It's a pleasure to be here tonight. It's always a pleasure to come over to the Yorkshire coast and Bridlington in particular and it's a privilege to be able to address the first meeting of the English Democrats in this area.
I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Michael Cassidy and the work he has done in this region - I'm going to embarrass him slightly now as he's just walked in. Most of you won't know him simply because this is the first meeting for a lot of you I know but even in my limited time in this party I've seen the hard work that Michael does, the way he's always travelling round the region spending who knows how much on petrol and time and all the rest of it and I've seen that just in the few months that I've been a member of this party but he's been doing it for many years before any of us came along so I think we should all just take this opportunity to show our appreciation of the work he's done and continues to do for our party.
These are very exciting times to be in the English Democrats. Nobody would deny that we are still a small party. Nobody would deny that, but we are clearly going in the right direction. We won our first council seats earlier this year. We won 2 in Boston in Lincolnshire. We not have 5 councillors, in addition to that we have a county councillor, we have an elected executive in Doncaster of course, we have a number of parish councillors.
We continue to gain new members from other parties who have fallen out with their old parties and lost all faith in them and come to the English Democrats. We are a growing party.
We got a fantastic result in Barnsley the other night in a by-election there in which I helped out and Michael did and various other people. We were only 28 votes from coming second in that election and this is in a ward that we have never contested before where we were up against some real entrenched opposition that had year and years head start ahead of us and we almost came second just by putting in the effort that we did so we may be small but we are certainly going in the right direction.
Potential for our party
There is huge potential for us out there, there really is. When you look across Europe at the results that we have seen in various countries in General Elections in country after country we have seen parties that look and sound like ours doing well in general elections and really causing shockwaves in those countries and beyond. I think it's high time that we had that type of thing here in England.
We've been proven right, and continue to be proven right, on many of the issues that we stand for.
It was mentioned earlier by Michael, I believe, about the crisis in the Eurozone. This crisis could lead to a break-up of the Eurozone and the problems being experienced in Greece and in the Eurozone as a whole are extremely debilitating for all the old parties, all the main parties, because all of those parties are in favour of Europe. The Tories like to pretend that they are euro-sceptic but they're not. Nearly all the major treaties that have been signed over the years including the one that actually took us into the European Community was done under Tory governments. The Tories are just as much to blame for the mess that they have got us in and for the integration that we have seen within the European Union, as all the other parties.
The crisis in the Eurozone is extremely debilitating for them, it undermines them and it proves that what we've been saying has been right all along. I remember when I was in the sixth form I learnt in A-level economics that you cannot have one currency across lots of different economies that require different exchange and interest rates and so on, you just can't do it, this is a very fundamental thing.
We as a party object to the idea of entering the Euro and in actual fact we make it quite clear in our manifesto, and we have done for a number of years, that we would actually withdraw from the European Union. People are sick and tired of having to prop up our countries membership of the European Union. They are sick of having to prop up profligate inefficient Eurozone economies. We've been proven right on this issue and this is one of the things which points towards future success for our party.
As has also been touched upon, we have seen the state of our economy at the moment. Yesterday it was announced that there is record inflation at present. A huge amount of inflation and low economic growth so what that means for the people here and the other working men and women in this party is that your wages are not going up very much if at all, prices are going up, energy prices are going up, everybody, just about all normal read people let's say are much worse off and people are really starting to feel the pinch, and unemployment is rising.
All these things point towards disillusionment with the main parties and this opens doors for us and provides opportunities for us.
Fair enough, these are things which aren't necessarily going to benefit just us, they could benefit other small parties as well, but leaving aside such negative things, there are also a number of positive things out there which also point to potential for our party.
One example is the increase in a recognition of Englishness among our people a good indication of that is the degree to which people celebrate Saint George's Day. We all seem to take it for granted now that we have Saint George's Day events but cast your minds back a few years and there were very few of these things. I remember going out in the nineties with a friend of mine on Saint George's Day and it was almost regarded as a bit of a cranky thing to do - celebrate Saint George's Day- and I remember going out and someone asked what we were out to celebrate. When we said Saint George's Day they looked at us as if we were idiots or something. It would have been quite acceptable for them to go out and celebrate Saint Patrick's Day as if that's the big one and we were the idiots for celebrating Saint George's Day. Happily that's not the case anymore, over the years more and more people have started celebrating it. It has been officially recognised, there are celebrations everywhere including in my home town of Morley where they are getting bigger and bigger every year. This is one of the things with which our party is more closely associated that any other party. One of our key issues, one of our cornerstone issues in this regard, is that we want to make Saint George's Day a bank holiday - what a common sense policy that is, and why aren't any of the other parties pursuing it? We know why, it is because they don't want to pursue a patriotic agenda. They don't want people to start getting ideas about that type of thing, but that is one of our key issues. The English Democrats have a Facebook cause with over 700,000 people on it -that is a huge number of people to be signed up to this online campaign to make Saint George's Day a bank holiday so things like that really do point to potential for our party.
In addition to that, over the years since devolution and the creation of the Scottish parliament and the Welsh Assembly and to a lesser extent the Northern Irish Assembly, we have seen more and more people become aware of the disparity between circumstances in England and circumstances in Scotland and the other home nations with regard to things like tuition fees and proscription charges, as Gary mentioned earlier, and earlier this year, for instance, England became the last of the home nations in which people still had to pay prescription charges and in these tough economic times people notice things like that, they really do; this made headlines, people were talking about it, people are aware of this issue. And what party is doing anything about it? What party is campaigning on it? The answer is we are the main party that is doing anything about it we are the party that people associate with bringing an end to this situation.
There is huge potential for us out there at the moment and this is why it is a great time to be in the English Democrats.
The Evil of Political Correctness
But without wanting to be negative, at the moment that's just potential, that's all it is. Potential is not enough. We have to realise that we are really up against it. Political Correctness has infected this country for decades, and this has been quite deliberate. It has been quite deliberately forced upon us by our opponents in the far left and there is now no part of public life and increasingly less and less of our private lives where political correctness holds no sway. Political Correctness really is at the root of the problems that we have in this country. People, when asking how did things get so bad, why are things like this, may look to things like mass immigration or the rise of Islamism as manifested in our soldiers being abused in the street and poppies being burned and that type of thing . People may think that those are the causes but they are not the causes, they are simply the symptoms of political correctness and the decades and decades of political correctness that has been forced down our people's throats.
I am very glad that the English Democrats take a tough stand on political correctness and identify it for what it is and there is a section in our manifesto regarding this very subject, which I will read from very briefly.
The English Democrats unreservedly condemn this intolerant creed. We reject the self-righteousness of political correctness and condemn the ideology as an evil.
As an evil. And it is evil. 'Evil' is a very strong word and not one that should be over-used, particularly in the political sphere, but it is an evil, and the effect that it has had on people has been extremely negative and evil.
We have all seen the effects of political correctness and how it manifests itself but what is it exactly? How would we define it? It's not an easy thing to define. Again, the manifesto is very useful on this point and is a good starting point, it states that:
an institution or a government is politically correct when they cease to represent the interests of the majority, and become focused on the deliberate subversion of English national culture and interests, the denigration of English history and of the English themselves, and the promotion of the objectives of minority pressure groups.
Well that's a fairly good place to start I think and it is important to recognise just how damaging political correctness has been.
Political Correctness has various buzzwords of course and these buzzwords, when utilised, can render grown men, mute, they can turn supposedly so-called men into a quivering wreck. I am thinking of terms like 'racist' for instance. As soon as words like that are used, that's where people's reactions kick in and people don't want to be called racist.
There are towns in this country where grown men would quite literally rather see their daughters and granddaughters groomed and put on drugs and used as prostitutes and raped, they would quite literally rather see that and do nothing about it than speak out about it and identify the perpetrators and risk being called a racist. This is no exaggeration, this is not a rhetorical point I am making, I mean this quite literally, and this is sickening and it is heart-wrenching and this is an extreme example of political correctness, and you all know it's right.
Unfortunately it is just the tip of the ice-berg. I'm not saying this to try and depress anyone, but it is very important that we understand what we are up against, and that we are at a disadvantage. Our kind of people - right thinking, rational, decent patriotic people, have not been running this country for the past 50 years, far from it, the exact opposite has been running this country and this is what we are up against.
So I've spoken about the potential that there is for us out there and I've spoken about the evils of political correctness and its pervasive grasp that it has on our society. These may seem to be mutually exclusive ideas; how can there be that much potential for is if that's what we are up against.
The English Democrats Approach to Politics
This brings me to the point I would like to make about the approach we need to take in politics; the English Democrat approach. We don't have the luxury of being a philosophical debating society, we don't have the time to spend debating about the finer minutia of policy in order to great the ideologically perfect party, which we are all happy with and our little group is happy with, but the population at large is not interested in in the slightest. That's not what we are about, we are a political party and we need to gain power. What we must do is ensure that everything that we do and every time we put a message across to the public it is geared towards making the maximum number of our people feel receptive towards it and it must be aimed at winning the maximum amount of support. We need to bear in mind the degree to which political correctness influences our people.
This does not mean that we need to become politically correct ourselves, absolutely not, and it is not true to say that speaking in a moderate way and presenting your ideas in the most appropriate way in an example of political correctness. If you are terrified of ever being called a racist then the only way to make sure that you are never called a racist is to stop opposing mass immigration, and welcome it, and when others are saying that we should only let 5 million in a year you need to be arguing that it should be 10 or 20. There is no way that our enemies will stop calling us racists for opposing immigration. That's just what they do, it is too much of an easy trick for them to pull.
We shouldn't be scared of these attacks but equally we should do everything we can to make sure that for all rational and decent people out there it is quite clear that we are not racist in the way we think and the way we do things. When I use the terms 'racist' I use it in the way a rational person does, and that is that we don't think less of anyone because of their race and we don't want to treat anyone less favourably because of their race, that is what I mean by racism, but the way it's used by liberals of course is just to try and silence any debate on immigration and if you believe even in just controlling immigration, if you believe what Cameron says (although we don't expect it to happen) and you believe that immigration should go down to tens of thousands a year rather than hundreds then that's racist. And this, of course, is nonsense. And this is something that we should never be terrified of and we should tackle it head on when we are called it but in order to maximise the support that we get we need to think very carefully about the way that we present ourselves.
Just to use one example, we have mentioned the issue of proscription charges and the fact that in Scotland and the other countries we have mentioned they have been abolished. But in England they are. This argument could be phrased in a number of different ways. It could be phrased in a rather idiotic anti-Scottish jingoistic way: why should the Scots get this, we don't get it etc. now clearly framing arguments in that way allows opportunities for our opponents to use those against us, they can say we are being anti-Scottish and being derogatory towards other people and this is to be avoided in my opinion and the last thing I want to see is us being attacked and losing support because it sounds like we are being jingoistic and anti-Scottish. That argument wants to be framed simply by saying that we simply want to make sure that people in this country are not discriminated against, we simply want to make sure that they are not getting a worse deal that the people in the other home nations. People in Scotland, much to their credit, have voted themselves into a situation where they do not pay tuition fees, they don't pay proscription charges, good for them. We need English people to show that common sense as well.
The rise of the Scottish National Party in Scotland, quite irrespective of what we might think of them as a party, some people think they are great and that we should try and emulate their policies and everything they do, some would disagree on that, that is kind of irrelevant because most people in England won't know the intricacies of the Scottish National Party's policies but what they will see is that they are a successful party that is growing, they now control the Scottish Parliament, which is a huge victory for that party considering the stranglehold that Labour had up there until very recently. People in England look to that party and are asking the question well that is good for them, where's the English equivalent, how can we vote for the English version of them? And as should be clear, we are that party and we need to be aiming to get those people voting for the English Democrats.
I don't want anyone to think that I've gone PC myself and I hope that I've made it quite clear that I haven't but it's all about how we present ourselves. When I looked at the English Democrats as a party to join it was like a breath of fresh air for me, when I read the manifesto and saw the policies I thought yes this is the way forward because this is an ideologically sound party which is worth all good people joining and really dedicating our time to. And victories that we can bring to this party would be really beneficial to us. But this party has a good image and presents itself in a respectable way: people don't instantly turn their noses up, quite the opposite in fact, when you look at the way that our campaigns on issues such as Saint George's Day have been received amongst the population, including from many quite non-political people, they have been received really well.
I don't want to be politically correct, absolutely not.
Entho v Civic
One argument which is raging at the moment, or rather one sort of false debate which has been started if you like is, a number of people have tried to say that within nationalism you need to define yourself as what kind of nationalist you are, are you an ethno-nationalist as some people call themselves, or are you a civic nationalist, as other people call themselves. I have heard this on a number of occasions, people identifying with either side and I thought I would address it tonight.
I have seen certain people call themselves ethno-nationalists. Clearly what they are trying to do by saying that is that they believe that ethnicity is a key part of nationalism- they want to make it clear that a person's ethnicity as part of their nationality is relevant and it's important to them and I can understand that.
On the other hand, I have only ever heard the term civic nationalist being used to denigrate people and I haven't heard many people referring to themselves as that but of late I have heard one or two people mention it as a different stance to the ethno-nationalist stance and what people who describe themselves as civic nationalists are basically trying to say is that, going back to what I was just speaking about then, that they don't have ethnicity at the core of their beliefs and they don't want to be called racists and be portrayed as being racist and again I can understand that.
From my own part of view I don't rush to attach labels to myself, I think it's better to not to do that, it's best to be avoided if at all possible. I am happy to call myself a nationalist, I always have done. But I would not insist that people call themselves that. I have no problem with people who don't. If people broadly agree with our policies and are patriotic then that will do for me. And this argument, that you need to define yourself as an ethno-nationalist or a civic nationalist, or some people call themselves a cultural nationalist, I find it very divisive and not particularly useful because hoe many of us can say exactly which category we fit into.
I support the English Democrats open membership policy that says anyone can join us if they agree with our manifesto. I wouldn't like to see anyone mistreated because of their race or ethnic background. Does this make me a civic nationalist?
On the other hand, I believe that all peoples have the right to self-identify however they want in terms of culture, language, background, ethnicity and I wouldn't try and tell other nations that they cannot do so, whether we are talking about Apache Indians or Zulus.
Before I came here this evening I got an idea in my head, because I don't just turn up at these meetings and talk about the first thing that comes into my mind, I do actually think about what I'm going to talk about sometimes, it might surprise you to know. I printed off the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as this is something I have read up on in the past and I thought it would be relevant to this ethno-nationalist v civic nationalist debate. It is quite an interesting document which has clearly not been designed with the English in mind but there are few people who would disagree with the sentiments expressed in it . The third point down in this document (it's quite a long), I thought the third point was particularly good and it states that:
that all peoples contribute to the diversity and richness
of civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage
the common heritage of humankind. Now I can support this entirely and I believe in this - I don't want to see smaller nations wiped off the map and undermined by occupying forces, by colonist etc. and I wouldn't expect anyone here to.
Up to this point probably PC liberal types would agree, they would be nodding along at this point thinking yes we support the rights of the eskimos and kurds and basques and all these peoples who have been oppressed over the years, they should have the right to their own culture and identity and the difference between me and those types is that I wouldn't stop there, I would extend this to the English as well. I believe that people who want to identify themselves as ethnically English should be allowed to do so and that it should be monitored on ethnic monitoring forms. The laws that are in place to look after all the other ethnic groups should also be used to look after the people who identify themselves as ethnically English as well. People who want to tick this box on the form should not be disadvantaged because they class themselves as ethnically English anymore than they should be disadvantaged if they tick the Bangladeshi box etc. so that is a little bit about what I believe about ethnicity and the role that it should play in our society.
Does that make me an ethno-nationalist? It's not a term that I would use or recognise. I don't find it particularly useful and I find it divisive and I am quite happy to identify myself as English and I am quite happy to identify myself as European for that matter. I am anti-EU but very pro European, I would class myself as European culturally, and I would class myself as a nationalist as well. What we need to do is get away from this divisive argument with regard to where we stand on these issues because it is very important that our party is a broad church of opinion. We can have people who care about such things and people who don't, it really doesn't matter. We can handle these things because we are a democratic party. If people disagree then we can talk about it. That's what distinguishes us from a religious or political cult. The fact that we are democratic means we can be a broad church of ideas, and that's what we need to be. So let's just leave those types of arguments for other people and not get bogged down in that sort of nonsense because we really do have a much bigger task ahead.
It's been a pleasure speaking to you tonight, I'm going to end now, I'm happy to take questions at the end. It is a very exciting time to be an English Democrat and it's good to see lots of familiar faces here tonight and a few unfamiliar ones. If you're not a member you can join tonight, we have membership forms here, we can take payments by cash, credit card, cheques. If you are a member can I ask you to redouble your efforts, let's make a success of this. This party has got huge potential but things are not going to fall into our laps. We are going to have to work hard. I've been in this party a few months and I've seen that we have got fantastic potential, fantastic foundations, and I look forward to working with you all to help make this party great.