The English Democrats

Like UKIP, the English Democrats are not wrong to emphasise the big issue that exercises them - the unequal treatment of England compared to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But they are wrong to focus so strongly on this single issue, rather than including it within a balanced range of policies.

The English Democrats also over-claim on the costs of their obsession. They claim that the subsidy to the other nations of the United Kingdom is £49 billion. That is a gross exaggeration if measured by comparing the per-capita spend on regionally-specific issues. On that basis, Scotland receives £7.1bn, Wales £2.3bn and Northern Ireland £3.5bn more than they would receive if they were funded at the UK average level.

Given the history, one should treat Northern Ireland very carefully, not withdrawing support too quickly, in order to avoid the risk of economic hardship rekindling the troubles, though their economy will benefit in the medium-term from a reduction in the share of the public sector in the economy. So the amount that one might realistically save in the short-term through equalisation of regional funding is the £9.4bn that Scotland and Wales currently benefit by.

The English Democrats also greatly overstate the savings that could be achieved by leaving the EU. They say it's £63 billion, on the assumption that our bureaucracy will be so much more efficient than the European one if we remove our European obligations, that we will gain the full economic benefit that some economists have calculated European regulations cost our economy. In practice, our bureaucracy is usually even less effective and more sclerotic (which is where the "gold-plating" comes from), and the only saving that is safe to bank is the cost of our net contributions to the EU, barely 10% of the English Democrats' claims.

Economics does not appear to be the English Democrats' strong suit. The greatest threat to England and the rest of the United Kingdom is the enormous deficit caused by excessive government expenditure, which threatens to divert increasing shares of our economy and tax revenue simply into paying the interest on our rocketing debts. But the word "deficit" does not appear in their page on The Economy. Neither do the words "cuts" and "savings". They are keen to ring-fence public expenditure that they think is popular (aren't we all, if we forget about where the money comes from and how we are going to pay for it), and less keen to show how we get the economy and government spending back into balance before we go bust.

The cause that the English Democrats seek to promote - fair treatment for the English - would be served more effectively by a party like Freedom & Responsibility that does not overstate the benefits of certain measures in the search for magic bullets, and that encapsulates the objective within a much broader agenda, than by the rather simplistic, lop-sided and over-stated agenda of the English Democrats.