The other night I was having a bit of a FaceBook trawl and came across a link on (English Democrats Chairman) Robin Tilbrook's page. The link took me to a piece written by EDP's Doncaster Mayor, Peter Davies on a site which most of the population have never heard of called ‘Critical Reaction’....
I read it with interest. Originally published in April 2010, Davies tells us how proud he is to be English and what it means to be English. He also tells us about England being balkanised by the EU, the West Lothian Question and our democratic deficit.... Whilst agreeing with the sentiments, I felt the mayor of Doncaster's declaration of love and concern for all things English was too little and definitely too late. To be honest, I have thought for some time that he had signally failed to highlight to the media (and defacto to the English general public) the injustices which Doncaster (and by definition, English) citizens suffer on a day-to-day basis(especially, straight after he was elected in June 2009).
In short, I thought it has been a golden opportunity missed. I left a comment on Mr Tilbrook's page giving my thoughts about it. The comment was considered, relevant and cogent to Davies' piece. It was not rude, nor filled with ignorant bile, it was just an observation about Davies' apparent inability to ever mention the E-word and E-word related issues during his many mayoral pronouncements.
Within 30 minutes the comment had been deleted. A comment so mildly critical had been airbrushed out of FaceBook world - I guess it was deemed just too off-message to be left alone (presumably, it didn't fall into the 'I think Peter Davies is really wonderful' category). Somewhat surprised, I left another message complaining about the tactics of deletion - comparing the action with the behaviour of a government censor. That too was deleted. My final comment asked Mr Tilbrook what were we fighting for? Don't know about anyone else, but I thought one of our immovable and non-negotiable pillars of principle was the preservation of free speech in England...... Again it was deleted. (I guess free speech is fine - just as long as you agree with the page administrator eh?)...
Understandably, I was irritated at such behaviour - and as a direct result of that over-the-top censorship, I have decided to write this piece about Peter Davies, mayor of Doncaster.
In my opinion, Peter Davies; Mayor of Doncaster has been a real disappointment for the English Democrats in particular - and the English movement in general. The shock of the new, his unbelievable victory in June 2009 at Doncaster produced a frenzy of media interest. The national press were beating down his door for a scoop; he came out of the blue and stole the prize right from under the noses of the establishment claque of mainstream parties. He represented a party that few had even heard of - and a cause which if sold to the public in the right way would change politics in this country for ever.
Davies' victory was the story - and it was a golden opportunity to let rip about the democratic and fiscal unfairness of people in England. Unfortunately, Davies didn't really seem to read the script. He seemed to be obsessed with giving us a diatribe in bluntness from a no-nonsense Yorkshireman. One thing's for sure, there was no way he should have been allowed to give us the benefits of his thought processes on the whys and wherefores of council-subbed gay parades in Doncaster and the apparent praising of the Taliban regarding their family and parenting skills. For by doing so he left a gaping goalie-free open goal for the political establishment via their media stooges to heap derision and scorn upon this well-meaning man. Predictably, they filled their boots.
And before long, Davies' left-of-field victory ceased to be the story - supplanted instead by the ruthless reportage of his somewhat individually held views.
During the first few months of his mayoral tenure, there was precious little evidence of a party line being adhered to. And that is the real tragedy, such a wasted opportunity to get the message out there. It should have been a perfect fit - Doncaster, a small town in Yorkshire with big problems is a microcosm for the ailments of England. Instead of telling us what he thought of the Taliban he could have stuck with subjects relevant to his remit - the people of Doncaster.
Doncaster's elderly have to flog off their homes to finance their residential care - just like many hundreds of thousands in the rest of England - but not in Scotland.... The sick of Doncaster still have to shell out £7.20 for a prescription, just like they do in the rest of England but not in Wales, and soon not in Scotland also... Doncaster's students are being unfairly fleeced via ever-rising tuition fees, just like students in the rest of England - but not in Scotland and to a much lesser extent in Wales... etc, etc, etc...
Doncaster's pain is Carlisle's pain, Bedford's pain, Rochdale's pain, Hartlepool's pain and ENGLAND's pain to Scotland's & Wales' gain... And the mayor of Doncaster had an unfettered opportunity to tell the 50 million people of England of that fact.
As soon as Davies won, a comprehensive campaign of information should have been rolled out. Nothing should have been allowed to see the light of day without approval from the collective body. It should have been about comparing and contrasting the standards of services of similar sized towns in other countries of the UK. Doncaster-relevant would, by definition be England-relevant. It was time for the English Democrats' to take hold of the situation and manage this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
It looks like they have utterly failed to do this. There appears to have been little or no strategic advice proffered - and if it was, it doesn't look like it was accepted. This is a real shame. Doncaster's problems are England's problems - and those problems have come about because of insufficient funding, incompetent infrastructures and the lack of any national accountability. It should have been a perfect fit. Davies, whilst talking about the problems of his Doncaster citizens would also be talking about the other 50 million people of England. But it was not to be. Instead, Davies assumed the role of the gobby pub bore. A man with an opinion on any subject you liked.... Which is fine if your audience is an old bloke with a pint of Guinness, a three legged dog and a busty barmaid called Edna... But not if you have the Establishment hacks of Fleet Street waiting for any opportunity to rip you to pieces and blow your credibility into the stratosphere..
I know what Davies thinks of council funded gay parades and the parenting skills of mummy and daddy Taliban - but what does he think of his Doncaster citizens getting far less of the UK spending cake per head than someone in Glasgow, Swansea or Londonderry?
I know what Davies thinks of the European Union, but what does he think of his Doncaster citizens having to sell their homes to finance their residential care when they don't have to do that in Aberdeen or St Asaph?
I know that Davies thinks global warming is a bit of a con - but what does he think of Doncaster students looking at a tuition fee bill of 27 grand for a three year course when it's free gratis and for nowt for a student in Inverness?
We don't know because apart from his general broad-brush article in the hardly known, ‘Critical Reaction’, Davies has as far as I am aware never uttered a word about any of it to the national mainstream and local media. Which is a bit of a surprise - especially as he is representing the English Democrats - a political party whose raison d’être is the enhancement of English empowerment. And that empowerment is only ever going to happen if the great majority of the people in England actually know the facts in the first place.
Like I said, an opportunity missed.