Jo Swinson with EU Flag

Sorry snowflakes, it’s not going to happen. The Lib Dems might be riding high in the polls thanks to their pledge to overturn the democratic vote to leave the EU but they’re not going to win an election.

But just imagine if they did (well, it is nearly Hallowe’en).

Jo Swinson, is the British MP for East Dunbartonshire in Scotland. Like Gordon Brown a decade ago she has no democratic mandate over about three quarters of what goes on in Westminster as her constituents give that mandate to Members of the Scottish Parliament. She has no moral or democratic right to be British Prime Minister.

If the convention of English Pauses for English Clauses was upheld we would see the ridiculous and unsustainable situation where the British Prime Minister spent three quarters of her time in the House of Commons unable to vote on legislation because as an MP elected in Scotland she would be barred from voting on something that was devolved to the Scottish Parliament in her own constituency.

There is no way that Jo Swinson – or any other MP elected in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland – could be British Prime Minister now that the constitutional fudges to paper over the gaping cracks in the union are embedded. They don’t stop MPs elected in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland from interfering in legislation that should be the responsibility of an English Parliament because MPs from all four member states of the UK get to vote on an English-only bill at the end but they stop the routine interference in English business that MPs elected outside of England seem to think they have a right to.

An MP elected in Scotland as British Prime Minister would be nothing more than a figurehead with the real power and influence being wielded by an MP elected in England who was able to vote on all parliamentary business. The only way someone like Jo Swinson could legitimately and effectively be British Prime Minister would be to create an English Parliament with at least the same powers as the Scottish Parliament and to devolve those same powers to the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies. Only when a British MP elected in any of the member states of the UK has the same mandate at Westminster as any other could a British Prime Minister elected somewhere other than in England be tolerated.

Lutfur Rahman Outside Court

The British government have announced plans to introduce compulsory voter ID in a half-arsed attempt to tackle voter fraud.

Voter fraud is a real problem but voter ID will do very little to address it. The majority of voter fraud is with postal votes, not voting in person and for that there is no requirement to prove your identity. In fact, there is very little done in practical terms to prove a postal voter even exists.

The problem is that postal vote fraud is most common in areas with large immigrant populations and on the rare occasions that someone is actually prosecuted for postal vote fraud it’s usually someone of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin. This isn’t speculation, it’s one of the conclusions of an investigation by the Electoral Commission. Attempting to tackle postal vote fraud by targeting communities where most of it is happening is denounced as racist of course it is vehemently opposed by Labour who benefit from it the most.

Postal voting on demand was introduced by Labour in 1999 and became law in 2000. It was sold as a measure to remove barriers to voting and increase voter participation. In reality it has resulted in widespread postal vote fraud which undermines trust in the system. Speak to most election candidates and they will have stories about the fraud that happens in elections and goes uninvestigated. Whether it’s “community leaders” collecting postal votes, “helping” people in care homes fill out their postal votes or simply inventing people who don’t exist or who live elsewhere, it is all facilitated by the availability of postal voting on demand.

Prior to the change to allow postal voting on demand, voters were required to apply to the local authority for a postal vote. To get one they had to give a valid justification for not going to the polling station in person on the day. Sickness, infirmity or holidays were valid reasons; laziness was not. The system worked perfectly fine and the only real disincentive to voters was that it made it very difficult to defraud the system.

There are, of course, instances of people committing voter fraud at polling stations and compulsory voter ID would probably put a stop to much of it but it is fixing the wrong problem. Postal voting on demand needs to stop.

Those who follow politics will be well aware of Lutfur Rahman, the former mayor of Tower Hamlets in London. He and his Tower Hamlets First Party were found guilty by a special election court of widespread fraud and corruption. The local authority was put into special measures, a delegation from the Department of Communities & Local Government took over the day to day running of the authority and Rahman and his cronies were booted out of office and banned from standing for election again for several years. But even with widespread voter fraud it still took years and the bravery of a few individuals to bring Rahman and his motley crew to justice. It was fought all the way by threats and intimidation, accusations of racism and editorials from left wing media deploring the witch hunt against those respectable men who were being unfairly targeted because of their ethnic background. What happened in Tower Hamlets and the stance taken by the media won’t change if voters have to produce ID to vote and the reaction by the Labour-supporting press (and the Labour Party itself of course) condemning the plans because it will deprive Labour of all those fraudulent votes backs that up. Returning officers will still be scared of investigating fraud for fear of being accused of racism, as will council officers checking ID for the same reason. Fear of spurious accusations will ensure the system remains open to abuse.

If compulsory voter ID does go ahead it will bring about a problem in itself. Whilst announcing the proposed change it was said that local authorities would provide a voter ID card free of charge to anyone who doesn’t have photo ID. That’s all well and good but how will the local authority prove the identity of the person requesting the ID card if they don’t have photo ID? What system can they put in place that is any different to what vetting system already exists for postal vote applications that fails to prevent fraud now? Fake identities will be legitimised by the existence of an ID card that is the product of a flawed system.

The biggest problem with the suggestion for me, though, isn’t that it’s proposing to fix the wrong problem or even that it will be quite obviously as open to widespread fraud as the current system is. It’s the idea of a compulsory ID card. These things are the thin end of the wedge, they always are. It will start with compulsory ID for voting and then it will be required for accessing council services. Then shops and other organisations will start requesting it and before long it will have to be centralised into one ID database by the British government to make sure it’s “safe and secure”. In a few years we will all be required carry an ID card by law. It might take a few years but it will happen, there is no doubt about it and I will not carry an ID card nor submit myself into an ID database. If that means I can’t vote then so be it but I will not participate in any ID card scheme.

Edward III Great Seal of England

Fifty Scottish “celebrities” have signed a new declaration of independence, calling for the establishment of an independent socialist state.

The 12 demands in the declaration are:

  1. It is the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs, now and in the future. In all political deliberations, decisions and actions their interests should be paramount.
  2. Scotland should be an open and democratic society in which no individual is excluded, oppressed or discriminated against on account of their race, colour, faith, origin or place of birth, physical or mental capacity, sex, sexuality,gender or language.
  3. Scotland should have a written constitution which clearly lays out the rights of its citizens, the country’s system of government and the relationships that exist between government, its instruments and powers and the rights of individual citizens.
  4. Scotland should take its place as an independent country on the world stage, free to join international organisations and alliances for purposes of trade and commerce, and for the protection and care of the planet’s natural environment, without which the human race cannot survive.
  5. Scotland should uphold internationally acknowledged values of non- aggression and self-defence, and should refuse to maintain, stock or use, for itself or on behalf of any other power or government, chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction.
  6. There should be clear separation of the powers of the Scottish parliament and government (the executive). The judiciary should be completely independent of government.
  7. Independence will provide an opportunity to review and, where necessary, change the systems of both national and local government, in order to make them more accountable to the people and more beneficial to their needs.
  8. Ownership of land, property and natural resources should be subject to open and democratic scrutiny. The ability of communities, both rural and urban, to own the land in and on which they exist should be enhanced and extended.
  9. There should be total transparency in the way property in Scotland is bought, sold or possessed.
  10. Freedom of speech and action, and the freedom to work, create, buy, sell and do business should adhere to principles of environmental and communal sustainability and responsibility. Profit and economic growth should not be pursued at the expense of the wellbeing of the people or their habitat or that of other people or nations.
  11. We affirm the values of care, kindness, neighbourliness and generosity of spirit in all our dealings. Such values are the foundation stones of a fair, free and open society where all citizens have the opportunities to lead the best, most fulfilling lives they can.
  12. It is our belief that the best option now open to the Scottish people is for Scotland to become an independent country. The alternative is to accept that Scotland’s fate would remain in the hands of others and that the Scottish people would relinquish their right to decide their own destiny.

To be fair to them, there is some good stuff in amongst the pie in the sky lefty nonsense. Asserting popular sovereignty, improving democratic accountability and protection of freedoms are sentiments I can’t help but agree with even if the rest of it is less palatable.

It is a real shame that politicians and public figures don’t feel so strongly about England’s future or for the rights of the people of England. A group calling itself the English Constitutional Convention has been in existence for many years and has made half-hearted declarations that have been largely ignored, even at the height of the campaign for an English Parliament when the subject was in the news on an almost daily basis. Its close association with the toxic English Democrats means it is unlikely to ever gain mainstream support.

A similar declaration for England would do much to highlight the institutional discrimination against England within the British establishment and empower the English people to take control of their own destiny. The English identity is much more prevalent than the British identity and has been for many years but it is suppressed as a threat to British supremacy. An English people expressing their Englishness with the blessing and backing of public figures would deal a fatal blow to the status quo and consign Britishness to the history books once and for all.

British nationalists will view this with fear and dismay but they are an increasingly small minority. For too long we have been told that describing yourself as English is somehow wrong and not the sort of thing you say in polite company whilst our flag has been unfairly associated with British ethnic nationalists and white supremacists by those who wave the same flag as the likes of the BNP and National Front.

Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget;
For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.

G.K. Chesterton, the Secret People

ULEZ sign

The British Department for Transport is launching a public consultation on the introduction of road pricing to replace car tax to plug the £40bn black hole in the public finances that would result from the wholesale switch to currently untaxed electric vehicles.

This idea has been mooted in the past and resulted in a petition gaining over 2m signatures opposing the idea. The British government dropped road pricing but apparently only for a few years.

Now, I’m not opposed to the idea of paying for the amount of wear and tear you cause on the roads by linking vehicle tax to the weight and number of miles you travel. If you do the school run in a 4×4 you would pay a higher rate than someone doing it in a Fiat 500 because heavier cars cause more damage to the roads. If you do 20,000 miles a year you would pay more than someone who does 10,000 miles a year because double the distance means double the damage. Petrol and diesel cars should attract a higher tax rate than electric cars because air pollution dirties and damages street furniture and the built environment as well as causing health problems, treatment for which is paid for by the taxpayer. The more a vehicle pollutes the more it should cost to run as more pollution means more cost to the taxpayer.

What I do oppose, though, is the idea of tracking vehicle journeys under the cover of road pricing. It is illiberal and dangerous to give the state the ability to routinely track our movements. EU legislation that requires a satellite tracking device to be fitted to new vehicles has already come into force this year. It is sold to the public as a safety feature to allow emergency services to locate your vehicle in case of an accident but its real purpose is twofold: firstly, it provides a much needed income for the unneeded, unwanted and unreliable Galileo satellite navigation system the EU built and secondly, it allows road pricing to be introduced. The British government have (of course) decided to keep this law because there’s nothing they like more that being able to track and tax people with impunity.

I am fortunate to be able to afford the price premium an electric car attracts. I have driven many thousands of miles at no cost which has more than made up the difference in price compared to a petrol or diesel car. It’s also infinitely better to drive than a petrol or diesel car and I would never go back to burning dead dinosaurs to get from A to B but that’s another topic entirely. Driving an electric car means I don’t have to pay road tax which (with free charging options available to me) means I can sometimes go months without it costing a penny to run. It’s nice while it lasts but it’s not sustainable to continue not taxing electric cars and I don’t mind paying my fair share.

There is a partial solution available to the problem of road tax payments being in decline and it can be implemented in three weeks’ time. Irish hauliers use England and Wales as a “land bridge” to the EU and contribute nothing to the upkeep of our roads. There are an estimated 150,000 Irish lorries using our roads to get to the continent and I have no idea how many journeys those lorries make in a year. Charging a reasonable fee every time a foreign vehicle travels on our roads could generate hundreds of millions in tax to fund our roads and other public service, keeping down the burden on UK motorists.

If a road pricing scheme is introduced it needs to consist of something like congestion charging and/or ULEZ in towns and cities or perhaps an annual tax based on miles travelled, the distance being recorded by the MOT tester every year. It must not include any draconian surveillance technology. Big Brother does not need to know where we are at any given time.

It must also fairly attribute costs to heavier and/or more highly polluting vehicles, incentivising lighter and cleaner vehicles. Equally importantly, a road pricing scheme must take into account ability to pay and need.

A disabled person may need a larger vehicle and that vehicle might not be clean and efficient. They should not be penalised. Nor should large families that need a large enough vehicle to fit everyone in. There is an argument that people should only have the children they can afford and that making allowances based on the number of children is in effect a state subsidy but when an estimated 42% of marriages in the UK are expected to end in divorce it is increasingly common to have a large blended family.

To make road pricing fair will not be a simple task. It will require careful thought and a level of intelligence and foresight that is almost entirely absent in the civil service. This means that any road pricing scheme is almost certain to be inherently unfair to those who are responsible and to those who can least afford to drive because this is what always happens when civil servants try to come up with a one-size-fits-all policy that involves taking or paying out money and it is for that reason that I will continue to oppose the introduction of road pricing by the British government.

Articles of Union

Former First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – a role that hasn’t existed in England for over three centuries – have suggested that the UK should be federalised to save the British union.

Lord McConnell Scottish Flag Emoji, Carwyn Jones Welsh Flag Emoji and Lord Trimble Nothern Irish Flag Emoji have written a letter in the Telegraph calling for a new Act of Union and constitutional settlement which would include a devolved English Parliament.

An English Parliament is long overdue. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have had devolved government for over two decades. Scotland has had two devolution and one independence referenda since 1979, Wales has had three devolution referenda since 1979 and Northern Ireland has had two devolution referenda. There has never been a referendum on English devolution, only for regional government. Londoners voted for their own regional assembly whilst voters in the north east of England voted against having one there and that is as far as the British have been prepared to go.

A federal union would be a good starting point but it doesn’t go far enough. England needs its independence, not to be controlled at arms length by the British. A confederation is a much preferable alternative to federalism where each member state of the UK gains its independence and devolves power to a central government, flipping federalism on its head. A union by consent would be much stronger than a union by force.

PRH A&E Ambulances

The MP for Telford, Lucy Allan, appears to have had a devolution-related epiphany.

The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) covering Shropshire has plans to downgrade the accident and emergency department at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford and operate just one A&E at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

When the CCG carried out its statutory consultation on what it optimistically calls “Future Fit” it didn’t just consult residents in Shropshire but included those in Mid Wales who fall within the catchment area of the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Unsurprisingly, people in Mid Wales supported the plan to centralise the A&E service at Shrewsbury.

Health is a devolved matter, the NHS is Wales is the responsibility of the Welsh government. The Welsh government receives more money per head of population in public funding than the British government spends in England. Last year the British government spent £8,989 per person on public services in the West Midlands. In Wales it was £10,397 per person. That’s a £1,408 premium for every man, woman and child in Wales subsidised by the English taxpayer.

Lucy Allan has said that too much importance has been given to what the Welsh thought about the plans at Telford’s expense. I agree wholeheartedly. People in Wales shouldn’t have had any say whatsoever on the plans for Shropshire’s hospitals. I didn’t expect to have a say on the plans for the Newtown bypass even though I used it every summer because I don’t live in Powys. People in Powys shouldn’t expect to have a say on the plans for our hospitals in Shropshire just because they use one of them.

One of Montgomeryshire’s AMs has expressed his delight that Shropshire’s single site A&E is going to be close to Wales, as has the British Secretary of State for Wales. They’re happy because a town with a larger population than the whole of Powys and which will soon have a larger population than Powys and Ceredigion combined is losing the A&E its residents pay for because it suits people in Powys and Ceredigion who don’t.

The question is, would this have happened if we had an English Parliament? My answer is that the chances of it happening would be infinitesimally small. An English government directly elected by people in England to represent English interests alone would have been unlikely to allow the downgrade of a hospital in England to mitigate the Welsh government’s underfunding of the Welsh NHS. An English Secretary of State wouldn’t “fully back” plans to close an A&E in England because it makes it easier to service people living in Wales to the detriment of people in England. It is because England is still under direct rule of the British government that these things are allowed to happen in England and it because these things keep on happening that we need an English Parliament, Executive and First Minister to represent English interests.

Time for an English National Anthem

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear: o clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariots of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight;
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

England Commonwealth Netball Team

We’re a couple of weeks into the rugby world cup and I’m already fed up of hearing God Save the Queen.

Before every England match the commentator announces the English national anthem and they proceed to play the British national anthem.

Back in 2010 YouGov conducted a poll on behalf of Commonwealth Games England to decide which song to play as England’s national anthem. The public overwhelmingly chose Jerusalem with Land of Hope and Glory a distant second and God Save the Queen a non-starter with just 12% of the vote.

It’s time for the RFU, the FA and other English sporting bodies to stop this insulting practice of playing another country’s national anthem before our national teams go out to play.

Witan

Back in 2004 I started a blog called Wonko’s World so I could get some things off my chest. I was increasingly angry about how England was mistreated by the British and wanted everyone to know about it.

On the whole it was a successful endeavour. With likeminded political bloggers we made an English Parliament, St George’s Day, the Barnett Formula, the West Lothian Question and English identity in general. news.

Labour’s use of MPs elected in Scotland to pass legislation like university tuition fees that only affected England and then the imposition of a British prime minister elected in Scotland with no democratic mandate for three quarters of Westminster business helped to highlight why Britain doesn’t work for England.

Over the years I’ve been a director of the Campaign for an English Parliament, been mentioned in a book, won a couple of awards for political blogging, been on TV a couple of times, been on the radio more times than I care to remember, been in newspapers all over the world and for a time was on the BBC’s list of people to talk to about English devolution.

For a long time I was part of a blogging collective called the Witanagemot Club. The Witan was an embryonic English parliament that came into being as English kings started to lose their absolute control over the country. All the members of the Witanagemot Club wrote about English politics and the need for an English parliament, either devolved or independent. That group was hugely important in driving forward the campaign (small “c”) for an English Parliament.

For a variety of reasons the momentum has been lost in recent years and England is suffering as a result. The balkanisation of England has continued apace and the British government is giving away an ever increasing amount of English taxes to Scotland and Wales whilst services are cut to the bone in England through lack of money.

It’s time the people of England were reminded what’s being done to them.