Ladies & Gentlemen
I am very pleased to be here at our Spring Conference in Swanley and also to see you all here today. Welcome to our conference.
I would like to thank Mike Tibby for his welcome to Swanley and also to Steve Uncles and his team for arranging this conference and also to thank David Lane, our tireless conference presenter.
Ladies and Gentlemen before coming here I was told that there was a rumour that Nick Clegg was going to come here this weekend to our conference instead of to Newcastle, but then I heard that he had publically signed a solemn and binding pledge to come to our conference! So I relaxed!
Ladies and Gentlemen, sadly over the last year we have become aware of a campaign against us on various levels. The obvious ones, of a sustained internet campaign of vilification, by various internet trolls, often not giving their real names and using multiple identities, whilst pretending to be supporters of English Nationalism; also of attempts to recruit our members and activists; and of the less obvious ones of deliberately targeting candidates to stand against us simply for the purpose of making it harder for us to breakthrough; and also of entry-ism, where another party’s activists have joined us and then tried to cause trouble. You might think these dirty tactics are worthy of Liberal Democrats, but this ‘black ops’ campaign has been orchestrated under Nigel Farage’s leadership – I must say that I find this behaviour very disappointing. So much for UKIP being a force for cleaning up our politics!
We have tried on several occasions to work with UKIP but they have always done the dirty on us and betrayed any trust placed in them. Given this history I would urge you to be very careful about sharing any information with UKIP and extremely wary of entering into any local electoral pacts with them – it is very likely that if you do they will do the dirty on you too - especially now they have failed to adopt a policy of an English Parliament!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am one of the founder members of the English Democrats and have been Chairman since we launched in August 2002. We are a Party which has grown organically from nothing to nearly 3,000 members.
All the money which we have raised has been spent on campaigning and many of us have put in significant sums of money into the campaign.
Why have we done this? The answer, Ladies and Gentlemen, is that we have done it because we love England and are not willing to go to our graves without having done all in our power to preserve our country.
When the English Democrats were launched England faced being broken up into “Regions”. The Regionalisation Scheme was started by John Major’s Government, after Maastricht, but in 2002 was being pursued enthusiastically by Labour with John Prescott saying “There is no such nationality as English” backed by William Hague saying “English Nationalism is the most dangerous of all forms of nationalism”. The aim of Regionalisation, as clearly stated, by the then Liberal Democrats Leader, to a meeting like this of Dunfermline’s Liberal Democrats, Charlie Kennedy who said, and I quote, that he supported “Breaking England up into EU Regions because “it is calling into question the idea of England itself”.
We campaigned in the North East Regional Assembly Referendum for a No Vote and we have now seen off any chance of Regionalisation gaining any popular mandate, if the Labour supporting think tank can be believed – and I think they can – they have found a mere 9% support for “Each Region of England to have its own assembly”.
We have also been, from the start, in the forefront of bringing the Barnett Formula, the unfair extra spending in Scotland and Wales, to the attention of the English.
When I first started campaigning I actually had people accuse me of lying because they had never heard of it from the British media. Again the IPPR report shows awareness of this beginning to rise in early 2003 just as we began actually campaigning.
Now the English overwhelmingly want to see action to address this. The IPPR report says that there is:-
“A growing perception within England that the English get a raw deal from the devolution settlement. (It is) clear that there is an increasingly strong tendency in England to believe that Scotland gets more than its ‘fair share’ of public spending. Indeed the number of people who believe this has more than doubled in the last decade.”
The English Democrats have been campaigning on English National Identity and St George’s Day. The IPPR report says:- On National Identity
“The most significant and revealing analysis stems from contrasting the groups that say they are either exclusively English, or more English than British, with those that say they are exclusively British, or more British than English. …The results are striking. Those that prioritise their English over their British identity (40 per cent), outnumber those that prioritise their British over their English identity (16 per cent) by more than two-to-one.
English not British 17 13 17 17
More English than British 23 19 24 20
Equally English and British 34 25 36 39
More British than English 9 12 9 8
British not English 7 14 6 6
Other 6 10 4 5
Don’t know 3 7 3 4
1,507 750 756 750”
And on St George’s Day the report says:
“One indication of the pride in and attachment to England across the English electorate is the very strong support shown in the .... survey to the suggestion that St George’s Day should be celebrated as a bank holiday. … fully 74 per cent of our respondents agreed with this proposition, with 47 per cent ‘agreeing strongly’. … We should not be surprised … that an increased awareness of and pride in Englishness is being accompanied by such overwhelming levels of support to the public celebration of English national identity.”
Agree strongly 47
Tend to agree 27
Tend to disagree 8
Disagree strongly 4
Don’t know 13
There remains a battle to be fought against the advocates of English Votes for English Laws (aka “EVEL”) and an English Parliament but EVEL, even if it could be made to work, which is a big if, is a red hearing because the key issue is the Government of England, not merely its representation in a parliament, but even with our very limited resources support for an English Parliament is now standing at 36%!
So all in all we are making great progress, even if you focus on the narrow perspective of our core campaigning issues.
But looking more widely for example on our policy of withdrawing from the EU. We started unprejudiced and with a blank sheet but could see that there is no way that an English Nationalist can make a case for supporting the EU. Now our scepticism has been proved by the failures of the EU itself.
Also consider, unchecked mass immigration which can now be undeniably seen as undermining the living standards of ordinary people and also a threat to our own culture. Put thoughtfully and carefully this is a very important issue with huge political potential.
Also I cannot miss out the potential for gains to our Party in the coming 1,000 days before the Scottish Referendum. The British Unionist Establishment is all over the place on this, seeing it just as a Scottish issue but again the IPPR report shows that English people are increasingly assertive that we to have a right to be consulted on what should happen for England. The English Democrats are the only voice for England in this debate.
As you can see from my recent appearance on the BBC’s flagship political show, The Daily Politics, the coverage that we are getting over this weekend and this News item:-
Ladies and Gentlemen I think that both for English Nationalism and, with your help also for the English Democrats, to re-use a New Labour phrase “the only way is up!”
We in this Party have often had debates on how to ensure that people pigeon hole us in the right category, of nice nationalists, and therefore are prepared to listen to what we have to say.
I thought you might find it interesting that once upon a time nationalism was always thought of as being nice by well-meaning people. I would mention the name Garibaldi to you – I know what you are thinking – why is he talking about biscuits – does he want his tea already?
No, I am talking about a mid 19th Century superstar – Garibaldi was an ‘A’ list celebrity of 19th Century popular democratic nationalism, when the very word nationalist meant democrat – when the whole purpose of the so-called Concert of Europe, no David, not a musical concert. The Concert of Europe was the name of the organisation of the anti-democratic front of the outright tyrants of European autocracy - the whole purpose of which was the extinction of nationalism and democracy.
Garibaldi was a very colourful character and he lived to see his life’s dream of the unification of Italy into a single nation state. Our task as English Democrats is difficult, but fortunately not as difficult as Garibaldi’s was and I am hopeful that it can be accomplished peacefully and democratically.
At a time when the Equality and Diversity agenda has reached the point where the Leader of a Party that claims to be Conservative can claim to his own Party Conference that he supports gay marriage, “not in spite of being a Conservative, but because he is a Conservative”, it may be time to take stock on what the purpose of the State is.
In my view a State needs to mean something. Consider the experience of the Roman Empire, which became a sort of Ancient Secular State, by which I mean a State which has no other purpose than the maintenance of itself – by the 3rd Century this Roman experiment could be unequivocally described as a catastrophic failure. There had been a generation of civil war and of 29 Emperors in a period of 80 years whose shadows flickered across history, and almost none of whom died of natural causes, but then along came a Dalmatian peasant, the Emperor Diocletian, who tried to make the purpose of the empire the enforcement of paganism.
In that aim Diocletian failed and in AD 312 Constantine the Great triumphed under the slogan ‘in hic signo vinces’ – in this sign conquer, which he claimed he had revealed to him by Christ in a dream and thereafter the purpose and mission of the Empire was Christianity, as well as the enforcement of Order.
That mission, introduced by Constantine, survived in the shape of the Byzantine Empire for another thousand years. It is no exaggeration to say that the resistance that the Byzantine Empire put up to Islam is the main reason why we didn’t start today’s meeting with the Call to Prayer!
Our State needs a purpose today. The English State was a Christian State, then a Protestant Christian State, indeed, a specific and unique type of Protestant Christian State. It may have founded its mission in the shadow of Henry VIII’s tyranny but during the reign of Elizabeth I, it came to stand for Protestant liberty, a view which was cemented by the English Civil War and the 1689 Glorious Revolution.
Gradually the Protestant mission changed into the Imperial mission, at the heart of which originally had been profit, but this gradually changed into a mission to bring Christian civilisation to much of the world outside Europe. It was at the beginning of this Imperial context that the Act of Union took place.
That vision of England has gone - but we still need a State with a purpose. As a nationalist I suggest that the vision, our vision, our mission, should be for our State to be the voice of our nation of England - of our English nation. To be sure that nation is a nation whose culture is shaped by Christian traditions but it is also a nation which respects private opinions. In the words of our great Queen Elizabeth I, “Not to make windows into men’s souls”, but to tolerate differences of opinion and of robust debate in a fair and democratic country. By democracy I mean a country where the will of the people, the will of the English nation is sovereign.
After the Imperialist British State’s global power had decayed, after the 2nd World War, there was for a time the Welfare State and the imposition of multi-culturalism, sustained a mission for the State. But now the multi-culturalist British State is without any purpose other than its own maintenance – and a very expensive maintenance it is, as any tax-payer can tell you!
It is now likely that the Scottish National Party is going to be instrumental in the final break up of the British State. This gives us in England the chance of renewal and of a new English Nationalist politics. Already in Scotland, all the parties, and I mean all are Scottish Nationalist. So there is the Scottish Liberal Democrats – recently busy proposing schemes for yet more English money to go to Scotland! The Scottish Conservatives are talking up the same idea! Even more so the Scottish Labour Party and then, of course, there is the Scottish National Party itself.
In Wales it is the same picture but there, even the self-proclaimed Party of Welsh Independence, Plaid Cymru, wants more English subsidies!
In Northern Ireland you have a more tribal type of politics, with their politicians representing their own communities, but even so with their hands held out for English subsidies – I might say, even more so than in Scotland!
But in England what have we got? None of the parties care for England, none of the parties even call themselves English parties! None of the parties have English manifestos! And none can bear to mention England’s name! – Did I say none – well of course there is one – one glimmer of hope! One beacon of renewal! One chance for England to arise! One English Nationalist party! What party is that ladies and gentlemen? All together! The English Democrats!
Ladies and Gentlemen let’s work together to make this year a great year for English nationalism and for The English Democrats!