1997 Group

Q: What is the UKIP 1997 Group?
A: The UKIP 1997 Group is a group of UKIP members who support devolution for the four home nations of the UK and want UKIP to do the same.

Q: UKIP says it will create an English Parliament if it gets elected, what's the problem?
A: UKIP's policy on devolution won't create an English Parliament, it will create a grand committee of MPs elected to English constituencies. They will still be British MPs elected to the British Parliament to represent British interests.

Q: Why 1997?
A: It was in 1997 that the British government, under its predominantly Scottish leadership, guided through the Scotland Act which reinstated the Scottish Parliament that had been abolished with the 1707 Act of Union. The Government of Wales Act followed shortly thereafter and England became the only part of the UK without self-government.

Q: Why do you want to break up the union?
A: We don't want to break up the union, we just want to see all parts of the UK treated fairly. The Scots would declare independence rather than lose their Parliament so the only way to treat everyone equally is to establish national Parliament's for every nation of the UK.

Q: But why would you want more politicians? We have enough already and UKIP has a policy of doing away with big government.
A: There is no need for more politicians, just different politicians. It is entirely possible that four devolved Parliaments and a slimmed down UK Parliament could result in a decrease in the number of politicians. But even if it means more politicians, what price do you put on democracy?

Q: Is this all about England?
A: Not at all. To give everyone in the UK the same democratic rights, the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies should be upgraded to full Parliaments with the same powers as the Scottish Parliament along with the creation of an English Parliament. A Northern Irish Parliament will be a big step toward normalising Northern Irish politics.

Q: But there are hundreds more English MPs than Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish put together, why does England need a different Parliament?
A: So-called "English MPs" have allowed the democratic deficit to widen and for institutional discrimination against England to take hold. Only a handful of MPs have attempted to address the problem and they have always been defeated. English MPs don't represent English interests. It is also worth bearing in mind that most current MPs from Scotland signed the Scottish Claim of Right prior to introducing Scottish devolution, pledging to put the interests of Scotland first and foremost. And when the ConDem government announced spending cuts for its first budget of 2010, England took far more than its fair share of spending cuts whilst the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish government were given the option of deferring cuts for 12 months!

Q: Why bother setting up a group? What do you hope to achieve?
A: Change can only be effected from within - that's why UKIP takes part in EU elections. UKIP won't come up with a sensible policy on devolution by being pressured from the outside, it will come from lobbying from a large group of members.

Q: Isn't that a bit disloyal? We elect our leadership to come up with policy, shouldn't you just accept it?
A: The country elected a Labour government, do they represent the majority views of the electorate? UKIP is our party - all members have a right and an obligation to ensure that our policies reflect not only the views of the membership but those of the electorate. How else will we be successful if we don't have policies that the majority believe in? We want to change UKIP policy to make the party more electable, that's not disloyal.

Q: Do you really think it'll make a difference?
A: Yes. The Hansard Society's Audit of Public Engagement report on constitutional dissatisfaction said that MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland voting on English matters was the number one irritation. There are a number of small parties aiming to replicate the SNP's success in England - the English Democrats, the Free England Party and the England First Party for example. While they don't attract very much support in elections, those few votes that they get in elections can be the difference between UKIP winning an election and losing it or the difference between getting one MEP or two in EU elections. There is very little difference between the policies of UKIP and the English Democrats other than on devolution and that policy was popular enough to get an English Democrat elected as mayor of Doncaster in June 2009. Devolution is not going to go away, it is only going to get more important in the minds of the electorate.

Q: What's the link with Bloggers4UKIP?
A: Nothing beyond the fact that the same person has set up both Bloggers4UKIP and the UKIP 1997 Group. Bloggers4UKIP and the UKIP 1997 Group are sharing hosting because it's the easiest and cheapest (ie. free) option.

Q: What does the party think of this group? Do they approve?
A: No idea! This is a brand new group and we haven't yet canvassed the opinion of the National Executive Council of UKIP. We will be submitting an application to the NEC to have the group officially recognised in due course. We do not foresee any reasonable objections to giving the group official recognition as the aim of the group is to influence UKIP policy to increase support for the party.

Q: Who is behind this group?
A: The group was set up by Stuart Parr and John Botting. Stuart is a prominent English nationalist and created the Bloggers4UKIP website. He is a National Council member of the Campaign for an English Parliament and the founder of the anti-regionalistation West Midlands NO! Campaign. John was the Chairman of UKIP's Maidstone branch and was involved in UKIP between 1999 and 2009 and had stood at both local, district and national elections. He is a member of the Campaign for an English Parliament and also signed up to the English Claim of Right. A former policeman and now own's several companies in Kent. John resigned from UKIP in 2009 in protest at the party's devolution policies.

Q: Ok, I'm interested. What do you want me to do?
A: You can register yourself as a supporter of the UKIP 1997 Group by filling out this form. If you want to take a more active role in the group, email wonkotsane@bloggers4ukip.org.uk and someone will be in touch shortly.