Regrettably, I’m voting UKIP

Never thought I’d say that! I don’t consider myself to be politically right-wing and I’m certainly not a Unionist; so UKIP is far from being a natural political home for me. I don’t like UKIP’s simplistic, black-and-white presentation of the case against the EU and open immigration policies, even though I myself am in favour of the UK’s – or at least England’s – withdrawal from the EU, and of more restricted immigration. And I certainly don’t like UKIP’s defence of the integrity of the UK as a quasi-nation state, governed in a more unitary manner than now from the Westminster centre. I’m an English nationalist not a British Unionist.

So why vote UKIP in the elections for the European Parliament on Thursday of this week? Well, the main reason is to register an anti-EU vote. I don’t think the EU is all bad, and I don’t accept UKIP’s analysis that membership simply costs the UK £40 million per day, for which we do not see any benefit. Being part of the EU has created huge opportunities for trade and business, and has enabled thousands of British people to live, work and prosper in other EU countries, just as it has allowed thousands of people from throughout the EU to come to our country and help create our wealth as well as enrich our culture. But unfortunately, I do believe that the EU is an inherently federal project: that it has an in-built dynamic towards ever greater political as well as economic union. Unsurprisingly, this is not compatible with an English-nationalist position: I want greater political autonomy for England, let alone for Britain; and membership of a sovereign, federal, European super-state that might well see England split up into a number of faceless British ‘regions’ is hardly consistent with that goal.

So why not vote English Democrat? They support both withdrawal from the EU and tougher immigration controls, with the extra positive that they’re (supposedly) a civic English-nationalist party that supports the establishment of an English parliament. I would have liked to be in a position to vote EDP this time. However, I’ve been put off by their links with the racist English First Party (for which they still haven’t come up with a justification), and by the unseemly and childish spat between EDP lead candidate for the South-East Euro-region Steve Uncles and the blogger John Demetriou. These are not, methinks, the mark of a credible political party with a coherent, inclusive vision for a self-governing, multi-ethnic English nation inside or outside of the EU, and inside or outside of the UK.

I also had a short email correspondence with EDP chairman Robin Tilbrook, in which I asked him what the EDP intended to do in the European Parliament if any of its candidates were elected. But they had not thought about this, merely using the European elections as a chance to mount a (much-needed) campaign for fair treatment for England within the UK. But I don’t think that’s good enough: you’re putting forward candidates for a parliament; and, however illegitimate you may think that body’s powers are, you should at least have some idea how having people from your party serving as members of that parliament could be leveraged as an opportunity to provide a distinct voice for England within an influential international forum, and to press the cause of democratic justice for England.

What about the mainstream political parties? The biggest problem I have with them in the context of the Euro elections is that they are all strongly committed to the UK’s continuing membership. On the one hand, the Lib Dems are closest to my position, in that they at least support a referendum on that membership; although, on the other hand, they are far too pro-EU for me to consider voting for them. And they seriously let themselves and the UK down by not sticking to their general-election commitment and voting in favour of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty when Parliament decided on the matter last year.

The Tories did vote in favour of such a referendum, and all credit to them for that. But the Tories are interested in only limited political and constitutional reform, at both EU and national-UK level. They’ll use a vote for them in the Euros as backing for their call to hold a UK general election now, under the existing defective electoral system (they’ve explicitly asked people to vote for them for that reason). And despite Cameron’s claims last week that a Conservative government would introduce radical constitutional reforms, these would not include two of the most vitally needed components: proportional representation and an English layer of governance – English matters to be decided on by English-elected representatives only, whether those of a UK parliament or of a separate English parliament. And the reason why Cameron’s proposals did not include these measures is that they would prevent the Conservatives from ever again being able to gain an absolute UK-wide majority based almost entirely on the way the First-Past-the-Post electoral system transforms a large minority of the vote in England into a large majority of seats in the UK parliament.

Think about it: the Tories’ proposals for ‘resolving’ the West Lothian Question, dubbed ‘English pauses for English clauses’ (English-elected MPs only to be involved at the committee stage of England-only bills), are predicated on the assumption that power will continue to be bestowed to the governing party in a disproportionate way. For example, there could be, as now, a larger Labour majority across the UK as a whole than in England only, taking into account Labour’s comparatively stronger electoral performance in Scotland and Wales. English pauses for English clauses is therefore conceived of as a ‘corrective’ for this imbalance, in that the Tories will be in a smaller minority or hold the balance of power in England, and will be in a better position to influence bills at this crucial stage of their passage through parliament. Under the other, now more likely, scenario, the Tories gain an absolute majority that is greater in England only than in the UK as a whole. In this case, English pauses for English clauses is a concession to the idea of greater responsiveness to the wishes of the English people, as expressed in the ballot box, that costs the Conservatives absolutely nothing. But in either of these instances, the shares of parliamentary seats involved are unrepresentative of the will of English voters and are to a great extent merely a product of the distorting electoral system. So this is ‘reform’ that is designed to maximise the undue, unrepresentative power over English affairs that the system gives to the main parties, and particularly in this instance the Conservatives.

Under a proportional electoral system, on the other hand, assuming that English matters continued to be run by the UK parliament as a whole, the Tories and Labour would simply not be able to carve up English governance for themselves in this undemocratic way. English pauses for English clauses would never get off the ground because the way things would probably resolve themselves is that a new politics of changing cross-party alliances and deals on different issues would emerge; and it’s quite likely in this scenario that a consensus would develop that it was simply inappropriate for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs to be involved in working out these deals on English-only matters.

Such a way of doing things would also nullify the morally bankrupt whipping system, which is also predicated on parties maximising their unrepresentative seat counts in an adversarial contest that bears little relationship to the way MPs’ constituents might actually think about the merits of individual issues. Little wonder, then, that Cameron’s supposedly radical constitutional reform programme (in reality, merely a bit of tinkering to parliamentary procedure) advocates restricting the role of the whips at the committee stage only: that single part of the parliamentary process where English MPs, supposedly free from the power of the whips, will now be intended to act as a discrete body, but in a way that is in reality calculated to maximise Tory influence); but not at the introductory and final stages of a bill’s passage, where the full weight of the UK-government’s disproportionate allocation of seats across the UK will be wielded to force through legislation that may command little popular support in the country that it actually affects: England. Under PR, the whole rationale for whips dissolves, because there are no disproportionate party-block votes to be wielded and there is much more cross-party collaboration.

But I digress. As for Labour in the European elections, they’re completely beyond the pale in my view: the architects of asymmetric devolution, and the government that has presided over the unprecedented meltdown of the financial system and the general economy that we have experienced in the past year, while also being vehemently pro-EU. Say no more: they’ve got to go.

I thought about voting for the Greens. I think that the EU has played, and could continue to play, a vital role in co-ordinating measures to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and reduce other harmful environmental impacts. Therefore, it’s important that there is a strong Green contingent in the European Parliament; and there certainly should be much greater emphasis on investing in renewable power generation and energy efficiency as part of the efforts to stimulate economic recovery in the UK. But, much as I would like to support the environmental agenda, the Greens go and spoil it all by not only being 100% behind the whole EU project, but also advocating a range of policies that I can only call ‘progressive-British-republican’, including regional devolution within England (absolutely no interest in national-English governance as such), a classic socialist-type commitment to fostering social equality, and abolition of the monarchy. Now, we can argue about the intrinsic merits of equality and how to promote it, and the pros and cons of monarchies versus republics; but I just can’t put my cross next to a vision of a British republic complete with Euro regions (but no England), be that vision e’er so green. An English Republic maybe, in time; but let’s have English self-governance within the United Kingdom first or, failing that, within a restored Kingdom of England!

So I’m left with UKIP as the fall-back position: in favour of EU withdrawal; and punishing the main parties for their pro-EU stance, their failure to deliver a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, the expenses fiasco, and their woefully inadequate and self-serving advocacy of parliamentary and constitutional reform minus an English Parliament. At least UKIP does support some form of English parliament: a system not hugely dissimilar to my previous ‘blueprint for a federal UK‘, whereby there would be a single proportionally elected UK parliament that would split for part of the time into separate bodies for each UK nation (including England but minus Cornwall) – although UKIP’s vision is both more unitary than mine, and involves less change to the structure and procedures of the established Westminster Parliament. But in any case, if the party-political establishment does ever concede the need for an English parliament, I doubt very much that it’s the UKIP model (or mine, for that matter) that they’ll be turning to. It’ll be whatever version allows them to preserve as much of their privileges and unrepresentative power that they can hold on to – unless we stop them.

But on Thursday, it’s about Europe. And I reckon that UKIP is the best of a bad lot. At least, a vote for them signals an unambiguous demand for a referendum on Britain’s, and England’s, membership of the EU. The mainstream parties won’t listen to that call if you vote for them, that’s for sure.

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10 Responses

  1. I notice above this comments box is the link – ‘The governance of England must not be left out of the process of constitutional reform’

    If you vote UKIP on Thursday, you will ensure that England is once again marginalised – for UKIP barely recognise England as a nation, preferring to concentrate on the resurrection of the Brit’ political state.

    If you vote UKIP on Thursday, you will give a clear signal to the mainstream parties that your vote has been merely lent to the premier protest party. Thus the status quo in the eyes of the establishment will be preserved. A little constitutional tarting up here and a bit of fairness glue there and there you go, electoral reform-lite. People have been protest-voting UKIP for years – yet the Westminster establishment continue to press on with Euro integration regardless.

    If you vote UKIP on Thursday, you will have wasted the opportunity to vote for a party whose main platform is fairness for all the people of England and the reinstatement of an English Parliament. That is what I believe you believe in. Whatever you think of the personnel of that party, please consider it is the manifesto on which the party should be judged. And the English Democrats is as fair as most. It is interesting to note that one of the most oft quoted criticisms of them is the policy on immigration. The English Democrats favour a points based system (see below) – while UKIP want a five year blanket ban on alll immigration.

    Every party has its loose cannon – UKIP fawned over Kilroy-Silk until he left them. Admittedly, the loose cannon issue in the English Democrats urgently needs addressing, made worse by the small size of the party.

    Also, every party has their members with history – John Reid/communist, Alistair Darling/Trotskyist, Ricky Tomlinson, now a prominent member of Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party was a card carrying member of the National Front. There are people from all parts of the political specrum in every party and the English Democrats is no exception – I am a former Labour member, but there are also ex LibDemmers, Ukippers and Tories.

    And every party makes mistakes and errors of judgements. There was a very strong rumour that UKIP themselves were about to team up with the BNP a year or so ago. During the 2005 general election, the Labour party accused the Tories plan of introducing a points system for immigrants as explicitly racist – only for Labour immigration minister, Phil Woolas to introduce that very same system amid a fanfare of trumpets and hoopla.

    There is no tie up with England First. But there is no doubt that the English Democrats need to be extremely careful who they talk to in the future, they have a country to save.

    Please do not forget that there are people of ethnic origin who are English Democrat members, some are standing for election including Sati Chaggar – (a sihk and an excellent candidate) is on the list for the London constituency.

    If you vote UKIP on Thursday, you will be tacitly condoning the appalling behaviour of some UKIP MEPs and their perchant for Euro-troughing on an industrial scale.

    If you vote UKIP on Thursday, you will be wasting your vote – a vote that England needs badly. Consider this – you can vote English Democrats not because you are a fan but because you want change in the governance of England. That will most likely be achieved not by voting in an English Democrats Government but by scaring the established parties to consider the unthinkable – the resurrection of an English Parliament. That will omly be achieved if the established parties think they will lose their market share to a new political force – English nationalism.

    And due to the expenses scandal, it is right now that the established parties are most in listening mode. Miss this opportunity and the call to reform may not come round again for another generation.

    I don’t know whether you have kids – but I do. And I don’t think they will forgive me if I waste the opportunity of scaring Labour, Tories, LibDems, Greens – and yes, UKIP by opting for the usual suspect protest vote.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, VB. You say there’s no tie-up with England First, but it’s there in black and white on the EFP website, and no one from the EDs has attempted to explain or justify it. That isn’t an aberration in the past; it’s a co-operation that’s taking place now. And I’ve lost respect in the ED leadership (or some of them) from the way they’ve reacted to criticism on that particular issue and others (e.g. the opinions of John Demetriou, which I don’t necessarily agree with 100%) in a vindictive and insinuating manner. We all have to grow up a bit. That’s perhaps one of the messages emerging from the current political crisis: time to do politics in a less adversarial, blind-party-political way.

      The English Democrats, whose policy positions I largely agree with, can’t claim a monopoly of the votes of those who support an English Parliament. There are many ways to campaign for an EP, the ballot box being only one of them. I don’t like being told my vote is a wasted one and a mere protest vote, whether it’s the main parties that are saying this or the EDs. In one way, pretty much every vote I’ve ever cast has been ‘wasted’ on this level because my preferred candidate has never won nor largely had even a remote chance of winning. So I’ve lost any sense that my vote actually empowers the party I vote for to implement their policies; and UKIP certainly won’t get a chance to carry out theirs. And you could just as easily stand your argument on its head and say that the established parties will write off a vote for the EDs as a mere protest vote, no matter how well you perform tomorrow – and believe me, I wish you well.

      What will make the establishment take heed of the case for an English Parliament won’t be a 2% vote for the EDP: 5% maybe, but who in their wildest dreams believes that’s achievable? I think that a process towards constitutional reform has now been set in train that the parties won’t be able to stop by merely papering over the cracks. It appears that they’re going to try to get away with ignoring the English Question; but will they be able to in the longer term? As I suggested in my post, if a decent form of PR is introduced, it will make the justification for involving Scottish and Welsh MPs in decisions on English matters increasingly hard to sustain, as the rationale for doing so now is mainly to allow the party leaders and the Executive to marshall and wield their UK-wide party block votes and bolster their claim to form ‘representative’ governments acting in the interests of the whole of the UK. Under PR, and with MPs hopefully freer to act independently of the Executive, this whole system would break down, and deals and alliances would have to be made on a more case-by-case basis; and it would be in the interests of MPs from English constituencies and their parties to be seen to be acting on English matters in a manner that was more answerable to their actual electorate. In this context, Scottish and Welsh MPs might simply be shut out of English affairs; it’s the power of the Executive and the party apparatuses, bolstered by the disproportionate electoral system, that allows their participation in such matters now to be enforced.

      That’s not yet an English Parliament; but who knows how the broader process of constitutional reform that has been unleashed might develop in such a way as to allow a more open and honest discussion of the relationship of the UK nations to the centre. I see it as my job to continually remind whoever might read my blogs of the way England as a nation must be factored in to this process and must not be ignored, as it has been so egregiously up to now. Clearly, a vote for UKIP won’t register that particular point. But a strong UKIP showing will add momentum to the parties’ reluctant and too-little-too-late engagement with the need for reform; and it’s in this broader movement that the best hope right now for fundamental change lies, in my view.

      At the very least, if UKIP overtakes a poorly performing Labour, they might now ditch Gordon Brown and try to put some reforms in place by the next election. I don’t hold out any great hope for a Labour-driven reform process – but will they be allowed to dictate the pace, anyway? – but the demise of Gordy would surely be a result to celebrate, wouldn’t it?

  2. […] own words « Hundreds and Thousands Do you ever feel like a useful idiot? » The England Project Regrettably, I?m voting UKIP » A National Conversation For England English democrats Party – All Rotten Apples in a Rancid Barrel? » Socialist Unity You can’t […]

  3. I think it is very sad that good people like yourself and Gareth Young who have over the years done a great deal to further the cause of English self-determination feel that you cannot vote for the only party standing at this election with similar goals. I can fully understand your feelings though. When I first voted EDP it was one of the best feelings in the world, it really felt as though our time had come and it was only a matter of time until every English patriot would feel the same and we would see an end to the Con/Lab/Lib policies that have done so much to harm England and her people. Sadly, five years on and nothing has really changed and the EDP have gone backwards. Yesterday I voted for them through gritted teeth rather than with a smile on my face.

    • Sorry it took me so long to ‘approve’ your comment, LE; I have far too little time for blogging at the moment and don’t check the comments as regularly as I should. Yes, I was disappointed I couldn’t support the EDP this time. I think we need to watch what happens with the more general movement towards constitutional change and keep insisting that the English Question is factored in to it. If the politicians don’t deliver – and frankly, it’s hard to see them delivering anything meaningful for England at the moment – and if the EDP doesn’t get its act together, maybe what’s needed will be a new English-national party on the centre-left of the political spectrum: a proper ‘progressive’ English alternative to British Labour to represent the ordinary people of England that the BNP and UKIP are targeting with their racist and right-wing agendas respectively.

      Food for thought, anyway!

  4. I agree, vote UKIP, the only credible alternative to the supporters of the European superstate

  5. I fully understand why you did not vote for the EDP (and their white nationalist strap ons) but are you sure you know what UKIP stands for?

    Have a look at the company UKIP will be keeping in its new EP group and then ask yourself -have I been suckered?

    http://www.jcm.org.uk/blog/?p=2328

    • Yes, well, UKIP’s alliance with those wacko / racist parties in the European Parliament appears mainly to be just a marriage of convenience to get themselves in a position to obtain funding as a recognised grouping and to be included on committees. At least, in the latter circumstance, they’re justifying the money they’re receiving as MEPs a bit more by actually doing something and, accordingly, justifying the fact that people voted for them. You could say that if they associate themselves with racists, they’re just as bad as the EDP. But, to be honest, UKIP seem to have little in common with the respective nationalist agendas of their partners; whereas the EDP really did seem to be making common cause with ethnic English nationalism.

      I don’t really like UKIP as a party; it was just a way to register a protest vote against the Westminster establishment and in favour of a referendum on Britain’s EU membership.

  6. […] Posted by Toque Tell Me More, O Wise One! Which political party do I advocate voting for? Regrettably, I?m voting UKIP A National Conversation For England . Reply With Quote + Reply to Thread « Previous Thread | […]

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