Friday, 30 September 2011

Eurozone and the European Union. What now?

The battle lines are being drawn, greater integration or disintegration.


In particular I draw your attention to the following from the article:

Something profound has changed. Germans have begun to sense that the preservation of their own democracy and rule of law is in conflict with demands from Europe. They must choose one or the other.
Yet Europe and the world are so used to German self-abnegation for the EU Project – so used to the teleological destiny of ever-closer Union – that they cannot seem to grasp the fact. It reminds me of 1989 and the establishment failure to understand the Soviet game was up.

Against that the President of the European Commission is pressing for greater integration stating that national states cannot be trusted to sort out the problems.,1518,789300,00.html

Interesting article in Spiegel Online:,1518,789355,00.html

Democracy can have many faces -- even an absolutist one. Europe's democracies are taking on such features right now. Because so many leaders regard the European project as so titanic, they have abandoned all hope of being able to explain it to the general public. Leaders are ignoring their citizens because, hey, they're not going to understand it anyway. ... This attitude might buy time, but it gambles away Europe's reputation, its future and its legitimacy.


Not for the first time, the future of Europe will be decided in Berlin. Certainly not in Brussels.

Obviously Uncles has watched The Producers

I am sure many of you have watched the 1968 film 'The Producers'. If not, please read:

The key to the film is that what was intended by the author/producers to be a serious work about the life of Hitler, portraying him in a good light, was regarded by the audience as hilarious satire.

With this in mind may I draw your attention to the English Passport blog.

On one level it is a political blog we are expected to take seriously.  However, if like the audience for the first night of Springtime for Hitler,  you regard it as hilarious satire, then you can enjoy the blog whilst at the same time realising its tenuous connection with reality.  Happy reading.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

European Commission interference in UK social security

May I draw your attention to the following articles:

Time to tell the Brussels' Commissars where to go.   Wakey, wakey Cameron.

Just in: another concern:

The Yuk Factor

Never mind The 'X' Factor.  We have the Yuk Factor. Look no further than Mr Clegg for Grade A Yuk.  Below is a report on his speech today in Poland.

Nick Clegg has urged Europe to remain united after one of his most senior Tory colleagues condemned the eurozone as a "burning building with no exits".

The Deputy Prime Minister warned of the dangers of "fragmentation" amid frantic efforts to control the sovereign debt crisis.

It would be a "disaster" if EU members "turned away from each other" rather than working together to overcome problems, the Liberal Democrat leader told an audience in Poland.

His tone contrasted sharply with that of Foreign Secretary William Hague, who reiterated his desire for Britain to take back powers from Europe - a demand set to be echoed by right-wingers at the Conservative Party conference next week.

Mr Hague described the single currency as a "historical monument to collective folly", and said he believed Germans would have to subsidise weaker members such as Greece for "the rest of their lifetimes".

Mr Clegg's speech to the EU Eastern Partnership summit meeting in Warsaw came as talks resumed between Greek officials, European Commission negotiators, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund over whether Greece can receive another chunk of bailout loans.

He said the eurozone members will have to integrate further to overcome the current crisis.

He stressed that it must not lead to the creation of a "weaker and divisive" EU which sets "euro ins" against "euro outs".

Mr Clegg said: "Our history has been marked by moments of great destruction and turmoil. At each we have had to make a choice: do we allow circumstances to pull us apart or do we overcome our challenges by working together?

"And, when it has counted most, Europeans have stood together. Recognising that we are stronger shoulder-to-shoulder than we are apart. Now, we must do the same again."

The man is a cheerleader for the EC.  Greater integration will not work within the current eurozone.


Change and decay in all around I see.

The title is from Abide with Me.  Change and decay is the reality for many in Greece, brought about by the Greek government's deceit when applying for membership of the eurozone and, just as bad, being granted membership.   The Greeks are paying the price for that membership. The Irish, the Portuguese, the Spanish and the Italians are all suffering the consequences of austerity budgets caught as they all are in a system which denies them control of the value of their currency.

The great project of the commissars of Brussels and heads of state is collapsing in acrimony.  Siren voices are calling for even greater integration. The democratic deficit grows apace. The chasm between citizens and rulers is a mockery of the principles of democracy. The rotten edifice of the EU should be bulldozed.

Whatever happened to the concept of government of the people, by the people, for the people?

With any luck Barosso and his cronies will go the way of the Habsburgs. All empires decay eventually, let us look forward to the brave new dawn.

See also:


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Eurozone saga continues

I thought the EU had been quiet.  No sooner said than Mr Barroso, President of European Commission, pops up to give his annual pep talk to the European Parliament.

To applause from the European Parliament, Mr Barroso urged the EU to finish its project of “ever closer union”.

“If we do not move forward with more unification, we will suffer more fragmentation,” he said.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Germany slams 'stupid' US plans.

The stock market euphoria of today may come to a grinding halt tomorrow and be replaced with a severe dose of depression.  Germany and the US are at loggerheads over the proposal to use the bail-out machinery (EFSF) beyond its €440bn lending limit by deploying leverage to up to €2 trillion, perhaps by raising funds from the European Central Bank.


The real problem, which is not being addressed, is not that of sovereign debt but of the euro itself.  It is a classic case of 'one size does not fit all'.  Such is the disparity between the efficiency of the economies of different countries there is little likelihood of convergence without serious political and social disruption.  Greater fiscal and political union will not overcome the problems.  What is needed is for an orderly withdrawal from the euro of states with the poorer economies.

What is noticeable is how quiet the French and the EU have been in recent days, eerily so.

The following article by Paul Mason is interesting:

I was struck by the following paragraph:

The one logical move - to create a fiscal and political union - is not going to fit the time scale even if the north Europeans who will pay for it can be persuaded.

It is only 'logical' where countries have converging economies.  Fiscal and political union will not work if all the existing members remain in the euro.  The suggestion from the EU that Greece will be bailed out but remain in the euro will consign citizens of that benighted country to eternal austerity. poverty and civil unrest.  But what does the EU care as it seeks to protect its precious progress to fiscal union of the eurozone and further EU integration?  The problem for Mason and the BBC is that the corporation was one of the cheerleaders for the euro and the EU.


The euro. Am I being alarmist?

One of my blog readers has complained that my previous blog is alarmist.  Well, it is a point of view. I draw your attention to the link below:

A quote from the article:

It is the existing status quo that risks bringing about the economic depression, social collapse, street populism, nationalistic backlash, cross-border hatred, and the violence so feared by the bank.

The problem for the EU integrationists is that dismantlement of the euro will put back, if not destroy, the rush to ever greater union/integration. They see the problem of the euro as an opportunity to press for greater fiscal and political union.  The consequence of the ill-conceived eurozone collapsing will challenge the very existence of the EU in its current form, hence the failure to perceive the current issue as a euro crisis rather than a debt crisis.

Eurozone crash the only show in town.

Ignore the ramblings of the political parties as their annual conferences.  Merely a distraction from the real show - the headlong rush of the eurozone and probably the European Union into the buffer stops at the end of the line.  The causes of the impending disaster?  Political failure on an epic scale matched only by the lunatic ambition of the commissars of Brussels.   And let us not forget the apologists for the EU and the eurozone, the enemy within, the Liberal Dozycrats, the pro-EU fanatics who have supported every stage of the EU's development.  

The views of the citizens have been ignored, swept aside in the rush to integrate Europe.  Now, at long last, it is pay back time.  But it will be  bitter-sweet as those who will suffer most will be the citizens, sold down the river by Eurocrats and politicians.

The forces of opposition are massing.

In France Sarkozy and the Right have lost control of the Senate to the Left for the first time since 1958.



In Germany Merkel is coming under even greater pressure.  The head of the German constitutional court has warned against the government breaching constitutional  law and raised the prospect of the need for a referendum. He issued a blunt warning that no further fiscal powers may be surrendered to Europe without a new constitution and a popular referendum.




So, political crisis in Paris and in Berlin,  never mind the problems of Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Belgium. 

For the third time in a century the lights are going out in Europe.  Tighten your belts, we are heading into tempestuous seas.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Eurozone crisis: the circus moves on.

I have been following the eurozone crisis since May 2010. The ramshackle project was doomed to failure in its current form as it lacks the essential ingredient of fiscal union, which presupposes political union well beyond the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon.

It is not as though the eurozone crisis is the only problem confronting the world economy.  The USA and China are both experiencing problems and resolution of the eurozone issues is vital to their economic well-being.

The IMF, EU, G20,  and politicians in the eurozone and the wider EU are desperately seeking a solution against a backdrop of disenchanted electorates and opposition in national parliaments. In some countries civic unrest is reaching dangerous levels.

It is against this background that I commend the following articles:

Civic v racist nationalism

Over the years the world has changed, political parties have changed, my opinions have changed.  Not surprising therefore that I have changed my political allegiance over the years.  What worries me is the phenomenon of  'party right or wrong' loyalists, or bigots for want of another word.  Churchill phrased it more elegantly: Some men change their party for the sake of their principles. Others change their principles for the sake of their party.

Come with me into the world of civic and racist nationalism.

Civic nationalism takes different forms. It includes the repatriation of powers from the European Union to the United Kingdom, the preservation of the United Kingdom as a constitutional entity, the creation of independent states for the four countries of the United Kingdom and the creation of a federal UK with symetric devolution. 

These various forms have one thing in common: the definition of nationalism is based on the constitutional arrangements for defined geographical areas and all the people living in those areas.

There is a far more insidious form of nationalism, often referred to as cultural or ethic nationalism, which putting it bluntly is racist nationalism. One of the leading purveyors of racist nationalism is the BNP.  The BNP is debt-laden, on the verge of bankruptcy and consumed by factions.  The party has lost many members: some are looking for new political homes.

Some ex-BNP members have lighted on the English Democrats as their political abode.  This involves them recanting two previously held positions namely: British and racist nationalism and in their stead embracing English and civic nationalism.  A number of English Democrats have viewed  the Damascean conversions with grave suspicion, indeed disbelief, their worries being compounded by the willingness of the ED to welcome these converts.

There have been resignations from the English Democrats, some have joined UKIP which is currently considering a policy change which will commit it to the creation of an English parliament within a federal UK structure, others may join minor English civic nationalist parties.

The next few months will be critical for UKIP and the ED.  Should UKIP confirm its new policy stance then it might expect an influx of English civic nationalists.  For the ED the stakes are much higher.  A loss of civic nationalists and a gain of ex-BNP members could lead to a shift in emphasis within the party towards a racist nationalist stance, no matter how it is dressed up as cultural or ethic nationalism.  The ED has embarked on a strategy which could see it consigned to the far fringes of political life, rather than, as it hopes, strengthening its political appeal.


Saturday, 24 September 2011

London-Brighton railway misery.

The railway line between Three Bridges and Haywards Heath has been closed for emergency work in a tunnel. It is the main line between London and Brighton. Story below:

Now, if the Uckfield-Lewes link was restored this would provide an alternative route in cases of such emergencies, quite apart from the benefits a re- opening would bring.

Follow this link:

for more information on the benefits of re-opening this twelve miles of track.

Supermarket to re-open.

The news that Morrisons plans to re-open its Tunbridge Wells store and improve the adjoining car park is a major boost for the town. Congratulations to Greg Clark MP who has led the campaign to re-open the store, to the Leader of the Council, Bob Atwood, and the local Conservative Association which mounted a petition calling for the re-opening of  the store.

Just hope there is no back-slliding by the company!

Morrisons to re-open

The news that Morrisons plans to re-open its Tunbridge Wells store and improve the adjoining car park is a major boost for the town. Congratulations to Greg Clark MP who has led the campaign to re-open the store, to the Leader of the Council, Bob Atwood, and the local Conservative Association which mounted a petition calling for the re-opening of the store.

Just hope there is no back-sliding by the company.

Rusthall Parish Council: 2011/2012 Budget Questionnaire

Congratulations to the Parish Council on publishing a questionnaire to assist it in determining its precept and funding priorities.  The problem is that it gives no indication of the costs of the various measures it invites comment on.  I might well be tempted to tick a 'yes' box but would draw back from doing so once the cost implications were known.  Unfortunately the Council has given no indication of how much it is considering raising through the parish precept.

For what it is worth: here are my observations:

Speed humps:  I would have these on Lower Green Road, together with road narrowing in places to a single lane to force cars to slow down to give precedence to oncoming vehicles.   Lamberhurst is an example of this approach.

Salt bins: More are required but need to be bolted down to prevent overturning by local hooligans.

Litter bins: Sufficient.  Who would empty any additional ones and at what cost?

Re-opening toilets:  What is the cost of refurbishment, cleaning and maintenance?

Community Centre:  How would the capital cost of the building be funded?  How much?  How much would it cost to operate and maintain?

Zebra crossing: Locate on Lower Green Road by the White Hart public house. Parents and children  cross here to and from Rusthall Primary School, elderly people going to the shops etc.

The Youth Survey is by far a better document and I support the idea of a youth council to have an input to parish council deliberations.

Footpath in Rusthall

The following is from the minutes of Rusthall Parish Council meeting held on 8th August.  Cllr Edwards (Conservative) lost his seat on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to Cllr Webb (UKIP).  John Davies is the county councillor for the area.

8. Still Green Boardwalk

8.1 The item was introduced by Cllr Barry Edwards

8.2 Discussed the footpath, namely:

a) The issue of dog fouling;
b) Flooding;
c) Mud slides covering the footpath;
d) Weather (sic) it was a safe route to walk

8.3 KCC in 2003 had designated the footpath as dangerous. John Davies wrote to find out why and it was reported that according to the database the route was listed as too hazardous for children to walk in safety. Now however, it was worried that predators would jump out on children/young persons. Questions were asked of KCC in respect of making safe but no progress made.

8.4 On a Western Area Planning committee a site visit was made to Benenden School and one noticed a ‘boardwalk’, a company called ‘Blue Forest’ built it and one could look at doing the same for Still Green.

8.5 The company showed a ‘good’ presentation which was delivered at the Bishops Down School and had produced a pack detailing the proposed routes, one partial and one full, together with plans and costings. This has not cost anything.

a) Full route would cost aprox (sic) £250,000;
b) Partial route (70m) would cost aprox (sic) £45-50,000;
c) Route will be raised on stilts but he exact height is unknown

d) Path would be 2.5m wide, enough for push chairs and wheelchairs etc
e) Path would have raised sides
f) Path is fairly straight and will not have any ‘hiding spots’ for predators.
g) Very substantial construction – stilts are set into concrete blocks to stop rot

  8.6 Next stage is to do drilling into land to assess the structure and construction of it e.g. posts etc. This will cost £2,500.

8.7 TWBC have not been very helpful in respect of the funds needed for stage two, William Benson has not been very helpful.

8.8 The question of maintenance of the path was raised – Councillor Edwards stated that KCC will maintain footpath as it their footpath that is being ‘raised’.

8.9 Cost of path could be raised through sponsorship, e.g. personalise the planks, or have a conservation side to it, a view point halfway and get a grant for this.

8.10 Cycle path on route could link up with Tunbridge Wells perhaps.

8.11 John Davies is meeting with the School Governors and the Head Master to review the matter.

8.12 Walking bus route would have an impact- it is deemed safe enough for that.

8.13 Although the path is cleared when complaints made to KCC, it is not a long term solution and when flooded push chairs cannot get through.

8.14 Route is thought to be a vast improvement (Subject to caveats).

8.15 Moving forward:
a) Wait for discussion re the walking bus route in Autumn;
b) Revisit the matter in Autumn;
c) Consolidate information to hand re path status with KCC.

11. Questions form (sic) the Public:

11.1 Cllr Webb made a statement in respect of the Boardwalk namely:

a) There is no danger of predators or getting attacked when using the path at the moment;
b) There is very limited flooding;
c) Raising the path would be cheaper than building a ‘Bridge to nowhere’;
d) Is against the Council spending any money on exploratory works;
e) Total costs are unknown;
f) Maintenance is unclear;
g) Waste of money.

The mind boggles.  £250,000 approx. for the full route or £45,000-£50,000 approx. for 70 metres of the route.  And there was me thinking that we live in a period of austerity. Kent County Council along with others is making major service cuts.  Someone is living in a fantasy world.  Top marks to Cllr Webb for his common-sense approach.

I walk often along the path. Whilst I was a borough councillor I arranged for the pavement at the end of Coniston Avenue to be 'dropped' to enable people to push wheelchairs onto the pavement.  I pressed for the path to be lit and a few years later lighting was installed.  The path has been re-surfaced at its steepest point.  Mud-slides causing blocked drains and occasional flooding is a problem but this could be resolved by digging a drainage ditch to the stream.   Pedestrians will have to run the gauntlet of mud coming from the privately owned Bishops Down Park Road and vehicular access has to be maintained to the pumping station. This access is often covered in mud.

The walking-bus route has not been plagued by serious injuries and predators.  In any event there is the issue of parental responsibility.  Parents should collect their children from school or make arrangements for them to be collected. There is of course another school in Rusthall children could attend.

I know there is the issue of older children being attacked. The proposals will do nothing to deter a determined assailant.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Rusthall Parish Council Minutes

The minutes of Rusthall Parish Council meetings have been posted on the council's website. Or rather, some have. The link entitled '18 May' takes one to the minutes of the meeting held on 13 June and you can read the same minutes again by clicking on the '13 June' link.

The minutes for the meeting held on 8 August contain this little gem at 8.2(d) :Weather it was a safe route to walk.

Rusthall's bus services

What is it that makes travel into Tunbridge Wells by bus a more attractive proposition than taking the car?  The short answer is: reliability, frequency and accessibility of the service.  For the most part the current Rusthall - High Brooms service meets the first two requirements and for many the third one.  However anyone who lives in the Denny Bottom/Grange Road area has quite a trek. I cannot see how buses could reach these areas.  One suggestion has been to route buses via Bretland Road and Cranwell Road. However this would require major alterations to the Coach Road/Lower Green Road/Rusthall Road crossroads and it is unlikely this could be undertaken  as it would involve the loss of part of Rusthall Common.

Consideration should be given to diverting the Tunbridge Wells - Speldhurst bus service via Rusthall Road, High Street and Dorden Drive. Even better if the service was extended to the new hospital.

During the day there is a regular bus service from Tunbridge Wells to Crawley.  It passes tantalisingly close to the village.  To catch a bus on this service one either has to go by bus to the Spa Hotel and change or walk up the Terry Path. Both options involve crossing the very busy A264.  There are no bus shelters at either location.  Why not seek for this service to be diverted via the High Street?

Many people cross the A264 at the top of the Terry Path.  The parish council should be pressing for a pedestrian island at this location. 

What is needed is a radical re-think of the bus routes in the town. The Tunbridge Wells-Sherwood service comes close to the North Farm estate.  Why not extend the service into the estate and to the new hospital at Pembury?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Blowing my own trumpet!

This blog is a tad critical at times.  However I am no 'armchair warrior'.  Over the years I have been a parish and district councillor, chaired the steering group that published the first community plan for my borough, a director of a housing association and involved with numerous voluntary bodies - often becoming an officer of the organisations.

Some people object to my sniping at them.  Tough.

So now to trumpet blowing time!  Last October I retired from the Board of the Bridge Trust, a local charity providing accommodation and support to single homeless people.  My thanks to Bob Wykes, the Chairman of the Trust for this in his introduction to the annual report.

I would like to formally pay tribute to our Vice Chairman who retired this year, John Hopkinson.  On behalf of the Board I would like to thank him for the commitment and wisdom he has brought to the Trust over many years.

I have never been one for chasing awards, as previous blogs are witness to, but it is a pleasant feeling, amidst all the negative comment fired at me and about me, to receive recognition for ones efforts.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Welcome to Fantasy Politics: a game for English Democrats

The English Democrat Facebook page had the following placed on it by one of the administrators:

Just like Labour are controlled by the Unions so UKIP is Controlled by the Tory's where many also hold dual membership in UKIP to control this Tory offshoot.

Whilst one may conjecture at the degree of influence  the unions have over the Labour Party, it is the case that the unions fund Labour, are entitled to representation at the Labour Party conference and vote for the Leader of the party. At the last Labour leadership election David Miliband won the vote of party members and MPs but lost the election to Ed Miliband who secured the union vote. (See also: published the day after my blog.)

However, I have no knowledge that UKIP receives money from the Conservatives, nor that the Tories have any constitutional role in UKIP.

My request for evidence of the ED assertion was responded to with more assertions.  It's fantasy time.

My experience is that the Tories loathe UKIP.  Cameron described UKIP as 'fruitcakes'.  UKIP candidates in marginal seats at the last general election prevented the Conservatives from winning seats and an overall majority.  The irony is that by so doing the Conservatives have entered a coalition with the europhile fanatic Liberal Democrats. 

In my part of the world a UKIP candidate split the Conservative vote in a council by-election brought about by the resignation of a Tory councillor. The Liberal Democrats won the seat. Last May UKIP won a seat from the Conservatives.

It may be that the ED 'strategy' is now to attack UKIP, particularly as it looks to be moving to a policy of supporting the establishment of an English parliament.

The ED has been encouraging the internal rows within the BNP and seen it as a fertile recruiting ground for recruits.  Moderate civic nationalists are leaving the ED in droves, either resigning or being kicked out. Moderate ED members are being bullied on the ED Facebook page.  What the ED 'leadership' did not expect was that UKIP would provide a comfortable home for ED departees.

I received the following comment on my Blog.

Steve Uncles with the full backing of Robin Tilbrook has actively recruited BNP members to the English Democrats. Since Paul Nuttall MEP's policy paper was presented at the UKIP party conference, whole branches of the English Democrats are getting in touch to organise mass defections! Uncles is the gift that just keeps giving.

So, as ex-BNP come in through one door, moderate EDs leave by another.

Postscript:  A statement from the admin on the English Democrat Facebook page:

I recently noticed on another blog that UKIP are trying to say the Tory's don't fund UKIP which is quite interesting as you will find with UKIPs dual membership policy many Anti E.U. Tories do in fact hold UKIP membership even though it goes against their own parties single membership rule. This is not made up by the EDs as some say as it is also well documented on many web sites. With many Tory's holding UKIP membership they do in fact fund UKIP and thus have influence over their policies.

Quite a climb-down from the original claim.  Ah well! 

Kent Police Authority politicised by chairman?

My avid reader will know that I am a long-standing critic of the process by which the 'Independent' members of the Kent Police Authority are 'selected' and that I support the government's proposals for elected police commissioners.

The Chairman of the PKA (Ann Barnes) is a long-standing opponent of elected commissioner. She receives  £29,234 as chairman.  Committee members receive £9,234 per annum. Clearly personal interests here which should be declared when comments are made, although I accept Mrs Barnes is expressing her principled views and is not doing so for her personal interest.

The chairman has campaigned against the government's proposals on her blog which is hosted on the PKA website. It is described as her personal blog, but should it be hosted on the PKA website?

The PKA is not supposed to express a political opinion and has received advice that to campaign against the government's proposals in their capacity as KPA members is a statement of political opinion.

The MP for Sevenoaks, Michael Fallon is reported in The Courier thus:

Mrs Barnes is entitled to her own views, but should not be using the police authority budget to campaign against the bill that's before Parliament.

(The Bill received the Royal Assent last week and the first elections for commissioners will be held on 15th November 2012.)

A complaint on this matter is being considered by the KPA Standards Committee.  Wonder how long that will take?

Sunday, 18 September 2011

English Democrats in disintegration mode.

Last week I posted on this blog an article on the English Democrats:

The trouble has arrived a little earlier than I anticipated.  One senior member of the party has resigned, a branch chairman has gone, a former parliamentary candidate also and doubtless others.  The gory mess has been published across the pages of Facebook.  The English Democrats' Facebook page has been very lively today.  Individuals have been banned from the page, postings have been deleted.

The party is in ferment and probably in terminal decline.  The cause of this is the defection of ex BNP members to the English Democrats and the fear that the  ED leadership has encouraged this process.  The battle is on between English Democrats who support a policy of civic nationalism and the ex BNP recruits many of whom support a policy of ethnic nationalism.

The party's AGM is this coming weekend.  For many moderate civic nationalist English Democrats the key issues are the future role (if any) of Steve Uncles and the position of ex BNP member Eddy Butler.  Should either or both survive as members of the English Democrats there will be many more resignations.

Twerp of the Year Award

The winner of my Twerp of the Year Award will be announced on 1st October.  This unprestigious award is not granted lightly.  This year has seen an embarrassment of riches.  Two contenders moved well ahead of the field and of these, one pulled away strongly to be the worthy winner.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Is it something in the water? Tory blues in Cranbrook

What is it with the Tories in the Cranbrook area?

First, we had the de-selection of the Conservative councillor for Frittenden & Sissinghurst, John Smith. He was the chairman of the Conservative Group on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.  He stood as an Independent and saw off the Conservative challenger.

Then we have Cllr Sean Holden, who having written an appalling personal attack on the former Leader of the Council, has now weighed in with complaints in the press about the changes in planning law being steered by Greg Clark.

Finally we have Councillor Linda Hall. She has form.  Earlier this year, in a letter to the local press, she described a fellow Conservative councillor  as 'too young, naive and ignorant'.

Along with Councillor Holden she was quoted at length in an article in The Guardian.

A local paper picked up on the Guardian article.  The paper reports that 'another Cranbrook councillor, who refused to be named as she felt the Guardian had misrepresented her views.....'  Naive? surely not?

Now this is barmy.  Go to the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website and look at the list of councillors. There is only one female Conservative councillor in Cranbrook.   Type her name into the Guardian search engine and the article appears. It takes all of two minutes!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Conservative in-fighting continues

The war of words between Roy Bullock the former leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, and Cllr David Jukes, the current deputy-leader, continues in the letters column of the local newspaper, The Courier.

The comparison Cllr Jukes makes with leadership contests Mr Bullock had with Melvyn Howell and Peter Davies doesn't wash.  Both contests were at the appointed time for the elections.  Mr Bullock on the other hand was deposed during his term of office and then de-selected as a candidate, a fate which did not befall either Mr Howell or Mr Davies.  Quite how Cllr Jukes thinks Mr Bullock could become an elder statesman within the council beats me in view of his de-selection.  The less said of Cllr Sean Holden's appalling letter the better.

In another story in The Courier it is reported that residents are overjoyed that a 'desperately-needed bus service' has been restored in Southborough.  And who 'worked behind the scenes to push the deal through'?  Why, none other than County Councillor Roy Bullock.  Obviously Roy still has credibility, contrary to the view of Cllr Holden.

There are rumblings at County Hall.  The current leader, Paul Carter, is to be opposed by Cllr Nick Chard, who has expressed criticism of Cllr Carter, and Cllr Keith Ferrin at the forthcoming leadership election.  Will others join the fray?

Rusthall's public toilets. Is the Council flush with money?

When I worked for a local authority, and later as a councillor, the point was drummed into me that although a council had 'its' money, it had to be remembered always that the money was acquired by forcing people to pay money to the council by way of council tax or, in the case of money received from central government, by way of taxation.

The decision taken by Rusthall Parish Council to undertake a survey to assist it in setting budget priorities next April is welcome.  I await my copy of the survey but I hope that suggestions have been costed, otherwise ticking a box to say I agree to the toilets being re-opened, or more salt bins etc is meaningless.

In the current climate of austerity and inflation the last thing the people of Rusthall need is an exorbitant parish precept.  A prioritised wish-list of improvements is one thing, raising the funds to make it a reality quite another.

I hope the survey includes a question asking residents what they believe a reasonable level of parish precept is. The precept is likely to be a contentious issue if the responses to the consultation prior to setting up the parish council are anything to go by.

Communities Food

This is the logo of the Communities Food Community Interest Company. We are tackling food poverty issues in Kent and Medway in a practical way - bringing food to those in need of it.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Rusthall Parish Council: Website

Rusthall Parish Council has a website:

There is still much to be added to the site.  The photographs are excellent and it should be a mine of information. I look forward to the minutes of meetings being posted.  It would be useful to have a photo gallery and contact details of the councillors.

Monday, 12 September 2011

English Democrats: there may be trouble ahead........

Later this month the English Democrats meet for their annual conference. They should be in good heart as two of their major policies have entered mainstream political thinking.

Leave the EU:  Opposition to membership of the European Union is growing with  60% of Tory party members wanting out and the formation of a group of Conservative MPs opposed to membership of the EU in its current form or indeed, in the case of some of them, to EU membership in its entirety. 

Creation of an English Parliament:  This is the main policy of the ED. The decision of the UK government to set up a commission to consider the West Lothian Question, together with the electoral success of the SNP  and the decision of Plaid Cymru to explicity state it is a party promoting independence for Wales, are all pointers to an eventual recasting of the UK's constitutional arrangements.

However the conference mood could be grim.

The ED is beset with problems.  A perusal of the accounts shows the party is over £200,000 in debt. The money has been loaned to the party by, it is believed , two members under an agreement whereby the money will only be repaid when the party has assets to enable it to do so.  It takes only a moments thought to realise how unsatisfactory this state of affairs is. Not only does it give the loan makers huge leverage within the party but it will be a disincentive to any new sponsors unless they receive legally binding assurances that their money will not be used to pay off the loans.

Currently, members of the party are engaged in a divisive debate concerning ex-BNP members seeking to join the party. The discussion has descended into farce as arguments rage about the process by which people join the party and the powers of the National Council.  An influx of ex-BNP members will taint the ED.  An ominous sign has been the publication on a blog dedicated to English nationalism of an article claiming that the test of English  nationality is one of biology, namely  being white.  The blog is closely associated with Steve Uncles (he denies ownership), a 'leading' figure within the ED.   The ED policy is based on civic nationality and not ethnic nationality but for how long with ex-BNP members in the party and a blog promoting an article which is blatantly racist?

A further cause of contention within the party has been an e-mail sent by Mr Uncles to Sinn Fein which led to his resigning from the ED National Council.  The blog referred to above claims that English nationalism is:

not compatible with Scottish or Northern Irish Unionism, indeed modern Democratic English Nationalists, support a United Ireland, to end the subsidy from the English Tax Payer to Northern Ireland.

The ED has a loose cannon in its midst and it needs throwing overboard.  However Mr Uncles is claiming that no matter what the result of the party's SE area elections he might still gain a place on the party's National Council as there are vacancies.

There is a plethora of English nationalist parties.  The ED is the largest, the others are very small.  Until last weekend disaffected EDs might have considered joining one of the other parties but now a new possibility has arisen.  At its conference last weekend UKIP took a major step along the road to formulating a policy supporting the establishment of an English parliament. Will this lead to moderate members of the ED deserting and seeking a new home in UKIP?  More than likely and a trickle will become a torrent once ex-BNP members begin to influence ED policy. The ED will become even less attractive to voters.  Cannot see that £200,000 being repaid.

Independence and the regions

The news that Plaid Cymru's annual conference has called explicitly for independence for Wales follows hot on the heels of the decision of the leadership of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) to develop a policy which could call for the creation of an English Parliament. Late last week the UK government announced the setting up of a commission to look at the West Lothian Question.  There have been calls in Scotland for the publication of secret legal advice on the effect Scottish independence would have on the relationship with the European Union (EU).

Add to the above swelling disenchantment with the EU and opinion polls which indicate a substantial majority want out. 

It is impossible to foresee the outcome of the pressure of these various strands of opinion which seek to change the UK constitutional settlement and relationships with Europe.

One issue which exercises some English nationalists is how regional issues are dealt with in England. An example of this can be found by clicking on the link below:

Disparities between the various regions of England is nothing new.  Back in the 1960s the concern was the effect that the London-Birmingham corridor was having on the rest of the country.

As areas which relied on one heavy industry suffered when those industries closed, schemes were introduced to encourage economic development.  Not always successfully it has to be said, but the principle of support to areas of economic deprivation is long established.  So, why the author of the article referred to has made his comments defeats me. It doesn't matter a jot whether there is a UK parliament or an English parliament, the North-East would have the same problems to contend with  and the responses would be similar - more aid to a deprived economic area to encourage inward investment and job creation.

There is another factor in play.  Anti-EU parties make great play of the existence of EU 'regions' within England and the belief that the eventual goal of the EU is to dismantle England into these regions. It may be this that is the concern of Mr Tilbrook.  Some of the regions, as used for MEP elections are strange: the SE region in particular. 

The acceptance of regions has been around for a long time, indeed the Victorians named railway companies after regions: London & North Western, Midland, London & South Eastern, North-Eastern, Furness, Great Eastern.

Like it or not, there are regions in England and they have a history which pre-dates the EU.  Indeed Mr Tilbrook's own party is divided into areas: regions by a different name.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Another fine mess.

Roy Bullock was a pivotal figure in the recent history of the Conservative Party in Tunbridge Wells. He held the positions of deputy chairman and election agent (for local and general election candidates), was the Leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and a Kent county councillor.

Then it unravelled. He lost his positions in the party, was ousted as leader of the council, de-selected as a borough council candidate and then suspended from the party. He remains a Conservative county councillor. The slide down the greasy pole has been dramatic, propelled by firm shoves from erstwhile colleagues. Such are the bald facts.

I refrain from comment on the reasons for this dramatic change in his fortunes as I do not have the ear of the dramatis personae.

What is disturbing is that Mr Bullock and the Deputy-Leader of the Council (David Jukes) are engaged in a public row courtesy of the local press. For Mr Jukes to expect Mr Bullock to act as an 'elder statesman' is asking too much of someone who has been on the receiving end of a political execution, deserved or not. Politics is a rough trade and Mr Bullock has tarnished his reputation by public denunciations of former colleagues.

They should take the following advice:

Another fine mess

Roy Bullock was a pivotal figure in the recent history of the Conservative Party in Tunbridge Wells. He held the positions of deputy chairman and election agent (for local and general election candidates), was the Leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and a Kent county councillor.

Then it unravelled.  He lost his positions in the party, was ousted as leader of the council, de-selected as a borough council candidate and then suspended from the party.  He remains a Conservative county councillor.  The slide down the greasy pole has been dramatic, propelled by firm shoves from erstwhile colleagues. Such are the bald facts.

I refrain from comment on the reasons for this dramatic change in his fortunes as I do not have the ear of the dramatis personae.

What is disturbing is that Mr Bullock and the Deputy-Leader of the Council (David Jukes)  are engaged in a public row courtesy of the local press. For Mr Jukes to expect Mr Bullock to act as an 'elder statesman' is asking too much of someone who has been on the receiving end of a political execution, deserved or not.  Politics is a rough trade and Mr Bullock has tarnished his reputation by public denunciations of former colleagues.

They should take the following advice:

Courier reports on Council magazine error: a few months late.

Today, our local newspaper, The Courier, carried a story about a blunder in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's magazine.  Pity the paper did not peruse this blog and my item (link below) dated 1st July.

You have not failed to pass the test.

I lived in Chesterfield for a number of years. Chesterfield and Mansfield are rivals no more so than at football. Sadly, Mansfield are now in the Conference. One of the few good things that could be said about Mansfield was Mansfield Bitter. A marvellous beer, Mansfield Brewery had many pubs in Chesterfield and was a strong rival to Wards, Stones, John Smiths and Tetley bitters.  There was once an excellent beer, Barnsley Bitter brewed at Oakwell Brewery, but sadly it was lost to John Smith's in the 1970s.

In 1999, Mansfield Brewery was taken over and production of Mansfield Bitter was moved to Wolverhampton. There the water the beer was produced with tasted quite different from the taste Mansfield drinkers were used to, so demand for Mansfield bitter fell drastically in the local area.
The brewery in Mansfield was closed in early 2002 and demolished in 2008.

I spent many a happy hour drinking Mansfield Bitter prior to 1990.

I did not visit Mansfield very often but on doing so on one occasion parked outside the brewery. Returning to my car in the dark, I had to negotiate Mansfield's one way system to pick up a colleague and used the viaduct spanning the town as my marker. I got lost, saw a side street which looked as though it might take me to my destination and dived down it.  Next thing I saw were flashing blue lights behind me.  I pulled over to let the police car pass and it stopped behind me!

Out came the constabulary from their car and asked me if I had been drinking. Why had I been pulled over?  My sharp turn into the side street had been a bit too sharp they said.  So, into the police car and blow into the machine.  Lights flashed: a pause and then the verdict: You have not failed to pass the test.  Strange choice of words I thought.

A few weeks later I was driving through Pilsley towards Mansfield.  A car in a side road to my right started to move out in front of me, the driver thought better of it and braked, only to be hit in the rear by a police car.  I was tempted to stop and offer copious supporting evidence to the driver who had been shunted into, but there were pedestrians around who had seen the incident at far closer quarters than I had, so I drove on.

A few days later I received a telephone call from the Nottinghamshire Constabulary.  They had tracked me down and wanted me to make a statement about the accident.  Next day I reported to Mansfield police station and made a statement, or rather I said what I had seen which was translated into police-speak for me to sign.

Slow train to Nottingham

In the 1960s I travelled often by train between Chesterfield and Nottingham.  The slow trains 'the stoppers' were diesel multiple units and a fine view of the scenery could be gained from the front carriage, so long as the driver had not pulled down the blinds  on the partition between his cab and the passenger seats.

Setting off from Chesterfield  Midland, past the busy goods yard on the right and the branch peeling off to Brampton, the train approached Horn's Bridge.  There it passed over the rusting tracks of the Great Central line between Chesterfield Central and Nottingham Victoria and under the massive stone and steelwork viaduct that had carried the inaptly named Lancashire Derbyshire & East Coast Railway over the Rother valley.  The latter railway had terminated at Chesterfield Market Square at one end and near Lincoln at the other.

Soon we passed Hasland sheds on the left which had been home to some of the massive Beyer-Garrett locomotives,  The shed had lost its roof and must have been a terrible place to work. The shed provide the motive power for coal traffic which at this time was in abundance.  Next we passed sidings served by local collieries and then on the left Avenue Sidings. These served the Avenue Plant which produced gas piped to Northampton and as a by-product, solid fuel.

Next, we stopped at Clay Cross where the former North Midland railway line diverged to Derby.  Our train continued past derelict sidings which had served Clay Cross Works and we sped along past colliery sidings to left and right, through Doe Hill station to our next stop at Westhouses and Blackwell.  Here there were branches and sidings served by numerous collieries and below our embankment, on the left, Westhouses engine shed.  Between Westhouses and our next stop, Alfreton, the four tracks were carried on an embankment which had suffered badly from colliery subsidence. Trains travelled very slowly on what was tantamount to a roller-coaster. 

Following the Alfreton stop we dived into a tunnel and shortly afterwards our four tracks were joined by the railway from Mansfield for the short distance to Pye Bridge. At Pye Bridge a line branched off to the right heading for Ambergate and was well used by coal trains from the Mansfield area heading for Lancashire via Ambergate and Matlock. Passenger trains between Mansfield and Ambergate had long ceased.  Part of the line between Pye Bridge and Ambergate is home now to the Midland Railway Centre.

Our journey continued over the Cromford Canal to Codnor Park and Ironville where there had once been a connection to the Great Northern Railway's Pinxton branch which has accompanied us on our journey from Pye Bridge.  Our next stop was Langley Mill and Eastwood.  A derelict bay platform had previously seen use for passenger trains on the branch to  Heanor and Ripley.

Then it was open country as we sped past the closed Shipley Gate station and over the Erewash Canal on  a long curve.  Soon we would pass under the steel lattice work of Bennerley viaduct (now a listed structure) which had carried the Nottingham Victoria - Derby Friargate line of the Great Northern Railway.

Our next stop was Ilkeston Junction from whence a long closed branch had run to Ilkeston Town. On our left a colliery waste tip would often give off acrid smoke as friction set the coal amidst the waste smouldering.

Our next stop was Trowell where the express trains for Nottingham diverged left.  Our train continued on the four track section to Stanton Gate.  Extensive sidings served the Stanton ironworks.  There followed a stop at Stapleford and Sandiacre and then we passed masses of sidings on both our left and right. These were (and are) Toton Sidings which were the nerve centre of the coal traffic to and from the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire coalfields as well as general freight from further afield. Soon we would be at Long Eaton, where for the first time in our journey there were only two tracks, the goods lines having parted company to gain height and cross the Nottingham-Derby line at Trent.  For our part we turned sharp left for Nottingham as the main line headed for Trent.  Soon we would join the Derby-Nottingham line and the straight two track route to Nottingham Midland, stopping at Attenborough and Beeston. Just outside Nottingham we would join the line from Trowell, pass the extensive goods yard and thence to Nottingham Midland.

The journey home, prior to 1964, would be from Nottingham Victoria to Chesterfield Central.

How things have changed. It would only be a year before the line between Nottingham Victoria and Chesterfield  Central closed.  All the stations between Chesterfield and Long Eaton would be closed, although later Alfreton would have a new station:Alfreton Parkway.  The four tracks were reduced in places to two or three tracks. The major change was  the closure of collieries and ironworks which rendered the branch lines and sidings complexes redundant. Along the route we travelled the Victorian railway companies had built lines to compete for the coal traffic.  Many collieries were served by two companies. The former Great Central and Great Northern lines had been wiped from the face of the map within a few years.

At some locations it is hard to visualise how things looked in the early 1960s.  The same can be said of South Wales, of Consett, of the railways serving the London docks and many more.  The closure of freight lines when traffic flows cease is understandable.  But why were passenger stations and whole routes used by passenger trains closed?   The key factor was that fewer people were using the trains than in previous decades.  The car was becoming king.  Now we are regretting some of the closures, stations are being re-opened and in some places whole lines are being rebuilt.  Between Chesterfield and Nottingham there are plans to build a station in the vicinity of Ilkeston Junction.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Tesco racket.

I smoke a pipe, a dying breed, but keeping the flame alight.

My tobacco of choice is Condor- remember the advertisement:  that Condor moment.  I prefer to make my purchases from a tobacconist, but said shops are slowly disappearing.  You may pay a little bit more than at a supermarket, but that is made up for by the opportunity to purchase from a wide range of pipe tobaccos.  A little gem is to be found in Ashford (Kent), another in Holborn.

Until today I could buy Condor at Tesco in Tunbridge Wells for £9.79 or at Sainsbury for £9.99. Today, the price at Tesco was £10.10!!  I purchased St Bruno retailing at £9.79.  The reason given for the whopping price increase was that Tesco did not sell much Condor. Putting the price up is unlikely to increase sales.  When I purchase my tobacco at Tesco I usually buy other items whilst at the store.  Not any more - down to Sainsbury from now on.

The Tesco slogan: Every little helps.   Cobblers.


My minor sortie into the current grief of the English Democrats (ED) had unanticipated consequences as sundry followers, Uncles' haters, commentators and  bile-merchants lit upon my piece.

The original article:

expressed the view that Mr Uncles had made friends and enemies during his period with the ED. Nothing surprising in that: it happens in all political parties.  My article went on to highlight four pieces on the English Passport blog, which I believe is 'owned' by Mr Uncles although he lays claim only to being 'a contributor'.

The articles I highlighted were:

1. His claim that modern English Nationalism supports a united Ireland without any right of self determination for the people of Ulster.

2. His disgraceful description of a person ,who committed suicide a few years ago,  as  being a fascist for not supporting an English parliament.

3. His  dubious claim that he is supported by the vast majority of 'English Patriots'.

4. The publication (unattributed) of an incendiary article on the blog asserting that the test of a person's nationalism is based solely on biological factors.  Adolph would have been proud. See:

Much to my surprise Mr Uncles published my article on his blog.  I think he may have thought my article was supportive, although a moment's reflection on the inclusion of the four points listed above, should have set something ringing not only in his head but also those who have commented since. 

Apparently not.

In the very small world of right-wing political parties matters, which do not even show up on the radar of the vast majority of the population, have an importance attached to them which is laughable. Currently the BNP is undergoing severe stresses, as did its predecessor organisations.  One consequence has been a flow of ex-BNP members seeking to join the ED.  Should they be let in?   The risk for the ED is that many of the ex-BNP are quite savvy politically relatively speaking and could probably 'take over' the ED in a short time.   Quite a worry for the ED, but Mr Uncles is not, shall we say,  unduly concerned.  Maybe a lurch to the right is where he and others wish to lead and 'position' the party?

Another major concern relates to the communication/contact with Sinn Fein (SF) undertaken by Mr Uncles with full knowledge of the Leader of the ED, Mr Tilbrook, but the ignorance of almost everyone else.  I imagine any link between ED and SF would spell suicide for the electoral prospects of the ED, yet the idea of a united Ireland is still hawked on the English Passport blog.

Concerns over the direction of the ED has led to a number of high profile ED members' resignations as well as leakage of ordinary members.  Where do such people turn? The problem is that the other english nationalism/ english parliament parties are miniscule.  Should UKIP come up with a stronger policy on English devolution it may prove attractive to ED members who will not rub shoulders with ex BNP members or Sinn Fein fellow-travellers.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Political intrigue

One of the pleasures of being on Facebook is that you can, if you so wish, have a wide circle of 'friends' of different political persuasions. My virtual friends include members of political parties on the right and on the left. Indeed, I describe my page as eclectic.

Some of my friends are people I know in the 'real' world. What I find disturbing is the number of people who spend their lives in a political cocoon, only being open to discussion with like-minded individuals, offering each other re-assurance and regarding anyone outside the cocoon as 'the enemy'. You will find such people in all political parties, but especially in the small parties of the left and right.

The small parties of the left and right spent much of their energy on attacking parties on 'their' political wing. In fact they wallow in the enjoyment of attacking each other, indeed are animated by attacks on fellow members of their own party. It is all low grade stuff, but is regarded as important by those engaged in it. For the most part people in the real world know little and care even less about the machinations and skulduggery which goes on. Nevertheless such activity can be fun, as it is mostly knock-about stuff, but after a while it becomes repetitive and boring.  I should know, I have engaged in it in a minor way myself, as an outsider lobbing in the occasional comment.  But some love it, feed on it, promote it,  devote their lives to it, even though it is of no significance or interest to the wider world.  The same can be said of the 'politics' within academia, the churches and trade-unions, all of which I have witnessed.

Far more serious is the political intrigue and skulduggery within the three major parties, as the memoirs of former politicians evidence. The Conservatives may be pleased with the efforts of Mr Darling, but they have had their own embarrassments over the years.

In Tunbridge Wells members of my party deposed the Leader of the Council, de-selected him as a candidate and then suspended him from the party!  I can state categorically that I had no part in any of this. The impact of these actions will be felt cross the borough as it has led to a radical change of approach to town centre regeneration.

The first rule of party politics, if one is ambitious, is to trust no-one as you crawl up the slippery pole. Be assured, you will be given a hard shove as you slide down.  Above all, beware 'friends', particularly those who ooze empathy and sympathy but have agendas in which you will not figure. 

It is bad enough in the large parties, but is more pronounced in the small parties as they have the luxury of not being diverted from internal intrigue by the possibility of  exercising power.  Destructive forces are at work, sometimes with a professed positive objective but with a hidden destructive objective.  Members of a party may undertake an internal campaign aimed at the removal of individuals who are perceived to be a liability.  The objective is regarded as positive. However internal strife weakens a party and it this which is the real objective of some on the outside who encourage the campaigns. The internal strife is a means to an end. It is a classic ploy. So is entryism.  Militant almost destroyed the Labour Party.  Beware the motives of friends in party politics, trust no-one, particularly outsiders. They have their agenda which may not be yours, indeed it may be destructive of yours.

Brutal world is party politics.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Why don't the English embrace English nationalism?

Historically the English have been the occupying power and fought wars in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The battle for Irish home rule fought out in the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century resulted in partition and the establishment of the Irish Free State and Ulster which remained part of the Union.

Scotland and Wales have secured devolved powers, although there was little enthusiasm, indeed rejection in referendums, of proposals by the Callaghan government for devolution.  However the nationalist parties in the two nations continued to campaign and the Blair government granted devolution, again after referendums, to the two nations.

There has never been a significant nationalist movement campaigning for devolution for England. The manifest inequity of the current devolution arrangements was referred to in my previous post. Yet, as an issue, it barely appears on the political radar, nor is it an issue which excites very many people living in England.

There is growing concern in England and the rest of the United Kingdom concerning membership of the European Union.  The perception is that powers of the Westminster parliament have been  transferred to the EU by successive governments. There is substantial opposition to continued membership of the EU in the Labour and Conservative parties.  Reclaiming powers from the EU is the major constitutional issue. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has had success at European Parliament elections, but has no Westminster MPs.  It is very thin on the ground in local government.

So, do the English lack the stomach for an English parliament?  It took the SNP many years to win seats and to be perceived as a credible political party.  In England the most significant nationalist party is the English Democrats (ED).  The party contested 107 seats at the 2010 general election and has been steadily increasing the number of candidates it puts up at local elections.

But why isn't it doing much better given the low esteem in which the major political parties are held?  Of course, building up an organisation and support takes time, but given the advent of the Internet it is far easier and cheaper to promote a party than when the SNP was struggling in its infancy.

The problem is that the ED is tarred with a racist brush, even though the many moderate members of the party detest racism. The party has suffered for being opposed to multi-culturalism, the failure of which is recognised by the Conservative Party and by elements within the Labour Party. In so doing the party is attacked for being pro-white, racist and fascist.

The ED is in many respects its own worst enemy.  As the BNP disintegrates former members have joined the ED. One perception is that over a period of time the ex-BNP members will take over the ED, or at least become a significant influence within it.  The lesson of Militant and the Labour Party has not been taken on board.

Like many small parties, the ED is rent by personality clashes and massive ego trips which puts off many potential members and has resulted in leakage of existing members. Disunity is not a foundation upon which to build an attractive political edifice.

However, the most significant charge against the ED is that it is racist.  The party's policy documents certainly are not racist if one accepts that  being opposed to multi-culturalism is not racist.  A leading light within the ED has a massive Internet 'footprint' and contributes to a blog entitled: English Passport: The Voice of Democratic English Nationalism.

One post on the blog reads as follows:

Some people attempt to portray the English Democrats and UKIP as ‘civic nationalists’. Yet this term is wholly inaccurate. Although some of their policies might superficially be seen as nationalistic as they are not actually nationalists at all.

A true nation is made up of a community of people distinguished by an ethnic identity; a people belonging to a particular biological type. Culture and values by themselves do not equate to ethnic identity.

Many of the first Asian and Afro-Caribbean immigrants may have had values and moral codes in common with our society; a strong work ethic, respect for others, strong family ties, discipline and so on. But even so, an African who might share some of our values will still be an African. Even if his speech, manners and behaviour were ‘perfect English’ he would – however impolite it may be to use the term – still be someone of a different race.

Many Blacks or Asians might identify with this country, but that no more makes them English than English children would be Japanese if they happened to be born and raised in that country and immersed in Japanese culture. The reality is that genetically they would remain different.

For a nation is not just a cultural continuity it is a biological continuity as well.

To accept this fact of life doesn’t imply hatred of others, it’s just stating a love of our own people and nation and a desire to see them continue to exist. This desire means our nation is more than just a geographical piece of land with no more meaning or significance than any other. It is a sense of belonging; of shared history and ancestry – a common bloodline; a feeling that we belong to a people who are special and unique.

What’s the point of having an English Parliament if England and the English people are being destroyed?

I was shocked when I read this post and amazed it was even published.

Now, whilst this post castigates the English Democrats for not being nationalists as defined by the author, nevertheless it is surprising, to put it mildly, that there has been no denunciation of these comments by the  leading light within the ED who posts very frequently on this blog. The ED has not published a statement.  It leaves a queasy feeling that there is an undertow of racism within the party.  The ED will not make any political advance unless it deals with this issue. It must rid itself of the racist tag if it is to have any electoral success

The toothpaste won't go back in the tube........

One of Tony Blair's legacies has been the partial dismantlement of the Westminster Parliament's powers. Scotland first, followed by devolution for Wales which differed in scope from that for Scotland.  Over the years there has been devolution and direct rule from Westminster for Northern Ireland, or Ulster if you so prefer.

Devolution for Scotland raised the 'West Lothian Question'

The one major gap in the devolution process has been the failure to devolve power to an English Parliament.  So we have the strange position that Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish MPs can, and do, vote on matters which are purely about England (NHS reform is one example), yet these self-same MPs cannot vote on matters in their own countries. Not only is it illogical, it is inequitable.

Once power has been devolved it is impossible to take it back. Indeed, once it has been granted the likelihood is that there will be demands for even more devolved powers (as has happened) and eventually the demand for independence, either within or without a federal structure.

I support the concept of the four nations within a federal structure, although I am not entirely convinced as to the powers that should be held by a federal government.  The USA model of the division of powers has attractions although it is unlikely to be acceptable in the United Kingdom as Scotland, as an example, would wish to have fiscal independence if my understanding of the SNP's statements is accurate.

The Campaign for an English Parliament (CEP) is the leading pressure group in England.  The major political parties all favour retention of the Union and have set their faces against devolution, never mind independence, for England.

Whilst there are strong nationalist parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the same cannot be said of England. There is a multiplicity of very small parties.  The largest is the English Democrats (ED), but, apart from winning the Mayor of Doncaster election, have very few councillors and those they do have are at the third tier level - town/parish councils.

Why is it that English nationalism is not embraced as it has been in Scotland and Wales? 

I shall consider this in my next post.

Friday, 2 September 2011

The Sage of Lamberhurst stirs

Following announcements by the Leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council that plans to redevelop the civic complex have been shelved and a panel consisting of the good and the great will be formed to advise the Council on a 'master plan' for the town centre, his hope must have been that the heat had been taken out of the controversy surrounding redevelopment.  The purchase of the Odeon cinema site and the problem of the empty Morrisons store provided useful diversions.

The calmer waters have not lasted long.  Turbulence is back, as the former Leader of the Council counter-attacks on two fronts.

In a long letter to the local newspaper Roy Bullock criticises the current Leader and Deputy-Leader of the Council as he seeks to put the record straight.

The second front sees him confront his opponents. A high-profile blogger (John Dutton) against the civic complex redevelopment has been forced, according to the local newspaper (The Courier), to issue a fulsome apology for untrue and unfair statements and innuendos.  Mr Bullock and his solicitor's next task is to identify those councillors and others who sponsored the allegations and other rumours of misdoings and inaccuracies, again without foundation, during 2010, in a bitter personal attack on the cabinet and myself.

So the controversy rumbles on.  Indeed, the letters column of The Courier has contributions from those opposed to the redevelopment and those who are supportive.

Go and buy a copy of the newspaper: it contains fascinating stories, including one which expresses doubts concerning the future role of the Tunbridge Wells Regeneration Company.

The link below takes you to an article which sets out the background:

Next Rusthall Parish Council Meeting

Monday 5th September commencing at 7.30PM. Location: United Reformed Church.  Rusthall's proposed parish plan on the agenda.

From my other blog....

An item on Greg Clark MP and proposed changes to planning law.


Bed of nails

My MP, Greg Clark, is a splendid fellow. He might have expected to receive a post in the cabinet had the Conservatives won the general election.  Following the emergence of the coalition he had to make do with a more junior position. He has pressed on with the localism agenda and has been a staunch advocate of the 'Big Society'.

In July he was appointed Minister for Cities, a tough job.  Now a bomb has exploded over his head in the form of the proposals to simplify planning law.  He faces the sternest test of his career, hostility from within the Conservative Party, a Daily Telegraph campaign and assorted charities/pressure groups.

It is the proposal that there should be a presumption in favour of sustainable development, that has set pulses racing.  Two competing factors are in play: the desire of the government to decentralise power and the need to kick start the construction industry and hence the economy.

Beneath his mild exterior there is a combative politician.  It was Clark who advised the Conservatives in 2006 to think less about Churchill and more about Polly Toynbee.

Bruising encounters ahead.  The planning process is contentious: there is an abundance of nimbyism and self-interest . There is a huge amount of documentation: planning law, guidance notes and local plans.  The test for Clark is to secure consensus on the balance between localism and  public/social policy.  A bed of nails.

See also:

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Uncles approach

The English Democrats (ED) is a small political party and has two policies with which I agree: withdrawal from the European Union and the creation of an English parliament. The party has re-launched its website:

Probably it comes as no surprise to my cynical reader to be informed that the ED has competitors in the English nationalism field and that much time and energy is spent on in-fighting both within and between the parties. It is in this context that I turn to Mr Uncles.

Mr Uncles has either praise or opprobrium heaped upon him.  He has been a leading light in the ED for many years  and along the way has made friends and enemies.  Par for the course in politics.  Building a new political party reminds me of the adage 'you don't make an omelette without breaking eggs'.  There is a Facebook page entitled: Victims of Steve Uncles from the English Democrats.

Mr Uncles publishes a blog:

It provides an interesting window on Mr Uncles' philosophy.  Two examples:

  • English nationalism is not compatible with Scottish or Northern Irish Unionism, indeed modern Democratic English Nationalists, support a United Ireland, to end the subsidy from the English Tax Payer to Northern Ireland.
  • In view of the fact, that Chris Lightfoot, does not support democracy for the people of England – via an English Parliament, this would indicate, that his views are fascist.
The most recent post on the blog states:

the run up to the 2011 English Democrats National Council Elections – Steve Uncles has passed 2,000 Supporters of Facebook >> HERE
It is great to see that the vast majority of English Patriots, appreciate the time and effort that Steve Uncles has put into the English movement over the last 8 years.

In politics one has to be positive.  A candidate in my ward at the recent local elections stated in his election address that he had served Rusthall well. He lost his seat to UKIP!  However it is stretching a point to claim that the vast majority appreciate the efforts of Mr Uncles. If 2,000 is a vast majority there cannot be many English Patriots!

The following post on his blog is quite outrageous: