I am proud to call myself English and I am certainly not going to apologise for it on this, St Georges Day. It is very politically correct these days to bash the English or accuse us of being racist or xenophobic if we dare to get out the St George’s flag or show passion for our great country. Yet the same accusations are never levelled at the Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish who are also, quite understandably, fiercely proud of their own countries and heritages.
I believe that in this climate, England has been shamelessly abused, compromised and pillaged by successive Westminster administrations. Englishness, I want to be clear that, is an inclusive bond and has nothing to do with skin colour. Pride in one’s country and culture is natural. It applies to everyone in England who shares the same values and ideals.
The people of England are slowly awakening to the disturbing fact that England has been, and still is, under a sustained attack on its democracy and its heritage. Obviously, as an English Democrat, you would expect me to say that. But, I strongly believe it is true.
By this I mean that the democratic voice of the English is very quiet compared to our Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish friends – it is more like a whisper! It is also threatened by the might of the European Union. Over a period of time, the status of England has been eroded. This gathered pace with the creation of devolved parliaments and assemblies in the other constituent parts of the United Kingdom and with the balkanisation of England itself with EU-inspired regionalism. This unfairness and downgrading of England as a nation has led to an increasing number of Englishmen and women becoming disillusioned with their lot.
They question why Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs are able to vote on matters which only affect England when their English representatives cannot vote on all the issues, like health and education, that have been devolved to each of these countries’ own assemblies – especially when our taxpayers contribute the lion’s share of the resources. They are sick of paying prescription charges when they are free in Wales. They are tired of paying tuition fees or for care homes when they’re mainly free in Scotland. In essence, they are fed up of being the losing party within a disunited Kingdom.
England is a huge country in comparison to those of our Celtic friends. In fact, if you compare the populations of the countries, the English outnumber the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish combined by 5 to 1. I believe there is only one solution to this problem – the West Lothian Question, so memorably labelled by Tam Dalyell.
Given the cosy consensus by mainstream parties, reuniting the kingdom, is no longer (in my view) a realistic solution. The only meaningful way to redress the current democratic deficit is to establish an English Parliament for the more than 50 million English men and women who are currently under-represented. Opinion polls suggest the majority of people in England support an English Parliament and the sooner it comes the better.
The democratic deficit is also compounded by the European Union. The regionalisation of England is part of a process of emasculating our national identity and culture. We can relate to our towns and villages, our great cities and counties (despite what the late Edward Heath did to many of them in 1974!) and we can relate to our country. I have not come across anyone who says ‘I’m proud of my region!’
The political supremacy of the EU (responsible for the majority of laws that affect us) serves to further increase England’s democratic deficit. There is a simple solution to this problem too. I believe we should withdraw from the European Union and simply trade with our European neighbours. This would end the European Union’s stranglehold over us and give the English the chance to regain control of our own affairs.
England’s cultural identity is also being threatened. Symbolically, St Patrick’s Day has, in recent times, received more official support than our own patron saint’s day! This is the public face of the problem and is, quite frankly, outrageous. The concept of multiculturalism has undermined the common bonds of our English nation. It flies in the face of the logic of building strong community ties to promote separate languages through taxpayer-funded translation services. I want people who come to this country to learn the English language and not be restrained by a language barrier that prevents their fully benefiting from and contributing to our English culture.
I want to see an England that puts its own people first and that enhances the rich heritage that has shaped our country’s laws and values over many hundreds of years. I want to celebrate my Englishness and preserve our strong sense of identity. I want us to build on the ‘Englishman’s home is his castle’ theory and ensure that an Englishman’s political voice is in his own Parliament.