
Also I cannot miss out the potential for gains to the English Democrats in the coming 1,000 days before Alex Salmond’s Scottish Independence Referendum. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my prediction that he will win this referendum and succeed in ending the UK. The British Unionist Establishment is all over the place on Scottish independence, seeing it just as a Scottish issue but again the IPPR report shows that English people are increasingly assertive that we to have a right to be consulted on what should happen for England. The English Democrats are the only voice for England in this debate and are increasingly being recognised as such by the media.
Ladies and Gentlemen I think that both for English Nationalism and also for the English Democrats, to use New Lolours’ phrase “the only way is up!”
Just before I finish let me say a few words about our campaign for Elected Council Leaders (aka “Mayors”).
As you may be aware a couple of years ago we won the elected Mayoralty of Doncaster and in September 2010 I launched our nationwide campaign for Elected Mayors for every local authority in England.
The Elected Executive Mayoral system is a better and more democratic one than the only legally permitted alternative of a councillor who is selected by other councillors, no doubt on the well worn principles of “Buggins’ turn” and “back-scratching” to be the Leader with a cabinet.
Both roles have exactly the same powers and exactly the same pay and the same four year period of office. The sole legal difference is that the Elected Mayor is chosen by the voters of their local authority.
So for a democrat – and we English Democrats chose our name carefully, because we are about both England and also about Democracy – for a Democrat - the option of having an Elected Mayor is clearly the only proper one.
The political opportunity for the English Democrats as a Party is that we can trigger a legally binding referendum by getting the signatures of 5% of the local electorate on a petition.
Well Ladies and Gentlemen let me tell you that we have registered such petitions with each and every relevant local authority throughout England.
Two weeks ago we had the first fruits of this campaign, when we won the first referendum which we have triggered, in Salford and now Salford Council will be having a Mayoral election on 3rd May with our candidate having a fighting chance of taking Salford out of Labour control for the first time since the current local authority was created in the mid 70’s.
That referendum Ladies and Gentlemen is the first of many that we will trigger.
For example, I have hopes of causing an upset in my home area of Brentwood, which is Eric Pickles’ seat, the Secretary of State for Local Government, who is spearheading the partisan efforts of this Government which as you may know was to cause referenda in the 12 largest cities of England, 11 of which are Labour controlled. In Brentwood, Ladies and Gentlemen, rather like the self interested Salford Labour Party, he is nevertheless opposed to an elected Mayor because, of course, that would threaten Conservative control of Brentwood.
In Nottingham there is of course a particular point in mentioning all this because you have a Mayoral Referendum in May. I would urge you to campaign for an Elected Mayor for Nottingham and so help give the people of Nottingham a more open and democratic local political leadership.
Before finishing I have to mention the Elected Law and Order Commissioners – in November this I think will be a great opportunity for the English Democrats, because I don’t think anyone has a manifesto more in tune with public opinion on law and order.
Ladies and Gentlemen thank you for your patience in listening to me and thank you Dr Goodwin for inviting me to come here today.