Saturday, 8 May 2010

Could we have an English National Party?

Isn't it interesting how 'wrong' that question feels? Yet in the wake of the defeat of the BNP in Barking - Nick Griffin failing to secure a seat and all the BNP Councillors losing theirs - it is a question I think worth asking, especially as many Christians seem to hate the BNP with a vengeance (and there's an issue worth debating as well).

Those same Christians seem to have no problem in principle with the Scottish, Welsh or Irish nationalist parties (respectively SNP, Plaid Cymru and Sinn Fein), but I suspect it is not just the nature of the BNP's policies, but something about our whole psyche as a nation which makes an ENP a 'no go area' even before we've considered the policy. Is this simply a national sense of guilt - and if it is, why do we have it in such huge doses when other nations don't? Or is there something inherently wrong about nationalism which we allow the other nationalist parties to get away with because they aren't English?

So my question is really two-fold. Could an English National Party be so constructed as to be a good thing? And are the other UK nationalist parties really as innocent as we suppose?

As a PS, the BNP actually got more votes than any of the other nationalist parties!

As a PPS, I am a great fan of the Union, and for that reason not a fan at all of the nationalist parties, but if that's the way we're going ...

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  1. Would not the English Democrats fall into that category?

    (And, of course, given their electoral results, the Conservative Party are in danger of becoming an exclusively English phenomenon - although their commitment to the Union prevents them from being classed as English nationalists. Unless, that is, one buys the argument that the Union is simply the modern vehicle of an older English imperialism.

    Of course, whether nationalism is per se morally repugnant depends entirely on what one means by "nationalism": is it racism, or patriotism (which is etymologically the same thing). In other words, is it simply a commitment to act "in the national interest" (a phrase I suspect we shall be hearing much of over the next few days), or is there something else going on?

    (Timothy Edwards, London)

  2. Yes, the Tories. (Read some modern Scottish history & you'll see that the Conservatives might revere Adam Smith but not his country of birth!)

    The Tories are losing their passion for the union.

    Incidentally, the SNP don't hate non-whites, Jews or Muslims. Ironically I know several Asian SNP voters!

    I don't vote SNP, incidentally
    I don't like nationalism either but my problem with BNP isn't on that basis.

  3. Tory vote share in Scotland: 16.7%
    Tory vote share in Wales: 26.1%
    Labour vote share in SE England: 16.2% (Tories 0.1% short of 50% vote share!)
    Labour vote share in SW England: 15.4%

    Any argument about Cameron and Scotland (and Wales - which is silly as they came second there) must also be applied to Brown and the South.

    SE England is twice the size of Scotland (and it was only clustering that got them 4MPs - outside of the cities and North/East Kent there vote was non-existant). SW England is roughly the same size as Scotland - Labour got 4 seats because of clustering of their vote, but they still came third and with a lower vote share than the Tories in Scotland.

    East of England is roughly the same size as Scotland as well - Labour managed 19.6% (again, third) and got just two seats - in Luton. Another region where the 'Tories can't rule Scotland as they only have one seat and came nowhere in the vote' rule applies to Labour.

    It's also worth pointing out that the Tories got screwed over by FPTP in Northern Ireland - they got 15.5%, but the SLDP only got 16.2% and 3 seats.

  4. Further to Timothy, the English Democrats even started out life as the English National Party but changed the name due to negative connotations.

  5. It's the West Lothian question again. Scotland (like Northern Ireland) basically lives off English money, but while Scottish MPs can make laws for England, England can't do the same for Scotland. Also, Labour can't rule without Scottish MPs, and the UK has largely been ruled by Scots these past 13 years. English nationalism isn't a problem if it isn't saddled with racism and antisemitism.
    Mark B.

  6. Timothy is right. The English Democrats fall into that category. However, they also fall into the same category of the BNP... and I quote from their website:
    "We want English freedoms and values, a political system that cares for the rights of the majority rather than the minority, that values the English community ahead of individuals who are opposed to it. An England that puts its own people first, not last, and that values the rich heritage of the Christian faith that has shaped our country’s laws and values. "
    I think Christians that little problem with SNP and PC because both these parties are looking for ultimately national independence from England the so the Union.
    I wonder when national pride or patriotism become more and develops into xenophobia and racial hatred.
    Is Englishness and Britishness a Victorian Romantic social construct? So it is hard to pin down like Welsh or Scottish identity.

    Richard Wood
    East London

  7. I know that this does not relate to the above topic but... I'm pretty please that BNP have been removed from the Barking and Dagenham Council. However, what is even more disturbing than having BNP on a local council is a council that is governed by one party and NO opposition. Out of 51 council seats all are Labour! There is no opposition party. With the Lesser of Two Evils I would, having been a resident in Dagenham, prefer to have BNP councillors and than no opposition.
    I wonder if B&D are the only council in the UK in this situation.

    Richard Wood

    East London.

  8. I know this is not particularly relevant to your post John - so forgive nme, but I could not find your email address !!

    Theological thoughts or morbid musings
    What to think about or comment on today ? A hung parliament? Think we have that up to our necks and more. The situation in Greece? That night work it’s way around to the Euro Parliament and the same sort of thing. So…..

    What about funerals ? Ok, so it’s not the most uplifting of topics – but it’s a fact of life. As I get older, my mind keeps changing on what I want to happen when I die. I know for a fact I don’t want to be buried. (Have threatened to haunt anyone who does that) I was brought up in a family with very strong Christian beliefs. I went through the stages of doing as I was told, then rebelling, just for the sake of it. As I had my own children my views changed again and I studied as many religions as I could manage (or maybe it was theological ideas more than religions) Some ideas seem very logical to me, others just plain unpalatable. And yet I can still not say I am 100% Atheist. It might be easy if I could. To believe (or not believe) 100% in a point of view. I don’t usually have a problem with my beliefs and views in this way – just with this one.

    Is it because of my upbringing – that bit of ingrained dogma that I can not –or am afraid to- lose completely? The time will come when all will be clear (er…I think that’s a Freudian slip of a Bible quote)

    Anyway, do what you will with my body. I hope that something good from me lives on in what I leave behind , and if there is a funeral with music for me, please play Paul McCartney’s Long and Winding Road and Time To Say Goodbye by Andrea Bocelli.

  9. PS "especially as many Christians seem to hate the BNP with a vengeance (and there's an issue worth debating as well)."

    I would love to debate this one !

  10. "Scotland (like Northern Ireland) basically lives off English money, but while Scottish MPs can make laws for England, England can't do the same for Scotland."

    1). I am a Unionist.
    2). Prove Scotland & Northern Ireland live off
    English money. (Where are most of the huge
    taxes raised from oil production spent?
    HINT:- More seats can be won in England.)
    3). The laws created for Scots by English MPs
    are countless.
    4). Under P.R., if it happens, voting patterns
    will change.

  11. What about an England First Party? Enoch Powell was spot-on about a number of issues facing not only England, but many Western nations.

  12. Is it really the case that only the English feel guilt about their national identity? I'm fairly sure that Germans have similar feelings. And other countries that used to have empires probably do as well.

    I'm wondering if it's guilt that's the cause of it. Is there another explanation?

    John Perkins