Dear Member and Supporter
The Campaign for an English Parliament would like to thank John Denham, The Centre for English Identity and Politics, and Winchester University, for inviting us to speak at the university.
Below is the outline of the speech which includes points highlighting why English Votes for English Laws will not work and rebuttals to objections against an English Parliament.
Campaign for an English Parliament
There is a forgotten –
nay almost forbidden word,
. . . . a word which means more to me than any other. . . .
That word is
Sir Winston Churchill.
Campaign Director, The CEP
Tonight, I stand here unashamedly as an Englishman talking about England and how we should be governed. I will also be talking about how England fits within the UK and ask you ponder the possibilities that are open to us. When we say, we love our country, England… that it means more than anything to us…. We need to establish what our history tells us about ourselves, our sense of belonging, and our sense of fight and if being English now is any different than our forefathers.
We can only hope to get close to understanding where we are now as a nation by looking at characters from our past and by picking out stories and quotes. Those lessons from our history should resonate with our code of values now. It is the personalities of our past that inspire us, at times will give us courage and in times of need give us comfort and reassurance that we will overcome adversity.
By looking back, we can walk ahead with confidence and be there for England when needed, which is now!!!
But how bad is it? Am I exaggerating, does England need us to stand up and be counted. Let me explain how bad the current situation is….
Since England has no constitutional or political existence of itself it could be argued that England is the last British colony.
Indeed, the Encyclopaedia Britannica describes England thus:
‘Outside the British Isles, England is often erroneously considered synonymous with the island of Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and even with the entire United Kingdom. Despite the political, economic, and cultural legacy that has secured the perpetuation of its name, England no longer officially exists as a governmental or political unit—unlike Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which all have varying degrees of self-government in domestic affairs.
In many ways England, has seemingly been absorbed within the larger mass of Great Britain since the Act of Union of 1707.’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2004)
Please just contemplate how serious that is – England no longer officially exists!
However, that situation is made worse because there is grit in the wound because we also need to remember and be aware, that alongside England’s political non-existence, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have dedicated governments focusing on their national economic growth strategies for their respective nations. They have a national strategy, a national vision and a government structure equipped to turn that vision into a reality.
England does not have a national government, nor does it have a vision or main party political manifestos for the people of England.
Devolution has continued to leave England wanting in terms of a national vision or strategy and that needs to change – and it needs to change quickly if you believe in saving the Union. If not, then independence for England versus England disappearing is on the table. – what is your choice???
This is because a void in England’s democracy exists and the lack of her governance has allowed instability and dissatisfaction amongst the English to grow. Far too much attention has been given to the SNP and their lust for independence, whilst England and the English annoyance has been simmering quietly on the side.
You only need to look at the Political parties and Labour to see that they are running around as headless chickens, fretting over losing Scotland and Wales because they cannot face loving England. Political fools come to mind because it will be only through English engagement that they will return to power.
However now that one of UKIP’s potential leaders has declared he wants an English parliament then Labour’s rejection of England and its misplaced love of regionalisation of the English nation, in other terms the break of England, will see UKIP usurp them. I feel sorry for Labour having to put up with Gordon Brown’s celebration of the Scottish and Welsh nations but the utter rejection of England’s right for national determination. His words could easily be construed as anti- English racism.
So, it will be interesting to see if this new UKIP’s vision to save the UK means an English administration and an English First Minister.
Instead of tackling a usurper, Labour and the Conservatives would rather pretend that Devolution at a local level is developing in England, but that is not true because it is confused and dysfunctional Devolution and it is not giving a true voice to people across all of England.
City versus rural, City versus town and village, industrial areas versus agricultural areas. How much better it would be to have rational, coherent and structured de-centralisation of power linked at the conception of an English parliament towards local communities.
It was right when the last government, the coalition came to power, that they dismantled the hugely unpopular regional governments and regional QUANGOS but they failed to address the problem as they didn’t replace it with anything substantial. That should have been an English Parliament, accountable to the people of England. A national federal system should have been created then. The British government let the English down and by doing that they let the UK down because they broke the principles of the 1707 Act of Union and treated citizens across the UK differently.
Instead after the Scottish referendum the Conservative Government introduced English Votes for English Laws which upset the Scots and English at the same time. English Votes for English Laws will fail to address the English Question for the following reasons:
- It is a procedural device, without the force of legislation, which can be reversed at any time.
- The votes of English MPs can still be overturned as seen when English voting for extended Sunday trading was overturned by the votes of Scottish MPs in the Westminster Parliament.
- It does not restrict the ability of a government at Westminster to appoint Ministers for English affairs from other countries of the UK
- English laws are still proposed by a British Government and revised and scrutinized by a House of Lords, containing members from across the UK, whereas the laws passed by the devolved administrations are not subject to scrutiny by the Upper House.
- There is no administration devoted to English affairs and membership of select committees for English matters include members of the SNP, who can influence decisions on policy for England
- It does not address the lack of representation of England per se either within the UK or internationally as in the EU or the British/Irish council.
Also, we, in this room and family across our country cannot ignore the financial reality that has occurred over the decades, the British government Red or blue has treated England’s taxpayer as a cash cow.
They haven’t listened to the concerns of English men and women; all they have wanted is their money. Yes, I am talking about the Barnett formula. The British Elite should feel ashamed of themselves for not abolishing the Barnett formula but unfortunately they do not.
In fact, they have pledged to keep favouring the Scots in naive belief that the SNP will be bought off. I talk from personal experience sitting in Edinburgh with SNP Special advisers they were clear they would take whatever they could financially from the British government. That means the English taxpayer will be expected to cough up even more.
The House of Lords report from 2009 cannot be ignored. The English taxpayer finances the Union. The amount of surplus money that goes to Scotland every year is £10 Billion. Heathrow expansion under Barnett consequential give the SNP at a minimum £500 Million of English taxes. For every 10 billion spent in England on Capital projects a further billion must be given to Scotland.
England has had to guarantee the Scottish Banks and compensate county councils for their adventures investing with Icelandic Banks – the list is endless.
England is now reeling under severe financial pressures that the Barnett formula has created. Closures of A&E departments and council services across England is wide spread.
We know what will work and what has not, irrational, incoherent and messy regionalisation of England is not the answer
Without a coherent English Government, issues such as the effective development of key strategies for England cannot be properly developed.
It is clear for all to see.
The needs of England differ significantly from the needs of Scotland and Wales. Not only in terms of England’s size, but the economic issues that England needs to address are quite different. Therefore, a dedicated English (rather than British wide) Governmental structure is needed to develop policy for areas, ranging from health to housing.
YET for far too long objections to an English Parliament have just been accepted without question.
We have heard many saying that the British Parliament is already dominated by British MPs from England and they can represent the interests of England within the British Parliament, it is essentially an English parliament because English constituencies make up over 80% of MPs, so the influence of Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh MPs is marginal.
But that is to ignore the obvious. Just look at the influence of Scottish MPs – they are anything but marginal. Unaccountable SNP and Plaid Cymru MPs have overturned, or worse helped enforce policy on England. A mosquito can kill a man and the SNP without a healthy England is killing the UK.
The British Parliament continues to be the Parliament of the United Kingdom and it contains MPs from throughout the UK and pursues the internal and external interests of the whole UK.
It is under no obligation to pursue specific interests relating to the whole of England and there is no body through which those interests can be voiced. The House of Commons splits along party lines, not along national lines.
Moreover, a Union parliament should not encourage ‘English MPs’ – who are British MPs who happen to be elected in England – to be nationalistic and act in England’s interest.
The British Government should put the interests of the UK above the interests of any of the nations. Neither the Union parliament, nor the British Government, can or should be encouraged to ‘speak for England’.
Only a parliament and government elected by, and accountable solely to, the English people can speak for England. Just think, ‘possibly proportional representation’ could be introduced in a new parliament if that was the will of the English people.
Then we have the old classic objection that suggests an English Parliament would be almost as big as the British Parliament and England would dominate a federal Union
That demonstrates a fundamental and unnecessary assumption that the British Parliament would need to be of the same size as it is now.
That assumption ignores or denies that the work of the British Parliament would be very substantially reduced and thus a much smaller Parliament would can represent the constituent parts of the Union.
We already have the situation where many British MPs from areas outside England, cannot initiate, debate or vote on domestic matters that affect them and their constituents, yet they are being paid the same salary as British MPs from English constituencies. Indeed, the Scots, themselves, are asking why they, as British tax payers, are paying for British Government MPs who have no responsibility in the domestic matters that most concern them as voters.
Then I use the word ‘dominate’, because that very quickly rolls off the tongues of Scottish, Welsh politicians and British politicians when an English parliament is suggested – and I agree. ‘no-one wants to be dominated’, but England representing 55 million will dominate under any system, it is the largest nation of the UK.
BUT there is less chance of non-English concerns being rolled out across the UK under a federal system because domestic issues would be separated. Federalism allows the smaller nations of the UK equal ownership of British institutions of governance. Moreover, a federal or confederal system where there is such disparity in size of the members has never been shown not to work. Again, the opposite is true, just look at the USA and Australia. AND if the SNP doesn’t like being dominated then why are they involved as unaccountable MPs in the British Parliament as it concerns itself with predominately English domestic matters.
Then cost is used to block it. It could potentially mean creating another Parliament building with a whole new set of politicians. This would impose an added cost on the taxpayer.
It would create a new layer of politicians but not necessarily a new parliament building. Savings could be made by completely abolishing regionalism and restoring and enhancing governance to ‘little regions’ that already exist called counties. It would means reducing the number of British MPs, and possibly abolishing the House of Lords in favour of a federal parliament. That is worth thinking about, maybe the time has come to wave goodbye to these unelected individuals who appear at times to want to block the will of the people.
Moreover, these costs were clearly not a reason considered very important when granting devolution to the rest of the UK. Why then should the argument that we must not have more MPs be used selectively against English aspirations? Of course, it hardly needs to be said that the cost of setting up an English parliament and government is, on a per capita basis, far less than the cost of setting up the equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Others say that there is no demand.
Clearly, until a proper referendum, based on those of Scotland and Wales, takes place that assertion cannot be demonstrated. However, a significant number of polls of every description since 2001 indicate a majority of the people of England might vote for an English Parliament if asked the same referendum question as was offered to Scotland and Wales.
And then we finally go to party politics and you hear the concerns that an English Parliament would be permanently dominated by the Conservative Party.
That is not even worth answering as it so obviously not true….
This denial of English democratic needs means that the lack of forward planning is impacting on the English quality of life, our lives – prevention of overcrowding and preservation of green spaces etc. These issues need to be carefully considered. Or are you happy for your forests to be sold off, your village greens to be used or your beaches to become privatised
Let’s take industrial strategy as an example – all I ask is that you think about this.
What kind of industries does England need to develop if we are to provide the kind of wealth creation necessary to finance an ever-growing population especially with the elderly living longer?
Rebalancing the economy away from financial services into manufacturing and hi- tech industries needs policies and incentives. To do that needs the younger generation to be involved across England.
Yet if you look at the education in England – you see English students dealing with a disproportionate cost for their university education when compared to Scotland and Wales.
Full Tuition fees are only applicable to English based students. What a slap in the face for the tax burdened English. This could not be a clearer example, the equal treatment of all people within the Union which is fundamental core value is happening. It has created unbearable financial and political strains which are in danger of breaking the union unless fair and equitable solutions to the financing of education can be properly developed.
If not, then English independence might be the only way forward. Why, who thinks it is fair that English taxpayers unfairly subsidise the education of Welsh and Scottish students whilst having to pay large sums for their own children?
English independence would give England full fiscal autonomy and the Barnett formula and Barnett consequential would be abolished end. That is 49 billion a year saving.
But how many times have you heard when an Englishman/woman complains about the unfairness – that he is a poorly educated, part of the left behind generation, that he is a fascist/racist, a fool and a duped far right. Nonsense.
That kind of anti-English sentiment weakens the bonds of the Union and breeds discontent amongst English taxpayers who are being exploited for their taxes. Be assured that is just a way of shutting the wider population in England up by an out of touch British elite. Look above those insults because it is only done so they can continue to empty your pockets of your hard-earned taxes.
For England to have good policies developed to meet her needs, she also requires a political party to address the people of England, in the same way the political parties deal with the specific and much smaller needs of those of the Welsh and Scottish.
But England also requires the political will of her people and strong leaders that are ready to engage with the 55 million people living in England,
The question for every political party is
“who is standing up for England”?
More importantly for Unionists – what is the Union without England?
But take heart – England has had strong leaders in our past.
So, let me take you through a brief look at some events from English history. As mentioned at the start our past, should give us all confidence. These individuals mentioned knew that what England meant to them and they were not afraid to say how they felt, even if it cost them their lives. I have picked them for reasons.
Let’s start in AD 61 Boadicea, Warrior Queen
somewhere in the Midlands
probably just north of Coventry
in front of her troops
“I am fighting for my lost freedom, my bruised body and my outraged daughters. Win this battle or perish that is what I, a woman plan to do, let the men live in slavery, if they want to”.
Yes. Boadicea battled for her honour, but she also battled for
her people’s rights and liberty….
Let’s move forward to a character called Byrthnoth in 991
Because standing above the mud flats of Maldon in Essex before and in defiance of the Vikings he let us all know how he felt about protecting England. He said: –
“Listen Messenger, take back my reply
…That a noble earl and his troops stand here
Guardians of the people and of the country, the home of Aethelred, my prince –who will defend this land to the last ditch”.
He showed his entrenched love for England and her people.
And what about the events surrounding Simon De Montfort in 1265. Many of us will know this story but what is of importance is that in the summer of 1258
Those wise men gathered struck a new deal for England with a statement: –
‘Our kingdom shall be ordered, rectified and reformed in keeping with what they think best.
So, we know that a new deal can be done because it has been done…. if the will is there.
The importance of that event cannot be under estimated and it was English not British…
Then you see an individual named John Ball who in 1381 on Blackheath Common which overlooks London gave a fiery speech as he cried: –
‘that all are equal, that servitude of man to man was introduced by the wicked.
I love those words; they were English words and you see passion and resolve
Involved in the Peasant Revolt were characters called Wat Tyler, a Kent boy and an individual called Jack Straw.
They were leaders of that rebellion and it did not start in poor and down trodden areas in England, but in rich counties. In fact, it would better to call the Peasants Revolt, the Taxpayers Revolt because then as now the tax burden was too great for the ordinary man and woman… and in a town in Essex at the end of May 1381 rebellion was sparked and at Smithfield Meadow these words were spoken by Wat Tyler: –
Again, I love these comments
‘There should equality among all people …. All men should be free.’
You see that as a country we are prepared to be counted, prepared to stand up for the needs of our fellow man.
Who hasn’t heard of Henry V but on Thursday the 24th October 1415 with a strong belief in God he stood with his troops and said: –
‘if my cause is just, i shall prevail, whatever the size of my following.
I put this in to show why we feel that we can win against the odds
Then to Tilbury we go with Queen Elizabeth and her rousing words
I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman but i have the heart and stomach of a king and a king of England too.
It is of coincidence that England led the way in giving women the right to vote when you have the stories of Boadicea and Queen Elizabeth.
Then let’s move to 1620 and the Mayflower and which must be the beginning of the first written constitution 1629. You hear the commons sound defiant when Sir John Elliot
proclaimed and condemned taxation without parliamentary assent
You see the need for fair treatment has been with us for a long time
1819 Henry Hunt in St Peters Field, Manchester bellowed out the need for parliamentary reform and the right of all men to vote by secret ballot. Although great unrest occurred by 1830 Lord Grey told the house: –
‘The principle of reform is to prevent the necessity for revolution, reform is to preserve not to overthrow.’
If only our government would heed those words
Then we have the Tolpuddle Martyr’s story which is about ordinary working people combined to defend their rights. As the sun rose on 24th February 1834, George Loveless set off to work, arrested and deport/convicted of swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers.
When sentenced to seven years’ penal transportation, George Loveless wrote on a scrap of paper lines from the Union hymn The Gathering of the Unions:
In England, they became popular heroes and 800,000 signatures were collected for their release.
God is our guide! from field, from wave,
From plough, from anvil, and from loom;
We come, our country’s rights to save,
And speak a tyrant faction’s doom:
We raise the watch-word liberty;
We will, we will, we will be free!
Yet now we see the Cross of St George being banned for the Tolpuddle Festival and Trade Union congresses for Scotland, Wales and Ireland but not for England.
If English Independence is to be avoided, it can easily be done within the bounds of the Union by completing the Federalisation of the United Kingdom which means providing to England the same democratic rights as have been given to the rest.
By answering once and for all the English Question and with only English elected politicians voting on English only matters.
That principle is not heresy. That principle is not an outrageous suggestion. That principle is the basis on which the Union’s democracy is based and it is up to a political party who recognises that restoring democracy to England is the only way the Union will survive into the long term. Samuel Johnson was right “He that wishes to see his country robbed of its rights cannot be a patriot”. Do right by the people of England and they will not forget it.
In conclusion, I will quote another Churchill, a poet called Charles Churchill and he lived between 1731 and 1764. He stated: –
“Be England what she will. With all her faults, she is my country still”.
Those words for me are true and stirring and I hope they are for you as well. All we ask for is an English parliament so that we can be governed fairly. If that cannot be given, then English Independence is the only way forward.
The Campaign for an English Parliament