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.

4 comments:

Chris Abbott said...

Great - a good day's work for the CEP. But what a shame the Sunday Times in England is not carrying the CEP feature.

Why is that? I'm sure that it would be of interest to their readers!

CEP Oxfordshire said...

It will be seen by all those at the "UK" Sunday Times. Hopefully it will all help get us noticed and later on they'll have a proper look at us for themselves.

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