Page last updated at 09:49 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 10:49 UK

English Democrats eye 120 seats

Robin Tilbrook on the 'English equivalent of the SNP or Plaid Cymru''

The chairman of the English Democrats says his party will field at least 120 parliamentary candidates at the next general election.

Speaking ahead of the party's annual conference in Kent, Robin Tilbrook told the BBC the party wanted to "break through" into mainstream politics.

The party campaigns for an English Parliament and Mr Tilbrook said having one "wouldn't cost anything more".

He said scrapping regional assemblies would free up the necessary funds.

The party polled just over 250,000 votes at the European Parliament elections in June, coming seventh across England as a whole.

English Democrat candidate Peter Davies also became mayor of Doncaster.

End subsidies

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Tilbrook said his party was the English equivalent of the Scottish National Party or Plaid Cymru, and had similar ambitions.

"We're hoping to do what the Scottish National Party managed to do in the 1970s and break through to being able to influence what happens in Parliament about England," he said.

If anything you'd be reducing the number of elected politicians
Robin Tilbrook
English Democrats

The party wants to end subsidies from Westminster to Scotland and Wales and abolish the regional assemblies supported by the three main parties.

"They've set up regional assemblies with a view to trying to break up England - obviously we would be trying to get rid of those," Mr Tilbrook said.

"So there's plenty of scope for having an English Parliament and it wouldn't cost anything more. If anything you'd be reducing the number of elected politicians.

"Of course, the main problem isn't the number of elected politicians, but the vast amount of bureaucracy we've got in this country."

Mr Tilbrook said he was not "at the moment" calling for English independence, but would prefer to see the United Kingdom broken up than see England increasingly regionalised.

He also claimed there was considerable support among the public for an English Parliament, but added: "We are simply not getting the establishment parties giving that serious consideration because, of course, it doesn't suit their interests."

Earlier this year, a House of Lords committee said the system which helps decide the level of public funding for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was "arbitrary and unfair" and should be scrapped.

Peers said the Barnett formula should be replaced by a system which recognises changing population levels and the differing economic needs of the devolved nations.



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