Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 18:20 UK

Profile: English Democrats leader Robin Tilbrook

Robin Tilbrook
Mr Tilbrook launched the party in 2002

Robin Tilbrook, the founder and leader of the English Democrats, insists his party is neither right nor left-wing.

Instead he says it is simply "the only party campaigning about England and England first".

Mr Tilbrook, who takes the title of chairman, leads a party whose core policy is to call for the establishment of an English parliament.

His argument is that since devolution, and the creation of the Scottish Parliament and the Wales and Northern Ireland assemblies, it is wrong for MPs from those nations of the UK to be able to debate and vote on England-only legislation.

He says that establishing an English parliament would remove this "constitutional anomaly" and give England "equal" status in a federal UK.

Former Tory

Previously a member of the Conservative Party, Mr Tilbrook, 52, is a solicitor who lives and works in Essex.

Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, he was educated at Wellington College in Berkshire, the University of Kent, and the College of Law in Chester.

Married with two girls and a boy, he formed the English National Party in 1998, which was then re-launched as the English Democrats in 2002.

Today the party has more than 3,000 members, many of whom Mr Tilbrook says were previously card holders of Labour, the Conservatives, or the Liberal Democrats.

It has one elected mayor, one metropolitan borough councillor, three unitary authority councillors, and seven town or parish councillors.

And in last year's European Parliament election, its candidates secured 2.1% of the vote in England.

Never having taken any wage or payment from the party, Mr Tilbrook will be contesting the Essex seat of Brentwood and Ongar in the general election.

In total the party is aiming to field 120 candidates, and Mr Tilbrook says it is "absolutely determined" to get to the 106 level required to gain a political party broadcast slot on Channel Four and Channel Five.

'Building bridges'

Saying the English Democrats can be best compared to the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru, he strongly rejects any suggestion that the party is racist in any way.

"If you look at our constitution, we make it absolutely crystal clear that we are nothing about race," he said.

"We welcome people from all ethnic backgrounds. What we are instead about is a sense of English national identity."

Mr Tilbrook adds that the party's position on this can be compared with America, where he says the sense of being an American has nothing to do with the colour of a person's skin.

"National identity is what builds bridges between different communities," he says.

Mr Tilbrook also says that while his party wishes to exit the European Union, it is definitely not anti-European.

"We didn't start with any pre-condition of being euro-sceptic, but English taxpayers are net contributors to the EU, not net recipients, unlike those in Scotland and Wales."

Returning to the issue of establishing an English parliament, Mr Tilbrook says he is open to a number of solutions, but does not support simply preventing Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs from voting in the Commons on English matters.

Instead he said the party was exploring alternatives such as the Commons becoming the English parliament, while the Lords becomes a UK-wide senate.

Alternatively he says there could be a new building built for an English parliament, and not necessarily in London.

In his spare time, Mr Tilbrook says he is a keen walker and reader.

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