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British Futures: 51% Support an English Parliament

For those of us interested in the constitutional future of the United Kingdom the Hopes and Fears State of the Nation 2012 report by British Future provides interesting reading.

66percent.jpg66% of us feel a strong connection to Britain but we feel a greater sense of belonging to our home nations. In England, surprisingly perhaps, 62% of ethnic minorities (including 69% of Asians) feel strongly English, which leads the authors to muse that Englishness is now considered a civic rather than an ethnically defined identity. The poll suggests that there is little conflict between English and British identities, with respondents who feel that they belong to Britain and to their local areas demonstrating a strong sense of English identity too. A strong sense of English identity fell to 27% among those who claimed to have no strong sense of being British. This mutually reinforcing link between English and British identity was reflected in the data from the North East of England where a whopping 40% of people claimed to have no strong sense of belonging to England:

Only 49% of people in the north east feel strongly British, much lower than the 67% who feel strongly British across England as a whole. While 62% of Welsh people and 60% of Scots feel strongly British, with 37% and 40% disagreeing.

Despite its low affinity with England the North East was the area that demonstrated the greatest support for the establishment of an English parliament (58%), which is perhaps a reflection of concerns over the Barnett Formula or simply due to a greater awareness of devolution to Scotland.

Across Great Britain (not the UK, Northern Ireland was not included in this poll) 51% of people support the establishment of an English parliament, rising to 52% in England alone. There is little support for the Status Quo (though it is noticeable that Scotland, which has the greatest degree of autonomy, is more supportive of the Status Quo than the rest of Great Britain) and even less for ending devolution by abolishing the national parliaments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Opponents of an English parliament will doubtless argue that whilst it may be true that polls such as this show demonstrable support for the establishment of an English parliament it is not a salient or high priority issue, as demonstrated by the lack of signatures for that cause on the Government's petition site. Nevertheless, given that the three main parties, and until recently UKIP, have been fiercely opposed to an English parliament, it will concern the British political classes that they are out of step with public opinion and there remains the potential in England for an assertive English nationalism during their battle with the Scottish nationalists.

scottish-ind.jpgThe spirit of British fraternity that is evident in support for an English parliament is also evident when it comes to Scottish independence. Opposition to Scotland leaving the Union is similar in all three home nations, with - the authors say - the main difference being a lower proportion of don’t knows in Scotland. Though the headline for nat-bashers like Alan Cochrane must surely read 'Scots are more supportive of Scotland remaining a part of the UK than either the English or the Welsh'.

Support for Scottish independence was highest in the South West of England, where 34% would like Scotland to become independent compared with 40% who would like Scotland to remain a part of the UK.

British Future publish daft graphs on British identity

The new think tank British Future have released some Ipsos-Mori polling on identity in conjunction with the Observer.

It finds that the sense of belonging to England (in England) is weaker than the sense of belonging to Britain (in Britain) among immigrants.

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With the reverse being true for those born in Britain.

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They've chosen a peculiar way to publish the results. Why not publish a like for like analysis? One has to wonder if the sample size wasn't big enough to publish separate results for Scotland and Wales (Northern Ireland appears to have been omitted), or whether they deliberately chose not to make public that data. It would be interesting to see the results for each of the home nations alone, hopefully that information will be made available on the British Future website.

A previous poll on belonging conducted by the Ministry of Justice found that a sense of belonging to England was higher than the sense of belonging to Britain amongst both whites and BMEs.

UPDATE: The British Future report, due to be published on Monday, will contain polling data on support for an English parliament. I will publish the results here.

British Social Attitudes survey shows decline in support for an English parliament

If a reputable English blog announced that support for an English parliament had shot up from 29% to 57% in the British Social Attitudes survey, you would expect the rest of the nationalist blogosphere to sit up and take notice. However, when the blog of Steve Uncles reported that very thing back in December, it went completely unremarked upon, not worthy of even the slightest mention from any other blogger.

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As much as I would like the figure of 57% to be correct, I believe that it is nothing more than wild propaganda, a figure plucked from the air by the English Democrats' very own Lord Haw Haw.

The BSA data for 2010 actually shows that support for an English parliament has declined from 29% to 23%.

As I have previously stated I don't think the BSA survey is a particularly fair measure of public support:

...the British Social Attitudes survey is flawed because it asks the public to choose between a *new* parliament for England or the UK parliament, which historically is the English parliament, and finds that only 29% would like a *new* English parliament.

It does not attempt to measure support for an English parliament at Westminster or a "parliament within a parliament" - an English Grand Committee or "English Votes on English Laws", the latter being the model that commercial polls find most support for.

Asking people to choose between Westminster (England’s traditional parliament) or a new English parliament presupposes that an English parliament must be new and/or distinct (ie not dual purpose).

It would be more useful to paraphrase the referendum that prompted the Scots to vote for a Scottish parliament in 1997:

1. I agree that there should be a English Parliament; or
2. I do not agree that there should be a English Parliament

Even so, the BSA data does provide us with a measure of support and we must accept that by that measure the upward trend has reversed, marginally. Worries over the economy may account for the reversal of fortune, but I think the more likely explanation is that we experienced a spike in support for an English parliament whilst we had a Scottish Prime Minister. Prior to Gordon Brown becoming PM there were polls that indicated that his Scottishness was a problem for English voters. After Brown became PM no one bothered conducting a follow-up poll on public attitudes to a Scottish PM because, as the full extent of his personality disorder became apparent, Scottishness was the very least of his problems.

Wales on England

You may have noticed recently that the campaign for Cornish devolution has been revived by a show of pan-Celtic political unity. In other words a load of Welsh MPs have signed an EDM calling for Cornish 'Freedom'.

Whether or not you are a supporter of Cornish nationalism, it's hard to find fault with the words of one of the signatories to the EDM, Mr Jonathan Edwards MP (Plaid Cymru):

If I was a unionist what I would be putting forward would be a vision of a federal British state, with equal powers for each of the historic nations.

Such a view - albeit to the exclusion of Cornwall - was recently endorsed by David Melding, Deputy Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales:

Declaring Britain a federal state is more important than writing a federal constitution. It would not be possible, anyway, to draft a federal constitution now because English political institutions need time to develop. However, whether or not an English parliament is established or merely an English legislative process within Westminster, what is crucial is that English sovereignty be recognised. Hence the political rights of England would gain parity with those of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Like Edwards, Melding is looking to acknowledge national identity and the democratic right of nations to determine their destiny.

Compare and contrast the enlightened approach of Edwards and Melding with this partisan, undemocratic and anti-English bile from Welsh Labour MP Owen Smith. Is he the bastard child of John Prescott by any chance?

Demos Debate the British Identity Crisis

This is painful to watch.

The report "A Place for Pride" can be read here, but to be honest I really wouldn't bother.

From a nationalist perspective all you really need to know is this:

A lack of sensitivity to the nuances of the post-devolution UK state is apparent throughout the report. A survey poll on British institutions and cultural icons asked respondents to agree with statements such as ‘I am proud of David Beckham as a symbol of Britain’. The former captain of the English football team is an unlikely candidate to induce pride across the whole of the UK. Similarly, the idea that Shakespeare and the singing of ‘Jerusalem’ are primarily aspects of British rather than English pride is myopic at best. Whilst the authors misguidedly claim Scottish citizens are less adept at combining their Scottish identity with their British identity, they readily conflate Englishness and Britishness without acknowledging its implications.

The presence of competing Scottish, Welsh and English national identities also raise conceptual and rhetorical challenges in articulating an organic patriotic Britishness. The solution is revealingly retrogressive; each are described as ‘sub-patriotisms’ that are ‘politically regional identities’. The casual dismissal of Scottish, Welsh and English nationhood and citizenship is couched in the language of the past but has no place in a modern multi-national state such as the UK.

The Sanctimonious Cockwaffle of David Marquand

David Rickard's article Capital E Nationalism versus little e (and €) capitalism notes that David Marquand "characterises the resurgent post-summit euroscepticism as a peculiarly English, rather than British, phenomenon, arguing that it has been transformed from ‘scepticism’ to ‘phobia’: a visceral, in-the-gut reaction of hostility rather than rational, constructive-critical engagement."

I could not agree more. Let's take a look at some of the more hysterical sections of Marquand's recent Guardian article:

Europhobia is English. It was English Tory MPs who told Cameron to behave like a bulldog when he got to Brussels and who sizzled with hatred for the Lib Dems after his return. English red top papers have been stoking the fires of Europhobia ever since Margaret Thatcher's defenestration. Indeed the Tory party itself is now an English party, not a British one.

Indeed, the Tory Party is an English party, not a British one (if only in numbers, not ideology); so it's rather difficult for non-English Tory MPs to make themselves heard over the cacophony of 'English' voices. But even if we accept that English Tory MPs and English red top papers are Europhobic, rather than merely Eurosceptic, does that mean that "Europhobia is English"? I wouldn't say so. Re-read the papers, listen to those MPs again, and tell me whether they exhort Cameron in the name of England or Britain. Without exception the MPs and red tops in question are British, defending what they see as the British national interest.

Marquand continues:

The crisis in Britain's relationship with mainland Europe has its roots in a peculiarly English identity crisis with no counterpart north of the border or west of the Severn. The Scots and Welsh know who they are. For centuries, they have had two identities – their own, and a wider British one. They are unfazed by the discovery of a third European identity as well. They are at home in Europe, where multiple identities are becoming the norm. To them, it seems only right that Europe's once monolithic sovereign states now have to share power, both with a supranational union and with rediscovered nations, principalities and provinces within their borders. Along with Catalans, Basques, Flemings, Walloons, Corsicans, Sardinians and even Bretons, the Scots and Welsh are emerging from a homogenising central state of the recent past.

Certainly the Scots and Welsh differentiate between their national identities and their British identity to a greater extent than the English do, but given that England has 84% of the UK population, while Scotland and Wales have 8% and 5% respectively, this is hardly surprising. The assertion that the Scots and Welsh are more keen to share power with the EU is not an evidence-based assertion. A recent ComRes survey found the Scots to be more Eurosceptic than the English, and YouGov found those who self-identified as Welsh to be more in favour of leaving the EU altogether (though the headline writers focused English 'insecurities') than those who identified as English or British.

If Marquand wanted to inject a dose a objectivity into his article he need look no further than the Scottish Government website, from where he would learn that "There is very little difference between Scotland and the UK as a whole on attitudes to Europe."

Marquand continues:

[England] too was a European kingdom before it merged with Scotland, and had close links with the continent. But the English myth is one of heroic separation from the mainland, not engagement with it: of England as a providential nation summoned by a higher power to defend freedom from continental assault.

It wasn't so long ago that Marquand was arguing that "There is no English national Myth comparable to the Scottish Myth of popular sovereignty or the Welsh Myth of Celtic socialism". Well perhaps he's now found one.

In very simple terms for the Scots and Welsh the English are 'the other'. Whereas for the English the Germans or the French play the role of 'the other'. This is explained in a more academic way in that same paper on the Scottish Government website:

the Scottish can draw upon a pre-Union history quite different to England i.e. they have a different collective memory of Europe. He [ Ichijo] suggests that the Scottish do not define themselves in opposition to Europe but rather in opposition to England, because of historical alliances with France and Baltic trading partners. As a result of this, people in Scotland today have different raw material to work with and can project different futures.

Marquand continues:

The English doctrine of absolute parliamentary sovereignty runs against the grain of the rediscovered provincialism of modern Europe. Above all, the English of the 21st century no longer know who they are. They used to think that "English" and "British" were synonymous. Now they know that they are not. But they don't know how Englishness and Britishness relate to each other, and they can't get used to the notion of multiple identities. Until they do, I don't see how the crisis in Britain's relationship with continental Europe can be resolved. If it isn't, the most likely prospect is of further European political union and the break-up of the UK, with England staying out and Scotland and Wales going in.

Here I find myself agreeing with Marquand, slightly. The English do understand how Englishness and Britishness relate to each other but the British state cannot accommodate or reconcile that relationship (and acknowledgement of difference) for fear of upsetting the Union, consequently the English are left in limbo, unable to be both English and British in a political sense. So it is a British problem with its focus on England rather than a specifically English problem, as I explained in my recent article on Our Kingdom:

Those who might otherwise be English nationalists are forced into an absurd Anglo-British nationalism in defence of Westminster sovereignty, which prevents any appeal to popular sovereignty or anything else which might further challenge or undermine parliamentary sovereignty.

Enjoy England (while you can)

It's enough to make you weep:

The number of households in England is projected to increase from 21.7m in 2008 to 27.5m by 2033, an increase of 5.8m or 27%. Over the same period, figures are projected to rise from 1.3m to 1.6m in Wales, and from 688,700 to 880,400 in Northern Ireland. The number of households in Scotland is projected to rise from 2.3m to 2.8m between 2008 and 2033 - an increase of 21%.

The people that [mis] govern England won't be happy until England is completely laid to waste by Barratt and Wimpey estates, until we're all ram packed into 'shameful shoebox homes' with outlooks over Tesco superstores. The stated reason [here's the unstated reason] for the high levels of immigration that have been the main contributing factor to what will become the wanton destruction of England was the idea that immigration was good for the economy. But look at the economy now.

The present UK government are now referring to themselves as the 'greenest government ever'. However, in the absence of a population policy or an effective immigration policy one can only conclude that they are completely deluded. England, already the most overpopulated country in Europe bar Malta, is being wrecked. The only consolation to future generations is that they won't know what it was that they lost.

Steve Uncles wins an Award

Steve (Carb) Uncles has won English Patriot's Political Darwin Award, which celebrates the person who has most removed him or herself from any chance of electoral success in the ‘party political gene pool’.

What can we say about the performance of ‘The Political Brain’ during 2011? Starting off with his misconduct charge at the January English Democrats National Council meeting for attempting to bribe the London Vice-Chairman in to taking on former BNP GLA member Richard Barnbrook for 2012, it has all been downhill from there.

Kicked off the National Council on a unanimous vote (Which was counted as a resignation because Robin Tilbrook had his resignation letter ready in case of that eventuality) in February, he turned up as a ‘Party Spokesman’ on the BBC just a few weeks later in front of the Houses of Parliament – Probably the nearest he will ever get to elected office.

April Fools Day saw the vindictive nature of the beast as he posted a story about the death of Nigel Farage on his English Passport blog site, apparently in a plane crash caused by Republican terrorists – Ironic, considering that Uncles had emailed Sinn Fein in 2009 offering to ‘further their aims on the doorsteps of England’ for a donation of £200k to the ED fighting fund, an email that had leaked in late 2010. It would appear that SF took him about as seriously as the rest of us by not replying, although it has not stopped him putting up a post on the government petitions website to have Northern Ireland kicked out of the Union, a strange position for someone to take who claims to be a Democrat yet does not want to give the people of Ulster a say in their own future?

May saw the local elections, and Uncles proudly proclaiming that the ED had enough candidates standing to take control of Dartford Council in their ‘stronghold’ area. Two newspaper headlines from the Dartford free press later concerning his taunting of a suicide victim as a ‘Nazi’ and his posting of a racist joke on an open internet forum (Which he claimed at the time was not him but the actions of a hacker, yet he told the press was an ‘experiment’) and the ED vote collapsed. Nobody elected, with Uncles finishing with the lowest percentage of any ED candidate, beaten in his own ward by two paper candidates and an independent who was deselected by the ED and had polled over five times the percentage of Uncles in the previous election in the same area. The local resident’s association got more votes – He blamed the failure on a ‘vicious’ Tory smear campaign.

Most normal people at this point would have realised that their baggage was holding their political career and their party back – Not Uncles, who had read a book by an American Political theorist.

Despite his far right links and attempts by fair or foul to recruit ex-BNP luminaries, the Sinn Fein begging email, the taunting of a suicide victim, poor taste attacks on political adversaries (Both inside and outside the ED) and the most obnoxious and factually challenged blog on the net, Uncles decided that it was time to get back on to the ruling council of The English Democrats. In a campaign notable for it’s lack of checks to ensure fair play, Uncles was re-elected on a turnout of 24-18. His opponent, Sean Varnham, did not have proper membership lists to canvass until well after the voting slips had gone out and strangely enough many of his members in the Medway branch found their memberships ‘not in good standing’ due to a strange error in the collection of direct debits just before the election. The NC had stated that an overview of Uncles’ ‘resignation’ should be included with the electoral material, but it strangely never went out – Party Chairman Robin Tilbrook ‘apologised’ for the oversight at the October 2011 NC meeting before welcoming the Dartford Warbler back on to the committee.

Most of the Medway branch, including elected councillor Ron Sands and Sean Varnham himself, resigned soon afterwards.

They joined a long list of decent activists leaving the party in droves due to the actions of one man – Steve Uncles.

Those who wonder if this award is merited should visit his English Passport blog to see him taking up in 2012 where he left off in 2011 – Truly a man hell bent on keeping his award (If not getting elected in any ward) in the new year!

Congratulations Steve, you've worked hard for that one.

The Weekend Starts Around Here: Sesame Street

To get 2012 off to an uplifting start, here is the song that I heard more than any other during 2011. Before you ask, it's my daughter's favourite. And yes I am hoping that she grows out of it.

Feist, Jason Mraz and Andrea Bocelli are her other favourites. Sigh.

Dartford council candidate Steven Uncles stands by jokes about a Pakistani and suicide victim

Previously I published screenshots of Steve Uncles' 'joke' about shooting a Pakistani dead. At the time Uncles denied posting the jokes and claimed that someone had posted the joke on a forum under his name. To bring things up to date it is worth posting this story from the Dartford News Shopper in which Uncles stands by his joke.

Dartford council candidate Steven Uncles stands by jokes about a Pakistani and suicide victim

A DARTFORD council candidate who made a joke about a Pakistani and a suicide victim has stood by his comments.

Steven Uncles, who also started a rumour that UKIP leader Nigel Farage had died in a plane crash, is running as the English Democrat’s candidate for West Hill ward.

In February 2009, Mr Uncles, 47, posted a joke entitled ‘English Drinking Rule’ to the British Democracy Forum, in which a Pakistani and Pole get shot by an Englishman.

But director of the Kent Equality Cohesion Council, Gurvinder Sandher says the joke is inappropriate.

Mr Sandher, who oversees race relations across Dartford and Gravesham, said: “Negative comments made by candidates standing in the local elections against minority communities are unhelpful and do not reflect the view of the majority."

Mr Uncles admitted posting the joke, but says it was an experiment to test people’s reaction.

He said: “The joke is part of English culture.

“If people are told to stop telling jokes like these it turns into something like out of George Orwell’s 1984.

“It was an experiment to see what reaction I would get.”

A few months later on the same forum, Mr Uncles responded to criticism from a blogger by telling him to “go the same way as Chris Lightfoot.”

Mr Lightfoot was an online campaigner who had previously slammed English Democrat policies.

He committed suicide in 2007 aged 28. Mr Uncles admitted writing the post, but said Mr Lightfoot had attacked his party first by calling his party “fascist”.

He said: "Our leaflet went through his letterbox and he made the assumption we were a fascist party, nasty people who didn't believe in nationalism.

“He attacked the English Democrats first.”

But Chair of Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide, Angela Samata said: “It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are - the effects of someone taking their own life is felt throughout the community.

“We have a support group in Dartford and it’s slightly worrying that someone who could be a policy maker in the town in the future is making comments like this.”

But in what has been described as “inappropriate”, Mr Uncles sent out a text message on April Fool’s day saying Mr Farage had been killed in a plane crash.

Mr Uncles says the text was sent in retaliation to Mr Farage, who he says had linked the BNP with the English Democrats.

He said: “Nigel sent out an email to the whole of UKIP saying the BNP’s Richard Barnbrook had joined the English Democrats which simply wasn’t true.

“If he wants to tell lies about us, then we’ll tell lies about him.

“And I sent it out on April 1 so it gives you slight licence.”

News Shopper spoke to Mr Farage, who said the joke was “inappropriate and awful.”

But chairman of Dartford English Democrats, Mike Tibby says he has no problems with what Mr Uncles writes.

He said: “There is no malice in it, no seriousness.

“He sent out the joke about Nigel Farage on April Fool’s day.

“If you are in politics, you will be controversial at times.

“The problem is, other parties are terrified we will take seats from them in the upcoming election, so they will do anything to show us in a bad light.”

Mr Uncles, who lived in West Hill ward for 10 years before moving to Wilmington, says he wants to bring a positive change to Dartford.

He said: "If we are successful to take control of the council, which we can as we have enough candidates, the main thing is to change Dartford high street to make it covered.

"We would put up a canvas cover, similar to the O2 zone, translucent for light to make it through and pleasant to shop there.

"We need to do something to revitalise the town that has been so neglected."

Yesterday UKIP leader Nigel Farage was forced to deny that he had died after his Wikipedia page was altered to include this passage about his demise:

On 29 December 2011, Farage met his death from brain damage he received from falling down a flight of stairs in his own residence, fracturing his skull along with other injuries. He was rushed to the Royal Brompton Hospital where he died soon later.

Which was later elaborated upon to become this:

Little is currently known about his death on 29 December 2011, however, it is speculated that his wife heard him fall down the stairs at approximately 10:30 pm local time on 28 December 2011. She proceeded to call the paramedics who arrived in less than 30 minutes. They rushed him to the hospital where the doctors determined he had a Intercranial Hemorrhage. He slipped into a coma later that night and died early in the morning of 29 December 2011.

It takes a special type of idiot to do this sort of thing.

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