Thursday 11 June 2009

Boris of the north

That is new Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies of the English Democrats, according to his party chairman.

Party chairman Robin Tilbrook said: "Peter has done fantastically well, he's fought a great campaign on the issues that really matter. "This is not only a great result for the people of Doncaster, it's a great result for the people of England too. Peter is now truly the Boris Johnson of the north."

But this may be something a bit of a slander on New Boris.

The London Mayor is quite simply going to be comprehensively outclassed in the gaffe stakes.

Welcome to the North links to and has transcribed the new Mayor's day one car crash interview on BBC Radio Sheffield.

TF: Okay, now you’re going to cut the number of councillors from 60 to 20.

PD: That is another difficulty, and the first-

TF: Can’t do it, can you?

PD: Er, well, we can appeal to their moral consciences-

TF: So you can’t do it, can you?

PD: Look, you keep telling me what I can’t do. I’ll find out what I can’t do, and if I can’t do-

TF: You are finding out now, I’m telling you, Peter, you can’t do it. You’d have thought you’d have thought of this before you started.

PD: This is quite a pointless discussion. Completely pointless.

TF: Why?

PD: Well - I’m sitting here telling you what I want to do, you’re telling me I can’t do it. I’ll find out - not from you, from other people - if I can do it or not.

(Hat tip: Pickled Politics)

PS: There is a Facebook group to support Doncaster Pride, which the Mayor has pledged to scrap.


FloTom said...

I voted English Democrat at the Euro elections and I see you ignore the real issue which is the democratic deficit that England has been allowed to fall into since the other nations got devolved Parliamensts.

God forbidded people who call themselves democratic socialists like me though should demand that the majority population of these islands are treated EQUALLY with the others. After all what does equality mean to people from the left of the political spectrum.

Before you make your ill informed comments I suggest you learn what the argument is.

Sunder Katwala said...


Thanks for the comment. There is not much commentary here, simply reporting the interview. I expect English Democrat supporters might well think their man was underprepared, and might need to raise his game a bit. For example, the Mayor seemed to make his first public announcement around scrapping Doncaster Pride, and this was reported in national as well as local media. He might have been able to say how much money he would save.

Mark Perryman, who advocates English independence, recently wrote on Next Left. I agree we could do more to examine the case, which I think there will be more about. The Fabian Society produced one of the first studies on this - a collection on 'The English Question' in 2000, and it has often been discussed at our events, on political reform and Britishnes, for example in this panel debate.

It is an interesting debate, because some (like Perryman) advocate England as a post-UK nation state, while others (who I agree with) think it will be necessary to give greater recognition to England and Englishness if we want to maintain the UK, which depends on majority support for British state in England, Scotland and Wales. (Similiarly, while some people say devolution has threatened the Union, I think refusing it would have probably brought the Union to an end: the history of Irish home rule then independence campaigns is another example).

There are several nations and multinational polities where there are different levels of autonomy and devolution - take Spain for example. This can be seen as an offence to equality (as you argue) but it can also be seen as the pro-localism principle of treating difference differently - ie, not imposing a one-size fits all solution if there are different demands and preferences in different nations/regions/areas. The Welsh assembly has different powers to the Scottish Parliament because of this; the north-east rejected an assembly. Some places have elected Mayors and others do not.

But one issue is that the English simply have not yet arrived at a majority view about what they want. Campaigns (such as the English Democrat party or campaigns for an English Parliament) remain small scale. Polling suggests a relatively low level of salience and demand for some of the alternatives proposed (eg an English Parliament like Scotland's; regional assemblies which were strongly rejected; other reforms inside Parliament). I appreciate it is an important issue for some, but more needs to be done

If one contrasts the amount of civic campaigning activity and public support behind the Scottish Constitutional Convention in the early 1990s (building on a range of efforts over a longer period), then it is clear that there has been no campaign in England of similar. That is partly because the discussion in Scotland has been oing on some time - 2 million signed a petition in the 1950s, for example - and in England it began after Scottish devolution in 1999.

Another question for debate - supported by some opinion polling and qualitative studies - is whether the demand in England is more focused on cultural space for expressions of English identity than it is on political institutions.

Ducky said...

Unfortunately the English Democrats are in bed with the neo-nazi England First Party, even posing for pictures with them.