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Friday, 19 September 2014


Here is our PRESS RELEASE -  


The English Democrats commiserate with the Yes campaign and the Scottish National Party and Alex Salmond on the disappointing result of the Scottish Independence Referendum.  They should however be congratulated on an excellent campaign against all the lies and propaganda and dirty tricks put up by the British Political and Media Establishment. 

The abiding memory for the People of England of the Scottish Referendum will be the sight of senior “British” politicians demonstrating again and again and again that they have no interest in properly representing English interests, England or the English Nation and every intention of selling us down the river. 

Robin Tilbrook, the Chairman of the English Democrats said:- “It is now England’s turn to be heard and the English Democrats have every confidence that the People of England will reject the shabby deal concocted by the Unionist Westminster elite in a conspiracy against English interests.  This was rushed through for the purpose of subverting the democratic process in the Yes/No Scottish Referendum after the same gang had refused to allow the Devo-max option to actually be put on the ballot paper.   The Westminster elite has shown itself to be utterly self-interested, dishonest, undemocratic and unfit to run our country. So far as England is concerned the English Democrats call upon all those who care about England to block the implementation of “Devo-max” until exactly the same is offered for the whole of England as a national unit.”

Robin continued:- “The great danger now facing England is an equivalent, undemocratic, dishonest conspiracy by the Westminster elite to try to ram through, without any democratic mandate, their plans to break England up.  Any such attempt is totally unacceptable and is nothing short of an act of war against England.  It should be met with a response that is appropriate for an act of war!”

Have you seen the following link asking if I am the English Alex Salmond?  >>>? BBC News English Democrats Robin Tilbrook on party conference - YouTube

Robin Tilbrook
The English Democrats
Party Tel: 0207 242 1066
Twitter: @RobinTilbrook
Party Website:
Chairman's FB
Key facts about the English Democrats
The English Democrats launched in 2002. 
The English Democrats are the English nationalist Party. We campaign 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; and we support a YES vote for Scottish Independence.
The English Democrats are England’s answer to the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru. The English Democrats’ greatest electoral successes to date include:- in the 2004 EU election we had 130,056 votes; winning the Directly Elected Executive Mayoralty of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council in 2009 and also the 2012 referendum; in the 2009 EU election we gained 279,801 votes after a total EU campaign spend of less than £25,000; we won the 2012 referendum which gave Salford City an Elected Mayor; in 2012 we also saved all our deposits in the Police Commissioner elections and came second in South Yorkshire; and in the 2014 EU election we had 126,024 votes for a total campaign spend of about £40,000 (giving the English Democrats by far the most cost efficient electoral result of any serious Party in the UK).

Tuesday, 16 September 2014



Constitutionally there is no power to make such promises because no Parliament can bind its successors. 

The promise to retain the Barnett Formula is shamelessly at the expense of England which loses £49 billion per year by the Barnett Formula. 

Having different tax regimes in different parts of the UK (Wales and N Ireland will surely demand the same) will set one part of the UK against another. That is a recipe for perpetual conflict. The same would apply between English regions if the Westminster elite manages to break up England.

Here is the report:-

David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg sign joint historic promise which guarantees more devolved powers for Scotland and protection of NHS if we vote No

WESTMINSTER'S three main party leaders have signed up to a historic joint statement that was demanded by the Daily Record on behalf of the people of Scotland.

Three party leader's promise to Scotland
The joint statement also rubbishes claims from the SNP that the Barnett Formula for calculating Scotland’s budget could be changed to leave Scots less money for public services.
It pledges: “Because of the continuation of the Barnett allocation for resources, and the powers of the Scottish Parliament to raise revenue, we can state categorically that the final say on how much is spent on the NHS will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.”
Last night, Brown said more powers for Scotland are now “locked in” to a No vote on Thursday .

“Not even the most ardent and optimistic nationalist would claim that there is an overwhelming majority for separation, as there was for devolution.
“I believe that there is, however, a programme of change that can bring the people of Scotland together.
“I sense that people want change that can unite Scotland, rather than divide Scotland.
“They want to know that a No vote does not mean no change and instead seek guarantees of change, locked in and clear assurances that from September 19, the pace of change will not stall but speed up.
“But they want a promise of change they can trust – without the risks and uncertainties of an irreversible separation. I believe they are saying to us, ‘Give us the guarantees of change and with
these guarantees, we can vote for a strong Scottish Parliament within the UK’.
“We have heard important statements in Glasgow on Friday by Ed Miliband and Scottish Labour Party leader Johann Lamont and in Aberdeen by the Prime Minister.
“I believe that tonight, having listened to what the pro-devolution parties are saying, we can give these guarantees, that lock in change that is better, faster, fairer and safer than anything the SNP can offer through independence.
“So let us lock in three guarantees that will deliver the best deal for a stronger Scottish Parliament
within the United Kingdom. The guarantees that we now have pave the way to the future – a great
Scotland as a driving, successful and vibrant nation playing its full part in Great Britain.
“I believe what I am saying locks in a period of constitutional improvement and progress in preference to the risk-laden and dangerous change offered from an irreversible separation from which there is no going back.” Cameron backed the timetable for more powers in an emotional speech in Aberdeen yesterday .
He told more than 800 party members and activists that the UK is not a “perfect country” and pledged to change it.
The PM added: “The question is, how do you get that change?
“For me it’s simple. You don’t get the change you want by ripping your country apart. You don’t get change by undermining your economy and damaging your businesses and diminishing your place in the world.”
Cameron said the plans outlined by the pro-UK parties amounted to “real, concrete” change.
He added: “The status quo is gone. This campaign has swept it away. There is no going back to the way things were. A vote for No means real change.
“We have spelled that change out in practical terms, with a plan and a process.
“If we get a No vote, that will trigger a major, unprecedented programme of devolution, with additional powers for the Scottish Parliament – major new powers over tax, spending and welfare services.
“We have agreed a timetable for that stronger Scottish Parliament – a timetable to bring in the new powers that will go ahead if there is a No vote. A White Paper by November, put into draft legislation by January.
“This is a timetable that is now agreed by all the main political parties and set in stone and I am prepared to work with all the main parties to deliver this during 2015.
“So a No vote means faster, fairer, safer and better change.”
Cameron seemed close to tears as he made a direct appeal to Scots to vote No. He admitted that many people might be tempted by a Yes vote just to get rid of his Government. But he warned Scots not to “mix up the temporary and the permanent”.
With his voice breaking, Cameron added: “Don’t think, ‘I’m frustrated with politics right now, so I’ll walk out the door and never come back’.
“If you don’t like me, I won’t be here forever. If you don’t like this Government, it won’t last forever. But if you leave the UK – that will be forever.
“The different parts of the UK don’t always see eye-to-eye. Yes, we need change and we will deliver it.
“But to get that change, to get a brighter future, we don’t need to tear our country apart.”
He asked Scots to consider what would provide the best future for them and their family when they cast their vote.
Cameron said: “As you stand in the stillness of the polling booth, I hope you will ask yourself this – will my family and I truly be better off by going it alone? Will we really be more safe and secure?
“‘Do I really want to turn my back on the rest of Britain and why is it that so many people across the world are asking, ‘Why would Scotland want to do that? Why?’
“And if you don’t know the answer to these questions – then vote No.”

Guarantee One

New powers for the Scottish Parliament.

Holyrood will be strengthened with extensive new powers, on a timetable beginning on September 19, with legislation in 2015.

The Scottish Parliament will be a permanent and irreversible part of the British constitution.

Guarantee Two

The guarantee of fairness to Scotland.

The guarantee that the modern purpose of the Union is to ensure opportunity and security by pooling and sharing our resources equitably for our defence, prosperity and the social and economic welfare of every citizen, including through UK pensions and UK funding of healthcare.

Guarantee Three

The power to spend more on the NHS if that is Scottish people’s will.

The guarantee that with the continued Barnett allocation, based on need and with the power to raise its own funds, the final decisions on spending on public services in Scotland, including on the NHS, will be made by the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Parliament will have the last word on how much is spent on health. It will have the power to keep the NHS in public hands and the capacity to protect it.

Here is the full article:-

Monday, 15 September 2014

English Democrats welcomed to our Annual General Meeting and Autumn Conference 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen and fellow members of the English Democrats

I am delighted to see you today and welcome you to our Annual General Meeting and Autumn Conference.  The English Democrats were launched in August 2002 and we are now officially just over twelve years old.  That does seem to matter to journalists and commentators and others because it suggests to them that we are not going away.  Ladies and Gentlemen what do you think?  Are we going away? 

Picture of Stephen Elliott
Now Ladies and Gentlemen I have got a sadder duty to report to you that one of our leading members from the early days, Stephen Elliott, after a long and debilitating illness has died.  This is the announcement of his death that I made in my Blog:-

I have been given the sad news that Stephen Elliott one of the founder members of the English Democrats died on the 28th July 2014. 

Stephen had suffered for several years with an increasingly debilitating illness.  As a formerly very active man, to become increasingly unable to move was ever more frustrating. 

Stephen retained an interest in the development of the English Democrats and a member of the English Democrats and he remained a keen supporter of our work right up until the end. Indeed, with assistance, he was able to attend the Party's annual conference in 2012 in Leicester.  His death is very sad to report, but he will be remembered as one of those who gave freely of his time and money to help to build the foundations of our new politically active English Nationalism. 

Stephen was a proud Yorkshire man and was a reservoir of amusing stories.  At one time he had been an under-cover police officer pretending to be one of the student communists in order to keep an eye of subversive Leftists like Jack Straw, who was Labour’s Foreign Secretary, and was memorably called Sir Christopher Meyers, the British Ambassador in Washington, a “political pygmy”.  As a student Jack Straw had been a firebrand communist and hater of all things Western, British and English.

In later life, after leaving the police, Stephen became a successful entrepreneur and built-up a significant property portfolio.

Politically he joined the Steering Committee whose work led to the foundation and launch of the English Democrats in August 2002 at Imperial College, London.  For many years he was on our National Council and keenly watched our progress and supported our campaign generously. 

Stephen will be much missed by all those who remember him and our English nationalist cause is the poorer for his passing.  I do wish every condolence to his two daughters and his family at this sad time. 

So Ladies and Gentlemen I would ask you to all be upstanding and keep a minutes silence for departed merit.

Thank you very much Ladies and Gentlemen.

Since the last Spring Conference your National Council and your Chairman have been busy trying to advance England’s Cause.  Just to mention an example - there has been Derek Hilling, who appeared for us on BBC News recently with Charles Haywood.  Mark Easton, the BBC’s political correspondent even went so far as to say that although we are small we seem to have struck a chord with the English. 

Also we have stood in the EU election in May and in the most difficult electioneering circumstances when UKIP was getting wall to wall coverage we still got 126,000 votes for a campaign expenditure of about £40,000.

Video of launch

Video of campaign song

Also since then outside the National Council, Chris Newey has stood for us in a local by-election in Walsall.  Dr Julia Gasper is also standing in Oxford and  also Sam Kelly in York for us as we speak!

Also when the Scottish Independence Reference began we registered to support the YES campaign in the Scottish Referendum which got us a certain amount of coverage.  I was interviewed by the BBC and they did quite a reasonable political biography for me.  I was also interviewed by the Communist paper, The Morning Star, who did not like us supporting the Scottish nationalist cause, which they seemed to want to keep preserved for left-wingers!
IPPR picture

In mid-April the Universities of Edinburgh and Cardiff working for the IPPR (the Institute of Public Policy Research which is a Labour supporting think tank currently being investigated by the Charities Commission for excessive bias towards Labour), published some advance details of their research in order to help their friends at the BBC do some coverage of the English reaction to the Scottish Referendum.  That research showed that we are making progress.   Over 52% now want a separate English Parliament.  We also have been campaigning for an end to the unfair greater amounts of money being spent on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland than on English people.  Now 56% support the abolition of the Barnett Formula.  They agreed with the statement that "Levels of public spending in Scotland (should) be reduced to the UK average: In 2012-13 identifiable public spending per capita in Scotland was £10,327, compared to the UK average of £8,940.

Even our more recent call for English Independence is now getting greater opinion poll support than carrying on with the existing political system, 19% support against 18%! 

Since these polls were conducted in mid-April there has been two broadcast Independence debates that we English have been permitted to see.

Picture of Darling and Salmond

Just consider what exactly Alistair Darling and Douglas Alexander told all those English people who listened:-

That all that is important to Scottish politicians is the interests of Scots.  Just remember that they have all also signed up for the Scottish Claim of Right.

Just remember the Scottish Claim of Right.

Video of Claim of Right

As the King James’ version of the Holy Bible says: “He that hath ears to hear let him hear”. 

What do you think the reaction of English people will be to that? 

My view too is that English people will be much more motivated and I am certainly finding already an audience amongst journalists. 

Since then we have had all the recent hullabaloo from the British Establishment. 

This has really helped us.  I did an interview with the Financial Times last week and this week have done interviews – 7 yesterday and have done an interview for BBC’s Eastern Region, Sunday Politics recorded for tomorrow. 

Later we are going to have a debate as to what our reaction should be in the event of a YES vote and also in the event of a NO vote.  I hope you will enthusiastically take part in that so that we can make sure our Party line is the most effective possible. 

So far as other parties are concerned, the BNP have now gone into utter meltdown and even Nick Griffin himself has been forced out of office and the leadership and now he is fighting over the money.  I am informed that they have substantially less party members than we do and are not so much the walking dead as the merely twitching. 

UKIP on the other hand clearly seem very much on the up at present, but their great weakness is that a lot people that support them are basically English nationalists and haven’t fully worked out which Party they ought to be supporting.  I think as time goes on UKIP will disappoint them and we will be in an ideal position to pick up mass support.  

Video of Nigel Farage on the English Question

 I hear that Nigel Farage has been saying that the English Democrats are finished.  I am certainly not finished. Are you finished? 

I have got a message for Nigel Farage – Not only are we not finished, but we have barely started! 

Just think that if, on the 19th September, we hear that the Scots have voted YES, UIKP will have to start thinking of its new name.  I think 18 months later after the negotiations finish and Scotland has become Independent we may talk sometimes of the Former United Kingdom.  Let’s see how that works for you UKIP. 

UKIP logo

What do you think Ladies and Gentlemen?
Liberal Democrats
Ladies and Gentlemen before I finish I thought I would remind you and talk to you about a song written by Edward Carpenter who was one of the founders of the Labour Movement in the days when they were still patriotic and cared about ordinary English people and before the international Marxist Red Flag became popular with them.  Can I quote you some lines from his famous marching hymn – England Arise?

England, arise! The long, long night is over, Faint in the East behold the dawn appear, Out of your evil dream of toil and sorrow – Arise, O England, for the day is here! From your fields and hills, Hark! The answer swells – Arise, O England, for the day is here!

Here is a rendition of the song.  What do you think Ladies and Gentlemen?

Video link

Ladies and Gentlemen – Fellow English Democrats – Fellow English Nationalists – Let’s all stand together:-  England Arise!!!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

English Democrats: The SNP for England? English Democrats chairman Robin Tilbrook is asked by the BBC if his party is the closest thing to an English SNP.


English Democrats: The SNP for England?


English Democrats' chairman Robin Tilbrook is asked by Jo Coburn the BBC's Daily Politics interviewer if his party is the closest thing to an English SNP?

Jo Coburn chucked me several googlies. How do you think I did?

Click here for the link >>>

Sunday, 7 September 2014

English not voting for independence would be "an astonishing act of self-harm"! - George Monbiot's logic?

All of what George Monbiot says in his Guardian article below would apply equally to England.

I must say that it is a great article and I would certainly have given him full marks if he had submitted it to me when I was teaching and he was he was a very academically bright pupil at Stowe Public School back in the early eighties, if only there wasn't a slight confusion between the ideas of England and of Britain. Actually, of course, that confusion may be the Guardian editors's deliberate interpolation in their subheading and not what Gorge wrote at all.

Here is George's article:-

Scots voting no to independence would be an astonishing act of self-harm

England is dysfunctional, corrupt and vastly unequal. Who on earth would want to be tied to such a country?

Imagine the question posed the other way round. An independent nation is asked to decide whether to surrender its sovereignty to a larger union. It would be allowed a measure of autonomy, but key aspects of its governance would be handed to another nation. It would be used as a military base by the dominant power and yoked to an economy over which it had no control.

It would have to be bloody desperate. Only a nation in which the institutions of governance had collapsed, which had been ruined economically, which was threatened by invasion or civil war or famine might contemplate this drastic step. Most nations faced even with such catastrophes choose to retain their independence – in fact, will fight to preserve it – rather than surrender to a dominant foreign power.

So what would you say about a country that sacrificed its sovereignty without collapse or compulsion; that had no obvious enemies, a basically sound economy and a broadly functional democracy, yet chose to swap it for remote governance by the hereditary elite of another nation, beholden to a corrupt financial centre?

What would you say about a country that exchanged an economy based on enterprise and distribution for one based on speculation and rent? That chose obeisance to a government that spies on its own citizens, uses the planet as its dustbin, governs on behalf of a transnational elite that owes loyalty to no nation, cedes public services to corporations, forces terminally ill people to work and can’t be trusted with a box of fireworks, let alone a fleet of nuclear submarines? You would conclude that it had lost its senses.

So what’s the difference? How is the argument altered by the fact that Scotland is considering whether to gain independence rather than whether to lose it? It’s not. Those who would vote no – now, a new poll suggests, a rapidly diminishing majority – could be suffering from system justification. System justification is defined as the “process by which existing social arrangements are legitimised, even at the expense of personal and group interest”. It consists of a desire to defend the status quo, regardless of its impacts. It has been demonstrated in a large body of experimental work, which has produced the following surprising results.

System justification becomes stronger when social and economic inequality is more extreme. This is because people try to rationalise their disadvantage by seeking legitimate reasons for their position. In some cases disadvantaged people are more likely than the privileged to support the status quo. One study found that US citizens on low incomes were more likely than those on high incomes to believe that economic inequality is legitimate and necessary.

It explains why women in experimental studies pay themselves less than men, why people in low-status jobs believe their work is worth less than those in high-status jobs, even when they’re performing the same task, and why people accept domination by another group. It might help to explain why so many people in Scotland are inclined to vote no.

The fears the no campaigners have worked so hard to stoke are – by comparison with what the Scots are being asked to lose – mere shadows. As Adam Ramsay points out in his treatise Forty-Two Reasons to Support Scottish Independence, there are plenty of nations smaller than Scotland that possess their own currencies and thrive. Most of the world’s prosperous nations are small: there are no inherent disadvantages to downsizing.

Remaining in the UK carries as much risk and uncertainty as leaving. England’s housing bubble could blow at any time. We might leave the European Union. Some of the most determined no campaigners would take us out: witness Ukip’s intention to stage a “pro-union rally” in Glasgow on 12 September. The union in question, of course, is the UK, not Europe. This reminds us of a crashing contradiction in the politics of such groups: if our membership of the EU represents an appalling and intolerable loss of sovereignty, why is the far greater loss Scotland is being asked to accept deemed tolerable and necessary.

The Scots are told they will have no control over their own currency if they leave the UK. But they have none today. The monetary policy committee is based in London and bows to the banks. The pound’s strength, which damages the manufacturing Scotland seeks to promote, reflects the interests of the City.

To vote no is to choose to live under a political system that sustains one of the rich world’s highest levels of inequality and deprivation. This is a system in which all major parties are complicit, which offers no obvious exit from a model that privileges neoliberal economics over other aspirations. It treats the natural world, civic life, equality, public health and effective public services as dispensable luxuries, and the freedom of the rich to exploit the poor as non-negotiable.

Its lack of a codified constitution permits numberless abuses of power. It has failed to reform the House of Lords, royal prerogative, campaign finance and first-past-the-post voting (another triumph for the no brigade). It is dominated by media owned by tax exiles, who, instructing their editors from their distant chateaux, play the patriotism card at every opportunity. The concerns of swing voters in marginal constituencies outweigh those of the majority; the concerns of corporations with no lasting stake in the country outweigh everything. Broken, corrupt, dysfunctional, retentive: you want to be part of this?

Independence, as more Scots are beginning to see, offers people an opportunity to rewrite the political rules. To create a written constitution, the very process of which is engaging and transformative. To build an economy of benefit to everyone. To promote cohesion, social justice, the defence of the living planet and an end to wars of choice.

To deny this to yourself, to remain subject to the whims of a distant and uncaring elite, to succumb to the bleak, deferential negativity of the no campaign, to accept other people’s myths in place of your own story: that would be an astonishing act of self-repudiation and self-harm. Consider yourselves independent and work backwards from there; then ask why you would sacrifice that freedom.

Twitter: @georgemonbiot

Click here for the original >>>

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The growth of English nationalism – Friend or Foe? A Welsh viewpoint

Dr Simon Brooks

The speech, the translated text of which appears below, was given in Welsh at the Institute of Welsh Affairs Lecture, Llanelli National Eisteddfod, 7th August 2014. It was given in the absence of any English nationalists and without so far as I am aware consulting any either. It thus suffers from a failure to understand the nature of English Nationalism. It is nonetheless interesting to see a well considered analysis of Welsh nationalists' current ideological difficulties which have resonance in England too!

The author, Dr Simon Brooks' Biography on the University of Cardiff's website states:-

My work explores tensions between conservatism and liberalism, as they affect literature, politics and the history of ideas in minority language communities.

In 2004, I used this perspective in my volume, O Dan Lygaid y Gestapo, to discuss the inheritance of Enlightenment thought in late 19th and 20th century Wales, and its impact on Welsh literary theory and criticism.

A few years earlier I had been prominent in public policy debate about the future of Welsh-speaking communities. The debate raised the difficulty that attempts by minority communities to resist majority assimilation with communitarian counter-measures can undermine liberal concepts of openness.

In response to this problem, much of my current work explores multiculturalism and ethnic difference in the context of a minority language community. Welsh-language literature provides the discursive evidence. I hope to draw some theoretical conclusions on how ‘conservative’ survival strategies for a minority language community might be reconciled with a ‘liberal’ desire to respect others.

Here is the text of his speech translated into English:-

The growth of English nationalism – Friend or Foe?

It’s a dangerous year in Wales. Next month, the Scots will venture to the polling booths in order to decide whether they want Scotland to be an independent country or not. If they say Yes, some believe that Wales will become independent soon afterwards. This is possible; everything in life is possible. But it is far more likely that Wales and England will be merged as one state for many decades, perhaps forever. That state will be commonly known as England. Its territory shall essentially be the same as that kingdom, The Kingdom of England, that conquered Wales, and of which Wales was a part between 1282 and 1707. Despite all its failings, at least the most important successor to it, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, was a multi-national state, and there was, in theory at least, a fairly equal balance between Saxon and Celt. In 1841, the English formed only about 60% of the United Kingdom’s population. But if Scotland votes for independence, the English will account for 93% of the population, 95% if we exclude northern Ireland, of the state of which Wales will be a member. Britain will be an English state without Scotland, although it will include the Welsh as a national minority, a minority that may keep its devolved institutions for as long as they are tolerated by the English.

It is a dangerous decade in Wales. Following next year’s general election, it is likely that we shall see another Conservative government in Westminster. The English seem to have more faith in the Tories to look after the economy than the Labour Party. Soon afterwards, perhaps in 2017, a referendum will be held on Britain’s membership of the European Union. I would not be too hopeful of the result. There is a limit to Berlin’s patience with London’s whingeing about all things European and not every European will be willing to kneel before Great Britain, or will it be Little Britain by then, in order to keep her in the European Union. If Scotland leaves Britain, and Britain leaves Europe, Little Britain will see itself increasingly as an English fortress. It will become a real Little Britain too with the poor Welshman left as ‘the only Celt in the village’.

It could be a century too of significant immigration into Wales, mainly from England but also from other parts of the world. According to the Census, only 72% of the population of Wales was born in Wales. This is not necessarily a problem. After all only 63% of the population of London was born in Britain. But London isn’t Wales. Wales is a poor, marginal country, in a dependent relationship with her next door neighbour, and it has a minority identity. Such a country is far more open to threats to its identity as a result of demographic change than are majority cultures.

Of course, there is no direct relationship between being born in Wales and empathising or sympathising with Welsh nationhood. There are tens of thousands of people in Wales who were born in England and who speak Welsh, and tens of thousands more who consider themselves to be Welsh. I say this sincerely as a lad from London whose sister is one of the English rugby team’s greatest fans! Despite this, further Anglicisation of Wales in terms of the percentage of the population born outside the country will have political implications for Welsh identity. It is not immigration in itself that is problematic for a stateless nation such as Wales, rather the difficulties that a minority culture faces in trying to integrate newcomers.

I do not wish to raise concerns prematurely, but there is a strong possibility that Britain in the future will become a far more English place than it has been until now, and it is very possible too that Wales will become far more Anglicised as well. The dangers attached to this are intensified by the increasingly reactionary and anti-multicultural nature of recent definitions of Englishness, at least as seen in the growth of political parties such as UKIP.

So a painful question for us as a national minority is whether the recent xenophobia displayed by English nationalism represents the opening of a new path in the cultural history of England, where minorities will face a harsher, sharper wind, or is this merely a temporary storm?

The current intolerant nature of English nationalism and its general attitude towards minorities does cause concern. It is certainly not insignificant. In large states, historically at least, there has been a tendency for antagonistic attitudes towards immigrant ethnic minorities to accompany a deep mistrust of the existence of indigenous minorities. I wonder whether English nationalism will have morphed within ten or twenty years to target the Welsh national minority? We shall see, but it would be irresponsible of us to ignore the possibility that this could happen.

So, is English nationalism friend or foe?

It is a friend to the extent that it will create opportunities for us to sharpen our identity against it. Multinational states often start to unravel when strong nationalisms develop within their most important constituent nations, as happened in the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the nineteenth century, and as is happening in England and Scotland today. It is perhaps the hope that the threat of the growth of English nationalism will lead in dialectical fashion to a growth in Welsh nationalism that causes so many nationalists to be in favour of independence for Scotland. In other words, that independence for Scotland will reveal the essentially English nature of the British state and that this will motivate the Welsh to adopt a position of resistance against it.

But English nationalism is also an enemy since such a thing exists in the world as social power. Indeed, the failure of Wales and Scotland to win home rule at the same time as Ireland, at the end of the First World War, goes to show that it is not inevitable that an empire on losing one colony is bound to cede the rest. Indeed, it might strengthen its grip on what remains, more fiercely than ever before: indeed does not the recent history of Russia bear witness to this possibility? And in the future English nationalism could be very powerful indeed. Should English nationalism start to become anti-Welsh, we would have no chance of withstanding its pressure. The Welsh language, as John Cleese might put it, would be a dead parrot. As dead as Ifor ap Glyn’s Cornish-speaking parrot, for those of you who remember that immortal sketch.

For all these reasons, we cannot ignore the debate on nationhood and citizenship that is currently taking place in England.

We have become used to thinking of English nationalism as intolerant and unfriendly. Unfortunately, this is true, but it is also true that what is happening in England is a perfectly reasonable civic discussion concerning the nature of citizenship. Who can become an English citizen, and what are the duties and responsibilities of such citizens? Under what conditions should immigration be permitted, by whom and to what degree? Should immigrants be assimilated linguistically, or is it better to let immigrants use their own language if that is their wish?

Obviously, these could be Welsh themes too. Indeed, until recently, these questions were only being asked in Wales. It’s very strange then that this is not part of political debate in Wales today. It’s bizarre that these issues have been discussed within Welsh-language culture for half a century, but just as the discussion becomes legitimised in England, we in Wales give up on the debate altogether! This is particularly unwise because if we do not define Welsh citizenship ourselves, we shall be defined by what’s happening in England. Indeed that is what is happening at the moment.

UKIP’s message is that immigrants in Wales should be good Britons, and that they should speak English. What is our message?

For decades language campaigners have tried to tackle some of these themes surrounding immigration, citizenship and language. Consider, for example, Cynog Dafis’ mature contributions on the importance of integrating non-Welsh speakers in Mewnlifiad, Iaith a Chymdeithas (Immigration, Language and Society) (1971) and Cymdeithaseg Iaith a’r Gymraeg (The Sociology of Language and the Welsh Language) (1979). We have an intellectual tradition of discussing such matters in Wales.

There also exists a liberal tradition internationally that could legitimise the debate. In the work of some modern liberal philosophers, an attempt is made to reconcile liberalism as a political philosophy with the desire of minorities to protect their cultures. Perhaps the most famous scholar in this field is the liberal political theorist from Canada, Will Kymlicka. Since every state has its own rules which regulate immigration, and which by and large protect the interests of the largest ethnic group in the State, Kymlicka argues that it might be acceptable for stateless minorities to have control over the nature of immigration into their own territories. This would be ‘consistent with liberal principles of equality’. He goes on to say that ‘what distinguishes a liberal theory of minority rights is precisely that it accepts some external protections for ethnic groups and national minorities’.

In the context of immigration, it is perfectly valid, says Kymlicka, indeed essential, that liberal thinkers not only permit the national minority to ‘exercise some control over the volume of immigration, to ensure that the numbers of immigrants are not so great as to overwhelm the ability of the society to integrate them’ but also to have control over ‘the terms of integration.’ For example, if it’s acceptable for majority ethnic groups to set a language test for immigrants, on what basis could one begrudge the same right to a minority? Indeed, without influence over the process of integration, the minority may well be swallowed up. This is extremely important when the majority in the state insist that immigrants to the national minority’s territory, which the majority basically consider to be an extension of their own territory, assimilate into the majority culture and not to the minority culture.

Such a situation is extremely damaging to minority cultures, but not because immigrants from ethnic minority backgrounds who choose to side with the majority culture add to the absolute size of the majority community – in all parts of Welsh-speaking Wales, the numbers involved are too small to cause language shift. The harm done is that the process of establishing English as the language of civic integration for immigrants from outside of the European Union even in Welsh speaking areas denotes English as the civic language for the whole community. English becomes the language to be used in communication between ethnic groups and language groups. This in turn removes any moral responsibility on in-migrants from England to learn Welsh.

This then can lead to the indigenous minority assimilating into the majority culture on its own territory. In other words, the native culture assimilates into the immigrant culture, if the immigrant culture is also the culture of the state.

The implications of this are seen at their clearest in the recent British debate concerning immigration, citizenship and language.

There is a cross-party consensus in England that immigrants to Britain should learn English and that the state should promote this. Each one of the four main British parties are in favour of an unambiguous link between learning the English language and British citizenship. The Con-Dem government’s attitude in London on this is clear enough, as seen in a recent proposal that those unable to speak English should not receive dole money unless they are willing to learn English. The Labour Party’s attitude is similar as well. Indeed Ed Milliband came to north Wales during the European election campaign in order to remind us again, as if we didn’t know already, of the duty of immigrants to Britain to learn English. The Labour Party has been pushing this line for at least ten years. During his period as Home Secretary in Tony Blair’s New Labour Government between 2001 and 2004, David Blunkett introduced a number of statutory measures that made it impossible to gain British citizenship without passing a language test. And as we know, the future of the English language is one of UKIP’s main concerns. Who didn’t feel sympathy for Nigel Farage that the English language was not to be heard recently on a train journey between London and Kent?

Such messages come at us from across the border, and affect and influence us. This is scarcely a surprise; after all, the London based press is the main source of news for the Welsh people. As a result, opposition exists in parts of Wales to an imaginary enemy that doesn’t exist, namely the immigration of a non-English speaking population. In Welsh speaking communities there could in future be a battle between the monolingual rhetoric of the British state and the bilingual rhetoric of the embryonic Welsh state. We cannot be certain that the Welsh state will win. The Language Commissioner, Meri Huws, has pennies and smarties to spend on the fight; the Daily Mail is published every day. Inevitably the rhetoric of UKIP and English nationalism will undermine the confidence of the Welsh speaking community to insist that Welsh remains a community language, and it will give new confidence to those who oppose this.

What has been the response of the Welsh establishment to all this? They have buried their heads in the sand! There’s been huge reluctance to get to grips with the debate at all.

The reluctance stems from a problem in Welsh political ideology. There is a political consensus in Wales that we should be civic nationalists and this is defined against that which is called, incorrectly in my view, ethnic nationalism. The Welsh political establishment has put the Welsh language in the ethnic box, although via the creation of a concept of Welsh citizenship it could easily be placed in the civic category. Since they believe that language belongs in the ethnic box, politicians are not willing to tell immigrants to Wales that they are expected to do anything in relation to the Welsh language.

Politicians feel that this would not be welcoming, and perhaps it might be unfair too, and that we in Wales stand apart from this sort of politics. Yet it’s false to argue that learning a language is an ethnic imposition. In England, English is taught for civic reasons, in order for the citizen to be able to speak the language of the country and to access civic privileges without being disadvantaged. But the viewpoint in Wales is that the Welsh state cannot place particular obligations upon anyone.

Though this appears quite tolerant, it is a policy which ignores the reality of social power. In Britain and Wales, this always leans heavily in favour of the English language and British identity and is likely to do so even more heavily in the future. A policy not to define Welsh citizenship is a laissez-faire policy. The trouble with laissez-faire policies in the field of language or nationality, as in the field of economics, is that the strong are always likely to come out on top. There is a massive irony in all this. The practical outcome of adopting a policy of not defining Welsh citizenship is to do Ukip’s work for it as immigrants will be compelled to profess British civic values alone.

We have a responsibility to respond to the political situation in Britain as it develops. The way to do this is to develop a concept of inclusive Welsh citizenship.

I now wish to show how attempts were made to build an inclusive concept of citizenship at one point in our history by comparing the attitudes of nationalists and liberals towards nationhood at the beginning of the twentieth century. Citizenship was not an intellectual problem for British Liberals and nonconformists at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. Welsh Liberals tended to define the nation on the basis of religion and saw the Welsh people as chapel-going Welsh speakers, and everyone else, the non-Welsh speaking, along too with Anglicans, Catholics and Jews, as foreigners. They had no interest in integrating these people by making them somehow Welsh. The reason for this is that they did not seek the establishment of a Welsh state. Since they did not covet a Welsh state, the question of Welsh citizenship, and who belonged to the Welsh nation, was not important.

Welsh nationalists on the other hand wished to establish a Welsh state and therefore had to define Welsh citizens. This could not be done without discussing the relationship of all the residents of Wales with the country. There was no way of having a Welsh state without having Welsh citizens.

Saunders Lewis’ answer was to base citizenship on language. In part he did so because Wales at the time was a country with a different linguistic composition to Wales today. But nationalists were also keen to do this because a language could be learned, whilst changing someone’s place of birth would be impossible, and changing religion would not only be impossible but also unfair. In changing your religion, you surrender your old identity, but in learning a language you add to a new identity without giving up the old one. In learning Welsh, one does not have to lose one’s grasp of English.

Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru’s decision to place an emphasis on the Welsh language was not an attempt to exclude people from the nation as has been assumed, but rather it was an attempt to include them.

In Plaid’s seminal first publication, Egwyddorion Cenedlaetholdeb (1926) (The Principles of Nationalism), Saunders Lewis emphasised that immigrants could become Welsh. This was essentially an argument in favour of releasing the Welsh language from its ethnic definition as a tongue used by the ethnic Welsh alone, on ‘the hearths of the Welsh Speakers’, and turning it into a civic language that would be the property of all people from all sorts of different backgrounds:

If the Welsh language and culture are only to be preserved on the hearths of Welsh speakers, then the language and culture will be dead before the end of this century. Because foreigners will come in greater numbers to Wales, to the countryside in the North and to the populous towns and villages in the South; and by their intrusion and multiplicity, they are fast turning the tide of Welsh life into an English one. Only a political movement can save us. We must turn the foreigners – if I were Greek I would say, the barbarians, – they must be turned into Welsh people, and should be given a Welsh way of thinking, the Welsh culture, and the Welsh language. That is what will make safe the only civilisation that is traditional in Wales.

Despite the use of the unwelcoming word ‘barbarians’, this argument turns on the duties and responsibilities of the immigrant; in brief, it is a theory of Welsh citizenship. It is significant that Saunders Lewis did not expect immigrants to Wales to set aside their own ethnicity. A Frenchman could remain a Frenchman so long as he became a ‘Welshman’ as well, by learning Welsh. In an article, ‘Cymreigio Cymru’ (‘Making Wales Welsh’), published in Y Faner in 1925, Lewis elaborated on this by stating:

The Englishman, Scotsman, Frenchman can each one of them, according to this definition, live and thrive in Wales, hold responsible and important jobs, and be a teacher and head teacher, a mayor or alderman or town clerk, and take a full part in the social and political life of the country, – on one simple, fair, appropriate, just condition, that in his official work – that alone, but in that, totally and without deviation – he uses the Welsh language, the language that has always been the medium of civilisation in Wales.

There is an attempt in all of this to create a civic concept of equal citizenship based on language. Now, let’s be completely clear. We cannot base Welsh citizenship on language today. Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru desired the creation of a monolingual, Welsh-speaking Wales, and in that context, making linguistic integration a cornerstone of Welsh citizenship made perfect sense. That is not the aim today, and if a political system does not insist that the native-born learn Welsh, how on earth can it insist that immigrants do so? On what basis could one insist that a man from Poland who moves to Llanelli should learn Welsh, when we know that English is the choice of language for the vast majority of the local population? But the attitude that we shouldn’t expect immigrants to learn Welsh is less fair, and more problematic, in other parts of Wales where the Welsh language has a stronger presence.

What then do we mean by Welsh citizenship in today’s Wales? Welsh citizenship would, as a matter of course, include citizenship in its legal sense, but it would also promote policies concerned with the integration of immigrants into local communities.

We associate legal citizenship mostly with the nation-state, represented in the popular mind by our passports which denote, in the case of most of us, that we are citizens of the United Kingdom. It is also worth noting that legal citizenship can exist on more than one level; indeed some academics talk of multi-level citizenship. All of us who are citizens of the United Kingdom are European citizens, for example. Multi-level citizenship also raises the possibility of Welsh citizenship without necessarily denying the concept of British citizenship. Therefore it would be wholly appropriate for us to try and develop a meaningful concept of Welsh citizenship before or indeed in the absence of independence.

Such sub-state citizenship has been developed in other stateless nations, specifically in Quebec and to some degree in Catalonia. We could follow their example and make establishing citizenship at the Welsh level a part of the devolution project in Wales. Not the least of the reasons to do this would be that it answers an ethnic question in a civic fashion.

How does one go about it? Instead of the ‘British Values’ that come from England, the reference point of Welsh citizenship would be ‘Welsh Values’. These could be defined via a national debate.

Some of the likely characteristics of Welsh citizenship are already fairly evident. In matters regarding race, religion, ethnic background, place of birth and so on, Wales would adopt a very civic type of citizenship. Indeed, this emphasis on the civic is one of the main characteristics of fifteen years of devolution, and it is very different to the emphasis being made in the current debate in England.

But citizenship would also offer a sensible answer in the context of the language problem, as long as one thinks of language as a civic rather than an ethnic characteristic. Citizenship could suggest how to integrate immigrants into Welsh speaking communities. Wales is a bilingual country and it has two equal languages, and two equal linguistic communities too. Concepts of citizenship could be used in order to put some meat on the bones of this theoretical equality. Bilingualism should not be interpreted to mean the unfettered right of non-Welsh speakers to move to Welsh speaking communities and not learn Welsh, thereby forcing the local community to change their language. Responsibility for social integration should not be shouldered in Welsh speaking communities by the indigenous population alone. The responsibility to nurture social cohesion in Welsh speaking communities should be a joint responsibility, and creating civic ideas on how to do this would be a shrewd way of moving forward.

Theoretically at least, it would be fair to expect immigrants to integrate into the Welsh speaking community as well as the English speaking community, and we should aim at giving immigrants some bilingual skills so that they can undertake some basic bilingual tasks at least. It would be great to have a simple statement by the Welsh Government that it would be desirable for people who move to Welsh speaking communities to learn Welsh. I do not foresee that enforcement would follow this, and in the case of immigrants from England we could not introduce compulsion even if we wished. However, such a statement would be of great help in terms of promoting Welsh as a community language in Welsh speaking areas as it would emphasise that learning Welsh was the social expectation, and the psychological pressure on the indigenous population to turn everything Welsh bilingual, and everything bilingual English, would be considerably reduced.

In a perceptive article on citizenship and the Welsh language for the British Council, Gwennan Higham recently noted that the debate concerning language in Wales brings to English all the advantages that stem from being the language of social inclusion. This in turn rebuffs the right of the Welsh language to be a civic language, and downgrades it to the language of an ethnic group, which there is no expectancy of immigrants to learn. This unfairness is reflected by public policy in the field of immigration. Lessons to learn English as a second language, English for Speakers of Other Languages, are provided by the Welsh Government free of charge for all non-English speaking immigrants in Wales who wish to take them, yet no classes exist that are tailored for immigrants who wish to learn Welsh in order to qualify for citizenship. This situation must change. British citizenship in Wales should not be a version of English citizenship. It is true that Welsh for Adults classes exist. But these must be paid for, which highlights the inequity still further.

To make things worse, it appears as if the Welsh Government is placing even less emphasis on this field today than ever before. What other way is there to interpret the government’s recent announcement that it wishes to cut 15% of the Welsh for Adults’ budget? This is money that exists, partially at least, in order to integrate immigrants who move to Welsh speaking areas. What message is conveyed by the fact that this expenditure is being reduced at the same time that the British State is forcing every immigrant to learn English?

The attitude in a country like Quebec is different. A specific policy is followed in order to enable and motivate immigrants to learn French. In Catalonia too, the government in Barcelona attempts to ensure that immigrants who move to Catalonia are integrated through the medium of Catalan instead of Castilian. Of course, the linguistic composition of Wales is different to that in both of these countries. It would be better for us to think of integrating immigrants to both of our country’s linguistic communities, as opposed as to the Welsh-language community or the English-language community alone.

In stateless nations such as Catalonia and Quebec something fairly unique in the Western world is afoot, which provides another reason for creating Welsh citizenship. In the debate over immigration in large countries such as England and France, immigrants are seen in very negative terms as a burden on local society. But in stateless nations, the nature of the struggle between the state and the stateless nation creates a more positive situation from the point of view of the immigrant. Immigrants are often seen as a means of strengthening the minority community, and indeed as a resource, since they add to the numbers of the minority community in question, and they identify too the minority language as multi-ethnic and civic. In Quebec, nationalists are delighted that immigrants are learning French. This strengthens Quebec. This is a far more positive discourse than the negativity which currently exists in England and which unfortunately has spilled over the border into Wales.

Therefore on every level – the defence of the Welsh language and of Welsh culture, giving skills to immigrants, promoting social inclusion, shaping a thriving, multi-ethnic society, developing civic models of belonging in a Welsh polity, developing a different discourse to the more xenophobic one of English nationalism, and also in order to ensure that Wales can remain Welsh within a Britain that could become far more English in the future – establishing Welsh citizenship would be hugely beneficial.

This would be a citizenship that is inclusive of everyone in Wales, but which would also be distinctly Welsh.

Here is a link to the original so that you can leave a comment >>>

Independence Debate hots up!

Ian Bell, the Sunday Herald Columnist, wrote for his Scottish readers this article published on Sunday 24 August 2014

The Anglophobia that never was

IT all sounded ominous.

IT all sounded ominous.

"English backlash"; "Scots will pay a heavy price"; "English reject": no matter the ending, the independence referendum would be tear-stained. Salty tears, too, familiar to those greetin'-faced Jocks.

In headline patois, the proposition was this: vote Yes and you'll be sorry; vote No and it's sorrow all the way. Affirm independence and you can forget a shared currency or a helping hand internationally. Reject independence and the bribes will stop. We'll have you by the Barnett consequentials. Westminster over-representation no more. West Lothian Question no more.

GK Chesterton's people of England, the ones who have "never spoken yet" in his poem The Secret People, appeared to suffer a change of heart. That they spoke through a sociological survey didn't add much to the poetry. That they were talking through researchers in Edinburgh and Cardiff was a small contribution to the irony stockpile. The crack of backlash, predicted so long and so eagerly by some, was loud.

Well, yes and no (so to speak). The latest instalment of the Future of England Survey of 3695 adults, conducted by YouGov as part of research by the universities of Cardiff and Edinburgh, had a discord in the battle hymn. When they were done backlashing, the (surveyed) people of England expressed a wish - 59% to 19% - for the United Kingdom to continue. There was a nuance to their alleged exasperation.

It was as much as to say: stick around, and welcome, but we're changing the terms of the lease. Stick around - for we like having you around - but once you've done trashing the place you'll pay your whack, or lose the privileges we granted. No more hush money. No more hogging the parliamentary conversation. And if you must flounce off, don't come running to us for a sub or a reference. But, Scotland, please don't go.

Otherwise, the stats spoke. So 56% to 12% were reported as believing that levels of public spending in Scotland should be cut to levels - notional and in practical terms fictitious - called the UK average. So the claim on a post-independence currency union was rejected by 53% and supported by just 23%. So 62% said Scots MPs should be banned from voting on "England-only" laws.

In one question, the largest number (36%) thought the residual UK should have no truck with supporting Scotland's membership of the EU and Nato. Elsewhere, fully 37% (against 21%) agreed that England and Scotland are drifting apart regardless. A big number - 53% against 10% - denied the claim promoted by Alex Salmond that it will be happy families after independence.

The survey found some English pragmatism to suit the Scottish majority taste. There were 42% (to 25%) prepared to say that Holyrood should control "most" of domestic taxation, given the removal of what's called a subsidy, in the event of a No vote. There was a better than two-thirds showing that border controls would be a nonsense in the event of Yes. Still, it all made the "Scotland, don't go" idea seem anomalous.

Personally, I've always thought it the easiest argument for independence. If you happen to be English, and if you happen to be fed up with what you call Anglophobia, and griping subsidy junkies, and the denial of English democracy, and appeasement of the northern neighbours, and Scots who refuse to see what's glorious about Britain, put your back into Yes. It can all be solved in a few weeks.

That pat solution would not answer all of England's questions, however. For one thing, the survey findings seem (to me) to have far less to do with a backlash, or with an animosity towards Scotland, than with Chesterton's ordinary folk speaking up, finally, to say: "What about us?" Those ordinary people are less interested in withdrawing public spending or the chance of democracy from Scots than in asking why they can't have the same. A very good question.

A truly representative parliament? An NHS still holding out against private-sector zombies? Free, mostly free, personal care for the elderly? So on and ever on. If you happen to be in Liverpool or Newcastle and contending with a government that, as usual, you didn't vote for, what might you say? You might say Scots are subsidised while you struggle. You might notice one set of numbers and ignore another to show the first isn't true. But you will find a reason to speak, finally.

The singer Billy Bragg and a few others have pursued this line for a while. They treat a Yes vote in Scotland as an opportunity, even an inducement, for England. They see profound imbalances and inequalities in that country, especially in the relationship between overbearing London and the rest, and they accept that it might not be Scotland's job to make up the numbers should progressive England falter. It is an idea of solidarity by inspiration and emulation.

Pick through the survey stew and you find some sense. If Scotland can say it is not well-served by the nexus of Westminster, City and media, much of England can say the same.

Ken Livingstone used to like to remind Scots that some boroughs in his London were as poor as any districts in the islands. This was, and is, absolutely true. It was also beside the point. Part of the reason why England's democracy needs to be broken apart on the wheel of devolution is to prove that you needn't point a finger at others to get justice for yourself.

An English majority for a continuing UK suggests that animosities, where they exist, do not run deep. The desperate search for demented Scottish phobias has not been well-rewarded. The cheering-for-all during the Commonwealth Games turns out to have been more typical than the Daily Mail's internet cybernat hunts. True hatred between Scotland and England is as hard to come by as truly irrational people.

The sole reason to worry comes from those behind the headline trench warfare. Did they want that English backlash so badly? Did they reason that Scots would react, for we have form, to old-fashioned provocation and show our colours as - what's the formula? - ethnic separatists with weird notions about our neighbours? It didn't work. It won't work. It's not true.

Just before the First World War, GK Chesterton published a novel containing a few poems. One of those has to do with St George. The writer called it The Englishman. I always think the last lines would suit those who sit in London offices and yearn for a resentful England.

But though he is jolly company

And very pleased to dine,

It isn't safe to give him nuts

Unless you give him wine.

My reply was:-

Dear Mr Bell

Re: The Anglo-phobia that never was” – Sunday, 24th August

I enjoyed your article, but, with respect, the point about the opinion polls is somewhat undermining the No Campaign's pitch as they demonstrate that the inducements to vote No which have been promised by Unionists in fact may be politically undeliverable.

In particular any promise to maintain the proportion of public spending currently spent in Scotland stands little chance of being honoured. So NO voters may well be voting for a £1,500 per annum cut in their living standards!

Do you think that thought will make a difference?

Yours sincerely

Robin Tilbrook

The English Democrats