Sunday, 24 June 2018


English Voice Debate (2) – Towards An English Parliament?

THE first English Voice debate – http://nationalliberal.org/english-voice-debate-1-%e2%80%93-independence-for-england – appeared towards the end of last year. It examined the democratic deficit imposed on England by Westminster – in that England is the only ‘Home Nation’ which doesn’t have its own Parliament or Assembly. In practical terms this means that the Scottish Parliament sits at Holyrood, Ulster has Stormont and the Welsh have the National Assembly for Wales. The only people who don’t have a say in the running of their own country are the English.

We also noted that – besides the National Liberal Party – others are calling for some form of self-determination for the English nation. The Campaign for an English Parliament (CEP) was established in 1998. This pressure group campaigns ‘for an English Parliament with powers at least as great as those of Scotland’s, i.e. a Parliament and Executive (Government) that can make Acts (primary legislation) on the same domestic issues (e.g. health, welfare & education) that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament.’ As far as we’re aware, all English Advocates (both individuals, groups and parties) all want some form of English Parliament or assembly.

Arguably the most high-profile campaigner for an English Parliament is Labour MP for Birkenhead, Frank Field. In June 2008, he joined calls for the establishment of a devolved parliament for England. And last year he wrote a thought-provoking article on English self-determination – https://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/834711/frank-field-english-parliament-constitutional-reform-brexit – for the Daily Express.

English Advocates come from right across the political spectrum. As English Voice readers will know, Frank Field is ‘old school’ Labour. He’s culturally conservative, very outspoken on immigration, is opposed to the EU (he supports Brexit) and is concerned at the effects of globalisation.

The article featured below was written by Guy Parfitt (the constituency manager of UKIP MEP William Dartmouth in the South West of England) for BrexitCentral - https://brexitcentral.com/about/ – an ‘online home for all wanting to follow the twists and turns of our departure from the EU and hold the government to carrying out the instructions of the British public’. BrexitCentral transcends the traditional ‘left/right’ divide and features articles from ‘political figures from a variety of parties representing all corners of the UK, businesspeople, economists, campaigners and commentators based both at home and abroad.’

Guy Parfitt’s article is reproduced below – but you can read the original here https://brexitcentral.com/taking-back-control-democracy-demands-creation-english-parliament/ – and suggests that now voters have opted for a future outside of the EU, it’s time to establish an English Parliament elected via proportional representation. We think that it’s the next logical move for those of us who believe in self-determination and true democracy. But what do you think?

The NLP is also noted for its strong commitment to free speech. That’s why we – in association with English Voice – would like to open up this important debate to all English Advocates who believe in some form of self-determination for the English Nation. We invite anyone who is interested to have their say in the comments section once they see this article on our Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/groups/52739504313/

It goes without saying that there are no official links between the National Liberal Party, English Voice, BrexitCentral, UKIP or Guy Parfitt.

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Taking back control of our democracy demands the creation of an English Parliament

IF THE EU referendum result showed anything – other than the desire of the British people to exit the EU – it flagged up how completely and utterly out of touch the political class of this country are with the citizens they purport to represent.  The immediate years before the Brexit vote, and since, have illustrated for me the need for constitutional change within England.  I believe that an English Parliament within the UK, elected by a system of proportional representation, could re-align the shires with the rest of Britain, and give a voice to those outside the Westminster bubble.

Why do we need change?  Quite simply, Westminster doesn’t represent England.  In January 2013, the electorate saw the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, only announcing he would grant the people a say in the future of their country’s sovereignty in order to shore up his party’s grassroots support, and to eliminate a political rival, as it was said at the time – to ‘shoot the UKIP fox.’

For years previously, elected representatives had dismissed Eurosceptic concerns in the English counties.  In 1997, Eurosceptic opinions were confined to the margins, with the Referendum Party and UKIP both shut out due to the First Past The Post System.  And with little electoral power, these parties and their supporters were cut adrift from the debate, and could be easily elbowed out of the discussion by the mainstream establishment in politics and the media – until the rise of the internet.  To complain was to be ‘left behind’ or ‘racist’ and disgruntled voters were told to ‘get with the programme’.  Globalisation was king – and inevitable – and anyone who objected was viewed as living in the past, lost in a black-and-white world of antiquated British nostalgia.

The majority of the inhabitants of both the House of Commons and House of Lords backed Remain, and many in their private thoughts still back a globalised Britain, shrugging their shoulders at the growing disbelief across the English shires over reckless levels of migration, and the associated impact on the NHS, job security and housing – a situation enabled through the EU’s principle of free movement of people.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have had the machinery at least to provide a mouthpiece in shielding parts of the UK, with smaller parties finding space to represent opinions that have not been commonplace at Westminster.  Would Scotland have ever had the Independence referendum, if not for the success of the SNP, which grew in size despite earlier derision, and had the space to articulate a desire for independence, held by over 44% of voters in 2014?

And now, in recent months, as the Westminster government kept saying they will honour the will of the people, Brexiteers watch a House of Lords, dominated by unelected Remainers, seek to prevaricate and slow down the UK’s exit from the EU.  Further mistrust stirs, yet who can be found in either House to speak for England?  Mainstream fears are confined to the backbenches, political commentators, radio phone-in programmes and YouTube.

Westminster politicians may argue that regional assemblies in England are the answer to providing greater accountability and representation.  Yet there is little support for them.  John Prescott’s attempted North East Assembly was defeated by over 77% of voters there in 2004.  A national parliament for England would acknowledge the civic existence of the country – as the Welsh Assembly did for the people of Wales after their referendum in 1997, a cultural symbol as well as a forum to promote the interests and opinions of over 3 million people.

It’s fair to say that in order to take back control of UK sovereignty, borders, laws and money, we need to take back control of our democracy.  Simply returning powers to the same hands who were willing so freely to give them away will not instil public trust.

A parliament for England, elected by PR, would set it in line with the other nations of the UK and bring powers a step closer to the grassroots.  Then we can continue where we left off in 2016, with a genuine representative institution for England and at the same time protect the hard won referendum result from those who would overturn it and subsume us into a centralised United States of Europe.

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