Friday, 7 September 2007

You can live in Scotland, but die in England

The Northern Echo is today highlighting the latest life-saving cancer drug to be freely available on the NHS in Scotland, but unavailable in England.

Tarceva, used to treat lung cancer, has been approved for NHS use north of the border for over a year, but is "effectively banned" in England by NICE, England's independent licensing watchdog.

The Northern Echo highlights the case of Jimmy Jenkyns from South Shields, who is having to pay £1,700 a month to afford Tarceva, which has seen his tumour shrink by a third.

Jimmy's wife, Deanne, said it was "outrageous" that patients in Scotland could get Tarceva on the NHS but not in England.

Joyce Dunlop, director of patient care for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation told the Northern Echo that "There are a fair few people who are buying this drug now and some PCTs are using that against them, which I think is outrageous."

People in England are being denied yet another life-saving cancer drug on the grounds of cost. And yet, with money from the English taxpayer via the Barnett Formula, people in Scotland are being given the drug free on the NHS.

The situation is simply outrageous. And yet our MPs at the UK Parliament of Westminster stay relatively quiet for fear of "damaging the Union".

The English seem to be paying an ever-higher price to save the Union.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

It isn't negative to challenge this unfairness

This has just been posted on Our Kingdom:

Mike Small (Lessons in Democracy and Self-Determination) makes some valid points about pushing forward the case for an English Parliament.

I firmly agree that the case for an English Parliament needs to be put in a way that demonstrates how good it would be for England. The Scottish Claim of Right was an incredibly powerful statement, loaded with intent and meaning, and clearly expressed what the whole movement for constitutional change in Scotland was all about. The English Constitutional Convention (ECC) has convened twice since its creation in 2004, and now boasts the support of leading Scottish-devolution campaigner, Canon Kenyon Wright. A similar “English Claim” has yet to be stated by the ECC, but seeing as our new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, signed the Scottish Claim of Right- pledging that the interests of the Scottish people (not the British people) would be “paramount” in all his “actions and deliberations”, an English Claim of Right is surely soon to be made.

Mike’s point about icons and identity is also important. It is only since devolution that the English have really begun to question who we are and what it means to be English rather than British. A sense of English identity is and will continue to be a powerful factor in the campaign for justice for England. But it was only when Scotland and Wales began to re-assert their separate identities and demand political institutions to reflect this that people in England have done so. It’s in this point that something important must be recognised: demands for real devolution in England are a reaction to devolution elsewhere. It is because of this that the debate can appear to be negative; we are often calling for an English Parliament in the same breath as complaining about how we are missing out compared to the Scots. But don’t forget that it is not enough to just state that an England’s Parliament is England’s right- that would not convince the public. We have to validate our demands for an English Parliament by highlighting how England is disadvantaged by asymmetrical devolution. English students pay university fees (Scottish students do not), English cancer patients have to go without life-saving cancer drugs (Scottish patients do not), English pensioners often have to sell their homes to afford personal care (Scottish pensioners do not- the list goes on). If this means some people feel this is being negative, or even label us as “anti-Scottish”, they are missing the point. We in England feel aggrieved at the current state of affairs, and such blatant unfairness cannot go unchallenged.

At the second meeting of the English Constitutional Convention, Canon Kenyon Wright said that devolution in Scotland happened for two fundamental reasons: “First, because we rediscovered something about our own heritage… But second, because of things like the poll tax. In other words the Scottish people saw that measure after measure after measure was being imposed upon them against the manifest will of at least 80% of Scottish MPs and Scottish opinion”.

Devolution in England will undoubtedly be much the same

Get on to Our Kingdom and have your say.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Boris for mayor?

I think it's more than likely that Boris will run for London Mayor, seeing as his Henley constituents have made it clear they support him.

Boris Johnson, as readers will know from previous posts, is very clued-up on English issues, such as how life-saving drugs are available free in Scotland but not in England

If he does run for Mayor, he has a great chance of winning. Depsite Ken's position, the Tories are the biggest single party on the Greater London Authority (GLA), running a minority administration. If they had just one more seat, they would be strong enough to block the Mayor's budget.

A Tory-controlled London would be a big step towards winning power at the next General Election, and the possibilty of implementing English Votes on English Matters (which we all know would fail, and would leave the Conservatives having to accept the idea of a proper English Parliament).

But Boris as London Mayor would also mean that London would become his focus. No more speaking-out on English issues, such as the Barnett Formula and cross-border unfairness in the NHS.

There's a lot at stake.

Friday, 29 June 2007

CEP Press Release: Brown to balkanise England

Campaign for an English Parliament


29th June 2007
For release 30th June 2007

Brown to balkanise England

“We will not sit idly-by and see our country balkanised”

The new UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has signalled his intention to balkanise England.

Appointing Ministers for each “region” of England, Mr. Brown has shown that he wishes to revive regionalism in England- the idea of which many thought had been killed-off with the public’s strong rejection of a North East regional assembly in a referendum in 2004. Despite the severe lack of public support, Gordon Brown intends to press ahead with the regionalisation project which even John Prescott could see was dead and buried.

Gordon Brown signed the Scottish Claim of Right, acknowledging “the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs”. And yet he is content to deny this right to the people of England. Support for an English Parliament continues to grow, and yet Gordon Brown- unaccountable to a single English voter, will ignore this and instead impose unwanted and unpopular regions on England.

CEP Chairman, Scilla Cullen, said, “Where is our right to determine the form of government best suited to our needs, Mr Brown? The so-called English MPs that have become “regional ministers” should be treated with the contempt they so richly deserve.”

Ms. Cullen added, “We will not sit idly-by and see our country balkanised just because it suits the political career of an ambitious politician.”

CEP Vice Chairman, Tom Waterhouse, said, “Gordon Brown’s plans to balkanise England is not just undemocratic, it is outrageously arrogant and demonstrates his utter contempt for the people of England. You have no idea how angry people are about this.”

Campaign for an English Parliament
National Council


Scilla Cullen (Chairman) 01438 833155
Mike Knowles (Media Unit) 01260 271139
Tom Waterhouse (Vice Chairman) 07900633811


A company limited by guarantee. Registered in England number 3636739.

Conservative MP: Brown has no mandate in England

Wednesday 27th June 2007 was Tony Blair's last day in office. I think anyone that saw him complete his final session of Prime Minister's Questions will agree that there was a real sense of history about the whole occassion. Those final moments and the words "that's it, the end" will be replayed over and again by any televsion programme looking back over the Blair era.

Wednesday also meant that we have a new Prime Minister. Exactly what the CEP thinks of an an MP representing a Scottish seat becoming Prime Minister in a post-devolution UK is well documented. Not least from our recent press release (see post below).

One Conservative MP was so annoyed at coronation of Mr. Brown that he held his own protest outside Downing Street on Wednesday.

David Amess, Conservative MP for Southend West, grabbed a few members of staff from nearby colleagues' offices, russled up a few placards and marched down to Downing Street.

The main message was for Gordon Brown, who Mr. Amess made clear has "no mandate in England".

A Conservative call for an English Parliament

Janice Small from the Conservative Actions for Electoral Reform (CAER) calls for an English Parliament:

"Where we have devolution it is working for the Tories - it’s just the English that are being denied democracy and a say in their voting system. David Cameron needs to provide clear blue water between him and Gordon Brown. Just promising English Votes for English MPs isn’t enough. We need an English Parliament, a forum where the English can discuss their laws, their future. It will not cost the ridiculous sums of money that Edinburgh and Cardiff did as we have our own Parliament building and the existing civil servants can take care of the running."

Wonderful news.

Get onto Our Kingdom, read her article and give her comments your support.

The case for an English Parliament...


An excellent article by Professor Arthur Aughey in this month's Parliamentary Brief.

In particular, Prof. Aughey makes a very important point about the importance of the party system to Unionism:

"... in his brilliant book Understanding the United Kingdom, written in the early 1980s as a Unionist riposte to the break-up of Britain thesis, Richard Rose argued that what acted as the major integrative element in politics was the party system.

"The major parties (Northern Ireland excepted) helped to translate regional and national concerns into the common language of British politics. However, that party competition today could have the opposite effect."

Prof. Aughey also mentions the case for an English Parliament:

"Certainly, the case for an English parliament is being made intelligently and for such an intelligent case one need look no further than Tom Waterhouse’s Devolution in the United Kingdom: Answering the English Question."

A strong endorsement- let's hope the magazone's readers at Westminster will take note.

Letter published in the Daily Telegraph, 23 June 2007


The cracks in the Union are now being hammered wider and wider apart. We are on the road to separation.

The simple fact is that the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are enjoying health and education benefits paid for with English taxpayers’ money, and yet the same benefits are being denied to the people of England on the grounds of cost.

Commentators may blame it on the SNP or the Barnett Formula- which allows England’s money to be used to subsidise the rest of the UK. They are all missing the point. English resentment will continue to grow because there is no political institution that can speak for England.

We already have a Scottish-dominated Cabinet, and Gordon Brown will become UK Prime Minister without the vote of a single person in England. Unless Mr. Brown recognises this, and creates a devolved English Parliament, we will continue on the road to separation.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Waterhouse
Vice Chairman
Campaign for an English Parliament
Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Letter published in the Oxford Mail, 21 June 2007


The tail is wagging the dog and no one seems to care - no-one in a position of power, at any rate.
As Tom Waterhouse pointed out (Oxford Mail, June 13), there is growing resentment among English people about the way they are being treated by the British Parliament (led almost exclusively by Scots).

Now, in the last few days, since Mr Waterhouse's letter, two more iniquities have been dumped on us from on high.

Scottish university students - with students from every other EU country studying in Scotland - no longer have to pay fees, whereas English students, even those attending Scottish universities, are saddled with thousands of pounds of debts, whether they graduate or not.
Secondly, we are now told that the drug Macugen, which could save the sight of up to 26,000 people a year in the UK, is not to be available on the NHS in England, while it is still free in Scotland.

Add this to the growing number of drugs that the Scots get free but the English don't - Aricept, Reminyl, Exelon, for Alzheimer's; Velcade, for bone and marrow cancer; Gliadel, for brain tumours; Alimta, for mesothelioma; Tarceva, for lung cancer; Bonviva, Fosavance, for osteoporosis; Erbitux, for head and neck cancer.

Is this not grossly inequitable, not to say iniquitous?

How are they getting away with it? Because England has no representation, as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do.

Without our own Parliament, the English are being wagged more and more by the Scottish tail.
You can't really blame them - they are allowed to get away with it, Scot free!
Surely it's time to demand an English Parliament? We are the only country in Europe - or anywhere else in the West - that doesn't have one.

I suggest getting in touch with the Campaign for an English Parliament at and the English Democrats at


Wednesday, 20 June 2007

CEP News Release, 20th June 2007


Wednesday 20th June 2007
For immediate release

Gordon Brown must drop his Claim
"How can Gordon Brown, who took this oath, become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom?"

When Gordon Brown was an ordinary Scottish MP he signed the declaration of the "Scottish Claim of Right". This document was a public oath committing those who took it to put the interests of the people of Scotland before all other considerations.

Now Gordon Brown is to become Prime Minister for the whole of the United Kingdom, the Campaign for an English Parliament is calling on Gordon Brown to publicly declare that he will not put the interests of any one part of the United Kingdom above any other part of the United Kingdom.

The Claim of Right, signed by Gordon Brown in 1988, read:

We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention, do hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs, and do hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount.

CEP Chairman, Scilla Cullen, said, "There is another nation within the UK- that of England. Will Gordon Brown extend to its people the right of self-determination that he espoused for his own nation when he signed the Scottish Claim of Right?"

CEP Vice Chairman, Tom Waterhouse, said, "The Claim of Right was a public oath, and those who took it pledged to put the interests of the Scottish people before all others. How can Gordon Brown, who took this oath, become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom? He must declare that he will put the interests of the whole of the UK before those of Scotland".

National Council, Campaign for an English Parliament

Scilla Cullen (Chairman) 01438 833155
Mike Knowles (Media Unit) 01260 271139
Tom Waterhouse (Vice Chairman) 07900 633 811
David Wildgoose (Media Unit) 07970 258 794

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Blair: Regional identity simply does not exist

The out-going UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, met with the Commons Liaison Committee yesterday. This committee is quite literally the “mother” of all committees, being made up of the Chairmen of Parliament’s 30 Select Committees.

There was a good spell on devolution, with Sir George Young MP very much on song- asking the Prime Minister about the state of the Union, the West Lothian Question, the Barnett Formula, the Scottish Parliament, tuition fees and English Votes on English Matters. Remarkable, really. The Prime Minister gave rather unremarkable answers to these questions, but when it came to regional assemblies Mr. Blair did say something worth writing down.

When asked by Dr. Phylis Starkey MP whether he wished he had been more bold and imposed elected regional assemblies on England, the Prime Minister said:

“The problem we found in the North East, because we tried to do a regional assembly there, if it was going to work anywhere it was going to work in the North East because of the coherence of the North East, but truthfully we found when we got into the campaign and the referendum that Teesside did not feel the necessary link with Tyneside, that County Durham did not necessarily want to be in the same place in terms of government as Newcastle and even Newcastle and Gateshead did not”.

There you have it. According to the Prime Minister himself, “regional identity” simply does not exist. Even in somewhere like the north-east of England, where the Government thought, of all places, their scheme was most likely to work, they found that people did not identify with their “region”, but with more local identities; with Teesside, Tyneside, County Durham, Newcastle, Sunderland, Gateshead.

This is surely the finishing touch to the argument that regionalism, no matter how you dress it up, is dead and should not be revived. And yet the BBC still promotes regional identity, the media still refers to “north east MPs” when talking about politicians from Newcastle or Sunderland, and parties like the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and to a lesser extent Labour still cling to the idea. They should listen to the very people they are trying to force regionalism onto, and take this advice:

Regionalism is dead. Stop trying to dance with the corpse.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Letter published in the Oxford Mail, 13 June 2007


Dear Sir,

So the Labour Government suggests that we have a "British Day" to celebrate our British identity.

Such an idea would sound acceptable if it came from anyone else but this Government, which has done more than any other in living memory to undermine what it means to be British.
Other people have highlighted how this Government's policies on ID Cards, detention without trial, uncontrolled immigration, political correctness, limits on free speech and banning protest outside Parliament are examples of their attacks on British culture, values and way of life.

To this, I would add the growing resentment among English people about the way they are being treated compared with their British countrymen in Scotland and Wales. More and more people deliberately choose to identify themselves as English, not British - a direct result of having Britishness rammed down our throats while being starved of our equally important English identity.

So to the idea of a British Day - which Gordon Brown says must not be a Bank Holiday but just a celebration - I say let's have a national Bank Holiday for St George's Day in England, and one in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for St Andrew, St David and St Patrick.

Better that than some contrived day of Britishness cooked up by the people that have done so much to destroy our culture, values and way of life.

Tom Waterhouse
Campaign for an English Parliament
Oxfordshire branch

Monday, 11 June 2007

Labour Deputy Leadership candidates: don't mention the "E" word!

The Labour Deputy Leadership candidates were recently asked on OurKingdom, “What should be done, if anything, to give England more representation or ‘voice’?”.

The answers were, predictably, abysmal.

The CEP's view of their repsonses has been put up on the OurKingdom website. Have a read of it at OurKingdom or read it below, but don't forget to add your own views.

It is interesting that the candidates, when asked what should be done to give England fair representation within the Union, immediately start talking about Scotland, Wales, the Union or even the “Regions”. They would rather talk about anything other than the “E” word.

Their response is, sadly, not surprising. This Labour Government has done more than any other to undermine England and the English way of life. The plans to balkanise England into regions failed when it encountered that annoying little thing called “democracy”: in the only referendum to be held on a regional assembly in the north east of England, the idea was emphatically rejected by 78% to 22%. Despite this, regionalisation in England has continued. It’s undemocratic, it’s unwanted, it’s unfair. That the candidates said nothing of this does not bode well for England in the near future. It certainly shows that talk of “re-engaging” with voters and the public is just as false as it was in 1997.

What the Labour Deputy Leadership candidates must realise - indeed what all Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians must realise - is that the public want an English Parliament. Successive opinion polls have shown this: 68%, 61%, 67% in favour. Therefore their arguments about regions or the Union are irrelevant. As Labour MP Frank Field said recently, an English Parliament “is what voters want and what justice demands”. It cannot be said more simply or more powerfully than that. The fact that England’s voice is ignored by our political masters is evidence enough of why we must have an English Parliament.


UPDATE 15 JUNE: Tom Griffon of The Green Ribbon covers this, adding an importnat point about the sheer uselessness of regional assemblies. Worth a read.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Our England's turn for its own Parliament

I'm absolutely delighted that OurKingdom, part of openDemocracy, has opened up a debate about an English Parliament.

This website is read by many academics, MPs and journalists, as well as political campaigners.

Add your voice to the debate by going here.

What a bunch of sour little regionalists

The Constitution Unit (CU) has just published its latest newsletter, Monitor, which comments on, among other things, devolution. Many thanks to Gareth Young via the CEP network for the heads-up on this one.

The CU, being an “independent” group of well-educated academics, has always supported regional assemblies and strongly opposed an English Parliament (?). Their arguments have been shot down one by one over the last few years, but nothing shot them down harder than the people of the north-east of England. In a referendum on a regional assembly in 2004, a whopping 78% of people voted “No” to a regional assembly. Might I just add here that the referendum was a simple “Yes or No” question.

Despite this, the CU continued ploughing what we had always told them was a fallow field. Their retort was always that the grass was hardly greener on our side of the fence, seeing as (according to their favourite surveys), support for an English Parliament was below 20%. In the words of CU stalwart, Prof. John Curtice, in July last year, “yeah, well let us know when you’ve got some public support.”

Then some different people started doing some opinion polling. November 2006- a Sunday Telegraph Ipsos Mori Poll found that 68% of people support an English Parliament. January 2007, a BBC Poll (yes, the BBC!) shows that 61% support an English Parliament. More recently, in April this year, an ICM Poll commissioned by the CEP found that support for an English Parliament was at 67%.

So, what do the esteemed CU say now that their last argument against an English Parliament has been shot down? Yep, you guessed it- “Ok, we can see the blindingly obvious. The CEP were right”.

Erm, no. Try again. How about this sour little whimper: “But all three polls asked a somewhat loaded question with a simple yes/no choice rather than offering policy alternatives.”

That’s right. They didn’t like the way the questions were framed. In particular, they said the questions were “loaded” (I bet Ipsos Mori and ICM have something to say about that!), and that the questions didn’t offer any policy alternatives. Well, neither did the north-east referendum.
A referendum on an English Parliament would ask the public something similar to a “Yes or No” question. It’s simple. There’s no confusion. And if we had one tomorrow, we’d have an English Parliament overnight.

The Constitution Unit remains completely blinkered to the reality. It is such a shame that such narrow-minded and subjective opinions can be portrayed as "independent". You've got a chance to have your say.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

All aboard the 20:07!

Things couldn’t have worked out better. Or worse. Around the same as Scottish National Party leader, Alex Salmond, is sworn in as Scotland’s First Minister, fellow Scotsman Gordon Brown has become Prime Minister-elect of the UK Parliament. A Scotsman running Scotland, and a Scotsman running England.

Not that these two Scottish brethren will treat each other as buddies. This presents its own problems, though. Alex Salmond and the SNP, after their election success, feel closer than ever to their goal taking Scotland out of the Union. Gordon Brown, however, is tantalisingly close to his goal of becoming UK Prime Minister. He will formally cross the finishing line when Tony Blair steps down on 27th June, but until then Gordon Brown will continue on his victory-lap. It’s a strange way of doings things, granted, but what the heck. What would be his worst nightmare, however, is for his Premiership to be cut tragically short by Scotland leaving the Union, and therefore taking him and his political career with him. There is a lot at stake.

The SNP have said they will not call a referendum on independence until the end of the current Parliament, probably in 2010. They want to prove they can govern Scotland effectively. What this means in practice is four years of Alex Salmond bullying Westminster into giving Scotland more and more of England’s wealth. If Gordon Brown dares to stand in the way of the 20:07 Express Gravy Train to Edinburgh, they’ll be sticky bits of Gordon all over the place. Political suicide. The SNP will shout from the platform, “You see! Even when we have a Scotsman as PM, we still can’t have what we want! Independence is the only option!” And yet while that Gravy Train continues to roll in, the SNP can claim to be securing the best for Scotland in a way that no Labour administration at Holyrood could possibly have done so.

So, my concern now is that the next 3 or 4 years will be spent with Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, and UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, effectively bartering with England’s wealth and resources in order to convince Scotland to leave/stay in the UK. This is effectively a new chapter in the history of Britain. How badly do we need an English Parliament and English First Minister to speak up for England?

This concern about Salmond and Brown is not new. I remember worrying about it before.

67% support English Parliament

The most recent opinion poll, conducted by ICM towards the end of April, found that support for an English Parliament is at 67%. Another fantastic result.

People were asked the following question:

You may have seen or heard that a separate Scottish parliament, a Welsh assembly and a Northern Ireland Assembly have been established.

Do you think that England should or should not have its own parliament or assembly?

The results were excellent: 67% of people believe England should have its own Parliament. Just 25% said England should not have its own Parliament. The result is consistent with other recent opinion polls, and so proves that the public supports an English Parliament. We can now add the result to the previous excellent results:

Nov 2006. Sunday Telegraph Ipsos Mori Poll: 68% support for an English Parliament.
Jan 2007. BBC Poll: 61% support an English Parliament.
April 2007. CEP ICM Poll: 67% support for an English Parliament.

Of interest was the differing levels of support across the UK:

All England 67%
South-East 65%
Midlands 68%
North England 70%
Wales & SW England 62%
Scotland 72%

Perhaps most surprising is the fact that, across the whole of the UK, the area where support for an English Parliament is at its strongest is Scotland. For me, this reinforces what I (and a number of other CEP members) have been saying for some time: that we must be even more careful about being perceived as “anti-Scottish”. The CEP was formed out the unfairness of the devolution settlement, and many of our grievances have come from what Scotland has been given at England’s expense. This has led to some accusations of anti-Scottishness, which is of course unfair, but we must nonetheless be aware that people may perceive our views in this way.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Dale vs. Cameron

*Links updated 25th May 2007*

Following on from David Cameron's recent article Scots and English Flourish in the Union in the Daily Telegraph, Iain Dale responds with this brilliant article, Cameron can't ignore Devolution for England. Superb stuff, Iain.

What a God-send is Iain Dale. Reading Mr. Cameron's article was so frustrating. He did at least mention the idea of English Parliament, but to dismiss it because of the "it means more politicians" arguement shows that we still have a long way to go.

With reference to that particular criticism of the idea of an English Parliament, let me echo what I wrote in Answering the English Question (which has just been published by the CEP- e-mail is you would like one):

"...if 529 English MPs at Westminster can currently handle the workload for all areas of public policy in England, whether that is for Foreign Policy or Education, then could not 528 members (176 English Westminster MPs plus 352 English Parliament members) be able to cope?"

Or, as former CEP Chairman Michael Knowles put it, "Devolution does not increase the size of the population. There therefore should be no need to increase the amount of parliamentary representation".

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Celt Gelt

This little beauty comes from Hereward the Wake.

"CeltGelt", written across the face of famous Scottish economist Adam Smith (the first Scotsman to appear on an English banknote- no Englishman has yet appeared on any of the numerous Scottish bank notes), refers to all the money that is taken from England and given to Scotland every year. Last year, roughly £9 billion was given to Scotland. This is because of the Barnett Formula, which works out how much of the UK tax pot is dished out to the countries of the UK. For the last couple of decades, it has been outrageously unfair to England.

There is now a campaign urging everyone to write "CeltGelt" on their £20 notes. Not just in protest at the Barnett Formula, but at the fact that Edward Elgar- composer of the music to "Land of Hope and Glory", was taken off our £20 notes and Scotsman Smith put in instead.

My £20 is in the post to you, Hereward.

Start a Debate

I'm absolutely delighted that make it an issue has posted my debate, "Tom Waterhouse: Time for an English Parliament?".

You can get involved here.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Why MPs don't want an English Parliament

There are many reasons given by opponents of an English Parliament about why such a thing would be a bad idea. “Unworkable… it would rival Westminster… another layer of government… etc. etc”. But there is actually something in these excuses. MPs fear what they call “another layer of government”. But not because it would be an unnecessary cost for the electorate. Heck, if cost were the measure of everything, we wouldn’t have elections. They are scared…

I recently met with an MP to discuss the case for an English Parliament. I drove to his office in the south-west of England after a promising letter to one of his constituents who is also a CEP member.

I arrived in good time and had no trouble whatsoever in finding the office without detailed instructions- I found it by chance by driving down one of the streets in the town centre. Above the office was a huge sign alerting everyone to the fact that this was indeed the office of their MP. Emblazoned with the Party colours, this was more than just an office- it was Campaign central.

Inside were 4 people at work on computers- answering e-mails, writing letters and sending faxes to constituents, journalists and colleagues and so on. I wondered what life was like in the offices of the MP’s local political rivals. Nothing like this hub of activity, you could bet. This place really was buzzing, and all the time humming the tune of “This is your MP”. Everything it did was geared for one thing: getting this MP re-elected at the next general election. Not only did the MP’s livelihood depend on its success; so did the careers of those working in the office, this no doubt being the stepping-stone to pastures greener. Make a good job of working for this MP and, who knows? They might be the Party candidate running for election in 10 year’s time. The fuel for this Party machine is the parliamentary constituents of the area. Every constituent is a potential voter. Every problem solved is a potential vote winner. The more time and energy you put into your constituents, the more likely they are to re-elect you.

Now imagine we had our way and an English Parliament was created. This MP would have to share his honey-pot of constituents with another political animal. No longer having a monopoly on being the constituency’s problem-solver-in-chief could seriously hamper one’s efforts to get re-elected. Heaven forbid, they might even have to share the constituency with someone from a rival Party.

Closely related is the fact that MPs will feel their role will be reduced in prestige should an English Parliament be created. At the moment, an MP is the top dog. Lending their name to something immediately catches the eye, or adds weight to something. But what if there were to be someone with almost the same ability to make a difference?

There is also the fear of the unknown. The way an English Parliament is elected- i.e. the electoral system used, would have a dramatic effect on MPs. Indeed, Scottish voters elect two MSPs to represent them- double trouble for a UK MP that’s not keen having others on his patch.

Many MPs see an English Parliament as a direct threat to their majorities, their seats, their prestige, their way of life. When they say “people don’t want another layer of government”, they mean they don’t want the competition. An English Parliament wouldn’t be another layer of government- and that’s the problem. It would take over responsibility for things currently done by Westminster, and see English Parliament Members take over responsibility for things currently done by UK MPs. When they say, “it would rival Westminster”, what they are really scared of is a new rival.

We must not let their disgraceful self-interest stand in the way of Justice for England.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

New CEP Branch blog

They're coming in thick and fast, folks!

Yes, we have a new CEP blogger: Mr. Ian Miller from Peterborough. Check out his new blog.

Nice one, Ian.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Reply from John Denham MP, 28th March 2007

Thank you for your letter referring to my recent remarks in the debate.

I understand the point you are making but I am not at all convinced that an English Parliament is the right way forward to develop the sort of inclusive national identity which we appear to both seek. There is however an important debate to be had about the institutions which can express an English identity. My own view is that my new proposals for the structure of the new elected House of Lords does provide part of the answer and should not be dismissed out of hand.

The debate about English identity is an important one and I hope that it will continue.

Yours sincerely,

John Denham MP


I didn't dismiss out of hand his proposals of elected Lords- in fact I didn't mention them at all. That's because the issue of the House of Lords had nothing to do with what we were talking about!

In fact, that point proves my point. Mr. Denham argued that people jump straight from English to British identity. I said that this was because there are no English institutions. And yet, our elected English MPs like Mr. Denham are "not convinced" of the need for an English Parliament, but see the solution in reforming our existing- British- institutions.


Monday, 19 March 2007

New CEP Branch blog

I'd like to welcome Steve Allinson, co-ordinator of CEP Surrey & Middlesex, to the blogosphere!

You can see his newly-made blog here.

Nice one, Steve!

Monday, 12 March 2007

Sign the petition

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to agree to the setting up of an English Parliament".

Please sign this petition.

Letter to John Denham MP, 12th March 2007

After a heads-up from Gareth and Chris, I saw that in a recent parliamentary debate, Labour MP John Denham said:

“It is much more likely that a member of the black and ethnic minority communities in Scotland will describe himself as Scottish than that someone in England with a similar background will describe himself as English. People in England tend to jump straight to the British identity”.

“I see no great need for an English Parliament or an English Government… I do not consider that our history leads the English to require a Parliament or Assembly as an expression of national identity”.

I sent this to Mr. Denham today:

Dear Mr. Denham,

In a recent parliamentary debate, you said:

“It is much more likely that a member of the black and ethnic minority communities in Scotland will describe himself as Scottish than that someone in England with a similar background will describe himself as English. People in England tend to jump straight to the British identity”.

In the same debate, you also said:

“I see no great need for an English Parliament or an English Government… I do not consider that our history leads the English to require a Parliament or Assembly as an expression of national identity”.

Does it not occur to you that these two statements are intrinsically linked? In Scotland, there is a Scottish Parliament separate from the British Parliament. In England, we are governed solely by the British Parliament. There is a Secretaty of State for Scotland, but no Secretary of State for England. There is a BBC Scotland, but no BBC England. There is a Scottish National Library, but here we have the British National Library. There is Scottish Labour, but no English Labour. Scotland’s sports teams sing the Scottish National Anthem, Flower of Scotland, while English teams sing the British National Anthem, God Save the Queen. On the 2001 National Census, people were asked to state whether they were “Scottish, Welsh or British”.

Can you see a theme here?

No wonder people in England, as you point out, jump straight to British identity. There are no institutions to maintain and promote any sort of English identity. That is why we are campaigning for an English Parliament. While you do not believe that “our history leads the English to require a Parliament as an expression of national identity”, the fact is the present and the future does require it.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Waterhouse
CEP Vice Chairman

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Letter published in the Oxford Mail, 15 February 2006


Henley MP Boris Johnson was quite right to highlight, in a Parliamentary debate last week, the unfairness of how life-saving cancer drugs are available free on the NHS in Scotland, but not in England.

While people living north of the border may receive the life-saving cancer drugs Herceptin or Velcade free on the NHS, it is denied to people here in England on the grounds of cost. The same is true if you suffer from Alzheimer’s- in Scotland drugs such as Aricept, Reminyl and Exelon are prescribed free, but in England we are told we cannot afford to give it out.

Mr. Johnson didn’t get a chance to say that what makes all of this even more unfair is that it is actually money from England that is paying for these drugs to handed out free on the NHS in Scotland. According to Treasury figures, last year England gave away £11.6 billion to the rest of the UK. No wonder Scotland can afford to prescribe life-saving drugs free, while cancer sufferers in England must go without.

Well done Mr. Johnson for highlighting this unfairness- we only need the other 645 UK MPs to speak up and we might start making progress!

Yours sincerely,

Tom Waterhouse
Campaign for an English Parliament

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Oh dear

A rather misguided article on the Golden Strawberry. All about how an English Parliament would break up the Union, even how the Barnett Formula is the “basic principle of redistribution of wealth in action”!! Oh dear. I posted a response: (we'll see if it they publish it....)

Who speaks for England?

The Conservatives have not become an English party. They opposed the creation of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly because they thought it would weaken the Union. Lop-sided devolution has weakened the Union.

This brings me on to another point- the Campaign for an English Parliament (CEP) believes an English Parliament is the only way of saving the Union. But that is just our belief. No-one can know for certain what the future holds. What we must not do is ignore the wishes of the majority of the people of England (as you rightly point out, 61% of people in England want an English Parliament), out of a fear that it may weaken the Union.

The Barnett Formula is most certainly not the “basic principle of redistribution of wealth in action”. Far from it. The Barnett Formula allocates resources throughout the UK based on population sizes, not need. Only when we have a formula that allocates resources throughout the UK on the basis of need will we see proper redistribution of wealth.

You ask, “Who, then, can speak for Britain?”. The question should be, in an asymmetrically governed UK, who can speak for England? Westminster is the UK Parliament. We have a Scottish Parliament, a Welsh Assembly and (hopefully) an Assembly for Northern Ireland. Who speaks for England? There is no political institution to speak up for England, even though England’s students are the only ones in the UK to pay University tuition fees. Only England’s pensioners have to sell their homes to afford personal care (in Scotland it is provided free), and only in England are life-saving cancer drugs like Herceptin unavailable on the NHS, denied on the grounds of cost (they are provided free in Scotland). And all the time, it is England’s money used to make University education, long-term personal care and life-saving drugs FREE in Scotland.

We need an English Parliament and Executive to speak for England. Otherwise, the Union, from England’s point of view, is simply not worth saving.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Well done, Mr. Johnson!

Boris Johnson has highlighted in a Parliamentary debate the unfairness of how life-saving cancer drugs like Herceptin are available free on the NHS in Scotland, but in England they are denied on the grounds of cost.

And, of course, the Herceptin made available in Scotland is paid for with English taxpayers' money.

Want to add your support to what Boris said? You can do so here.


Update 15 Feb: I'm pleased to see that plenty of people logged on and added their support to what Boris said. In fact, Health Minister Ivan Lewis got a bit of a bashing

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

The CEP in Oxford

Yesterday the CEP met outside Oxford's oldest building, the Saxon Tower on Cornmarket Street. Oxford is the birthplace of the English Parliament: it was here in 1258 that the English barons led by Simon de Montfort forced King Henry III to accept the Provisions of Oxford; a series of measures which bound him to consult his subjects before acting.

We were there to meet with the Sunday Times in Scotland, who are doing a feature on the CEP for this weekend's edition. We spent half an hour having our photo taken, and a further hour and half talking to journalist Alan Brown. It will be interesting to see what they will say about us!

Beneath the Saxon Tower: (from left to right) CEP Media Unit leader Michael Knowles; Jim Matthews (Media Unit); Chairman Scilla Cullen; myself; CEP member and law student Chris Nelson; veteran campaigner Len Welsh; and local member Alan Mynall.

The meeting with Alan Brown went very well I thought. We were keen to expose the myth that an English Parliament meant an end to the Union- in fact, it is the only way to save the United Kingdom. A majority of people on both sides of the border want an English Parliament, and to ignore them would be disastrous. We also talked about why each of us got involved in the CEP. Everyone (except me!) said that it had been the devolutionary legisaltion of 1998 that had sparked it all- the feeling of having been left out and excluded in all that was going on, and the realisation that England doesn't actually exist. The law only recognises Britain, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For me, it started with football. I love watching England play, whether down the pub on the big screen or actually at the stadium. It led me to ask "what is England and Englishness?". From there I found the CEP on the web, and suddenly everything felt hollow. There we all are, singing our hearts out for "England", and yet officially- politically and constitutionally- it doesn't exist. I then started to notice this in everyday life- how sportsmen and women from England were British, and yet those from the rest of the UK were Scots, Welsh or Northern Irish. Passport forms, driving licences and all other sorts of official documents- even the 2001 census, asked you to state if you were "British, Scottish, Welsh or Other".

And from there it's snowballed. While tution and top-up fees have been abolished in Scotland and Wales by the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, their MPs still voted to impose them on the students of England. Pensioners in England have to sell their homes to fund their long-term health care, and yet in Scotland that is provided free. You can get life-saving cancer drugs like Herceptin free on the NHS in Scotland, but not in England- there's not enough money. In fact there's not enough money to do any of this stuff in England, because all the time our money is being used to afford it for the rest of the UK. Had public spending per head been roughly equal across the UK last year, England would have received an extra £12 billion pounds. So you can see why we haven't got enough money to help people with cancer.

On top of all of this, we still have the UK Parliament deciding that English schools will teach "Britishness", and yet because education is devovled to Scotland and Wales, they can choose to teach Scottish and Welsh values and culture. It just aint fair. It's not right. And people are fed up with it.

We are not asking for any more than anyone else- just to be treated the same as everyone else. That is only fair. An English Parliament will happen sooner or later, so take note all those English Quislings and politicians that have their heads in the sand.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Article in the Western Daily Press

An article of mine has been published in the Western Daily Press today.

It's called "Why do the Scots get a better deal?", and you can read it here.

Thursday, 18 January 2007

A Good Day at the Office

Tuesday, 16th January 2007 was the 300th anniversary of the signing of the Act of Union that brought England and Scotland together as Great Britain. Tuesday was also the biggest day in the CEP's 8 year history.

I was on BBC Radio 5 Live at 8 am going head-to-head with the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer , with an audience of 2.3 million people. Nicky Campbell was clearly sympathetic to us, giving Falconer a hard time and allowing me a good run of things. This all followed a BBC poll to mark the 300th anniversary of the Union, and found that 61% of people want an English Parliament. Even 51% of Scots polled want England to have its own parliament!

On the way back from the studio, BBC News 24 phoned to ask if I could be on at 11.30- no problem! So it was back to BBC Oxford, mic plugged in and straight on the air. The CEP's first appearence on live television! I was up against former editor of the Scotsman, Magnus Linklater. Those that saw me could probably have guessed that I was more than a little annoyed at yet another Scotsman telling England what was best for us. When Mr. Linklater said that an English Parliament was a bad idea and that people didn't want one, I couldn't but help interupt and point out that a) 61% of them do, and b) it's got nothing to do with him. He respsonded by saying that, as Scotland was still in the Union, many in Scotland had a view on whether England should have a parliament. I interupted again to say that many people in England probably had a view on whether Scotland should have had a Parliament, but weren't asked, and have never been asked anything.

We got on, inevitably, to talk about Scotland, and the SNP's economic case for independence. Mr. Linklater doubted the SNP's figures, but when I was asked what I thought, I simply said that Scottish indepedence was a matter for the Scots, so I wouldn't comment. If more high-profile Scots took that attitude towards England, we wouldn't be in such a mess in the first place.

I also got to answer some of those questions arising about an English Parliament- a new building, the break-up of the UK etc. I said that we could use the West Midlands Regional Assembly building, as an English Parliament would see the regional tier of government in England stripped away. Also, that many people are in the CEP because they believe an English Parliament will strengthen the Union.

Did it feel weird to watch myself back on t.v? Yes, it bloody well did! But the name of the CEP and what we stand for was broadcast on live television for the first time. You can't knock that!

At 15 minutes notice, I also got to speak to Simon Mayo on the 5 live lunchtime news. The Prime Minister had said that morning that an English Parliament was "unworkable" and "unneccesary", as England was 85% of the UK population. I got a chance to talk about this attitude of the British Establishment towards England- that because it was so big it didn't need to be represented properly (I highlighted how England doesn't have a devolved parliament, a Secretary of State and that political parties ignore England in the way they are organised; Scottish Labour, Welsh Labour but no English Labour etc). I said that this was causing resentment in England to grow, and that this kind of attitude is what will cause the Union to split. A good interview all round, I thought.

At around 5pm, I was on the Bill Heine show on BBC Radio Oxford. Again, I had a chance to answer all those questions about more politicians, more buildings etc. etc. I also got to explain about the CEP itself, and that the efforts of ordinary people up and down England for the last 8 years are starting to pay-off. Writing to MPs and newspapers, leafletting, e-mailling t.v. programmes and putting in the hard work has got us to where we are. I also talked about the Barnett Formula, and about how unfair the current situation is. Mr. Heine did his best to give me a hard time, but I think I held my own.

What a day! As you can imagine, I was pretty tired by the end, but absolutely buzzing nonetheless. People in the CEP have looked forward to this milestone-of-a-day for 8 years, sometimes thinking we would never see it. But it came. And so will the day that we have an English Parliament.

A great day at the office!