English Democrats

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The English Democrats
Chairman Robin Tilbrook[1]
Founded 2002 (2002)[1]
Headquarters Quires Green
Ongar CM5 0QP[1]
Youth wing Young English Democrats
Membership 2,500[2]
Ideology English nationalism
English independence
Euroscepticism
Political position Far-right[3][4][5]
National affiliation Alliance for Democracy[1]
International affiliation None
Colours         
Red and white
House of Commons English Seats
0 / 533
House of Lords
0 / 724
European Parliament English seats
0 / 60
London Assembly
0 / 25
Local government England seats[6]
0 / 19,385
Police & Crime Commissioners
0 / 41
Website
www.englishdemocrats.org
Politics of England
Political parties
Elections

The English Democrats is a fringe,[7] far-right[8] English nationalist political party committed to establishing an independent England.[9] The party proposes a devolved English Parliament as a step towards full national independence. It presents itself as an English equivalent to the Scottish National Party.[10] The English Democrats Party has welcomed defectors from the far-right British National Party into leadership roles and former members of the party have also criticised informal links with other far right organisations, though party leader Robin Tilbrook has stated that party members are expected to pledge their opposition to racism.[5][11][12]

The party has had limited electoral success. At the English local elections in June 2009, the party's candidate Peter Davies won the mayoral election for the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster.[13] However, he announced his resignation from the party on 5 February 2013.[12]

In December 2015 Winston McKenzie announced that he had joined the English Democrats, along with confirmation that he had been selected as a London Mayoral Candidate for the 2016 London Elections.[14]

History[edit]

In 1998, in response to calls for the devolution of power to Scotland and Wales, Robin Tilbrook aimed at reforming the defunct English National Party, which had ceased operating in 1981. This project included members of the Campaign for an English Parliament, a pressure group that lobbies for a devolved English Parliament. The party was relaunched as the "English Democrats" in September 2002, after merging with several other smaller political parties. In October 2004 the party merged with the Reform UK Party, which was a small splinter group from the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). The New England Party merged with the English Democrats in February 2007.[citation needed]

The English Democrats were co-founders of the English Constitutional Convention,[15] now defunct.

In December 2004, it was rumored that Robert Kilroy-Silk, the former UKIP MEP had entered into negotiation to join the English Democrats.[16] However, Kilroy-Silk formed Veritas instead.

In 2007, the columnist and TV medical doctor Vernon Coleman announced he had joined the English Democrats.[17]

The party's most significant electoral success came when Peter Davies (a former UKIP and Reform UK member), its candidate for Mayor of Doncaster, was elected. Having received 16,961 votes in the first round, 189 votes behind the independent Michael Maye, Davies was returned in the second count on transfers of second preference votes, with 25,344 votes to 24,990.[13][18] However, Davies announced his resignation from the party on 5 February 2013 citing "a big influx of new members joining from the British National Party".[12] One of its Councillors, Mick Glynn, resigned the following day after the party's chairman Robin Tilbrook launched a personal attack on Peter Davies, thus reducing its number of elected representatives to two.[19] The English Democrats lost their remaining councillors in the 2015 local elections. On 18 September 2015, the English Democrats merged with Veritas.

Organisation[edit]

Van owned by the party

The English Democrats have an England-wide network of area, county and borough officers. In April 2006, they announced full national representative coverage of the nine Regions of England. In addition to the twenty-person National Council which includes nine area chairmen, there are fourteen national sub-committees to expedite progress in the party's development.[citation needed]

In 2010, the EDP was structured into ten regions in England by splitting the South-East region. As of April 2012, the party has never been able to fill all ten Regional Chairman posts.[citation needed]

The party claimed a total membership of 1,011 at the end of 2004, and 1,202 at the end of 2005.[20] The BBC reported 1,300 members in 2007.[citation needed] Party membership was around 1,500 in September 2011, following the influx of a number of people joining from the BNP and other fringe parties.[citation needed] Robin Tilbrook stated in a speech to students at the University of Nottingham on 9 February 2012 that the party now had almost 3,000 members.[citation needed]

Election performances[edit]

The first person to stand as a candidate for the English Democrats was Gary Cowd, who stood in Rushmoor—West Heath Ward in North Hampshire[21] in a council by-election in May 2003. Cowd was an active member of the English Democrats and a National Council member. He left the party in 2006.

Parliamentary elections[edit]

At the 2004 Birmingham Hodge Hill by-election the English Democrat candidate received 277 votes, or 1.4% of the votes cast.[22]

The party's slogan for the 2005 general election was "The English Democrats – Putting England First!" In total, the English Democrats fielded 25 candidates for the May 2005 general election,[23] including Staffordshire South where the election was delayed until June due to the death of a candidate. The party withdrew its candidate in North Norfolk and endorsed the Conservative Party candidate, Iain Dale, as he had "taken the issues of English discrimination seriously".[24]

Garry Bushell, the former Sun journalist and current Daily Star Sunday TV critic, became the most high-profile candidate for the English Democrats, standing in the Greenwich and Woolwich constituency in London.[25] Bushell's 1,216 votes (3.4%) beat the UKIP candidate, Stan Gain, who secured 709 votes (2.0%);[26] this was the party's best result for the election though still a fifth-place performance.

In June 2005 Bushell also stood in Staffordshire South, where he received 643 votes (2.5%) coming fifth out of eight candidates.[27] In 2011, Bushell announced that he would, in future, be supporting UKIP.

The English Democrats fielded Joanne Robinson as their candidate in the by-election forced by the resignation of former shadow home secretary David Davis from the House of Commons. Because of the issues raised by David Davis in the by-election, many parties other than the Conservatives, such as Labour, Liberal Democrats, United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and British National Party (BNP) chose not to stand. Joanne Robinson came third, with 1,714 votes (7.2%), 44 votes fewer than the Green candidate received in second place. Of the 26 candidates she was one of only three to win back her deposit. This result is both the highest place gained and the highest percentage of the votes won by any English Democrat candidate in a parliamentary election or parliamentary by-election.[28]

Campaign bus during the 2010 general election

The English Democrats stood 107 candidates in the 2010 general election. 106 is the minimum number required to qualify for a Party Election Broadcast. The English Democrats received 64,826 votes, or 0.3% of the vote in England, and 0.2% of the vote in the United Kingdom. No candidates were elected[29] but the party saved one deposit in the Doncaster North constituency, where candidate Wayne Crawshaw picked up 5.2% of the vote.[30]

In subsequent by-elections, the party contested Oldham East and Saddleworth (where Stephen Morris polled 144 (0.4%)),[31] Barnsley Central (Kevin Riddiough polled 544 (2.2%) votes),[32] Feltham and Heston (Roger Cooper polled 322 (1.4%)),[33] Corby (David Wickham polled 432 (1.2%) votes)[34] and Rotherham (David Wildgoose polled 703 (3.3%) votes)[35]

At the 2015 general election, the party contested 32 seats, securing a total of 6,531 votes (0.02%).

European Parliament elections[edit]

2004[edit]

The English Democrats stood candidates for the 2004 European Parliament election in five of the nine regions of England. The party’s 2004 election canvassing leaflet featured the slogan, "Not left, not right, just English". Its candidates received 130,056 votes in total.

2009[edit]

In June 2009, the English Democrats contested elections to the European Parliament. The party fielded a full slate of candidates across the nine English European parliament constituencies. On 18 May 2009, the English Democrats broadcast their first national Party Election Broadcast.[36] They came seventh in the election in England (ninth in the UK as a whole) with 279,801 votes or 1.8%, a rise from the 0.7% they received at the previous elections in 2004. The English Democrats do not stand in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, and their vote across England in 2009 was 2.1%, an increase of 1.3% yet still did not keep their deposits except in Yorkshire and the Humber where they gained 2.6% of the vote. None of the English Democrats candidates were elected; the English Democrats were the highest-polling party across the UK not to have an MEP elected.

2014[edit]

The English Democrats began their 2014 EU election campaign in September 2013 with an extensive social media campaign. On 30 April 2014, they held a rally at Fobbing in Essex, the site of the 1381 Peasants' Revolt, and declared, "let the English revolt begin."[37] The party fielded a full slate of candidates across the nine English European parliament constituencies on 22 May 2014. On 13 February 2014, party chairman Robin Tilbrook appeared on the BBC Daily Politics with Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy leader of the Scottish National Party.[38] The English Democrats performed poorly at the election, taking just 0.8% of the votes, down more than 1% on 2009. They again failed to win any seats.[39]

Local councils[edit]

In November 2005, the party achieved its first electoral success when Paul Adams was elected to Crowborough Town Council, polling 120 votes, or 56.8% of the poll, on a turnout of 10%.[40]

In the 2007 local elections, 78 candidates stood for election in boroughs and districts in 15 English counties, including 20 in Dartford and ten in Portsmouth. All were unsuccessful.

In 2008, the party fielded candidates in 12 district council elections. None was elected. The party's best results were when it came second to the Conservatives: in the Finningley ward of Doncaster and in three wards in Rochford.[41]

In the 2009 English local elections, the party fielded 84 county council and local authority candidates, with a particular focus in Bristol, Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Wiltshire and Lancashire.[citation needed] The party had an unexpected success when Peter Davies, its candidate for Mayor of Doncaster, was elected. Having received 16,961 votes in the first round, 189 votes behind the independent Michael Maye, Davies was returned in the second count on transfers of second preference votes, with 25,344 votes to 24,990.[13][18]

In 2010, the party also stood in the local elections on 6 May, but did not publish a list of candidates.[citation needed] The two sitting English Democrat councillors on Calderdale and Blackburn with Darwen councils retired, and the party did not nominate any candidates to contest the seats.[42][43]

In 2011, the EDP stood about 130 candidates in district level elections; two were elected. The Boston Borough Council elections on 5 May 2011, saw the election of the first two EDP councillors. David Owens and Elliott Fountain were elected in the Fenside Ward for a four-year term, thus becoming the only EDP members of a district council to be elected by public vote. A sitting EDP councillor on Peterborough council lost his seat.

The party fielded a candidate in the 3 March 2011 local by-election for the Walkden North ward of Salford City Council. Its candidate, Laurence Depares, polled 125 votes (7%) and came third, ahead of the BNP and Liberal Democrats;[44] in a by-election in the same city's Swinton South ward on 7 January 2014 the party was fifth with 54 votes (3.7%).[45]

In 2012, the party fielded 101 candidates in the local elections in England, including district council elections, mayoral contests and elections to the Greater London Assembly.[46] None was elected, and the party suffered the loss of the two seats it was defending, one that it had gained from a former BNP member who had defected to the party and another from an ex-Tory.[47] The English Democrats has come under fire from the anti-fascist groups Unite Against Fascism[48] and Hope not Hate[49] and from the trades unions NASUWT and Unite the Union[50] over the number of former BNP members standing for election for the party. 43% of English Democrats candidates in the 2012 local elections were former BNP members.[51]

The EDP contested the mayoral elections in Liverpool and Salford. In Liverpool, its candidate received 1.42% of the vote, finishing in ninth place, and in Salford 3.6% finishing in eighth place.[52] The party chairman, Robin Tilbrook, declared that he was standing for Mayor of London and even asked for donations through one of the party's websites but his name did not appear on the ballot paper.

Welsh Assembly[edit]

In 2007, in line with the English Democrats stance on the status of Monmouthshire, 13 English Democrat candidates contested the Welsh Assembly elections in the South East Wales region, and the constituencies of Monmouth (fifth with 2.7%), Newport East (sixth, 2.2%) and Newport West (fifth, 2.7%).[53] The party also received 0.9% of the vote on the regional list.

In the 2011 Welsh Assembly election, the party fielded the Kent-based Steve Uncles as its candidate in Monmouth, in line with its view that Monmouthshire should be returned to English governance. He polled 744 (2.47%) of the votes cast. The incumbent Conservative assembly member was returned. It contested the constituency of Monmouth in the 2015 general election, receiving 0.2% of the vote.[54]

London Mayoral elections[edit]

In July 2007, Garry Bushell was nominated as the English Democrats' Mayoral candidate for the 2008 London mayoral and Assembly elections with the campaign slogan "Serious About London".[55] In January 2008, he stepped down as candidate because of work commitments and Matt O'Connor, the founder of Fathers 4 Justice, was selected by the English Democrats in his place with his campaign expected to start on 14 February. His campaign web site was launched on 31 January 2008.[56][57] A Party political broadcast for O'Connor's campaign was broadcast on 11 April.

One week before the election, on 25 April, O'Connor told Vanessa Feltz and the BBC that he was dropping out of the Mayoral race, giving as his reasons the lack of support within the English Democrats on St George's Day and a lack of press coverage[58] as well as the party's co-operation with the far-right group England First.[59] The English Democrats released a press statement on their website in response to his resignation voicing disappointment at his decision to quit the contest.[60] O'Connor received 10,695 first preference votes (representing 0.44% of the votes cast) in the mayoral contest, ranking ninth out of ten candidates; he received 73,538 second preference votes (3.67%), ranking eighth.[61]

Police Commissioners[edit]

2012[edit]

English Democrats contested five of the 41 Police and Crime Commissioner elections in November 2012. Results were:

Police force Candidate 1st round votes  % Posn/no. cands
Cambridgeshire Constabulary Stephen Goldspink 7,219 8.1% 6 out of 7
Essex Police Robin Tilbrook 11,550 6.87% 6 out of 6
Kent Police Steven Uncles 10,789 5.3% 5 out of 6[62]
Merseyside Police Paul Rimmer 7,142 5.7% 6 out of 6[63]
South Yorkshire Police David Allen 22,608 15.6% 2 out of 5[64]

2014[edit]

David Allen also contested the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner by-election in October 2014.

Police force Candidate 1st round votes  % Posn/no. cands
South Yorkshire Police David Allen 8,583 5.8% 4 out of 4[65]

English Democrats holding local government seats[edit]

In November 2005, Paul Adams became the first elected English Democrats councillor at parish level for Crowborough Town Council in East Sussex; he was re-elected unopposed in 2007. In 2011, he was elected as an independent, so the English Democrats lost the seat.[66] Later that year, Markyate Parish councillor Simon Deacon defected from the British National Party, to the English Democrats, having been elected unopposed. However, he resigned in October 2012.[67] The English Democrats gained another parish council seat when Mick Glynn was elected for the Dunsville ward of Hatfield Town Council, Doncaster. Following the resignation of Peter Davies, Glynn resigned his seat and membership of the party in February 2013.

The party had two district councillors elected (the first above parish level) in the 2011 local elections and obtained a further county council seat through the defection of a BNP, later "Independent Nationalist", councillor in Hertfordshire. However, the county councillor did not defend the seat in the May 2013 election, nor did the EDP put forward another candidate, losing them the seat.[68] The EDP lost one of their district councillors, Elliott Fountain, on 25 July 2013 after he failed to attend any meetings in six months.[69] Following the 2015 local elections, the English Democrats have no representation on any local authorities.

Party policies[edit]

English Parliament[edit]

The party contends that the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales provide a voice to those two constituent nations of the United Kingdom that England lacks. The party proposes to convene the first exclusively English Parliament since the initial Laws in Wales Act 1535 through one of three methods:

  1. By converting the current House of Commons of the United Kingdom into a devolved English parliament within the asymmetrical devolution framework currently existing in the United Kingdom,
  2. By creating a new legislature with equal status to the Scottish Parliament and a more powerful Welsh Parliament within a re-constituted federal or confederal United Kingdom,
  3. As an independent, sovereign legislature for the re-founded state of England, upon dissolution of the Union, most likely to be created by independence for Scotland and Wales.

The party has rejected suggestions that non-English MPs in the House of Commons should be barred from voting on England-specific matters, on the basis that this would lead to there being, in effect, two parliaments in the same building and that this would be problematic.[70]

The party is against the establishment of regional assemblies in the Regions of England.

English independence[edit]

In March 2014, the party adopted the policy of English independence.[71]

European Union[edit]

The party favours deciding England's future relationship with the European Union by a nationwide multiple-choice referendum, which would include the option to withdraw from it entirely. The English Democrats are committed to campaign on the "withdrawal" side of any referendum. The English Democrats' policy is to maintain free-trade arrangements by rejoining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

Traditional counties[edit]

The party is supportive of historic counties. It has called for a referendum on whether Monmouthshire should be part of England rather than Wales.[72][73]

Nationalist connections[edit]

On 17 November 2011, the chairman of the English Democrats, Robin Tilbrook, met with Sergey Yerzunov, a member of the executive committee of the Russian right-wing group Russky Obraz.[74] Shortly afterwards, Obraz announced that they were in alliance with the English Democrats.[75] Other members of this alliance include Serbian Obraz, 1389 Movement, Golden Dawn, Dane's Party, Slovenska Pospolitost, Czech Labour Party and Noua Dreaptă.

Since 2010, a number of former members of the BNP have joined the project, with the party chairman quoted as saying, "They will help us become an electorally credible party."[76] In an April 2013 interview, Tilbrook said that about 200-300 out of the party's membership of 3,000 were former BNP members. He said it was "perfectly fair" that such people would "change their minds" and join a "moderate, sensible English nationalist party".[77]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "English Democrats Party". 
  2. ^ George Eaton, "Green Party membership on course to overtake Ukip's", New Statesman, 14 January 2015
  3. ^ Katherine Tonkiss (2013). Migration and Identity in a Post-National World. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-137-30908-2. 
  4. ^ Daniele Caramani (2013). The Europeanization of Politics. Cambridge University Press. p. 310. ISBN 978-1-107-11867-6. 
  5. ^ a b Ben Quinn, "English Democrats could become 'electorally credible' as BNP decline", The Guardian, 26 September 2011
  6. ^ Edkins, Keith. "Local Council Political Compositions". Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Meet the tiny, fringe parties who never win anything – but do enrich our democracy". Daily Telegraph. 19 May 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Trilling, Daniel (14 May 2015). "Whatever happened to the English Democrats?". New Statesman. 
  9. ^ "English Democrats seek independence for England". BBC News. 
  10. ^ "Democrats want to be 'English SNP'". BBC News. 25 September 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  11. ^ Young, Gareth (16 May 2009). "English nationalism vs British nationalism". openDemocracy. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  12. ^ a b c BBC News "Doncaster mayor quits English Democrats 'because of BNP'", 5 February 2013
  13. ^ a b c Paul, Celia (5 June 2009). "English Democrat is new Mayor of Doncaster". The Independent (London). Retrieved 5 June 2009. 
  14. ^ "Winston McKenzie for London Mayor". Retrieved 26 December 2015. 
  15. ^ "Devolution for England – The way forward". English Constitution Convention. Archived from the original on 8 July 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2007. 
  16. ^ Hyde, Marina (14 December 2004). "Diary". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 8 August 2007. 
  17. ^ "Why I've Joined The English Democrats". 
  18. ^ a b "Mayoral Election 2009 Results". Doncaster Council. 5 June 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009. 
  19. ^ England Watch blog "Another English Democrat Councillor Resigns.", 7 February 2013
  20. ^ "English Democrats Party Statement of Accounts" (PDF). Electoral Commission. 31 December 2005. Retrieved 8 August 2007. [dead link]
  21. ^ John Walton, "Independents' Rushmoor challenge", Get Hampshire, 10 April 2003
  22. ^ "Lib Dems snatch Labour seat". BBC Online. 16 July 2004. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  23. ^ Kimber, Richard (2 February 2007). "UK General Election candidates 2005: Number of candidates by party". Political Science Resources. Retrieved 23 January 2008. 
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  37. ^ "English Democrats demand 'revolt' at elections launch". BBC News. 30 April 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  38. ^ Robin Tilbrook on the Daily Politics 13 2 14 with Deputy First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon. 14 February 2014 – via YouTube. 
  39. ^ "Vote 2014: UK European election results", BBC News. Accessed 22 January 2015.
  40. ^ Blanshard, Heather (25 November 2005). "St. Johns Ward – Declaration of result of poll" (PDF). Crowborough Town Council. Retrieved 8 August 2007. 
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  43. ^ "Local elections candidates 2010". Blackburn with Darwen Council. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  44. ^ By-election result: 3 March 2011, Salford City Council
  45. ^ By-election result: 7 January 2014, Salford City Council
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  51. ^ "Another 'rival' faces post-election blues and meltdown". BNP Blog. BNP. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
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  56. ^ "Fathers 4 Justice founder to enter Mayoral race". London Evening Standard. 9 January 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  57. ^ "London Elects: The Candidates". londonelects.org.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2008. 
  58. ^ "O'Connor quits Mayoral contest". BBC News. 25 April 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
  59. ^ Mike Brooke (25 April 2008). "O'Connor accuses English Democrats of BNP link after quitting race for Mayor". East London Advertiser. Archived from the original on 22 May 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  60. ^ "Matt O'Connor's shock resignation press release". English Democrats. 25 April 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2008. 
  61. ^ "London mayoral election 2008". BBC News. 6 May 2008. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  62. ^ "Kent police and crime commissioner results", BBC News England, 16 November 2012
  63. ^ "Merseyside police and crime commissioner result", BBC News Liverpool, 16 November 2012
  64. ^ "South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner results", BBC News England, 16 November 2012
  65. ^ https://www2.barnsley.gov.uk/services/council-and-democracy/councillors-democracy-and-elections/election-results/police-and-crime-commissioner-by-election-2014
  66. ^ "Election Results". Wealden District Council. 
  67. ^ "English Democrats loose another councillor!". England Watch. 
  68. ^ "Home" (PDF). Three Rivers District Council. 
  69. ^ "Absent Boston councillor in £7k allowance claim". Boston Target. 2 August 2013. 
  70. ^ "No English parliament – Falconer". BBC Online. 10 March 2006. Retrieved 8 August 2007. 
  71. ^ "English Democrats seek independence for England", BBC News, 19 March 2014
  72. ^ "Manifesto of the English Democrats" (PDF). BBC News. Retrieved 8 March 2008. 
  73. ^ "English Democrats want vote on Monmouthshire Welshness", BBC News South West Wales, 13 March 2011
  74. ^ "Robin Tilbrook meets Russian Nationalists". rus-obraz.net. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  75. ^ "Russian Obraz". right-world.net. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  76. ^ "English Democrats". 
  77. ^ "'Up to one in 10' English Democrat members were in BNP". BBC News. 23 April 2013. 

External links[edit]