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Friday, 10 May 2013

PETER DAVIES – SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI (so ends worldly glory)!


As I am often asked about what happened with Peter Davies I will set it out here and then leave it. Peter was our party's first great electoral success and if that had been followed up then our Cause would have been helped greatly. It is disappointing that this wasn't possible.

Most of the details of Peter Davies’ life can be seen here in his entry in Wikipedia. Click here for the details >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Davies_(politician)
For my part, my first awareness of Peter’s existence came about because our then Yorkshire organiser, Michael Cassidy (who had met Peter in UKIP and then the Referendum Party) where we had got him standing in a local election in Doncaster.
Peter had automatically become a member of the English Democrats on the basis of having previously been a member of a UKIP splinter party, Reform UK, which had recently merged with the English Democrats. I then got good reports back during and after the election that our message had gone down very well and that Peter was delighted with the fact that he had more than doubled his best previous performance.
I do not think I actually first spoke to Peter until Michael Cassidy brought him along to a National Council meeting. During the course of the next few months, with my active encouragement the strategic plan emerged to stand as much as our resources would allow in Doncaster and to start spreading our message and create brand awareness so when it came to the Mayoral election we would be in a good position to challenge. This plan went well with Peter standing in local elections and Michael Cassidy standing for us in the Parliamentary election.
Incidentally for those who think that it is practical to do a deal with UKIP, Michael Cassidy’s experience is telling. He had been, I think, the Secretary of the Regional Party of Yorkshire for UKIP and personally knew the organisers of UKIP within Doncaster. He wanted to stand in the Don Valley constituency which would have supported Peter’s local election candidacies, but UKIP’s local branch told him that that is where they wanted to stand. Michael therefore agreed that he would stand in North Doncaster, but when the nominations were announced by the Returning Officer, it turned out that UKIP had not stood in the Don Valley at all, but in North Doncaster in order to try and spoil our vote!
By the time of the run up to the Mayoral election and also the EU Parliamentary election which was to be held on the same date, I was aware that Peter was opinionated and seemed capable of making a good speech and dealing with question and answer sessions in a robust and mostly sensible way. I do not think, even with hindsight, that I had any information which should have led me to be wary. In any case it was probably either to put Peter up as Mayoral candidate or not to put up a candidate at all. I was keen to put up a candidate in Doncaster and mostly funded the election. We not only stood Peter as our Mayoral candidate but also put him on our Yorkshire EU Parliamentary list so that we would get a double mailshot and we used the EU Parliament election free delivery to mailshot the whole of Doncaster. I paid for this and for the Yorkshire EU Parliamentary deposit.
During the election campaign Michael Cassidy did tell me that things seemed to be going well and he did not need any further help. We were of course standing in the EU elections across England and therefore I was at full stretch.
I have since been told that even during that election campaign Peter threatened to resign. I understand that this was over the question of whether he could go off for a week during the campaign to go to the horse racing festival at Perth in Scotland. It was only when Peter came back from that and had the confirmation from Michael that we were doing well, that Peter actually began to do any serious campaigning.
We then had the sensational result that he was elected by a squeak on the second preferences. It was obviously a very exciting, if lengthy and drawn out count, with lots of re-counts during which all sorts of stunts were being played by the more partisan counting officials (including 600 BNP votes being mysteriously put in hidden amongst the Labour votes!).
Immediately after Peter was elected the first sign to me that he wasn’t going to be a “safe pair of hands” was when he gave an interview to Toby Foster for which he was totally unprepared and from which he flounced out in the middle of. When I discussed this with Peter, far from being sorry about it, he maintained that it was all the interviewer’s fault and that he would not give any further interviews with either Toby Foster or Radio Sheffield.
I did my best to repair the situation and did an interview with Toby Foster myself the following week on my way up to Doncaster to our new Mayor’s invitation.
At this time we were getting lots of media coverage and Peter was getting a flood of people saying how delighted they were that we had got him elected. Far from helping us respond to these letters and emails, he had his Council staff delete all of the emails and we never got any of the letters either. That was the first indications that things were not going to go smoothly.
Peter invited some of us up to Doncaster to celebrate and during our meeting we talked about the things that Peter could do to implement all relevant parts of our manifesto and the need to appoint a political advisor as his Chief of Staff. We had a National Council member available at the time, David Lane, who was willing to do the job. The second indication was when Peter initially said he would do it but didn’t in fact appoint him and became evasive about the reasons in the following weeks. At that point I thought it might be that he did not want to appoint David Lane, so I then invited him to appoint his close friend and agent, Geoff Crossman. He would not appoint him either. 
It was also becoming clear to me at this point that Peter was very disorganised and had a very poor memory for detail and was very inclined to make snap decisions without fully considering the situation, whilst also having no tolerance for those people he was dealing with in the Council who didn’t scurry obsequiously around him.
These were worrying signs and it was frustrating that we had got somebody elected to a high profile position of actual power, but yet he seemed to have no interest in implementing any aspect of our manifesto. I had become aware that Peter was volatile and headstrong, and it was unlikely that I was going to be able to get him to do anything that we wanted him to do.
I continued to try to get him to set up St George’s Day celebrations in Doncaster, but he would not do that; to focus the substantial community budget more on the English community, but he wouldn’t do that. He did not seem to have any strategic view as to what he was going to be doing in the Council, which was also frustrating. Having seen that the previous Mayor of Doncaster had fallen out with Labour and been independent for several years before the end of his tenure, I knew that I could not actually order Peter to do anything.
As a result of Peter’s election a significant number of people had joined the Party in Doncaster, but the reports that I was getting was that he was often falling out with individuals and the numbers were gradually dropping off.
In the first three years after his election we did nevertheless manage a significant number of candidates and have continued to regularly get the kind of votes that Peter had found he was getting once he started to stand for us.
There was then a highly critical report by Government Inspectors into the operation of Doncaster Council , which whilst it concentrated the heaviest fire on Doncaster’s Labour Party and Councillors, it was also clear that Peter was failing to respond to the situation in any sort of constructive way. I wasn’t entirely surprised by this stage. We nevertheless did our utmost to support Peter in what could have been a potential crisis.
We continued to lose good members of the Party in Doncaster, at least in part because of Peter’s behaviour but the next crisis was that Doncaster’s Labour Councillors decided that they would trigger a referendum on whether to keep the mayoralty. Peter had left dealing with this right until the very last moment and he then rang me in a panic asking me to help. I did and we produced a leaflet which won the day.
All the while Peter was being attacked on websites and in dishonest, utterly contemptible emails and blog entries from various sources including one particularly repellent individual called Jonathan Snelling, who is a failed Liberal Democrat candidate. It gradually became clear that many of the other attackers were people who had been pretending to be English nationalists but who were unmasked as being UKIP internet trolls (“UKIP’s Black Ops Team”).
When we won the mayoral referendum it was clear that we were in a good position to win the mayoral election again with Peter winning a further term. We now began to pick up indicators that Peter’s egotism had disturbed his sense of proportion to the point that he thought now, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that he had been elected entirely because of himself rather than as a result of any input from the English Democrats!
I suspect the Labour Councillors who he was regularly mixing with were astute enough to realise that Peter’s greatest weakness is his egotism and had played on him to try to divide him from us so that they would have a good chance of winning the mayoral election.
By this point it was becoming clear to me that there was a danger that Peter would spin us out long enough so it would be impossible for us to find an alternative candidate before Peter became an Independent. I made it clear to him, not only in conversations but also in writing, that if he did not stand as an English Democrat we would nevertheless stand. Perhaps as a result of this crystal clear warning Peter then started working on the active members of our Doncaster branch to get them to stay with him if he stood as an Independent. It was also becoming clear that he was openly trying to de-stabilise the branch and on at least one occasion he flounced out of the meeting, hoping that the branch would collapse.
I then invited him to a selection meeting by our National Council indicating that we had another candidate and there would have to be a selection. At this point he resigned and immediately began to attack the Party. He claimed that his resignation was something to do with BNP members, although there were no ex-BNP members in the Doncaster branch and he was well aware of the few people who came over from the BNP to us had done so 18 months or so before. In short Peter’s conduct towards us was not only a great let down and unwillingness to follow our manifesto, but also devious and disloyal.
Perhaps I should have immediately been put on my guard when he kept telling me that he was “loyal”! These words from his interviews in the media after his resignation show just what that meant:-
Peter was asked about his refusal to help us get St George’s Day properly celebrated in Doncaster by the Local Government Magazine and he said, and I quote,: - “I have never celebrated St George’s Day. I certainly think, in a racing town like Doncaster, that meeting fraternal colleagues in Perth is a far better use of my time than dancing around with a bunch of Morris dancers”.
Peter’s commitment to English Nationalism was not even skin deep.
Peter told the BBC last year that he had not been mayor very long before he “realised that being an English Democrat was a total irrelevance”.
Peter told ITV that:- “A good Mayor is a Mayor without a party. English Democrats policies have never played any part in my running of the town.”
By now Peter had become an ex-supporter of six political parties, having, as he had told me at one time, originally been a supporter of Labour and then for a longish while Conservative, Referendum Party, UKIP and Reform UK and finally the English Democrats.
If Peter had been willing to maintain even the façade of loyalty, even though he was never actually going to do anything that was English Democrat, he would nevertheless now be starting on his second term of office as Mayor of Doncaster as can easily be seen by the results, as together we would have had a majority of over 4,000.
Peter’s tenure office has been a disappointment but our troubles with him are by no means unique for any political party in dealing with egotists. Those of us that actually care about the Cause and are campaigning to make a difference for England for the better will carry on and in Doncaster we are already looking forward to the next elections. We saved our Mayoral Election deposit and again we showed that we are the second Party in Doncaster after Labour. This result shows that our support is good even in such difficult circumstances.


I am glad to see that out of the 43 candidates that we stood this May we have had a further 10,083 votes (plus an uncounted number of second preference votes in Doncaster).

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this Robin. A very interesting insight into an unfortunate saga.

    All things considered, I think our result in Doncaster was promising and shows that where we put in sufficient electioneering efforts, we can do well.

    The successful Labour candidate now has to vacate her council seat for the 'Askern Spa' ward of Doncaster council. Hopefully we can stand a candidate to build in this momentum?

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    1. Sam Kelly, that looks like a good idea, keeping the EDs in the electorate's eye in Doncaster. A bit of continuity.

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  2. Quo Vadis Peter

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  3. Reading the above it strikes me that Mr Davies was a bit of a lose cannon and rather a risk from the start. Seems a bit of an oddball to me. I wonder whether he just wanted something to occupy himself with in his retirement and also liked the sound of his own voice. Yes, he gave the EDs some initial publicity but then stabbed them in the back the way had had done with previous political parties. I think we need somebody a bit more stable next time to beat Labour.

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    1. I have heard that UKIP ae now active in Doncaster. In fact I am told that their stand in the market was very busy today. I suspect the EDs days in Doncaster are waning.

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