Michael Knowles (Chairman, Campaign for an English Parliament)
Cllr Steve Radford (President, The Liberal Party)
Robin Tilbrook (Chairman, English Democrats Party)
Priscilla Cullen (Secretary, Campaign for an English Parliament)
SPEAKER: MIKE KNOWLES - Campaign for an English Parliament
I would like to thank Norman Lamb Lib-Dem MP for Norfolk North for hosting this launch of the English Constitutional Convention. It is a most generous gesture. As he said to us, his party does not support a parliament for England but they do believe that the issue of devolution for England is a vital one and should be debated.
This English Constitutional Convention will be a forum for that debate. A debate open to all representatives of the vibrant cultural, intellectual, political, civic and economic life of modern England, taking in everyone irrespective of political party allegiance, ethnicity, religion and gender, who make up the rich fabric of the nation of England. A debate in which devolution for England is to be considered, along the lines of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, with a view to achieving a consensus of opinion, out of which an option can be put forward to the people of England in a referendum as happened with Scotland and Wales.
In March 1989 the Scottish Constitutional Convention adopted what they called The Scottish Right of Claim. That Claim expressed what this Convention is about, and I will use it verbatim, to make crystal clear what is being launched this evening from within this House of Commons: as follows: "We hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs and pledge that their interests will be paramount. We pledge that our actions and deliberations shall be directed to the following ends: to agree a scheme for an Assembly or Parliament for Scotland; to mobilise Scottish opinion and approval for that scheme; and to assert the right of the Scottish people to secure the implementation of that scheme"
What the Scottish Constitutional Convention achieved for Scotland with full government backing, we aim to achieve for England, and with the same methods, namely by debate and persuasion. We will proceed on the same understanding about England as the SCC had about Scotland, namely that England is one people from Dover to Carlisle, from the Scillies to Berwick, from the Wash to the Wirral. The Prime Minister declared in his Preface to the 1997 Scottish Devolution Bill that 'Scotland is a proud historic nation'. We will base our deliberations on that same understanding about England, historically the oldest unified nation in Europe, of which everyone, young and old, for whom England is their home and their future, can be very proud. . 'England', wrote Mr Blair in the Bradford Telegraph & Argus Feb. 22nd 2001 "is a nation".
Accordingly, the devolution we will consider will be for England as one people, and not a 'scheme' that would partition England into regions, into what the economist Will Hutton described as "a witches' nest of internecine rivalries". Neither Scotland nor Wales were offered devolution in this form of dismemberment but in one that asserted and established the national unity and identity of each.
There are things, you see, arising out of the Devolution Settlement 1998 that have to be put right, things which the English Constitutional Convention must deal with. I will mention just six
Firstly, England was the only one of the three nations of this island that was not given any form of devolution whatsoever. The distinct nationhood of both Scotland and Wales were constitutionally re-established in the Devolution legislation. England alone has no legal, constitutional and political existence. Politically and constitutionally we English, qua English, do not exist. England is the only nation fielding teams in the Commonwealth Games and all World Cups and European Cups in whatever sport you care to mention, yet does not itself have any constitutional existence. England is the only part of the UK which is still governed entirely by the UK government. This is a constitutional injustice and a political discrimination against the people of England being perpetrated by the British Government.
Secondly, there are the bizarre and unjust constitutional ways in which Devolution 1998 impacts upon England -Scottish MPs able to vote for legislation which applies to England only without therefore being answerable to their own constituents, able to vote for measures which their own Parliament reject in Scotland, and able to be ministers of departments of state which have responsibility only for England, such as Health and Transport.
Thirdly, the powers of Scotland's Parliament make it at least 70% independent of the rest of the UK. What sort of Union is this in which one of the three nations of this island is 70% independent of the other two, yet able to initiate and vote on any and every form of legislation in every area of governance for those other two?
And fourthly, what of sort of Union is it in which one of the three, England, receives at least £1100 less expenditure per head of population than the other two, while itself contributing over 80% of the total Union income?
Fifthly, there are immense cultural and educational implications and consequences which time does not permit me even to outline.
And, the UK Parliament has refused to consider the fact that devolution even in its present limited form, which excludes 80% of the population of this island, has actually increased government, it has not reduced it. But people do not want more government, they will not pay for it. An English Parliament, which will extend devolution to that 80%, will rightly force the British Parliament to rethink its purpose, its responsibilities and its size. For example, might not a federation be the rightful way forward?
These are mighty questions? They are what the English Constitutional Convention will be about.
But that raises another question. Why should there be an E.C.C to do this? Why should people as unknown as us, village hampdens, have to take it on? There are 550 English MPs in the UK Parliament all of whom must be aware of the injustice and disadvantages to England I have listed. What are they MPs for English constituencies for unless to stand up for the welfare and the rights of the English people? They must know that Scotland has acquired unique advantages from Devolution 1998 denied to Wales and to England. Yet they do nothing. This island is a political union of three nations, and the basis of the union must be political and constitutional equality. Yet these 550 MPs are strangely silent.
The problem is, the UK Establishment, all three political parties in particular, are paralysed in their attachment to a form of Union that is becoming outdated and unwanted. When polled of the 281 members of the British Olympic Team in Athens, 263 said they would have preferred to represent their own countries -93%. Westminster carries on ignoring a change that is happening all around us, a change of immense historical and cultural significance. It is the rise of English consciousness. The signs are all around us. Look at the Rugby World Cup, how rapturously the English team was greeted -with forests of English flags, which prior to devolution year 1998 were hardly ever seen. Look at the amazing manifestation of English patriotism in the Football World Cup, the Manchester Commonwealth Games, the European Football Championships -the English flag on hair, on faces, on t-shirts, held aloft in their thousands. We have never seen it before. Flags are signs. They are sign language. They are saying to the UK politicians that as they have given recognition to Scottish and Welsh national identity, the people of England want the same for themselves. The Prime Minister, Scottish by birth and education, in his Preface to the Devolution White Paper in 1997, said of his country "Scotland is a proud historic country". England want that said of itself too.
It is in that political and cultural cauldron that there is now an English Constitutional Convention. We will addressing such a question as: IF AN ENGLISH TEAM, WHY NOT AN ENGLISH PARLIAMENT? A very light and superficial way to express the issue, you might think. It is not. In our modern world sport is a major vehicle for expressing the political.
Devolution to Scotland and Wales cannot now be reversed. If anything, both the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly will acquire more powers vis-a-vis Westminster. The genie of three distinct nationhoods within this island of Britain has been let out of the bottle by the UK Establishment itself. It cannot be stuffed back in. But that same UK Establishment is now alarmed at the consequences of what it has done. The Union is changing before its very eyes and Westminster, instead of embracing change, is flailing about trying to suppress it. Instead of acknowledging the reality of English nationhood within the context of devolution in this island, and instead of accepting the mass support that is growing in its support like it did in the case of Scotland, the Government wants instead to dismember England on the altar of Unionism. It is trying to suppress Englishness by substituting rival regions.
The purpose of this Convention, then, is the bringing together of everyone for whom England is their home and their future in order to achieve what was expressed in the Scottish Right of Claim, namely 'the acknowledgement by the United Kingdom Government of the sovereign right of the English people to determine their form of government… by agreeing a scheme for an Assembly or Parliament for England'.
That is why we are here this evening, in an endeavour aptly launched in the place we are in, England's ancient House of Commons. As the Chairman I welcome you all and I invite you to join us in this Convention and to engage in this debate.
SPEAKER: Cllr. STEVE RADFORD - President of The Liberal Party
" You have just heard speeches from two very new and young parties, may I on behalf of one of the countries oldest parties make a contribution. My Party, The Liberal Party is now in its 120th year. We proposed the idea of an English Constitutional Convention with our partners, not because we shared a clear idea of a policy objective but a common concern that the way this government had tackled constitutional reform, was at best ad hoc and fragmented.
I came hear as someone who is proud of both Scot’s and English parentage, I share British identity with equal pride and inspiration from both sides of the border.
You have already heard other speakers labour the point of the Midlothian question, and the cause for concern that MP's representing Scots and Welsh assemblies are imposing laws and reforms upon England that their own assemblies rejected for their nations. I use two examples, the abolition of Community Health Councils and the introduction of Foundation Hospitals.
Whatever you think of the merits of these issues, the fact they are imposed by those who do not feel the consequences, strikes at the very heart of representative democracy.
We in the Liberal Party believe we also should be alarmed that democracy is invidiously being undermined when approximately 60% of our legislation rolls down from an unelected and unaccountable EU Commission in Brussels.
As the opt outs fall away or are being surrendered, this burden of excess legislation and regulation is being of concern to ever greater numbers of both our businessmen and the wider community.
We also fear that many essential elements of British Liberal Democracy are being eaten away.
The right to trial by Jury, Free Speech and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty are being eroded.
As a councillor, recently I was subject to a totally unbalanced investigation by the so called standards board. The so called ethical standards board investigator refused to interview defence witnesses and worked on the basis I and another councillor were guilty from the outset.
The crime was that we had criticised in a letters page an Executive Lib Dem Cllr for holding a public meeting over a major council housing fiasco and who deliberately excluded opposition councillors from attending.
The standards board deemed that the councils own constitution was irrelevant and immaterial. We had no right to free speech and to criticise the Lib Dem Executive Member on the basis we should show respect.
How can opposition councillors call any administration to account, when under the hammer, that they could be dragged to a kangaroo court for failing to show respect.
Respect should be earned, not demanded on force of being removed from office!
Even worse councillors who are active in councils pursuing community campaigns are then debarred from speaking in council on such things as planning matters, as they have a personal interest. Well what is the point of being a councillor, if not to have a personal interest and personal commitment to the community!
Who gave these unelected buffoons the power to remove councillors from office? Would MP's impose such stupidity upon themselves? We in the Liberal Party believe only the electors, or criminal trial by jury should remove a councillor from office.
The right of an elected member to speak against negligence, abuse of power and corruption lies at the heart of British Democracy
Lastly let us look at the so called reforms to date:
Elections by party list removes more power away from the elector and delivers it to the party machine. This is alien to the British and Liberal tradition.
We need a constitutional review to look at all these issues and bring together people with different ideas and different traditions, but by doing so create a national debate to defend and reinvigorate our democracy in the face of so many perils.
Some will call us little Englanders because we believe in our way of life and democracy. I believe we are big Englanders, because we know the strength of traditions and our intent to protect what is unique to us.
On behalf of the Liberal Party I thank you for coming together today and I wish you all well in this important national debate.
SPEAKER: ROBIN TILBROOK - The English Democrats Party
I am the Chairman of the English Democrats Party. The English Democrats were launched only two years ago. It consists of concerned patriots who are all volunteers. Since our launch we have stood in local elections, the European Elections and in two By-elections.
The point of starting a new party was that while the Campaign for an English Parliament was doing a good job of informing people of the case for an English Parliament, I and the other founders of the Party did not think that lobbying on its own was likely to achieve this. Previously I had been a long standing and quite active member of the Conservative Party, including standing as a local candidate, so when after writing or speaking to much of the then leadership and being told that the Conservative Party was a unionist party and, notwithstanding Scottish and Welsh devolution, they did not intend to campaign for any such provision for England.
It was therefore a case of either accepting the loss of England or widening the campaign. The merit of setting up a political party is that its purpose, of standing for elections, gives a focus to our efforts. It was also the remaining proper democratic path and which was not covered by a patriotic English party. A political party is a potentially effective lobbying tool because it does give the prospect of putting our hands upon the political windpipes of our opponents if we focus on standing against MPs who are opposed to an English Parliament.
It is also good value in informing the public of the issues, as it costs about £1,000 in a By-election for the delivery of about 45,000 leaflets to every address in the constituency and we may also be lucky enough to get some press coverage. At the next general election there is the prospect of a party political broadcast.
We have already had good results despite being very new and no doubt very politically inexperienced. We stood in the European elections in 5 out of the 9 regions of England. The media gave us almost no national coverage and the Royal Mail delivery of our leaflets was very patchy, but even so we obtained 130,056 votes, which scaled up to all 9 Regions, would probably have comfortably exceeded 200,000 votes. As a comparison to show the scale of this achievement it is worth noting that the BNP, despite receiving very widespread national coverage in the previous European Elections when they were then over 10 years from their launch, only obtained 100,000 votes throughout the whole of the UK.
Having said all that you might think that my being here would be about as welcome as that great Elizabethan English hero Francis Drake off Cadiz when it was said that he singed the King of Spain's beard! But actually English Democrats have much to thank the current body of MPs for - not only the obvious and very real thank you to the Liberal Democrat MP, Mr Norman Lamb, for booking this room, and also the real thank yous to those MPs who are English patriots, nor for the false official welcomes which we have received from Mr Blair and Mr Prescott, but in fact we English patriots should also give a Blair style thanks to all of the three main parties for their years of neglect of England and her people, this includes most of my own former party, the Conservatives, but, in particular, Mr Blair for his willingness to gerrymander the British Constitution to provide his own home country with its own parliament, making clear as he did so, in the White Paper, that the reason Scotland should have its own parliament is because it is "a proud and historic nation"!
This core breach of the idea of the United Kingdom and of the Act of Union itself has created the key political demand of the Campaign for an English Parliament and of the English Democrats for "a Parliament for England, with at least the same powers as the Scottish one".
In these changed constitutional circumstances this demand is not unreasonable, in fact this is not only commonsense, it is the only properly democratic solution, anything else would show outright enmity to England and to English interests and also a lack of basic concern for core democratic values.
It is also for his lack of true democratic principle that English patriots should give a Blair style thanks to Mr Blair himself as he heaps injury upon injury:- by having postponed the reduction of seats for Scotland's MPs; by continuing to rely upon Scottish and Welsh MPs' votes for devolved English only matters; and, most of all, by appointing MPs for Scottish seats to be Ministers for English only Departments. Glaring examples are Dr Reid and Alistair Darling.
We should likewise thank Gordon Brown for his determination to continue feathering his own home political nest in Scotland by way of the grossly inflated 1/3rd extra for equal need subsidy known to us all as the Barnett Formula.
I am sorry for Lord Barnet who has repeatedly asked for his name to be dropped from this subsidy system since he withdrew his support for it many years ago but his name is irrevocably linked to it.
Not least, English patriots should never forget to similarly thank the Welsh born, Mr John Prescott, for his blatant attempts to sideline English Nationalism and to gerrymander permanent Labour control of substantial parts of England with his Regionalisation plans - which are so blatantly manipulative that in any country whose institutions were really based upon that democracy for which our political class make such wide-ranging public claims - including as a reason for war in Iraq! If, I say, John Prescott really cared for democracy he would not have published in the name of the Crown misleading literature to the people of the now so called "North East Region"; he would not be proposing a top up party list voting system which has no other purpose but to increase Labour Party control over the North East; and, most glaring of all, he would not have had enacted under the noses of MPs and Peers in this building the Regional Assemblies Preparations Act which specifies a preamble to the referendum question which is blatantly untrue.
This Act requires the preamble to state that the powers of the Regional Assembly will mainly be devolved from central government, but in fact Mr Prescott's Regionalisation scheme is a Centralising measure which takes planning powers from democratic local government and puts it under Mr Prescott's control, as we have recently seen in the Eastern Region where a complicit Regional Assembly has accepted Prescott's proposal to rewrite the political demographic map for parts of Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex in favour of Labour.
You might well ask what more could we expect when our Constitution is so out of Democratic kilter that this Government could be elected with one of the largest landslide Commons majorities in history but only with a mandate from 28% of the voters!
This is not a properly functioning democracy.
If only the BBC knew its Bible, I am thinking of St Matthew, Chapter 7 verse 3:-
"why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"
the BBC would be commentating on this home-grown democratic enormity rather than grumbling about the fairness of American Presidential elections!
But most of all English patriots should have a lasting gratitude to Mr Prescott for officially and repeatedly claiming that "there is no such nationality as English"! Obviously this assertion is laughable for a great and historic nation such as England and it is obviously not true as we stand here now today, but its serious point is that it is a statement of Mr Prescott's intent for the English Nation and it is as a statement of intent that it is a call to arms for all who care for the English Nation and it has woken at least some English patriots from their slumbers and which has brought us all here today.
So these then are among the causes which brought first the Campaign for an English Parliament and then the English Democrats Party and now the English Constitutional Convention into existence.
The Opinion Poll
As part of the preparation for this meeting we thought that it was important to show what potential support there was for changes to the Constitution to make it fairer to England. We were careful in consulting with YouGov, which is a well known and highly reputable pollster, to ensure that the question was posed in a truthful and unbiased way. This, of course, is quite unlike Mr Prescott's approach to the Referendum where the preamble is untruthful.
If you would like to turn to the back of the English Constitutional Convention brochure you will see that we have printed the results of this poll, which are, I think, very interesting and they show the real public support for our purpose in setting up a Constitutional Convention for England. You can see that 24% support the creation of an English Parliament, despite no other party campaigning for it. There is 47% support for the Conservative proposal to restrict voting rights on English only issues to English MPs. I must say here that I consider, and, indeed, the House of Commons has considered, in the two recent debates on this, that this proposal is unworkable.
Nevertheless the important point is that this figure combined with those who want an English Parliament amounts to 71% and if we take out the 7% who have no opinion we find that in a Great Britain wide opinion poll, with a good sample, and which includes Scottish and Welsh respondents, we have a result of over 75% of those who have an opinion are of the view that something must be done to amend the Constitution to look after England's interests. It is to debate the options for this that the English Constitutional Convention has been founded.
The English Constitutional Convention
A Constitutional Convention is the proper forum to discuss constitutional change and there are, of course, a wide range of issues and options which need to be debated.
Obviously the form of the constitution for England needs to be discussed and if consensus is reached upon a Parliament, then its form, where it is situated and its powers and its relative position to other institutions, like this assembly for instance, also need to be debated. We also should try to work towards a consensus on a constitution which ensures that never again will a party leader who only has a 28% mandate from the people - never again would such a leader have the power to change the constitution without referendum approval from citizens.
Also so far as the form of parliament is concerned, a range of options has already been publicly advocated. Lord Cranbourne, when he was the Conservative leader of the Lords, called for the House of Commons to be reformed to be the English Parliament with the devolved parliaments of Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland to be their respective country's lower chambers and he called for the House of Lords to be reformed to be a fully elected UK wide senate.
Tony Benn who has wished us well and has reminded us that he introduced his own Bill in 1992 for an English Parliament and also from the left, Billy Bragg has called for an English Parliament like the Scottish one but based in York. There are also other candidate cities like Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol to name but a few.
There have also been other calls for an English Parliament like that of Lord Baker of Dorking, the former Conservative Home Secretary and of David Davis MP and also this call is supported by the Scottish National Party.
Finally I would just like to say that it has sometimes been argued that a federal system does not sit well with our parliamentary system and it would be difficult to draft an appropriate constitution. I would respond that, far from there being any difficulty this task has already previously been done several times by this very Parliament in the statutes of Westminster which enacted, amongst others, the Federal Constitutions of Canada and Australia - their constitutions work well. So there is no such difficulty but we need a consensus on what should be done for England.
It is therefore in the spirit of seeking this consensus on the proper democratic options for England that we offer the English Constitution Convention as the proper forum for debating the options and once consensus has been reached we shall campaign for a referendum to be referred to the citizens of England to approve a fair and democratic constitution for England.
I hope that we are here founding a Constitutional Convention which will work towards a vibrant and truly effective democracy for England and for all her citizens.
SPEAKER: PRISCILLA CULLEN - Secretary to the Campaign for an English Parliament
The Campaign for an English Parliament seeks parity, recognition and respect for England within the United Kingdom as currently constituted. The case for an English Parliament and Executive is supported by three arguments, constitutional, economic and cultural.
The Act of Union in 1707 created British State and that Act suspended both the pre-existing English and Scottish Parliaments. In 1998 the Scottish Parliament, together with recognition of the Scottish nation, its history and culture, was restored. Wales also gained that recognition and both may now be regarded as legal, political and constitutional entities. England has received no such recognition. Our Parliament remains suspended and our country has no legal, political or constitutional existence.
The Constitutional Case:-The devolution Acts for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland stated that specific internal matters would be controlled by the devolved administrations. None of the proposed English Regional Assemblies will have the same powers. They are required to implement British Government policy otherwise funding will be withdrawn.
British Government MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have power over England concerning our internal matters and are assiduous in using it but no English MP has such powers outside England nor, indeed, does an MP with a constituency in the devolved territories and that is known as the "West Lothian" question. It is MPs of Scottish constituencies that swing the vote for the government on controversial matters internal to England that do not affect their constituents. Moreover England now has Government Ministers from Scottish constituencies that do not have to answer to those that have elected them for what they do to the English matters assigned to them. This is power without responsibility and is known as the "English Question".
In the European Union, Ministers of the Scottish Executive, Welsh & Northern Irish Assemblies, can represent the UK and thus England, but no one from England who is not a member of the British Government can do likewise. Nor will anyone representing the English Regional Assemblies. The British government retains legislative power over the people of England but it represents only British interests. There is no forum in which the specific needs of England can be put forward.
The Economic Case:-The second argument on which the case for an EP rests is economic. At finance summits, British Government Ministers and those from the devolved administrations meet to discuss how much the devolved territories will get from British taxes but no-one represents England's interests at those meetings.
The 1976 Barnett funding formula now ensures that everyone in Scotland receives up to 25% more funding than anyone in England. The disproportion is less for Wales, but we are the poorest relations in the UK when it comes to apportioning revenue. The British government and opposition insist that they have no plans to change this formula.
Scotland and Wales have forms of home rule and benefit from the more generous resources made available to them. For instance Scottish students do not pay fees in the UK and more unjust still is the fact that English students have to pay tuition fees in Scotland but those from the EU do not. But we all pay the same taxes!
The people of England have no say over how taxes shall be distributed within the UK but must pay the British Government whatever it demands from them. Only an English Parliament & Executive will be able to influence how our taxes are apportioned.
The Cultural Case:-The third argument that supports our case is cultural. The Claim of Right for Scotland is just as relevant to England. "ENGLAND'S PARLIAMENT: ENGLAND'S RIGHT". A CLAIM OF RIGHT FOR ENGLAND-We acknowledge the sovereign right of the English people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs". I now expect to be accused of being a fascist English nationalist or worse or at the very least a "little Englander". Why is it that the Scottish and Welsh nationalism that engenders, within the UK, their own forums in which to support their national aspirations, is accepted but those who seek to speak on behalf of England are mocked, vilified and have their motives questioned?
In the Preface to the Scotland Devolution Bill, the PM wrote, "Scotland is a proud, historic nation". That affirmation is what we require for England. Thus all people, for whom England is their chosen or inherited homeland, should take pride in England's history & make the same distinction between England & Britain as implied in the PM's statement about Scotland. English history for nearly 1000 years prior to union to form the British State stands on its own. The foundations of our parliamentary democracy, literature, language, the common law & the jury system were laid down then. We and our children in schools, universities and other institutions, should learn and celebrate what Englishmen and women achieve and have achieved in almost every sphere of human endeavour and derive from that knowledge a legitimate pride in this country and therefore themselves as inheritors. Since the Prime Minister has expressly encouraged pride in Scotland, but has not done so for England. Who then has the authority to do so for England except a First Minister in an English Parliament?
The Wales Devolution White Paper exhorts & instructs the Assembly as "the forum for the nation" to "provide leadership to re-invigorate all aspects of Welsh life & culture". Equally England must have a forum in which to express these sentiments and to promote our culture and history. Wales and Scotland have not ceased to be part of the United Kingdom because of devolution and the phrase "all aspects" must relate, for them as for us, to the requirements for mutual respect among all cultures within the UK and this must apply as much to the foundational culture of the English people as it does to other cultures,
Summary: In summary MPs of the British Parliament representing English constituencies are being outvoted by MPs from the devolved nations on matters that are important to the people of England but will not affect the constituents of those Welsh and Scottish MPs. MPs of English constituencies have accepted, mostly without complaint, that their constituents will receive the least financial benefit from British taxes and to have no forum in which to encourage the celebration of English culture.
Some say "but you voted for this government and its devolution manifesto". Did that manifesto say how much we would be disadvantaged, I think not and why do both the Conservative and Labour parties feel the need to issue separate manifestos in Scotland and Wales? Is it because they are offering greater benefits to those countries? At the last European elections it led to the farcical and incomprehensible position of those parties offering a manifesto for "Britain" and separate ones for Scotland and Wales. But both these countries are part of Britain. How does that square with the Conservatives unionist principles? Britain and England are not interchangeable and neither is British and English. Fewer and fewer people are willing to vote for those who do not represent their interests.
Some accuse us of trying to break up the Union. What is the Union now? How can there be a Union when some of the constituents have more rights than others? What kind of Union is that? Others say we cannot have our own Parliament because we are too big and would unbalance the Union. Well if the Union was balanced before the Devolution Acts, it certainly is not now.
I leave you with one question, who speaks for England? The Campaign for an English Parliament is a response to the democratic deficit we face today. We have no forum in which to speak for England & no Minister of State to lobby for us and I say to all those who would oppose us we will not go away!