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Thursday, November 17, 2005

An English Independence Manifesto

This was originally an article for Devolve's Viewsletter back in early 1999. I support English independence from the UK, which I see as an artificial creation whose time has passed. The UK should be peacefully dissolved. Unlike too many English "nationalists" I have come across, I have no quarrel with the Scots or Welsh. As for Northern Ireland, I see independence for Ulster and a redrawing of the borders with the Irish Republic as the way forward, but the last thing the Irish- both North and South- need is another "Mainlander" imposing his blueprints on them!

I think an independent England has to be a republic. I oppose the institution of monarchy. I have no personal grudges against members of the monarchy (except their support of blood sports), although I think Prince Charles is a political liability. If he carries on giving his opinions on this, that and the other I fail to see once he is crowned how anyone could say the Monarch is non-political. An elected non-politician, who greets foreign dignitaries, opens prestige projects, attends sporting finals etc would be fine as President. Michael Palin comes to mind.

Anyway, here's my vision for England (I remember the original first draft had an exclamation mark at the end of every sentence. Looking back- how unEnglish!)...

England would gain its independence by a simple majority vote in a referendum. If a majority of England's peoples vote in a General Election for pro-independence parties, a binding referendum or plebiscite should swiftly follow.

England should be a federal republic, made up of a number of constituent provinces. At the moment, these provinces can only be defined by the radical regionalist movements which exist within them. [I was thinking here of the Campaign for the North, the Wessex Regionalists, the Mercia Movement, the Kent Folc and the Sussex Party]. However, a start has been made in defining the provinces of a Federal Republic of England.

A Federal Republic would need a Parliament based anywhere but Westminster. The Federal Parliament would have certain defined powers of competence: defence, foreign affairs, control of the national currency, external trade (once the EU and the WTO have been told where to go), and whatever system of tax or financial redistribution in needed to prevent large wealth disparities between the regions. Most powers would reside with provincial parliaments, county councils, district/borough councils and wards/parishes, underpinned by a system of direct democracy, with all MPs/councillor's as representative-delegates for their area.

We need provincial parliaments running affairs in territories people want, not what the British Establishment imposes on us. This won't mean more bureaucracy if central government gives away powers currently invested in quangoes to appropriate sub-national levels of government [one feature of the government's plans for regional assemblies was that they would take powers away from local, not central, government- what is the point of that?]. In a Federal Republic certain competences and tax raising powers would reside at different levels of England's political structures. Everyone will have the right to vote on which powers are allocated to each level. We will get the levels of bureaucracy people want.

By way of a postscript...

I would add the following proposals.

[i] England and the other parts of the former UK should rejoin the European Free Trade Association. I think the Danes, Irish and Swedes would join us, and possibly others (the Baltic states and Holland come to mind).
[ii]Most government ministries should be moved out of London, helping to break the Westminster-Whitehall-City axis which has dominated policy-making for so long.
[iii] the Levellers advocated Parliamentary elections every two years; the Chartists advocated annual parliamentary elections. Similar time periods for elections in a Federal Republic would keep a lot of people on their toes.


Blogger dalesaxeby said...

I agree with everything you've said except perhaps the monarchy issue.
I'd like to invite you to a Yahoo discussion group concerning Social Credit and regionalism.

1:05 am  

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