Future of friendly rivalry between Wales and England

Robin Tilbrook explains why English Democrats are supporting the SNP’s campaign to dissolve the UK

The history of the world is full of instances where people either do not understand an opportunity presented to them, or for their own reasons did not want to take it.  Over the last few weeks we have had a number of suggestions that there is an opening for UKIP to become an English nationalist party.  Indeed the Labour supporting IPPR Think Tank even found polling evidence that suggests that many UKIP supporters are not only in favour of Independence from the EU, but also of English Independence, that is, from the UK!  Many UKIPpers are also said to support other totemic emblems of English nationalism such as a national celebration of St George’s Day and calls for an English Parliament.

England’s Future

In this week-long series we are examining the emergence of English political sentiment and what it means for the constitutional future of Wales and the UK.


  • Tomorrow: Leanne Wood, Leader of Plaid Cymru, calls for decentralisation within England.

The leadership of UKIP on the other hand, as I know from having met them and thoroughly explored the possibility of working with them, are profoundly committed ideological Unionists. Some of UKIPs leaders not only support the Union of the United Kingdom (in a Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory, God Save the Queen imperial nostalgic sort of way) but also they would, as John Bufton, UKIP’s Welsh MEP made clear recently, like to see the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament dissolved and to see the re-imposition of the pre 1998 unitary UK constitution.  This mind-set is not English nationalism – it’s BRITISH nationalism.

It follows, especially if Scotland succeeds in taking the first step towards becoming independent next year, that Welsh nationalists would genuinely have cause to fear a resurgence of English nationalism if it was actually represented by this sort of UKIP mentality. Fortunately, perhaps, for Welsh nationalists this is not the case. UKIP’s leadership will never wish to become genuine English nationalists. That role is already taken by the English Democrats.

In the course of the EU elections next year we hope to win our first MEPs. In the last EU elections we won 279,801 votes with a campaign that spent less than £25,000, This made it by far the most cost efficient electoral result of any serious party in the UK. With such a vote we had not only double the numbers voting for us than Plaid Cymru had, but also we were the party that had the unenviable title of getting the most votes without winning a EU parliamentary seat. We fully intend to change that in 2014.

In the last few weeks we have had Plaid Cymru’s leader, Leanne Wood, come to Manchester to support elements of the Labour Party that want to see England broken up into ‘Regions’.  A quick read of the IPPR report would show that Leanne Wood is wasting her time on that score, as English opinion is very firmly in favour of a united all-England approach. Ms Wood also obsessed introspectively about an equally improbable alleged need for another Far Left English nationalist party.

If Plaid Cymru focussed more on being Welsh nationalists and less on being Leftists, then they might give real added value to Wales’ rising sense of its own national identity rather than merely coasting on its rising tide.

It was also curious for a party leader that claims to be interested in Welsh independence that Ms Wood came to try and intervene in internal English matters, but then her Party does likewise over the question of Cornish nationalism. Again this is despite the incontrovertable evidence of the 2011 Census results which showed those that claimed Cornish only national identity were just 9.9 per cent of the population of Cornwall. Interestingly this is half the percentage of support for Englishness which the Census results found in Monmouthshire.

In Scotland’s referendum next year the English Democrats will be supporting the Scottish National Party’s campaign to dissolve the United Kingdom. It is self-evident that if one of the two constituent parts of the United Kingdom of Great Britain dissolves their membership of that Union, then the Union is at an end. From our English nationalist point of view that will also have the immense added bonus of automatically dissolving England’s inclusion in the undemocratic EU.

What Welsh Nationalists also have to face is that if Scotland does vote to become Independent next year then Wales will be left within the Tudor Union of 1536 which incorporated the Principality of Wales into the legal entity known as the ‘Kingdom of England’. Of course, the only hope of the Welsh maintaining a constitutional boundary between England and Wales is if England has its own Parliament, First Minister and Government with at least the same powers as ones in Wales.  This would create a federal structure.

The English Democrats have long campaigned for a federal parliament for the UK. However, we are coming to the view that the time for federalism may be over and that the constituent nations of the United Kingdom should start to consider what their future relationships will be after what appears to be the increasingly likely end of the ‘process of devolution’, namely the dissolution of the United Kingdom.

Genuine nationalists, both Welsh and English, can look forward to such an outcome with enthusiasm and thus to a bright future in which the relations between our two nations are in the same spirit of friendly rivalry that exists between our national rugby teams.

Robin Tilbrook is Chair of the English Democrats.

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