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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

BBC falls 'hook, line and sinker' for Islamist fishy tale!

BBC falls 'hook, line and sinker' for Islamist fishy tale!

Having heard the BBC Radio 4 news coverage on Friday, 27th December which repeatedly claims that there has been an alleged rise in "hate crime" against Muslims.  I have just made this complaint to the BBC:-

Dear BBC

I wonder why the Radio 4 News (on Friday, 27th December) was uncritically reporting the alleged rise in "Hate Crime" against Muslims claimed yet again by (the) discredited source ("Tell Mama" and its Director, Mr Fiyaz Mujhal?). Do your researchers do ANY research or do they just slavishly follow the Leftist/Islamist Mehdi Hasan on Huffington Post?

Yours sincerely

Robin Tilbrook,
The English Democrats

If you feel like complaining too:-
Post your complaint to BBC Complaints, PO Box 1922, Darlington, DL3 0UR; or Telephone the BBC to complain on 03700 100 222; or
Email the BBC via their complaint form using this link>>>BBC - Complaints - Complain Online.
Please do mention the English Democrats!

The English Democrats are England’s answer to the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru. The English Democrats’ greatest electoral successes to date include winning the Directly Elected Executive Mayoralty of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and the 2012 referendum; We won the referendum which triggered a referendum to give Salford City an Elected Mayor; In 2012 we saved all our deposits in the Police Commissioner elections and came second in South Yorkshire; In the 2009 EU election we gained 279,801 votes after a total EU campaign spend of less than £25,000 (giving the English Democrats by far the most cost efficient electoral result of any serious Party in the UK)

Monday, 30 December 2013

Vladimir Putin: 'Stalin no worse than Oliver Cromwell'!!

It was interesting to hear  that the Russian President, Vladamir Putin, has recently sought to compare Joseph Stalin with Oliver Cromwell.

(Here is a link to an article about this >>>

At one level it goes to show that Mr Putin, understandably perhaps, knows not so much about the details of English history, but on another, there is a serious point that after the chaos of every revolution in history and the usual accompanying wild hopes for a better world, there has typically emerged a nasty dictator.

The striking differences between Oliver Cromwell and Joe Stalin (let alone the other Socialists like Lenin and Mao Tse Tung), is the fact that our devout evangelical Christian, Oliver Cromwell, not only refused the Crown of England which he was repeatedly offered, but also did not carry out mass murders and terror tactics unlike the 20th Century’s genocidal, Communist mass murderers.

Cromwell on the other hand sought to modernise the English government and had an important role in building the foundations of the very first modern nation state that is:- England.

Cromwell’s reforms set England and the English nation on the path, not only to the first industrial revolution, but world mercantile trade and indeed the largest empire the word has ever known.

Stalin on the other hand is directly implicated in the murder of up to 55 million people who were alleged to be class enemies (e.g. petit bourgeois) or who held heretical communist beliefs or who were ethnically inexpedient.  In contrast however to the total physical cowardice displayed by Mao Tse Tung, Stalin did show personal courage and resolve as the German Army reached Moscow.

Also Stalin had two strokes of luck back in the Second World War.  Churchill’s willingness to help him and Hitler’s greedy blunder in encouraging the Japanese to attack South rather than up into Siberia.  Personally nevertheless I would suggest that Stalin is better compared with Genghis Khan!

So much for the comparison between Cromwell and Stalin! Happy New Year!

Friday, 27 December 2013


I have sometimes been asked if Muslims have actually asked for special legal treatment.  The Article below is an example of an influential Muslim doing so but it is quite subtle.

The article is from the “Huffington Post” an online news agency well known in America for its Left/Liberal bias but in the ‘UK’ its political editor is the BBC's favourite Leftist/Islamist, Mehdi Hasan, who seems here to be giving his views on us infidels.  Click here >>> Mehdi Hasan - Non Muslims live like animals - YouTube and here he is talking about the Shiite Islamic equivalent of Judas in which he seems to demonise gays >>> ?MehdiHasanYazidHomoKaffir - YouTube.  If the "hate crime" law was equally applied I would have expected Mr Hasan to have been at least considered for prosecution over these comments, wouldn't you?

It should therefore not be surprising that this Leftist online news outlet edited by an Islamist is vocal in its support of the ‘UK’s’ “Islamic Community”(sic!).

As journalists often do, Mehdi weaves into his story a source that he approves of  “Tell Mama” but which has been exposed as being just as unreliable a source as he is himself! For revelations about “Tell Mama” and its leader who is quoted so approvingly by Mehdi Hassan, click here >>>The truth about the 'wave of attacks on Muslims’ after Woolwich murder - Telegraph

The thrust of Mehdi's article is that “Hate Crime” against Muslims should be punished with especially severe criminal sanctions.

Actually such “hate crime” already is treated more severely than anyone applying ordinary common sense, or indeed ordinary legal principles, would think appropriate if, but only if, it is committed by English people against any other ethnic minority group or individual.  Also consider the BBC's reaction to criticism over a more significant, deliberate and calculated blasphemy against Jesus Christ >>>

It should also be borne in mind that “hate crime” can often mean merely a rude remark rather than any sort of violent attack.

In my view the old playground adage of “sticks and stone may break my bones but words will never hurt me!” should be the start point for any contemplated prosecution (or conviction) for, often trivial, rudeness.

However, if that rudeness spills over into physical aggression or threats of violence, then of course I would support punishment but focussed only on what has actually happened not as a result of a sort of witch trial, otherwise it is the State itself which becomes the instrument of victimisation!  (No doubt to the pleasure of people like Mehdi Hasan)!

What do you think?
(Note the startling, but no doubt deliberate, confusion of a building with people and the extent of the group allegedly "targeted" in "When you target a mosque, you are targeting the whole community.")

Here is the "Huffington Post" Article:-

Hate Crimes Against Muslims Soar After Woolwich Murder Of Lee Rigby

Hate crimes against Muslims have soared in 2013, new figures have shown. Hundreds of anti-Muslim offences have been carried out across the country in 2013, with Britain's biggest force, the Metropolitan police, recording 500 Islamophobic crimes alone.

Many forces reported a surge in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by two Islamic extremists in Woolwich, south-east London. And it is feared the figures could be much higher after nearly half of the 43 forces in England and Wales did not reveal how many hate crimes had targeted Muslims - with some forces admitting they do not always record the faith of a religious hate crime victim.

Freedom of Information requests were sent by the Press Association to every police force in England and Wales. Of the 43 forces, 24 provided figures on the number of anti-Muslim crimes and incidents recorded. Tell Mama, a group which monitors anti-Muslim incidents, said it had dealt with some 840 cases since April - with the number expected to rise to more than 1,000 by the end of March.

This compared with 582 anti-Muslim cases it dealt with from March 2012 to March 2013. Fiyaz Mujhal, director of Faith Matters, which runs the Tell Mama project, said reaction to the murder of Fusilier Rigby had caused the number of Islamophobic crimes to "significantly jump". He added: "The far right groups, particularly the EDL (English Defence League) perniciously use the internet and social media to promote vast amounts of online hate."

Mujhal said tougher sentencing was needed to tackle Islamophobic crime and branded guidelines by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to monitor social media as "not fit for purpose". He said: "They raised the bar of prosecution significantly. Now unless there is a direct threat to somebody on Twitter or Facebook, the CPS will not prosecute. The CPS is just plainly out of sync with reality.

"We also need more robust sentencing. In one case, a pig's head was left outside a mosque and the perpetrator came away with a community sentence. When you target a mosque, you are targeting the whole community."

Tell Mama has called for police forces to introduce a system which improves monitoring of Islamophobic crimes, after some forces admitted officers do not always record the faith of a religious hate crime victim.
"There are three problems we come across," Mujhal said. "Firstly, there is a lack of understanding of the language of Islamophobia thrown at victims in any incidents. Secondly, there is very little training on how to ask relevant questions to pull out anti-Muslim cases. Thirdly, recording processes are not in line with each other. One force will allow an officer to flag an incident as anti-Muslim, another force will flag it as religious hate crime. There is no uniformity. There must be guidelines for all forces so we can know the level of the problem."

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has previously said 71 incidents were reported to its national community tension team (NCTT) over five days after Fusilier Rigby was murdered on May 22. Superintendent Paul Giannasi, Acpo's spokesman on hate crime, said: "The police service is committed to reducing the harm caused by hate crime and it is vital that we encourage more victims who suffer crimes to report them to the police or through third party reporting facilities such as Tell Mama.

"Acpo has played a key role in improving reporting mechanisms, including through the development of our True Vision website ( This provides information to victims and allows people to report online. We would obviously want overall crime levels to reduce and to see fewer victims, but we welcome increases in reported hate crime, as long as they are a sign of increased confidence of victims to report. We are working with local police forces, to help improve the way we respond to hate crime and to provide robust and transparent hate crime data."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "These are despicable crimes that devastate lives and communities. The courts already hand out tougher punishments where race or religion are found to be aggravating factors. The number of people receiving a custodial sentence for these appalling crimes is higher than ever before."

A CPS spokeswoman said: "Online communication can be offensive, shocking or in bad taste. However, as set out in CPS guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media, content has to be more than simply offensive to be contrary to the criminal law. In order to preserve the right to free speech the threshold for prosecution must be high and only communications that are grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false are prohibited by the legislation."

(Here is the link to the original article >>>Hate Crimes Against Muslims Soar After Woolwich Murder Of Lee Rigby)

A slightly late Christmas present from Wales?

Here is a small but slightly late Christmas present from Wales for all those who have been campaigning for the English nation to be treated equally to the more favoured nations of the 'UK' like the Scottish and the Welsh. We therefore have long been ignored and derided by the British Establishment which denies our right to a Parliament, First Minister and Government for England with at least the same powers as the Scottish ones.

Here however we have a report in the Independent about an interview and a thoughtful speech by Carwyn Jones, the Labourite First Minister of Wales and therefore the leading Welsh political figure. In the interview and speech he acknowledged two things of great importance to any English patriot:-

1) There is virtually no popular demand nor popular support for breaking up England into “Regions”; and

2) the only realistic constitutional option for representing England within a federal 'UK' would be an English Parliament with an English First Minister and Government.

The thrust of Carwyn Jones' speech is also that the UK itself must be drastically reformed with a much diminished role for Westminster and Whitehall.

I would agree with these arguments if I was a Welshman and thus benefitted from the Barnett Formula and therefore it is my countrymen that were getting more taxpayers’ money spent on them than an equivalent Englishman with equal needs.

However as I am an Englishman I can’t help but notice that this extra money comes from English taxpayers and is being spent unfairly in a way that is against the interests of ordinary English people and also of the English nation.

The simplest way out of the constitutional conundrum that Carwyn Jones is addressing is Independence and the liquidation of the Bankrupt 'UK'. That way each nation will have to live with its own means and we English will be free to spend our nation’s money on ourselves. We will also be a newly reborn nation state and therefore not a signatory to the EU treaties and so will be automatically out of the EU. This is a result which would please the vast majority of English patriots - but not Mr Carwyn Jones!

What do you think?

Here is the article about Carwyn Jones’ speech:-

Carwyn Jones: ‘The UK must continue down the road to becoming a federal nation’

Britain should permanently grant major new powers to the devolved governments in Cardiff and Edinburgh, bringing an end to Parliamentary sovereignty in Westminster no matter what the result of the Scottish independence referendum, the First Minister of Wales has said.

Carwyn Jones said the current constitutional arrangements were no longer functioning and the UK must continue down the road to becoming a federal nation in 2014.

In an interview with The Independent, the former barrister, who has led the Welsh Labour government since 2009, said: “Whatever happens after the referendum in Scotland there will need to be change because the UK’s constitution has come to the end of its ability to deal with devolution, to imbed devolution and clarify what each level of Government does.”

He added: “I think it’s simply a question of putting in place a constitution where it is understood what the different levels of government do. Does that mean the end of Parliamentary sovereignty? Well I’m afraid it does.”

Mr Jones, who opposes Scottish independence, said that a yes vote would also lead to problems for the remaining parts of the UK. He cautioned that if Alex Salmond’s SNP party wins the argument for independence in September’s referendum, the rest of Britain faces being overshadowed even more by a too-powerful England.

“The UK could not carry on as it is with England, Wales and Northern Ireland,” he said. “There would have to be a fundamental rethink of the balance of the constitution. You have three nations, one of which had 92 per cent of the population. That would need to be addressed.”

Speaking in the Senedd, which is home to the 60 members of the Welsh Assembly, Mr Jones said that Wales could not be treated as “second class” compared to Scotland – an argument that seems compelling when heard in view of the economic revival that has come to the Welsh capital.

Should Scotland choose independence, however, the outlook for Wales is uncertain. “We lose an ally and a friend in terms of the balance of the UK and being able to work together on a common path way when we need to.”

Mr Jones has found himself pressed into service for the campaign in Scotland to reject independence – or Project Fear as it has been dubbed by nationalists. He has also enraged Mr Salmond by threatening to veto his hopes of keeping the pound should the countries go their separate ways in September.

On the prospect of an independent Scotland remaining in a currency union, Mr Jones said: “It is bound to affect Wales when we have a situation when in order to take action in terms of monetary policy it has to be an agreement between at least two governments. That is just a recipe for dithering as far as I can see and that’s going to affect people in Wales.”

However, a spokesman for the “yes” campaign in Scotland claimed tonight that a yes vote would help Wales.

“A Yes vote next year will complete Scotland’s home-rule journey, but it will also benefit the rest of the UK – including Wales – by helping to redress the huge economic imbalances currently in favour of London and the South-east of England.

“Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions, which currently lose out because of this over-concentration in one part of the UK, can therefore share in the benefits of a Yes vote for Scotland next year.”

Mr Jones’s opposition to Scottish independence has created an unlikely alliance between Welsh Labour and the Coalition – but he hinted that the vote to keep the union could be put in jeopardy by politicians “coming from London to tell the people of Scotland what to do”.

He said as a Welshman he had a unique contribution to make to the debate. “It was important to introduce a fellow Celtic perspective in that regard. This is not simply about Scotland versus England, this is about the effect on other constituent nations of the UK as well,” he said.

Unlike Scotland, Wales enjoys only conferred powers – “graciously given” by Westminster, Mr Jones said. This has to change, he added. “We need certainly the understanding that the fact in law that Westminster could abolish the Scottish Parliament or the Welsh Assembly without even a referendum has to go. It’s a theoretical possibility, I know that. That can’t possibly be right, the fact that the Secretary of State for Wales has the right to veto Assembly bills is not the sign of a mature relationship in the 21st century. That has to go,” he said.

Mr Jones also rejected the Coalition’s offer to vary income tax in Wales until the country’s £300m shortfall in Westminster funding through the Barnett formula is addressed.

He said that a future Cardiff government with greater powers could, however, tax resource and energy companies such as those engaged in fracking or coal-bed methane extraction.

“There is a fundamental emotional issue here for us and that is we need to have proper control over our resources to create jobs in Wales. We don’t have that at the moment,” he said – hinting that while he does not want Wales to itself become independent, more devolved economic powers are needed.

Although he said he did not detect support for English regional assemblies, Mr Jones believes the prospect of an English parliament remained the “elephant in the room” in the constitutional debate.

While the the Welsh economy is growing faster than anywhere else except the South-east and North-west of England, Mr Jones has faced a battering from opponents over the state of public services.

Wales has eschewed free schools, academies and league tables but recent international comparisons revealed the country had fallen behind the rest of the UK in educational achievement, and its teenagers appear to be slipping down the table against other developed countries. In addition, patients in Wales must wait longer than fellow citizens of the UK to be transferred from an ambulance to an A&E department.

Support for devolution in Wales is now higher than it was at the time of the 1997 referendum, when barely half the population voted in favour. Now only 12 per cent want to abolish it, although apathy seems to prevail, with fewer than four in 10 voters turning out for a 2011 referendum on more law-making powers for the Welsh Assembly.

Meanwhile the fight to win the argument over Scottish independence will continue with Carwyn Jones likely to take an increasingly high-profile role.

(Here is the original article>>>Carwyn Jones: ‘The UK must continue down the road to becoming a federal nation’ - UK Politics - UK - The Independent)

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


I support the calls for Marine A to receive a Royal Pardon.

As I understand it the facts in this case came to light several years after the event when his comrade who had recorded the whole incident on a helmet video cam-recorder was being investigated for something else and the police looked through his computer and found that he had downloaded and kept the clip of the incident.

Marine A’s response to this seems to have been to lie about it and try to say that he thought the wounded Taliban was already dead. This dishonest response coupled with his comment at the time to his comrades that the incident should “go no further” and that he had breached the “Geneva Convention” showed that Marine A was well aware that he had not only disobeyed orders but also had broken the law. The question however does remain what is the appropriate punishment for this incident?

In my view British Forces should not be in Afghanistan anyway and certainly should not be there in the current political situation where we are in effect propping up a corrupt government and thereby facilitating a vast upsurge in opium production. The direction of travel in the Afghan government in any case is to become ever more Islamist and no doubt as soon as Western troops are removed the Taliban will take-over again. Probably the whole net outcome of the intervention in Afghanistan will be that the Afghan state is far worse than what was happening before so far as our Nation’s interests are concerned. The whole intervention has cost literally billions and the lives of hundreds of our soldiers and the health of thousands of badly wounded or battled traumatised men. The Taliban have been increasingly vicious to captured soldiers and I understand before this incident occurred, not only were the limbs of captured soldiers being displayed on trees, but also at least one had been skinned alive.

In the circumstances it is not surprising that our soldiers start to feel extremely unwilling to take prisoners.

The Geneva Convention does not in fact require soldiers to take prisoners, but once they have been taken then they have to be looked after, so there may have been a legitimate issue as to whether this individual had in fact been taken prisoner. I don’t know whether this was properly argued before the Court Martial.

In any case, even if we assume that he had been taken prisoner and it was a deliberate act of murder, the fact is that the British State has put Marine A into this situation means that it owes him a duty to not treat him like any other ordinary criminal. In particular, not to put him into the civilian prison environment where he is bound to be endangered by the hundreds of Islamist gangs that now infest our prisons.

On this point it is worth noting that when “Tommy Robinson” was sent to prison he had to be kept in solitary confinement in order to protect him from these Islamist gangs! Is the British Political and Establishment really saying that Marine A should be kept in solitary confinement for 10 years for this offence?

It is however the case that Marine A has disobeyed orders and in a military context having soldiers disobey orders and try to cover up their disobedience does require some disciplinary reaction. I would have thought in this case being dismissed from the service with disgrace was sufficient acknowledgement of Marine A’s wrongdoing.

It should also be borne in mind that probably the relevant Taliban individual had been sufficiently badly wounded that he was in fact going to die anyway.

It is also difficult to see what the point of spending considerable expense and medical resources on the Taliban individual would be when even if it was possible to save him, as soon as he became healthy again he would revert to being a serious risk to our soldiers!

As Winston Churchill makes clear in his first book ‘The Malakand Field Force’, he himself and the British Army in the North West Frontier generally did not take prisoners. When they had tried to take prisoners, the then equivalent of the Taliban suicide bombers, the Ghazis would try to kill them! It therefore appears that Churchill and his comrades decided to shortcut the process and give the Ghazis the benefit of immediate martyrdom!

Had the prosecuting decision been mine, I would not have sought to convict Marine A of murder but now that he has been convicted of murder, the honourable way for the State to deal with the situation would be the very traditional one of a Royal Pardon. This would release Marine A from prison immediately but does leave him with a recognition of the fact that there has been a breach of military discipline. What the Government has said about this is no doubt deliberately deceptive. They claimed that:- "It would be inappropriate for the Government to intervene in this independent judicial process." A Royal Pardon is a perfectly proper and long standing way in which the English state has been able to keep legal decisions in tune with public opinion. This case is one where it could be used to correct an injustice.

What do you think?

Friday, 13 December 2013


It is interesting to note that, in all the recent outpouring of angst from the self-proclaimed “PROGRESSIVE” side of politics, there is increasing recognition that the English are awakening and also their ‘weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth’ is over the fact that there is no Leftist English nationalist party. 

A good example of this type of view is in the article set out below. The article is by Anthony Barnett who is a former member of the editorial committee of New Left Review, and writes for the New Statesman and the Guardian

I would have thought the reason for this "lack" of a Leftist English nationalist party is obvious from the Left's own research. In the Labourite IPPR report 'England and Her Two Unions', it is clear that English Nationalism has certain defined characteristics which can be proven from the various opinion polls that the IPPR have done. 

They are as follows:- 
* low and decreasing support for the status quo 
* very low support for English regionalism 
* strong support for a form of governance that treats England as a distinct political unit 
*continuing lack of consensus about which English option is appropriate
*The status quo is consistently less favoured than alternatives which would give some form of institutional recognition to England as a whole. 
* English nationalism seeks no cross border subsidies and, in particular, Scotland to pay its own way. *English Nationalism seeks an end to mass immigration
*English Nationalism seeks a celebration of St George’s Day and other English festivals. It even seeks an English passport! (40%!) 
* English nationalism demands to get England out of the EU. This is an aspiration which seems to be contrary to the majority feeling in Scotland and Wales. 

It seems true there might yet be some argument between the English people to be had over the form of Constitutional response for England but there can be no doubt of its requirement to be for the whole of England and that Regionalisation has been definitively rejected. 

The problem for the Left is, of course, that all these English demands they have themselves decided to characterise as being "Right-wing". It follows that any party that has any interest in representing the views of those that regard themselves as being "English" is going to be characterised by the Left as being "Right-wing". 

This wouldn’t necessarily have to be so. If one took, as an example, opposition to immigration . At one time opposition to mass immigration was very much seen as a Left-wing position. Indeed one of the heroes of the foundation of the Labour Party, Keir Hardie, made his name opposing unrestricted Irish immigrant labour into his home area of Scotland! 

In my view, in effect the Left have self-defined themselves out of the running to be the voice of the English people and particularly of English nationalism. What do you think? 

Here is the article:- 

Scotland step by step but what about England?  

 Anthony Barnett 29 November 2013 

The Scottish Government has outlined its vision for independence from Westminster. But what the British elite is most afraid of is that the English start to demand independence from them too... The publication of the Scottish government's White Paper on its program for independence is proof of a truism. 

One that the London media, which hates truth generated by others perhaps more than anything, will ignore, repress, distort or deny (you can take your choice). For it is neither a ‘historic document’, nor a doomed message of reassurance, nor a suicide note or even a “fairy tale”. It is instead proof that independence is a process not an event. 

That this observation is becoming a cliché does not erode its veracity. There are some echoes of it, of course. Steve Richards, in his column in the Independent, for example, a paper which otherwise pilloried rather than reported Alex Salmond’s announcement of the White Paper, wrote, “Scotland is already going its own way and will continue to in the coming years. The referendum is something of a red herring.” But this is absurd, for if the White Paper consolidates an irreversible direction of travel it is hardly a diversion. 

What might seem fishy is a characteristic that misled the same London media in 1999 when the referendum on establishing a Scottish parliament within the UK took place. Journalists sent from London reported with disappointment that there were no barricades or smell of cordite in the streets as the country said ‘Yes’. Where was the revolution, they asked, as people voted and then went shopping. But Scotland is becoming normal by becoming more self-governing (an attribute it shares with the 1989 revolutions I have argued). 

This is Salmond’s calling card and it is not a deceitful reassurance. When he waves the huge white tome and says, in effect, ‘It will all be fine we are not trying to leave the planet’ it is not spin. A parallel argument that independence is a better form of living with interdependence is set out by Tom Nairn in his Edinburgh lecture on Globalisation and Nationalism

The real revolution is the international reshaping of production and the world economy in which “dwarves” like Scotland have a better chance on their own than being part of lumbering middle-states like the UK.The real difference then is human not material. It is the spirit that matters - the spirit of self-government - more than any ‘case’ for independence. Simon Jenkins, at least, understands this. 

It is about freedom. And it is this that the 'Great British' political class will try to isolate and asphyxiate, to prevent the spirit of independence from spreading across Britain. Underlying every assault on the call for Scottish independence by Darling and his cohorts is a pre-emptive attack on the English to ensure that English voters do not lose their fatalism and submissiveness, that the rule of Westminster and Whitehall now depends upon. For the declaration of independence the UK’s political class fears most of all is getting the finger from the English. Scottish contagion not Scottish independence is their main concern as “more and more English people are thinking, what the hell: if the Scots want to walk out, why don’t we just let them?” to quote from this week’s Boris Johnson column in the Telegraph that makes my case for me. 

Unlike ‘constitutional reform’ in England, which remains the preserve of an elite that trades on the unique advantage given it by the absence of codification, the Scottish process is a rooted in the sovereignty of the people. When the Irish exercised theirs, the Protestant ascendency in the North created a popular Unionist barrier between the force of Irish republicanism and the main British island (creating a peculiar, religiously branded politics of a mobilized minority democracy). But this time, as the Scottish people exercise their sovereignty, it will be much harder to isolate their claim of right to do so from the rest of us. 

The positive formulation that lies behind Boris Johnson’s lampoon is far more threatening, “If they can decide whether or not to be ruled by Westminster, why can’t we?” The sadness is that there is no English party or movement capable of making this challenge in a positive fashion. For the energy and spirit of Scotland’s example could lead to the emancipation of us all with the declaration of self-government by England and the emergence of an English parliament. 

This would be able to co-create a federal Britain with its Scottish and Welsh sisters that could command the lasting, positive assent of the Scottish people, as Carwyn Jones has said as the First Minister of Wales. The case for this currently improbable scenario is something I allude to in a short contribution to Gerry Hassan and James Mitchell's After Independence just published by Luath Press. It would not mean the failure of the White Paper for it would be an expansion of the process of independence not its frustration.


On the death of any seemingly much loved husband, father, grandfather (and great-grandfather?) condolences are very much in order for the bereaved family.  On this basis I would wish to add my condolences to the Mandela family. 

However the reception of the not unexpected news that Nelson Mandela after quite a long illness and well into his 90’s had now died was overblown by all the media generally, but especially ridiculously so by the BBC.

Nelson Mandela was of course a great man not only as Leader of the ANC and President of South Africa, but also as a world figure, but I do question whether he was the greatest man of the 20th Century as at least one commentator burbled?  I certainly think not. 

In terms of secular sainthood we should remember that he was responsible for various deaths and convicted of terrorist offences in South Africa.  I suspect that he would have been convicted on the same facts in a British court as well. 

It is certainly true that his crimes were politically motived by his opposition to the apartheid regime in South Africa, but nevertheless there was blood on his hands.  This puts him in sharp distinction to another figure that he has been compared with and, in my opinion, a much greater figure, namely Mahatma Gandhi.  Mandela also did not have world impact of somebody like Churchill in the 20th Century. Nor can he be compared in stature as a historical figure against some of the bad men of the 20th Century, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tsi-Tung, Pol Pot.  Nevertheless it is proper to say that, in the context of South Africa, he is an important and great man. 
The news reporting that I read and heard seems entirely to ignore the role played in a peaceful transition from apartheid to ANC rule by President of South Africa, President de Klerk.  De Klerk was after all as important in enabling a peaceful transfer of power as Nelson Mandela himself.  No doubt the whole process of peace talks had been going on for a long time before Nelson Mandela was released from prison and it may have happened on the footing that there was going to be a peace process.

Nevertheless Nelson Mandela deserves great credit for the peaceful transfer and the emergence of largely a peaceful nation although not as a successful and peaceful as made out by the media, given the large numbers of murders and rapes and general civic and criminal mayhem that is occurring in South Africa. 

Nelson Mandela’s outstanding qualities are most vividly revealed by comparison to any other black African politician. 

Compare him for example with the Leader of the opposition to white rule in Rhodesia and what has happened since with the now President Robert Mugabe of what is now Zimbabwe and you will immediately see that as against the appalling standard of most black Africa’s leadership, Nelson Mandela stands out as a relative beacon of hope for humanity.

But secular saint? Sorry, no I don’t think so, but what do you think?

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Cops from France in Essex swoop on drug ring suspect - EU version of 'Extraordinary Rendition'?

What do you think of this article?

French cops swoop on Ockendon in trafficking bust

TWO men from West Essex have this morning been arrested as part of a cross-channel investigation into drug trafficking and money laundering.

On Thursday, November 14, detectives and financial investigators from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU), officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA), Essex Police and the French Judicial Police, executed search warrants at two addresses on Rollason Way in Brentwood and The Green in South Ockendon.

Two men, aged 30 and 26, were arrested at each address, respectively, on suspicion of conspiracy to import cocaine and amphetamine, and money laundering. They are currently being questioned by detectives.

DI Simon Harsley, of SEROCU, said: “The arrests today follow the arrests of three British men over the last 18 months, as a result of joint operation between French and British agencies, for allegedly attempting to import cocaine and amphetamine into the country from northern France in a microlite aircraft. All three are currently in custody awaiting trial in France.”

Dave White, from the NCA’s Border Policing Command, said: “This investigation has already led to the seizure of around 70kg of class A drugs which were destined for the UK. Working closely with law enforcement colleagues here and in France the NCA is determined to tackle those responsible for trafficking illegal drugs into the UK.”

SEROCU, which is based in Sussex, comprises police officers and staff from the forces of Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, and Thames Valley, and works in conjunction with UK Border enforcement teams, HMRC and NCA, to combat cross-border organised crime.

The NCA‘s Border Policing Command has over 300 officers at major ports, investigating detections of drugs, firearms, cash and other non-fiscal crime made by Border Force. The BPC also has an extensive overseas network of around 120 officers in 40 locations around the world.

Media enquiries should be directed to Sussex Police Press Office on 01273 404173 or email They handle media relations relating to SEROCU investigations.

If I had been elected as Essex Police Commissioner last year then I could really have done something about this but as a concerned Citizen and Englishman this was my reaction:-

The Editor

Dear Sir

Re:- “Cops from France in Essex swoop on drug ring suspect”

Any red-bloodied Englishman would surely want to know what on earth both Essex Police and also Essex’s new Conservative Party Police Commissioner, Nick (“vous etes Niqued, mon fils”?) Alston, think they are doing allowing French police to take part in arresting one of our citizens here in England?

Maybe it is now Conservative Party policy not only to stay in the EU directly against the will of the majority of English people, but also to allow foreign police to arrest and extradite our citizens without due process, in an EU inspired version of “extreme rendition”?

Yours faithfully

Robin Tilbrook


The English Democrats

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Nick Clegg labels UKIP Un-British!

Nick Clegg has labelled Ukip and eurosceptic Tory MPs "unpatriotic" for their demand that Britain leave the European Union.

The deputy prime minister made the comments on Monday morning... Clegg told a press conference in Whitehall: "I think the view represented by Ukip, large parts of the Conservative Party and Paul Sykes is a betrayal of the national interest and an unpatriotic approach because it would leave many people poorer, it would leave us weaker as a country and it would throw many people out of work, and I can't possibly see why anyone thinks that that is something that in any way represents the long-term national interest."

"There are lots of subtleties in the argument about Britain's place in Europe and lots of debates about this directive or that directive and this European Commission decision or that European Commission decision," he said.

"Actually underlying them is a fundamental view - do you believe we should be in or out of the European Union? I unambiguously lead the party of In."

This isn’t as foolish a comment by Nick Clegg as it seems.  The IPPR has comprehensively polled the people of England and it is now clear that people who identify themselves as British are disproportionately likely to be Europhiles.  It might therefore be credibly said that Eurosceptics are in this sense anti-British!

The people who are strongly anti EU are people who identify themselves as ENGLISH!

The IPPR report says:-
.. Our data shows a strong, consistent and unambiguous link between Euroscepticism and English, rather than British, national identity. For example, when asked whether or not UK membership of the EU is a good or bad thing, negative views are much more prevalent towards the more English end of the identity spectrum. Conversely – and again counter to received wisdom – attitudes  to European integration are notably more positive among those with a more British identity. It is British identifiers who are the Europhile group in England. "

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Scottish Independence: The future of the Union Flag

The Flag Institute (whose website is here >>> has published this survey:-

Scottish Independence: The future of the Union Flag

The Scottish Government intends to hold a referendum of the Scottish electorate, on the issue of independence from the United Kingdom, on Thursday 18 September 2014. The question asked in the referendum will be "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

The Flag Institute is the UK's National Flag Charity.  We're interested in your views on how you think a successful independence vote could (and should) affect the flag of the United Kingdom.
1. If Scotland becomes independent, do you think the Union Flag will or will not change?
2. If Scotland becomes independent, do you think the Union Flag should or should not change?
3. What arguments are there for changing the Union Flag following independence? (even if these are not arguments you support)
4. What arguments are there against changing the Union Flag following independence? (even if these are not arguments you support)
5. Not including the existing Union Flag pattern, what new designs do you feel might be worthy of consideration for a post Scottish-independence UK?
6. The current Union Flag is made up of the crosses of St George (England), St Andrew (Scotland), and St Patrick (Northern Ireland). Wales is not independently recognised in the current design of the flag.
If the Union Flag did change as a result of Scottish independence, should the new design include an element which represents Wales? Please explain your choice.
7. Who should decide IF the flag of the United Kingdom should change following Scottish independence.
The UK Government
The Royal Household
The UK Government and the Royal Household together
Citizens of the United Kingdom in a referendum
8. If the decision was made to change the flag of the United Kingdom following Scottish independence, what combination of organisations and methods should be used to best choose the new design? Please choose as many or as few as you wish, or add your own suggestion.
The UK Government
The Royal Household, via the College of Arms
The Flag Institute, operating a public design competition
The Welsh Government
Governments of Commonwealth nations whose flags still include the current Union Flag design
Religious organisations

I have written this to them. What do you think?

Dear Sir,

RE:- Survey : Questions
Scottish Independence: The future of the Union Flag

I was interested to see your above survey but it is unfortunate that you seem to be confused over the legal basis of the Union of the United Kingdom of Great Britain - which, with the greatest of respect to your organisation, shows that you may have been badly briefed by someone who must be ignorant of the relevant basic constitutional legal concepts.

No sensible lawyer would agree that, if Scotland leaves the UK, the "rest of the United Kingdom of Great Britain" is thereafter a concept which continues to have any legal meaning. The words of the Act of Union 1707 are too clear to admit of that interpretation.

Here are the words of the Act of Union:-

THAT THE TWO Kingdoms of England and Scotland shall upon the first Day of May which shall be in the Year one thousand seven hundred and seven, and for ever after, be united into one Kingdom by the name of Great Britain;

That the United Kingdom of Great Britain be represented by one and the same Parliament, to be stiled, The Parliament of Great Britain."

It follows that there will be no automatic UK flag and that if there isn't fundamental constitutional legislation to preserve some aspects of the Union that the flags will be those of the constituent nations of the UK eg England with the Cross of St George!

Yours faithfully

Robin Tilbrook
The English Democrats

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Did you know that a Yorkshire MP was this bigoted against the English?

Did you know that this Yorkshire MP was this bigoted against the English?

Eddie Bone of the Campaign for an English Parlaiment is interviewed. The item starts at 50.10. 
Just listen to the outrageous remarks of this Labour MP!
Barry Sheerman MP needs to be flooded with complaints about his anti Englishness.
Here is his email address >>>

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

UK is “drinking in the last chance saloon”. "Closing time" is 18th September 2014

UK is “drinking in the last chance saloon”. "Closing time" is 18th September 2014

The "United Kingdom of Great Britain", which is the constitutional foundation stone of the current UK, will be broken up by a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum in 2014.

The UK Government and Political Establishment is now drifting through its last chances for resurrecting a reformed UK after the dissolution of the old merger between the Kingdoms of England and Scotland created in 1707 which formed the then new concept of “Great Britain”.

After the 2014 Scottish referendum it will be too late for the UK if the “English Question” has not already been fairly dealt with by the British Political Establishment.

Robin Tilbrook, the Chairman of the English Democrats said that:- “I don’t believe that the British Government and Political Establishment have any serious interest in tackling the "English Question". Their failure to implement even the minimalist recommendations of the MacKay Commission, giving England an officially recognised voice in Parliament and suggesting that the Establishment parties have manifestos for England (as well as their existing ones for Scotland and Wales!) demonstrates that they simply don’t care about the English Nation and about English national interests, let alone bother to attempt to represent them in Parliament! A perfect example of this contempt was the casual decision to close Portsmouth’s shipbuilding in the interests of Scottish shipbuilding in the heart of the independence referendum battle-zone on the Clyde. It is for this reason that the English Democrats have adopted the keynote policy of Independence for England.”

Robin continued:- “There are now pro-independence parties within all the nations of "Great Britain" – Scotland, Wales and England. Already over 36% (ComRes poll) of English people support Independence for England. So there is already more support for Independence for England in England than there is for Scotland and Wales in Scotland and Wales! The English are increasingly ready and willing to end relationships with Scotland and Wales which seem all too one sided and in which vast sums of our hard earned money is wasted by the UK government in attempting to buy their support for the Union in the latter day travesty of Danegeld known as the Barnett Formula.”

The text of the Act of Union speaks for itself in showing that the de-merger of the kingdoms of Scotland and England leads automatically to the dissolution of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Here is the relevant wording:-

THAT THE TWO Kingdoms of England and Scotland shall upon the first Day of May which shall be in the Year one thousand seven hundred and seven, and for ever after, be united into one Kingdom by the name of Great Britain;

That the United Kingdom of Great Britain be represented by one and the same Parliament, to be stiled, The Parliament of Great Britain.

Yours faithfully

Robin Tilbrook
and Chairman of  The English Democrats,

Key facts about the English Democrats

The English Democrats launched in 2002. The English Democrats are the English nationalist Party which campaigns for a referendum for Independence for England; for St George’s Day to be England’s National holiday; for Jerusalem to be England’s National Anthem; to leave the EU; for an end to mass immigration; for the Cross of St George to be flown on all public buildings in England.

The English Democrats are England’s answer to the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru. The English Democrats’ greatest electoral successes to date include winning the Directly Elected Executive Mayoralty of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and the 2012 referendum; We won the referendum which triggered a referendum to give Salford City an Elected Mayor; In 2012 we saved all our deposits in the Police Commissioner elections and came second in South Yorkshire; In the 2009 EU election we gained 279,801 votes after a total EU campaign spend of less than £25,000 (giving the English Democrats by far the most cost efficient electoral result of any serious Party in the UK)

Monday, 18 November 2013

"Time spent in Reconnaissance is seldom wasted"!! Old Army motto

Labourites reveal their tactics against “populists”

Recently the Labourite support group the “Policy Network” produced a paper on what should be done about the rise of the “Populist Radical Right”. The paper was quite long so I have edited down to its key elements. 

This should be required reading for all those who want to know what tactics our Established parties are likely to adopt to combat the populist “threat” to their self-interests. 

We know that fighting dirty was likely, now we can see the details of their tactics and can label what we can see them up to! 

Here is the edited paper. What do you think of it?


Introductory Remarks

The rise of the populist radical right is one of the most significant features of western democracies in the last quarter of a century. As a ‘challenger brand’ within democracy but against liberal democracy, this suggests that the system may be under some ‘stress’.

Populism is a democratic argument that seeks to change the way democracy functions. It is a threat within democracy to the culture and norms of liberal democracy as its functions. In other words, right wing populism does not seek to replace democracy; it seeks to change it.

Real ‘demand’ exists for a populist radical right but the ability to convert that ‘demand’ into political power depends on the interplay of populist and mainstream forces.

Strategies at the disposal of mainstream democratic parties are numerous and are analysed in the report as falling into three main categories: ‘hold’, ‘defuse’ and ‘adopt’. The first involves seeking to avoid the threat of populism, the second aims to minimise the impact of populist anxieties, and the third moves towards the populist position. However, all these strategies have limitations. Instead, three sequential and concurring strategies are recommended: acknowledge the issues that drive potential support for the populist radical right; develop a comprehensive new statecraft involving an expression of national vision, major public policy interventions in jobs, welfare and housing at a local and national level, along with building a new ‘contact democracy’.

‘Contact democracy’ where local needs are met, new voters are mobilised into mainstream democracy, hate and extremism is challenged, support for community life is extended, and social capital is developed within communities is a crucial component of the ‘new statecraft’. This is not simply through political parties – which have to fundamentally change nonetheless – but through community organisations, campaigns and local authorities.

Populism is a democratic argument that seeks to change the way democracy functions. It is a threat within democracy to the culture and norms of liberal democracy as its functions. In other words, right wing populism does not seek to replace democracy; it seeks to change it into a populist, direct, expressive form of democracy instead of an institutionally bounded liberal democracy.

The core characteristics of Populism - Muddle and Kaltwasser defines populism as follows:-

“A thin-centred ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogenous and antagonistic groups, the ‘pure people’ and the ‘corrupt elite’ and which argues that politics should be an expression of the volonte generale (general will) of the people”.

Taggart points to the importance of a conception of ‘heartland’ in populist politics. Heartland is essentially an ‘idealised’ notion of a morally pure people. The elasticity of this concept is useful as populism itself is extremely elastic. Margaret Canovan distinguishes the ‘redemptive’ and ‘pragmatic’ sides of democracy. The former is expressive and emotive; the latter is about process, balance and institutional interplay. Western democracies are pragmatic; representative and liberal as well as democratic. Populists want a more redemptive politics where the will of the morally pure majority is enacted – without much if any obstacle.

The content of the populist right wing has to be separated from its basis form. Nationalism, immigration concerns, cultural anxiety, and economic protection are attached to populism in different ways in different contexts. These ideas, issues and motivations can also be pursued through the mainstream or even the extreme. For example, nationalism has been seen in the paramilitary form within Basque separatism, in populist form through the Flemish Vlaams Blok or mainstream form through the Scottish National Party’s civic and plural nationalism.

The moral disdain that populists have for the mainstream is reciprocated. In fact, moral segregation has been one of the primary responses of the mainstream to the populist radical right. There is no better political strategy than assigning your threat moral illegitimacy – if it works. The problem is that it has not really worked. There is ‘demand’ for parties that focus on culture, immigration, economic change, nationhood, perceived legal and political favouritism towards minority groups, the perceived threat of Islam to ‘western values’, EU ‘threats to national sovereignty’ and Eurozone impositions, and, as has been seen in the case of the Tea Party in the US, a fear of the intrusive state. The problem that mainstream political actors now face is that moral isolation has not been successful and they are in danger of seeming disdainful of the real concerns to which the populist radical right responds.

To acknowledge that these issues are real concerns is not to accept the arguments proffered by the populist radical right – far from it. It is rather that the moral condemnation form of politics is inadequate and counter-productive. The mainstream further undermines itself. We are beyond the initial birth stage of the populist radial right. In some cases it has reach puberty.

Populism may be pluralistic democracy’s ugly sibling; extremism is populism’s harmful cousin. To a certain extent, the populist radical right and the extreme right are fishing in the same pond of angst and anxiety as academic surveys of their respective supporters have shown, but they pursue their cause in a different fashion. However, this does not mean that populism is benign. The populist style of dealing with contentious issues is, in fact, highly problematic.

It is no longer sensible simply to demonise populist forces. Mainstream parties need to demonstrate that they can be trusted more than populists in a political environment where there is a lower lever of natural support for any given party. 

1. Stress and crisis

Mainstream parties have been the mainstays of liberal democracy since universal suffrage. In fact, they are intrinsically linked to the system – when they struggle to maintain support, it is one signal that there is conflict between the system and voters. It is perhaps even a tautology that mainstream parties are intrinsically bound with the institutions of liberal democracy. They contest policy and ideological positions but they are not seeking to shift from a system of representative, liberal democracy to a more majoritarian, direct, people’s democracy as an alternative.

“LIBERAL DEMOCRACY” is constrained. It is akin to what Robert Dahl describes as ‘polyarchy’. Therefore, it has free, fair, equal and contested elections at its core, but the ability of the majority to constrain the rights of a minority is limited. Constraints are institutional: legally and constitutionally guaranteed basic freedoms – of expression, association, etc. – are underpinned by the rule of law. Protection of minorities also means that an interested minority can get their way against a disinterested majority. Political elites could be seen as one such minority, though only one of many. This ensures a pluralistic quality to liberal democracy. In this sense, it is a case of ‘minorities rule’. This is the system to which the political mainstream is wedded, defined by and definitive of.

If there is a strongly held real or perceived ‘general will’ and that happened to impinge upon the rights of a minority view, then an enterprising political leader might decide to meet that demand. In modern democracies constrained to a varying degree by international treaties, judicial review, coalition formation, separation of powers between branches and levels of government, super-majorities and protections from constitutional principles and human rights, demands for action can become frustrated. This is precisely what we have seen: on immigration; rights for prisoners, migrants and minorities; social values in the case of conservative America in particular; terrorism; access to welfare systems; and national sovereignty. In all of these areas the ‘popular will’ has been frustrated not by policy or ideology but by the institutions of liberal democracy themselves. This is where populist parties have the opportunity to step in – by turning ‘the people’ against the system.

Technology interacts with cultural change in a way that can reinforce fear, hatred and prejudice. The formation of on-line bubbles and tribes reflecting and amplifying anxieties without challenge is becoming a feature across the political spectrum. This is a more interactive and extreme version of what happens when people consume their own prejudices (whether left or right) in the particular news media to which they expose themselves. Echo chambers can be low-level, dip in and out, interest focused or they can be dangerous and corrosive. The dynamic and interactive nature of online and social media can make fears and hatred more toxic – in a political sense in the case of certain modes of populism or in a security sense in the case of extremism.

While populism is not the only plausible response to socio-economic, cultural and political change, it does have certain resources that are to its advantage. Within each of these ‘stresses’ on liberal democracy lies opportunities for a populist political, ideological and rhetorical attack: the ‘general will’ thwarted; ‘elites’ mendacity; the people and their heartland jeopardised; the ‘other’ posing a threat, and ‘arrogant’ and ‘aloof’ liberal democracy either incapable or unwilling to respond adequately.


What follows are eight potential strategic responses that mainstream parties can deploy in response to the populist radical right. They are not exhaustive, but are illustrative. Bale et al. break down strategic responses into three categories: hold; adopt, and defuse. A hold strategy involves staying the course and avoiding a substantive strategic response to the populist radical right: cordon sanitaire, tentative engagement and ‘return to the roots’ broadly fall into this category. Defuse involves attempts to decrease the salience of populist radical right issues. Triangulation, re-framing and left populism fall into this category. The third category is adopt: absorption is an example of this strategic response. Statecraft and contact democracy are the substantive approaches that have yet to be tried. They do not seem to fall easily within the hold-defuse-adopt typology. Nor have they been comprehensively attempted.

What follows is an analysis of the merits of eight (or so) mainstream strategic responses to the rise of the populist radical right in Western European democracies and the US.

A. Cordon Sanitaire

The Cordon Sanitaire strategy is described by Sarah de Lange and Tjitske Akkerman in the context of the Flemish party system as follows:-

“[Established parties] have agreed not to cooperate with the [Vlaams Block (VB)] in the electoral arena (no electoral cartels, no joint press conferences or declarations towards the press), in the parliamentary arena (no joint legislative activities or voting agreements, no support for resolutions introduced by the VB), or the executive arena (no governmental coalitions).

In the case of the populist nationalist anti-immigrant, francophone and elite VB, this strategy worked. A competitor, but more moderate nationalist party, the N-VA (New Flemish Alliance), has overtaken the party in popularity. In the recent Antwerp elections, VB fell from 33.5 per cent to 10.2 per cent of the vote; its stronghold was breeched. Cordon sanitaire clearly has its uses when it comes to marginalising parties and bears some resemblance to the ‘no shared platform’ approach adopted by mainstream parties towards the BNP in the UK.

Therefore, this strategy in one of the containment and does have its uses – particularly where extremist parties are the target. It has several drawbacks, however:

1. Despite its successful deployment in Belgium, it often does not work. A similar approach has been attempted towards the Front National in France, yet they still remain a significant minority party.

2. While a cordon sanitaire may quarantine parties, it does not quarantine issues. Flemish nationalism is, if anything, stronger than ever. The Front National’s agenda on immigration, minority communities and Islam has been flirted with by the UMP in France.

3. In the context of a moralisation of politics, which is one feature of populism, the very act of quarantine can justify the pariah party’s narrative. It can leave the mainstream exposed as incapable of dealing with real concerns, playing to the notion of a distant, self-interested elite.

4. It can backfire. The minister-presidents of the German federal states are seeking a ban on the far-right NPD. In so doing, they could end up amplifying the party and its cause as Kai Arzheimer has argued.

5. No shared platform does not mean ‘no platform’. Once a party has reached a certain level of strength and has elected representatives, it is impossible to deny it a public platform. Moreover, as Nick Lowles, Director of Hope not Hate, has argued, while some barriers to a platform can and should still be enforced, social media, community and street campaigns provide an alternative platform that cannot be denied. Cordon sanitaire has an aspect of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ that is unrealistic and harmful – potentially leaving extreme arguments and parties unanswered.

B. Absorption

Absorption works in two ways: either a populist party is co-opted to a cause or their issues are co-opted. Tim Bale has described the OVP (People’s Party) led Schussel Cabinet 1 of 2000-03 as ‘unceremonious cannibalism’. The OVP co-opted 50 per cent of the populist right Freedom Party’s (FPO) 1999 support in the 2002 election. Immigration policy was toughened up and the tensions of office – including responsibility for a tough fiscal policy – weighed heavily on the FPO’s internal unity. After a new coalition was formed following weeks of protracted negotiation in 2003, the FPO split in two with leader Jorg Haider forming a new right party – the BZO. Absorption was a seemingly successful strategy.

Yet, by 2008, the FPO had gained 13 seats and increased its vote by 6.5% (the BZO similarly increased its support and representation). Ahead of the 2013 legislative elections, opinion polls show the FPO still in a strong third place. Like non-populist third parties, coalition can be toxic as the smallest party for populists. In addition their ‘moral’ purity of vision quickly crashes into governing reality. However, once on the outside they can recover more critical and uncompromising positions – a moral car wash. Absorption can therefore only work in the medium term where the populist party is metaphorically strangled to death in office.

C. Triangulation and re-framing

Triangulation is a strategy that involves taking traditional solutions to solve an opponent’s ‘owned’ concerns – social democratic ends through conservative means or vice versa. It involves adopting a new, synthesised and transcendent policy approach in order to please both existing supporters and those of the opponent. One example of the centre-left achieving this goal in the debate over identity and cultural anxiety, for example, is to re-cast the problem as one of economic policy and social investment instead of one of cultural relations. Additionally, a centre-left party may agree to some tightening of immigration rules. The centre-right, as seen in the cases of the Dutch VVD and Austrian OVP, have tried triangulation alongside absorption as strategies. They can fit comfortably together: it is no coincidence that triangulation strategy often goes alongside a ‘big tent’ approach.

Re-framing as outlined by the psychologist George Lakoff is in many ways less substantive in policy terms than triangulation. It is more concerned with presenting an argument in a way that has cognitive appeal. The human mind is conditioned to respond to narrative, metaphor, and empathy. ‘Liberals’ (in the American context) should try to rely on facts and evidence and instead condition voters to think in their way. In this mode, the way to marginalise populist radical right parties could be to dramatise the harm they do to minorities and perhaps the wider consequences to human life of more restrictive policies.

There are drawbacks to both triangulation (meeting voters where they are) and re-framing (bringing voters to your positions). The major issue with triangulation is that on these populist issues, it is very difficult to find a bridging policy between two mutually-exclusive positions. The following is the UK Labour party’s supporters’ attitudes on two populist attitude statements:-
- more
- less
- more
- less
Stop all
Number of
Presence of
Islam in
Source: Extremis Project/YouGov

It is very difficult to see how Labour can triangulate either to a more populist right or mainstream liberal position given this split in its own supporters. More widely, it is hoping to win voters who are more concerned about immigration, welfare, and culture, but it is difficult to know how this can be achieved without alienating many of its current supporters – and they have become more rather than less liberal since the last General Election. Moreover, the very act of being seen to triangulate in this way would play into the moral accusations of a populist radical right party. The Conservatives face a similar dilemma between their current support, which is fairly hardline on questions of immigration and culture, and the younger/black and minority ethnic voters who it wants to attract, but who are more pragmatic.

Re-framing is an unconvincing way around this tricky dilemma. Firstly, the ‘framing space’ of politics is competitive so the challenges to your ‘frame’ will be considerable. Secondly, no matter how talented a communicator a mainstream party may have at their disposal, if they do not address anxieties head-on by talking about cultural as well as social and economic matters, they risk irrelevance. Having said this, there are ‘economic’ elections and ‘cultural’ elections. At certain times, such as the current context, economic questions can ‘crowd-out’ cultural questions. Much of this is exogenous and depends on people’s most pressing concern given economic and political circumstances at the time. Therefore, it might be a case of ensuring relevance and sequencing the economic and cultural arguments to coincide with the political movement. The problem comes when trying to fight with an economic frame in a cultural moment. That is the risk of over-ambitious re-framing.

Re-framing sometimes offers a good communication manual for politicians, but as an antidote to populism, with its own powerful imagery and story, it will fall short. Indeed, a combination of triangulation and/or re-framing could fall between two stools and play into populist hands: ‘unprincipled politics’ mixed with a misdiagnosis of the political challenge.

D. Return to roots and Left Populism

For the centre-left, there is the alternative strategy of adopting a class-based populism instead of the more cultural populist narratives of the populist radical right. In a sense, this is fighting fire with fire. In some respects, in the context of economic crisis and austerity, it is quite surprising that a stronger left-wing populism has not yet emerged.

E. Acknowledgement/tentative engagement

Essentially, this strategy is a holding position and can only work in the short term. It involves more than just talking about the issues of the populist radical right. It requires acknowledgement that the concerns and angst of voters in more anxious and even hostile parts of the electorate are real. It does not, however mean following the policy, rhetoric or approaches of the populist radical right – that would be contagion. It is simply a tentative engagement with these voters and their concerns which are not necessarily the natural territory of the mainstream party.

This strategy has been adopted by UK Labour leader Ed Miliband as he has sought in a series of speeches to engage with Englishness, the EU, immigration, and cultural anxieties and conflict without offering strong solutions or policies in response. Given the see-saw effect we saw in the analysis on triangulation, it is an entirely sensible holding position. However, something more comprehensive will ultimately be required if it is not to be seen as merely paying lip-service. Here statecraft comes in to the picture.

F. Statecraft

Jim Bulpitt defined statecraft as:-

“The art of winning elections and, above all, achieving a necessary degree of competence in office”.

This is achieved across four dimensions: party management; developing a winning electoral strategy; political argument hegemony and governing competence. Jim Buller and Toby James add a further dimension to statecraft: bending the rules of the game. It is an elite level theory and places party leadership in the critical democratic position. In the context of democratic stress, the response to new cultural, economic and political challenges becomes critical. The statecraft strategy requires a fundamental approach on political, electoral and governance levels. Ultimately, as the mainstream’s ability to govern and meet democratic expectations is questioned, the best medium-term strategy requires a demonstration that the mainstream can still answer the demands and needs of people in the context of democratic stress.

In response to democratic stress, a mainstream centre-left or right statecraft could have a number of facets:

1. Accept that people’s anxieties are cultural as well as economic. Do not leave thorny issues – such as on-street grooming to populists or extremists. Ensure they are dealt with in the democratic mainstream.

2. Present a national vision that can transcend these cultural anxieties; do not accept the inevitability of cultural conflict and the potential harm that implies. For example, when Nicholas Sarkozy launched a debate on national identity, the French left refused to respond. Not only should they have participated, they should have been ahead of this debate.

3. Be honest about what can and cannot be managed in terms of immigration without causing harm to people’s incomes, future growth, public services and particular industries. Manage what can be managed; be honest about what is less manageable.

4. Rapid local change can be disconcerting without active management. Ensure that communities facing such change are able to adapt public services, housing and local employment to the changes.

5. Engage with concerns about contribution and access to welfare – this perhaps more than anything else is corrosive of trust in public institutions.

6. Appreciate how a lack of market power can accentuate anxieties and address them through training, advice and guidance, job brokerage and support for wages.

7. Play to mainstream democratic strengths: persuasively articulate the importance of pragmatic governance in defence of individual and national interest.

8. Appreciate the sources of distrust in representative politics – professionalization, nepotism, corruption, lack of real diversity, insiderdom. Take real steps to demonstrate that mainstream democracy is opening up and confronting its weaknesses. Centralised, closed and ‘guild-like’ parties are a disaster in this regard – which is exactly what many mainstream parties have become.

9. Insist that political institutions should be more accessible – where democracy, policy action and services can be localised, they should be.

10. Embrace contact democracy – in contradiction to a groupist multiculturalist approach – on a local level, even if the benefits are not easily quantified. Meaningful contact between the mainstream party and those it represents is critical for building trust. Moreover, community mobilisation that creates one-to-one contact will reduce tensions over time. Support should be given to groups and campaigns that enable this.

The statecraft approach relies on a blend of party change, transparent and fearless engagement, practical institution building, supporting groups and campaigns that create more meaningful local contact within communities and democratic change. It is an elitist approach with democratic ends. It combines organisation, governance, ideology, policy and electoral competition. It is comprehensive and difficult, though not impossible to pull off. It requires engaging directly with the sources and tensions of ‘democratic stress’.

An important element of statecraft is public policy. It should be said that while the anger, sense of betrayal, feeling of unfairness, frustration at the lack of transparency and apparent lack of strong management competence on border control in response to cultural and economic change is significant, the policy levers can at first glance seem weak. For example, complete border management requires withdrawal from the EU. The notion that one nation can control not only its comparative economic advantage, but also its distribution within the nation, is fanciful to say the least. Equally, control of the internal movement and settlement of people takes the state in an authoritarian direction. Modern statecraft is clear and transparent about its limitations as well as its potentially impactful interventions. These caveats are important. If they are not acknowledged, then trust is undermined and statecraft is fatally wounded early in its lifespan. The commitment of David Cameron’s Conservatives to reducing net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ without the significant ability to control that flow is one example of how trust can be hampered from the outset. As a consequence, the Conservative lead on immigration has already declined from 28 per cent when the party came into office, to 13 per cent by the end of January 2013.

However three potential areas of note do present opportunities to ‘pull levers’ both in a local and national context in ways that address some of the underlying concerns about change, fairness and opportunity.

1. Jobs. The rules of access here are critical: enforcement of minimum wages; introduction of living wages; and support both in and out of work for individuals to help them develop and transition skills whilst also helping smooth the move from one job to another.

2. Welfare. The contributory principle is one which accords with a reciprocal moral sense. Linking access to key welfare resources to work or wider social contribution is one means of responding to this sense. In the context of immigration, including intra-EU migration, there is further scope for looking at the rules of access to benefits and housing on the basis of time-based contribution.

3. Housing. Lack of access to affordable, high quality housing in good communities is one of the issues likely to tip beneficial contact into a situation of conflict. Supply is a fundamental issue but so is distribution and access to a greater extent on contribution. Regulation of the private housing market is also important to give people a greater sense of stability, improve quality and increase transparency over costs. Public intervention may be necessary not only to enhance supply of affordable housing, but to allow people to accumulate equity in their home over time to further reinforce the asset security of those in marginal situations.

Despite the elite characteristic of this strategy, it relies on grassroots action and organisation to succeed. Just as the Obama ’08 campaign was top-down and bottom-up, Europe’s mainstream parties need to pursue a similar strategic approach and extend it into a governing ethos. Many of the groups that support this strategy lie outside of formal party politics. Many already exist and are flourishing. It is worth reviewing a number of successful examples of groups that have provoked positive change in a wide variety of contexts.

7. Contact democracy as a strategic response


1. Hope Not Hate, United Kingdom – mobilising anti-hate forces, education and creating community resilience and unity

The aforementioned Lennox study on racial integration, ethnic diversity and prejudice is based on empirical evidence from the British National Party (BNP). One of its conclusions is that whites were more likely to sign up to the far right party when living in areas sparsely populated by non-white, leading to the argument that as a result of less interaction with individuals of diverse ethnic backgrounds, whites living in these areas are less informed about ethnic minorities. The study also found evidence that the BNP has fewer members in communities where the non-white population is equally dispersed between numerous ethnic groups, where there is a higher incidence of mixed-race relationships, and where levels of education tend to be higher. There is therefore an argument that BNP support is based upon stereotyping and misunderstanding, as its members believe the BNP’s hate-creating stories due to lack of information about or direct contact with, other ethnic groups.

Hope Not Hate is a campaigning organisation fighting against the racism and fascism espoused by the BNP and the English Defence League (EDL) amongst others. The non-partisan group works on a local level to campaign against these and other far-right groups. They focus their efforts in neighbourhoods where these far-right parties are gaining support, challenging their claims, as well as positively mobilising individuals opposed to racism to provide a positive alternative. In these constituencies, Hope Not Hate produces and distributes informative leaflets and community newspapers, opposing the BNP ‘on the doorstep’ and building local networks of activists. They often target their materials at particular groups such as women voters who have a greater aversion to hate literature. Given that many BNP supporters tend to have little direct contact with individuals of different ethnic backgrounds and little knowledge about ethnic minorities, Hope Not Hate’s focus on education has been effective at directly lowering the party’s level of support.

In the recent 2012 Manchester Central, Corby, and Rotherham parliamentary by-elections, Hope Not Hate was the leading anti-far right campaign group. They distributed 16,800 leaflets in Manchester Central, where the BNP ended up polling only 2.7 per cent. The by-election campaign was also a chance for the group to activate their network in preparation for the 2014 European elections – 76 individuals indicated that they wanted to join the Hope Not Hate campaign. In Corby the group distributed 5,000 leaflets, concentrating their efforts in a ward where the BNP has been particularly active. The BNP polled a mere 2.7 per cent in Corby as well. In Rotherham, the far-right had their best chances of doing well – the BNP recently had two councillors in the constituency, polled 10.3 per cent in the 2012 General Election. Hope Not Hate printed and distributed 20,000 copies of a tabloid newspaper that confronted the issues of the far right and offered a positive alternative to them. The BNP ended up polling 8.5 per cent – higher than in other constituencies but still lower than their result at the last General Election. The Hope Not Hate campaigns in all three areas undoubtedly had an impact on the BNP’s election results. Additionally, the group has also helped establish local activist networks that can campaign at future elections and ensure that these sorts of results remain the norm.

Although the BNP has been in decline in recent years, Hope Not Hate emphasises the importance of not becoming complacent, as the factors underlying the party’s rise (high level of immigration, increasing perceptions of identity conflict, and the declining strength of cultural and institutional bonds between citizens and mainstream parties) are still present. Additionally, based upon the evidence put forth by Sturgis et al. and Lennox’s respective studies, a continued focus on education and disseminating information remains essential. Hope not Hate have also begun to organise events to bring communities closer together such as street parties catered with cuisines from a range of ethnic groups. On the electoral, educational and community contact levels, Hope not Hate has secured a considerable impact on lessening the demand for and impact of extremism.

2. Newham Borough Council, London – Local ‘statecraft’ – using local powers to build community ‘resilience’

In its strategy paper, Quid pro Quo not status quo, Newham Borough Council , the second most deprived local authority in the UK, has presented a bold new agenda to build what it terms ‘community resilience’. This has a number of substantive strands. It involves direct interventions in the housing and jobs markets by the local authority. It has established welfare to work programmes, strong enforcement of the minimum wage and a partnership with the local further education college to establish a skills centre to provide local residents with market-ready capabilities. In the housing market, it is investing in new high-quality housing, it regulates private landlords to enforce standards, and has introduced the contributory principle into housing allocations. It expresses this latter policy as follows:

“We will now give priority for social housing to those in work or contributing through activity like foster caring, creating the right incentives for people to improve their personal situation.”

These policies help address fairness concerns with the borough. It supports the integration of the local community through the promotion of an ‘English language first’ policy. It supported scores of street parties to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 with one condition: they had to be parties organised for the whole community and not for particular groups. In order to facilitate better democracy, power has been devolved to local councillors and community hubs – in an echo of Amsterdam West.

The outcome of this approach – one that could be replicated elsewhere – is to align local services and housing with reciprocal notions of welfare and to facilitate community resilience and responsiveness. In many ways, Newham serves not simply as a model for other local authorities but for a national party soon. When considering statecraft, it is about aligning public policy with improving real outcomes in housing, jobs, integration and democratic responsiveness as well meeting people’s expectations and contributory notions of fairness and justice. It is a comprehensive approach that is making a difference to people’s lives but also hints on how the political mainstream can deploy statecraft and contact democracy to buttress mainstream resilience against populism and even extremism.

These case studies highlight the necessity of mainstream parties incorporating contact democracy into their agendas. Their objectives of education, political mobilisation/activism, improving services and policy outcomes, and building social cohesion should be the shared goals of mainstream parties. The strategies used to achieve these goals should also overlap: informative magazines and publications; active campaigns (both directly in the political sphere such as Hope not Hate’s campaign against the BNP, as well as educational campaigns targeting youth such as Expo’s “Stop racism in schools”), and events including lectures, workshops and community gatherings that bridge ethnic and cultural divisions and create inclusive bonds between groups. Finally the positive outcomes of the grassroots groups, movements and campaigns discussed should encourage mainstream parties to follow or encourage similar pursuits. They include the development of activist networks, the involvement of new groups in political dialogue and participatory politics, as well as the rebuilding of trust in politicians, public institutions and representative liberal democracy more generally. Overall, they also work at establishing a unifying politics to counteract the antagonism of the populist radical or extreme right; responsible for creating divides, breeding hate, and leaving open the potential for violence if exploited by extremists.

In addition to acknowledging the issues articulated by the populist radical right parties, tentatively engaging with them, and developing a comprehensive policy, governance and political response for the long-term, mainstream parties need to also organise and engage at the local community level. By doing so, they will be able to combat some of the underlying causes of support for the populist radical right and extremist forces and help relieve some of the tensions causing stress on liberal democracy.

Conclusion – a renewed mainstream statecraft and ‘contact democracy’

Europe’s mainstream parties have adopted a proprietorial towards democracy for too long. Fissures are now opening up out of which populists and extremists have emerged. At the time of going to press, Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement – with its Grillismo – had just secured a quarter of the vote in the Italian election and now leads in the polls. The ruling Danish social democrats had fallen behind the populist radical right People’s Party in an opinion poll for the first time ever. UKIP had just come from nowhere to beat the Conservatives into third place in a parliamentary by-election in the Eastleigh constituency. And yet populists are routinely dismissed as ‘protest’ parties, clowns, buffoons, flash in the pan. In fact, Europe’s populists – of different kings – are challenger brands that the established party brands ignore at their peril.

Mainstream parties have yet to find a convincing response to the populist radical right either in Europe or in the US. And now new technology and organisation are instigating more political innovation. Pluralistic, fragmented and frustrated electorates create many openings. Some will thrive and some will nose-dive. The biggest mistake that the mainstream is making is dismissal of what is now an established part of modern, liberal democracy. Populism is a rejection of functioning democracy and its mainstream parties – it is not simply superficial ‘protest’.

Hitherto, new forms of political contact have simply been grafted onto the old, closed, tired way of doing things. Paint has been applied over a rusting chassis with an unreliable engine. The result is closed, elite driven parties that push out core activist-focussed messages through social media while sharing the spoils of policy influence and status for a close and political nepotistic group.

Deep organisational and cultural transformation is necessary for Europe’s old political guard. It will not be sufficient. They will have to show that they are also up to the task of governance in complicated times. This is where statecraft comes in. The challenges are immense: manage economic threat; respond to fiscal unsustainability; reform welfare; provide for an aging society; maintain global competitiveness; secure energy and manage climate change; improve the education and skills base; and manage migration flows while providing for a vibrant yet coherent society.

Britain’s majoritarian democracy perhaps protects the mainstream to a greater extent than elsewhere. There we can expect disengagement instead of defection if there is no change. It is not improbable that the next election could be won with a party securing only 35 per cent of the vote or so. That will be a very unstable situation indeed as the mandate to govern will be weak and anger is likely to swell. Different political systems create different incentives and impacts, but the underlying forces of political change recur.

A rethink is necessary, and soon. The risk is that deeply damaging political parties and movements can gain traction in a situation of democratic stress. A complacent response could mean that stress becomes intensified. That is a wholly irresponsible response. The populist signal is clear. The extremist threat is mostly contained for now. An yet, democratic stress is evident. The problem is that if this situation persists, or indeed worsens, then the social, cultural and economic consequences could be severe. Mainstream parties face a huge burden of responsibility to change.